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NSW Regional Meeting - Reflections On the Australian Quaker Centre (R Walpole)

Comments on AQC documents and AQC in general.

 

Robin Walpole: Wahroonga Meeting

 

I may or may not make the NSW RM discussion of the AQC. I am booked to fly out to Egypt/Sudan on 29 May for work purposes. This may slip back a week.

 

I have read all the documents on the AQC website.

 

Remember – I am a civil engineer by training – and apart from my expertise in railways, have been the equivalent of the Shire Engineer - and tend to have a "practical” bend to life that I may result in me see things in a different light to many Friends.

 

Impressions:

  • The documents were not easy to find. (And I use a computer on a day to day basis at work – and have been using computers for 40 years.)
  • There is less detail than I had expected.
  • Tells me in reasonable detail what is going to happen at the AQC this coming year - and the general direction.
  • At a personal level – I do have the time – and I do have the finances to attend AQC. However nothing particularly grabs me – Speaks to My Needs. There is only one or perhaps two items that may on reflection be of some interest if I was to feel the need/obligation to support AQC.
  • The support documents give a lot of the positive that some Friends feel about the AQC issue – and particularly about the current venue at "Silver Wattle”. They acknowledge that there are some Friends who have considerable reservations. They do not particularly address the reservations that were expressed by a considerable number of Friends both inside and outside sessions in YM.
  • Perhaps I am mistaken – but in setting up various aspects of the AQC I have a feeling that some Friends are misinterpreting the Testimony on Simplicity and sliding towards Austerity, a need for personal Guilt or even Self-flagellation.
  • The support documents don’t help me a great deal in making a decision to endorse the purchase of Silver Wattle.
    • I am happy with the idea of AQC being a separate legal identity to YM.
    • I am happy with the acknowledgement that AQC cannot be viable if it does not address a broader community than just Australia YM.
    • I do not see any real detail discussion as to what is realistic to expect of this broader community – more specifically who they are and any detail as to what extent and form it may consist of.
    • I am still having problems seeing the financial detail of the viability of Silver Wattle.
      • Particularly the origin of the $2m that will need to be acquired.
      • I note that the implied preferred funding option of an external benefactor spoken about at YM is now absent.
      • I note that the stated intention at YM of not using or expecting funding from the sale of "The Sanctuary” is also now absent.
      • The most viable funding option canvassed seems to be for 200 Friends to donate an average of $10,000 each. This is not explored in any detail.
      • As a former LM treasurer – I would like to hear the opinions of LM, RM and YM treasurers on the viability of this matter.
      • From a personal point of view – Julie and I as a couple (as in 2 Friends) may be persuaded to contribute $10,000 – it is in the realms of possibility. I am not sure that we can find 200 individual Friends – or 400 couples - in similar or better financial positions.
      • Again from the personal point of view – the money that we might put into Silver Wattle – will not therefore go into something else. We may not be able to be as generous with ??????
      • We all need to understand that there is an "opportunity cost” - $2m invested in a suitable trust account can be expected to generate say 10% - or $200,000 per year. That is the magnitude of funds that Friends would have had available to go into other "Concerns” – that we are now proposing to devote to AQC.

 

 

Julie, Emily and I visited Silver Wattle briefly in the week after Easter – on our way home from Easter at Charlottes Pass.

Again impressions:

  • General ambience – good – but not exceptional. And we were probably seeing it at its best. The place has had good rainfall – there is even water in the lake.
  • Isolation – perhaps a reasonable balance between a need for spiritual isolation ambience and to not be too remote.
  • Buildings – reasonable.
    • Going to be difficult to heat in winter.
    • Fully support the documentation on level of "deferred maintenance” in the AQC proposals. I am not sure that this follows thru to the general document and the implications seem to be overridden by the enthusiasm.
  • Size – about right.
  • Grounds – a fairly typically degraded farm. Again – I support the documentation on level of derogation set out in the AQC proposal documents.

 

 

I think the real problem I am having is – that the overview is there – I can’t see the detail – and from my discussions and reading of the documents, I am not confident that the detail has yet been fully thought thru.

 

I suppose I don’t share the enthusiasm and drive that the proposal seems to instil into some Friends.

 

 

Robin Walpole

14 May 2010

 

 

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