Friends of the BBT Newsletter - May 08
Posted May 12, 2008
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Monthly Sankirtana Festivals Turn Little into Lots
by Madhava Smullen
In Silicon Valley's Hare Krishna community, a new book distribution effort is turning into a juggernaut that could be the future of ISKCON's outreach. When the predominantly householder community decided in 2004 to find a new way to fit book distribution into their nine-to-five lives, they created a "Monthly Sankirtana Festival." Their motto? "Many people doing a little bit."
The program grew gradually, but attracted more and more devotees with its unique approach. No one was overburdened, and everyone had a service that made them feel involved. "Sankirtana creates jobs," says US sankirtana strategist Vaisesika Dasa. "We want jobs for all our citizens. And if elected I guarantee, jobs, jobs, jobs."
He may be quipping, but he's not joking. Every month, there are postcard reminders to mail, permits to be obtained, and scheduling to be detailed for one hundred devotees. Lunch packs must be prepared for everyone, cookies must be made to hand out, and thousands of books must be stamped with the temple's address and website.
Then there's a fulfillment director to order books and send scores to the BBT, a communications director to spread news to the local and outside Vaishnava community, and a database team to store customer details and make sure they're followed through. And that's not counting all the book distributors, the twenty-four team leaders, and the overall sankirtana leader.
The high level of cooperation isn't the only unique thing about Monthly Sankirtana Festivals at ISKCON Silicon Valley (ISV), however. "We focus on book distribution as a spiritual practice, rather than a numbers game," Vaisesika says. "We want devotees to get a greater taste for hearing and chanting through it."
To this end, the community gathers every Wednesday for Bhagavad-gita class, and every Saturday for three hours of group chanting, reading and interactive discussion. "It's important for all the devotees to feel that they're in a safe environment and that their service is valued," says Vaisesika. "One of our mottos is "Encourage the heck out of everybody." Nothing's too small. We go out of our way to notice whatever service anybody does, and acknowledge it." More......
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