using the arrow buttons.
by clicking on the page.
the page around when zoomed in by dragging it.
the zoom using the slider when zoomed-in.
by clicking on the zoomed-in page.
by entering text in the search field, and select "This Issue" or "All Issues"
by clicking on thumbnails to select pages, and then press the print button.
displays sections with thumbnails and descriptions.
displays a slider of thumbnails. Click on a page to jump.
allows you to browse the full archive.
about your subscription?
Lions Roar : January 2015
The tale of Brooklyn Zen center, like so many good coming-up stories, starts in a dingy basement. After practicing at San Francisco Zen Center, BZC co- founder Laura O’Loughlin moved to Austin, Texas, where she met and fell in love with one Greg Snyder. The two planned to move together to San Francisco to practice Zen, but family emergencies instead grounded them in Brooklyn: O’Laughlin’s sister was dying there, and after she passed away, they stayed to take care of her father, who was in his final years. “We visited other Zen centers in the area,” she remembers, “but I had a heartfelt connection to San Francisco Zen Center, which felt like my family too.” Together with friend Ian Case, O’Laughlin and Snyder decided to get busy building something in Brooklyn that would feel like home. They created a space first, with the sangha, or community, to fol- low. It was humble. Laura, Greg, and Ian spent the summer of 2005 scraping the walls of a small basement space on 11th Street in Park Slope. It was right next to the building’s boiler room. “We put a little sign out and, incredibly, people slowly started to find us.” The community that would come to be known as the Brooklyn Zen Center was born. The group grew, guided by visiting teachers like Norman Fischer, the late Darlene Cohen (who had ordained O’Laughlin and encouraged the creation of BZC), and Teah Strozer, who would eventually become the group’s head teacher. By 2009, the sangha relocated from their basement to a one-bedroom apartment on 9th Street, whose living area became a dedicated zendo. “We would do retreats of thirty people on top of each other, with the kitchen and the bathroom right there,” O’Laughlin recalls. Cozy though it was, the group would again move two years later, to its current home at 505 Carroll Street in Brook- lyn’s Gowanus neighborhood. Strozer led the community in its inaugural five-day retreat at its new home. Today, Brooklyn Zen Center’s principals and members con- template the sangha’s ten-year anniversary, and its future. The community continues to grow, practice, and do a lot of great work, but how do you really gauge strength and success when you’re a Zen center, whose values have little to do with so many of the usual worldly concerns? Perhaps it all comes down to people. Take LoyaLTy JeanaIMé, for example. She seems, at first, to be rather shy. When I met her on my first visit to BZC, I knew she’d been an important part of the center and asked her to consider talking to me. She did consider it, for a good long moment or two, and then, smiling broadly, demurred. Greg Snyder, BZC’s executive director (and JeanAimé’s boss/ champion), laughed: “That was pretty good. You got real close!” Apparently, I wasn’t the only person who’d hoped to pick Jean- Aimé’s brain and failed. But to say that JeanAimé is “shy” is in no way sufficient. As Strozer says, “She’s quiet a lot of the time, but she asks really inter- esting questions.” And she gets things done. “I’m an artist,” Jean- Aimé affirmed when I finally did earn an audience with her. “I’m a singer and a rapper.” Notions of “shyness” now out the window, I ask her that impossible ques- tion: How would you describe your music? “I’m going for something that’s really effortless, something that’s raw and true. Meditation- like, always being in the moment.” She’s working on a new mixtape release, she says, and she lights up a little as she talks about it. JeanAimé also lights up when she talks about BZC. When she first came here at age sixteen, it was by way of an internship through the Brooklyn College Arts Lab. She had only medi- tated once before, but this time it stuck. “We meditated, we did music, we did mindful cooking, all that good stuff. It was dif- ferent from other places I’d usually be at in my everyday life. Clockwise from top: The Brooklyn Zen sangha gathers before the People’s Climate March; Loyalty JeanAimé (right) who helps lead the Awake Youth Project, with fellow AYP grad and gun-violence panel organizer Dajean Aiken; BZC members march (that’s Board Chair Alex Sierck with little one in tow); Yeshwant Chitalkar helps lead the inclusivity committee and people of color group. He’s also “an amazing cook,” says executive director Greg Snyder; meditation time in the zendo; spirited and friendly discussion in the Friday Night Zen group, which caters to younger practitioners. Members are called to practice by the striking of the han, adorned with a classic Zen reminder. SHAMBHALA SUN jANUAry 2015 38