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Inclusion & diversity

Outreach Development Officer Rachel Davies with Diversity Consultants Sandhya Dave and Dave Samuels

Our Outreach Development Officer Rachel Davies with Diversity Consultants Sandhya Dave and Dave Samuels

Gaia House is dedicated to fostering a safe and inclusive refuge for all people to explore the practices and teachings of the Buddha. It is important to us to welcome all people of every age, ethnicity, cultural heritage and religious background, socio-economic group, ability, sexual orientation and gender identity.

In this we follow in the footsteps of the Buddha, who offered his teachings of awakening and freedom to everyone without exception, and in doing so challenged the limitations of the social structures and attitudes of his day, such as the rigid caste system and restricted position of women. We believe that everybody benefits when our our hearts and our doors are open to all, and so we seek to promote the inclusion and participation in all Gaia House’s activities of people of diverse identities, and we are committed to identifying, understanding, and taking down whatever barriers might prevent this happening.

What’s been implemented to date:

To take this work forward, we have initiated a Diversity Working Group, where various Gaia House stakeholder groups are represented.

We’re pleased to announce that we have started to work with Diversity Consultants Sandhya Dave and Dave Samuels who will help us get the ball rolling on exploring and developing inclusivity at Gaia House. With Sandhya and Dave’s help we have introduced a short, anonymous retreatant demographic questionnaire to help us inquire into where we are now, as well as track our progress.

We have made contact with a sister centre, Insight Meditation Society (IMS) in Massachusetts, who have made great strides with regard to diversity and inclusion, and who have shared ideas from their journey, and some resources. Although we take note of the different cultural context in the USA, we are appreciative to be able to connect with IMS in this way.

We have also started a review of our communications, looking to make small but important changes which reflect our wish to be as inclusive and welcoming as possible. An example of this is a move away from directing people toward only a binary choice of male/female when asked about gender. We understand that a person’s gender identity might not be either ‘male or ‘female’, and so it is important that our forms reflect this.

We understand also the importance of inquiring into views and attitudes held both individually and organisationally which manifest in sometimes very subtle ways, both in terms of how and what we communicate, how we organise ourselves, and what we offer as an organisation. Our work will include finding ways to inquire in this way.

The strongly held intention is that all Gaia House activity will genuinely and actively promote a diverse sangha, and we will update on how we are moving forward with this important aspect of our work. This is indeed a journey of learning for Gaia House and so we welcome feedback at any time about how our intention to become more inclusive manifests. To offer feedback or discus any aspect of this work, please email Rachel on outreach@nullgaiahouse.co.uk