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Thread: Treeleaf Service Project: Web of Interconnection

  1. #1
    Stephanie
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    Treeleaf Service Project: Web of Interconnection

    Hello all,

    Jundo has enlisted my involvement in putting together a human service project to incorporate into our practice as a sangha. This project would serve the Treeleaf community by bringing us together to work on a shared project and would serve the larger community by offering a service addressing an actual area of need.

    My first thought was to come up with something that would be able to utilize Treeleaf's Internet base as a strength rather than an obstacle. This got me thinking about how, as I have shared here before, Internet based communities like Treeleaf remove a lot of the social cues that create prejudice and obstacles in embodied interactions. People with physical disabilities, social difficulties, or other obstacles in embodied interactions can meet others on an even playing field on the Internet.

    If there is any malaise that defines our current age, it is increasing social fragmentation, isolation, and loneliness. And people who are home-bound, either by choice or by restrictions they cannot overcome, such as mobility challenges, extreme social anxiety, depression, or illness, can be particularly affected by loneliness.

    So my idea was to develop a project at Treeleaf where we connect and interact with socially isolated individuals who are seeking connection with others. Jundo wanted to incorporate a physical aspect of samu to this project, and what is great about this project is that it could be done both through the Internet and through face-to-face and foot-to-pavement action, by physically going out in one's community to spend time with socially isolated or home-bound individuals. This would allow us to reach both people who use the Internet and those who do not. For example, many elderly become home-bound, but many elderly do not use computers or the Internet, and this is where "on foot" community outreach would be important and effective.

    The easy thing about this project is that it is a very simple task, to have a conversation and/or to simply listen to someone. We could use any number of formats: face-to-face meeting, Skype, IM, e-mail, telephone.

    But there are two distinct challenges that would need to be met for the project to be successful:

    1) How do we locate and do outreach to our target population--socially isolated individuals with a desire to connect with others and share their stories? This is where the most creative thinking and groundwork is needed. This in many ways is a "hidden population," not easily reached by advertising or easily locatable through a database.

    2) How do we engage the people whom we would be serving through this project in a way that honors their dignity and worth? The last thing that someone suffering from loneliness needs is pity or condescension--these actually increase loneliness. This is the mind training aspect of this project, to work with our own resistances and tendencies to map people onto a social hierarchy, to see someone as weaker than us. How can we honor the strengths of those to whom we are reaching out, the journeys that have brought them to where they are and the wisdom they have gained along the way? How can we help people who may feel scorned or outcast feel respected and valued? Genuine respect and interest is required.

    Of course, none of us are perfect saints, and there are some people we may have difficulty respecting or being interested in. But this would be our practice--seeing where we are setting ourselves apart from someone and learning how to drop that mental tendency. This is a perfect avenue to bring together Buddhists in an act of service because our practice gives us a way to work on the tendencies of mind that get in the way of truly addressing the issue of loneliness. This project would allow the people we serve to become our teachers, and not just passive recipients of our good intentions.

    So I would like to ask others with interest to either PM me or post to this thread so we can put together a committee to refine this idea and get this project off the ground. Any ideas for how to address #1 above are especially needed and welcome. There will be more than one answer and the more ways we can come up with successful methods of outreach, the more tools we will have to make this work.

    Stephanie

  2. #2

    Re: Treeleaf Service Project: Web of Interconnection

    Hi.

    Very well done stephanie!
    This sounds like a really good start.

    Many deep bows.

    Mtfbwy
    Fugen

  3. #3

    Re: Treeleaf Service Project: Web of Interconnection

    Awesome, so a Sangha we work together to help those in our own back yards or abroad.

    Well done indeed Steph!

    Gassho
    Shohei

  4. #4

    Re: Treeleaf Service Project: Web of Interconnection

    Hello Stephanie,

    A wonderful idea!

    I have recently begun volunteering at a hospice; I was very surprised at how many people at home and in nursing homes have no-one. May I suggest that we use projects like this for part of the footwork? The people in my hospice program are all very ill, and most are very lonely.

    Additionally, for those who meet the age criteria, the Prison Dharma Project is a wonderful organization; it would just be a little more difficult for "face time" with your pen pal, and one would need to be willing to invest in pens, paper, and stamps.

    Please keep me updated on this project; I would love to do what I can to help.

    Much metta,

    Perry

  5. #5

    Re: Treeleaf Service Project: Web of Interconnection

    Hello all,

    Stephanie, I think this is a great idea and I would love to help. I'm headed for work, but will be thinking of ideas. Just a first thought, I think maybe contacting local meals on wheels or those type of services might be of benefit to helping identify shut-ins. I'll keep thinking.

    Wonderful idea!

    Perry-wonderful idea about Prison Dharma Project, I've been talking with my husband about starting something locally in the prison he works for.

    Gassho,
    Kelly/Jinmei

  6. #6
    Stephanie
    Guest

    Re: Treeleaf Service Project: Web of Interconnection

    Great! I am glad others connect with the idea and intention for this project. Thanks for the positive feedback and ideas!

    I think hospice, homes for the elderly, and Meals on Wheels projects are great avenues to explore for ideas and outreach networks.

    I admire the Prison Dharma Project quite a bit--alternatives to incarceration are one of my passions as a social worker--but I think it is a somewhat different project than the Treeleaf Project. A similar spirit, I agree, but a different context and rationale. I think to keep this project feasible, we should not make it too broad, and define the "target population" of individuals we will be serving with some precision. Once we get the main project off the ground, that is when offshoot projects like prison outreach can come into play. In other words, let us build the roots and trunk before we start branching off!

    I think homebound elders are going to be a key population, especially in the "on foot" aspect of this project, as computer use and Internet access is probably not a part of the lives of people who became adults in generations where computer use was not widespread. So I think coordinating with projects like "Meals on Wheels" would be a good start for those of us who want to take up the project on foot, face-to-face, in our own communities.

    I do wonder, though, about the potential obstacles for using MoW as a database. That information is likely confidential, and even if it isn't (which would surprise me), we should consider how not to invade privacy or impose ourselves on people who may not be interested. I think we should find a way to get people to come to us--perhaps flyer distribution would be one way. I am thinking maybe someone with a background in advertising or marketing might make a valuable member of the team, in terms of coming up with ways to appeal to our population base and inspire them to reach out to us.

    There is also the matter of incorporating the Internet into this project. This is a very important part of the project for me for many reasons, not the least of which is that the Internet is, in many ways, the perfect tool. People who shy away from face-to-face social interactions, as well as people who cannot or choose not to leave their homes, are often drawn to the Internet. The Internet allows people to connect to other people across the world from the safety, comfort, and accessibility of home. Using the Internet will also allow busy Treeleafers who may find it difficult to make time to go out into the community to get involved in a way that is more accessible to them. It expands the time frame of contact times and the geographical scope.

    So a creative challenge is how to connect to people who may benefit through the Internet. What might people be looking for in terms of social contact that they are not getting from other Internet interactions they have, that we could provide? Again, how do we appeal to these individuals, and invite them to come to us?

    One thing I have thought of is some of the projects that have been done to listen to and record individuals' oral histories. Many people have lived amazing lives that may simply be forgotten. We all have a natural yearning for others to hear and know our stories and experiences. The main project I am thinking of is this one:

    http://www.amazon.com/Listening-Act-Lov ... 1594201404
    http://www.npr.org/templates/story/stor ... d=16088311
    http://storycorps.org/about/

    I think incorporating some ideas and skills from StoryCorps and Active Listening organizations would be a nice way to network and learn from others engaged in similar work. Some active listening groups are based on the idea that active listening is a tool of nonviolence. I think the principle fits in with the receptive frame of mind nurtured by Soto practice.

  7. #7

    Re: Treeleaf Service Project: Web of Interconnection

    Great idea. I am up for it!

  8. #8
    Treeleaf Unsui Dosho's Avatar
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    Re: Treeleaf Service Project: Web of Interconnection

    This is simply wonderful...count me In!

    Gassho,
    Dosho

  9. #9

    Re: Treeleaf Service Project: Web of Interconnection

    A home bound elderly may be contacted through the local offices of The Counsel on Aging.
    Those with mobility or vision challenges are found through the V.A., and hospital Patient Advocates!
    Good Idea Stephanie.

  10. #10

    Re: Treeleaf Service Project: Web of Interconnection

    This is a very good idea Stephanie. I think that this idea of Active Listening offers a very good format to an Internet based project.
    My five cents about possible "targets". I don't know how it is in the US, but here in Spain migrants are very internet savvy,as the use it on almost daily basis to keep in touch with the family and friends they left behind in their country of origin. I'm sure the have very moving and amazing stories to tell. Also we could become information sources about practical stuff on the country they are leaving in: from social security issues to free language courses.

    Whatever we finally decide to do, count me in

    Gassho

  11. #11

    Re: Treeleaf Service Project: Web of Interconnection

    hellos to all considering such a project

    perhaps thinking globally, acting locally?

    That is, putting up in a local place (let's say a senior citizen center, or a food bank or library--bulletin board a notice or flyers giving the initial contact information). Rather than use the meals on wheels data base, request of meals on wheels that they include a flyer with meals given out the first day of the month or some such date, and those participating from Treeleaf can be the ones to provide those flyers to the local Meals on Wheels.

    Am just tossing ideas out, please excuse the roughness about the edges, have not done any dwelling upon the thoughts being tossed.

    I will not be able to participate in such an enterprise, too many projects and committments at hand at the moment.

  12. #12

    Re: Treeleaf Service Project: Web of Interconnection

    Hi all,

    I thank Stephanie for the wonderful idea, and all who are contributing and will be joining in. I think this is going to work!

    We need to do some things carefully, very carefully, however. For example, I was a member of a prison Dharma project at a maximum security prison in Florida, and you cannot just rush in to that. The prisons are very restrictive on who can volunteer there and their activities (including exchanging letters and emails, which are highly censored and restricted), such that one would really need to volunteer through an established and experienced prison Dharma project. Perhaps some of our members who themselves (or family) are now working in Prison security can guide us there.

    Also, if we are dealing with people we do not know well, visiting their homes or simply offering an ear over the internet, we need to provide some training and guidelines, I think. I was also a volunteer for another activity in which I had to visit the homes of people and assist them, and there need to be clear lines. For example, dealing with the elderly in Florida, whenever they misplace something in the house, it is very common for the older person to blame (accuse of taking) the nurse or volunteer who was there that day (never happened to me, although I saw my own grandmother do so with a nurse). We volunteers received training in how to avoid such situations.

    Also, even though we may be in a position of "just listening" to people ... we need to have some general guidelines on, for example, offering advice and counseling that steps beyond "just listening", dealing with people who seem to need the advice of a lawyer or medical doctor and recommending that they seek that, confidentiality, requests to lend money, receiving gifts, talking with people of other religious faiths and "pushing Buddhism" to people of other religions (which I say we avoid completely), and many other topics.

    I do not mean to be a bucket of cold water on everyone's head, but we need to have some structure here and take some care. Such are, unfortunately, the realities of a complex world.

    Gassho, Jundo

  13. #13

    Re: Treeleaf Service Project: Web of Interconnection

    Thank you for clarification, Jundo

    I was under the impression this was already a plan in place and only needed 'clients.'

    Problems and solutions, needs and actions which meet them.

    Each of us right where we live, there are aplenty folks, and needs awaiting our action/assistance.

    To my way of thinking, there is no need for great effort to get something off the ground; perhaps a need for me to get my big rear-end off the couch...but not even that so much either...

  14. #14

    Re: Treeleaf Service Project: Web of Interconnection

    Great effort, Stephanie!

    Quote Originally Posted by Jundo
    Hi all,

    For example, dealing with the elderly in Florida, whenever they misplace something in the house, it is very common for the older person to blame (accuse of taking) the nurse or volunteer who was there that day (never happened to me, although I saw my own grandmother do so with a nurse). We volunteers received training in how to avoid such situations.


    Gassho, Jundo
    Reminds me of how I have to manage my mothers keys and make sure she doesn't leave things behind. There have been so many things lost in her home but they usually turn up somewhere.

    My service project is committing more time to helping my mother.

    /Rich

  15. #15
    Senior Member AlanLa's Avatar
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    Re: Treeleaf Service Project: Web of Interconnection

    Very nice, Stephanie. I love the Story Corps project and would be glad to be part of that here.

  16. #16

    Re: Treeleaf Service Project: Web of Interconnection

    There are some of us who may need to start "small". There are many individuals that we run into on a daily basis who are, in effect, socially isolated, yet invisible. Invisible in the sense that they are often overlooked - appear to be in the current of social activity, yet are in essence the walking lonely. Don't misunderstand - I'm not trying to take away from Stephanie's very excellent ideas, I'm simply suggesting that it's not just the physically isolated who could use connection.

    In the small town where I reside, we have a very high incidence of schizoid, bipolar, and depressed individuals - all of whom on the surface appear to interact "normally" (whatever the hell that means). So what I'm suggesting is that for some of us, simply inviting friendliness and conversation may be a start.

    Perhaps I've misunderstood what is being put forward, but I'm only throwing ideas out there so we can all focus on the project at hand.

    -Jim

  17. #17

    Re: Treeleaf Service Project: Web of Interconnection

    Hi Stephanie

    What a great addition to the practice of our geographicaly far flung sangha. While the initial response to your post may seem a little on the weak side, I am sure there are a lot of us that are excited about the idea, and are chewing on possibilities.

    Seems a lot of the current social and political issues are adding segments of societies to the list of the marginalized. I am sure we will come up with not only a unique but vitally needed effort.

    Will be in touch.

    Jim

  18. #18
    Stephanie
    Guest

    Re: Treeleaf Service Project: Web of Interconnection

    A lot of great ideas, keep them coming.

    The first step in this project is generating a lot of ideas, then we can sort through them and apply the ones that will work the best, and come up with a specific mission and clear parameters of how to carry it out.

    I agree with Jundo that we will need to be careful. I've seen all too well how idealistic fervor can blind people to nuances that challenge the idealistic view they are holding. Not every person who is alone wants company; not every isolated person is going to want to participate, even if they are lonely; not everyone who participates is going to respond well to it. We must be clear about our purpose and define a purpose that fits within what we are capable of properly doing, and not overstep that by trying to become counselors, health consultants, or motivational speakers.

    I think that maintaining an open and receptive attitude and approach will work the best. Listening is healing and empowering to the person who is being listened to, and is something of which we are all capable. Our capacity to truly, deeply listen is something enhanced by practice, which therefore makes this an appropriate task for us as a group. We can certainly benefit from connecting with formal Active Listening practitioners, maybe do a workshop or even just have someone do a video talk for us on the subject.

    My life is awhirl with change at the moment so I probably will not be able to give this project full attention over the next month, but that works out just as well, as I think spending a month just brainstorming and working things out through dialogue and discussion will give us a rich idea and knowledge base.

    Thanks for all the interest and enthusiasm. Gassho

  19. #19
    Senior Member Hogo's Avatar
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    Re: Treeleaf Service Project: Web of Interconnection

    Copy and pasting here from Stepanies 90 year old blogger post, an idea I had about helping people who are not able connect with others via technology.

    Very cool story, thanks for sharing.
    Reminded me of an Idea I was gonna post for you on your "web of interconnection post" I will share here quickly:
    My mom is 80 years old, and lives far away from me and my family. A while back we thought how cool it would be to get her on the internet and be able to do things such a skype calls especially so she can see my daughter Emma....problem is both she can not afford internet for that much use, and there is NO WAY she could figure out a computer, I am not saying that just because of her age, as this post shows age is not an obstacle, but she just does not get technology and little buttons and keys.....It took grreat effort to show her how to use a TV remote

    Not sure how needed it would be, but I did wonder how many elderly are far from family, and could benefit from someone with a laptop helping them to get in touch with family and friends, A VERY raw Idea I know, but who knows....bedside Skpe service??? Could be neat. Just tossing it into the pile for now I will think on it more.
    Gassho ~ Dave.

  20. #20
    Stephanie
    Guest

    Re: Treeleaf Service Project: Web of Interconnection

    Once again, not a bad idea, but a different project from the one proposed here.

    No project works if the idea behind it is too diffuse. Prison outreach, connecting elderly people with family members, and so on, are somewhat related to the goal/purpose of the project, but branch off from it in distinct ways.

    The goal here is not to come up with as many ideas for different projects as possible, but to find a way to get this one project off the ground.

    The main idea behind the project is to use the Internet and face-to-face contact to connect Treeleaf members with people who are isolated and want to share their stories with others. This allows us to both serve a genuine human need and to engage in a practice of mindful, active listening as a complement to the other forms of practice we utilize at Treeleaf.

    I will make an effort to write up a basic framework and mission statement this weekend. I think setting a clear outline and basic structure for the project will help focus the brainstorming and idea refinement in this thread.

  21. #21

    Re: Treeleaf Service Project: Web of Interconnection

    This is a great idea, Stephanie! I'm game! I'll try and think of some ideas...

    Gassho,

    Adam

  22. #22

    Re: Treeleaf Service Project: Web of Interconnection

    Quote Originally Posted by Stephanie

    No project works if the idea behind it is too diffuse. Prison outreach, connecting elderly people with family members, and so on, are somewhat related to the goal/purpose of the project, but branch off from it in distinct ways.

    The goal here is not to come up with as many ideas for different projects as possible, but to find a way to get this one project off the ground.
    But some creative and "do-non-doable" ideas too ... and we might add some of those later.

    Gassho, Jundo

  23. #23

    Re: Treeleaf Service Project: Web of Interconnection

    Quote Originally Posted by Stephanie
    I will make an effort to write up a basic framework and mission statement this weekend. I think setting a clear outline and basic structure for the project will help focus the brainstorming and idea refinement in this thread.
    Cool. Looking forward to it.

  24. #24

    Re: Treeleaf Service Project: Web of Interconnection

    On July 19, Stephanie wrote the following in another thread regarding the depressing environments she must for the time being exist in.

    “Jersey City is so wretched that the full force of hungry gentrification can't tame it”

    The next day I was standing in the back yard in “far west Texas: watching the evening approach. The sky to the east was slate grey with the approaching storm; tinged with orange from the setting sun. Lightning and the soft rumble of thunder provided a crescendo to the soft notes of the wind chime. The vultures were settling in for the night in the old Cyprus tree.

    This brings me to my thoughts on Treeleaf sangha’s “service project”... While we share so much on a personal level, how extremely different we are in the environments we each live in, and how those environments shape our view on life.

    In an environment such as Stephanie describes in Jersey City, the cry of suffering is deafening, nearly drowning out feelings of compassion by a need to have it just STOP. On the other hand, living in a rural town of 2,000 surrounded by high desert and grasslands, peace is easy to find if one simply takes time to pause.

    Take this thought and apply it to all the diverse physical, cultural and ethnic environments the members of Treeleaf sangha exist in, it will be a challenge to find a common need or approach to companionate action by the sangha.

    One other thought is about just who are we doing this for? I see a great value in sharing a common effort by the sangha, primarily to pull us together from our far flung places of existence. I am not comfortable with the effort if it is to publicise the “works” of Treeleaf or of Buddhist community. There should be no other motivation other than our acts of compassion are simply a personal and vital part of our practice. The compassion we share with those that are suffering given individually or anomalously will be more appreciated and effective that if it appears to come from some esoteric organization called “treeleaf” or “a Buddhist group”.

    So waiting to see the work outline from Stephanie so we can more forward. It is exciting, but also a great challenge…

    Jim

  25. #25

    Re: Treeleaf Service Project: Web of Interconnection

    Quote Originally Posted by lorax

    One other thought is about just who are we doing this for? I see a great value in sharing a common effort by the sangha, primarily to pull us together from our far flung places of existence. I am not comfortable with the effort if it is to publicise the “works” of Treeleaf or of Buddhist community. There should be no other motivation other than our acts of compassion are simply a personal and vital part of our practice. The compassion we share with those that are suffering given individually or anomalously will be more appreciated and effective that if it appears to come from some esoteric organization called “treeleaf” or “a Buddhist group”.
    Hey Jim,

    This is a fine line, and must be tread with care.

    Certainly, we should be doing such things primarily to help others, and not for our own glory or enjoyment or self gratification. The more of the former, the less of the latter ... the better for Practice, I feel.

    As to publicity ... this is a hard call too. We certainly are not trying to glorify our work or efforts. Neither do we try to proselytize or convert anyone or chase them into this place (Zen folks should not, I feel, be big proselytizers). However, if we do not do some light efforts to make the Sangha known ... then some who might benefit from it would know about it! Everyone who is sitting here heard about it because of our activities. So, it is a fine line about how to get people's attention without trying to get any glory.

    I see no harm in undertaking such a project for many reasons, for example, helping others while at the same time further getting Sangha members to work together and unite a bit through cooperating on the project.

    Gassho, J

  26. #26

    Re: Treeleaf Service Project: Web of Interconnection

    I see no harm in undertaking such a project for many reasons, for example, helping others while at the same time further getting Sangha members to work together and unite a bit through cooperating on the project.


    Not only would I say "no harm," I see the potential to benefit others. (Assuming that for this comversation we muct use such figures of speech as harm and benefit.) Regarding what you said about advertizing... I remember seeing a magazine add that led me to this site in the first place way back when. It wasn't self aggrandizing or glorifying, it simply let it be known that the site exists, and it has been an improvement in my life. No reason we can't similarly let people know about something we might have to offer without strutting and crowing about it. Everyone knows tho Mother Teresa was, and what she did... I don't think anyone would say she was boastful in any way. Same could be said for Thich Nhat Hahn. No reason we can't follow similar examples.

  27. #27
    Stephanie
    Guest

    Re: Treeleaf Service Project: Web of Interconnection

    I have bolded the most relevant parts of this post.

    To clarify, set up a basic outline, and set parameters for brainstorming:

    This project was set up to serve two purposes:
    1. To use the energy and "human capital" of Treeleaf to serve a social need
    2. To create a "samu" project for Treeleafers involving hands-on, face-to-face work.


    When Jundo asked me for my input as a social worker on what kind of project we could do at Treeleaf, I immediately thought of a third aspect:

    3. To create a project that would take advantage of the unique strengths of the Treeleaf community, i.e. one that could integrate both Internet and "on the ground" service.

    Jundo made it clear he did not want the project to be passive, such as collecting money, and that this should provide an engaged practice opportunity for Treeleafers.


    I think that using both Internet technology and in-person interaction to connect with people who are isolated fulfills the above.

    So to sum it up in a single mission statement: The Treeleaf Web of Interconnection Project is a service project by members of the Treeleaf community using both in-person contact and Internet technology to provide face-to-face contact with homebound or otherwise isolated individuals seeking to share their lives and stories with others.

    (This mission statement is up for revision, I just wanted to at least get a "rough draft" out there.)

    I have a general mental picture of how this might work, but have many questions about how to make this project effective. I would appreciate brainstorming on these questions. Jundo wanted my input for a general idea for this project but this is our project, not mine.

    I think there have been many great ideas in this thread but many differ too much from this project not to end up becoming other projects altogether, which, if we did them, would take away from the community integration that would fuel a Treeleaf service project. Now, I think a lot of the ideas that have been generated are closely related to this project; what I think would be great is if, once this project was established with a strong "trunk," some of these other projects could start "branching" off of it.

    And, of course, we may find that this particular project is not feasible, which would mean coming up with another project that would fulfill #1 and #2, and, I would hope, #3. So if anyone has any objections to this particular project, please share them; there might be flaws in the idea and/or the ability to execute it that should be examined. But for those who think this is a good project for Treeleaf, I would love to read some of your responses to the following questions I have:

    1. Should our target population of those we aim to serve be broad, such as all homebound individuals, or should it be narrowed even further, to a particular population, such as homebound elders or homebound people suffering from disabilities? I suggest "homebound" instead of "socially isolated" because I fear that would be so broad as to make the project dilute and/or confusing.

    2. How do we address the issue of isolation gracefully, without pitying those to whom we outreach or making them feel pitied? In other words, how can this project be used to empower those we serve? It is in response to this question that I thought of incorporating Active Listening and possibly following the StoryCorps model, but am open to other ideas and strategies also.

    3. How do we successfully engage in outreach and make this project appealing to those who might be served by it? I liked the idea of distributing flyers via Meals on Wheels, which is one approach of many I hope we can come up with. We must be wary of privacy and confidentiality when considering outreach approaches.

    4. For those who would seek to go out into their communities on an "in person" basis, how should we present ourselves and explain our organization? Should we perhaps involve other local community members, and possibly other Buddhist sanghas, for additional support and "local viability"?

    5. How do we incorporate technology and the Internet into this project? Obviously we could use Skype, IM programs, and other software that allows voice and/or video capabilities. I think to successfully address #2, we should avoid text-only approaches (though I am open to feedback on this also). I think the difficulties and resistances we face in ourselves in connecting intimately with strangers will be valuable for the "samu" and "hands-on" aspects of this project. It is too easy to maintain detachment when there is not the immediacy of another voice, a pause of awkwardness in the conversation, a look in the eyes or body language.


    And that brings me to the question raised above of not wanting this project to be self-serving. My thought is that a mutually beneficial project is the only kind of project that can empower. It is not a "sin" for the community and its members to benefit from this project as well. If we see this as a practice, I think it adds a humility to it that prevents any sort of "holier-than-thou" or condescending relationships between us and those we aim to serve. As for advertising--we will need to find ways to outreach and successfully connect with our target population, but I certainly think any sort of proselytizing would be inappropriate. If people are curious about Treeleaf, and Zen, by all means we can answer questions; and for purposes of honesty and full-disclosure, any outreach materials should name and briefly describe "who we are," but no more is necessary.

    And finally, I break my own suggestion :wink: by wondering about a possible companion project (most likely to be integrated later, at that time as I described above when the project is strong enough to branch out) to teach others how to use the Internet and related technologies. This would most likely focus mostly on elders who did not "grow up" with the Internet. This would be very empowering; heck, it might even be a better project than the first. It would fulfill the suggestion by a poster in the above thread of finding a way to connect isolated people with their families. This project would of necessity need to happen in person. Which would again require addressing #4.

    I really believe the Internet stands to make a lot of things better for a lot of people, and facilitating human contact for those who would otherwise have a difficult time coming by it is one of them. I think as the "first Internet Sangha" we should by all means incorporate this technology and its possibilities into our commitment as bodhisattvas to serve others.

    I look forward to reading more thoughts, concerns, and questions, and hopefully some responses to questions #1-5 above!

  28. #28

    Re: Treeleaf Service Project: Web of Interconnection

    One way to address issue # 5 to "incorporate technology" would be to just make a website with a searchable database of people's stories (suitably anonymized, of course) -- preferably both original recordings and transcripts of the stories.

    Gassho,

  29. #29

    Re: Treeleaf Service Project: Web of Interconnection

    Quote Originally Posted by mydnight
    One way to address issue # 5 to "incorporate technology" would be to just make a website with a searchable database of people's stories (suitably anonymized, of course) -- preferably both original recordings and transcripts of the stories.

    Gassho,
    Hi,

    Some confidentiality issues there which would require great care. As you say, they would have to be suitably anonymized, have written consent, etc.

    In the mission statement:

    seeking to share their lives and stories with others.

    could be just listening to their stories instead of publishing them.

    Oh, and I very much like the simultaneously "teaching people to use the internet" idea ... which would seem to be a good way to reach elders etc. who are truly isolated and open a new world to them, and reach isolated folks via the internet (because if they already have the internet, perhaps they are not so isolated as far as having folks to communicate with via internet now) ... stunning (we do not kill) two birds with one stone. I taught my mother to use the internet many years ago when she was bed ridden, and it did open a new world for her.

    Gassho, Jundo

  30. #30

    Re: Treeleaf Service Project: Web of Interconnection

    Quote Originally Posted by Jundo
    I taught my mother to use the internet many years ago when she was bed ridden, and it did open a new world for her.
    I dunno why exactly

    maybe it's my father's cancer

    or the granddaughter that won't speak to him

    or just this crazy world

    of samsara

    but this touches that part of me

    that I keep hidden

    from the world

    gassho jundo

    Greg

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