ZRS Board Minutes – Mar. 24, 2018

20180324 ZR Board Minutes Attendees: Kai Hui, Liaoran, Taiso, Jian Zhi Convened at 10:11   Topics: Financials Significant contributions at the end of last year; about $1,100 per month including this bump; about $600 per month this calendar year Slight profit in 2015, slight loss […]

ZRS Board Minutes – Nov. 11, 2017

Attendees: Kai Hui, Liaoran, Taiso, Jian Zhi Convened at 10:15 am   Topics: Financials Kai Hui: Offerings are about the same as the same time last year About $1,600 net positive this year so far compared to last year Current total assets $19,500 (actual cash […]

Effortless Donations for Zen River (Easy as ABC!)

By Reishin Denise Leong, ZRS Priest, excerpted from the September 2017 ZRS newsletter

  1. Smile Amazon – Amazon will donate 0.5% of the purchase price from your eligible AmazonSmile purchases to Zen River.  Go to, log in to your account, and choose Friends of Zen OSHKOSH (NOT APPLETON) as your charity. From then on, just remember to go to Smile Amazon when making purchases—the donations are automatic!
  2. Woodman’s Gift Cards – Woodman’s donates 5% of the gift card amount to Zen River. To purchase $50 or $100 gift cards, good at any Woodman’s, see Kai Hui Jill Buckmaster.
  3. Scrip – Purchase gift cards from hundreds of stores and services through the Scrip program. These companies donate a percentage of the gift card amount to Zen River. You can check out the offerings at and order your gift cards in one of two ways:
    • Fill out a form and give to Reishin with cash/check payment
    • Or, you can create an account online at and enroll in the Zen River Sangha Program to order online:
      • Click Get Started
      • Click Join Your Existing Program
      • Enrollment Code: C427F54542779
    • To pay for purchases through your account…
      1. Simply log into your ShopWithScrip® account and click on the PrestoPay link under Family Functions on your Dashboard.
      2. Enter your checking account information.
      3. Complete the steps to verify your information, and you will receive a secure approval code.
      4. That’s it! You will then be able to choose the PrestoPay option when you check out.
      5. A small $0.15 convenience fee will apply to each order.

Gift cards can be picked up at the zendo 7-10 days after you order. If you have questions, please contact Reishin.

Mondo Zen: Your Angst can Become your Liberation!

By Reishin Denise Leong, ZRS Priest, excerpted from the September 2017 ZRS newsletter Have you suffered enough? Are you finally willing to change your mind? There is a huge amount of unnecessary suffering in the world—unnecessary because it does not arise directly from our life circumstances, but […]

On Refuge and the Growth of Sangha

By Taiso Hannya Byron Bartow Roshi, ZRS Head Priest, excerpted from the September 2017 ZRS newsletter We have recently engaged in some discussion about our community and how we might grow and deepen. This column shares some thoughts about this. The three refuges or jewels […]

ZRS Board Minutes – Sept. 2, 2017

Attendees: Kai Hui, Liaoran, Taiso, Jian Zhi

Convened at 10:10 a.m.



  1. Financials
    1. Donations level for last two months–about $700 from donations (goal $1,000)
    2. Changes to internet arrangement–need to start helping landlord by paying more of the share
      1. Taiso: would like the arrangement to be business-like
      2. Treasurer will talk to landlord about appropriate payment
        1. Taiso: could potentially count Reishin’s share as a donation
        2. Liaoran: having the internet in ZRS’s name would help us build a record for financial standing
  2. Subcommittee Reports/Updates
    1. Liaoran: no formal updates
  3. Review of comment cards & requests for board agenda topics
    1. Nothing
  4. Old Business
    1. Newsletter
      1. Concerns from the first time around
        1. Length–needs to be sustainable
        2. Tenuous connection to Zen practice–effort should be made to connect topic of article to this practice (our brand)
        3. Quoting other sources–want to encourage expression in own words
        4. Image copyright–want to avoid troubles and encourage people to provide their own image
      2. Secretary will develop a submissions guidelines document to use for nextime
    2. Fundraising
      1. Interest in hosting a rummage sale or other kind of event with the possibility of making it recurring
      2. Discussion around crowdfunding as a way of raising money toward buying the zendo
      3. The board will review the output from the fundraising brainstorm session and try to determine the next move
  5. New Business
    1. Programming approval
      1. Taiso: would like to preserve the option to have monthly half-day sits on Saturday
      2. The board approves Reishin’s ask from August 15
        1. The board will also communicate that Reishin can plan on having half of the Saturdays
      3. The board approves Liaoran’s use of the space on the last Monday of the month for a Stoic reading/discussion group
    2. Sutra book reordering
      1. Request from Manju for about 20
      2. Jun Po has an outlet for ordering new books
      3. Liaoran: would like to have a stack available at the zendo for purchase
      4. Taiso will reach out to Jun Po to determine run size limitations, cost and other considerations
        1. May also be able to piggyback on Vimala’s order for rohatsu
        2. Will also request a batch of the next edition on mondo manuals when they’re ready

Adjourned at 11:50 a.m.

ZRS Board Minutes – July 1, 2017

20170701 ZR Board Minutes Attendees: Kai Hui, Liaoran, Taiso, Jian Zhi   Topics: Financials Subcommittee Reports/Updates PLACEHOLDER for future agendas, discussion during “Old Business” portion of meeting Review of comment cards & requests for board agenda topics Old Business Library setup Subcommittees Formalization of subcommittee […]

Women’s Roles in Buddhism and Christianity

Noelle Korzeniewski invited Reishin, Kevala, and Liaoran, along with a number of Christian pastors, to participate in her Religion Senior Seminar final paper project. Her project is an analysis of women’s roles in Buddhism and Christianity and is an interesting and thoughtful read. Women’s Roles […]

Fundraising and Community Involvement

Dear Sangha Family and Friends,

Recently, a small sangha focus group met to discuss the future of Zen River Sangha. The overwhelming message that came out of this meeting was our desire and intention to continue to help Zen River mature as a community, which requires our sangha to deeply internalize a culture of dana (generosity), financially sustainable operations, and increased involvement in the larger Fox Valley community.

As many of you know, about two years ago we chose to commit to moving into our current location and did so with the intention of purchasing the building as a sangha as funds became available. Thanks to Reishin’s tremendous generosity and the sangha’s response to our fundraising drive, we could feel confident that we could sustain our operating budget for the foreseeable future—while settling into our own, beautiful zendo.

Nothing is permanent, however; we know this! Due to a reduction in pledges and donations, our operating budget is no longer in the black, requiring us to draw on the funds we have saved and preventing us from saving additional funds to purchase the zendo building or to expand our offerings and services. This gap is not a large one; we are bringing in about $700 a month and our expenses are about $1000. The bulk of our savings is still intact and the board has been vigilant about resource stewardship, avoiding expenditures whenever possible. And it is heartening to know that many sangha participants are still giving generously of their funds, time and talents.

We understand that it is deeply important that our sangha provides value commensurate to the financial donations we are asking for. We initially met with the intention of simply brainstorming around fundraising. What emerged, however, was a clearer vision for how we wish to be of service to both the sangha and the larger geographical community. Our belief is that through community service and engaged Buddhist practice, our sangha will strengthen, grow, and have access to additional resources, freely given, which will allow us to continue this cycle of service and growth.

The board would like to join the larger sangha in exploring how we can become meaningfully engaged in the community, with the understanding that this will both support and be supported by our desire to meet or exceed our necessary operating budget each month. Purchasing the zendo building is still a future goal for us, and one that has tangible financial and tax benefits, but we believe our operating budget and community involvement need to come first in our minds.

Our questions are these: How can we establish our mission and position outside of the zendo and in the community? How do we wish to serve and engage without proselytizing and while remaining in integrity with our essential Zen practice? What needs can we identify in the community that are not currently being met by other non-profit organizations, what gaps can we fill?

Put in a more personal context, what passion do you have that you would like to share with the sangha? What needs do you know of that you feel we could help meet? What resources do you know of that could assist Zen River in our mission to be “…a sacred order, bringing into being a harmonious and loving world, through the practice of meditative, compassionate awareness and mindful stewardship”?

Fundraising is, of course, still part of the puzzle that we’re addressing here. In that spirit, we’re including below a long list of “brainstorming” items that came out of our initial meeting. Our approach was that there are “no bad ideas” in this stage, so some of the suggestions may seem absurd or amusing at first glance. Please look over these and allow them to spur your own brainstorming, for both fundraising and community involvement activities. Also included is a brief SWOT analysis (strengths, weaknesses, opportunities, threats) that we used to kick off our meeting. This may also assist you in your own consideration of Zen River’s unique characteristics.

We will be opening the floor for discussion of this letter and the attached documents after each Thursday and Saturday sit, following the dharma talk, for the remainder of May and into June. After that, the board will meet to discuss the feedback and to determine our next direction. If there’s call for additional meetings or brainstorming sessions, we will schedule those using this mailing list.

Please reach out after a sit or by email with your thoughts and feedback on this letter and the attached brainstorming ideas. Let us know your feelings on what Zen River could or should bring to the Fox Valley Community. Most of all, let us know how you are willing to help!

With gratitude and affection, and with particular thanks to Che Hun Erin Quick-Laughlin and Myoshin Renee Taylor for their participation,

Zen River Sangha Board of Directors

Liaoran Tess Grey

Kai Hui Jill Buckmaster

Jian Zhi Peter Tolly

Taiso Byran Bartow (ex officio)

ZRS Brainstorming Ideas

ZRS SWOT Analysis

New site

We’re happy to announce that we’ve just completed our migration to our new website. In the future, we hope to publish news and updates here. Watch this space!