Project Sunshine Phase 2 Frequently Asked Questions

Project Sunshine Phase 2

Frequently Asked Questions (FAQ’s)

 

Q: What happens if we don’t reach our fundraising goal?

A: As far as I’m concerned, the fundraising campaign is already a success. We have raised enough funds that something can be done over the next month. Regarding the best use of the funds raised, I will consult with the caring elders who have been gathering around the work of Project Sunshine. I am committed to identifying the best way forward – likely doing a piece of work that will help the community build more solid ground for attending to our situation. We may also do a second Project Sunshine fundraising campaign in a month or two to raise funds for a full healing initiative, like that described in Project Sunshine Phase 2.

 

Q: Why did you choose the Mi’qmaq toolkit for our community?

A: This community healing toolkit was recommended to me by Pam Rubin, an expert in the field of violence against women and a woman who has been highly involved with addressing this issue in the Shambhala community for years.

I like this tool because it has a straightforward and grounded approach for dealing with sexual violence in community. I also like it because it was created by and for aboriginal peoples. Tibetan Buddhism is unique in it’s aboriginal roots from the Bön religion, and I feel it is important for us to use an approach that relates with that fundamental aspect of our community.

 

Q: I saw a long letter by four people in the Sangha putting forth a program to resolve all of the issues raised. Who are they and have you tried to coordinate with them? (A draft policy prepared by Crina Bondre Ardelean, Christopher Kreeger, Terry Rudderham, Alexis Shotwell)

A: This policy draft was put out to the Shambhala community for review in 2016. It was offered as a draft only, and was ignored and never followed up on after all the work they did. The Shambhala Council has recently dredged it up again in their apparent scramble to control concerns about abuse in the the Shambhala community. My impression is that at least one of the authors was angry that the Council put the draft policy out again without their permission, as it reflects on the four authors professionally and was only intended as a draft.

In my view, this 2016 policy change proposal is a bandaid approach to fix a fundamentally flawed Care and Conduct Process. It offers a ‘bandaid’ approach because it was never properly reviewed, discussed, finished, etc. The Care and Conduct Process protects abusers and has caused further trauma to victims of abuse in the community, as documented in the Project Sunshine Phase 1 Report. Project Sunshine is not coordinating with the policy draft writers because we are taking a different approach that is aimed at community healing rather than policy changes.

 

Q: Is Project Sunshine coordinating with Shambhala International or the Shambhala Office of Social Engagement?

A: Andrea had several meetings with members of the Shambhala Council during Project Sunshine Phase 1 with the aim of coordinating with them in addressing sexualized violence in the Shambhala community. After publishing the Phase 1 report, Andrea emailed Council members inviting them to collaborate on a community healing approach. No one responded to her email, and the Council has since made efforts in their communications to the Shambhala community to distance themselves from Project Sunshine.

Andrea was excited to work with the Shambhala Office of Social Engagement since there is a direct alignment between oppressions through racism and sexual violence. However, the Office of Social Engagement attempted to dissuade Andrea from publishing the Phase 1 report and criticized her naming an abuser on the Shambhala Council (who has since recused himself from any work on sexual violence on the Council).

In short, despite Project Sunshine’s significant efforts to work with them, Shambhala International and the Shambhala Office of Social Engagement are not open to working with Project Sunshine.

 

Q: I have taken vows with the Sakyong to “serve every member of the family as though they were Rinpoche”. I found a letter from Lady Diana saying the Mukpo family was ‘under attack with untruths’ from Project Sunshine. How can I support Project Sunshine if it goes against my vows?

A: Many people are having to look more deeply to find their personal integrity within this situation. These are very challenging things to sort out! Ultimately, you will need to decide what the true meaning of your vow is to you, so that you are living authentic values of human decency based on your own insight and compassion.  In truth, our relationship to our vows matures and deepens over time, becoming more personal and subtle, and always intended to benefit beings.  Buddhism does not require blind faith and in fact warns against it.  As the Buddha said, “Just as a wise man tests (ostensible) gold, by burning, cutting and rubbing (on a touchstone), my statements, o monks, should be accepted after examination and not out of respect for me.” (Tattva-sangraha vs.3587, 3588:)

In terms of Lady Diana’s letter, many feel it was written from a place of fear, rage and attempting to protect her partner, rather than upholding the integrity of Shambhala.  When people read the Project Sunshine Phase 1 report, they wondered why Lady Diana was suggesting the project was an attack on her family.

 

Q: About 60% of the money raised for this project is going to Andrea. Can you explain why?

A: This project is an independent initiative focused on creating transparency and healing in Shambhala society worldwide… it’s not an easy project to tackle and needs a leader with passion and personal motivation. With Project Sunshine Phase 1, I (Andrea) demonstrated that it is possible to bring together victims who experienced abuse in Shambhala and create a healing space for them to tell their stories and connect with each other and community members. This resulted in positive change for many Shambhala members, and resulted in Shambhala International creating an initiative to make the Care and Conduct process a better experience for victims and reporters of sexual harm.

I have a vision about going further with this healing process independent of Shambhala’s power structure, and I have the skills and energy to manage this project… so I’m asking for your support. I am asking you to take a bet on me– a bet that I can continue creating transparency and healing in Phase 2 of the project like I did in Phase 1.

 

Q: What will the money be used for?

A: I’ll be developing a process based on the Mi’kmaq Community Engagement Toolkit on Sexual Violence, and I will adapt it for Shambhala’s use. I will be working with 10 Shambhala Center communities to begin a healing process using the toolkit, outside the Shambhala International hierarchy. This means we’ll be free to create healing spaces that center on safety, the needs of victims, future reporters of harm, and members that want a safe, enlightened society, without regard for protecting teachers or existing power structures. This process will take time and energy as well as vision, and I’ll be using the money to pay my living expenses while I coordinate this process.

 

Q: You say you need $53,000 but are raising $55,150. Why?

A: Because GoFundMe’s fees will be about $2,150 – they take a small percentage of each donation to pay for their payment processor fees and other costs associated with running the site.

 

 

 

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