Category Archives: News

Cold and Flu Season is Upon Us

In an effort to support each other’s health, we are asking that sangha members stay home if they are ill. We are recommending following the Center for Disease Control’s guidelines: please don’t come to the zendo if you have fever, cough, runny nose, muscle aches, or anything else you equate with viral illness. Consider getting a flu shot. Please stay home and take care of yourself for seven days or until you have not had fever for 48 hours, whichever is longer. If you realize you are ill after you have arrived on a Saturday or sesshin day, please let the director know before you go home.

This policy is in effect to support those who are ill as well as to protect others, particularly those with chronic debilitating illness or those who are immuno-compromised. We understand that some coughs and sneezes may result from allergies. Please inform the Saturday or sesshin director if this is the case with you. If you are uncertain, speak with the Saturday or sesshin director.

If you have further questions regarding this policy, please bring the issue to the practice committee.

This policy is cross listed on the Policies page.

E-Voting Comes to BZC


To date, BZC elections have been conducted using sequentially numbered paper ballot slips, which  are made available for eligible members on the patio bulletin board table. Members are given a window of time in which to vote using the paper slips by marking their choices and returning their ballots to  the laundry room door slot.

Presumably, this system as been adequate for our needs so far. A move to eVoting from the standing  paper system, however, makes BZC elections more convenient, accessible, easy to execute, and it could addresses several possible  (though unlikely) problems with the paper system:
● It is possible that single members or non-­members may cast multiple votes
● It is possible for non-­members to vote
● Members who don’t frequent the grounds yet are entitled to vote may not notice the notice in the newsletter preceding the election

How It Works

BZC eVoting  relies on a tokenized, anonymous web survey link emailed to each eligible  member. “Tokenized” means that the link is unique and issued just to one member (by email address).  Once the token is used by a member to submit a ballot, the token expires and is no longer usable.  The token is encrypted when associated with the ballot results, so that, even though a token can be  revoked and the related ballot data removed from the totals, the results are completely  anonymous. We can verify whether a particular member has voted but not how her or she has voted.

Once you get your ballot email, click the link it contains. Then, just follow the instructions on the screen. Voting should take you no more than two minutes, and that’s if you have to think about your votes very carefully.

But I Don’t Have an Email Account!!

While there are relatively few members without email addresses on file with the business office, there are a few. If you’re one of them, you’ll be receiving a paper ballot in the mail, which will contain instructions and information about deadlines. If you receive one, you may return your paper ballot by mail to the business office or push it through the laundry-room door slot.

What’s Next?

The polls for the 2015 election will open on October 1st, 2015.

For E-Voters

If you have an email address on file with the business office, you’ll receive your ballot email before 12:00 pm PDT on October 1st, 2015. If you don’t get it, please check your spam folder. If it’s not there, please email office manager Tamar Enoch at for a replacement ballot. Please note that you can only use your ballot link once, and you must complete the ballot in a single session. If you have trouble, email Tamar about that too.

Now would be a very good time for you to update the business office with your correct email if you need to make a change.

For Paper Voters

Paper ballots will be mailed to eligible members on October 1st, 2015. If you haven’t received your ballot in the mail by October 8th, please contact the Tamar for a replacement. You’ll need to complete your ballot and seal it in the internal, anonymous envelope provided. You can mail it in to the business office, but please be sure to postmark your ballot not later than Friday, October 23rd, 2015, to make sure it arrives at BZC by the October 31st, 2015, deadline. Ballots that arrive later than October 31st, 2015, will not be counted. You can put your paper ballot through the laundry-room door slot until midnight on October 31st, 2015 (and if you come that night, you might also want to wear a costume and bring a bag for candy.)

Changes Coming to Our Neighborhood

As many of you have probably noticed, new construction is going up and longtime businesses are shifting near BZC. The Adeline Street corridor is undergoing a wave of development. The City of Berkeley is in the midst of a multiyear community planning process for the Adeline Corridor, but many new projects will break ground before any plan is in place.

A development has been proposed for 2902 Adeline St. combining the site of AW Pottery and the first house on Russell St. next to it. The developer, RealTex, has proposed a 6-story, 56-unit residential building with 8 live-work units on the ground floor. 10% of the building will be affordable housing, the minimum required by the City of Berkeley. The building will include a small parking garage with 18 parking spaces. The units will be 1- and 2-bedrooms. The developer imagines the live-work units would house small businesses along the lines of graphic designers and therapists. Affordable units will rent for approximately $800-900/month, while the market rate units are projected to rent for $1,800-2,500/month. The architect is David Trachtenberg of Trachtenberg Architects, a longtime Berkeley architect.

The main concerns expressed by local residents at two community meetings called by the developer are parking and traffic, the height of the building, and affordability and gentrification. Many neighbors expressed concern about the lack of parking in the project and how it might impact street parking in the area, especially in areas without residential parking. The developer has argued that with Ashby BART, multiple car-share services, and bike parking nearby, residents are not likely to have a car. A local activist has countered that studies show it is tenant’s incomes which determine whether they will own a car, not proximity to transit.

Neighbors are also concerned about the shadows caused by the project and the impact its height will have on the residential character of the area. The developer and architect plan to have a series of setbacks on the Russell St. side of the building to make the building less monolithic, and argue that it is the same height as the Harriet Tubman senior housing complex on the northwest corner of Russell and Adeline. The developer has no interest in changing the barriers on Russell St.

The low levels of affordable housing are also causing concern about gentrification, and how the building might change the character of the neighborhood through its effect on property values and an influx of more affluent residents, most likely without children. Locals active with Friends of Adeline, a community group that has emerged to articulate a community-based vision for the Adeline Corridor, have articulated the concerns about affordability most strongly.

I attended the two community meetings, along with BZC’ers Bruce Coughran, Ross Blum, and our abbot and vice-abbot, and I plan to continue to be involved in the process. A few neighbors are planning to call a community meeting about the project in the coming days so we can begin to organize some kind of response. While there is a diversity of concerns among neighbors, we are united by our interest in having a say in the direction our neighborhood takes. If you have questions or would like to become involved, feel free to contact me, and check the bulletin board for announcements of upcoming meetings.

Sounding Board for September 2015

The climate crisis has arrived, despite all crackpot denials. We feel it here in California in the depth of drought, mandated state water rationing, and now in a twelve-month fire season burning through our forests and grasslands.  As responsible citizens and visible members of Berkeley’s religious community, the BZC sangha has been taking steps to evaluate and change our consumption of waterand petroleum-based fuel.

Recently the board asked for reviews of water and energy usage. Board member Mark Copithorne has found that our total electrical usage—for all four of our buildings—averages 1200kWh per month. This is remarkably modest given the usage of residences, zendo, community room, etc. The average California single household uses about 500 kWh per month.

Checking water bills, Office Manager Tamar Enoch has found that our water usage, compared  with 2013 usage is down by the following startling percentages:

  • 1929 Russell is down 45%
  • 1931 Russell is down 50%
  • 1933 Russell is down 42%

The garden committee, with guidance from Sojun Roshi and others, is actively looking at replacement of our front and back lawns with paving and drought-resistant vegetation. As prices of solar panels and installations continue to fall, the

Board is investigating the possibility of solar conversion. Lastly, although we are not a wealthy community, we have in place a socially-responsible investment policy that eschews funds that carry in their portfolios weapon manufacture, tobacco products, alcohol, oil, and gas.

Aspects of Practice 2015

Aspects of Practice—led by Vice-Abbot Hozan Alan Senauke and BZC senior students—will begin with sesshin on Saturday October 17, and continue through the closing sitting on Saturday November 14. As always, this is an opportunity for new and old students to study and practice together the basics of zazen, forms, and dharma here at BZC. And of course, we will share work, practice discussion, and tea.

This year our classes and lectures will focus on our Chinese ancestors—Soto and Rinzai, men and women—and how their teachings and example remain alive to us so many centuries later. Copies of the texts will be available in advance.

As fall begins, please join us for this opportunity to refresh our timeless practice. All the relevant info and signup sheets will be posted late in September. If you have questions, email Hozan at or leave a note in his box on the porch. See you there.

Sojun’s Summer Class Series

Sojun Roshi will teach a new class series beginning in August. The subject will be a continuation of his practice period class on Vasubhandu’s Thirty Verses, which describes a system of eight consciousnesses developed by the Yogacara school of Buddhism. The interplay between all eight aspects is the subject of the Thirty  Verses and Sojun’s class.

 Vasubhandu: Japan (c. 1200)
Vasubhandu: Japan (c. 1200)

If you did not attend the practice period class you are still most welcome and encouraged to join us. Sojun will bring us up to speed.We’ll meet on Thursday evenings from 7:15-8:45 pm.The six dates are: 8/6, 8/20, 9/3, 9/10, 9/24, 10/1. Because of summer vacations, the class fee will be $50 for the series or pro-rated at $10/class. Our basic text will be Thich Nhat Hanh’s Understanding Our Mind (previously published at Transformation at the Base.)


A Day with Shohaku Okumura

We are very fortunate to be hosting a day of teaching with Shohaku Okumura Roshi on Saturday, August 29. He will give the public lecture in the morning and a longer teaching in theafternoon. The subject will be Dogen’s waka poems from Zen of Four Seasons. Both talks are open to all.

Okumura Roshi is a Dogen scholar and the author of many translations and commentaries, including Zen of Four Seasons, Realizing Genjokoan and Living by Vow. He is abbot at Sanshin Zen Community in Bloomington, Indiana.