President’s Message – March 2012

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March 2012 Dharma

A FACELIFT

Nowadays, do you find that when you want information about an organization or a business, you judge the organization or business by the appearance and content of their website? Recently, I needed to reserve use of a room at the Betsuin so I went to our website to access the facilities use calendar. While there, I looked around the website to see what was going on. It was disappointing as it looked very bare. Our website is our face to the world. It made us appear as though there was very little going on. We are so much more than our website depicts and we have so much to share. Hopefully, by the time you read this article, if you access the Betsuin website, you will see something much more exciting than what I saw a month ago.

We often resist technology because many of our members do not have access to computers, cell phones and other electronic gizmos. At the same time, we are not accommodating those members who rely completely on electronic media. However, slowly, even our most senior members are using e-mails, playing with iPads and carrying cell phones. In much the same way that we transitioned from Japanese to English, we are gradually moving from hard copy to electronic copy.

Interestingly, our BWA is leading the charge toward using more electronic communication. With the assistance of Roy Batchelor and Craig Akimoto, a recent UCLA grad who grew up here in the Sangha, the BWA has updated their portion of the Betsuin website with new information and photos. It positively reflects the image of an active BWA.

In order to better address the Betsuin’s mission, “to learn and to share the Jodo Shinshu understanding of the Three Treasures-Buddha, Dharma and Sangha,” the Board recently amended the bylaws to create a new VP of Communications to oversee all publicity and public relations of the Betsuin in communication within the Sangha, with affiliated and sponsored organizations, and with the greater community. Joyce Iwasaki, our first VP of Communications, has quickly gotten to work with a new Communications Committee and one of their first projects is to update our website.

The Board is excited because the Betsuin website will have a whole new look thanks to Roy Batchelor. Roy was kind enough to come to a Board meeting and demonstrate the new website to the Board. Unfortunately, I am one of those people who has resisted learning anything about website construction and management. Listening to Roy talk about the new “platform”, “word press”, and other technical terms caused my eyes to glaze over, but I perked up when I saw the images. Roy explained that this platform has better tools to help build more content. It will be more user friendly and it will also be easier to post events, photos and articles.

Roy has been working with Sally Idemoto, the editor of The Dharma Newsletter, to get the Dharma articles on line. In order to insure our privacy, the web version of the Dharma will omit certain items presently in the printed version, such as donor information, phone numbers, and funeral notices.

Roy has been recording the Dharma messages from the 10:10 AM Sunday Service so that if you can’t make it to the Temple for service, you can listen to the Dharma messages of Rinban Fujimoto and Reverend Sakamoto through the website and You Tube. Eventually, we may even have a live feed, so that you can listen from your bed—but only if you are too sick to come to service. (I am suggesting the name “Pajama Dharma.”)

The Board recently decided to create a PayPal account so that soon donors will be able to go to the Betsuin website and make pledges and donations through PayPal’s secure website, using a credit card to make the donation. The donor does not have to have a PayPal account. The money will be transferred directly to Betsuin bank accounts. The Betsuin will incur a nominal fee but there is no fee to the donor and the donor still gets full credit for the donation. You’ll be able to donate to the Betsuin any time the mood hits you.

In the very near future, Roy Batchelor will be meeting with all of our affiliated and sponsored groups to teach us how to post things on our website. We hope that all of our affiliated and sponsored organizations will enthusiastically join in keeping updated information on the website, so that we can share with the world all the wonderful things that are happening here.

Don’t worry we are still a ways off from eliminating the hard copy of the Dharma newsletter that arrives every month in the mail and we will continue to use our pledge books. At this point our updated website is more for convenience, but we also hope that it will assist us in reaching a wider audience, to share information about our temple.

We are very grateful for all of the time and effort invested by Roy Batchelor to update our face to the world.

In Gassho,

Janice Doi