Thursday, May 29, 2008
I have to announce cancellation of the Renewal and Reconnection Conference planned for 7th June in Bristol (Penny Brohn Cancer Care). People who registered have been informed. We cancelled the event because too few people expressed interest in attending to justify the expense and effort involved in mounting it.
This isn't to say that the response to our invitation was unheeded; in fact the overall response to my letter and towards renewal and reconnection was very positive. But it seems quite clear that, amongst those who responded (just under 5% of those to whom I wrote), the feeling seems to be that the Trustees are to be 'trusted' to decide what needs to be done by way of renewal and reconnection (if anything), and supporters are generally content to let them get on with it.
Altogether I sent out just under 300 invitations, of which the bulk went to former Raft subscribers, and to Ananda networkers (a sizeable group, some of whom also took Raft). Just under a fifth of the total invitations went out to Buddhist groups who may or may not have been aware of the Trust's activities, including the representative bodies of the main traditions and schools in UK. I also sent a couple of dozen invitations to hospices, and to palliative care teams mainly those around the centres where the conferences were scheduled.
I was rather surprised that a number of invitations were returned unopened by the Royal Mail, marked "not at this address" and - in the case of two addressees - R.I.P. This suggests that out data-base (such as it is) is not current, and people have moved.
Several letters (and a few emails) of encouragement and continued commitment did much to keep us in good heart, and there were a fair number of generous cash donations. Not a few letters told of growing frailness and/or limited means for getting around, going to meetings, or visiting the sick.
I don't feel much disappointed at having to cancel the conference in Bristol, especially as we were lucky to be able to do so without much financial loss, thanks to the Penny Brohn Centre's generous cancellation policy and our charitable status. It was clear that some intending delegates were individually disappointed to hear that it was 'off', especially as we made a special effort to arrange an event otside London, and were looking forward to visiting Bristol, where we have been warmly welcomed before (by the Western Cha'n Fellowship's Bristol chapter) at their Annual Congress. I was looking forward to being greeted as "My Lovely" - this was the term of endearment used by the night receptionist at the Severn Bridge Travelodge when I booked in for a night's stay. Very nice.
At the time of writing plans for the July conference in London are progressing, and there will be further announcements nearer the time. The turn-out, however, looks to be quite modest on present reckoning, but we shall see how things develop.
There's a lot to learn from this consultative conference exercise, and the Trustees will meet on Saturday 7th June in London to "read the entrails" (mine, I expect) and draw lessons from that. More to follow, I promise.