White Heron Sangha

Fall 2020

Seeking Help from Computer-Savvy Members

by John Dilworth

WHS Webmaster


During this time of COVID-19 it’s easy to see that White Heron Sangha is hugely reliant on modern information technology. Our rich set of online offerings would not have been possible in the old days of telephone trees and mailed newsletters.

However, even before the pandemic, our organization had developed a substantial computer-based infrastructure. In addition to the website, our extensive array of events depends on systems that integrate calendar functions with membership records, registration capability, financial transactions, email notifications, publications, and the like. Much of this is handled by an integrated software product (Wild Apricot) that was designed to meet the needs of small organizations like ours, but it still requires quite a bit of administration from our volunteer membership.

My wife, Carole Maurer, and I are both retired from careers in the computer software field, and we became involved with White Heron Sangha over 20 years ago. Back then, pretty much all that was needed to keep the group going was a spreadsheet, a desktop publishing program, a checkbook, and a drawer full of envelopes and stamps. But over the years, as the sangha has continuously grown and expanded its activities, we have overseen the gradual evolution to a much more intensively computerized foundation for the sangha’s communications and general functioning.

Carole and I recently put down a deposit for a residence at Enso Village, a “Zen-inspired” retirement community that the San Francisco Zen Center is about to build in northern California, and it’s likely that we will be moving there when it is completed in a couple of years. Before that it will be very important for other Sangha members to have learned about and assumed responsibility for the various technical areas that we have been looking after.

This process has already begun, as several talented sangha members have stepped forward to handle specific tasks. For a long time Russ Hodin has been using his considerable graphic arts skills to create many of our publications, such as retreat flyers, brochures, and membership directories. Rosemary Donnell has been caretaker of our membership database, handling such things as new member registrations and our annual membership renewal and fundraising mailings. More recently, Laura Liss has been maintaining our constantly changing online event calendar, especially with regard to our Sunday evening programs, and Allen Dailey has mastered the intricate computer setups required for our retreats, including online descriptions, email notifications, registrations, and the like. In addition, Alice Reinheimer (“geeky stuff seems to come naturally to me”) has agreed to learn about the more techy internals of things like the sangha’s email routing systems and cloud-based shared files.

This is all so wonderful! But there are more roles to be filled. If you have an aptitude for working with computers and are interested in exploring the possibility of helping out with this important work, please contact me so we can talk about finding a good fit for your abilities, interests, and availability. Writing and editing skills, especially if combined with some computer facility, would be particularly welcome.

Please contact me at jdilworth@jdcm.us. Thanks!

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