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1) Why does our group want to be a BPF chapter?

The Tallahassee peace sangha wants to be a BPF Chapter in order to be part of the larger community of socially engaged Buddhists, to contribute to that community and advance the mission and goals of BPF, and to learn from the experience of the BPF and its members in linking individual transformation with social transformation.  We believe that many of the challenges of being socially engaged Buddhists have been faced by the BPF, its chapters, and members and we can learn as individuals and as a group from those past and present actions.  The BPF’s projects, resources, and communications create a foundation upon which we can build and provide examples of how to mindfully engage in social change. 

The Tallahassee peace sangha also wants to be a BPF Chapter in order to share our experiences and learning with BPF and the larger community.  We are Buddhists, and non-Buddhists, from all traditions and many of us have mindfully engaged in personal and social transformation, have worked for racial and gender equality, for economic and social justice, and have tried to increase social justice.  Our work for peace, change and our practice is done in a growing city that is the state capital of Florida-  it is a unique place -  and it is exactly like cities and towns all over America. Living in Tallahassee we are not separate from the institutions, social systems, governments, and the mass media of America-  but the challenges we face as socially engaged Buddhists in Tallahassee are our own.  It is our hope that by sharing our experiences with BPF we will contribute to the community and that our practice will help others.

2) What are our group's priorities, goals and activities?

Creating and sustaining a Tallahassee peace community is our first priority:  a community that provides the opportunities to practice in our own day-to-day lives while trying to bring about social change.  Our initial organizational meeting provided us the opportunity to practice as individuals and as a group. We asked how we would govern ourselves,  what we would do when our beliefs and principles differed, and if being a member of the group required agreement with the group.  As non-Buddhists, Zen Buddhists, Tibetan Buddhists, and members of the Shambhala community we were able to mindfully practice in a uniquely safe and supportive space.  For some of us, engaged Buddhism will mean publicly bearing witness before the Florida Capitol, for others bearing witness will mean writing letters to public officials, several of us currently teach and volunteer in local prisons and others are hospice volunteers, but for all of us it is a priority of our community to engage in the larger world by decreasing violence, anger, and suffering.

Our goals are to provide the structure to support individual and collective action, individual learning and practice, and social action leading to our personal change and change in the world.

Goal 1:  Provide the structure to support individual and collective action.  As an organized group or BPF chapter, the result of our efforts will be the capability to identify opportunities for individual and group action, such as vigils, letter writing campaigns, mentoring, and bearing witness. Activities may include receiving and communicating information about events or requests for volunteers, training individuals in the practice of non-violent action, educational activities including classes, seminars, lectures, discussions, and meditation.

Goal 2:  Provide the structure to support individual learning and practice.  As an organized group or BPF chapter, the results of our efforts will be the creation of a community within which individuals will be able to receive support in their efforts to bring about social change and in their individual practice.  Activities will include meditation, participation in the groups decision making, and the training and educational activities noted in Goal 1.

Goal 3:  Engaged in social action leading to our personal and group learning and change in the world.  As an organized group or BPF chapter, the results of our action will be the increased awareness in Tallahassee, North Florida and South Georgia of a Buddhist perspective on spiritual, ethical, political and social issues, the reduction of individual suffering in ourselves and the individuals we work with, and, by bearing witness, making visible what is ignored.  Activites may include volunteering in hospitals, hospices, prisons, community kitchens and gardens, and schools; supporting medical care in prisons; vigils, demonstrations, and marches; letter writing, speaking appearances, mentoring and conducting classes in non-violence, providing a Buddhist perspective while participating in other engaged organizations, such as environmental, pro-peace, inter-racial, gay equality, and international organizations.


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