Portland News Magazine

Helpful feedback on weekly emails

July 28th, 2013 by John David Smith

We ASKED for it and we got it!  Thanks to the inspiration of Melissa Mead, who has been faithfully producing the weekly email for the Portland Shambhala Center for the last 5 years, we included the following notice in our Weekly Announcements email last week:

What have we done wrong?

What do you think of this weekly events email now?  It has been changed to meet changing times, both in the sangha and in all of Shambhala.  Some of you have said you like it.  We’re hoping to hear from people who *don’t* like it.  We need to know what we’ve left out that should be here, what we should leave out, even what order we should be putting things in.  Do we experiment, make regular, trim more, expand?  Thank you for letting us know.  We’re the pub-team (alas, only swimming in ghostly electronic ink, not stouts and ales), Jason, Melissa, Nancy, John.  Email us here.

Here’s a sampling of the responses and some thoughts about where this leads for the pub-team.

Put the quote at the top!

  • “Personally, I kind of liked seeing the quote of the day at the top of the email.”
  • “Like the more practical stuff on top like you now have it.”
  • “I miss the “quote of the week” front and center rather than at the bottom of the page…always read it first before the business news, as important as that is!”
  • “Looks great!   I’d like to see the SMR or CTR quote at top.   Sometimes I only have a few seconds to minutes to glance at the newsletter … But I always have time for a dose of SMR or CTR.”

Our plan: put the quote at the top!  (Easy to do, and it makes sense on several levels.)

More detail, please

  • “I believe that tonight, Tues., would be a dharma talk if the 2nd and 4th format  continues. If there isn’t a talk I would like to know that, and if there is a talk I liked knowing who was speaking and what the topic was.”

Our plan: actually we’ve been working on this, but all the pieces aren’t quite in place yet.  The idea is to have speakers and their titles for these less formal talks appear in a calendar, on our Facebook page, and in the weekly email.

Increase the font size

  • “The only negative comment I can make is that the print is smaller than before.  Perhaps it’s my aging eyes, but it now seems like “work” to read it.”
  • “…. Also us older folks LIKE bigger print & images….”

Our plan: try to make the font bigger, experimenting with our emailing programs to find out why it seems so small.  (We’ve been working at that but seems like we have to keep at it.)  Meanwhile, some of us have discovered that on Windows we can change the appearance of the font by holding the control key and rolling the mouse wheel – that increases or decreases the size of the font on the screen.  It’s worth checking out on your machine – for Shambhala Center emails and maybe for other situations.

More Images

  • “I always enjoyed seeing the beautifully selected image and the quote that went with it. I know there’s still a quote at the bottom of the page but it looks like an afterthought now. It’s about visual style.”
  • “This is in response to your “What have we done wrong?” site.  I probably would not say “wrong” but I was very disappointed that you seem to have done away with the beautiful announcements for workshops.  Artistic, appealing and good explanations about classes.  What happened??  Anyway, I am one of the ones that is not thrilled about this new wordy format.  I am bored without the visuals, vision and feeling that went into describing what courses Shambhala had to offer.”

Our plan: add back more images as we get “the bones” of the new message structure stabilized.  (We were always going to enrich the mail messages visually, but are going to do it incrementally, in part depending on recruiting more help with this part of the production process.)

General

  • “By the way, I cannot access “email us here” under the “What have we done wrong?” paragraph.  Nothing happens.  How ironic.”
  • “Either way, there will ALWAYS be complainers, don’t lose heart! :-)”
  • “Appreciate your efforts designing the new format of the weekly newsletter.”
  • “Thanks for asking for feedback on the new weekly newsletter. I think all of the information is there, but I do find it hard to read… and therefore hard to find information. It might be that it’s because it feels squeezed into 2 narrow columns, like a newspaper.”
  • “Is it lack of time, lack of money, lack of personnel? Or do you still have the old format and I just can’t find it?  I am an Artist and your beautiful photos, pictures and graphics in your announcements gave me inspiration.”

Our plan: avoid “mailto” links without the underlying email address (instead we’ll use something like “stay in touch by writing us at pub-team (at) Portland (dot) Shambhala (dot) org”).   Also we’ll keep working at it and keep asking for feedback.  For example, one generous person wrote a long message about quotes, beautiful images, and (ultimately) access to our programs and classes.  Those comments about access have led to a much broader discussion about our resources for producing publicity, about the function of our regular messages, and about access.

And, finally, what we need from (some of ) you

We need your help especially if you can give a little time on a regular basis for selecting images, gathering quotes, producing email messages and program flyers, and other communications or publicity tasks.  If you are interested, drop us a line or get in touch with our volunteer coordinator at hello (at) Portland (dot) Shambhala (dot) org.

Got an idea for a program or event?

July 17th, 2013 by John David Smith

We want your input for programs and activities at the Portland Shambhala Center!

As we plan the Calendar for 2014 we’d love to hear from you about the kind of activities, programs, and events you might like to see offered in the coming year.

  • Have you participated in a wonderful program or activity at another Shambhala Center that you’d love to see offered here in Portland?
  • Are you curious about a topic that you think would be inspiring, thought provoking, etc.?
  • Have you experienced a great Shambhala teacher you’d love to see teach in Portland in 2014?

shambhala-light-bulbWhile we can’t guarantee that our community has the resources to implement everyone’s wonderful ideas, we do want to receive input as we consider how to make decisions about what we might offer in the coming year.

Please send your ideas, inspiration, thoughts and more to us at: [email protected]

If on the other hand you want to send us a full proposal for a program or event, let us know and we’ll send you the proposal form.

The Calendaring Group

Lisa Stanley, Center Director
Michael McCormick, Practice and Education Director
Candace Stoughton, Director of Societal Health and Well-being

North-Northeast Delek bike ride

July 10th, 2013 by John David Smith

North/Northeast Delek joined the Sunday Parkways Rides on June 23, 2013.  Though the contingent was small, the ride was a blast!

delek-bike-ride-july2013

HOW TO CONSTRUCT A DRALA PADDLE

July 10th, 2013 by John David Smith

(or reporting from Scappoose Bay on the hottest day of the year)

Step 1–Take your seat:

image001

Step 2–Bring your attention to the “out breath”:

image003

Step 3–Gather in functional silence:

image005

 

Step 4–Stroke practice:

image007

Step 5–Row, row, in a row:

image009

Step 6–Open your 5 senses:

image001a image003a

 

image005a

Step

image007a

7–

image009a

There

image011a

is no Step 7!

 

 

 

Dan Rubin plenary talk and the Portland Buddhist Festival

July 6th, 2013 by John David Smith

On June 1st, one of those bright Saturdays before Portland’s Junuary rains, the Portland Buddhist Festival was held this year in Colonel Sumner Park with booths from Dharma centers, talks, momo’s (that sold out) and more.

Buddhist-Festival-booths

The sun highlighting booths on either side.

Talks and discussions were held in the Pavillion:

col-sumner-park-pavilion

Where we would have been huddling if the normal June rains had been falling.

The Shambhala Center was represented by a booth, by Shastri Jacobson on a panel and by Dan Rubin in a plenary address.

Shambhala-table-with-Lisa-John-and-Kim

Lisa Stanley, John Light, and Kim Crossman handed out leaflets, talked with people and with each other.

Here is the text from Dan Rubin’s plenary talk.

Read the rest of this entry »

Sometimes impermanence takes effort

July 1st, 2013 by John David Smith

In some cases impermanence takes care of itself but often we have to make a lot of effort to change things.  When Portland got its new website several years ago it took a lot of effort to plan, develop and implement.  Over time, however, our website has gradually gotten to look more old-fashioned with no effort on our part as neighboring Shambhala centers in San FranciscoSeattleBellingham and Victoria, BC have migrated to a new web template that runs on WordPress.

Our current website was created a few years ago by Lisa Ricci, Davee Evans and others. It gathers all kinds of information about our community and its activities into one place.  We register for programs, find out how things work, and contact each other through the website.
PSMC-website-snapshot-June-2013
But Lesa Ricci has temporarily moved to Toledo, Ohio (we expect a report soon); Davee Evans has moved to San Francisco, where he has been designing controls and user interfaces for refrigerator-sized gene-sequencing machines, teaching at the Shambhala Center, marrying Kate Merrill and having a baby:
Oona Josephine Merrill Evans!

Oona Josephine Merrill Evans!

Apart from the rather antique appearance of our current website, the fact that only one or two people can update any page on the website becomes a problem; it’s difficult to update.  In June, the Portland Shambhala Center Council decided that we should get in the queue for the new website template.  So it’s only a matter of time (and a lot of effort, including some fund-raising) till we switch to a design that looks like our neighbors up and down the West Coast.  Have a look at some of the features and at a map of the journey for moving on.
If you would like to participate in the move – along with others who have been helping to prepare for the move – drop me a line at John (dot) Smith (at) Portland (dot) Shambhala (dot) org.

The Harlem Shake in Shambhala (in Portland, that is)

July 1st, 2013 by John David Smith

As part of the 2013 Spring Arts Festival, the Shambhala Meditation Center community of Portland, OR has created their addition to the current “Harlem Shake” phenomenon.

Harlem Shake