As autumn leaves fall, we approach the two-year anniversary of the fire that changed our lives at Columbus KTC.
January 31, 2016 will live in memory – first, as the date when our beloved shrine building was lost; but second, as the date Columbus KTC spilled out of its four walls and flooded Central Ohio with meditation and everyday blessings.
Before the fire, we were a bit shy but working our way out of our shell – our 10 a.m. Sunday meditation drew 5-30 visitors a week, and our Y Family Center dinners for the homeless, our prison project and our booth at the Community Festival let folks know we existed and were open to serve the public with meditation and Buddhist-style love and compassion.
After the fire, we were moved to make new friends outside our usual sphere.
The Sunday of the fire, a local church reached out and offered us a place to conduct our usual Tuesday night Chenrezig sadhana practice. Four days after the fire, we started making friends with local churches and religious groups at a prayer gathering given in our honor by the Interfaith Association of Central Ohio, and within a few weeks we were welcomed by Congregation Tifereth Israel, where we remain today.
Five months later, we expanded our offerings and partnered with Trinity Episcopal Church downtown to offer meditation instruction and practice every Wednesday at 12:15 p.m.; Midday Meditation Wednesdays is still on our calendar – stop by an see us sometime!
We also started reaching out to the local business community, meeting business people in Franklinton and Downtown Columbus to let them know our little meditation center could use their investment and support.
Our Franklinton neighborhood is changing, and it’s exciting for our center to be a part of this revitalization. It’s also great that more and more business people and young professionals are embracing meditation and mindfulness as part of their wellness discipline. So, reaching out to our friends in business seemed like a pretty good idea.
Our founder Khenpo Karthar Rinpoche actually gave us this advice early on: “find and meet friends who own businesses, and ask them to help you,” he said.
Those early contacts gave rise to more contacts, and the effort blossomed last month, when we sponsored a “meet and greet” for two dozen business friends at The Idea Foundry, a maker’s space and business incubator on West State Street in Franklinton.
We showed our new friends the plans for our new building, spoke about our service to the community, and encouraged them to invest in us. Over the next few weeks, we will be following up with them to see if they can donate to our vision of a new meditation center in Franklinton.
With the blessing of His Holiness Karmapa and with the blessing and prayers of Khenpo Rinpoche and the generosity of our own KTC members, we are getting closer to making our center a reality.
This summer, our rebuilding project moved closer to reality when Centerpoint Construction of Columbus, led by principal engineer Bill Jones, came on board to help us.
Our beautiful initial plans (created by Wisconsin architect Keith Spruce with input and encouragement from the entire sangha) were then handed to a new team of architects, Pete Macrae and Peter Lenz.
“Peter and Pete” then began studying our vacant land at the corner of Rich and Grubb streets and made an in-depth analysis of City of Columbus Zoning and Building Codes to refine our plans and meet all local code requirements.
You’ll see the results of their work very soon, as we’re inviting the entire sangha to “Meet the Team” at a Sangha Meeting at 7 p.m. on Tuesday Dec. 12 at the KTC meditation space at Tifereth Israel.
Some highlights of their report include plans to provide more storage space and light in the main shrine room, an elevator and ramp to help make the center more accessible, a larger kitchen, and more downstairs storage space.
Once the designs are finished, we need to re-submit them to the East Franklinton Review Board for final approval. The EFRB already approved our initial plans, so we have a bit of a head start on the approval process.
Then, it’s on to the final planning phase – creation of construction documents. If all goes well, we will have a formal land blessing and consecration in the spring, and shovels will go into the ground soon after that. If all goes well, we could be in our new home at this time next year!
And should you ask, “how can we help?” Well…
The KTC Rebuilding project continues to excite and inspire people, both in our local sangha and in dharma centers around the world.
Ever since His Holiness the 17 th Gyalwang Karmapa personally gave our project his prayers and blessings when we met him in June and July, we’ve made good progress on our $1.4 million initial construction goal.
By the time we opened our Sangha Pledge Drive on July 31, we’d received almost $900,000 in insurance and fundraising proceeds, leaving about $513,000 to raise.
Then, the Hummingbird Fund of Christina and Jim Grote blessed us with a $100,000 challenge grant. If we could raise $100,000 they would match the cash and pledges dollar for dollar up to a total of $100,000!
Filled with the wish to benefit beings, and inspired by the Hummingbird Fund challenge grant, our KTC sangha members answered the call and generously pledged more than $20,000 in just a few weeks!
Since then, more than half of our community has pledged, and many will be receiving Donor Gifts (see below!) for pledging $700 or more. The generosity of our little group has warmed our hearts!
We’ve also been amazed by the folks who have pitched in to help our little sangha reach its goal: our founder Khenpo Karthar Rinpoche; his many Asian students, the Ocean of Merit donor group; KTC centers; grant writers; and now local business people and community leaders.
We’re building quite a team, and that team is going to help us meet our goal.
Now that we have a team, we’re going to encourage all of them to help us make A Sprint Toward the Finish Line between now and Dec. 31, 2017.
As our teachers have told us, helping build a dharma center provides immense merit, as thousands of people see, interact and are inspired by the dharma represented by our new center. The benefit of this virtue accrues both to those who give as well as those who rejoice in the giving. So, no matter how you participate, you have a chance to benefit all sentient beings.
But if you’d like to help out with our “Sprint Toward the Finish Line,” here are some great reasons for you (and perhaps your family, or your friends) to give between now and Dec. 31.
This Is a Great Time to Give, Part 1: Matching Grant Doubles Your Gift!
As mentioned above, Christina and Jim Grote have confidence in Khenpo Rinpoche’s vision and KTC’s plans, and have offered to match any pledge or gift made up to $100,000. Giving between now and Dec. 31 helps us meet the match, and can give some folks an end-of-the-year tax advantage, too.
This Is a Great Time to Give, Part 2: Donor Gifts ONLY from Now to Dec. 31!
Our friends at the Ocean of Merit donor group in Asia and the United States have been incredibly generous during our initial construction fundraiser, giving us more than $170,000 in donations.
But they also are offering DONOR GIFTS to anyone who donates (or pledges and makes their first pledge payment) by Dec. 31, 2017.
Donations and pledges (along with first pledge payment) MUST be received by 12 midnight on Dec. 31, 2017 to qualify for Donor Gifts. As gifts are being shipped from Asia, allow up to three months for delivery.
This Is a Great Time to Give, Part 3: Three-Year Payment Plan Makes It Easy!
If you pledge by Dec. 31, you will have three years (until Dec. 31, 2020) to make your payments. Giving becomes easy when your gift-giving comes in small monthly payments.
All gifts are tax-deductible, and will be acknowledged with a thank-you card and/or receipt.
Short on Funds, but Want to Participate? Join the Prayer Team!
We’re also looking for people to join our Prayer Team. If you would like to join, write to me at firstname.lastname@example.org and I’ll send you a lovely 8 ½ by 11 copy of the Tashi Prayer.
Also known as the Prayer of the Eight Noble Auspicious Ones, the Tashi Prayer – in which the names of the Buddhas and Bodhisattvas are chanted as a means of invoking their presence, inspiration and support – helps bring auspiciousness to any endeavor.
If you can chant the Tashi Prayer for us daily, you can help clear away obstacles to the rebuilding and help our transition to our new home becomes smoother and more full of blessing. It takes about 3 minutes to recite (either in Tibetan or English) and will be
However you choose to help, know that we are keeping you in our thoughts and prayers and are holding you with gratitude!!! May this project bring long lives to our spiritual teachers and benefit to all the sangha and sentient beings, far and wide!