I hope this message finds all of you in good spirits and enjoying the gentleness of this sunny autumn…
After almost two years since my arrival and as the new development plan takes shape, I would like to share with you some news about the evolution of our Centre. I would also like to take this opportunity to respond to some of the questions and misunderstandings that the meeting we held at the end of the summer retreat revealed and hopefully create a bit more organizational clarity in this newsletter.
Over the course of this letter you will begin to understand what the new plan is, why it has been developed this way and how it translates into practice. I will also try to explain as clearly as I can the role that the commercial development of Landguet Ried, the Ripa Foundation and the Ripa Supporter Programme play in achieving sustainability of the Centre and why collaboration with all is crucial to sustain the multi-faceted aspects of this vision.
In short, this letter aims to answer your questions and it is also an invitation to continue to put them forward in case you do not find an answer. You can send us your questions by clicking on the button at the end of this letter.
One Goal With Two Structures
RIC and Landguet Ried are two complementary and symbiotic structures which pursue different strategies as they are meant to address different audiences.
The RIC is the center for the Ripa Buddhist community whose aim is to preserve and spread the teachings of the lineage. Its activities are organized through the five pillars that we all know well:
- Dharmaseva: translation committee, practice texts, rituals, material, resident Lama, Tibetan translators’ support, travel translators, etc.
- Lamaseva: care of masters, materials, equipment, travel, accommodation, visas, etc.
- Karmachakra: management, registrations, audiovisual, volunteers, social discount, etc.
- Communication: website, advertisements, flyers, newsletters, emails, etc.
- Finance: accounting, control, management of funds, etc.
These activities are financed by the revenue generated from funds and events in the Ripa Supporter Programme.
The RIC’s audience is currently comprised of Sangha members (approximately 250 people in Western Europe) and all of the new students that Rinpoche and our events attract.
Landguet Ried is the foundation that supports and makes possible the RIC’s activities. As a real estate property including a hotel and conference center, the operating and maintenance costs have exceeded funds generated by the RIC’s activities which are limited to a few weeks per year. That said, we are extremely fortunate to own this property thanks to the generosity of a great sponsor and it is operating as a seminar center. Moreover, we count on other favorable conditions that allow us to position our center well within a booming market sector. Our audience is interested in a secular form of Buddhism and by the practice of meditation with its benefits. This audience remains sincere in their search for ways to put an end to suffering and the means to do so.
It is also important to remember that the times as we knew them in 70’s, 80’s and 90’s are over and that today’s society is oriented toward more secular forms of Buddhism which are better adapted to the needs and expectations of a younger, more professional and more urban audience.
When Rinpoche asked me to run the Centre in 2015, he also asked me to propose a development plan for both the RIC and the Landguet aimed at ensuring the sustainability of the structure as a whole. In July 2016, I presented the plan to our sponsors and Rinpoche. It was unanimously validated and approved.
What Does the Plan Consist Of?
Landguet Ried was developed as a Center for Mindful Living and a means to ensure the sustainability of RIC activities.
Responding to the growing needs and expectations of an audience seeking more secular forms of Buddhism, Landguet Ried inspired by traditional Buddhist values, proposed to be a hosting and education center in order to translate the teachings of the Buddha to meet the needs of today’s society. To do so, it organizes programs in this field and rents its facilities to third parties who share our values and objectives.
Some of you may know that in my previous position at the World Economic Forum, I worked closely with key figures in the area of mindfulness such as Jon Kabat-Zinn, Richard Davidson and Matthieu Ricard to name a few. They are grateful for the work I was able to accomplish in Davos introducing the practice of meditation among the great leaders of this world and are now ready to help. I have the great fortune of having an extensive network of contacts which I am very happy to put to the service of our lineage’s Centre with Rinpoche’s blessing.
We are taking advantage of all these favorable conditions:
- owning the center and property and
- having a network of contacts in a booming sector
This is how the development plan for our center was conceived, which is not limited to the rental of our premises, but includes our own programs in the field of mindfulness, meditation and yoga.
Ultimately making Landguet Ried economically viable through the development of a noble activity fully consistent with our values will create a financial surplus that will meet the expenses of the RIC and subsidize accommodation rates for Sangha members long term. This way, we will be able to help our Masters materialize their vision to preserve and disseminate the activity of the lineage for future generations.
How Does the This Plan Work?
From a Financial Point of View…
Landguet Ried is responsible for the expenses related to commercial operations, which include personnel costs, maintenance and repair of buildings, heating, possible investments, etc. The annual costs are approximately CHF 750,000. The commercial activity generated since 2012 has not yet reached the break-even point and all our efforts are aimed at achieving this by the end of 2018. The Ripa Foundation which is the structure that collects large sponsors’ donations has kindly subsidized the Landguet Ried when we have a cash flow gap. The need for these bail outs has decreased by 50% since the change in management. The purpose of our development plan is to reduce the need for funding and to eventually become fully self-sustaining and meet our own needs.
The RIC is responsible for the costs related to the five pillars (Dharmaseva, Lamaseva, Karmachakra, Communications and Finance) which are covered either by the income generated from our events or by funds from the Ripa Supporter Programme. The number of Ripa Supporter Programme subscribers continues to increase from year to year but as we mentioned at this summer’s meeting, a deficit of CHF 60,000 remains to cover the RIC through the end of the year. Important positions such as our resident Lama, the support of Tibetan translators and the translation committee are funded by the Ripa Supporter Programme. We count on the generosity of all to preserve this precious activity!
From a Human Resources Point of View…
Landguet Ried is the only structure to employ staff which is composed of the following:
Begoña Martinez, Managing Director
Antje Stahlschmidt, Reservation and Hospitality Management
Helen Bartenschlager, Marketing, Sales and Business Development
I am pleased to announce the arrival of Helen, a member of our Sangha for over twenty years, to the Landguet Ried team. Helen has the ideal marketing, communications and sales skills to ensure the next phase of our organization’s business development.
Marlies Aubertin, Accounting and Personnel Assistant (part time)
Marlies joined the organization in June to help us with administrative and personnel matters. For more than a year, Landguet Ried has been able to count on the help of regular and dedicated volunteers who assist in various tasks such as maintenance, repairs, cooking, cleaning, gardening, etc. We invite you to contact us if you would like to be a part of this team!
Fred and Pascale Coulet, Cook and Kitchen Help (part-time)
I am pleased to announce the arrival of Fred and Pascale Coulet. Both are catering professionals and are putting their know-how and passion into service for our organization with an opportunity to contribute to the future development of our structure.
Jeronimo Pérez, Kitchen Help, Cleaning, Facilities Maintenance
Jan Kos, Kitchen Help, Cleaning, Maintenance, IT
Gabriela Grimm, Laundry and Cleaning (part time)
Nadya Grau, Gardening (part time)
On the other hand, the RIC does not hire staff, all workers are on a voluntary basis.
Begoña Martinez, Managing Director and Karmachakra Head
Carlo Tomassi, Head of Dharmaseva
Cynthia Jouffre, Head of Lamaseva
For several years and until the end of 2016, Françoise Ottomani was responsible for the finances of the RIC. I would like to sincerely thank her for her work. Although this position has not yet been officially assigned, I would like to thank Montse Hervera, a professional accountant and recent member of the Sangha, who regularly helps out along with Jeronimo.
In Terms of Communication…
The communication tasks of the RIC, which Antje was responsible for until the end of 2016, are now shared by Helen and Begoña. I would also like to thank Antje for the excellent work she has done in this position. We are currently looking for someone who knows or has an interest in social networking tools and Mailchimp to officially take over this job.
Newsletters From the RIC and Landguet Ried
As you may have noticed, Landguet Ried has started to send out newsletters announcing new programmes. Following the direction explained above, Landguet Ried addresses an audience interested in more secular forms of Buddhism and our newsletter strives to adapt to these expectations in order to reach a wider audience. It communicates our programs in the area of mindfulness, yoga and meditation.
The RIC newsletter remains the Sangha’s newsletter where you will find the RIPA programs, activities and news from our Masters, the lineage and our Sangha.
With the intention of giving you first-hand access to the new Landguet Ried programs, your email addresses have been placed on the Landguet Ried database as well. Therefore, you will continue to receive our newsletter from the RIC and also Landguet Ried. If you no longer wish to receive these newsletters it is very easy to unsubscribe by clicking on the appropriate link at the bottom of the email from Landguet Ried.
I hope this letter will help clarify the strategy and structure of the RIC and Landguet Ried. To be clear, it is our objective and goal to ensure the financial success of Landguet Ried in its commercial activity as a seminar and program center and we will be able to sustain the valuable activities of the RIC, whose influence will continue to shine for the benefit of future generations. This is the goal that drives the commitment of our entire team working onsite, whether it is for the Landguet Ried or the RIC. In the end, both are simply two sides of the same coin.
We are looking forward to your support and many contributions to help us build this extraordinary abode, home for our most noble aspirations.