FEBRUARY 2013 – A BIG PROJECT
We have now exchanged contracts for the sale of Madhyamaloka and we’re aiming to hand the keys over to the new owners, a young family, by the end of March. Bhante and the rest of the Madhyamaloka community will begin the move to Coddington Court in the middle of March.
Ratnadharini writes – “It’s a big project! For those of you interested in details … major developments have included a natural sewerage system that will deal with the outflow from the sewage settlement tank without using electricity. Thanks to Ajjavin and Yashodeva, we now have sensible storm and foul drainage, new water and gas supplies, and oil pipes that will enable us to commission the existing boilers and heating systems in preparation for switching, we hope, to something more efficient and eco-friendly. The necessary trenches – which, in the wettest year on record, have been giving rise to comments about the Somme – are nearly all filled in.
Apart from installing essential services, the priority has been Bhante’s new accommodation, where the paint is going on the walls and a new conservatory is arising on the south elevation. Sanghadeva has been mainly working outside, removing the oppressive metal fencing (left over from when the property was a school) and thinning out undergrowth to leave space around the trees and allow light to come through. We’ve been very grateful for the contribution from volunteers, and Suvannamani has been cooking for fluctuating numbers. We’ve also been making contact with the local community – who have been extraordinarily helpful, and who seem to be looking forward to having the Court back in use, and us as neighbours.
Work on what-will-be-the women’s community is nearly finished; which means the team will now move there and enjoy the luxury of central heating, leaving what-will-be-the men’s community free for work to begin. Then there are four other large buildings to consider – including the special ‘Dome’ which will house the library, exhibition space, and pilgrim accommodation. Mokshapriya, Vajrasadhu and the architect have been preparing building plans and writing planning applications; now the challenge will be to have the project up and running by the end of July – when events begin.
MARCH – HELP NEEDED & GOODBYE MADHYMALOKA
As we get near to the opening of Adhisthana we are very much in need of help from volunteers to make sure it is ready for the dedication weekend.
We need people to do a variety of jobs including cleaning, moving furniture and preparing rooms, tidying the garden and grounds, unpacking deliveries and putting things away. There are probably other tasks too but these are some of the main ones.
There are some jobs that could be done by the less mobile but it would be helpful if you had a reasonable amount of energy and didn’t mind getting dirty. There will also be some jobs where we could make use of particular skills.
If you are able to stay for a few days that would be most helpful; it’s easier for us if you can come for a weekend or several days mid-week so that you can get into the swing of life at Adhisthana. If you would like to volunteer please contact Danasamudra and let us know when you are available.
There are some things we need that will stretch the budget a bit. If you think you might be able to help by donating one of the things listed here, do let us know. You’ll make a real contribution to the project.
a computer – to take bookings and to do our accounts.
a car – to let the team get in and out of Adhisthana,
for travelling, shopping, picking up visitors…
20th March – Yashodeva and Sanghadeva, beginning the installation of the biomass heating system, designed to be a carbon neutral and economical way of heating the buildings.
Below, from left to right: The Orchards Women’s community far left, The Dome will become The Sangharakshita Library and Exhibition Space. Behind The Dome will be the shrine room. Behind the Tall Fir Tree and Dome is The Terraces and Young Buddhist Retreat Space. Right of the Tall Fir is The Beams, (upstairs) the retreat centre lounge, main Kitchen and two dining floors. The Old Court, the men’s community house. (behind that is the accommodation block, Lecture rooms and Retreat Office) The smaller buildings on the right are The Urgyen Annexe. Sangharakshita’s living accommodation and office.
28th March – Most of the money for the purchase of Adhisthana came from the sale of Madhyamaloka. Madhyamaloka, and its annexe in nearby Park Hill, was purchased in 1995 to house members of the new Preceptor’s College Council, and has been Bhante’s home for most of that time. Today we finished clearing the house, and handed over the keys to the young family who are moving in. Thanks to everyone who contributed to Madhyamaloka over the last 18 years; too many to mention. And thanks to those who worked so hard in the last week to make the move possible, especially Sanghadeva and Karunika; Jnanarakshita; Kalyanaprabha; Gareth and Shuddhakirti; Subhadra and Bernard; Sean and Colum…
APRIL – SPRING: HEATING AND SEWAGE
The snow on the Malvern Hills is beginning to melt at last but there is still a bitter North wind here on 4th April. That isn’t getting in the way of all the hard work that is going on here at Adhisthana though. There is building work going on in every part of the site. There is great progress – and always much more to do. The team of Order members, volunteers and contractors are transforming the buildings from their old functions, often by opening up spaces, for example in the area that will be the shrine room and in the dining area and retreat lounge in ‘the Beams’. These bigger spaces give interesting glimpses of the grounds and surrounding countryside. The designs make use of existing structures and fittings where appropriate but also find imaginative solutions which look good but aren’t too expensive.
Work continues on the accommodation blocks, including the creation of three accessible rooms with their own en-suite facilities. The service trenches have been filled in now and it is fascinating to watch the precision with which the digger drivers are spreading hardcore and making level paths around the site. It is gradually getting easier to walk around.
Most people, men and women, are still sleeping in the Orchards which will eventually be the women’s community as there is no heating in the Old Court where the men’s community will be. Volunteers are busy painting in the Old Court. And two hardy souls have moved in already.
The swimming pool has been transformed into a lecture theatre and currently stores all the stuff that was brought from Madhyamaloka.
Tomorrow a huge crane arrives to install the cabin for the biomass heating system. Watch this space for photos and –we hope- video of it in action.
More of the community members have moved in during the past week so there are often nearly 20 people for meals. Suvannamani is doing an amazing job of feeding everyone with only a four-ring domestic cooker to work on. He is also responsible for many of the lovely photographs on our Facebook page.
Our events page has details of retreats and other events for the rest of this year. As yet there isn’t much information there but we will be adding to it in the coming weeks. Do consider attending the Dedication ceremony in August. It will be a significant moment in the history of the Triratna Buddhist Community.
12th April – This week there are signs of spring at Adhisthana. The slightly warmer weather means that we no longer have to wear thick fleeces indoors when we eat our meals and there are primroses blooming round the pond in front of the Old Court. Sadly the brood of mallard ducklings has disappeared after less than a week – we are not sure whether they have moved elsewhere or been taken by predators- but a pair of tufted ducks has moved in so with luck they will nest here. Two days of rain mean that the red dust that was blowing around the site earlier in the week has been replaced by sticky red mud which really clings to your boots.
The big news of the week is that we have received our first delivery of wood pellets for the biomass boilers. Today (Friday) the engineers have fired up both the boilers and there should be heat in the Old Court by the end of the day.
The work on the buildings is going on steadily. It is hard to convey just how much activity there is on site. During the week there have been builders, plumbers, electricians, carpenters, decorators, plasterers, phone engineers and heating engineers all working here in addition to the resident team led by Ajjavin. There has been work going on in every building at some time or other this week.
The main kitchen is tiled and has been fitted out with stainless steel units and is now waiting for the electrics and the two 6 burner gas stoves to be installed. Yashodeva has been opening up doorways in the side of the Dome to create access to what will be the toilets for the Shrine room. Precision brick removal as well as the use of a sledge hammer. In the Shrine room itself walls and ceilings are being made good in preparation for decorating. Meanwhile the decorators are already at work in the accommodation blocks –the Vines and Meadows as they are currently called.
Outside Sanghadeva has started planting box hedging in front of the Old Court and there are trimmed yew balls and pyramids in place too – the beginning of the formal architectural planting he has in mind. Taraloka has given Adhisthana two hundred yew plants which are going to be used to make a low feature hedge.
24th April – Last week work began on the wetland sewage system in the field behind the women’s community. On a site of just over an acre (about half a hectare) big caterpillar tractors have been digging out the swales ( curved ponds where the waste will sit while it undergoes transformation into pure water) and shaping and levelling the banks between them. The contractors have has been working twelve hour days to prepare the site and the basic groundwork is now complete. The system purifies sewage and waste water with minimal, or no, non-renewable energy use and at the same time we are creating a beautiful, species-rich ecosystem and wildlife habitat. This will enhance the biodiversity of the local environment; there will be frogs, toads and newts, as well as a large variety of insects and pond life which, in turn, will attract many species of bird.
The Wetland Ecosystem treatment (WET) System is made up of specially designed and constructed earth banks and ponds. As the waste water flows through the WET System, which is densely planted with wetland trees and marginal plants, it is both purified by microbiological action and transpired by growing plants. Up to 40 different wetland species are used in and around the lagoons, ponds and reed beds. Several species of willow and many of reed, rush, sedge and other marginals are used depending on the type of wastewater to be purified. The tops of the banks in our system have been made wider than usual so that they can be planted up with apple trees. The basis of the purification process is microbiological; it relies on the biochemical transformations provided by the plethora of micro-organisms found in the soil. In WET systems the bacteria and fungi which transform the waste are in a symbiotic, mutually beneficial, relationship with the roots of the wetland plants and trees.
The information above is based on material from the website of Biologic Design who are building our WET system. If you would like to know more and see pictures of what established systems look like why not go to their website.
Elsewhere building work is still progressing very well. The Library has been opened up with the removal of the first floor level so it is now a wonderful airy space. And the reception area now has level access thanks in part to the dogged determination of Yashodeva , Sangahdeva and Singhmanas who removed, by hand, a lump of concrete from the steps at the front which we think weighed rather more than half ton.