As a misty early morning rain falls in the Blackburn valley, there’s a quiet hum of activity around the Centre. All the full-season staff are now here setting up for the early programs. There are new faces and new roles, and a strong sense of purpose. Jack Teng and Emily Adam are managing the farm and already seedlings are sprouting. There has been a continuous supply of farm-fresh greens all winter, thanks to planning in the fall. Though we are a long way from food self-sufficiency, each year sees a significant step toward that change. Last year also saw some major changes in the Centre’s way of operating. Scheduling has always been a most challenging and stressful job, but for 2011 the system was completely restructured, enlisting the help of Shantam, one of the schedulers at Mount Madonna Center. He spent a month on Salt Spring and customised the program he had written for MMC. Along with other changes at the Centre, this revolutionised staff scheduling, reducing it from an almost full-time job to just a few hours a week. Another change, made over a year ago, has had a large impact. We have now had over a year to assess our new website, and it has seen greatly increased traffic. More and more guests and potential karma yogis are discovering us through the internet. Booking and payment for programs and wellness centre visits, and applications for all positions are now done on-line.
Not all the volunteer work for the Centre is so readily seen. The Dharma Sara Board of directors continues its work mostly in the background. With some Board members out of the country over the winter, meetings have continued by conference call. The Board deals with the broader picture of the legal, organisational, ethical, philosophical and financial issues facing the Centre. Part of its mandate is to plan for the future – no simple task in a world changing so fast in so many ways. What will the Centre look like in five, ten or even twenty years? What do we want it to look like? In twenty years how many of the original members will remain? There is much groundwork to be laid before then. This is where you come in! The Board is elected by current members of Dharma Sara at the Annual General Meeting. This year the AGM will be held on the weekend of June 16th. The bylaws state that anyone who has been a member for 90 days is eligible to vote – so those who take out their membership by March 19th may help choose the next Board of directors. Those wishing to run for office must have been members for at least twelve months. You are encouraged to participate and can find details of membership here.
Because some of the long-time members of Dharma Sara may not be known to many familiar with the Centre, each of the last Newsletters has featured a profile of one of them. This month we profile Janaki Polden, who, though no longer on the Board, served many years as a director and continues to support Centre and Board activities. She was one of those who moved to Salt Spring Island to help the Centre in its beginnings. Her story is inspiring and captures the spirit of those early days filled with hard physical work, fun with Babaji and great optimism for the future. The Centre would not be what it is today without the generosity of spirit exemplified by Janaki and many others. All who appreciate the Centre owe them and Babaji a great debt of gratitude.