If the MRO doesn’t reach its fundraising goal, will the projects go ahead anyhow?
Both the replacement of the Jizo House and the installation of the lift are extremely important projects that are among the Monastery’s highest priorities. Without the generous support of the sangha, we would not be able to undertake these initiatives without taking out a bridge loan or delaying other important work at the Monastery. It is with deep humility, gratitude and urgency that we are fundraising.
If the MRO exceeds its fundraising goal, how would the additional money be put to use?
The accessibility initiatives undertaken through the Jizo Project represent a major step forward in improving accessibility at the Monastery, and we are very focused on achieving our ambitious fundraising goal of $1.2 million. We have identified important “Phase 2” accessibility initiatives that we hope to take up after the completion of the Jizo Project. Should the generosity of the sangha put us above our $1.2m fundraising goal, we would use these funds to move forward with these additional initiatives.
How is the Jizo Project related to supporting practitioners with different needs, and what changes does this bring about within the MRO?
ZMM is an active training center that is dedicated to maintaining the teachings and deep meditation-based practices of the Buddhist tradition, and to making this available to those drawn to the Dharma. And so we are developing our appreciation of how the Monastery and sangha can support practitioners with different needs. Being unable to navigate a bunk bed, climb stairs, or practice certain aspects of the retreat schedule shouldn’t get in the way of Zen training. Similarly, our appreciation for the variety of gender expressions is developing, yet our living spaces and facilities have been structured along traditional binary lines. As our Monastery culture catches up to the different expressions of gender, having more living spaces to accommodate people who don’t identify as male or female is an important offering.
Could you speak a bit more about the Monastery’s ongoing work to protect and nurture our environment?
Most of our buildings are provided with electricity that we generate ourselves through our growing array of solar panels. We are reducing fossil fuel use by moving away from gas to electric heat overall, and by further adding more solar panels over time. The electricity we do purchase is 100% green electricity from our supplier. Our newest building at the Monastery, the Sangha House, is a LEED certified green building. We’re also investing in improving the energy efficiency of all of the Monastery’s buildings and cabins.
Additionally, we have a thriving organic garden that provides for a substantial portion of the Monastery’s fresh produce needs, and we have planted a new apple orchard that will become productive in the coming years. A growing proportion of the items sold at the Monastery Store are hand sourced and crafted here at the Monastery. For several years the Monastery Store has featured birdhouse gourds, incense holders, beeswax candles and of course honey from our own hives. Our latest addition is our Tenkozan Line—handmade, natural plant-dyed textiles from the Monastery Stitchery and unique, handmade Buddhist altar images from the Monastery Statuary. The basement of the new Jizo House will house both our Dye Studio and Statuary.
Are there fundraising projects planned for future years at the Monastery?
At this point, no other such fundraising projects are planned. The site of the existing Jizo House, where the new Jizo House will be located, is likely the last feasibly developed acreage at the Monastery, given the need to tie into our existing water sources and septic system and other environmental considerations. The costs and practical challenges of building further away from the main Monastery building – for example, up by the A-Frame Cabins or in the woods – are significant and would not support people with disabilities.
Are there any renovation plans for the Zen Center of New York City?
We feel extremely fortunate to have such a place of practice in Brooklyn, an old and very beautiful building that continues to support us so well. We have been doing repairs and renovations on an ongoing basis, such as last year’s replacing of the bathrooms in the zendo. We are currently working with engineering consultants to help us evaluate and prioritize the additional building repairs and upgrades that are needed. This will help us develop a multi-year roadmap for further improving our facilities at the Temple.
Can I make my contribution in installments for the Jizo Project?
Yes. However, because of limited fundraising resources, we don’t have the capacity to send reminders or contact people regarding pledges or installment payments. All gifts will be gratefully received, so please do let us know of your intent. We are hoping to receive the bulk of our donations in full by December 2019 so that we will have the resources needed to pay contractors for this work.
Is it possible to make a donation from my Individual Retirement Account (IRA)?
For donors who are age 70½ or older, direct asset contributions of up to $100,000 can be counted toward your required yearly IRA distributions and will not be included in your taxable income.
I would like to help with fundraising. What can I do to help?
Great! Some ideas for helping with fundraising for the Jizo Project include:
- Setting up a personal fundraiser via a crowd funding platform, such as Facebook and Kickstarter. If you would like some photos and text about the Jizo Project for such an initiative, please email firstname.lastname@example.org.
- Requesting that any financial gifts for a wedding, birthday or other special occasion be made to ZMM for the Jizo Project.
You may contact the Jizo Project fundraising committee to discuss any ideas you might have.