In just over a year into renovation of the MAC building, we want to share exciting news, offer an update, and a financial snapshot.
We all have an opportunity to help fund the completion of Phase 1, which will allow us to occupy and begin working out of the building. All donations between now and December 31st will be matched, up to a total of $100,000. This doubles the value of your contribution, small or large, to help complete Phase 1.
Why Support this Project?
As we all know, there are many important Baba projects throughout the world, all serving Meher Baba in different ways and all needing support. We feel MAC is addressing a unique need in the Baba world at this time and will continue to do so long past our lifetimes. If you resonate with the vision and potential of this project, we invite you to be part of it and join us in this effort. We would be delighted to hear from you to learn how you would like to be involved.
Extraordinary Value and Potential of the Project
Immediate Need $325,000 to Complete Phase 1
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
From August 2018 through November 2019, at a total cost of approximately $250,000:
Next Steps to Complete Phase I
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 firstname.lastname@example.org
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 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.
The Magic of Music, Happy Trails and a Big Thank You.
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.email@example.com
IF YOU WOULD LIKE TO PARTICIPATE - HERE’S HOW…
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 firstname.lastname@example.org Eruch is coordinating archive volunteers (currently at our temporary Asheville location), you can contact him here email@example.com 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 firstname.lastname@example.org
Some Words of Wisdom from Peter Nordeen
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 email@example.com 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.
Brief Updates from Meher Archive Collective
from Jean Brunet Ludwig
Along with a wonderful potluck feast, we were treated to a live performance by these five fabulous musicians. We sat under a huge oak tree in Elaine’s back yard and luckily the rain held off until the very end with a few sprinkles as we were leaving.
All proceeds from the sale of Tonight Meher are generously being donated to MAC. Heartfelt thanks to the Nordeens, their accompanying musicians, and Seclusion Hill Sound Studios for volunteering their time and talents to this wonderful project.
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...
Ken Blackman, Project Manager
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.
Construction in Action at The Red Oak School Building
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 firstname.lastname@example.org
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."
“Page four is ‘Ocean Calm’ - I put this to music in 1973 and it is on the ‘In His Love’ group recording from 1973-74. It was the first song that I used Bhau's words. Bhau originally gave me about 10 poems to re-write because, he said, his English was poor. I never changed a word - why would I?". -Jim.
And so I asked Jeanne Felknor what she remembered about adapting one of the poems to music and if any recordings existed today. Here’s her reply:
“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”
To view the whole collection of ghazals click here. Overall, this was an interesting episode and shows that in the archive world, you never know what you might find. Also, how lucky was I to have both people who put these poems to music be local and one of them intimately involved in Meher Archive. Coincidence?
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.
Many people have been asking for an update on Meher Archive. What's going on with the Red Oak School rehab? What's new in the archive?
Jeannie Felknor Sets The Stage:
“The ‘play’ is called Meher Archive Collective at the Red Oak school. I think that in this whole world the most important thing is to remember Meher Baba. Sometimes I can’t believe that we get the opportunity to contribute to this creative project - helping to rehab this old school knowing that in the future his precious things will be held, preserved and archived in the most caring way. His book, God Speaks, and many other books, will be in the library where people can come and sit and read in a comfortable space.”
Jeannie Sees into the Future…
“There is a room where people come and look at things He touched, things He wore, a chair He sat in while visiting with his lovers, hair given to us from His Mandali who loved Him so much and understood so well who He was, that they saved every hair that they possibly could and shared it with us!"
“I believe it is up to us to share what we have with anyone who would care to partake. So, even though Spring has not yet fully arrived, I’m still having so much fun being a part of this story and this cast of characters. Every day more and more things get accomplished in Meher Baba ‘standard time’. Sometimes really fast, sometimes slow. I’m grateful to be a part of this cast of characters that Baba has put together - I like the set very much and the story is fantastic!”
Thank you Jeannie for your hard work, dedication, unending enthusiasm, organizational skills, and, of course, your unique sense of humor! Many hundreds of hours have been given to MAC by a committed team of volunteers; without Jeannie’s inspiration and ongoing coordination, we would not be where we are today.
A huge amount of renovation is taking place including tearing out old rotted timbers, bad flooring, old ceilings, and much more in preparation for fixing the plumbing, roof, and electrical! More on this next time. Consider donating to keep the work going.
News from the Archive
From Elaine Cox:
3rd excerpt from Adi - letter to Beryl Williams (New York), from Adi K. Irani: 5/5/55
Baba further explained that nothing other than these three in descending grade has real spiritual value: (1) obedience to the Master, (2) Love of God which is a gift given, and could hardly be developed and (3) Selfless Service.
Families at Meher Archive at Red Oaks
By Renee Bussanich
Many possibilities are being envisioned at the new MAC building and having a welcoming space for families is an important piece of this vision. MAC has ample space, both indoors and outdoors, and we are looking forward to being the perfect location for family and community oriented gatherings and events.
We would love to see the soccer field area used for Baba community family gatherings with picnics and games, possibly volleyball or softball. How about a croquet tournament or badminton? Or an old fashioned field day and ice cream social?
Once the indoor area is renovated and ready, the gym will be a great option for indoor volleyball and other physical activities, as well as the ideal space for community gatherings such as music events and parties. In addition, we are considering a playground structure in front of the building and a dedicated childcare area inside making it possible for parents to have some childfree time with MAC.
We invite you to be a part of this evolving project that is the Meher Archive Collective and we welcome your input and ideas as the vision evolves. If you have not already visited our website, please click here. Meanwhile, watch this space for updates and ongoing news!
By Jean Brunet
Our caretaker's cottage, aka Meher Cottage, is now cleaned, restored and anticipating the arrival of our caretakers. After many weeks of tireless volunteer work, the cottage has been cleaned and repaired, the floors refinished and completely repainted inside and out, in other words, it has been refurbished!
Gay & Greg Dunn have graciously consented to be our first caretakers and we are anxiously awaiting their arrival from
Bushes and flowers have been planted and everything is now ready for our caring couple arriving shortly to begin their duties of looking after MAC’s property.
Meher Archive Collective is building bridges between archives, historians, seekers, and those who wish to see Meher Baba's legacy preserved for all time.
From discovering material to preserving, scanning, cataloging, and sharing words, sounds, and images relevant to Meher Baba's advent and ministry, our growing network of volunteers and staff are working towards a global goal.
Join us in the ongoing efforts of expanding a “brick and mortar” and digital library of permanently secured archival material in the Western world, with the goal of preserving Meher Baba's profound legacy.
Do you feel inspired to join us at MAC? Whether you live locally and have a few hours to spare, regularly or ad hoc, or you’re visiting Asheville for a week or two and would like to hang out with us for a couple of hours - there’s bound to be something you can do to help, and you’re always welcome!
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!
Bulletin from Meher Archive Collective, Asheville, NC
#1 - December 2018
MAC at Red Oak. In August 2018, MAC found a home!
Constructed in 1928, the former Red Oak School is a solid, brick-built, essentially fireproof structure - perfect for housing Baba’s invaluable treasures and documents.
Work has begun… MAC’s priority is to build an archival vault. While this is ongoing, evaluation and remediation of HVAC, plumbing and electrical has begun, and essential repairs to the roof are underway.
Plans for the future:
Since August, over 1200 volunteer hours have been logged.
The generous donation of time and talent from many dedicated individuals has allowed for demolition, discovery and initial repairs to the main building, as well as a complete transformation, both inside and out, of the caretakers cottage, now known as Meher Cottage. The value of this work to date is estimated at $75,000.
We need your help…Do you live locally and have time on your hands? Or are you planning a visit to the Asheville area, maybe to spend time with friends from the Baba community?
Whether your passion is construction, cleaning windows, learning archiving skills or yet to be discovered, there are numerous ways in which you can support MAC through donating your time, talent and treasure.
Please email Ken@meherarchive.org if you have construction skills to offer or if you’d like to enquire about volunteering.
Dedicated volunteers continue essential archiving work at MAC’s temporary Golf Street office.
On Wednesday afternoons, Elaine Cox supervises the preservation of documents; on Friday afternoons, Eruch and Scott oversee the scanning of letters and other paper documents.
If you would like to learn more about the art and craft of archiving, and are interested in becoming a volunteer, please call Elaine on (908) 887-0037.
Please consider a year-end gift to MAC.
Contributions to our Capital Campaign, as well as individual donations and recurring monthly contributions, can be set up here.
All contributions are tax deductible.
We continue to need funds for the upgrade, restoration and ongoing maintenance of the Red Oak School building as well as for supplies and equipment for archiving work.
If you would like to discuss how you may be able to support MAC and its vision, please email Scott@meherarchive.org
Meher Archive Collective
Dedicated to collecting, preserving and sharing Meher Baba’s Divine Legacy of materials, artifacts and words with integrity, love and transparency for the benefit of humanity.
Great News! - The Meher Archive Collective has secured the Red Oak School property!
By Baba’s Grace, this first phase has been achieved through dozens of heartfelt donations, along with an intense process of renegotiation with the sellers, which resulted in a reduction of the purchase price from $725,000 to $550,000 and a closing date of August 17th.
Baba has begun to turn the key! With this exciting news, we are jumping into the next phase of our capital campaign. Our overall fundraising goal remains the same, and this next phase will require $700,000 in order to proceed with planned renovations in as timely and cost-effective manner as possible. This work includes immediate repairs to the roof as well as bringing essential systems (including HVAC, electrical and plumbing) up to required standards.
For those of you attending the Asheville Music Sahavas this weekend, we are organizing a tour of the property on Sunday afternoon at 2:30. If you are interested, there will be a sign-up sheet at the Sahavas. There will also be other opportunities to have a tour if you are not able to make this one.
Thank You to all who have helped reach this important first step! We invite you to share this exciting news and sincerely hope that many more people will participate in the next step toward realizing MAC’s vision (whether through a direct donation to the building fund, a recurring monthly donation, or the contribution of services).
Beloved Meher Baba Ki Jai!
In His Love and Service,
Meher Archive Collective
MAC Board of Directors
Jean Brunet Ludwig
Scott Tower Maloney
By Scott Tower Maloney
“Be true to the Trust I repose in you and remember Me wholeheartedly.”
This is a follow up to my recent email about the Meher Archive Collective (MAC)
Many years ago, I was grateful for the opportunity to work in the free clinic at Meherazad. The experience of working alongside Dr Goher, doing what felt like Baba’s work, was pivotal for me. I was inspired by Goher’s example of giving all her efforts to Baba and leaving the results to Him. Fast forward to today and I find I resonate deeply with the vision of MAC; I am grateful for another opportunity to be of service to Baba, and to contribute both time and financial resources.
For those of you unfamiliar with MAC and the work it has already done, please visit the website.
Our Motto is simple: RESCUE – PRESERVE – SHARE
In my last email, I mentioned that MAC had identified a site for the archive and I am excited to share more details with you here.
RED OAK SCHOOL PROPERTY: The site was originally known as the Red Oak School in Weaverville, NC. It was designed in 1928 by the architect Ronald Greene, who also designed the iconic Jackson Building and Stephens Lee High School in downtown Asheville. It is sited on six flat acres on a hilltop and provides space that is well suited for both the immediate and long-term needs of a permanent archive.
This site provides all that we are looking for and more, including:
Benefits to World-Wide Baba Community
The Red Oak School would give visitors a facility for the following purposes:
Peter Nordeen and Ty Provosty have scrutinized the building, and both are enthusiastic about its quality and value. For a more complete assessment of the property and its suitability for a permanent archive space, please see both Peter and Ty’s extensive comments and analysis on our website (Ty’s report contains a summary on the last three pages).
MISSION OF MEHER ARCHIVE COLLECTIVE: 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.
If you feel inspired, as I do, by this mission and its realization, here is how you can become involved:
The purchase price of this property is $725,000, and it requires $475,000 for needed improvements.This work would make the entire building usable and enable our model of a sustainable archive to flourish.
In order to move ahead with this project, we need to raise sufficient funds, or pledges, by July 10th, 2018. Our offer on this property is a cash–on-closing commitment, with a closing in early August. We realize this is a short time-frame, but it is what Baba has given us, and we know that if this is something that He wants to happen, it will. We are delighted to announce that before officially launching our fundraising, we have already received pledges from two donors totaling $150,000. This represents one eighth of our total goal!
Here is a just one of numerous scenarios that will enable us to reach this goal:
5 contributions of $100,000 500,000 1 pre-committed $100,000
5 contributions of $50,000 250,000 1 pre-committed $50,000
20 contributions of $10,000 200,000
20 contributions of $5,000 100,000
25 contributions of $2,500 50,000
30 contributions of $1,000 30,000
50 contributions of $500 25,000
100 contributions of $250 25,000
200 contributions of $100 20 ,000
Total funds needed $1,200,000 Total pre-committed $150,000
We invite you to join us in this important project by participating to the greatest extent you are able. The time is now and the need is urgent. It is our goal for as many people to participate as possible, and all levels of support are welcome.
If you would like to receive more information, or to discuss the details of your support, please contact Jean Brunet Ludwig directly: email@example.com (828) 412-3454
Contributions and pledges can be made via our website (Scroll to bottom of this page here), or by personal check (preferred for larger donations), mailed to:
Meher Archive Collective, P.O. Box 18908, Asheville, NC 28814.
As a 501(c)3 organization, all contributions to MAC are tax-deductible.
By Baba’s Will, this endeavor will outlive us, our children, and our grandchildren. We are at a crucial moment in the preservation of material connected to Baba and His Advent, and this archive can play a role in humanity maintaining access to the Avatar as Meher Baba. If it is His wish to establish a permanent archive on this site, He will turn the key; we are placing that outcome in His hands.
This is an opportunity for each of us to contribute to His ongoing Legacy.
We invite all Baba lovers to consider this opportunity.
In His love and service,
Meher Archive Collective
Board of Directors
Hugh Huntington - firstname.lastname@example.org
Renee Busanich - email@example.com
Ken Blackman - firstname.lastname@example.org
Jean Brunet Ludwig - email@example.com
Scott Tower Maloney - firstname.lastname@example.org
Eruch Adams - email@example.com
By Scott Tower Maloney
While some of you are already familiar with Meher Archive Collective (MAC) and its vision, I would like to introduce myself and share my passion for this exciting Baba project.
Some of you know me as Scott Tower, others as Scott Maloney in the past. I would like to share a story, one of precious things lost and others found. My grandmother, Mayme Kramer, met Baba in Myrtle Beach in 1958. I don’t know much more than she accepted Him as the Avatar, and had a picture of Him in her library. Mayme lived in New York and I have heard that she attended the Monday night meetings there. I know that she was involved with sending medicine to India, and in one of the films of Baba’s visit to Myrtle Beach in ’58, she crosses briefly in front of the camera. Mayme died when I was 12, and when her house was cleared out, everything connected to Baba was discarded. Either no-one knew its importance, or perhaps they were happy to see it go. Only later would I feel the loss.
As my personal connection to Baba crystallized in my mid 20s, I realized that we are living in those same early days of an Avatar’s advent that I had been drawn to study in college. I became interested in early Christianity because I wanted to get closer to what really happened in those early years, what was the real story of Jesus at the time?
My connection to Baba is rooted in stories. Many of us have had the great fortune to have known and spent time with the Mandali. For me, the essence of that gift was a combination of their individual presence and example, and their stories. They freely shared the flavor of their lives with Baba with all who came, and consequently we received some of the divine aroma of His Presence. The great blessing of such personal contact will not be there for the generations that follow us. Soon, others will have to rely on those stories that are preserved and shared.
I feel deeply the importance of preserving Baba stories and records, for my family, and also for future generations. I wish I knew more about Mayme’s experience, I wish I knew her Baba story. This is one of the reasons I am passionate about MAC and its vision; I don’t want others’ stories to be lost and unavailable to their children, grandchildren or to the larger world.
Fast forward nearly fifty years from my grandmother’s passing. While volunteering at MAC, not just as a board member, but actually getting my hands on the Fredella Winterfeldt collection, I happened upon a letter from Goher to Ella. It being my first day, I made the newbie mistake of trying to read each document (there really isn’t time for this). But this time I would be rewarded beyond expectation. I found a reference to my grandmother in a postscript from Mani. It was short, sweet and I am likely the only living person for whom it has meaning. I felt a twinkle in Baba’s eye, and a deeper connection with Mayme.
Beyond this personal experience, I have been deeply moved by the intimacy of the contents of this collection, especially the calm intensity of Mehera’s love for her Beloved that emerges from the small details she relates in her letters. I know that the growing number of volunteers are also touched by their experience and by the opportunity to help with this work. The archive will have to be a large group effort, one that I believe will actively foster community both through volunteers working together for Baba and through the global sharing of archival material online.
Like many people, my family and I were drawn to Asheville without a clear rational reason. We felt attracted in part by the Baba community and, on our first visit, it immediately felt like home, in a way that reminded me of Nanaker’s “Welcome Home” hug on my first time at Baba’s Samadhi. Why are so many Baba lovers moving to this area? Asheville is quickly becoming a major Baba hub, with its Music Sahavas and a growing number of Baba transplants, events and visitors.
The Asheville area is ideally suited as a safe and secure location for a permanent archive due to its moderate climate, and absence of environmental risks (such as earthquakes, tornadoes, hurricanes, floods, changing sea levels and frequent forest fires). The large and growing Baba population also provides a crucial volunteer base for an archive. As many of you may remember, Filis Frederick said that there should be a Baba archive somewhere in the mountains of North Carolina.
Confident that the Asheville area is perfect for a permanent archive site, MAC has been looking to build or buy a suitable space. We have found an existing building that meets or exceeds all of the criteria we have established. These include accessibility, a fireproof structure that is built to last, opportunity for gradual expansion and income potential. The cost per square foot is also a fraction of the cost to build from scratch. Peter Nordeen and Ty Provosty (an accomplished architect who is working on Baba’s tower in Meherabad) have both looked carefully at the building, and are enthusiastic about its quality, value and suitability.
I have been inspired by the vision of MAC to preserve, and also freely share, the stories connected to artifacts, documents, photos and other media related to Baba. Once preserved, these will serve as an invaluable vehicle of connection to Baba and His Advent for years to come. The time for this is NOW as those with firsthand stories and collections are getting older, and in many cases the physical material is in urgent need of preservation.
We are very excited about the possibility of acquiring this building and land to secure a home for a Meher Baba Archive in the Asheville area. We will be sharing more details with you in the next few days. Stay tuned…
In His love and service,
Meher Archive Collective
MAC Board of Directors
Jean Brunet Ludwig
Scott Tower Maloney
MAC Newsletter #1 Spring, 2018. Edited by Susan McKendree. Content supervisor: Renee Bussanich. Layout by Eruch Adams
UPDATE FROM THE ARCHIVES
by Eruch Adams
Since October of 2017, Meher Archive Collective has launched its training for the proper care for physical “paper” archives, also called “rehousing.” We have been collaborating with Marshall Hay’s heirs to rehouse and scan a large collection of Fred and Ella Winterfeldt’s letters, documents, photo prints and slides. So far we have completed cleaning the documents and rehousing them in acid-free folders, between sheets of acid-free paper or archival-grade non-reactive polyester film called melenix or mylar. The plastic sheets were used for the more precious original letters from Mehera Irani, Mani Irani, Adi K. Irani and Elizabeth Patterson, as well as letters and notes dictated by Meher Baba (usually via one of the mandali). This has been a huge undertaking involving more than ten volunteers who have worked once or twice a week.
Currently we are focusing on sorting the documents and arranging them in chronological order in preparation for scanning and filing in archival boxes.
Additionally, four carousels of slides have been scanned, encompassing slideshows of The Three Incredible Weeks, Baba’s trips to America in 1956 and 1958, the East-West Gathering, and a mixed show of the 1969 Darshan and other trips to India. These are in various stages of age deterioration or have suffered other damage, so they will be made available over a period of time.
Another seventy or so photo prints have been scanned, mainly of Baba, but the photo collection also includes some charming personal photos of Fred, Ella and some of their New York friends.
The next stage of scanning the documents will be a lengthy process, but at that point the collection will be digitally preserved and neither fire nor flood can make it vanish.
After the materials have been called they will be digitally catalogued, documenting dates, who sent or created the material, to whom it might have been given or for whom it was created, and subject matter. At that point the collection can be shared online.
The FredElla Collection is a perfect test case for many of the unarchived Baba collections still at large or in some partial state of completion. Cataloguing and preserving this collection is a multi-stage task, as well as time consuming, but in the final analysis—given that it documents the life and work of Avatar Meher Baba, no amount of time or effort can exceed the value of its preservation for the sake of posterity.
WHAT’S COMING UP AT MAC
MAC at the Southeast Gathering April 12 - 15th: Look for both a presentation (Saturday at 10 am) and a demonstration Friday around 11 am) on the schedule, with some interesting reveals from the archival work we are doing. The MAC board will be showing the work progress and will also be available for your questions. Elaine Cox and Jean Ludwig will be showing you how to take care of valuable materials you have at home in their break out session. If you are going, you won’t want to miss these!
Archiving your treasures at home: Mac is working with Elaine to produce a video of how to take care of your precious letters and photos in your homes to preserve and protect for posterity. This video, which will be available on our website and shared at the SEG, will tell you about materials and simple effective ways you can make sure your treasures will not deteriorate. We will discuss also how to ensure that Meher Baba’s history and stories are preserved.
Mandali letters and notes: There are so many incredibly inspiring and loving letters sent from the Mandali in India and we would love to post as many as possible for everyone’s benefit. We will be adding this feature to our website and letting you know how to submit all or parts of your letters in the near future. What a blessing these messages were and will continue to be for all the Baba community.
Updates in the office: A fireproof safe is on the way. We are expanding existing office space by converting a steel and masonry garage into a fire resistant archival vault. Though we are still limited on working space for volunteers, this expansion gives MAC the ability to take on take on 8-10 times more archival material than we currently house. We are continuing to grow and develop this community project that we all feel is so important: to Rescue, Preserve, and Share!
Ty Provosty, architect: Ty is consulting with the Board on land and building feasibility. We are continuing to look for suitable spaces and building options and are excited to be working with him on these projects. He brings to MAC an impressive background and extensive expertise and we are grateful for his guidance.
"Eleven Men with One Heart”
The All-Rounder of All-Rounders Blesses the Indian Cricketers
By Susan McKendree
On April 2, 1959, a rather unusual group of darshanites entered the gates of Guruprasad in Poona, India, to receive Meher Baba’s blessings, at the request of the secretary of the Poona Cricket Association, M. G. Bhave. The Indian cricket team was preparing to travel to England for a series of test matches, the first they had played there since 1952, and the “All-Rounder”1 of all-rounders gave them a proper sendoff.2
Four newspaper articles from the FredElla [Fred and Ella Winterfeldt] Collection, currently undergoing cataloguing and rehousing, document the occasion. Two were published in The Poona Daily News, one by Poona’s Times of India News Service, and the story was picked up by The Sunday Standard in Delhi.
Unsurprisingly, the articles vary in tone and accuracy. The two shortest articles are entitled “Team Blessed by Meher Baba” and “Meher’s Blessing to the Cricketers,” published by The Times of India News Service of Poona and in the The Poona Daily News respectively. While the piece in The Times refers to Baba as “the Avatar,” the second calls Him as the “owatar.”4 The The Daily News observes, “Meher-Baba [sic] and cricket would seem a far cry, but . . . good old cricketing fans could well remember Baba’s exploits on the field.”5
The Poona Daily News “Sportfolio” section included a piece called “An Hour with Meher Baba - A Sportsman and a True Lover of Sport,” accompanied by the byline Mr. “A. David.” Containing few quotes from Baba’s comments to the team, the article focuses on His remarks to the reporters. It refers to Him as “Meher,” as well as “the Baba,” and is accompanied by a group photo of the team with Baba seated in the center front.3
But by far the most engaging of the four articles is “A Silver Lining,” published in Delhi’s weekly Sunday Standard.
THERE is a silver lining to every cloud, and India’s band of cricketers to tour England from this month, damned and demoralised by the pinpricks and brickbats of a host of armchair critics, could not have asked for a better silver lining than the one they saw on the dark horizon on April 2 in Poona.
Meher Baba, the Zoroastrian holy man, reversed [sic] by all castes and creeds in Western India, succeeded in doing something for the team that neither the training camp in Poona nor the pep talks of harassed officials could achieve — close knit team spirit and confidence.
Many of the seventeen bound for England when told that Meher Baba wanted to see them . . . were rather skeptical, and only went to see the holy man to humour him.
But the skeptics felt otherwise when they left his presence.6
The team’s arrival was delayed by medical examinations, so the newspaper reporters gathered to document the meeting took the opportunity to ask some questions of Baba. He told them about of His life-long love of the game, which he had played at St. Vincent’s High School and Deccan College, and how He now attended as many matches as He could. He also revived the story of Yusuf Baig, the Poona all-rounder who famously challenged Baba to bowl to him and “learned to his great mortification that he had been stumped and that Meher [sic] had won the challenge.”7
When the cricketers arrived Baba blessed and embraced each player, after which Eruch read His message aloud to them:
In going to England to represent India in the field of sport you have the unique opportunity of practising and conveying to the people there the great spiritual lessons of concentration and love.
When you take the field, if you play as eleven men with one heart, each enjoying the excellence of performance in another player as he would in himself, whether that player is of your side or of the opposing team, and so eliminating feelings of jealousy, anger and pride, which so often mar sport, you will not only be entertaining the spectators but be demonstrating the real spirit of sportsmanship.
True sportsmanship is concentrated ability enlivened by sincere appreciation of the performances of others. And when this is manifested, everyone, both players ands spectators, receive spiritual upliftment as well as good entertainment.
Some of you are allrounders. I am a spiritual allrounder. I feel equally at home with saints, yogis, philosophers and cricketers, as well as with sinners and scoundrels. I give you my blessing that in all your actions you show the spirit of love.8
After the message was read Baba presented each player with a copy of Life at its Best and embraced each man one more time.
The unfortunate postscript to the story of Meher Baba’s meeting with the cricketers is that the team lost all five test matches against the British players. In fact, the Indian cricketers had an abysmal year altogether, winning just six matches, losing 11, and drawing (unable to finish) 16 of the remaining 33 games. Surely, however, the sting of so many loses was eased by the love that Meher Baba showed them when they came to Guruprasad for His blessings.
“A Silver Lining.” The Sunday Standard, Delhi, India. April 5, 1959. The Sunday Standard is the only weekly newspaper in India. A shorter article entitled “England - Bound Cricket Team Fit and Happy” appears alongside the article about Meher Baba.
“An Hour with Meher Baba - A Sportsman and a True Lover of Sport.” The Poona Daily News “Sportfolio.” Byline: A. David. Poona, India. Thursday [April 2], 1959.
“Indian cricket team in England in 1959.” Wikipedia,
Kalchuri, Bhau. Lord Meher on-line edition. More than 120 references to cricket occur in Lord Meher.
“Members of Cricket Team Felicitated . . . Meher Baba’s Blessing to Cricketers.” The Poona Daily News. Poona, India. No date. Typed copy. Original article is not catalogued in the collection.
“Team Blessed by Meher Baba.” The Times of India News Service. Poona, India. April 2, 1959.
1. Bhau Kalchuri, Lord Meher on-line edition, 4510. Also cited in various forms in the articles.
2. “All-rounder” refers to a player who excels at batting, bowling (throwing the ball) and wicket-keeping. Few players are adept at all three.
3. “An Hour with Meher Baba - A Sportsman and a True Lover of Sport,” The Poona Daily News.
4. “A Silver Lining,” The Sunday Standard, Delhi.
5. “Members of Cricket Team Felicitated . . . Meher Baba’s Blessing to Cricketers,” The Poona Daily News.
6. “A Silver Lining,” The Sunday Standard, Delhi.
7. “An Hour with Meher Baba - A Sportsman and a True Lover of Sport,” The Poona Daily News.
8.“Team Blessed by Meher Baba,” The Times of India News Service, Poona.
Not Just Collecting at the Meher Archive Collective
by Renee Bussanich
The function of an archive is to gather and preserve historic materials such as documents, photographs and artifacts. The vision of Meher Archive Collective is to gather, and, through the use of computer technology, preserve, maintain, restore and make available to the world historic materials that document the life and work of Avatar Meher Baba.
But MAC’s vision extends well beyond the establishment of its own safe and secure collection. Many people in the Meher Baba world community have created their own private collections of materials that have been handed down to them through family connections, given to them to care for, or else acquired by their own initiative. These collections include but are not limited to correspondence between and among other Baba lovers, letters and gifts from the mandali, and, in rarer cases, precious objects such as Baba’s sadras, objects that He touched or items associated with the Perfect Masters. They also contain photographs—both historic and personal, as well as audio and video recordings made during visits to India and at events in the West, when members of Baba’s mandali and other close ones came from India to share their own stories.
While MAC always welcomes the donation of historic materials and encourages all to plan for their collection's safe future, it also recognizes and respects the fact that many people wish to keep their archival materials in their personal possession for the time being. Thus MAC makes its services and expertise available to private collectors by preserving their materials for them and returning them to their owners. In addition, MAC endeavors to educate private collectors in methods of preservation so that they can properly maintain their own materials, by individual consultation as well as in workshops. In the world of Meher Baba archives, it is these services that set Meher Archive Collective apart.
Ultimately every collection should be also preserved and copied in multiple locations around the world to prevent catastrophic loss in the event of fire, flood, or other natural or man-made disasters. Working collectively will get us to that goal faster than in isolation.
Support Meher Archive Collective
If this work resonates with you and you would like to be a part of the MAC, there are volunteer opportunities and we can use your financial support as well. Please visit the website at www.meherarchive.org
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.
Loving note from a volunteer:
... I just wanted to say how
In order to fulfill MAC’s mission and take on more projects, we need to acquire more space, purchase additional cabinets, materials, and equipment. We are committed to make as much available to as many as is feasible. We need support for this work and we hear from so many all the time what a valuable service it is. MAC looks forward to expanding volunteer opportunities for service.
Please help us preserve what is important today and will seem monumental as time goes on. Unfortunately, over the years, some very valuable pieces have already been lost in the greater Baba world and we want to raise awareness about making plans for succession, taking care of what we have, and detailing the provenance of things we were gifted by the Mandali and others. MAC also intends to help people take care of what they already have in their homes by making a video with instructions on rehousing documents and photographs.
MAC is a 501(c)3 and can accept tax-deductible donations. Please consider making a year-end donation to get us to the next level. You can also support us with a recurring monthly donation coming directly from your bank or credit card account via Paypal: http://www.meherarchive.org/donations.html
Thank you and Jai Baba,
MAC Board of Directors
Jean Brunet Ludwig
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.
News, blogs, and updates on interesting archival finds and events.