"Love all God's creation, the whole of it and every grain of sand. Love every leaf, every ray of God's light! Love the animals, love the plants, love everything. If you love everything, you will perceive the divine mystery in things. And once you have perceived it, you will begin to comprehend it ceaselessly, more and more every day. And you will at last come to love the whole world with an abiding, universal love." Fyodor Mikhail Dostoyevski
At Ferry Beach, we create, practice and promote radical hospitality. We believe that the key to making the world a better place, a world that works for all of us, while taking care of our precious planet, is to practice loving compassion and kindness in the form of welcome and care. As an “advance” center, our hospitality seeks to be generative. We welcome the “other,” the stranger, whether that comes in the form of another person, group, idea, critique or species. We practice radical openness to learn about, understand and potentially be changed by the other. We believe this leads to collaborative and effective efforts to nurture safety, peace and social justice. At its core, this is how we practice loving kindness in intentional communities formed regularly at Ferry Beach (in the form of meetings, conferences, workshops, play dates, special events and more).
Individuals, families, social groups, organizations, businesses and other groups need gathering places, which are generative. “Our mission is to awaken hearts to explore grow and renew in the spirit of universal love.”
Is your organization looking for a place, which matches your values of inclusion and radical hospitality? If you are you looking for a place for your next organizational retreat, why not take your staff to an advance center?
Are you looking for a safe place where your whole family can actually be on vacation (as opposed to places where someone still has to cook and do the dishes?)
As a family are you looking for an opportunity to be away together at a place, which practices loving kindness and models inclusion?
On that first Saturday of their conference at Ferry Beach, when children’s faces see one another after a year apart, their delight is infectious. The magic that is Ferry Beach is palpable in the hugs of friends, in the retreats of church members, in the discovery of something created when voices blend, or children play. Conferences and retreats at Ferry Beach are enchanting.
Carol Lee Flinders wrote in her book At the Root of This Longing: “At any given moment (in life) a great many things can be happening at once, whose connections become clear only much later.” Many of you have probably seen the quote that says that you can “live your life as if everything is a miracle or nothing is.”
I’d like to believe that the synchronicities and moments of magic are always there for us to experience; it’s just that sometimes we haven’t slowed down enough to see them. Mystics remind us that the truth we seek is not outside of ourselves, but inside.
If you have ever experienced a serious crisis in your life, you know how time just seems to slow down. In these moments we experience the wilderness as we have never before. Our senses are on high alert; we have the opportunity to look at everything we have ever seen, with new eyes, but only if we make a conscious choice to do so.
It takes discipline and will to follow what environmentalist, Joanna Macy calls the “work that reconnects.” She reminds us that the spiral begins with gratitude for what we have or where we are. In the face of a crisis, “gratitude quiets the frantic mind and brings us back to source.”
For Macy and us, to move around the spiral, we acknowledge our pain in the moment: for what is missing or what we have been unable to do. “In owning this pain and daring to experience it, we learn that our capacity to suffer with is the true meaning of compassion. We begin to know the immensity of our heart-mind and how it helps us to move beyond fear. What had isolated us in private anguish now opens outward and delivers us into the wider reaches of our world.” As President Obama said in his farewell address, “for all our differences, we rise or fall as one. Be vigilant, but not afraid.”
Once we acknowledge gratitude and move to compassion, it is easier to eventually see the world, or our situation, with new eyes. Each time, the spiral deepens us to the work that is laid out before us, if we are willing to make the choice to experience the spiral.
Crises have a way of kicking the wind out of our lungs. Many of us felt this on the morning of November 9th, 2016. Catching our collective breath in the next weeks and months has been hard. Many of us have been around the spiral several times already.
Some of us are looking for what to be grateful for and find it in the amazing awakenings to the everyday misogyny of our culture. We are grateful for the knowledge that we have a long way to go to rid ourselves as a people of the legacy of slavery and racism. All over the U.S., people are waking up to the misogyny and racisms that still permeate our culture. At Ferry Beach, we are grateful for the opportunity to consider how we can use our physical space, our mission and our resources to target these and other issues.
Ferry Beach will always be a place of respite, and we are becoming clearer about what Ferry Beach means as a concept. The magic of this place travels in its various forms to families, churches, couples, communities, cities, and towns all over the U.S. and even places around the globe. Can we stitch these threads together in a quilt of purpose and an active mission?
Our journey around the spiral as an organization, as a people, as a collection of communities, is just awakening. We are beginning to see Ferry Beach and the world we touch upon together with new eyes.
Look into your heart-mind: what brings you gratitude and leads to compassion? Join the dialogue of how Ferry Beach will use its magic and its 32 acres, 19 buildings, 2000+ members and many more friends in the service of the greater world, our planet and all of its inhabitants. Universal love is no small endeavor, let’s go!
Please use the comment section to post your ideas.
In its November meeting, the board approved the working mission statement: "Ferry Beach awakens hearts to explore, grow and renew the spirit of universal love."
Ferry Beach will accomplish its mission through one of six tools or buckets: culture and the arts; care for the earth; education; spirituality and Unitarian Universalism; personal growth and social justice and social action.
The board will present this working mission statement to the members at the Annual Meeting in June of 2017. More information is posted here and will be in subsequent Discovery newsletters.
This is the draft of our mission statement from the board and staff work on strategic planning and growth. We know mission statements are meant to be clear, concise and provide a strong sense of direction and value. We also know we will be providing a legacy statement regarding our founding, history and our values. Will you please give us some feedback on our mission statement by leaving a comment below? Thank you.
For those who have already posted, we have deleted any duplicate feedback. Appreciate all of you who are weighing in!
Our new volunteer program is called Ferry Beach Keepers! In order to become a Beach Keeper, you need to be either a sustaining donor or a donor of at least $180 a year as well as be a member of Ferry Beach and take the Beach Keeper training. (2-3 hours).
We will be offering volunteer training this summer and will have a couple of events for current Beach Keepers announced in the spring. Our next newsletter will include more details of those events.
To become a Ferry Beach Keeper, please go to the website and fill out the application. Other materials are also available there about the volunteer program. We are looking for Beach Keepers with a variety of skills: online database management, fundraising, special event coordination, store and office work (in summer and if local, in spring season) and more. There are many opportunities!
Why a membership fee?
Many of you know that Ferry Beach is a 501c3 organization. As a not for profit organization, we have some obligations we must meet and maintain. One is in the area of governance. There are a couple of ways that not for profit organizations form and then practice governance. Some not for profits are organized with a board only. Hospitals, major social service agencies, and arts organizations are some examples. Many times, these are not for profits that provide a service for their clients who may or may not be able to provide input regarding governance. A good example might be an organization focused on child abuse who’s clients are young children or a drug and alcohol program who’s clients are still in the throes of their recovery. By the IRS rules, not for profit organizations must have a board of directors, which serves in the role of governance and policy-making. But not all 501c3 organizations have members.
Not for profit organizations without members are said to have boards, which are considered “self perpetuating” because there are no members who vote on board nominations. The board development committee puts forth a slate of officers and the board members vote on that slate. (Some organizations of this type will reach out to their former clients and include them in the board development process or hold slots for them on the board.)
Membership organizations like The Girl Scouts, Boy Scouts, YMCA, YWCA, and Ferry Beach, have a board but also have members who are responsible for voting in the board whenever the term of the board has ended. For Ferry Beach, we have an annual meeting at which the members vote for the board nominees and officers.
By our status as a 501c3 not for profit organization, our members play a critical role in governance. By our by-laws, it is our members who vote in the new board. Membership is built into the very foundation upon which our not for profit status is granted by the IRS.
We wouldn’t be here without members. They don’t just pay their membership fee and walk away—or at least we hope they don’t. They continue to show us every month (Sustaining donors) how much this place by the ocean means to them. They show up early to plant dune grass and stay late to put address labels on thank you letters (Beach Keepers). We have very proud grandparents, parents and children (Life Members) that always hold a spot in their heart for Ferry Beach. I urge you to think about what you can do to help Ferry Beach not just when you’re here but when you’re not. Do you have a talent you’d like to help volunteer? Do you want to put a fundraiser but aren’t sure how to? When you think about where to have your family reunion or wedding—why not here? Why not now?
We appreciate you and your pride in Ferry Beach. We want this place, as much as you do, to be around for another 100 years—for our grandkid’s grandkids. Let’s make I happen. Thanks for being a member.
If you have visited Ferry Beach in the last three years you know we have added Morris Cottage, the Metz cabins and Claflin Cottage to our summer rentals. This summer, the home formerly owned by Ray Hopkins, will also be available. With four bedrooms, two of which are ADA and two that are accessible, these private bedroom/private bathroom combinations have been in high demand.
To be more family friendly has been a request from a number of people who visit Ferry Beach as well. This is very important to us, and we’re listening, we have restructured our dorm room pricing this year. All of our rooms will now be charged per night and not per person. If there is room for 4 persons to sleep, the room will be set at one price. No longer will the charges for rooms be based on the number and ages of persons occupying the rooms. This should result in a significant savings for many families.
This changed our pricing for some rooms slightly. If two people want to share a room, they will be able to do so, however, Ferry Beach will not split the room charge. That will be up to the person who initially reserves the room. We’re excited to offer new small rooms in Rowland for people who do not want to share a dorm room.
Why this change? (If you despise details and transparency, stop reading here). As a retreat and conference center with a number of different types of room rentals (Queen, double bunks, private, etc.) we rely on hoteling software, as opposed to conferencing software, to help us book rooms. Most hotels charge one price for rooms based upon double occupancy. Our software is incapable of doing everything that we want it to do and we are not able financially, to purchase customized software. With this change, we hope to make registration much smoother for our most important people—YOU!
Even MORE clarity and transparency: Membership fees will be assessed for everyone who registers for a conference (in Part 2 we’ll address the importance of members). We will also begin to charge a commuter fee that includes the conference fee for everyone who comes to a conference but stays off campus. This fee will be slightly higher than the per day conference fee that people staying on campus pay and will include lunch at a discounted rate from the a la carte menu for lunch.
Really in the weeds: Some of you are aware that we are making progress on a debt of about $900,000 and deferred maintenance of another million or so. We have replaced roofs, shored up porches, building pilings and floors and we still have much more to go. By addressing our summer conference challenges, we hope to increase our revenue without adding additional fees. We know that by changing room fees, families will pay less to stay at Ferry Beach and some single adults may pay a little bit more. In reviewing our registrations, we believe that most people who come by themselves do share a room with someone they know. Who wouldn’t want to stay with a friend and share the experience of Ferry Beach?
Next up: Part 2: Membership!
In the stair-step line of children in the Polaroid, the fourth boy in line, probably not much more than six years old wears a red suit coat jacket and short pants. The three other boys, ahead of he and I in the line, are wearing brown or black jackets. All the girls are wearing dresses. We are in my grandma’s back yard, a dozen cousins lined up with big smiles, our parents just off camera.
The boy in the red jacket was my cousin Brian. A few years younger than I, Brian loved to play hide and seek with the girls at Nanna’s house. In college, when I came out to my family, Brian sent me a note of solidarity and still later, his own coming out letter. He was beautiful. At a lean six foot with deep brown smiling eyes and dark brown hair, he turned many heads. He went to college in Massachusetts in theater and toured with a New York company for a few years. When he got sick he was living in D.C. His death left a hole in our family.
Tonight I listen to the men on the beach at the GAYLA conference recite the names of the men who had come to this conference many years ago and lost their lives, many to AIDS. In those days young men received their diagnosis and died within the same year, or two, like Brian.
Brian and I carved the unwelcome rainbow into our large extended Irish Catholic family. A drum beat processes the men to the beach from the hemlocks where they gather. There are seventy-five or so men of all ages, some now bent with age, younger men who came out long after people started living with AIDS, and many others.
In this ritual we bear witness to the men we knew who have made their transition, some who were born princesses, some who only later knew who they were, some who struggled all of their lives to be accepted. We are all there, on the beach, feeling the wind in our hair and listening to the cadence of the low tide, remembering.
"If here you have found freedom
take it with you into the world.
If you have found comfort,
go and share it with others.
If you have dreamed dreams,
help one another,
that they may come true!
If you have known love,
give some back...." (Lauralyn Bellamy from Singing the Living Tradition)
In the comments below, please share your joys and concerns this Holiday Season.
Ferry Beach Executive Director, Cathy Stackpole
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