Tuesday, May 19, 2009

Zen Peacemaker at Haley House

Ari Pliskin has been representing the Zen Peacemakers at Haley House since February. Ari works to apply his ministry training while participating as a full member of the live-in staff. Growingly taking on leadership roles in the various aspects of the Haley House has been a rich exploration of the possibilities of creating a Zen House. Ari is striving to build new diverse communities through meditation and other practices.

*The Haley House Soup Kitchen in the South End of Boston is managed by a live-in intentional community housed in the same building. Along with his housemates, Ari takes turns serving as shift head, planning the meal and coordinating volunteers in the soup kitchen. The purpose of serving food is to develop relationships and build community and every shift includes eating and chatting with guests and volunteers.

*The Live-in Community is strengthened by several weekly activities that deepen the practices of intimacy, communication and collective learning. Ari experiences how this creates a family feel that then permeates the broader soup kitchen community. Ari shares mindfulness methods, such as the Work of Byron Katie, during the weekly Faith Sharing night in which house members volunteer to lead activities.

*Meditation and Council are now facilitated by Ari twice a week, who is taking over the job after aiding Rev. Cynthia Seiho Brighton. Participants have included: a soup kitchen guest, the manager of a Haley House affordable housing unit and a live-in community member, among others. [Note: Meditation cushions are limited and the Zen Peacemakers at Haley House would gladly accept donations]

*Pathmaking is the practice of using Buddhist principles to support people in moving forward in achieving their goals. Ari intends to explore using pathmaking principles to support community members in finding employment and housing.

*The Haley House Bakery Café is located in Roxbury, one mile away from the South End. It is a model social enterprise with similarities to the Greyston Bakery. Ari is now co-managing the Haley House Corner Shop that sells goods from the Bakery Café in the South End building. Ari has attended and assisted with healthy cooking classes for low-income youth offered at the Bakery Café. He also attends the Art is Life itself (AiLi) open mic there, where he has shared ideas exploring socially engaged Buddhism. Ari aids Nina LaNegra, the leader of AiLi, (who is also part of the live-in community and a fellow Buddhist) in publicizing it.

*In addition to all these formalized programs, Ari enjoys taking full advantage of the urban environment. He is branching out to other communities for the purpose of bearing witness and finding potential allies. He frequents events related to groups including a neighboring Christian group that ministers to the homeless, Soka Gakai International, an activist bookstore and a yoga studio.

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