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Buddhadharma : Winter 2009
buddhadharma: the practitioner’s quarterly winter 2 0 09 56 more than if we’d paid someone a salary to look after it. Turnover is a difficulty for us. Most of our staff is in their twenties, so most will stay for one to three years. We had about a 25 percent turnover this fall, which is not ideal. We’re trying to ask people for a minimum two-year commitment for regular staff and a three-year commitment for managers. BOB agOglia: IMS has a paid staff of forty people. We also have work retreat programs in which people work four or five hours a day instead of paying the retreat fee. Eighteen of our staff live on-site, which is great for them and great for IMS, since things are happening here 24 / 7. It’s a very caring place to work. I consider it a blessing to come to work every day, and I think most people would say the same thing. We’ve just had our most stable year for staff ever. We only have three people leaving, so turnover is extremely low. The average tenure of a manager is now creep- ing up on five years. That kind of stability really helps. We’re not retraining people all the time. The number of volunteer hours here at IMS is extraordi- nary. The volunteers play many roles. We have some people who come and live here for one to three months and take on various projects. They become part of our housekeeping or maintenance department so we can accomplish projects we couldn’t otherwise accomplish with our paid staff. Volunteer- ing is one of the ways that our sangha supports us with dana. We’re very grateful for all that work. evan Kavanagh: Spirit Rock is staffed very similarly to IMS, so I don’t have much to add. SuSan O’COnnell: Zen Center is quite different from what’s been described. In Zen, work is our practice, in addition to zazen of course. The abbots do dishes. We don’t call the peo- ple who enter into residence “staff.” They’re students and we have a training facility. The purpose of our community is to train people to integrate the teachings of Zen into their san francisco zen center The San Francisco Zen Center was established in 1962 by Shunryu Suzuki Roshi (1904 – 1971) and his American students. It includes City Center, housed in a former “home for unmarried Jewish women” in the heart of San Francisco; Tassajara Zen Mountain Center, a retreat facility in a former hot springs resort in the Los Padres National Forest, four hours south of the city; and Green Gulch, known for its organic farm, just across the Golden Gate from San Francisco. City Center has residential spaces for about 60 people, plus six guest rooms, a 65-person zendo, and workshop and classroom space for close to 200. Tassa- jara has 85 guest spots from May through September and 60 students doing cloistered practice from October through April. Green Gulch has 30 overnight guest spots, an 82-person zendo, and two workshop rooms with a capacity of 65 people. About 10,000 people register for programs annually at the centers. Zen Center has a current budget of $4.7 million, and a staff of around 200. They are all residents or participants in the work practice training program. Approximately 500 people volunteer annually. Donors will tell you if you’re doing what they think helps the world, so it’s actually a good feedback mechanism. It keeps us in touch with what people need. —Susan O’Connell (Left) Program participants and volunteers preparing a meal at San Francisco Zen Center (Facing page) Participants in the Insight Meditation Society’s annual retreat for young adults (bottom)michaello;(top)marchamel(bottom)benjaminrandom;(top)lipingzhu