evergreen dharma community
i've been very busy lately so haven't posted until today. probably will fade out again for some time. my hectic schedule centers around, among other things, a vision for an experimental evergreen dharma community project.
last year we finished renovating a plot of land in the middle of the tallahassee city and called it the tallahassee chan center. the center is dedicated to my teacher, master sheng yen. adjacent to that land is a 4.6 acre empty lot, now a radio tower on it (with four years left to their lease). that land was for sale, so we competed with the tower company to purchase that land. i'm happy to say that we will be closing on the property next tuesday.
my plan for the land is to build the evergreen dharma community, taking care of the elderly dharma teachers and practitioners of every tradition living in the west. most of them are not well off, and can't afford to purchase a spot in senior citizen homes (i couldn't believe how much it costs in different places), and many have no children to take care of them. they have devoted their lives to practice, and now they need to step aside to let the next generation step up to teach the dharma. i'd like to devote the rest of my life to taking care of them.
the aim of this evergreen dharma community is to fulfill a lacuna in our society to provide an affordable (i hope to make it completely donation based) independent and assisted living where the elder practitioners who wish to live the last phase of their life with dignity, compassion, and wisdom. it would be a nonprofit organization aimed to allow dharma practitioners to flourish and receive specific targeted palliative care.
i plan to continue to teach and lead retreats to earn the money (possibly government funding?) necessary to fund this community. i also hope to partner with fsu nursing school, college of social work, department of religion, osher lifelong learning institute, and the department of elder affairs to make the evergreen community a reality. i have made working contacts in each of those organizations.
the evergreen dharma community site will include a main building for its residents and individual small housing, a healing garden, an organic vegetable garden to be self sufficient, and community center where workshops and classes would be held. being on the same site as the tallahassee chan center with its meditation hall and programs, our (younger) practitioners would also help take care of the evergreen dharma community residents.
this is important because i want this community to be intergenerational--there will be the elderly and the young practicing together. one of the biggest problems i see with nursing homes is that it aims to gather up all the old ppl and tuck them away, out of sight, out of mind. very unnatural. i want to replicate the small family unit, where the old and young interact, and make it a community living.
old age is a very lonely phase of life... the loneliness impacts the elderly in multiple ways, hampering every aspect of their daily life, where the things that younger ppl take for granted (walking, eating, sleeping, talking coherently, seeing, hearing, being with friends/family, etc) have been lost. dharma practitioners are not excluded. they need to be seen, heard, and loved.
i'm writing this message to this small online community to let you all know what i'm up to these days, and to solicit ideas, suggestions. i''m 50 yrs old, but i've never ran a palliative care community before. nor have i taken care of the elderly--although i've taken care of my teacher as his attendant. i need to learn about the social, institutional, business, logistics, and even the architectural aspects of this vision.
if anyone has experience or suggestions, pls post it here or privately. thank you...