Meher Archive Collective (MAC) Newsletter — October 2020
Meher Archive Collective is committed to honoring Meher Baba through a culture of Integrity, Transparency and Trust; we take this Responsibility seriously, as we continue to build Expertise, and pledge to be of Service to all those invested in protecting Baba’s legacy.
MESSAGE FROM THE CHAIR
Meher Archive Collective had a successful and well attended Annual General Meeting on September 17th, with people joining from various parts of the country as well as internationally. In addition to sharing MAC’s broader vision and financial picture, several of the committees gave brief reports. Debbie Nordeen and Scott O’Neil joined us as guest speakers who gave inspiring presentations. Overall, it was a great opportunity to share where we are and where we are headed, as well as giving people the chance to hear directly from board members and others involved. If you did not attend the meeting, the recording is available on our website’s video page. Many of those who attended have expressed both new and renewed interest in participating as volunteers or contributors. Please contact me personally, or any of the other board members if you would like to explore how you can join us in this effort.
With hopes that this finds you well in His Embrace,
Scott Tower, Board Chair and MAC President
firstname.lastname@example.org / 828.290.6972
$50,000 MATCHING CHALLENGE
We are so pleased to be sharing this exciting fundraising opportunity with you.
Thanks to the generosity of an anonymous donor, financial contributions made between Oct. 01 - Nov. 30, 2020 will be matched up to $50,000.
Please join our Board of Directors in our commitment to 100% participation for this match.
A donation at this time means your funds will double in value; $10,000 raised becomes $20,000. With your help raising $50,000, MAC will receive a total of $100,000 towards the goal of getting MAC settled into our new home in the Meher New Life Center by January.
We hope you can join us by donating here: Matching_Challenge
Checks can be mailed to: Meher Archive Collective, PO Box 18908 Asheville, NC 28814-0908
Board Member, Liaison to Fund Development Committee
Greg Dunn — Chair of the Technology Committee
The purpose of the Technology Committee is to oversee all network and communications systems, maintain the website and provide technical support to staff and volunteers as needed.
Greg Dunn is a retired software developer, trainer, and writer. He has an M.S. in Operations Research from the University of Texas at Austin and is co-holder of a U.S. patent for a software program that forecasts developing micro-markets in the telecommunications industry by local geography. Greg heard about Meher Baba “from the inside” in 1971 while reading William Yeats’ poem “The Second Coming” aloud in Berkeley’s beautiful and semi-wild Tilden Park. A year later he put the face and the name to the inner presence, and he has been gratefully in Baba’s fold ever since. In his retirement he has authored or co-authored several plays and two musicals about Meher Baba, and has composed more than 150 separate additional musical pieces. He is married to cellist and graphic artist Gay Dunn, with whom he joyfully collaborates on music, websites, home improvement projects, and streamed entertainment binging. He is delighted to be able to contribute technical skills he developed over a long career in information technology to the wonderful work of preserving the Avatar’s legacy.
Greg can be reached at Greg.Dunn@MeherArchive.org
Katherine Dadachanji — Administrative Coordinator
Reporting to the Board Chair, Katherine will assist the Board of Directors with administrative tasks, support the Committee Chairs on a variety of projects as desired, and oversee the day-to-day operations of the office.
Katherine arrived in Asheville in the spring of 2018; coming home to the Carolinas after 22 years in the San Francisco Bay Area, she loves being part of the Baba community here. She learned about Meher Baba in the fall of 1989 and thought of herself as a “Baba appreciator” for many months. It wasn’t until she read Margaret Craske’s book, The Dance of Love and was introduced to Baba’s sense of humor that she let down her guard, let Baba in, and became a “Baba lover.” Katherine has an M.S. in Mathematics and has studied financial and management accounting. As the owner of Katherine Grace Organizing, LLC, she consults with small businesses on increasing productivity and gaining a clearer understanding of the financial picture of their businesses. She has two sons, 21 and 24, who live in the San Francisco area. She enjoys traveling, hiking, camping and whitewater rafting.Katherine can be reached at: Katherine.Dadachanji@MeherArchive.org
Welcome Greg and Katherine to the MAC Team!
Evie Lindemann — Board Member, Liaison for the Fund Development Committee.
“Gathering Women’s Stories Connected with the Women Mandali.”
One of the many things I learned in my pilgrimages to India, and in many intense conversations with the mandali, especially Arnavaz, was to listen to Meher Baba’s voice in my heart. Listening to that voice now I know with certainty that what happens in future generations of Baba lovers matters.
If you are a woman who has been impacted by meeting the women mandali from the East or the West please consider participating in our project: “Gathering Women’s Stories Connected with Women Mandali.”
We are developing an archive of these stories to preserve and share items related to Baba’s advent for future generations who will not have met the women mandali. Please connect with us if you have a story to share: Evie.Lindemann@meherarchive.org and/or Anne.Barker@meherarchive.org
S A V E T H E D A T E
Saturday, December 5th, 2020 — 11 A.M. EST
Hosted by Evie Lindemann & Anne Barker
Board of Directors
Watch for details out October 19th via email and website.
If you are a woman who has been impacted by meeting the women mandali consider sharing your story with us: Evie.Lindemann@meherarchive.org and/or Anne.Barker@meherarchive.org
Baba with Kitty and Delia, from the Jean Adriel photo collection.
Meher New Life Center - Building Report
The Meher New Life Center has been an enormous undertaking and was divided into 3 phases, each of which comprised its own stages of development. From the beginning it was clear that refurbishing a 1928 massive 25,000 square foot building was going to be an exciting challenge, the results of which promised to be a meaningful addition to the many places of significance in the Baba world.
Phase one consists of the entire second floor of the classroom wing, which will house MAC’s archival spaces, offices, New Life Library, reading room, meeting room, meditative/reflection on Baba space and possibly display room and research spaces. After doing extensive repairs and refurbishing of major elements including the attic, roof, flooring, walls etc., we are now in a very intensified stage of establishing new rooms, doorways, archival storage rooms with new doors, floors walls and ceilings (ensuring them to be fire and water proof and properly air conditioned). We have expanded our crew size significantly and are presently installing a totally new electrical system, to be followed by plumbing and then the mechanical HVAC systems. While many detailed items remain on our list, we are progressing at a significantly heightened pace and hope to be able to reach our target date of phase one completion by December 22nd.
Join Ken for a 4 minute tour of the 2nd floor: ConstructionVideo09.11.20
This is a collaborative undertaking—it is heartening that to date we have realized more than $250,00 in sweat equity from volunteers who are invested in seeing this endeavor materialize. We invite everyone to participate in this project in any way that resonates with their own inclinations (volunteer labor, financially, thinking positive thoughts, and sharing with others our visions and plans).Please feel free to contact me or any of those associated with this project to learn more about our ongoing efforts and discover ways that you might be able to participate.
Vice President, Board of Directors, Building Project Manager; Ken.Blackman@MeherArchive.org
All hands on deck! Pouring the ceiling of the upper archive storage area in concrete to ensure maximum protection from fire, water, damage
Pouring the new door framing. Meher New LIfe Center 10.02.20
The work at the Meher Archive Collective/Meher New Life Center is entering a new, accelerated and exciting phase—we are looking for people in the community who can help out, even for a few hours a week. Many of the 6000 volunteer hours at the site thus far have included a lot of carpentry and other technical support, with ongoing support by the clean up crew, which has helped to move and preserve materials for future use as well. Many jobs that do not require specific skills but are very necessary for progress in the work—things like sweeping, sanding, scraping paint, and other clean up jobs on site to help the work proceed smoothly. An added plus is that with volunteers doing this work, the project saves a lot of money in labor costs and lets us pay for the required construction jobs.
The area is large and social distancing is easy. Ken Blackman and Jeannie Felknor work together to direct the clean up and volunteer efforts. We will put together a list of possible volunteers who have some time and would like to join the team at the beautiful site of the MAC/MNLC. We would let you know what is happening—when and what kind of help is needed—what fits best for you.
If you have other interests or skills that you can offer, such as phone calling, outreach, fundraising, computer scanning, data entering, events etc., please let us know and we can connect with you when the time comes. Just respond to email@example.com
We welcome your ideas for bringing the community together around work in service for Meher Baba.
As always, thanks for your support and while we miss seeing everyone, we want you to know the work goes on at the MAC and you are welcome to come and visit and jump in.
Looking forward to days when we can all gather again for community events!
Renee Bussanich, Board Secretary, Liaison for HR and Volunteer Committees
MAC BOARD OF DIRECTORS
(L-R): Ken, Evie, Scott, Hugh, Renee, Anne and Jean pose for a photo while social distancing at Meher New Life Center on 10.01.2020. Photo by: Chris Barker
Board Contacts: Anne.Barker@Meherarchive.org; Evie.Lindemann@Meherarchive.org;
Ken.Blackman@Meherarchive.org; Renee.Bussanich@Meherarhive.org; Scott.Tower@Meherarchive.org
MAC’s Mission Statement
To collect, preserve, and share Meher Baba’s Divine legacy of materials, artifacts, and words with integrity, love and transparency for the benefit of humanity.
Meher Archive Collective
Meher New Life Center - 53 Red Oak School Road, Weaverville NC 28787
Meher Archive Collective is committed to honoring Meher Baba
through a culture of Integrity, Transparency and Trust;
we take this Responsibility seriously, as we continue to build Expertise,
and pledge to be of Service to all those invested in protecting Baba’s legacy.
Message from the Chair
In these uncertain times, MAC continues to pursue its mission and to build community.
Renovations continue at the Meher New Life Center. The recently expanded Board of Directors has come together as a vibrant team. Irma Sheppard and Winnie Barrett have stepped into chair positions and Greg Dunn has joined us to assist with the Technology Committee.
We have engaged the NC Department of Natural and Cultural Resources for advice and support. If you have not seen our video page with a talk by Peter Nordeen—please see the link below. Our Sustaining Donor campaign is progressing and we are developing a Legacy Giving program. Please contact me directly to discuss how your long-term planning could support MAC.
With hopes that you are all happy and healthy in His Love,
828.290.6972 / Scott@meherarchive.org
MAC’s Video Page
Last month MAC launched a video page with “Pilgrimage After the Time of the Mandali”, a recent talk given by Peter Nordeen. This is the first in a series of talks by Peter that will be featured on our website going forward. This wonderful talk was professionally recorded, and includes extensive Q&A. If you have not yet seen it, we highly recommend it and you can find it on MAC’s video page.
It’s a pleasure to announce that MAC has a new Communications Chair, Irma Sheppard, replacing Diane Tower-Jones, who is stepping aside and visiting England for a while. Irma has already been part of the Communications, Marketing & PR Committee, along with her husband, Karl, so she has some familiarity with this committee. Thank you to Diane, who dedicated herself to MAC and did an outstanding job as our first Committee Chair.
Irma Sheppard taught French, English and ESL in Michigan. In Tucson, AZ from 1994-2016 she was in private practice as a psychotherapist. In 2000 she won the Martingale Literary Award for a short story. Her poems and vignettes have been published in journals and in books. With the publishing help of her husband, Karl Moeller, she has collected and edited 6 books of Baba lovers’ experiences of the Beloved.
Irma has been a Baba lover for 40 years—coming to Meher Baba in Venice Beach, CA in 1980. She was an active member of the Baba community in Tucson, AZ for 33 years, hosting many events. Active in Asheville for four years now, she adapted and directed a short play for Baba’s birthday in February 2020.
Another wonderful addition this month is Winnie Barrett who has agreed to be the new Chair of the Social/Outreach Committee. Winnie has been an organizer and hostess numerous times to many, many Baba events over these past years, so she comes to MAC already experienced in arranging social events for us.
Winnie Barrett, a Baba lover since 1967, helped start the Denver Baba group, was a founding editor of the “Journal for Psychological and Spiritual Integration” and was an editor on the Denver newsletter, “Broken Down Furniture News.” As a Clinical Social Worker, she won 2 awards for contributions to her field. As a Denver shop owner, she created monthly events with different cultural themes around entertainment, refreshments, and displays of fine arts and crafts for sale. Winnie has been in Asheville for 25 years now, organizing weekly meetings for the Baba community here as schedulewalla. Her book, Baba Does the Impossible and other stories, relates her life with Baba. Winnie has served on 3 non-profit boards over the years and she is skilled in discovering resources for projects.
Welcome Irma and Winnie to the MAC team!
Website - work is in progress: MAC is engaging with web professionals to assist us in upgrading our website. An entirely new website experience represents time and sizeable technical challenges; we appreciate your patience and understanding regarding any temporary glitches you may encounter on the current site as we navigate this process.
Library - the MAC Board voted to call the library the New Life Library since it will be in the Meher New Life Center. Plans for the New Life Library are moving forward under the direction of Anne Barker and her team, who continue to work on an inventory of the collection.
Archiving from Home
In July, MAC launched a new section of the website called Archiving from Home (AFH), an idea presented by Renee Bussanich years ago, to help people take care of their own Baba-related materials at home—old letters, photos, hair in a locket, manuscripts, slides, etc. Why not offer pointers on how to protect these items most effectively? Think about sorting your collection—write a history of how they came to be, label and store them in boxes. Our next section will offer guidelines for scanning documents and photos. Archiving from Home
Sustaining Donor Campaign
Thank you to the 27 members of the Baba Community who have so far committed to a monthly donation of $25 or more. We’re almost halfway through our campaign goal of at least 200 Sustaining Donors; we very much need your support and help to reach our goal.
Please consider taking the opportunity to become a Sustaining Donor between now and November 1st 2020. Your participation will make a real difference in furthering MAC's vision of creating an environment for the preservation of Meher Baba's precious artifacts.
Help us to keep the energy moving forward by making your pledge today - Sustaining Donor
Progress continues on MAC’s new home inside the Meher New Life Center.
Central to MAC's grand vision is establishing the capacity to ensure the safe preservation of sacred items associated with The Beloved. Also central to this is the building of Archival Storage spaces which are fireproof, waterproof and secure. Many loving hands and hearts have been laboring for months to bring this to fruition. After extensive demolition, building new walls and pillars, the pouring of new floors and ceilings, and bricking in of windows; we are close to completion of the major components for the two rooms designated for this purpose. It is with great excitement that we see these spaces evolving into the home of our sacred treasures, and part of Baba's divine legacy for all creation.
Please contact MAC at MAC-Office@MeherArchive.org
Meher New Life Center, 53 Red Oak School Road, Weaverville, NC 28787
MAC's Mission Statement:
To collect, preserve, and share Meher Baba’s Divine legacy of materials, artifacts, and words
with integrity, love and transparency for the benefit of humanity.
Meher Archive Collective is committed to honoring Meher Baba
Meher Archive Collective
PO Box 18908
Asheville, NC 28814-0908,
(For larger donations, checks are preferred because of Paypal fees.)
To discuss how MAC can best meet your needs, including gifts of securities, legacy giving, and other vehicles available for flexible tax-deductible benefits over time, please contact firstname.lastname@example.org
Scott Tower Maloney, Treasurer
Meher Archive Collective
Why Support this Project?
Extraordinary Value and Potential of the Project
With the acquisition of the Red Oak School property, MAC's initial vision has expanded to include an extensive library and resource center dedicated to Meher Baba: space for gatherings and seminars of various kinds, a museum and display area for both Baba Lovers and the general public, as well as a location for professional performances and events in the large auditorium. All this is in addition to the core mission of archive processing, storage, display, and open sharing of material related to Meher Baba’s Advent. This project is unique in scope in the Baba world at this time.
Not counting the value of the land (6 flat acres, private well) or the caretakers’ cottage, MAC was able to purchase the 25,000 sqft property for $22 a square foot. This is an extraordinary value for a building that, with the proper care, is likely to last for centuries. Its value has increased already with the work that has gone into it so far. After all three phases of renovation are complete, we expect the total cost to be less than $90/sqft, approximately a third of the cost to build, or put another way, three times the amount of space we would have had with the same investment. This space is reserved to serve Baba for many generations to come.
Potential for Ongoing Income
We intend to rent out available space until MAC grows into the building's full footprint over time (on the ground floor, to be renovated in Phase 2, along with the auditorium in Phase 3). This rental space will provide income to offset a considerable portion of MAC’s future operating costs.
Efficiency & Frugality
In recognizing the fiscal values that Meher Baba encouraged from his followers, we are being very careful with the use of the money that has been generously donated so far. By Baba’s grace, we have the invaluable support of Peter Nordeen, who, along with the architects, has guided both the discovery and preparatory phase of the work, and is now overseeing the new construction that is needed. The work has progressed very efficiently and with many cost savings, such as:
The caretakers’ cottage - This building (in which Gay and Greg Dunn currently live) was completely refurbished and painted inside and out by volunteers for a total cost of only $300.
Recycling of materials - Peter Nordeen is a master of both efficiency and economy and under his eagle eye, we have been able to reuse a great deal of the original material within the building, and waste has been minimal. Rubble such as old masonry and concrete is being kept for future grading work outside. Nothing goes to waste.
Volunteer labor – With the help of over 6,000 hours of volunteer labor, we have worked to keep costs down, as well as providing a vehicle for many people to participate directly in a project devoted to Meher Baba.
Support - The outpouring of love and support has been very moving. These include financial donations small and large, the dozens of volunteers who continue to give their time and expertise.
We would like to extend a warm THANK YOU! to everyone who has participated to date – you are the reason the project is happening and progressing and will succeed! And most importantly, we THANK MEHER BABA, who has turned the key to make all this possible. May we continue to keep our focus and devotion on You.
Renovation Progress So Far
- Major structural reinforcements and improvements, especially to roof over the classroom wing
- Creation of eaves to extend roof line and protect windows and masonry
- Repair and re-shingling of mansard (sloped) portions of roof
- Removal of old roofing material on flat portion of roof (6,000 sq ft)
- Repair of roof decking, installation of 5/8” OSB layer, then two-layers of roofing membrane; creation of cupola for attic ventilation
- Roof now extremely solid and able to support HVAC and future solar panels. Roof surface now good for 50 years, underlying structure for centuries
- Demolition of old bathrooms in preparation of future archival storage spaces
- Removal of several thousands of pounds of unneeded cast iron pipe (reduced weight and therefore burden on building structure)
- Removal of debris that cannot be reused – 14 dumpsters avg 4,000 lbs. each
- Stripping of all original wooden doors and frames – all beautiful heart pine
- Removal of sheeting at gym ceiling to visualize areas needing work
- Opening of stage and wings
Next Steps to Complete Phase I
- Stairs and dormers for access to both north and south portions of roof from attic
- Stairs from second floor to attic
- Preparation and installation of fire doors throughout building per current code
- Installation of HVAC units for second floor (with a steep discount as a non-profit)
- Building new walls and partitions as needed for projected use.
- New bathrooms on second floor (and rough-in for future ground floor bathrooms)
- Electrical – installation of new panels and wiring, new lighting
- Creation of Archival vaults, including a dedicated HVAC system
- Creation of archive processing and office space
An additional $325,000 is needed to complete Phase One of the project.
Individual donations can be made via our website, with options to contribute to the Capital Fund, or set up recurring monthly donations. We encourage you to take advantage of this opportunity to double the value of your support, at whatever level you are able (From now until Dec. 31, 2019).
Donations can also be made by wire transfer or check, payable to:
Meher Archive Collective
PO Box 18908
Asheville, NC 28814-0908,
To discuss how MAC can best meet your needs, including gifts of securities, legacy giving, and other vehicles available for flexible tax-deductible benefits over time, please contact email@example.com
Scott Tower Maloney, Treasurer
Meher Archive Collective
MAC has received a challenge offer from a prospective donor who has pledged to match, dollar for dollar, all contributions to our capital campaign made by December 31st 2019, up to a total of $100,000. This gives us the opportunity to double the value of our contributions - together we can complete Phase 1.
We encourage you to take advantage of this offer. No amount is too small!
Hugh, Scott, Renee, Jean and Ken.
Meher Archive Collective Board
We are happy to report that we are making great progress with renovations and repairs.
Here are some of our accomplishments since the last newsletter:
- The building permits were approved in record time. Thanks to Ken, Peter, and Glazer Architects for their coordination with the inspection department that contributed significantly to the speedy approval.
- The classroom portion of the roof has been completely repaired, reinforced and re-covered. The surface of the roof is now expected to last 50 years, and the underlying structure for centuries. This is a major accomplishment and will protect the archive space beneath it for generations to come. Thank you to Peter, Terrell, Tino, Ken, Scott, Hugh, Jason, Catherine, William, Greg and Jeanne for their huge team effort.
- The construction of steps in the attic leading up to the new doors that will exit onto the roof has begun.
- New interior walls for the fireproof vaults are ready to install now that the old clay tile walls have been removed.
- Steel door frames for the vaults have arrived as have frames and doors for the two new doors to the roof; everything will shortly be installed.
- HVAC decisions have been made that will reduce the number of compressors required to heat and cool the second floor.
- Quotations for the complete rewiring of the second floor have been received.
- Enquiries have been made to the Metropolitan Museum of Art in NY regarding construction materials that will minimize the possibility of damage to artifacts and documents due to environmental substances.
- A total of $50,000 has been received by a number of anonymous donors. (This is in addition to the dollar for dollar matching donation of up to $100,000.)
The Renovation of the Roof - in Pictures...
1. Ken going after the roof with a hatchet.
2. Roofing materials being raised by crane to the roof.
3. Peter giving Jeanne some specific instructions. New OSB layer in background.
4. A layer of OSB, laid down on top of the repaired original decking, being coated with tar before further roofing material is rolled out.
5. Hugh, Tino and Ken unrolling the underlayment.
6. After a spate of unrelenting heavy rain, Ken, Scott and Hugh spent many late night hours chasing and catching leaks from the exposed roof. Here’s Scott in the attic after a long, damp night.
7. After the rain - sunlight shining through the temporarily exposed spaces between roof planking. A little Baba art in His new building!
8. Approval from The Boss.
Jean Brunet Ludwig.
A most successful fundraising concert took place on November 3rd. After a major reworking of the keyboard by Peter Kutt, Cathy Riley’s former Steinway had its premier performance at Hugh Huntington’s home. At least 50 people attended, including two accomplished musicians who sang and played for us all. Firstly, Thea Stacey, a new-to-Baba Lover, who performed for the first time with her daughter Lauren, and secondly, Randy Hale. The final song of the evening, sung by Randy, was the old Christian hymn "Let It Be"; by the end of the concert, there were very few dry eyes in the room.
MAC is truly grateful for the musicians’ generosity in donating their time and talent for our benefit. A grand total of $830 was raised.
A wonderful Bon Voyage/Thank You party was held by MAC on November 16th at the home of Jeanne and Bruce Felknor. Over 35 people came to say goodbye to Debbie and Peter Nordeen (who, by now, have left for their annual trip to India) and to say thank you to all the MAC employees and volunteers for their hard work and dedication to His Cause.
In keeping with the season, a turkey dinner with all the trimmings was served along with a whole load of gratitude and encouragement for all those involved in keeping the dream alive and moving forward.
Meanwhile, we wish the Nordeens a happy season at His Home in the East and look forward to their return in March.
Old and New
by Jeanne Felknor
A resale table for the benefit of MAC’s building fund will now be appearing at some Baba events. Gently used and/or regifted items such as scarves, jewelry, Baba photos, etc. are most welcome.
For further details, please email Jeanne.firstname.lastname@example.org
Volunteer - Jeanne.Felknor@gmail.com – if you live nearby, or would like to visit the area, there are numerous opportunities for becoming involved. Jeanne Felknor is coordinating general site volunteers. If you have skills and experience relative to the building work, please contact email@example.com Eruch is coordinating archive volunteers (currently at our temporary Asheville location), you can contact him here firstname.lastname@example.org Help with processing materials and scanning is always needed.
Contribute financially – $325,000 is needed to complete Phase I.
Individual donations can be made via our website, where you will find options to contribute to the Capital Fund, or set up recurring monthly donations.
Donations can also be made by check, payable to Meher Archive Collective and sent to PO Box 18908, Asheville, NC 28814-0908, or by wire transfer. To discuss how we can best meet your desire to contribute, including gifts of securities, legacy giving and other means available for flexible tax-deductible benefits over time, please contact email@example.com
Peter Nordeen recently sat down with Diane Tower-Jones to talk about MAC and his involvement in the construction project; Peter is heading up the renovation of the building and has been interested in developing a Baba Center in this area for many years.
We will be sharing some of his stories and insights over the next few newsletters. In this first installment, Peter shares some of his views on the unique features of the Asheville area and how the vision for MAC fits into both the land and the future of the community.
Diane asked him about how he became involved in this project.
“My feeling is, it’s obvious to us. We (Peter and Debbie) came here over 25 years ago when there were few Baba Lovers here. And then suddenly people started moving here and the group grew and grew. There was a big response in Asheville that was different than other places in this country.”
Peter went on to explain that he was personally taking care of things that he had collected from his years in India and his close association with the Mandali, and that others had given him their collections as well. So, he began to see the need for safe spaces to be built or created for this purpose. With that in mind, Peter says, he indicated that he “...would support (this project) as much as I can.”
“The local group looked around for about a year and realized that doing this in (downtown) Asheville would be too expensive. Then this building came up and it is actually a perfect location.” (About 15 minutes from downtown Asheville.) “It’s very nicely accessible and I believe, in the future, it will still be a comfortable spot,” said Peter.
Once the building was found, as Peter explained to Diane, he saw both unique potential and even a refuge in the buildings and land. ”... MAC is located in a semi rural area, but also close to main roads. Geographically, this is a wonderful place...” He also pointed out that there are no hurricanes here since any that come this way lose their force when hitting the mountains. And while there can be flooding in the lower elevations in rivers and creeks when it rains heavily, the MAC buildings are up on a hill. “We don’t get forest fires here,” he continued, plus “we have a good ecological environment and it is a great environment for growth.”
Diane asked Peter what he meant by refuge. “Here we are relatively isolated… which also makes this location safe, but close to a small urban area that is a desirable place to live.”
Because of the desirability of the area and the proximity of a sizable Baba community, Peter is convinced that a colony will grow up around this building and he would love to build a house out there himself. “It’s a beautiful spot, always 2-3 degrees cooler than Asheville. It’s wonderful, quiet, and not congested. The nearby areas are also just beautiful and idyllic mountain land. So I think, yes… we will have a colony grow up around this area with all kinds of meetings and things for Baba.”
Updates From the Archive
Most recently we have been pouring over a collection of Swiss material collected by Ove Wittstock, a Swiss-born Baba lover who has resided in Berkeley since the 70s, where he first heard of Baba. When Ove found out about the Baba-Swiss connection, he took it upon himself to interview the surviving Baba lovers upon his next trip to Switzerland, which was in 1978. As a result, there are letters and recordings from Baba lovers who were with Baba in Switzerland. Ove’s crowning work is a promising manuscript outlining where Baba visited and the stories of His time there over the six trips he took to Switzerland between 1932 and 1956. Local German-speaking Baba lovers are already reviewing letters from Irene Billo, books about Helen Dahm and other Swiss-German material. This collection came from Ove via Cheryl Longo, who was his Baba connection and helped Ove with various Baba projects over the years.
Sometimes archival donations come in waves and take on certain themes. In the early days we had phases of receiving pamphlets, pamphlets, and more pamphlets. From the common; the famous; to the rare; and the obscure. Then, batches of photographs, including a series of slides from Jean Adriel, Fredella and Robert Dreyfuss, as well as Tim Owens’ slides of the 1969 Darshan.
Recently, there have been two distinct themes of archival donations - firstly, published books and secondly, audio tapes.
It is MAC’s stated goal to have a spiritual library focused on Meher Baba. Whether that happens in phase one or phase two has not yet been decided, but recently we have received three large batches of mostly Baba books. Two are from former regional Baba collections; namely Don Eucker’s collection from New York and the library of the former Chicago Center; and the third is part of a combined private collection. In addition, other books continue to trickle in.
Looking ahead to the two branches of MAC’s library:
The Lending Library will hopefully serve both the Baba community and also the larger Western North Carolina community of spiritual seekers. By keeping a broad selection of works by and about various religions, especially the writings of Masters and Saints identified by Baba, as well as an extensive collection of works by and about Baba, this library stands to reach a wide audience.
The Archival Library will ultimately house a reserve copy of all the main Baba books. A number of these will likely be signed copies and/or rare first editions. They will archived for long term preservation as well as for potential viewing in the event of a specific reason to pull out an original edition. We already have copies of various Baba magazines and periodicals such as The Awakener, in addition to a nearly complete set of Glow International, with a set of duplicates being completed for the Lending Library.
We have been slowly gathering a large library of donated audio tapes. Recently we received a large batch of around ten boxes/cases from Betty Grant. We are currently assessing and pre-organizing the collection which reaches back to at least 1970.
This ongoing project will involve several stages - digitizing, labeling (metadata of who, what, where, and when), clean-up where necessary, and then sharing in an organized fashion.
There are a lot of audio tapes of the Mandali around the world. Some of them are valuable for the enjoyment of listening. Some were not recorded well but contain invaluable information. Others may include rarely told stories of a first hand memory of Baba. Many of these tapes might be most accessible when transcribed, so that people can carry out a search for a particular subject.
When once we could have turned to the Mandali to answer our questions, we now have to rely upon memories, books, documents, audio tapes, films and videos. Even more reason to do our very best to collect and caretake all that remains of Him!
We are currently looking for volunteers to scan documents on Wednesdays or Fridays (or both) at our Golf Street office in Asheville. Please contact firstname.lastname@example.org for details.
Double Your Donation
A prospective donor has offered to match, dollar for dollar, all contributions to our capital campaign up to $100,000, given by the end of the year.
You can double the value of any and all donations made between now and December 31st!
Please consider MAC in your end of year giving.
Hugh, Scott, Jean, Renee, and Ken.
from Jean Brunet Ludwig
- A heartfelt welcome to Gay and Greg Dunn. Recently relocated from California, they are now living in the restored Meher Cottage at the Red Oak School as the first MAC caretakers. We’re delighted to have Gay and Greg here - they are a perfect fit!
- A big thank you to Katherine Dadachanji who, for several months, hosted a number of wonderful music soirees on behalf of MAC. Katherine has now moved to a smaller home and will no longer be able to accommodate these gatherings. All is not lost however, as Hugh Huntington has offered his home in Weaverville, and has even acquired a Steinway Grand from Cathy Riley; MAC fundraisers will continue indefinitely!
- On August 4th, over 50 people attended a CD release party hosted by Elaine Cox. The party was a celebration of Tonight Meher, by the Nordeen Family Singers (recorded live at the 2018 Asheville Music Sahavas).
If you would like a copy, please order from Sheriar Books. The original batch of 300 copies is almost sold out, but don’t despair, there will be more...
Greetings all Baba lovers, likers, and everyone else!
The Red Oak School project began in earnest a year ago. Under the guidance and direction of Peter Nordeen, and with the support of many volunteers and paid workers, we have made substantial progress on the 90 year old school building. The overarching aim is to ensure that the building is refurbished in such a manner as to last for centuries.
Early on, due to the enormity of the project, we decided to organize the work in three distinct phases:
Phase One (in progress)
Including work on the second floor of the classroom wing, this phase will ultimately provide sufficient space to hold the primary archival work and ongoing storage, as well as administrative offices and several rooms for Baba community functions. In time there will be rental spaces to help support the operations of the archive.
In addition, much attention has been given to the structure of the building, especially the roof. We are presently adding an eve system (overhang) to the roof to protect the exterior brick walls and windows. We have begun re-roofing with architectural shingles and will soon begin replacing the membrane on the flat parts of the roof. All this will ensure that we have an excellent roof system that will protect the building for many decades to come.
It’s anticipated that the first (ground) floor renovations will proceed more rapidly than phase one due to the fact that so much of the infrastructure will have already been addressed. This phase will make room for a library, further rental space, and other Baba community and archival space as needed.
This includes renovating the large auditorium with stage, green room and balcony/control room. Ultimately the auditorium will be available for large Baba community gatherings as well as rental space for other events such as weddings and concerts.
It is heartwarming to see The Red Oak School building receiving so much attention. Already this extraordinary location stands in service of the mission outlined by Baba - to spread His message of love to every corner of the world.
Update on Architectural Services
Scott Tower Maloney
We are excited to announce the addition of local architect, Patti Glazer, to the MAC team.
Familiar to many in the local Baba community, Patti brings extensive expertise in local codes and planning, both of which are vital to this project. Patti and her firm Glazer Architecture have been involved in designing, constructing and/or refurbishing many notable buildings in the Asheville area, including Marshall High Studios (formally Marshall High School, also built in the 1920's) and, more recently, the Black Mountain College Museum and Arts Center.
Patti has been a creative force in Asheville for over 40 years and is a 19-time Griffin Award winner for Excellence in Preservation. Her firm’s experience with a wide range of projects, including the creative restoration of historic buildings, means that the unique needs of MAC and the Red Oak School site will be well served.
We would like to acknowledge Ty Provosty’s important architectural contribution to the initial stages of this project, and now welcome Patti and her team in carrying MAC’s vision forward in the near and long term.
Legacy Giving: Conserving Treasures
Hopefully by now, many Baba Lovers have made some kind of written provisions for their Meher Baba and Mandali treasures, including correspondence, books, pictures and artifacts. Our suggestion is to make long term arrangements (in addition to plans for immediate care-taking) by writing down an ultimate destination, beyond the next generation, for your treasures. Such long term planning ensures that precious things will not go missing along the way if simply left to friends or family.
Included in that list, if available, should be the story and/or provenance plus dates, along with any additional information that helps put the document or item in context. Without knowing what is special and worthy of preservation, important documents and blessed items could be lost forever.
The process of archiving, conservation and long-term caretaking and storage will necessarily involve some expenses. If you are able to include a monetary legacy in your will, specifically earmarked for taking care of your treasures, you will be supporting both MAC and generations to come.
MAC’s vision includes sharing and exhibiting archival treasures; an onsite reading and viewing room; sponsoring events for sharing treasures related to Meher Baba’s advent; and eventually opportunities for individuals to spend extended time at The Red Oak School on Baba related projects.
Legacy Giving can be as simple as including MAC’s name, address and tax ID in a legal last will, along with your specific instructions (whether you choose to leave Baba treasures and/or a monetary amount, stocks or property). If you decide to support MAC, we, the board, will treat your legacy with the utmost respect. We are dedicated to our mission -
To collect, preserve, and share Meher Baba’s Divine legacy of materials, artifacts, and words with integrity, love, and transparency for the benefit of humanity.
For more information on Legacy Giving please contact our treasurer, Scott Tower Maloney at email@example.com
A Story from the Archives
Some months ago, Renee Bussanich brought in a box of old papers that once belonged to her friend, Neala Haze, who passed on about twelve years ago. After some initial investigation of the papers, MAC volunteer Teri Adams began sorting and rehousing the documents according to our method. Late into this project, she found a packet of old India-made Baba calendars and leaflets. They were torn but on the reverse side she discovered a little bit of treasure. Teri recognized Bhau Kalchuri’s handwriting and signature on each page.
One afternoon at MAC she said rather excitedly, “Look what I found!”. On closer examination we realized these were poems and ghazals written by Bhau and that a few were immediately recognizable as songs sung by Jim Meyer back in the 1970’s. These may in fact be the originals of those poems as there are a few words crossed out and changes made.
I asked Jim Meyer what he knew about these pages and this is what he said:
“I have put almost all of these very early English poems of Bhau's to music over the years. I, too, once had a handwritten manuscript of at least 10 poems by Bhauji - but, alas, someone ‘borrowed’ them and they were never returned. They were on lined blue paper in blue pen - a step up from these backs of calendars. I received my copies around 1972-73. But these are definitely cool and in Bhauji's handwriting."
“Wow Eruch. Trip down memory lane. Yes. When I was in India in 1979, Bhau said I had to choose one of his ghazals and make a song out of it. Peter and I did it together and we sang it on Mehera’s porch. Ted made a homemade CD of all of the songs he sings at the tomb and it’s on there. I’ll ask him if he’ll share it or you could email him and ask him. I don’t have a recording of it. Jai Baba”
Getting answers and context does not always go so easily. I have come across many photos and letters over the years that leave me with questions. Questions that can’t be easily answered because the authors and recipients are no longer around to ask. In time this problem will grow exponentially, which is why there is some true urgency to preserve, scan, and share the Legacy of Meher Baba sooner rather than later. Many stories are simply waiting; we hope to keep uncovering them, big and small, and to continue sharing them with you.
To support MAC through a recurring monthly donation or to make a contribution to our capital fund, please visit our website here. Thank you!
Looking ahead to Bulletin #5,
We will be bringing you another story from The Archives, a financial report along with an update on our capital campaign, and Notes from an Interview with Peter Nordeen.
MAC Picnic on May 4th
Some people who had never seen what MAC has been up to left comments about their impressions of the property and endeavor to make a multi-purpose center dedicated to Meher Baba in Asheville, NC.
Here are some of the sweet notes we received:
“What daring of the Asheville Baba family to take on such a wonderful project as acquiring the Red Oak School. The loving endeavors of you all, combined with the potential of the site will, with Baba’s grace, bloom into a Baba Center that will lack for nothing.
Jai Meher Baba!”
- - Bernard Bruford, Woombeye, Australia
“A beautiful setting for many different types of gatherings, as well as spaces for quiet individual reflection. Great that you have also the area for outdoor activities. We are in awe of the work that has already been done, as well as the future vision. The caretakers’ cottage is lovely. Also I enjoyed seeing an old style American school!
- - Jo Anne Bruford, Woombeye, Australia
“It was a blustery day, punctuated with burst of driving rain and hail. I wasn’t entirely sure I could make it to the Red Oak School, or should even try, given the treacherous conditions—but I knew how much love had been poured into creating a communal and archival space for Baba and his community in the West, and I couldn’t bear to let the opportunity pass by to see how things were progressing. “Baba,” I said, “if you want me to be there to support my community, I need you to make it safe enough for me to drive up there and back. Despite the great swaths of green, yellow, and red on the radar, the hail let up, and a quiet blanket of clouds settled just above the treetops. “You always get your way, Baba,” I thought with a gentle smile.
“I expected the sprawling red brick of the school, nestled in among the dense foliage of the Appalachian Mountains in the late spring; I also anticipated the dramatic renovations taking place, and the fastidious tidying that had consumed so much time and energy during the last week for a number of people in our community. What I did not expect— couldn’t have expected on this, my first trip to the red Oak School / MAC—was the overpowering impression that rushed over me the second I turned up the access road. It was as if the present moment was suddenly overlaid with the first moment I turned up the access road to Meherazad, on my trip to Baba’s home in the East. The two moments and the two places were, for a few brief moments, the same: the shady dirt road, of course, embraced on either side by lush green foliage, but even more importantly, a feeling of profound excitement, a feeling of coming home, and the unmistakable impression of Baba’s presence pouring through everything, like sunlight through the rising mist.
“As I walked through the MAC building, I was awestruck by the passion and vision of the people charged with its evolution and care, and a powerful sense that Baba had already taken full ownership of the MAC building—that He had fully accepted the tremendous gift given to him by His lovers, and made it deeply and completely His own. From the archival rooms to the the performance space, from the meeting room to the quiet meditation room, I felt Baba working through these people and the community that supports them to create a home for His lovers everywhere, a place where they could find Him, learn more about Him, and draw deeply from the well of His divine love. What a remarkable gift He is giving us all through the work of creating His Home right here!”
- - Hunter Flournoy, Asheville, NC
“We were lucky enough to tour the space at end-of-August 2018, and then again last week. We were amazed at the incredible amount of work that had been done in such a short time—in demolition as well as in the various stages of renovation. So much thought and care (and love) have already gone into the planning and purposing of each space, both in and outside of the building. Planning is apparently being projected in centuries, and not merely decades...and that stopped us both in our tracks. May our footsteps all manage to retrace the way back!”
“We also greatly appreciated the opportunity to meet and greet the greater Asheville Baba community at the picnic. it was a truly wonderful and Baba-full day for both of us.”
- - Paul and Shelly Steiner
“What a wonderful Baba-communion we had at the "picnic in the gym" at Red Oak School! It’s simply amazing to be out there in that building, to see
the steady progress being made, and dream about what great things Baba
might have in store for it.”
- - Michael Ivey, Asheville, NC
“I am so glad I drove up for the picnic at Red Oak School. It was great seeing our new Baba Archival building for the first time, and being with our Australian guests, Bernard and Jo-Anne Bruford, who were there also. It was awesome to see how much has been accomplished. While talking about the future of this Archival site with another “guest," suddenly I saw ephemerally before me lots of people moving about in the auditorium of this wonderful building. From the first time I heard about Red Oak School at the Southeast Gathering in 2018 knew it would serve us all for ages to come.
“Thank you to those who have donated so much to make this happen, both financially and physically (Mastery in Action). It was awesome seeing how much has been cleared out, but also daunting to see what needs to be done. The work and financial opportunity to contribute to safeguarding Baba's treasures and making information available will be an on-going collaborative project for years to come.I feel fortunate to be part of it now, at the beginning. It is exciting.
“I think of all the peoples of all the Ancient One's Advents, coming now, centuries later, by the millions, to all the places associated with Him. With what is planned for and possible with this building, it will be well and thoroughly used.”
- Cheryl Garnant, Myrtle Beach, SC
“What a fun and relaxed time was had at the Community Picnic at Red Oaks School! Seeing the progress of the renovations, how many hands and hours have gone into the work, as well as, the many uses of the building was inspirational and motivating. Wow!!! The vision is manifesting!”
- Deborah Burns, Asheville, NC
“I hadn't been out to the school for a few weeks and was surprised to see how much
has been accomplished since my last visit. A huge amount of effort must have been
expended for so much progress. And now, more than ever, the potential of this en-
deavor is becoming apparent—the eventual transformation of an 90-year-old school
into a first class Universal Meher Baba Center!”
- Phil Ludwig, Asheville, NC
“Just recently a picnic was held at the MAC building. The work crew spent time organizing the building materials and cleaning up the space to make it ready for guests. In addition, a few rooms were staged to provide a sense of how they might look and be used in the future.
“The gym was set up with tables, chairs, pictures of Baba, flowers and food. With the black plastic removed from the windows the space was infused with natural light even on a cloudy day. For me it was delightful eating lunch with friends in a space that belongs to Baba and His lovers.
“The MAC board members took small groups of us on tours of the building. It was exciting to observe the amount of work that has already been accomplished in creating a sound structure. On the tour my group was taken into a room designated as a quiet meditation space. It had been decorated with a chair holding a large portrait of our beautiful Baba with spectacular bouquets of flowers standing along side. Baba books, paintings and photographs adorned the shelves and two upholstered armchairs were placed so that one could sit and reflect in Baba's love. The space was filled with His love. It reminded me of my experience in the Lagoon Cabin at the Center in Myrtle Beach.
“I have nothing but gratitude for those who work daily on creating a space in which we can share our love with each other and with new devotees.”
- - Debby Blackman, Asheville, NC
“I have been to the MAC building several times in this past year, helping with cleanup projects. When i entered the gym on the day of the picnic, I was struck with the sense that this place would never be the same again. The simple physical appearance of tables with white cloths, each with a centerpiece, signaled a shift in energy—a new phase, a promise of what is to come. What our collective efforts can and will do.”
- Irma Sheppard, Asheville, NC
FINDS FROM THE ARCHIVE
If you’re currently without free time or you live far away, perhaps you’re in a position to support us financially? if you would like to find out more please go to the “donations” page on our website here. Otherwise feel free to contact us here.
Thank you - your help and support is appreciated!
News, blogs, and updates on interesting archival finds and events.