Ten Years of Dzamling Gar – An interview with the Three Main Organizers

Urara, Timo and Lourdes (left to right)                                Photo credit: Y Petrova

Urara Taoka, Timo Moss, Lourdes Velaochaga

The Mirror: Can you tell us how the idea of this wonderful celebration of the 10 years of Dzamling Gar came to be?

The concept for the 10 year celebration of Dzamling Gar originated from a shared vision within our international community to honor a decade of meaningful experiences. This vision is deeply rooted in the teachings and wishes of our precious Master about this Gar, and also expresses gratitude and respect for the Canary Islands; their culture, and traditions. The celebration seeks to embrace multiculturalism through dance, music, and various expressions that we consider crucial for the well-being and evolution of humanity. The idea underwent collaborative discussions, creative brainstorming, and a heartfelt commitment to create an event that reflects the essence and spirit of our community. Beyond commemorating a significant anniversary, the celebration aspires to cultivate collaboration, joy, and a profound sense of gratitude among all participants, the Canary Islands, and, of course, our Precious Master.

M: What were the main points you came up with at the beginning of the planning?

Two key points emerged early in the planning process:

December 2: Integration and Cultural Respect:

The emphasis of this day was on fostering integration and showing respect for the local community and Canary culture. The planning aimed to ensure that the celebration not only recognized the beauty of the environment but also actively engaged with and honored the cultural richness of the Canary Islands. This took into account the incorporation of local traditions and customs, along with collaborative efforts with the community.

December 3 – Collaboration as Global Gar:

The events scheduled for December 3 focused primarily on promoting collaboration within the international community and the Gakyil members of each Gar globally. The intention was to create a sense of integration and shared purpose among the diverse cultures around the world, encouraging collaboration, support, and openness. This core of collaboration sought to strengthen connections between different Gars, enhancing the global network and collective efforts toward a common vision.

M: How did you come up with the team(s) that you used and what was the breakdown of the teams?

We formed several small teams to handle different aspects of the project. The programming team was responsible for planning the event schedule, the graphic design and communications team handled visuals and messaging, and the guest relations and invitations team managed interactions and invitations. We also had a dedicated appetizer team that focused on the culinary experience, a team for the webcast, visual media team and design and art direction team for the event.

Then, the team initiated collaboration with various individuals and institutions for the Day of Experience on December 3. The preparatory phase involved numerous email exchange and Zoom calls to kickstart remote activities.

As a result, the initiative ends in the formation of 12 different teams. Impressively, over 80 Karmayoga actively participated and contributed to the overall success of the event .

M: Can you say a little about the concrete process that you used and the way you went about the organization to maximize effort?

We started the project seven months ago, recognizing the significant workload required to complete it with an initially limited team. In July, we largely established the direction of the project, but it took a few months to connect with the Gakyil members from each Gar. This delay was not due to a lack of willingness to collaborate, but rather because they were busy with other local issues, and many did not use official email, making communication difficult. The same was the case when contacting dance, art, and media groups related to the town. Thankfully, in all cases, we found ways to make communication more effective and agile, and everything fell into place.

M: Did you enjoy the process? What were the joys and the challenges?

Absolutely. We are really delighted with the whole process and happy to share our experiences, challenges and joys.

Let’s start with the challenges, which we could talk about endlessly, always with a smile on our face. For us it was a unique experience to use the entire venue for an event like a House Gar, and it took a lot of effort to explain the broad outlines of the project and make sure everyone understood them.

We made every effort we could imagine, from using microphones to explain the event after the Ganapuja several times, creating and sharing videos on WhatsApp, posting announcements on the Dzamling Gar mailing list and Norbunet, seeking cooperation from the IDC, and sending announcements to all IDC members. Despite our best efforts, communication proved to be a considerable challenge, and we understand that this is a manifestation of information overload and the proliferation of communication channels today.

On the other hand, finding solutions rather than engaging in discussions throughout the process, at different levels and on different issues, has been a valuable experience and learning experience. Listening and learning to make a compromise in order to find the best solution, taking into account the final outcome of the event, have been essential. We realized that the quality of the event lies in the details and learning to make decisions as a team, which makes it a truly unique experience.

Getting back to communication by e-media, it wasn’t until three days before the event that the Dzamling Gar members really understood the full program.

However, once that understanding was reached, our small team magically transformed into a powerful force. Rinpoche often stresses the importance of communication, recognizing its difficulty, especially in a community as international as the Dzamling Gar, where the language barrier adds an extra layer of complexity. And, of course, facing the challenge of working with our own individual egos. When we are feeling tired, our tolerance for others mistakes may diminish, leading us to become defensive. This, in turn, can increase conflicts, especially when there are differences of opinion.

Several years ago, valuable advice was received from a well-respected former practitioner: “Especially in difficult times, strive to be kind to others. Even when mistakes happen, it’s important to treat them with kindness and compassion.”

And now, the great joy! Witnessing the happy faces of all our guests and members in attendance brought us immense joy. 

They were authentically immersed in the music, the performances, our hospitality, the exquisite food and the unique atmosphere of the Dzamling Gar. With sincere hope, we trust that we have made meaningful connections that will last through time, like delicate threads of memory that weave themselves into the fabric of our shared memories as a community of vajra brothers and sisters.

M: How did you manage expenses? Did people help out financially? How did you do fundraising?

Financial support from our members played a crucial role in making this event possible. Interestingly, we started with a zero budget, and it’s amusing to note that we not only needed to raise funds but also managed to succeed in doing so. 

We organized four Friday dinners featuring Ukrainian/Georgian cuisine, Japanese food, a music concert, and more, raising a total of 7000 euros. Additionally, we were fortunate to receive generous donations totaling 1500 euros. Adeje City Hall played a vital role by providing a bus for 50 dancers and musicians. 

The funds we raised successfully covered all expenses. Everything from the starting point until the end was very special and all circumstances magically manifest. It’s worth mentioning that the entire process was based on the concept of Karmayoga. We simply covered the transportation costs for collaborators and goods, along with the expenses for food. This successful outcome was truly a collaborative effort fueled by shared dedication and positive energy.

M: The celebration went very well and came off as very professional. Do you have any words of advice for other community centers about how they could run celebrations like this?

If you are fortunate enough to find a professional willing to engage in karma yoga, it would be highly beneficial to trust and empower them to carry out their responsibilities effectively. Additionally, having a budget in place, eliminating the need to be responsible for fundraising in addition to organizing, would make the experience a bit easier. On another note, having a communication manager, a versatile individual to fulfill the role, or ideally, a team that includes someone capable of managing social media platforms, and creating a visual archive can greatly enhance overall coordination and outreach efforts.

M: Please just say freely what the experience was like for each of you to manage such a big undertaking.

We gained valuable insights from professionals event organizers. Despite its apparent size, this undertaking is essentially an accumulation of small pieces. Breaking down the tasks into manageable pieces and completing them one by one is key; there’s no “magic” involved. This approach allows people to easily take charge of smaller tasks. However, successful collaboration requires preparation and a solid platform; it’s not conducive to relying solely on spontaneous collaboration. Often, people wish to help but may not know how. The Karmayoga group proved to be effective in this regard.

Lastly, and perhaps most importantly, it was a remarkable experience to collaboratively work with all the Gars and entities, manifesting the Global Gar function. Thanks to collaboration, commitment, and doing our best, we were able to make this first significant event a success with many happy faces. The collaboration and inspiring energy of Maestro, guardians, and his teachings were the driving force that allowed us to overcome challenges and create memorable moments full of experience. These moments will become valuable lessons for future projects and public events. We appreciate the trust and support from each of you, both in the back and front line. Each of you has been a key piece in this machinery. We look forward to continuing to collaborate for future projects and events at Dzamling Gar.

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