Center kicks off campaign to buy home
Since it opened 10 years ago, the Yellow Springs Dharma Center has provided
local residents with something people who live in a small town rarely
have a quiet place in which they can experience peacefulness, twice
a day, in the company of like-minded neighbors.
In our busy lives, people can have that moment of quiet at the beginning
and ending of the day, said Dharma Center treasurer and co-founder
Along with meditation, the Dharma Center, located at the corner of Livermore
and Davis Streets, offers a weekly discussion group, a monthly dinner
group, Zen, Vipassana and Tibetan Buddhist practice groups, a library,
yoga classes and a weekly family hour designed for families with children.
Dharma Center organizers have offered these services and activities to
the community for free, although organizers welcome donations.
Now, though, the Dharma Center board is asking the community for financial
support. Specifically, the group started two weeks ago a capital campaign
aimed at raising $200,000 to purchase the Livermore Street building where
the center is located. The funds would cover the purchase price and necessary
repairs. The campaign, which accepts both donations and pledges for future
donations, will formally end on July 1, although the center will continue
to accept donations after that date.
Not used to seeking donations, some board members find themselves uncomfortable
asking for money, said Dharma Center board member Mary Frost-Pierson.
But the need is immediate. The buildings owner, Jane Baker, has
decided to sell the property, and organizers believe the center offers
the village a valuable asset.
The Dharma Center is a place everyone in Yellow Springs can find
warmth, even if all they need is a quiet spot to meditate, said
Beyond that, said Denman, the centers Buddhist values offer benefits
to both the individual and the community.
The values stem from the belief that were all interrelated,
that our actions and words affect everything we touch, she said.
Buddhism provides techniques that help us be more kind and understanding,
more aware of ourselves and of others.
Denman believes that Dharma Center teachings are especially relevant in
todays tumultous world, in which, she said, its critical that
people understand different cultures and traditions.
This is an Eastern tradition, and it gives people a broader perspective,
But those who attend Dharma Center activities dont have to be Buddhists,
or even want to become one. Its open to everyone, board members
said. About 50 to 100 local residents form a core group, and more than
500 people, some from the Miami Valley, are on the centers mailing
list, said co-founder Robert Pryor. Its a high percentage of practitioners
for a tiny village, he said, but many local residents have found something
they need in Buddhist practice.
The essence of sitting is staying in the present moment, he
said. What worries us tends to be thoughts of the past or the future.
But in the present moment there is clarity.
That clarity leads to a heightened sense of lifes fleetingness and,
along with that awareness, a sense of compassion and understanding, said
Because practice leads to clarity and compassion it can lead to
less suffering, said Wanicek. People can become more active
Those not already familiar with meditation practice can learn meditation
at the centers twice monthly orientation sessions. While most who
attend center activities practice meditation in some form, not all do,
said Frost-Pierson, adding that about half of the families who attend
the 10 a.m. Sunday family hour are not practitioners. Started several
years ago, the family hour seems to fill a need, she said.
People seemed to be looking for an open and loving place to bring
their children, said Frost-Pierson. The hour includes small rituals,
personal sharing and stories, said Wanicek, adding that Buddhism includes
wonderful teachings for children.
This months activities also include, besides the Sunday family hour,
weekday sittings at 7 a.m. and 7 p.m., a Zen meditation sitting from 7:30
to 9:30 a.m. on Saturdays, a Tuesday evening discussion group and a May
30 dinner event at Strange Brew restaurant in Springfield. The center
also provides regular yoga classes.
The range of activities far surpasses the centers scope when it
opened 10 years ago, when it was primarily a residence for several Antioch
College Buddhist studies students and a center for meditation. The center
grew from the need of a group of local villagers, including Pryor and
Wanicek, who had been meeting in each others homes to meditate since
the early 1980s. Denman joined the group when she discovered Buddhism
in the late 1980s, after traveling to India and Japan with her husband,
Al, a retired Antioch College professor of religious studies.
The group frequently met in the Livermore Street house, where Wanicek
then lived. When she and her family moved and the apartment became available,
group members decided to use the space for a center, which the Bakers
affordable rent allowed them to do. Since then, the group, and its activities,
Purchasing the Livermore Street house would provide a stable foundation
for the group, said Pryor. It would also allow the center to continue
to provide activities on a donation basis, he said. The houses extra
apartment would remain affordable housing.
Because Jane Baker has announced her intention to donate all of the house
proceeds to the Yellow Springs Community Foundation, those who donate
to the center would be donating twice to Yellow Springs, Pryor
In only two weeks, the group has already raised over $52,000, according
to Denman, who said a $20,000 matching grant has also been offered. A
fundraising concert with Puzzle of Light took place last weekend, and
the group will host an all town dance party, with DJ Rev.
Roxy Roberson, on Friday, June 27, at the Bryan Community Center.
Donations to the Dharma Centers capital campaign for housing can
be sent to 502 Livermore Street, or by calling 767-9919. More information
is available on the groups website, www.ysdharma.org.