New Vrindaban’s Semi-Annual Joint Boards’ Meeting Minutes – November 8, 2013


Group photo of New Vrindaban Board members and guests.

Group photo of New Vrindaban’s GBC, INV & ECOV board members and guests.

Minutes of the Semi-Annual Meeting of the Joint Boards Of New Vrindaban – November 8, 2013

Day 1 of 3

ISKCON New Vrindaban (INV) Vision Statement: Founded in 1968, Srila Prabhupada boldly envisions New Vrindaban as a sacred place known worldwide for Cow Protection, Self-Sufficiency, Holy Pilgrimage, Spiritual Education, and, above all, Loving Krishna.

ECO-Vrindaban Mission Statement: ECOV (Earth, Cows, Opportunities & Vrindaban Villages) is dedicated to cow protection, sustainable agriculture, self-sufficiency and simple living — all centered around loving service to Sri Krishna, as envisioned by the ISKCON New Vrindaban Founder-Acharya, His Divine Grace A.C. Bhaktivedanta Swami Prabhupada.

Board Members of INV: Jaya Krsna, Gopisa, Dayavira, Tamohara, Chaitanya Mangala, Ranaka

Board Members of ECOV: Madhava Gosh, Kripamaya, Anuttama, Ranaka, Chaitanya Mangala

GBC: Tamohara, Anuttama, Malati

Department Heads: Vrindavana, Jayadevi, Vasudeva, Nityodita, Gaura Nataraj, Abhinanda, Bhaktin Leslie, Hari Bhakti, Tripad, Lilasuka, Vyapi

Recording Secretary: Laxmi Honest

The meeting began with kirtan followed by Dayavira Prabhu reading a letter from Srila Prabhupada regarding his vision for New Vrindaban.

Jaya Krsna Prabhu gave a presentation about the process of transformation for the community.  This was followed by presentations by each of the department heads discussing the accomplishments of each department in 2013and goals for 2014.

Lilasuka Prabhu shared information regarding devotee care, devotee relations and communications.  Many articles are being published to the web and also posted in the temple.  Articles have been published in local newspapers as well.  A new email list is under development to better inform all devotees of events and community information.  She is also involved in training new devotees, counseling young couples, providing health care assistance and sponsoring Vishvadhika, our homeopathic doctor.  She hopes to improve these services in the next year by publishing more articles, arranging seminars and improving our websites.

Madhava Gosh suggested that department heads write articles for the Brijabasi Spirit, which he noted posts to the New Vrindaban Facebook page as well.

Jayadevi Prabhu reported on the pujari department mentioning that Abhinanda Prabhu has encouraged a friendlier mood among the pujaris.  She noted that Their Lordships seem pleased with this new mood.  She reported that three new pujaris are coming to New Vrindaban and will be trained in service to Sri Sri Radha Vrindaban Chandra.  In the coming year it is hoped that a higher standard in cooking for the Deities may be developed and increased punctuality among the pujaris is a goal along with increased sadhana.   The department also would like to see specific duties assigned to the pujaris such as jewelry, outfits, cleaning, etc.  There are needed improvements to the pujari room such as new cabinets, cleaning and repair of the ceiling, covers for the dressing drawers and air conditioning for their Lordships.  Also it is important to make improvements in the Deity kitchen.

Tamohara Prabhu complimented the pujaris on a job well done.  Madhava Gosh suggested the creation of a jewelry department and a sewing department.  Jaya Krsna remarked that shops for these departments could be created at Bahulaban.  Gopisa noted that a new washing machine had been installed for the Deities.

Vasudeva Prabhu gave a report on the Palace Lodge.  The second floor has been renovated and a new welcome center created.  The Lodge exceeded financial projections for the season and met expectations for cleanliness and guest services.  He would like to see improvements in the Lodge appearance and introduce green cleaning products.  He sees a need to upgrade the cabins as well as the temple guest rooms.  He would like to acquire staff uniforms with name tags to better serve the guests.  He also suggested a welcome package for guests with maps, schedules and perhaps a Bhagavad Gita.  Updated signage would be helpful as well as a Lodge logo for vehicles.  He mentioned the outside Lodge appearance needs work. More renovation is needed in the reception area and a more efficient accounting system.  Jaya Krsna commented that department heads desire improvements; however they need budgets and funding. Madhava Gosh mentioned that ECOV has been helping with landscaping.  Jaya Krsna noted that the Lodge would need approximately $30,000 for non-structural improvements, such as new furniture for temple guest rooms and cabins, fresh paint, etc.

Nityodita Prabhu gave a report on Govinda’s restaurant.  The facility has been completely made over with an updated dining room and kitchen and a new walk in cooler.  The electricity has been brought up to code and a new freezer room added along with more storage areas.  They have added some western food options for guests and all breads are made in house.  They have created a new logo and sign.  Restaurant staff wear T-shirts with the new logo.  In addition to regularly serving guests the restaurant has also hosted a wedding, birthday parties, bus groups and college groups.  In addition temple devotees were served an evening meal daily throughout the season.  Receipts were substantially greater in 2013 increasing by about 25% over the prior year.

In the way of improvements he would like to finalize the concept they have begun by adding lighting, a more organized seating plan and finishing the décor.  An order and serve system similar to Panera Bread is considered practical.  Addition of central air conditioning and a sound system would make guests more comfortable.  A display in each booth as well as increased advertising locally would be helpful as well as an increase in bus tours.  Again the matter of funding is an issue.

Malati thanked the restaurant staff for their breads and the evening meals.  Anuttama pointed out that having businesses that employ devotees is in line with our plan for self sufficiency.  Vrindavana mentioned that there were many compliments from guests.

Gopisa Prabhu gave a report on the community facilities.  He discussed the renovations to the Lodge and the expanded Lodge laundry.  Drains were upgraded along with the renovation of the restaurant and the welcome center.  The ashram bathrooms were finished and the temple offices remodeled.  City water has been brought to Srila Prabhupada’s Palace and to Apartment Building #1.  There is also a back- up system for the entire Palace/Temple Complex area. The water hook up has been improved for the Festival of Inspiration and the retention tank repaired at the water treatment plant. Lighting has been improved around both the Temple and the Lodge. New lighting has been installed on Lord Jagannath’s altar.  New lighting is also planned for the main altar.  Installation of back- up generators for the Temple & Lodge is in progress and filter systems have been installed on all drinking fountains and in the Prasadam room and devotee kitchen.  A new transformer was installed at Srila Prabhupada’s Palace.

As improvement suggestions he listed that he needs to be more conservative in the number of projects progressing at the same time.  He pointed out that he needs better management of materials and should coordinate better with other departments.  He believes he should schedule projects with a timeline and exercise stricter budget control.  Adding personnel to the planning department could help in these regards.  A stable maintenance team would be ideal.

New projects would include improvements to the playground and the bathrooms nearest the play area.  The Swan Boat House needs work as well as the roofs on the cabins.  The Temple room floor is in need of repair and the construction of a Tulasi house is desired.  There needs to be better parking for buses at Srila Prabhupada’s Palace and work on the window and doors of the Temple ground floor.  It is planned to construct a pole barn at the Garden of 7 Gates and there is much to be done at the old Vrindaban farmhouse.  Signage is an ongoing need and there is a plan for new apartments.

Nityodita enquired as to the timeline for installation of the generators.  Gopisa informed the board members that it should be done before the end of the year.  He is currently seeking a sub contractor to do the installation.  The generators are already purchased. Jayadevi expressed hope that the temple room floor might be repaired over the winter. Gopisa agreed that it is a priority, but cited budget issues.  Malati suggested getting a sponsor for the temple room floor project.  Nityodita proposed a priority for the Deity kitchen.

Vrindavana Prabhu reported on the main festivals hosted this year, which are Festival of Inspiration, Festival of Colors and the 24 Hour Kirtan.  The Festival of Inspiration was attended by approximately 500 devotees.  It created a very positive impression of New Vrindaban along with a new awareness of what INV represents.  In the near future it is hoped that attendance will be closer to 700 devotees and that it will be promoted through ISKCON worldwide, attracting more key speakers.  He suggested that the festival schedule could be improved as well as the quality of the prasadam.

The Festival of Colors attracted three times the number of participants as last year.  It was written up in numerous newspapers and publications and created good media coverage for the Palace.  We distributed over 200 books and the festival was an excellent preaching opportunity.

In 2014 he hopes to attract twice as many attendees as in 2013.  He is working with local business for sponsorship and with the local tourism board for promotion.   He intends to expand promotion to more cities such as Morgantown, Columbus and Pittsburgh.  He is considering inviting local politicians to participate as well.

The 24 Hour Kirtan is now held twice a year.  There has been enthusiastic participation and positive feedback.  In 2014 it is hoped to increase participation in both the spring and fall events.

Varsana Maharaj was unable to attend the meeting but sent a report regarding land management.  He set up a new shop and restored much equipment.   A Parakram path for guests and devotees has been built and a road has been built on Kadhiraban property to access the properties for sale.  The pink building at Bahulaban has been taken down and the rubble used for fill and to complete the Old Vrindaban road dam.  Asphalt has been installed at the propane tank and a clean-up of the parking lot was completed.  Manure has been hauled to the Garden of Seven Gates and the original road from Bahulaban to Old Vrindaban and on to the barn has been restored.  A culvert was installed along the way.

The transport of tools and equipment needs improving and better coordination of projects would be helpful.  He also needs an assistant in this department or perhaps a project manager. Gopisa mentioned that the asphalt used by Varsana Maharaj was from gas company road work.  Also we received a substantial amount of fill dirt from the water line installation.

Bhaktin Leslie gave a report on the improvements in the accounting department.  New systems have been put in place to properly credit income, especially from credit cards, to the proper departments.  Also a new system has been established for disbursements, whether by check or cash. This helps to streamline the accounting process and allows for better reporting to department heads and management.

In 2014 she hopes to revise the chart of accounts and institute month end closings to submit accurate monthly profit and loss statements to management.

Jaya Krsna reported on behalf of Tripad Prabhu in relation to Srila Prabhupada’s Palace.  He reported that promotions have improved with increased TV spots.  There has been an increase in the number of visitors and an increase in the gardens.  There were three young, enthusiastic tour guides this summer and that was a great help and appreciated by guests. Prasadam distribution has been initiated thanks to Malati Prabhu. A new wheelchair ramp has been installed which brings guests to the top level. Previously, ramps only went up to the 2nd level, leaving several steps to the entrance area.

A contract with Soma for work on the main stairs is ready and should be finalized by March. In the next year it is hoped that all the stair work can be completed and a new roof put on the old ghee factory building.  It would also be good to hire more young tour guides.

Hari Bhakti Prabhu reported on the ladies ashram.  There are now 7 residents who plan to stay long term.  A Bhakta program has been introduced and enthusiastically accepted.   The rooms and bathrooms have been renovated and repairs were made to the back stairs.

In 2014 they would like to institute a mentorship program and improve current standards.  Two new ladies will be arriving soon.

Gaura Nataraja Prabhu reported for the Congregational Development department.  He reported that income has increased 30%.  He credited Bhakta Josef Prabhu with creating an atmosphere of better cooperation, more effective meetings and improved pilgrim care.  The Parikram program instituted by Bhakta Josef has been a great success.  Guests enjoy the tour and are very inspired.  There has also been improved sadhana for all members.

In 2014 there is a goal to raise funds for further improvement of the Lodge and cabins.  They aspire to better manage information and have more productive outreach.  There is a new call center in Mumbai which has been effective and they plan to institute a donor “insurance” program.  There are plans to begin a child camp and a youth camp.  Telephone classes on Srila Prabhupada’s books are on-going and well received.

Nityodita Prabhu discussed the New Vrindaban Protected Dairy Initiative.  Currently Ananda Vidya, Lalita Gopi and Caitanya Bhagavat are working with the cows in an effort to supply our own milk products to the kitchens.  They are milking twice daily and making butter.  The goal is to have both the Deity kitchen and the devotee kitchen using only dairy products from our own cows.  It was mentioned that there is some disconnect between the program and the cooks as far as using only our products.  Jaya Krsna stated that Vasudeva Prabhu will begin kitchen management as soon as he returns from travels and will make an effort to institute a system of using only dairy from our own cows.

Vyapi Prabhu reported on the apartment complex and improvements that have taken place there. He presented needed improvements for the near future: a new roof on apartment block 1 and new steps to the upper level. The parking lot needs better lighting. A new contract for tenants is planned which includes regular service, program attendance and keeping quiet hours. The basketball court and picnic area are in need of repair. The parking lot should be paved.

Following lunch prasadam reports were given by representatives of other non-profits in New Vrindaban.

Ruci Prabhu spoke regarding Gopal’s Garden.  This is the 7th year for the school in this incarnation.  There are currently four students all at different teaching levels.  Sukavaha Prabhu is doing a weekly class on compassionate communication and Krsna Bhava Prabhu teaches a weekly art class for the students.  Sankirtan Prabhu is teaching a poetry/writing class.  Overall things are going well with the school but there is a problem with the internet not working there.  Chaitanya Mangala asked about plans for next year and Ruci explained that it is difficult to plan before August as it is never assured how many students will be attending.  Jaya Krsna mentioned that new families are coming who have children who will likely attend our school.  M. Ruci gave a tour of the classroom and the members were impressed with the high standard that is being met there.

Chaitanya Mangala gave the ECO-Vrindaban report.  ECOV is now an “Integrated Auxiliary“ of ISKCON New Vrindaban, Inc. This affords ECOV the same tax benefits as INV, which is critical with royalty income while maintaining its corporate independence.  ECOV has adjusted it bylaws to allow INV control of one seat on the Board of Directors of ECOV.  Also, ECOV will report annually to INV regarding finance and operations. So far in 2013, ECOV has contributed $148K to projects around the community.

Ananga Manjari Prabhu represented Dham Seva and reported that Varsana Swami is very hopeful for the projects at hand.  He feels that communications have improved and relationships are better.  He is doing some writing at this time and the Dham Seva board has agreed to the proposed land deal to transfer the property title to INV.

Devotees are looking for a place for him to live year round, perhaps a small cabin. It was suggested that INV could build him a cabin perhaps in exchange for the land.  Jaya Krsna reported that there should be funding for such a project in February so construction could begin next year.

A request for the formation of an advisory committee was discussed. It was agreed that structured well this could be a good way to increase communication and cooperation between community residents and INV management. Members of the group will bring concerns to Jaya Krsna, as the Community President, and together they will address the issues. Jaya Krsna would bring to the board any concerns that may require board attention.

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