After the Storm
by The Vajrapani Institute Team
First published on: July 28, 2017
Engineering a Solid Future
A solid spiritual practice needs to be built on good foundations. Eventually we learn that it takes a steady, patient application of effort and attention … And the same can certainly be said for the building and maintenance of retreat centers. When you’ve got the long-term future in mind, solid foundations are the only way.
These kinds of earthy reflections are taking center stage for us this year, after extreme winter storms deluged us with more than 100 inches of rain this last winter and left us feeling rain-sodden and more than a little overwhelmed. In recent months, we’ve been putting an action plan together, seeking advice from an array of experts, including a civil engineer, structural engineer, soil engineer and hydro engineer. Planning it all has been quite a process, but the good news is now we’re ready to start the spadework.
Seven Weeks of Spadework
A seven-week shutdown has been scheduled for August 14th through October 1st and our land crew is gearing up for a busy (but hopefully still spacious) work schedule, dedicated to storm repairs as well as other infrastructure projects. Our new Land Manager, Brian Kravich, is upbeat about the project and will be leading the three regular full-time members of our land team, as well as several volunteers (whose presence is also deeply appreciated). The volunteers pitching in are an awesome bunch and include our former Land Manager, Dave Lochtefeld. We’re really looking forward to him coming back here; his mischievous grin and his sincere heart energy have been much missed since his departure from here last year.
The Repair “Nitty Gritty” (in Philosophical Terms)
Elaine Jackson, one of the founding members of the Vajrapani Institute community (and most recently our Interim Land Manager), will be helping to coordinate the storm repair projects during the shutdown. Elaine has been here so long she’s seen the storm devastation story happen here before, back in the early Eighties, when there was another winter of seemingly endless rain. This length of service, together with her study of Buddhism, has helped bring a deep measure of equanimity into her world view. “To get upset about all this is a silly idea,” she says. “But the problem is, we see things as solid. It’s only when there’s a big change that we recognize how things are. Really, it’s a beautiful lesson in how things are not existing from their own side.”
The Repair “Nitty Gritty” (in Practical Terms)
Our main focus, in terms of storm repair work during the shutdown, will be to get things as watertight as possible. This entails the repair and fortification of several culverts, to divert the flow of rainwater from potentially damaging pathways, and the eventual building of a very robust retaining wall behind the Main Meditation Hall. “Once we have the planning permit, a sheet pile wall, designed by a civil engineer, will be built behind the Main Gompa,” Elaine explains. “It’s very solid, made from steel I-beams and this structure will help secure the Main Hall against movement due to water.”
An additional and important project will be to install sub-drains near the site of a big mudslide that was triggered next to the Teacher’s House after a culvert higher up the hill failed. Floodwater stampeded down the hillside, forming a furious new river, literally overnight. The function of the sub-drains will be to divert water from the slide, preventing further slippage.
Celebrating Team Spirit (and Aspiring to a More Watertight Future!)
All of the work described here would not be possible it if weren’t for the incredible financial and moral support we’ve received from so many members of the Vajrapani Institute family, including many of you reading this today. This generosity, together with the incredible dedication of the crew of volunteers and workers physically on site, is the moving force behind our efforts. We couldn’t do it without you. Thank you, once again, for your heartfelt involvement.