15 February 2016
Good evening, and (as we say in the Tibetan Buddhist Tradition) Blessed Losar!
This past week, we celebrated Tibetan New Year (Losar). The Columbus Karma Thegsum Chöling Tibetan Buddhist Meditation Center had a bright and beautiful observance in our temporary quarters at the Peggy McConnell Arts Center in Worthington. Through the generosity of the MAC’s Executive Director Jon Cook and his wonderful staff, we have had a “landing place” for our immediate needs, and a place from which we can search for a longer-term “temporary” home.
We still have warm feelings for the cold day two Thursdays ago when Columbus Mayor Andrew Ginther came to see us at the Interfaith Association’s Peace Circle in our parking lot; we are so grateful to the Mayor for reaching out to us, and appreciate his powerful words and deep concern for us.
We’re writing tonight to give everyone an update on our progress, and provide some cheer on a cold winter’s evening.
Incense & Tea Offering for Local Beings
Today, Lama Karma Wangdu presided over a Serkhyem (tea) and Sur (singed) offering in the KTC Parking Lot off of Grubb Street. Lama Wangdu said that at the beginning and end of endeavors Tibetans make offerings to the Buddhas, bodhisattvas, and all who live in the locality, thanking them for their help and protection. About 30 hearty souls braved 18-degree temperatures to participate in and observe the ritual. Mary Sink provided the portable fire pit and wood; participants assisted with kindling and prayers. Lama Wangdu also dedicated strings of prayer flags on the cyclone fence around the demolition site, praying that all beings be blessed by their connection to the land. Lots of hugs were passed around at the end of the ceremony as KTC friends celebrated their connection to our sacred ground.
The work on demolishing the fire-damaged temple continued this week under the expert guidance of Tim Koller at City of Columbus Building and Zoning. Tim’s advice and patience in answering our questions has made him a great resource. The demolition contractor, Tom Romero of Advanced Construction, has faced sinking dumpsters, sleet, and other problems at the site, but we feel the work should be completed by the end of next week.
Our insurance company has been fantastic in helping us organize our insurance claim. Dozens of hours have gone into making lists of items lost in the fire, and we hope to have the claim wrapped up sometime in the next two weeks. We expect to receive a full $443,000 settlement on the building plus $66,000 settlement on the contents, along with $100,000 for building code improvements (should we decide to rebuild), $5,000 to replace our sacred objects, $10,000 as a demolition allowance, and $10,000 for emergency rental space. We will present a full accounting when we get the final settlement information from our insurer.
Ever since the Mayor’s announcement and the Interfaith Association’s Peace Circle drew attention to our plight, offers of help and temporary space have been pouring in from around the community. Since last week, KTC volunteers have been working through the nearly 15 offers of temporary space, and have seen some promising leads. We hope to have a semi-permanent location settled before our informal arrangement with the MAC ends at the end of March.
We’ve been able to host our full Sunday schedule (7 a.m. to 2 p.m.) at the MAC, and will soon announce the location of our Tuesday night (7 to 8 p.m.) prayer service.
Additionally, our Alcoholics Anonymous Group, the Meditating Peacocks, has found a new home in a different area space. They now are meeting at 6:30 p.m. Tuesdays at Crestview Presbyterian Church, 350 E. Tulane Ave., in Clintonville. We are grateful to the Peacocks for being part of our community for so long, and wish them well as they seek to support the recovery of folks in the Columbus community.
Jim Sweeney of the Franklinton Development Association and Trent Smith of the Franklinton Board of Trade met with KTC Director Kim Miracle and Lama Kathy February 5. We had a wide-ranging discussion about how KTC might continue to be part of the East Franklinton Community. We learned about East Franklinton’s special zoning requirements, and how those requirements might impact rebuilding, should the KTC try to rebuild on its current property. We also received good advice about how to choose a commercial realtor, should the center decide to sell its property and try to relocate the center elsewhere.
Also, the artists’ collective at 400 West Rich Street gave us moral support and offers of space. In addition, The Columbus Idea Foundry likewise offered support, and will host a neighborhood potluck supper for us on Friday Feb. 19, 7pm at the Columbus Idea Foundry, 421 W. State Street. We feel loved and uplifted by the neighborhood, are grateful for the inclusion and support.
We thank the City of Columbus for putting up the “$5,000 Reward” posters on our protective fence; we appreciate work done to catch the arsonist who struck not just our temple, but the entire Franklinton neighborhood. We also appreciate the Mayor’s efforts to distribute fire prevention literature and smoke detector devices in the wake of our fire. No new information has been received about the arson this week; we hope to have more information next week.
Finding a New Permanent Home
Work on finding a new KTC home began this week, with good conversations started on all three future possibilities: rebuilding, selling and buying a new place, and selling and building a new place.
We received some very important advice this week from our spiritual guide Khenpo Karthar Rinpoche, who said the KTC’s new building “should definitely be larger than the old one.”
With this request in mind, we will be surveying KTC members and friends this week to gather their advice about what elements they feel are needed in our new “home.” Please click here to read more about and to complete the survey. Survey results will help us evaluate the Grubb Street property to see if it will support our building needs. Additionally, it will provide guidelines for a commercial realtor to search for appropriate property, should we need to purchase a new building for Columbus KTC. Please click here to complete the survey.
Due to the Mayor’s help and assistance from various Central Ohio media outlets, we have made great progress in fundraising for our rebuilding effort. Our GoFundMe page has attracted more than 400 donors and $40,300 in donations. In addition, KTC representatives met this week with Brad Britton of The Columbus Foundation to finalize creation of a “Columbus KTC Rebuilding Fund” there. We will have more information on this in the coming days.
While we are still somewhat in a state of shock over the sudden loss of our “treasure house” dharma center, the last 14 days have brought us so many blessings – and we feel such gratitude to you all!
May your New Year be bright and fulfilling, and may your spiritual practice grow and flourish. May we benefit many, many sentient beings in the days to come!