Tuesday Being Still 6pm
Wednesday Study Group 6pm
Public Talk 7.30pm
Thursday Meditation 7pm
Friday Library 2-5pm
Qi Gong 5.15pm
The Objects of the Theosophical Society
President’s Report 2016
Our programme this year has been full, varied, instructive and inspiring.
The year started with a sunny picnic in Woodhaugh Gardens complete with petanque and through the year there have been potlucks, a Midwinter Feast and games evenings that nurture the fellowship we hold so dear here in Dunedin.
The weekly speaker programme has proved popular for both members and visitors from the community with 25 to 30 participants being common. We have heard from a world class astronomer advocating protection of the night sky, from shamans and healers, from a celebrant reading her poetry on death and dying, from a psychologist on mindfulness, a sound engineer and producer talking about his life, and a law professor presenting the case against euthanasia. Members have inspired us with talks and workshops on Tantra, Mother Earth, talent, sacred Arthurian rituals and sacred geometry, to name a few. Discussions always work well in our lodge and we have had them on forgiveness, on several readings by Sri Ram, on free will, the case for euthanasia and “finding out you were wrong”. Thank you to everyone who presented and participated in these Wednesday evening offerings.
In the study group topics studied have included the Consciousness Chronicles, the Electric Universe Conference, plant electrotropism, the Rosicrucian science of initiation, Jiddu Krishnamurti on the roots of psychological disorder and Professor Murray Salby on Atmospheric Carbon. We have been most stimulated. Thank you, James.
A weekend Heart Sharing group run by Victor McGill from Nelson attracted 6 enthusiastic participants and 14 members travelled to Hanmer Springs for the Southern Regional Gathering, an event that combined talks by participants with dancing, ceremony and indulging in good food, wide-ranging conversations and the hot pools.
Two group mediation groups have met throughout the year attracting between 3 and 6 participants and the Qigong group continues to grow and may soon get too large for the snug where it has met up to now.
Short courses in the Western Path and non-duality have also been offered.
It is clear that Freedom of Thought continues to be a vital principle for the Dunedin members. They see it, with the 3 Objects, as being the essential foundation of the Theosophical Society.
As far as our building is concerned this has been a quieter year than last year as we have consolidated ourselves in what will soon cease to be called “our new building”. We have been here almost 2 years now and I think we can say we have almost got the building working as we would want it to, although, as I shall mention later in this report, there are still many more things we need, or would like, to do.
Our meeting rooms provide us with a comfortable and inviting space for the meetings, groups and workshops that are the backbone of the Theosophical Society’s activities here in Dunedin. We now have a good functional kitchen, large notice boards to inform members of events and I think most people will agree, that the lighter wall colour has brightened the space immensely and made it seem a little less like an ex-watering hole!
Thank you to all who turned up for working bees, we have had some really good attendance at these. I would especially like to thank (tall) Peter Swale who has recently left for Oz and John Horrocks, a stalwart painter!
SeniorLink have used the rooms 2 days a week for almost a year now and this seems to work very well. We are also hosting the Dunedin Community Care Trust on Tuesdays and Thursdays and other community groups also rent the rooms for one-off social events and meetings. Peter has built them a ramp to improve wheel chair access.
It took a while to get the library and office space sorted in what was the old gaming lounge but that now works well and more and more people seem to be taking advantage of this enviable facility. Earlier in the year one of our members, Abe Booth, died and bequeathed us his wonderful library of contemporary spiritual books. The cataloguing and shelving of these is underway.
The snug off the library has also proved to be a very valuable space, especially in winter where it lives up to its name and provides a comfortable spot for meditations, meetings and Qi Gong.
The commercial kitchen was leased for almost a year by bagel bakers with a stall in the Farmers Market. In fact, it worked so well for them that they moved on to bigger and better things in April and we had the kitchen vacant for 4 months. However, we now have a raw dessert baker leasing the space. We had hoped that she would make a success of her stall at the Farmers’ market but she has told us that she cannot cover her costs, partly due the awful wet spring weather we have experienced, and will be transferring her preparation to her home kitchen after Xmas. We will therefore be looking for a new tenant.
Upstairs we have renovated the resident’s kitchen and insulated the ceiling and have had the 6 rooms leased for most of the year to 3 residents and 2 artists. We have learned much about being landlords in this time and after being “burnt” we make sure we carefully vet prospective tenants. Peter, our property manager, has started paying rent for the upstairs apartment although the renovations are not yet complete. The bathroom still needs commissioning, the walls need decorating and there are carpets to be laid, but when it is done it will be a comfortable residence and a great asset to the building.
A space that we had not really considered renting out originally, the former laundry, has provided a small but functional studio space for most of the year for Mike Crawford, a nationally celebrated glass artist.
We still have much that needs to be done and some things we would like to do in the future. We have just started to upgrade the upstairs residents’ bathroom and provide them with laundry facilities. We need to remove or modify the neon signs that still advertise “Rooms” and “Gaming”, do some work on our rather dilapidated fence and our property manager will be developing a storage and workshop area in the east corner of the car park. In the longer term, we will need to repaint the outside of the building and would like to convert the old cold store into another artist’s studio. Other projects on the drawing board are to provide a covered area over the back door and a pergola as an outside coffee and smokers’ spot. At some point, we will have to replace the meeting room carpet and we may see if we can get a grant for installing a heat pump here too.
At the moment, we have 10 different areas we are leasing which, when fully tenanted, could provide us with a good income. Our latest budget therefore shows that when our outgoings for renovations reduce next year we should be able to start paying off our $80,000 loan from the National body and should have it paid off within 10 years. We all need to pat ourselves on the back for a very successful year!
I would like to thank the other committee members, Ralf Schruba, James Fox, Peter Mason, Marie Lloyd, Michael Rudin, Tony Parry and Serena Weatherall who have worked so hard and been so supportive through the year.