“The Governing Council: One Year In” by Ted Ballou

After a year serving on the Governing Council, I am developing a perspective on the work. It was with some ambivalence that I joined this body: although it is undeniable that leadership and decision-making  is essential for the smooth functioning of the Chicago Shambhala Center, I wondered whether my participation was necessary or useful, whether my experience and skill set would meet the needs, whether I would work well with a group of powerful personalities.

These questions have answered themselves. I have only admiration for my fellow council members, who work with vision and generosity on an array of issues, local to global, that must be dealt with if the Center is to continue. The trajectory of a Council member’s career varies enormously, some entering with energy and enthusiasm, actively contributing, then passing the torch to new members. Others sit quietly for years, occasionally offering pearls of wisdom, modeling a peaceful presence. All are valued for showing up.

We hold focused meetings, generating agenda lists and prioritizing and ending on time, with an opening 2-minute meditation and a closing dedication of the merit. My projects have included coordinating communications with Larry and Tim who have been polling membership on needs for director/leadership; keeping the Council updated on building issues that Peter is always discovering and working on, and helping out with these issues; evaluating and updating technical aspects of our credit card transactions; and attending occasional neighborhood meetings (West Loop Community Organization) to connect with and keep track of local activities and politics. I have found Council work to be uniquely rewarding, deepening relationships with people and institutions, developing a perspective on how we fit together in the community and in the global sangha, and learning about myself.

— Ted Ballou, August 2019