The Treasures of Disruption: A Midyear Reflection

Article Highlights
→ We’re celebrating our new 2018-19 Annual Report.
→ We’ve launched a new Equity and Interdependence Dashboard.
→ Over 1,600 youth and adults have participated in over 100 online programs since March.
→ Summer online programming includes 7 retreats and 10 contemplative courses.
→ Co-founder Jessica Morey reflects on iBme’s first 10 years as she transitions from staff leadership.

It’s often tough to track change when you’re in the thick of it, especially when it’s happening very quickly. Like nearly every individual, family, school, or business, iBme has been swimming in a fast-moving river of change since March. As we journey through our #SummerOfBeing together, this is our intentional pause to provide the latest updates on our actions with COVID-19 and the current wave of racial justice action.

Our intention for this reflection is transparency and thoroughness so that we may learn together in this period of fresh unknowns and timeless complexities. We cherish all of the many contributions to our organization from volunteers, teachers, and donors. We also respect your time and energy during this demanding period – thank you for reading this. Our ask to you is to continue with us on this journey — we believe it’s a worthwhile one — and to please stay connected. We want to practice with you, and we want to hear what’s on your minds and hearts as we take steps forward together.

Looking Back

Read 2018-19 Annual Report

While anything before March 2020 feels like a lifetime ago, there are stories from that time worth sharing and celebrating. That’s why we are pleased to share our new 2018-19 Annual Report with you. We are tremendously grateful to everyone who contributed to this chapter of iBme.

The report contains rich stories and impacts from our programs over the past two fiscal years, and it is a beautiful reminder of how powerful our core programming is. As we hold space for the eventual return of in-person retreats, we continue to root into all that’s available to us now. Looking back, it’s clear how our past has prepared us to meet the present.

Meeting the Present

Actualizing Equity and Interdependence

As we shared in our recent blog post, we stand in solidarity with the Movement for Black Lives and are committed to rooting our work in equity and justice. While this has been a focus since the founding of iBme in 2010, we continue to recognize the biases, limitations, and unintended impacts of our organization with its history of power held primarily by dominant identity groups.

What good is practice if it can’t affect change?”
~ Charisse, iBme Board Member

Explore Equity + Interdependence

We began this year with a plan to create a detailed and real-time dashboard of our learnings and actions related to this commitment. After the recent killings of Rayshard Brooks, George Floyd, Breonna Taylor, and Ahmaud Arbery, we accelerated the project, and would like to share with you our new Equity and Interdependence Dashboard. The web portal includes our current commitments and future goals, with details on our demographics, accessibility policy, partnerships, and staff training. It also provides a list of community resources from our teachers and participants.

Our Collaborative Leadership system has been a critical part of deepening and operationalizing this work, helping us lean into areas of tensions and taboo conversations. Combined with our lens of racial equity and justice, it is opening up new ways of distributing power, both in decision making and financial resources.

UP NEXT → Later this year, we will be publishing a comprehensive Equity and Interdependence Progress Report detailing our 10-year history of embodying this work – from successes to stumbles – and the significant work ahead of us.

Nurturing a Beloved Virtual Community

See Summer Online Programs

Back in March, when the pandemic was setting in, we made the decision to rapidly shift our programming to be entirely online. We created a Zoom guide of features and best practices, held planning and development meetings with our faculty, adapted our website and marketing, and designed an online retreat manual. After five days of prep, we held our first online retreat for 62 participants. A week later, we held our second online retreat for 107 participants.

During the rest of the spring, we offered 65+ weekday meditations to over 900 participants, six Sunday Workshops to 120 participants, a 4-week Contemplative Climate course to 62 participants, and two all ages weekend retreats to 111 participants. Including our summer programs mentioned below, our online programming has served over 1,600 participants over the past four months through more than 100 classes, workshops, courses, and retreats.

What surprised us is how well our in-person model could be adapted to the online space, and how the participants, especially teens, were so committed to the process. The feedback we received was overwhelmingly positive.

I was skeptical about an online retreat, but I have found the format to be awesome. It’s accessible, more integrated, and more flexible. I think you should keep offering them regardless of COVID-19!
~ Online Retreat Participant

Beautiful Artwork for Summer Courses by Aneesa Khan

We’re now using all this momentum to offer a full schedule of online summer programming with seven retreats and ten contemplative courses, which have over 300 sign-ups as of July 27th. Perhaps one of the most important COVID-19 innovations is the piloting of contemplative courses. These 4-session programs leverage the vast experience of our faculty to explore pressing issues within a contemplative and transformative learning container. The schedule of courses cover topics such as social and environmental justice, navigating loss (focusing on transitions for graduating seniors), POC and Queer identities, art, parenting, and much more.

We are fortunate to have access to mindfulness practice during this time. It provides essential connection, perspective, digestion, direction, and so much more. Individual and group practice has been instrumental for our staff and teachers as we try to create the best practice container for our community that meets the needs of the reality-shattering moment we’re in. It has helped us distinguish between reactive and proactive action. It has helped us track our stress and exhaustion, and fill us back up with just enough energy to keep going. And maybe most of all, it has helped us see the disruption as a rare opportunity for transformation

Looking Forward

We know there are many unknowns ahead. What’s clear is that the online program development we’ve done this spring will continue to serve our community until in-person retreats are safe to hold. We also see online programming as a new keystone post-pandemic to support community and deepen practice leading up to and following our signature retreats.

As we move forward together, we know our community is strong and committed to supporting each other in using this time of great disruption to welcome in a new world.

UP NEXT → To make the most of the moment, we have begun a strategic visioning process with our teens, teachers, staff and board. Our goal is to have full community input. If you’re reading this (especially if you got this far), we want to hear from you! Later this summer, we will be organizing a series of visioning and feedback sessions open to all community members.