Portland BPF has a proposal for the annual Buddhist Festival in the Park, and we also hope you will help with some decisions we need to make collectively.
First, last year we chose not to align ourselves with Tricycle's "Change Your Mind Day," but we did choose to hold our festival on the same day. This year, Tricycle is holding CYMD on September 15, a time I imagine already packed with activities for you and your sangha members. What are your feelings on the day we choose to hold our festival? The first Saturday in June lands us during the Rose Festival. NWDA member groups have been interested in a collective festival for Buddha's Birthday. Perhaps we could choose to do this the last day in May, giving individual groups a chance to hold their own ceremonies earlier in the month, and we could include a collective ceremony as part of our park festival.
Second, we at Portland BPF propose to change the format of the park festival. Rather than many talks, we would feature about 3 dharma talks from teachers of different traditions, and during other parts of the day we would have workshops and/or discussion panels. During the workshops/panels, basic instructions for various Buddhist practices would take place, among other things. This would leave the dharma talks open for the teachers to talk about the dharma, weaving in our theme for the year. The workshop/panel format would allow for more involvement from more sanghas, plugging in qualified people where they see fit.
We would continue to have the Children's Pavilion, and the lineup of booths from sanghas. The Children's Pavilion could also schedule special events for kids without competing with the dharma talks. This new format for the day would allow for more flexibility for attendees and for teachers, making it possible for people to visit booths without missing dharma talks, or whatever piece of the festival they are interested in.
If you or a representative of your sangha is attending NW Dharma Association's annual meeting, perhaps we can touch base sometime during the day. If we choose collectively to continue with a Saturday in Spring, planning for this needs to happen now. Let me know your thoughts on the day, and the proposed format.
PS I have not addressed the issue of whether we align with Tricycle's Change Your Mind Day. Our parent organization, Buddhist Peace Fellowship, is again co-sponsoring the festival. The Frederick P Lenz Foundation is also still a co-sponsor. Local events are not required to promote materials from the Foundation. I do not have the heart to put myself in the middle of that question again, but if enough people feel strongly about that connection, please, somebody begin the conversation...I will post it at the website, and others may comment.