Earth Holder End-of-Year Love Letter
(click here to view original email)
December, 2020
A wonderful offering of art to the Earth Holder Community from Br. Phap Ho, depicting the beauty of our Sangha with roots running deep in a community of practice. 

Dear Thay, Dear Community,

We know you are there and we are very happy! With gratitude, we extend our end of year greetings to you, the Earth Holder Community and wider Plum Village Community of Engaged Buddhism. 

At the heart of our mindfulness practice and Dharma-sharing is to reflect on our practice, our joys and our struggles. As we approach the end of this challenging year, we wanted to take a moment to reflect on and celebrate some of the joys, efforts, and deepening of our practice as the Earth Holder Community:

Earth Holders enjoying being with Nature at the In-Person Retreat at Deer Park Monastery, Feb. 2020, “We are the Earth, Walking on Earth”.

We offered two THIS IS IT! Online retreats on the theme of Earth and Racial Justice. While these retreats had been in the works for several years of planning, they manifested in a very timely way, given the need to move practice online due to the pandemic. Over 300 friends from around the world joined our team of 12 facilitators, and lovingly guided by our retreat coordinators Heather Mann (Spring retreat), Simona Coayla-Duba (Spring and Fall retreats), and Sara Henry (Fall retreat).

The THIS IS IT Online Retreat platform, a space to practice in community with the interbeing of Environmental & Racial Justice. Breathe, you are online.

Throughout 2020, we offered Black, Indigenous and People of Color sanctuary spaces in all of our EHC practice gatherings (retreats and online sangha). We began this practice in the fall of 2019, and are committed to continuing this for all Earth Holder offerings in the future. The explanation of the importance of BIPOC sanctuary spaces that we read before each gathering has been used and adopted by other sanghas in our tradition. We are committed to advocating for BIPOC spaces and uplifting and centering the voices of BIPOC teachers in the Plum Village tradition throughout the Plum Village community and practice centers.

During a year of unprecedented challenges, we moved deeper into our commitment to align intention and action in the face of tragedies brought on by systemic racism. In response to the murders of George Floyd, Breonna Taylor, Tony McDade and Ahmaud Aubery, and the uprisings for Black Lives, we put out a Statement of Support and Commitment in Solidarity with Earth and Racial Justice.

Our commitments include offering 10% of Earth Holder funds to BIPOC-led climate justice initiatives annually. This year we will be donating to Climate Justice Alliance and Plum Village scholarships for BIPOC practitioners.

The evolution of our CTC has continued with our first BIPOC CTC co-chair, Sara Henry. The CTC has committed to a permanent designation for a minimum of 1 of 2 co-chair positions for a BIPOC CTC member, along with our ongoing commitment to ensure that a minimum of half of CTC members are BIPOC (currently 57%).

Practice and Retreat Center, Deer Park Monastery, CA, USA
At the Earth Holder retreat at Deer Park in February, before the pandemic took hold in the US, our BIPOC CTC members created a beautiful video on what Earth Justice means to them (LINK TO VIDEO). We encourage you to watch, rewatch and share this video!
“Earth Justice” Sharings

We launched our Regional Community Builders Program: Nine Earth Holders from across the international community have assembled to serve as Earth Holder Regional Community Builders. The RCB cohort practices together from corners of the United States, Catalunya (Spain), Ireland, the United Kingdom, and Peru. As RCBs, participants receive training and materials to facilitate days of mindfulness and organize Earth Holder actions and activities in their regions. The trainings focus on mindful, compassionate, and non-violent practices of the Plum Village Tradition, while seeking to center racial justice and, for white participants, white awareness work. The members are inspiring, learning from, and supporting each other in beautiful ways.  

We continued to offer our monthly online sangha on the 2nd Sunday, and added an additional online sangha, inspired by our wish to support the community during the pandemic. We had many wonderful teaching offerings which you can view on our YouTube page (LINK). Please join us for the 2nd Sunday sangha and 4th Sunday sangha. We look forward to practicing together in 2021!

And exciting news – Earth Holder Community is officially a nonprofit! Which means your donations to EHC are tax-deductible. Our Plum Village practice includes offering generosity of the heart (dana) as we are able, and we welcome you to practice this generosity with a donation to EHC, which will go towards our coordinator’s salary, BIPOC/LGBTQIA+/youth scholarships for future programming, and basic maintenance costs (such as our Zoom account, etc.).  If you feel called to nourish these offerings, the blossoming of our new initiatives, and our ability to lift up access and equity within them, with your dana practice, please visit our Giving page, or you can mail a check to our updated mailing address, which is: 

366 Marsh St.
Belmont, MA 02478

“We are the Earth, Walking on Earth”, Feb. 2020 Retreat at Deer Park Monastery

All of this happened while CTC members were also involved with having or caring for babies, personal health challenges, taking care of ill family members, graduate school work, relocating, work transitions, pandemic-related issues, racial justice impact and efforts, megafires in California, supporting retreat and practice centers, and more! We know that this is a reflection of all of the responsibilities and challenges that our larger communities have been going through, and we are very grateful that we are going through this together. 

It is our honor to be a part of and co-support this incredible community, and it is such a joy to celebrate how we are growing together! Thank you so much for helping to bring mindfulness generosity, and spirit  to the Earth Holder Community!

Our precious teacher, Thích Nhất Hạnh, inviting our dear friend, the bell.

May the merits of our practice benefit all beings everywhere.
With love from the Earth Holder Care Taking Council:

Andrew Deckert
Chaya Ocampo Go
Clear Grace
John Bell
Nomi Green
Sara Henry
Shephali Patel
Sister True Vow
Stephanie Knox Steiner
Simona Coayla-Duba, EHC Coordinator