A report from Tom Ronen Goddard
It’s been a touch over a year since Shalom Mountain moved from a privately owned company to a community-supported not-for-profit organization. Part of the excitement and, I’ll admit, some of the anxiety about that transition had to do with the diverse and creative ideas that members of the Shalom Community had about what to do with the now-consolidated 50+ acres of beautiful land upon which Shalom sits, as well as the current structures that we use every day.
To help address those issues, in December 2011 the Shalom Mountain Inc. Board of Directors appointed me as the Director, Land Use and Development. My functions include initiating a conversation across the community about what, if anything we could and should do to enhance our use of the precious resource that is the land and structures owned by Shalom.
To that end, in January 2012 we pulled together a diverse group of community members who had, over the years, expressed an interest in participating in a sustained conversation about these issues, and call the group the Land Use and Development Advisory Group (“LUDAG”). This group has met a half-dozen times or so since February, although we took a bit of a break over the summer. Shalom people have pretty active lives, especially when the weather’s nice!
LUDAG is blessed with the participation of two talented and dedicated architects, Deborah Fausch and Peter MacDonald, whose expertise helps guide the rest of us (Charles Ross, Joyce Harvey-Morgan, Judi Johnston, Peter Britton, Sequoia Sun, and Susan Lamprecht) as we begin the painstaking tasks involved in figuring out what both what the community wants to do and what we can do, given the constraints of the values of the community, state and local laws, and the realities of the existing structures and land.
The LUDAG has developed a series of goals, and is in the process of mapping to those goals the physical planning solutions and needed research. It is hoped that this process will guide our work in the coming year.
The goals we have identified so far are:
- Financial sustainability and growth (i.e., supporting and enhancing existing programs and finding additional sources of revenue compatible with Shalom culture and mission)
- Programmatic sustainability and planned growth
- Improve and enhance housing for interns, staff, resident teachers
- Repair or replace bungalows
- Provide common space for residents
- Develop housing/places for short-term individual/solitary retreat
- Develop incubator retreat center
- Provide expansion plan for existing retreat building
- Ecosustainability (including the possibility of building with recycled and reused materials and reducing waste energy consumption)
- Preservation and enhancement of sacred lands (e.g., the men’s, women’s, and children’s temples, the High Meadow)
- Community enhancement and development (including exploring such ideas as creating opportunities for residential community based on Shalom principles, mutual support between the retreat center and residential community, and the development of other residential Shalom communities off-site)
So, what’s next for LUDAG? Over the fall and winter, we’ll be conducting research into some of the ideas involved in achieving these goals, with the objective of presenting our findings and proposed plan for land use and development to the Shalom Board and Executive Council. Nobody’s in a particular rush to start any particular projects other than those involved in serving the immediate needs of the Mountain. However, we do feel a responsibility to move from the stage of pure dreaming into an era of research and planning, so that as the Shalom community’s needs and aspirations, as well as its resources, continue to evolve, we are ready to match new resources to those needs.
If you have an interest in being involved in some aspect of our work on land use and development, please shoot Tom an email at firstname.lastname@example.org.