Letter to Community Explaining the Values Behind Phase 2 of Our Reopening

COVID Safety Protocol
We are now in Phase 2 of our reopening. There are no universal masking or social distancing requirements at Common Ground, though of course people may choose to wear masks if that makes them feel more at ease. We don’t have a vaccination requirement, but we continue to strongly encourage all community members who are able to get vaccinated to do so, out of compassion for our community. If you’re not already on our weekly email list, please join so you can receive continued updates about our reopening plans. You can get on the list at commongroundmeditation.org/connect/mailing-list/   You can read more about the values guiding our reopening below.

Letter from Weekly Email, June 16th, 2021:
Two core values guiding Common Ground’s administrative decision making throughout the pandemic have been non-harming as well as maintaining our commitment to accessibility and inclusion. Balancing these to the best of our ability has been an ongoing, challenging, imperfect process, and will continue to be so. We appreciate your patience, participation, and feedback and will continue to rely on all of these beautiful qualities reflected in all of you, as we wade through the conditions going forward. With the positive test rate in Minnesota currently around 1%, it seems time to welcome phase 2 of our reopening. Our hope with phase 2 is to offer a diversity of programming options including in-person and hybrid programs so that given the unique circumstances of our lives, all who are interested will be able to find a pathway to participation at Common Ground. …and to those of you who might be concerned, online programming is here to stay!
In consultation with the Board of Directors and our medical advisors, we feel comfortable making a move in phase 2 towards reopening our physical center. Of course we will be ready to adjust guidelines and plans if the conditions of the pandemic change. Specifically, we’ll be tracking transmission rates locally and the introduction of variants that we don’t have immunity from. We are committed to proceeding with humility and will adapt and adjust as we learn along the way.

Phase 1 began June 1st and consisted of limited in-person programs with a universal mask and social distancing requirement as well as a maximum attendance cap of 20 in the meditation hall.

Phase 2: Starting July 5th, consistent with CDC as well as local governmental guidelines, Common Ground will have no universal masking or social distancing requirements and no attendance limits at programs though everybody participating in our in-person programs is asked to align our individual masking and social distance decisions with public health best practices in support of our collective well being. In that spirit, we continue to request that you stay home if experiencing COVID symptoms or if you have been exposed to COVID. Please follow CDC guidelines related to testing and quarantine time. Additionally, we strongly encourage everyone in the community who is able to, to get vaccinated.

The CDC currently recommends that unvaccinated people wear a mask and maintain social distance in public places such as Common Ground. We also encourage vaccinated people who feel more comfortable wearing a mask and maintaining social distance to continue to do so. As it is with all of us, Common Ground’s Teachers will be navigating personal circumstances in deciding how to teach in the months ahead. Some programs will continue solely online while some will be offered hybrid or in person. You will be able to check each program’s description in the online calendar for the most up-to-date details about safety protocol for that program. It is our hope that the variety of programming options available will honor the diversity of personal circumstances among us, as well as our collective and varied tolerance for risk. May we all trust the tension between our personal choices and collective wellbeing so that our actions and decisions are aligned with our deepest intentions.

Phase Two Schedule: 

In addition to the programs begun in June: Open Meditations, Tuesday morning Tea and Dharma, here is a schedule of Phase Two in-person programs:

  • If there is interest, we will offer the opportunity for community members to gather on Sunday mornings to watch the Weekly Practice Group together on a screen in the meditation hall. Mark will be teaching from the office but will be around to greet folks before and after the program. We will do a trial run this Sunday, June 20th. Let gabe@commongroundmeditation.org know if you’d like to join in. (I’ll take the first 20 people who volunteer. Thanks!)

  • The next Buddhist Studies course on Mindfulness of Mind will be offered as a hybrid program beginning with the second session, on July 5th. People can choose to attend virtually from home or join Mark in the meditation hall in person.

  • Starting July 11th, there will be an in-person only Sunday evening Weekly Practice Group with Mark Nunberg, 7:00-8:30pm. This will cover similar material as the Sunday morning talk.

  • The Half-Day Retreat on July 10th and the Daylong Retreat on July 17th, both with Mark Nunberg, will be offered as hybrid programs with both in person and online options.

  • The September Introduction to Mindfulness Meditation Course with Mark Nunberg will be offered as a hybrid program. (Starts September 14th.)

  • Stay tuned to our weekly email and website for announcements about other in-person programs as the summer unfolds.

Volunteer Needs:

As we begin to reinhabit our physical center, we will need volunteers to tend to the center’s physical needs like they used to. We are a heavily volunteer-dependent organization, which is a beautiful thing! Volunteering is a way to tap into the nourishing and enlivening quality of generosity, which the Buddha teaches is a cornerstone of a happy life. Volunteers at Common Ground do a variety of things, including but not limited to bell-ringing for open meditation, program hosting, office work, tech support, cleaning, mowing, and gardening. Gabe is the volunteer coordinator. To submit a volunteer interest form, click here. Or feel free to contact Gabe directly at gabe@commongroundmeditation.org. A couple immediate opportunities:

Prairie Farm Reopening Info

Starting with our first public program at Prairie Farm, a Metta retreat with Patrice Koelsch scheduled from July 15-18, we are requiring that all participants have been fully vaccinated. We will reassess this requirement in August based on COVID transmission rates and new variants in our community. If there are extenuating circumstances that prevent you from being vaccinated, feel free to email gabe@commongroundmeditation.org and we will consider your request. Look for more info about upcoming practice periods at Prairie Farm in next week’s weekly email.


Mark, Shelly, and Gabe

Common Ground Meditation Center