FMW Renovation Discernment
as Documented in the Washington Friends Newsletter
35. October 2006, p. 4 - September 2006 Meeting for Worship with a Concern for Business: Proposal to Fund Financial Feasibility Study for Building Renovations: Planning for interviews by Freeman Associates regarding fiscal responsibility
40. April 2007, p. 3 - Meeting for Worship with a Concern for Business, March 11, 2007: Trustees Report of Financial Feasibility Study: Three priorities noted: accessibility, flooding, “greening”. The future of Quaker House is seen as open. Property Cmte approved to explore short term fixes for accessibility, drainage
42. June 2007, pp. 3-4 - Meeting for Worship with a Concern for Business, May 13, 2007: Threshing sessions planned for June, task force established to clarify relationship of FMW and School for Friends
46. November 2007, p. 4 - Meeting for Worship with a Concern for Business, October 14, 2007: Meeting House Renovations: Reinvigorate the Planning Committee to address issues of accessibility, “greening”
47. December 2007, p. 3 - Meeting for Worship with a Concern for Business, November 11, 2007: Planning Committee: Four improvements that can be done now, assumes future “large scale renovation”. Interactions between Planning and Property Committees
50. January 2008, attachment - Report of the Task Force on the Relationship between Friends Meeting of Washington and School for Friends, 9 December 2007 (Informed and Slightly Revised following Meeting for Business)
53. March 2008, pp. 6-7 - Proposal from the FMW Trustees: Planning Committee – Reorganized to Pursue Answers to Technical Building Renovation Issues and to Draw Threads of Searching within the Meeting to Consensus on a Renovation Plan.
70. October 2008, pp. 3-4 - Meeting for Worship with Concern for Business, September 14, 2008: Progress in Identification and Recommendation of an Architect for Universal Access and Other Renovations of FMW Buildings
FMW Renovation Discernment
as Documented in the Washington Friends Newsletter
[W]e are concerned that the planning that has already been done…not be forgotten or simply repeated some time in the future by those who may forget the work that has already been carried out.
—Faith, Facilities and Financial Realities Task Force Final Report (November 2003, p. 9)
The Property Committee met this month with the Trustees and the Finance and Stewardship Committee. As the three committees that most affect the property holdings of the Meeting, we are seeking together a way to refurbish our property holdings. Our meeting has been fortunate enough to inherit the use of an historic property. However, the upkeep of that property is exceeding our monetary intake. The giving of the Meeting community is always outpaced by the amount of repairs needed on the Meeting House and Quaker House. Floods, mechanical failures and ravages of weather abound, and the Property Committee always has to go to Trustees to ask for more money to cover expenses. Trustees must then turn to the bequests and funds to find the necessary cash.
The looming outcome seems to be that in ten years the Meeting could find itself out of cash and holding two dilapidated buildings. To try to ward off this specter, the Trustees, the Property Committee and the Finance and Stewardship Committee are jointly working to find a solution.
The largest concerns are:
I) the Meeting’s aging buildings are constantly in need of repair. These repairs are made more expensive by the age of the buildings. The walls harbor 70-year old wiring and plumbing. We need something safer and more efficient. We need to be brought up to code.
2) making the buildings handicapped accessible would be a major undertaking, requiring the skills of a professional architectural firm, before hiring contractors.
3) the interior layouts of the Meeting House and Quaker House have evolved slowly over the past 60 - 70 years. We now have spaces that can hardly be accessed, other places that are too cramped, and rooms with wasted space. How can all this space be reconfigured to suit the needs of the Meeting? Again this question requires the skills of a professional architectural firm.
The Property Committee’s immediate goals are:
I) in order to assess and coordinate the continuous maintenance needs of the Meeting property, the Committee will try to procure the services of a property maintenance firm. This firm will be expected to organize the property maintenance needs into a schedule. We also expect such a firm to expedite the search for competent repair workers when things break, and to help supervise the workers on site.
2) to meet again with the Finance and Stewardship Committee and Trustees in January. Some Friends will meet in the meantime to work on an agenda.
The Clerk described the December joint meeting of Property, and Finance and Stewardship Committees and the Board of Trustees during which they shared the growing concern about the long-term financial health of the Friends Meeting of Washington. Of particular concern was the Meeting’s motivation to maintain the physical facilities only when the conditions became dire.
A proposal was made to establish a small steering committee, which will coordinate task forces to deal with specific questions, and will hold ‘listening” meetings called around specific issues. The steering committee will present a final report to the Meeting for Business that consolidates the needs and desires of the Meeting and the financial implications, and will recommend a course of action for the Meeting. The task forces and the steering committee must actively solicit ideas and reactions from all who wish to be heard. The entire process must be transparent and open, with many opportunities for individuals to be heard. The Clerk has been asked to appoint people with a leading and passion for this effort to the steering committee during the month of January 2002. The Clerk is soliciting self- nominations and recommendations for individuals to serve on the steering committee.
Friends were asked to consider this proposal in silent worship. A Friend speaking out of the silence noted that as this Meeting was her spiritual home, and its spiritual resources were so essential, she felt led to participate in this effort.
The Faith, Facilities, and Financial Realities steering committee has been formed with the following members: Grant P. Thompson (convener), Emma Churchman, Hank Drennon, Nancy Beiter, and Linda Mahler. They will report back to the Meeting for Business in September 2002. Grant Thompson gave highlights of a brief history of the Meeting’s facilities and finances, some of the issues that led to the idea of the steering committee and task forces, and the overall goals of these groups. Nancy Beiter also posed some of the faith-related questions that the steering committee and task forces will be considering.
The Faith, Facilities, and Financial Realities (FFFR) steering committee requested worship sharing about some concerns that have been expressed regarding access to the names of members who have made financial contributions to the Meeting.
Nancy Beiter described how the FFFFR steering committee wants to staff each of its task forces with at least one or two active members of the Meeting, and feel that they could identify some of the active members using a list of members of the Meeting and a list of members who have contributed to the Meeting. The steering committee will also identify active members using a list of members of other committees.
The tradition at this Meeting has been to maintain absolute confidentiality of information about who contributes and the amounts of the contributions. The FFFR steering committee asked that they, solely the five members of the steering committee, be given access to the list of contributing members. The list of contributing members would also inform the steering committee about who has a vested interest in the Meeting’s faith, facilities, and financial realities, and who might want to participate in the task forces.
During worship sharing one Friend expressed the feeling that Friends cannot and must not buy importance in the Meeting through financial contributions, but through how they reflect their faith and beliefs through their actions. A Friend noted that the Meeting relies a great deal on endowments for its funding, and that it is not good to rely so heavily on endowments. It is important that senior leadership at the Meeting have access to other sources of funding to better support the Meeting’s facilities and other financial responsibilities. Nancy Beiter clarified that the FFFR steering committee is not asking for the amounts of contributions at this time; they only want a list of names.
Another Friend observed that the list of members is public information within the Meeting, and that it should not be an issue to simply provide this information to the FFFR steering committee in electronic form. Friends APPROVED the release of the list of members to the steering committee.
A Friend asked that the issue of releasing the list of contributing members be held over for one month so that Friends not present at this Meeting for Business may consider this issue as well. Another Friend felt that releasing the list of contributing members was a small request to approve, and that because Faith, Facilities, and Financial Realities was listed on the agenda for today’s Meeting for Business and interested Friends had the opportunity to attend, Friends should be able to approve this request today. Nancy Beiter and Grant P. Thompson stated that as the FFFR steering committee more fully realizes the scope of their task, they do not expect to be able to complete their task by September, as originally planned.
The issue of releasing the list of contributing members will be held over for one month. The Clerk requested that Friends make an effort to discuss the issue with other members, so that resolution can be reached quickly at the next Meeting for Business.
The Clerk paraphrased the minutes from last month’s Meeting for Business regarding the request of the Faith, Facilities, and Financial Realities (FFFR) steering committee for access to the list of contributing members (3/02-3). Although Friends approved releasing the electronic list of all members to the FFFR steering committee, the issue of releasing the list of contributing members was held over for one month, to allow time for discussion with Friends not present at the Meeting for Business.
The Clerk proposed worship sharing to consider the request. Several Friends spoke out of the silence. One Friend spoke of his concern about being aware of the needs of Friends who are unable to contribute financially. Another Friend stated that she felt the secrecy of money and contributions to the Meeting was not necessary, and that money was simply a tool, not something to keep secret. A Friend noted that for some Friends this is an issue of privacy more than an issue of money. The Friend also reminded the Meeting that the request was for a single use by a single small group, and approving the request for this specific situation did not require a policy change. Another Friend observed that we gather as a community and in a community, not in privacy. A Friend noted that FFFR is asking for lists of Friends who have “shown up” for the Meeting, by participating on committees, contributing to the Meeting financially or in other ways.
Friends APPROVED the release of the list of contributing members to the FFFR steering committee.
The Clerk proposed a worship sharing to consider what Friends want our Meeting to be, and the resources that the Meeting will need to achieve those wishes. Several Friends spoke out of the silence.
Among the thoughts expressed were:
Considering the concept of stewardship, to guide and direct Friends Meeting of Washington. Discussions about how stewardship can be handled by a few people, rather than more of the Meeting community. Feel that we need to think of ways how we, as a community, might participate in stewardship of FMW.
Stewardship and the few versus the many. An anonymous donation made it possible to refresh the paint on walls and ceilings, but they’re starting to peel again. Our facilities hold hidden shabbiness and deterioration, and many of our facilities are not accessible to disabled people. Stewardship needs to come from the many; the few cannot address everything.
Another Meeting in Connecticut now has its own Meetinghouse, after many years of meeting in borrowed facilities. It is a simple facility that nevertheless has what the Meeting needs. This gives rise to thoughts of how fortunate FMW is to own our own Meetinghouse. However, we should not allow ourselves to be wedded to our possessions. There is value in having a Meetinghouse in the middle of the city, where it’s more likely to be found by many people; hope that we won’t lose this value.
Our self-identity is based in part on how others react to us. Same holds true for an organization. Have found that we are perceived to be open people, active with social concerns, but are not known as a spiritual prayer group. Feel that this city needs a center for spirituality. How might this facility be better used to enrich the spiritual lives of people, not necessarily just Friends? Perhaps we could even hire additional staff to make this a place where one can come to better know oneself and to know God.
Mormons are building a large temple in a small town where they were driven out in the past. While looking at plans and photographs, noted that Mormons are making a physical statement about who they are in the world. Reminded of how bricks and mortar can make a statement. The Faith, Facilities, and Financial Realities Task Force and FMW need to keep in mind what our buildings say about us, how we use them, and how those buildings fill a real need.
Affirming in court versus swearing in court reflects our belief that our word is our bond, no oaths are necessary. Hope that we are bringing that into our lives as members of FMW.
Trying to make the Queries more a part of daily life. Plan to share  them with others because they offer a guide to how to lead a life.
Hearing many positive ideas for going forward, regarding the 3Fs Task Force. Direct expenses for programs are about 5% of budget. If a non-profit is asking a foundation for contributions, the foundation expects the non-profit to have a maximum overhead of 25%. Challenge the committees to present goals and budgets that more truly reflect our mission.
The now-famous 3F Committee is beginning to meet with all the individual committees in the Meeting. As you remember, the 3Fs are for Faith, Finances and Facilities. This committee is charged by the consensus of the Property Committee, the Finance and Stewardship Committee and the Trustees, with a mission. Their goal is to explore FMW’s sense of purpose in regards to the facilities and finances of the Meeting. They will be exploring questions about how the members of the Meeting feel that the state of the Meeting’s facilities and finances affect their faith life in the FMW community. This 3F process will examine queries related to topics such as: the availability of handicapped access to FMW buildings, the state of the Meeting’s finances, and how the finances and facilities of FMW either detract from or add to our faith experience. We will hear more about this committee as the summer progresses, especially since it will report to a combined session of the Property Committee, the Finance and Stewardship Committee and the Trustees next Sunday.
I. REAL ESTATE TRANSACTIONS:
1925 Quaker House built
1930 MEETING HOUSE BUILT for $ out of stone quarried in Pennsylvania; Mary Vaux Walcott raised the funds for the purchase of the land and Lucy Wilbur Foster of Westerly, Rhode Island pledged the money to build the meetinghouse.
1931 Quaker House carriage house (now School for Friends) built.
1945 Bequest of a 10-unit apartment building at 1808 Kalorama Road,NW.
1946 A committee was approved to address ”the urgent need for additional space for the First Day School.”
1947 Area Quakers convene “to consider the problems of additional space, a Friends’ Center & related needs.”
1947 $10,000 spent for repairs, upgrades and equipment to Meeting House.
1948 Holton Arms School (now Church of Scientology) on Phelps Place exchanges their space on weekends for our First Day School classes for space at the Meeting during the week for their classes.
1948 Kalorama apartment building sold for $23,500; funds placed in Building Fund
1948 $40,000 approved for an addition to the north end of the Meeting House.
1949 Meeting explores the purchase of a building at 2113 S Street, NW
1949 FMW & AFSC study properties owned in the area in relation to present space needs
1949 $52,000 approved for an addition to the north end of the Meeting House, $30,000 already in hand.
1950 The State of Meeting refers to the “difficulties resulting from inadequate space.”
1951 ADDITION (Decatur Place & Terrace Rooms, Library, 2nd floor bathrooms, 3rd floor) built to south end for $68,361; funding received from a bank loan of $28,000 at 4% for 10 years; a promissory note for $3,000 for 20 years to Alexandria Monthly Meeting; and pledges of $26,401 with all costs covered except $5,111; First Day School (comprised of 150 students) relocated to Sidwell Friends during construction.
1951 FMW participates in purchase of building at 104 C Street, NW for AFSC & FCNL.
I 95 I Area Friends purchase a 4-story structure at 1410 16th Street, NW as office space “for the Friends House Project” (a previous structure was purchased in Takoma Park but burned down before use).
1952 Facilities being used “to the limit;” two meetings for worship suggested, one at 10:00 & one at 11:00 ~ establish smaller meetings in the suburbs.
1953 Appeal for $1000 in budget for interior painting, especially the Meeting Room which had not been painted since 1930.
1956 Wheel chair ramp installed at north end of Meeting House.
1960s Need for additional space resulting from Anti-Vietnam War protest activity.
1965 Area Friends create Friends Non-profit Housing Corporation
1966 Two-story annex eastward on Decatur Place mainly for First Day School considered but abandoned because of high cost $66,000; fire escape to 3rd floor considered but dismissed as well.
1966 William Penn House at 515 East Capitol Street is purchased for $65,000.
1967 “The Friends House Project” opens as Sandy Spring Friends Home.
1968 Space rented on S Street for First Day Classes; 120 pupils with 29 teachers & aid[e]s.
1970 QUAK.ER HOUSE PURCHASED for $120,000 ($40,000 at settlement and 15 year mortgage at 8% for balance); pledge goal of $60,000; loans & grants from FCC & FUM approved; property was called the Washington Friends Center “to provide a locus for Friends’ witness and for Friends concerns.”
1971 Friends Non-profit Housing Corporation opens Friendly Gardens, a 84-unit subsidized housing complex in Silver Spring.
1972 RENOVATIONS TO MEETING HOUSE (side entrance to Assembly Room; new entrance to bathrooms, small office next to front door, upstairs fire door)
The 3F (Faith, Facilities and Financial Realities) Task Force held a joint meeting with Trustees, the Property Committee and the Finance and Stewardship Committee. You will remember that the 3F Task Force was commissioned jointly by these three committees. They reported on their progress in exploring questions about how the members of the Meeting feel that the state of the Meeting’s facilities and finances affect their faith life in the FMW community. Lately they have been focusing on the life of the Committees at FMW. They have been meeting with the Committees to find out: where they meet, when they meet, where they get their agenda, what is their greatest frustration and who makes up their membership. This work is nearly complete, and their next area of focus will be meeting with the neighbors of FMW, to see how FMW is perceived by the nearby community and what FMW might do to become part of the solution to their problems, not part of their problems.
Grant Thompson, Clerk of the Faith, Facilities, and Financial Realities Steering Committee, presented an interim report. The report has several parts; he called Friends’ attention particularly to the last (on yellow paper) in the hopes it would prompt further comments from Friends to the FFF committee. He emphasized the role of the FFF committee as a catalyst, working cooperatively with standing committees and actively listening, in the hope of igniting committees’ dreams and visions and renewing faith and possibility for change for the Meeting. One aspect of work with committees is the new “committee buddy system” to be adopted by the Finance and Stewardship Committee in working with other committees on budget preparation. It was noted that the yellow wish-list will be posted and the listening project will continue. Following this project, the FFF committee expects to make recommendations for a community/capital campaign phased to link with the February initiation of the annual budget cycle.
Grant Thompson, clerk of the Task Force, presented an interim report at Meeting for Worship with a Concern for Business on Sunday, September 8, 200. The Task Force has met frequently and worked hard. Leadership has been shared among its members.
The 3F Task Force began its work with three assumptions that proved to be erroneous: Quakers are embarrassed to talk about money because money raises issues of power; Quakers are not interested in supporting our meeting financially, and, the Meeting has only little dreams and hopes about our place in DC and in the world.
The truth is that:
1) Members and attenders have a great love of the Meeting and a feeling of being at home here.
2) We respond generously to need with money when called upon.
3) We want our buildings and the money we give to be used for spiritual work and peace witness. The reason many people don’t give is that they have never been asked or have been asked in a routine manner.
The 3F Task Force has been engaged in a “listening project.” Everyone in the Meeting has been invited and encouraged to share the truth about FMW. One insight that emerged from thIs work is that the standing committees could be doing much more in the community if funds, facilities and energy were available. The Finance and Stewardship Committee (F & S) is responding by forming a partnership with each of the standing committees. The F & S “buddy” to each committee will support the members to do imaginative work and advocate for the committee to receive increased funding. This process will transform who we are as a Meeting and renew our faith in our capacity for change. It will serve to ignite large hopes and dreams for our meeting and will nurture spiritual work. The buddy system will be in place in time for the standing committees to increase their budget requests for fiscal year 2002-2003. As that process is completed, the Meeting will be ready to turn its attention to a capital campaign.
The 3F Task Force will continue to listen. Discussions will continue between now and February or March of 2003 when the 3F Task Force gives its next report to the Meeting. A list of ideas gathered from Friends associated with the Meeting is included here. It is meant to encourage further thinking and dialogue among us and to give you an idea of the breadth and depth of the discussions that have taken place so far. A complete copy of 3F’s Interim Report is available.
Here are many different wishes from far and wide (yet there are lots more):
The following are ideas we gathered from Friends associated with FMW as we talked individually and in groups seeking answers to the questions about what attracted people to come to FMW and what kept them as a part of the Meeting community.
This list is intended to jog your mind and to give you some idea of the wide range of ideas, hopes, and dreams that members of our community have. We will continue to add to this list but we need everyone who reads it to treat it actively, adding new ideas, commenting on existing ones, and thinking about whom within the Meeting might be particularly interested in taking up an idea or two and making it his/her own. Please comment on these or add your recommendations at the bottom or speak directly to a Task Force member: Nancy Beiter, Emma Churchman, Stoph Hallward, Linda Mahler or Grant Thompson.
- Empower Committees and programs to represent a greater portion of FM W’s Budget
- Grow our operating budget to accommodate growing programmatic needs
- Increase opportunities for people to give to FMW:
> Planned Giving
> Grant research/proposals
Empower F&S to pursue Stewardship
- Raise the priority of FMW in the personal philanthropic giving of our members and attenders
- Prepare for a community (capital) campaign
- Build trust that monies will be well spent
Buildings and Grounds
- Make FMW buildings ACCESSIBLE to wheelchair users and others with special needs
- Keep Quaker House
- Renovate both buildings to make all space useful
- Keep up with repairs so we don’t have an enormous deferred maintenance problem as we recently faced.
- All work done to buildings & grounds should be performed to high quality for longevity and durability; poorly done work costs more in the end
- Update the map of rooms in the Meeting House and post it
- Post a description of/history of each room in Meeting House! Quaker House
- Hire property manager to oversee building improvements and maintenance
- Schedule regular tours of buildings and garden with Meeting members and create self-guided tour brochures
- Provide a place for Friends’ ashes to be buried in the garden
- Ask participants from Inquirers Class to join Committees
- Have committee fairs to let people know what is going on and how they can participate (September 29, 2002) revisit annually
- Support the work of Barbara Nnoka’s task force
- Remind members of responsibility to participate fully in the work of committees
- Rehang bulletin board over bench in Lobby for postings from committees and Quaker organizations
- Hang a second bulletin board accessible to all
- Create list-serves for each of the standing committees and also for special projects – Friends can sign up based on interest
- Further develop and keep dynamic and current the website for FMW
First Day School
- Develop and expand First Day School to welcome more families to attend FMW
- Review and revise a curriculum/structure as appropriate
- Support the active recruiting of the Religious Education Committee for teachers and volunteers
Meeting for Worship with Concern for Business
- Move September Meeting for Worship with Concern for Business to third Sunday, to account for missing - committee meetings during Labor Day weekend
- Learn from best practices of BYM’s Meeting for Worship with Concern for Business
- Nurture spiritual atmosphere of Meeting for Worship with Concern for Business
- Encourage current members to welcome new attenders and get them connected to others in the Meeting
- Encourage more members to wear name tags and have them professionally printed
- Create personal history accounts of Meeting members and publish one monthly in FMW Newsletter as well as keeping in a growing reference binder
- Encourage and welcome attenders to begin to seek membership as they feel led
- Reinstate Advancement and Outreach Committee
- Hire Outreach Coordinator to nurture Committees and relations with event space renters/ neighbors/ Quaker organizations / tenants/ webmaster
- Engage other Quaker communities and organizations more effectively and consistently
- Create more of a connection to Baltimore Yearly Meeting
- Proactively nurture Friendship Preparative Meeting (at Sidwell Friends School)
Religious Society of Friends
- Help visitors understand that FMW is part of a larger global Religious Society of Friends by referencing as such on First Day and other announcements
- Acknowledge FMW’ s unique role within the Religious Society of Friends because of its location in the nation’s capital
- Teach good giving practices to our young people to encourage Stewardship
- Start talking about money as it relates to sustaining FMW
- STEWARDSHIP IS A SPIRITUAL PRACTICE
- Send handwritten notes to all visitors who sign guest book
- Quaker in the Corner - reinstate the practice of a Friend standing in the corner at Rise of Meeting to answer questions about Quakerism and FMW
- Host regular Orientation Sessions for visitors and attenders new to Quakerism and provide tours of FMW
- Provide a location for worship at FMW that is open 24 hours a day/7 days a week
Ideas without Category
- Develop a Center for Spirituality that provides a space for classes and training in spirituality
- Increase our knowledge and awareness of the vast number of peace activities and connect more with the peace churches of the world
- Encourage greater participation at Baltimore Yearly Meeting and other Quaker conferences
- Do you remember the first person you connected with at FMW?
The Faith, Facilities, and Financial Realities Steering Committee presented an executive summary of the conclusions drawn after 18 months of listening to Friends and others in the Meeting’s community.
After a period of silence, Friends asked about the size of the capital campaign (unknown right now), the estimates to implement the accessibility suggestions, and the recommendation to sell Quaker House to the School for Friends, and questioned the priority of hiring additional staff to work on outreach for the Meeting.
Friends commented that they would like to see security items, such as lighting, added to the accessibility and usage priorities, and that they would also like to see improved acoustics added to the accessibility and usage priorities. Friends would like to see a process where we consider alternatives for what might be designed. Friends noted the importance of distinguishing between what we might like to have, and what we really need, and that this is an opportunity for us to really own our facilities as a community, and not just as a small group of major contributors. One Friend commented that he was disappointed that after one and a half years there are only general and vague recommendations about accessibility, and would have preferred to see more specific proposals.
The report will be included in the next newsletter for consideration. The recommendations will be laid over until the next Meeting for Business, when Friends can bring seasoned questions about the report. The Clerk requested guidance on how the Meeting should move forward with such a major item. Grant Thompson also mentioned that the Steering Committee welcomes calls and emails about the report.
After 18 months of listening to members of the Friends Meeting of Washington community and to those affected by the wider reach of the Meeting’s influence, the five members of the Faith, Facilities, and Financial Realities (3F) Task Force have reached what we believe is a faith-driven sense of the Meeting as to what steps we should take to work toward providing our community with a secure future.
Over the course of carrying out the Task Force’s work, we had the opportunity to talk with dozens of different individuals and groups. That experience provided us with a rich texture of ideas and opinions that would be difficult to summarize in any one written document. Therefore, we present this report in order to emphasize what we believe are the essential steps to begin implementing the goals that Friends seem to agree should be our top priorities. We also provide suggestions on how to finance these goals, although we are very aware that specific details will have to be worked out by other task forces and standing committees. Finally, we acknowledge and celebrate the remarkable spirit we found in our community, the love we all have for our Meeting, and the confidence we feel in our future. It is our hope and expectation that individual members of the Task Force will play important roles in implementing the ideas contained in this report, thus ensuring that the many rich subtleties we gathered during our work will not be lost.
I. Our Facilities
THE MEETING HOUSE
Universal Design. We asked Friends how we currently are using the Meeting House and how we would like to see it changed in the future. The most frequently suggested change was the need to make our Meeting House accessible to all, especially to those in wheelchairs and to those who suffer from physical limitations of any kind, either permanent or temporary. All of us have seen Friends struggling to get into the Meeting Room and the Assembly Room as well as into the smaller rooms in the Meeting House. Removing these barriers is a top priority. We learned that the term “Universal Design” is used by leaders in the field of building design to describe plans that make space usable by everyone; a space that is wheelchair accessible is usable by everyone; thus the design is “universal.’ Friends are demanding that our space conform to universal design principles.
Creating a Welcoming Facility for a Variety of Uses. The uses we wish to make of the Meeting House include space - both spiritual and physical - for worship, space for committee work, space for other activities of the Meeting (such as religious education for young and old alike), space for staff, space that can be used by the wider Quaker world and by rental groups, and space for outreach activities. To promote these uses, our facilities must be warm, inviting, and safe. We should not be afraid to allow Quaker groups, young and old, to use the Meeting House. While we certainly want to preserve the historic character of the building, we do not want to think of the facility as fragile. We wish to reach out to our community members, our neighbors, and to other Quakers to become, again, a major Quaker presence in Washington, D.C. and a haven of peace.
Recommendation: We recommend that Friends Meeting of Washington affirm as a communal goal that the physical facilities of the Meeting should be used actively to the greatest extent possible. The philosophy of the Meeting, when faced with a request to use its space for an activity that is consistent with Quaker values, should be to welcome and facilitate that use, rather than to raise barriers, subtle or overt, to use.
Remodeling to Achieve Increased Accessibility and Flexibility. To achieve these goals, we need to do a major remodeling of the Meeting House. We need to add an elevator to the first and second floors and possibly to the third floor. We need to modify the entrances to the House and to its gardens to better accommodate wheelchair users and other people with mobility impairments. We need to update all the areas of the Meeting House that have been neglected over the years as identified by the Property Committee. We need to determine if the space as currently divided is being used optimally or if rooms could be configured differently to promote friendlier, more efficient use. We need to see if our storage needs are being properly met. We need to determine if our staff has adequate space and tools to perform their jobs efficiently.
Recommendation: We recommend that a task force be appointed to identify among the Meeting’s members, attenders or friends a person or firm with expertise to come up with a design and an accurate cost estimate within the next twelve months that meets these specific goals while retaining the historical character of the Meeting House and the Meeting Room.
Original Intentions. We are aware that Quaker House was purchased originally by Friends who believed they were acquiring a bargain, a building that was in a state of slight disrepair, and who believed that the building could be easily updated and remodeled to be used as an outreach center. Quaker House has been put to many uses over the years, but it has never been adequately remodeled and has never fully achieved the goal of serving as a Quaker outreach center.
Current Realities. 3F believes that it would be too great a stretch of our Meeting’s current resources to remodel and try to keep up both Quaker House and the Meeting House. We are further mindful that School for Friends has increasing needs for space and that it has expressed interest in accepting responsibility for Quaker House.
We therefore recommend that Quaker House be sold to the School for Friends under terms that provide for joint lease of the connecting properties in the gardens, that adequate space be provided for FMW’s child care needs, and that space be provided for what we now know as our Quaker House Meeting for as long as those needs continue to exist. We are also mindful that School for Friends may not be able to attain this goal since acquiring valuable downtown property would be a difficult stretch for any nonprofit; we should also search for other interested persons who would be friendly to Quaker values. The sale of Quaker House could generate funds to add to our pitifully small endowment that serves now as our only source of funds dedicated to keeping maintenance current rather than letting our property deteriorate.
Recommendation: We recommend that a task force be appointed to make a formal approach to School for Friends and/or other interested groups for the sale of Quaker House, that an appraisal be made to determine the market value of the property as is, and that the task force work closely with School for Friends or other interested groups to determine what kind of transfer and joint use arrangement might meet the needs of both organizations.
Over the years, the Garden Committee has undertaken careful reviews of the garden and made concrete recommendations concerning design, planting, and “hardscape” in order to make the Meeting’s gardens not only more useful for activities (for example, weddings and summertime post-Meeting gatherings) but also accessible to all members of the community. 3F did not feel it necessary to revisit or redo the valuable work done by the Garden Committee, but we are concerned that the planning that has already been done does not be forgotten or simply repeated some time in the future by those who may forget the work that has already been carried out.
Recommendation: We recommend that the Garden Committee’s plans be reviewed and that the costs of carrying out those recommendations be included in the goals of the future capital campaign.
II. Our Financial Realities
FINANCING THE CHANGES
Annual Giving. The value to the giver of giving is the increased sense of ownership and community that the giver receives. Every member and attender needs to recognize that we must take care of our spiritual home before we can take care of others and that to be strong for them, we must be strong ourselves. We commend the Meeting, the Finance and Stewardship Committee and all the members and attenders who have made our annual giving to the Meeting easier. We applaud the decision to permit carefully controlled access to individual giving records in order to increase participation and to encourage higher levels of financial support from all members and attenders.
Recommendation: We encourage and support efforts to make our fund-raising for annual support of the Meeting more effective and efficient. We encourage the expenditure of funds to acquire and put in place a modem software system that will facilitate accurate recording of contributions, together with other information designed to help the Meeting better understand our donors and what motivates them to contribute.
Planned Giving. The Meeting has benefitted over the years from the generosity of Friends and others who have remembered our community in their wills; the so-called Ross Bequest is one outstanding example of such generosity. From time to time, we continue to receive gifts that help support us (and frequently provide substantial tax advantages to the donors). However, there has never been any sustained, well-publicized program to acquaint Friends with opportunities for giving in this fashion and to encourage such giving. Many other organizations have recognized that, according to experts, over the next several decades there will occur what has been called “the greatest inter-generational transfer of wealth in the history of humanity.” To be sure, Friends Fiduciary Corporation provides assistance to any person seeking to leave money to the Meeting; but Friends Meeting of Washington has failed to be active in encouraging these gifts. For too long, we have thought that asking for such gifts would be somehow unFriendly or cause either donors or recipients to think about their own mortality.
Recommendation: We recommend that one of the standing committees of the Meeting - either Finance and Stewardship Committee or Trustees would be logical choices - be directed to develop a sustained and lively program to educate Friends and attenders about various planned giving opportunities and to provide assistance to anyone seeking to establish such a gift. The outreach effort should be consistent with our values but ought not be timid or apologetic.
Capital Campaign. Any person looking at our facilities will understand that the annual upkeep of such a large, historic property is a challenge. But as one considers the many major expenditures required to improve the building and to make possible the realization of our hopes and dreams, it is clear that the community must undertake a different type of fundraising. 3F toured the facilities and examined the meticulous list of needed improvements and upgrades that have been assembled by the Property Committee and the Administrative Secretary. Among these needs: our electrical system is stretched beyond its capacity; fire escapes do not exist; there is no sprinkler system in the building; and plumbing is antiquated. In addition to these many items that reflect years of deferred maintenance, the expenditures that will be required to make the facilities accessible are well beyond the reach of any annual giving drive. Once the plans for our two buildings are in place, we recommend that a capital campaign be instituted to finance our dreams. At that point we would have a clear vision of our future, complete with drawings and models. Our dreams would be more tangible and our path clearer. The tough decisions would be made, and raising money would be easier.
Recommendation: We recommend the formation of a task force to develop realistic goals for a capital fund drive stretching over several years, designed to raise funds needed to bring the Meeting’s properties up to modern safety standards, to finance remodeling expenditures, and to add to an endowment to support the physical facilities of the Meeting now and in the future.
We are convinced that our community will benefit from knowing that our Meeting is financially strong. The relief from financial pressures will be an opening for renewed spiritual strength as well. Just as we strive to let our lives speak, so too should our facilities speak. Today they fail to welcome those who are denied access; in the future, they must speak of a community that is warm, safe and welcoming to everyone regardless of physical ability. In that way, our buildings will reinforce our faith, enabling the Meeting to do the work we need to do to make peace in the wider world.
III. Our Place In the Community
Friends Meeting of Washington has never simply been “just another Quaker meeting.” From the beginning, it was built expressly because it was located in the nation’s capital and it served to bring together two branches of our faith that had drifted apart during the nineteenth century. Although the metropolitan area is richly favored by a number of Quaker meetings and Quaker institutions, our Meeting is the only Meeting House located downtown. As such, it serves as the natural place for traveling Friends to visit and as the most visible Quaker presence in the capital to those who might look to our community to embody historic Quaker concerns of peace and social justice. For example, our Inquirers’ Classes, held three times a year, attract 20 to 25 people per session; this is one measure of our potential. Finally, the Meeting House is located in an area that is rich with individuals and non-profit organizations whose work is consistent with our beliefs.
For all of these reasons, our facilities represent an enormous opportunity for creating a Quaker presence in this capital city. To some extent we have served those purposes - the AIDS Coffee House and the Senior Center come to mind as examples. But 3F believes that we miss hundreds of opportunities each year to be of service to our faith.
Time and again, individuals approach us, but we are unable to respond because we understand the burden on our already over-stretched staff. More poignantly, Meeting members frequently generate ideas for worthwhile programs, but are unable to find the time to do the legwork necessary to translate idea to reality.
Recommendation: We recommend that a small task force (or perhaps Personnel Committee) be convened to draw up a job description for a new position or positions within Friends Meeting of Washington whose function would be to ensure that all of the Meeting’s resources (including its buildings and our members and attenders) are made available to carry out projects and programs consistent with Friends Meeting of Washington’s location as the Quaker Meeting in the nation’s capital. In developing the job description, the task force should be mindful to be clear that the task to be performed is coordinating and facilitating, rather than doing; members and attenders at Friends Meeting of Washington are responsible for carrying out the work of the Meeting and no new position should lead us to believe that our outreach work was being handled by a staff person. In many urban meetings, this outreach coordination function is handled by a volunteer or a small group of volunteers. If the task force concludes that for us a paid position is more appropriate, secure additional funds need to be raised annually before the position should be filled[.]
IV. Our Present and Our Future
We cannot close this report without making reference to the wonderful spirit we felt to be alive and optimistic for our Meeting. Even in these economically tough times, there was little doubt that with a strong commitment from our members and attenders we can and will achieve our goals in the foreseeable future. The good news is that a strong commitment is not something we have to build or wait for: It’s already here. We heard almost none of the traditional Quaker excuses for why we can’t raise money. We did not hear that Friends want to give their money to other Quaker organizations before they take care of their Meeting. We did not hear that Friends don’t need to do fundraising because God will provide for us at the time of need. If anything, we heard an impatience with the old excuses, a true understanding that money is a tool to be used to enhance our faith and support our work.
We thank all of you for your patience in waiting for this report and for the endless support, help, and conversation you have all given to us.
Membership of the Faith, Facilities, and Financial Realities Task Force: Nancy Beiter, Emma Churchman,
Stoph Hallward, Linda Mahler, Grant Phelps Thompson, Convener
The Clerk reminded Friends that the Faith, Facilities, and Financial Realities Steering Committee presented an executive summary of their report during the last Meeting for Business, and that the report was included in the October newsletter for consideration.
After a period of silence, Friends gave messages and asked questions of the Faith, Facilities, and Financial Realities Steering Committee (3Fs).
Among the messages was the query: Are we confident enough in ourselves and can we focus enough on ourselves as a Meeting to decide to spend the time and money to take on some of the recommendations in this report?
Several Friends agreed with most of the proposals in the report, except for transferring Quaker House. Friends gave many reasons for not wanting to transfer Quaker House to the School for Friends. A few Friends supported the possibility of transferring Quaker House.
The 3Fs acknowledged that the Quaker House discussion was the most difficult. People can remember when there used to be offices and First Day School classes on the third floors of Quaker House and the Meeting House, but after awhile Friends realized that these rooms were firetraps, and that we could not use the third floors for these purposes. We cannot just leave Quaker House alone and keep using it as we are now; there will be more rooms and more floors that will become unusable, even if we keep up with small repairs.
A Friend noted that his contributions have been in terms of time and effort, not money, and he was given to believe that this was okay. Suddenly he is hearing that we have to sell Quaker House to survive; there was no transition from one situation to the next. Another Friend was struck by how Friends who do not read the newsletters or budget reports may not realize the gravity of the Meeting’s budget problems and the deterioration of the physical plant. This Friend suggested that these issues be included in announcements every Sunday, or in other ways that can communicate the issues to more Friends.
A Friend asked what the other sources of income from Quaker House usage are. The answer was that the apartment could bring in a fair amount, but there’s not much hope to bring in much more income. Maybe with an outreach coordinator, we could produce more income for the Meeting, renting space to groups that cannot afford hotel conference rooms.
A Friend was troubled by some Friends’ comments that conveyed an unmoving position about transferring Quaker House, with no chance of compromise or changing their mind.
A Friend asked, what can I leave for this community? The Friend is struck by all the Quaker assets in Washington, DC that were left by past generations, and asked: What can our generation leave for future generations? The Friend suggested that this is what our community should consider.
After worship sharing, the Clerk noted that the report offers many ideas, directions and aspirations, some that need to be acted on quickly and others that will need an expeditious but thoughtful, open process, such as the proposed Quaker House transfer. The Clerk noted that we are first a spiritual community, and we need to follow good process to ensure that our decision-making process is as inclusive and informed as possible. The Clerk said that she had been talking with other Meetings in the area to find out how they have dealt with decisions of this magnitude.
The Clerk asked Friends to commend the report in its entirety to each committee, in anticipation of having it as a topic of conversation for an upcoming Committee of Clerks meeting. One Friend asked that we send the report to committees for threshing (for example), making it clear that none of the items have been agreed on. A Friend noted that we cannot take on all of these decisions at once, and that part of the discussion needs to decide which items need to be addressed earlier than others.
A Friend suggested that we convene threshing sessions to educate Friends about financial issues and to discuss the complete 3Fs report. Several Friends agreed that this would be useful, and one Friend agreed to convene two sessions. One Friend suggested that, although the items are interconnected, we discuss individual items separately.
The Clerk suggested that specific recommendations be referred to specific committees or clusters of committees, such as asking the House and Property Committees to discuss use of space, rather than creating new task forces right now. Some Friends wanted more discussion as a Meeting before sending specific items to specific committees.
Friends laid down the Faith, Facilities, and Financial Realities Steering Committee with much gratitude, and with the understanding that each of its members may have important roles to play in any task forces that emerge.
The report will be held over for one month, to be discussed again as a major item on the December agenda.
The Clerk gave a brief summary of the Faith, Facilities, and Financial Realities (3Fs) Steering Committee report and the discussion at last month’s Meeting for Business. The Clerk referred Friends to the minutes from the two threshing sessions that Hayden Wetzel convened on this topic. One conclusion was that we need more opportunity for knowledgeable people to answer questions and listen to ideas that are coming out of the threshing sessions. After silence, Friends gave messages and asked questions.
A member of the 3Fs Committee explained that the charge of the Committee was not to create a detailed blueprint for universal access. The charge was to be informed and caring listeners to the community of Friends, visitors, and neighbors, to help clarify Friends’ priorities for the Meeting, and to lay these priorities against current and future financial situations.
A Friend who has worked in historic preservation said that she saw feasible possibilities to make Quaker House the facility that is desired. Options for accomplishing this include taking advantage of the Historic Preservation Tax Credit, using the sweat equity of Friends, and entering into a co-ownership relationship with the School for Friends.
Friends made several proposals regarding looking outside the Meeting for donations and for prior experience with similar issues. The Clerk is in the process of contacting Meetings and other Quaker organizations. With the idea of reaching out to Friends outside of Friends Meeting of Washington, a Friend explained that Friends across the country contributed funds to build our Meeting House, which represented a coming-together after more than 100 years of division. Our Meeting House represents Quakers in America, being in the nation’s capital. Another Friend noted that many people are introduced to the Religious Society of Friends at Friends Meeting of Washington, but that they later move to suburban Meetings. The Friend also noted that Friends Meeting of Washington is still a national center for Quakers, and is a focus and resource during times of need.
There were several questions about getting more specific cost estimates for renovation and universal accessibility, and the level of giving that is needed to meet the costs. A Friend noted that these questions raise other questions, and we need to identify which questions to answer first. Another Friend said that the Meeting must understand that it will cost money to get some of these answers.
There were several increasingly specific proposals for starting to address some of the 3Fs Committee’s recommendations, and to clear up many people’s misunderstandings about the Meeting’s financial situation.
The Clerk proposed commending the topic to the new Committee of Clerks to elevate new, more detailed recommendations, to focus on spiritual stewardship, and to take back to their committees. Friends APPROVED this proposal. The report will be held over for one month, to be discussed again as a major item on the January agenda.
Friends convened in the Meeting Room at noon; 15 were present, including convener Hayden Wetzel. Hayden reported to Friends that Junior Meeting for Business had discussed these proposals at their meeting that day, and expressed concern that use of the garden playground would be lost; also, that in view of the concern of the Three-F Committee that the Meeting be made handicapped-accessible this meeting was being held in an accessible room, reminding us of how few rooms in both buildings are actually so.
He also urged Friends in their discussion to keep two guidelines in mind: to state opinions only when they are based on actual facts, and that it is a purpose of this and other such sessions to collect questions when we lack facts; and that the recommendations are merely proposed means to goals - solving the Meeting’s financial problems and addressing the deficiencies in our two buildings - and that if Friends do not find some of these recommendations adequate or acceptable then we assume the responsibility to find alternative solutions.
Jonathan Puth and John Gale, both parents and Board members of the School for Friends, offered to speak to the proposal to sell Quaker House to the School from the School’s perspective; Stoph Hallward, a member of the 3-F Committee, spoke from the experience of the Committee, other indicated Friends spoke from other backgrounds;
Q: Can School for Friends actually purchase the building?
A: (Jonathan) The School is not sure, and must be investigated. The School already knows the building and its needs. It “absolutely” interested, but probably could not pay market rate.
Q: Could the School rent the building?
A: The School pays some rent now, and also at Church of the Pilgrim (where the rent is rising considerably). Quaker House, properly re-configured, would support the entire program. The School has assumed that it would need to buy the building and get a mortgage to finance the renovations.
Q: Why did the 3-F Committee recommend selling rather than renting the building?
A: (Stoph) To avoid some of Quaker House’s renovation expenses, and perhaps to defray some costs of other Meeting renovation needs.
Q: What are the estimated costs of adequate renovation of the Meeting House? Of Quaker House? What are the two buildings’ operating costs?
A: MH: not clear (the renovations have not been researched); QH: about $1.5 million (preliminary, per SfF, for its particular uses); operating costs of each not known but probably not great.
Q: Does the Peace Tax Fund use much of QH? A: (Riley Robinson) Five rooms, plus a bathroom.
Q: Can obligations included in an initial sales contract be carried thru to subsequent purchasers (such as use of the playground)?
A: (Kennedy Smith) Yes, thru legal documents, but this can depress the purchase price.
Kennedy Smith, a professional architect with experience in historic preservation projects, stated some observations on the recommendations based on her knowledge and experience, which she has since expanded and sent to the appropriate committees of the Meeting: The Meeting should not sell Quaker House, but use such means as the Federal Rehabilitation Tax Credit to renovate it and then lease it, or perhaps arrange a co-ow[n]ership arrangement with the School. The value of the tax credit (the Meeting does not itself pay taxes) would be sold to another organization for about 80% of its worth. She strongly feels that such means would lead to a much more satisfactory arrangement. Stoph and Jonathan both said that their respective groups had been unaware of such possibilities and wanted to know more. A Friend suggested that a joint FMW/School task force be formed to investigate this.
Friends discussed the general economic health of the Meeting and the recommendations relating to finances. Several spoke of the need to understand why Friends do not seem to take their financial obligations to the Meeting more seriously, and also of the “donation” of work made by many Friends. A Friend spoke of the “healthy tension” of being both a community center and a national/international center of Quakerism.
Q: Is our membership growing?
A: (Riley) Our newsletter mailing list gradually trends upward. The number of actual members has trended down, but mostly through cleaning out long-gone members. The Meeting introduces many attenders to Quakerism.
Friends would like to have various financial figures:
What is the amount needed to sustain the Meeting if every Friend gave equally? What our current available resources? Our current needs? Anticipated revenue from sale of Quaker House? Our financial needs for each building? Our capital vs. endowment needs? Friends were asked to be patient; a new bookkeeper would be starting soon on a new software system. In any event, property management always involves elements of surprise!
Regarding a proposed volunteer or paid Outreach Director, a Friend feels that “we don’t hire other people to be Quakers for us” and that Davis House, AFSC-DC, FCNL and William Penn House already offer significant events/outreach. The Friend feels this is not economically feasible.
Friends note that some tasks outlined in the recommendations already fall under existing committees.
Friends asked if there is a list of specific handicapped-accessibility goals already made up.
Friends repeatedly expressed their thanks to the 3-F Committee for its work, and for bringing these problems and their proposed solutions to the full Meeting.
Hayden reminded Friends that there will be another threshing session in the Meeting Room at 9 am, Sunday, 7 December, and undoubtedly others after that.
Friends convened in the Meeting Room at 9 am.; 6 were present, including convener Hayden Wetzel. Hayden repeated several of his introductory remarks from the last such threshing session.
Friends had many questions, mostly regarding the finances of the Meeting and the expenses and expected financial benefits of selling Quaker House: What is the proposed sale of QH intended to achieve? What is the maintenance expense of QH? What are the estimated renovation costs of each building? What are their current market values? Would there be economic advantage to renovating both buildings at once? What could a capital campaign be expected to raise? What would be the cost of professionally-determined renovation cost estimates? What are the possible gradations of possible renovation of QH, from only necessary repairs to complete rebuilding, and are there separate cost estimates for each? What is the current income made by QH? Could more tenants be accommodated?
Friends also discussed the state of giving at the Meeting and why our level of giving is relatively low. A Friend wondered if a large endowment would have the effect of depressing giving. Another Friend believes that we should reach out to our inactive members, possibly thru a series of worship-sharing meetings regarding the relationship of the Meeting with its members. Friends also discussed some smaller possible fund-raising schemes, such as paid concerts in the Meeting House.
Friends also discussed the proposal for an outreach coordinator. What is the purpose of this position? Who would this person reach out to? Is there a need widely felt for such a position? Hayden reminded Friends that the building is regularly used (the statistics, published in the Newsletter, indicate a good mix of Meeting-, Meeting-sponsored, and outside-groups), and that this Meeting has both the character of a local and a national Quaker meeting. Many Friends felt that this recommendation was unclear both as to its origin and its intent.
Recommendation from the
Convener: I perceive a need among
Friends for a threshing session with knowledgeable Friends present to supply as
many of the types of hard figures or estimates as we have available mentioned
above: Meeting finances (presumably easy to do), building use (ditto),
renovation and sales estimates (clearly tenuous). I believe this session (and
its published notes) would go far toward removing unproductive speculation and
toward helping us see where we need more information.
– Hayden Wetzel
The Clerk updated Friends on the status of Meeting consideration of the Report of the Faith, Facilities and Financial Realities Steering Committee. The Clerk is consulting with a number of Friends with experience in capital renovations and also plans to meet with representatives of various Quaker organizations in the D.C. area. The Meeting decided in December to elevate four of the eight recommendations to the Committee of Clerks, which will meet to discuss them on January 31.
The Meeting settled into worship sharing and consideration of a two-page report, “Some suggestions for next steps re Faith, Facilities, and Financial Realities task force report,” (January 9, 2004). This report was prepared by Lewis Smith at the request of the Clerk, putting in writing the verbal comments he made at the December 14 Meeting for Worship with a Concern for Business.
During the worship sharing, several Friends spoke. A Friend suggested that the Meeting establish a standing development committee. His experience with the FOC Development Committee suggests that Friends will give, when asked. We need to be proper stewards of our property, conservatively estimated as worth $7 million, and must increase our reserves. Another Friend shared his experience touring four churches in the DC area: the facilities in only two of the churches were in good condition; both these churches have been creative in partnering with others who provided funds to refurbish the space.
Another Friend commented on the diverse use of space in our Meeting buildings documented in the report prepared by Barbara Haught as part of the State of Staff report (11/03-8) and the implications this has for seeing Quaker House as an extension of the Meeting House. A Friend who regularly worships in Quaker House observed that the space in Quaker House Living Room is a sacred space, and that some Friends are more comfortable worshiping in smaller spaces. She questioned whether it is realistic to find someone to renovate it to meet our needs. She urged us to find a way to ensure nurturance of the worship that occurs in Quaker House Living Room — though it may not be in that building. Another Friend shared findings from a 1970 report and a triennial review report prepared in 1976 regarding Quaker House.
Joint management of Quaker House with other area meetings had collapsed by that point. The triennial review report recommended that Quaker House be viewed as a “parish hall.” She spoke of the importance of recognizing the benefits from Quaker House, including the presence of a 24-hour tenant. Selling it might be like amputating a major limb.
The Clerk reminded Friends that we were not planning to make a decision today, but would refer these minutes as well as two-page report of “Some suggestions re next steps’ to the Committee of Clerks. Two Friends asked to speak further on the issue today.
One Friend said that, from a practical viewpoint, selling an unencumbered asset should be the last resort. Other alternatives such as a mortgage are preferred. Yet she wondered if she should be more open to the possibility of selling Quaker House and so she meditated daily on advice in an email stating that if we do not have a vision for Quaker House, we should sell it. Upon reflection, she believes we should keep Quaker House, even if we cannot yet see clearly the long-term vision for its use.
Another Friend reminded us that as a spiritual community we can worship in different spaces. She would like us to move from talk to action — to people making commitment of time and money. Another Friend rose to support moving to action, and specifically the creation of a development committee. We should care for the space we own. It is important to solve our annual fundraising problems first; we should not take out a mortgage if we cannot raise the funds to cover it.
The Clerk proposed that the idea of forming a development committee be brought to the Committee of Clerks and that attention to the Faith, Facilities and Financial Realities Report be provided as a major item of business in future months. Friends APPROVED bringing the proposal to the Committee, along with the concern raised by a Friend that the development committee sounds a lot like the current Finance and Stewardship committee.
Friends minuted their appreciation to Lewis Smith for writing the document on “Some suggestions re next steps.” Friends also discussed how under our current Finance and Stewardship committee, a small subcommittee of three Friends have recently gained access to date needed for more active fundraising. This issue, and the possibility of expanding the subcommittee beyond three persons, may be part of the ongoing discussion of development and fundraising.
The Clerk presented a March 2004 progress report that reviews actions taken or in progress on each of the eight recommendations of the Faith, Facilities and Financial Realities Task Force. In response to a question about Trustees’ action taken on the second recommendation (concerning universal access), a member of Trustees clarified that Trustees are helping to kick off gathering of information about issues related to universal access, but the process of developing a plan will not just involve Trustees but will involve standing committees, such as Property, as well as interested individuals.
Jacqueline DeCarlo, former Clerk of Friends Meeting of Washington, presented a progress report on recommendations by Faith, Facilities and Financial Realities Task Force. The purpose of the report is to provide basic information on progress and keep our attention on further work needed to implement the recommendations. Friends raised the following comments:
On first recommendation on use of space, a Friend underscored the need to review restrictive guidelines on facilities use, so as to make the facility more welcoming. She expressed strong encouragement to House Committee to schedule a meeting with staff and to open that meeting up to concerned members of the Meeting.
On the third recommendation on the sale of Quaker House, a Friend asked if estimates have been done on the cost of needed renovations and on the market value of the property. Trustees are aware of the need for such estimates in the future. Another Friend noted the costs of improving the playground need to be added to the estimate. The Clerk of Trustees noted that the drainage problem affects more than the playground. Another Trustee reported that on December 13, 2004, there was a very amicable meeting between the Friends Meeting of Washington Trustees and the Trustees of School for Friends.
With regard to the fifth recommendation on fundraising for annual support, a Friend asked the Meeting to consider expanding the size of Finance and Stewardship Committee. Kennan Garvey, Clerk, recommended that Finance and Stewardship and Nominating Committees work together to bring back a recommendation to February Meeting for Business on whether to increase the official number of people on the Committee. A member of Finance and Stewardship Committee noted that enlarging the Committee may not be as useful as expanding the number of people who are allowed access to donor records. The Clerk noted that Finance and Stewardship can bring forward a recommendation for increasing such access at any time.
On recommendation seven, on a capital fund drive a further update was provided. Several members of Trustees have met with Friends at Baltimore/Stony Run and Langley Hill. A Friend noted that Trustees may also want to consult with the Friends Committee on National Legislation (FCNL).
With regard to recommendation eight, on being the Quaker Meeting in the nation’s capital, a Friend noted that the American Friends Service Committee may have plans for bringing together various AFSC activities under one roof and knowing about these plans may be of use to Friends Meeting of Washington.
Friends expressed appreciation to Jackie for making this report, and to Trustees, for the hard work they have done in the past year.
ACTIONS TAKEN/IN PROGRESS
1) “Affirm as a communal goal that physical facilities be used actively as the greatest extent possible.”
• Membership and Religious Education Committees are considering new actions to be more welcoming to visitors and attenders.
• Personnel Committee reports that space use policies are determined by the House Committee. Staff has offered to meet with House to explain past policies, experiences, etc. Such a meeting has yet to be scheduled, although the perception of being “unwelcoming” has persisted so more work at the House committee level, in consultation with staff, may be advisable. Meantime, staff has met with other Friends organizations to develop ways of dealing with requests from out of town Friends and groups.
2) “Task Force…come up with a design and an accurate cost estimate w/J the next 12 months” to provide universal access
• Trustees have been discussing proposals for new construction and/or renovation to the Meeting House. They have decided to meet once a month until there is an overall plan for property improvements.
3) “Task Force…make a formal approach to School for Friends for the sale of Quaker House.
• The Property Committee has expressed to Meeting Clerks its increasing concern that the worsening plumbing, drainage and other problems at Quaker House need to be addressed. The Committee notes that even repairs to the Meeting House are in suspension, awaiting decisions about the property. Trustees are asked to meet jointly with the Finance and Stewardship and the Property Committees to discuss the future of Quaker House.
• FMW Trustees met with the Trustees of School for Friends on December 13, 2004 to discuss future use of the building
• Personnel notes that staff has ongoing responsibilities to manage tenant relations and attempt to satisfy needs as they arise. The playground/drainage project is a major issue for staff. Property and F&S committees met with the Alternate Clerk in summer of 2004 to discuss the project. Ongoing communication with SFF and Peace Tax Fund is needed.
4) “Garden Committee plans be reviewed and future costs be included in future capital campaigns.
• Thanks to the generous donation of an FMW member a number of improvements to the front garden were made.
• Personnel notes that staff supports and encourages the work of the Garden Committee and is advised by and advises them on work.
5) ‘Encourage and support efforts to make our fundraising for annual support…more effective and efficient… Encourage [purchase] of a modem software system” to help FMW better understand our donors and their motivations.
• Worship for Business adopted principles for fundraising planning and a goal for stewardship.
• Finance and Stewardship requested that each committee call members and attenders to alert them to the arrival of a fundraising appeal letter. Several committees made calls.
• The Nominating Committee spent significant time recruiting new members for the F&S Committee. Also served as a resource to the committee to deal with conflicts, differences in style and approach etc. Technically, the Committee has more members now than are authorized. The Handbook specifies only eleven members including a total of five ex officio members (although participation from such members may be inconsistent). Given how much the Meeting is depending on this Committee, it might be a good idea to revisit that size limitation.
• The Membership Committee has emphasized the commitment of prospective members to contribute financially to the Meeting. Also may have contributed somewhat to the overall average status of contributions to the Meeting by arranging for several former members of the meeting to have their membership terminated as well as for several former members to be transferred to other Meetings.
6) “Standing Committee…be directed to develop a sustained and lively program to educate”… about various pianned giving opportunities.
• Personnel Clerk arranged a meeting with a potential Quaker fundraiser for Finance and Stewardship Clerk and Clerk of Trustees.
7)”Task Force develop realistic goals for a capital fund drive…to bring the Meeting’s properties up to modern safety standards, to finance remodeling expenditures, and to add to an endowment to support the physical facilities of the Meeting now and in the future.”
• Trustees are exploring design options by talking with an architect and visiting area meetings that have undergone or are undertaking major renovations/construction.
8) “Task Force (or perhaps the Personnel Committee) be convened to draw up a job description…whose functions would be to ensure that all of the Meeting’s resources… are made available to carry out projects and programs consistent with FMW’s location as the Quaker Meeting in the nation’s capital.”
• There is general agreement in the community at this time that there are no funds to support additional staff, but continued interaction with other Quaker organizations in the area may lead to better and more productive relations and ideas for welcoming out of town Quaker and peace groups.
Compiled by Jacqueline DeCarlo, January 9, 2005 with input from committee clerks.
Appreciating the recommendations of the Faith, Funds and Financial Realities (“3F”) process and with a shared sense of responsibility for the Meeting’s assets, security, and spiritual and physical community, Friends Meeting of Washington Trustees have undertaken the actions listed below. Although Trustees are still gathering information, we believe it is important to summarize our activities so far.
1. We came to unity on three goals to be achieved through any renovation or improvements on the Meeting’s buildings:
• Safety for all who use and work in our buildings
• Universal access to the Meeting’s buildings
• Remediation of the underground water/flooding problem in our buildings
2. Trustees visited Stony Run Meeting in Baltimore, toured the renovated Meeting House structure, classrooms, lift, etc. with Stony Run Friends and had lunch with these Friends to discuss the renovation process and associated fundraising campaign. Like FMW, Stony Run was motivated by goals of universal access and safety; these Friends provided helpful insights and lessons learned. Stony Run has offered to provide copies of outreach/fundraising letters and other communications that helped engage their Meeting community in the renovation process and successful fundraising. In addition, Trustees have met with individual members of Langley Hill Meeting to discuss their renovation process.
3. A Trustee and the Administrative Secretary have met with three architects to discuss FMW space usage and needs associated with the three goals above. These architects have provided preliminary information on design options, as well as questions to help direct Trustees’ next steps. Another Trustee has provided historical information on the Meeting buildings and grounds and has identified an architect who is willing to provide certain pro bono services in developing a design concept.
4. FMW Trustees have met twice with the Trustees of School for Friends (including SfF Trustees who are appointed by Friends Meeting of Washington) to explore possible opportunities for partnership in the renovation process.
5. A Trustee met with Heather Foote of AFSC to ascertain their needs for additional office space and to inquire about potential interest in use of renovated space at FMW.
6. A Trustee met with the Peace Tax Fund to ascertain their continued need for office space at FMW.
7. A Trustee provided an update on our efforts to the Property Committee.
8. A Trustee researched pro bono support available from the American Institute of Architects’ Community Design Services and submitted a proposal to request this support in clarifying the Meeting’s design options and related costs. The FMW application has been accepted and Trustees look forward [to] advancing these renovation concepts with expert assistance.
9. Trustees have met with the Friend (an FMW Trustee) who will clerk the Meeting’s 75th Anniversary observance in 2005 and have discussed opportunities for linking the Anniversary with a Capital Campaign to preserve our buildings, provide universal access, and continue our tradition of hospitality to Friendly causes and organizations.
William Foskett, Acting Clerk of Trustees for six months from mid-May, introduced the issue of renovation of our buildings in the context of the Faith, Facilities and Financial Realities (FFF) report and the objectives it cited of universal access, controlling water drainage and leakage problems, and safety for all users. In response to this challenge, Trustees, in consultation with members of Property and Finance and Stewardship Committees and the School for Friends, recommends that the Meeting award a contract to Chatelain Architects to provide a master planning service to the Meeting. This process would ultimately lead to a site plan and drawings for renovation of the Meeting’s buildings and property in line with the objectives developed through the FFF process. The Master Planning process would have four phases: gathering of technical data on the buildings and property and review of all relevant zoning considerations and code requirements; development with a Meeting Planning Committee of the features of our buildings and property that are wanted to carry out our mission; development of a small number of options, with conceptual site drawings, floor plans and cost estimates, among which the Meeting would choose; and development of a more detailed plan and cost estimate for the chosen option, which the Meeting would consider before final approval. It was recommended that the Meeting approve $37,000 for this plan and the associated engineering property site survey. A Friend raised the question of including the Peace Tax Fund in the deliberations. Several Trustees who were present emphasized that all current stake holders in the Meeting’s buildings, and neighbors through the Advisory Neighborhood Commission and historical preservation agencies, will be informed and consulted. The details behind the cost estimate of $37,000 were requested and provided as follows: $23,750 for the master planning contract with Chatelain Architects, plus $11,750 for the engineering CAD survey, plus $750 for consulting with Chatelain about master planning, with this total rounded up to allow for reimbursable and miscellaneous expenses. After other messages on the urgency of this matter, Friends APPROVED these recommendations and the appointment of a Planning Committee, by the Presiding Clerk together with Trustees, to work with Chatelain Architects in the Master Planning process.
The Clerk reported that, as directed in last month’s Meeting for Worship with a Concern for Business, he has formed a Planning Committee to work with Chatelain Architects on a Master Planning Process for renovating our buildings. Committee members are: Bill Foskett, (Clerking), Stoph Hallward, Susan Lepper, Linda Mahler, Riley Robinson, Byron Sandford and Judy Hubbard Saul. The Committee had its first meeting on July 12 and has scheduled two more meetings.
At the June Meeting for Worship with a Concern for Business, the Meeting approved a master planning contract with the architectural firm of Leon Chatelain, an engineering survey of the grounds to be contracted by Chatelain, and a Planning Committee to be established by the Presiding Clerk in consultation with Trustees. Things have been moving apace since then. The Planning Committee has been established: William (Bill) Foskett, Clerk, and members Stoph Hallward, Susan Lepper, Linda Mahler, Riley Robinson, Byron Sanford, Judy Hubbard Saul.
The Planning Committee first met with Leon Chatelain early in July. Very soon afterwards the surveyors arrived. This surveying maps the “lay of the land,” literally, determining elevations (a factor in drainage issues, among other things) as well as all boundaries of the Meeting’s buildings and property, and location of all utilities pipes and wires.
Chatelain Project Designer Alexander Crawford subsequently toured the property and reviewed the piles of information that Riley had collected for the firm. This included the previous property survey and prior drainage studies as well as many floor plans of the Meeting’s buildings — actual and visioned — at various stages in its history. Riley also provided extensive data that he and Barbara Haught keep on building use — the who, what, where, when, why of activities that go on in these buildings. During this time, a Chatelain staffer spent a few days measuring all the interior spaces in both buildings.
Finally, while Leon, Alex and their colleagues began to digest the information flowing in, the Planning Committee met twice more, to frame its part of the next stage of activities. This stage calls for Chatelain people to meet directly with key users and stake holders in the Meeting’s property. Leon has been clear this process should not be dominated by those whose dollars and mortar concerns are central to the Property or Finance Committees or Trustees, but rather should give maximum opportunity for other involved Friends (and tenants) to speak from the spirit of their activities with the Meeting. He feels from his experience that determination and clarification of the vision and priorities of any institution, through such discussions, needs to be the guiding force in planning for its properties.
In this spirit, the Planning Committee has designed, tentatively, ten clusters of property users, including such groups as heavy users of the kitchen, and parents, teachers and Young Friends involved with activities for our younger and youngest Friends. A special needs group will address the practicalities of sound systems and booby traps for the sightless as well, of course, as gaining accessibility for those with impaired mobility.
Planning Committee members are getting in touch with likely participants in this process to ascertain their interest. Then final cluster groups will be determined and actual meetings will be set. A questionnaire will be used in this process, both to guide the discussions and to permit others to have some participation even if they cannot attend a cluster group meeting to which they are invited. When Chatelain’s first responses from this process are developed, threshing sessions will permit still broader involvement of the Meeting at large.
– Susan Lepper
The Trustees, the nominal owners of FMW property, have been meeting regularly to discuss our property needs. We have a time line of expected goals and results which keeps us on track but is revised frequently. We are meeting with representatives from other Quaker meetings who have initiated capital campaigns to undergo major renovations: Stony Run, MD; Homewood, MD: Langley Hill, VA; and Richmond, VA. A pro-bono architect provided us with a schematic drawing of how Quaker House could be renovated and made handicapped-accessible for use by both the Meeting and our long-term tenant, School for Friends. One recommendation of the Faith, Facilities, and Financial Realities Task Force, October 2003, was to seek professional guidance in our planning process.
Consultations were held with three preservation architects. Chatelain Architects was chosen to provide the Meeting with several options in the renovation of our buildings. The June Meeting for Worship with a Concern for Business approved hiring the firm with a cost of approximately $38,000. One of the first steps in the planning process is to assess how we currently use our buildings and envision how we would like to see them upgraded. A questionnaire is being circulated among the major users of our buildings to gather that information. Three Trustees serve on the Planning Committee.
Over the past month, the Planning Committee has been distributing to various committee clerks, First Day School teachers, Meeting participants with special physical needs, staff, and volunteers who spend substantial time at the Meetinghouse, a survey framed by Leon Chatelain Architects, our Master Planning contractors. This survey inquires about space in Friends Meeting property used by a committee or activity with which the respondent is associated. The survey asks about the adequacy of physical space and facilities, how the respondent feels about the space, how it might be improved and how FMW property in general might encourage greater participation in FMW activities. We recognize, of course, that the amount of Spirit-led energy and focus of Meeting participants is more important than physical property in what the Meeting does — and architects cannot provide that energy and focus. But Leon Chatelain and his associate are eager to get a sense of how the Meeting ticks and to be inspired by that sense in developing alternative plans for making our property as user-friendly as possible. Those plans will be brought to us later for Meeting-wide threshing sessions.
The next immediate steps after the return of questionnaires— enough, we hope, to give a good picture of the Meeting without overwhelming the architects — are seven small group meetings with Alex Crawford, a Chatelain associate, and/or with Leon Chatelain himself. The meetings involve small sub-groups of the survey respondents, which the architects find to be the most effective procedure. The groups are functional: (I) Library, history and records folk and standing committee clerks who use the buildings, apart from worship, mainly for committee meetings but have special concerns for marriages and memorials; (2) Kitchen users and special function organizers; (3) First Day School teachers and those heavily involved with youngsters and child-care; (4) Quaker house meeting regulars and tenant stake holders; (5) A special needs group; (6) Property and Garden; (7) Staff; and (8) School for Friends.
It is expected that a number of Young Adult Friends and possibly a few Young Friends will be included in these groups. Members of any group, of course, may have insights and dreams for FMW property that extend beyond their particular participation in one committee or workgroup. It seemed desirable, however, in organizing the survey respondents to take advantage of the specific knowledge of Meeting space held by those already making substantial, identifiable uses. These meetings are expected to be concluded by the end of October. After the architects assimilate and evaluate the results from this overall process, they will review with the Planning Committee the attributes of FMW property (in place or desired) that seem the most essential and valued.
The Planning Committee wishes to thank all FMW members and attenders who sent questionnaire responses to Alex Crawford at the firm Chatelain Architects. This sampling of views of active members and attenders, and the small meetings that Alex was able to have with a few questionnaire respondents, were intended to give the architects a good sense not only of how the Meeting’s properties are used but also of users’ perceptions of the advantages and weak points of the spaces for current and desired activities. The architects have been busily at work since then digesting all this material. They will present their summary and meet to discuss it with the Planning Committee in January. That will be a next important step in the Master Planning process. The preliminary, alternative plans they develop for renovation and for gaining universal access will reflect their understanding, from this fact finding stage, of the objectives of the Meeting community for its property. Stay tuned.
Preparation for Renovation of Our Meeting House and Quaker House
Trustees’ preparations for FMW’s renovation are summarized below:
• Affirmed the goals of renovating our buildings
• Organized ourselves to meet regularly as Trustees to achieve planning milestones
• Initiated dialogue with renovation stakeholders within and associated with the Meeting community
• Identified and pursued information resources in the architecture community and conferring with other Friends Meetings that have renovated their property
• Requested and received Meeting for Business approval to engage a professional architectural firm to develop a Master Plan
• Established a Planning Committee and schedule for consulting with Chatelain Architects on development of a Master Plan to identify options for reconfiguring our buildings and property.
A more detailed list of Trustees actions in 2005 may be found in Appendix A of this report.
List of Trustees Actions Taken in 2005
1. Trustees came to unity on three goals to be achieved through any renovation or improvements on the Meeting’s buildings:
• Safety for all who use and work in our buildings
• Universal access to the Meeting’s buildings
• Remediation of the underground water/flooding problem in our buildings
2. Trustees conferred with other Meetings regarding their experiences and advice in renovating their meetinghouses. We visited Stony Run Meeting (Baltimore) and met at FMW with renovation-seasoned Friends from Homewood, Langley Hill and Richmond Meetings. Tim Cline of Finance and Stewardship briefed Trustees on Albuquerque Friends’ Capital campaign to fund expansion of their meetinghouse and lessons learned in the Friends’ workshop on fund raising.
3. Trustees engaged pro bono architectural advice available from the American Institute of Architects’ Community Design Services for conceptualizing the Meeting’s building reconfiguration options regarding universal access and School for Friends.
4. A Trustee and the Administrative Secretary met with three architects to discuss FMW space usage and needs associated with the three goals above. These architects provided preliminary information on design options. Trustees concurred on one architect to develop several options and associated cost estimates for reconfiguring and renovating the Meeting House and Quaker House and proposed contracting with Chatelain Architects to prepare a “master plan.” (Meeting for Business approved Trustees’ proposal.)
5. Trustees conferred with current tenants of Quaker House regarding their current and future space needs. FMW Trustees met twice with the Trustees of School for Friends (including SfF Trustees who are appointed by Friends Meeting of Washington) to explore possible opportunities for partnership in the renovation process. A Trustee met with Heather Foote of AFSC to ascertain their needs for additional office space and to inquire about potential interest in use of renovated space at FMW. A Trustee met with the Peace Tax Fund to ascertain their continued need for office space at FMW.
6. Trustees and Property and Finance Committees agreed on members to serve as liaisons to keep each other mutually informed and our work coordinated regarding renovation of our property and the financing of that renovation. Trustees explored opportunities for linking FMW’s 75th Anniversary with a Capital Campaign to preserve our buildings, provide universal access, and continue our tradition of hospitality to Friendly causes and organizations.
The Meeting property study continues to make progress in the new year. The Planning Committee (Bill Foskett, Susan Lepper, Stoph Hallward, Linda Mahler, Judy Hubbard, and Riley Robinson) met again with the architects from the Chatelain firm on January 10. A pair of preliminary reports was presented to the committee. One was a review of numerous structure-related studies and documents pertaining to property conditions that had been assembled by Riley Robinson. The other was a summary of the meetings with user groups in which various members and attenders participated last fall and the even larger number of questionnaires that were returned to the architects. The architects were pleased to note considerable agreement among Friends regarding the following nine issues as key concerns:
• Assembly and Meeting Spaces (adequacy of number, size and character)
• Youth and Education Areas (spaces particularly suitable and near related services)
• Circulation and “Wayfinding” (of all participants, especially newcomers to the buildings)
• Temperature Control (Heating, Ventilation and Air Conditioning)
• Tenant/Landlord Status
The next step is for the architects to look at the spacial requirements for the needs thus far identified. Further meetings are planned to explore details before alternative floor plans are developed for the Meeting’s consideration.
– Susan Lepper
Ten small group meetings were held between January 18 and February 2 of this year to explore Friends’ feelings about Friends Meeting of Washington, what it means to them now and what they would like it to be in the future. The aim of this project was twofold: to build toward a new vision statement for Friends Meeting of Washington that will inform and inspire plans and funding for renovation of Friends Meeting properties, and to assist the Ministry and Worship Committee in writing this year’s Spiritual State of the Meeting Report. At least one further exercise is planned to contribute to laying the spiritual foundation for building and funding activities.
In the hope of reaching as many of those involved with the Meeting as possible, invitations by e-mail, snail mail and a few phone calls were sent to almost 500 households of resident members and attenders. Announcements were made at worship and available at the Meeting House and Quaker House, with lists of Queries and summaries of previous vision statements for FMW. Nevertheless, many Friends probably were not aware of the project or did not understand its significance.
In the event, 49 people participated in these sessions. Most participants seemed to find the sessions meaningful and interesting. Highlights are as follows:
• Spiritually centered and gathered Meetings for Worship are the core value of Friends Meeting of Washington. Worship is seen as the context to find one’s spiritual center, to discover and reaffirm the most important values in life, to share in corporate waiting on the Spirit.
• Worship is an opportunity for personal “spiritual succor,” nourishment and refuge from the tensions of busy lives, lives that in many cases involve energetic work to carry forward traditional Quaker principles and serve as valuable role models to others in the community. But there is a tension between personal nourishment and community action. ‘The Meeting is about more than myself.”
• The values of corporate worship would be enhanced by more of a sense of community. This is hard to achieve in a big Meeting that is pleased to have many visitors, from first-time Quaker meeting attenders in the neighborhood, to Friends in town for conferences, to visitors from abroad. Both space layout and functional organization need to be adjusted to achieve the greatest sense of community - for example, creating inviting, convenient and accessible space for after-Meeting refreshments that will encourage social engagement of Friends from both the Meeting House and Quaker House Meetings, space for a community bulletin board, greater clarity about announcements at various places and times, making spaces in Meeting’s buildings as available as possible for a variety of members’ uses while managing security of property and its users.
• Children were felt to be a top priority, and it was felt that the Meeting could be more “child friendly.” This would involve both physical space better designed for infant care and First Day School, and operational arrangements (what is served at snacks and a children’s table at major meals) for child care that would nurture them and their growth while facilitating more Meeting involvement of parents.
• The importance of the Young Adult Friends group was frequently mentioned with a strong sense that YAFs should be listened to and supported.
• Friends appreciation for the “wonderful people” they meet at Meeting was expressed in various ways, often in the context of committee work. The central role and personal rewards of committee work seem to need to be made more real at a time when the Nominating Committee is challenged to fill Committee slots.
• A significant number of participants in the envisioning sessions expressed a hunger for social action and a sorrow that the Meeting did not seem to be the beacon for Quaker values that it had been at times in the past. The social challenges that Joe Volk had enunciated were cited by many, including some references to the challenge to make buildings more “green” and references to both the local community of the Meeting and to world issues. Joe Volk had, of course, rooted social action in the leadings of the Spirit, and it was expressed fairly often that a more gathered and cohesive Meeting would be more called to action.
• “Incubating” organizations working toward Quaker objectives was seen as an important, though sometimes difficult, role.
• Education for Meeting children and adults was seen as important, including issues of First Day School activities and curriculum (on which there managed to be some superficial disagreement in a single group of five people) and adult education. Small groups, such as the Inquirers’ Class, Adult Religious Education, Spiritual Friendship Group, Couples Group, Simplicity Group, and others contribute to filling the need for honest exchanges about things of central importance to us and for education about the Queries and about “how to” things such as meditation. These groups, however, may be neither adequate in their availability nor easily integrated into the broader sense of community. How can they better help group participants while avoiding fragmenting the Meeting socially?
Trustees, and the Ministry and Worship, Finance and Stewardship and Property Committees thank those of their members who worked together to organize these sessions. The help of Riley Robinson and Barbara Haught is also greatly appreciated. Most important, however, has been the participation of those who attended the sessions.
One new activity is now planned to involve greater numbers in working toward a broadly shared vision for Friends Meeting of Washington. Additional activities will be planned as Way Opens.
While Friends have been engaged over recent months in envisioning the future of Friends Meeting of Washington, the architectural consulting team of Leon Chatelain and Alex Crawford has been busy on their planning work for the Meeting’s buildings. After compiling the technical data from property surveys, drainage studies and aspects of property use that were carefully compiled by staff, the architects turned to the information they had gathered last fall from Meeting members through interviews and numerous questionnaire responses. (This engagement with Friends was not an all-inclusive survey process or a scientific sampling but an inquiry with Friends who are experienced space users-- First-Day school teachers, providers of refreshments for coffee hours, potluck lunches and special events, other event planers, some committee clerks, our librarian, the School for Friends and other tenants.) The architects presented a quantitative (square feet) summary of key aspects of their findings a month ago. The Planning Committee is very grateful to those who assisted the architects with information; it has been essential to the planning process.
The architects reported that everything they heard was thoughtful and nothing was “off the wall.” Nevertheless, participants had been told to “think big” and they did. A simple adding-up of “space wishes” by the architects resulted in more “space wishes” than we have land that is reasonably usable. And some “space thoughts” could sound, at first, as un-Quakerly embellishments. So now the real work begins. Needs must be reviewed in light of the priorities heard in the envisioning process and uses must be clarified with more information from Friends interviewed last fall (you are not off the hook yet). Clever ways will be sought to meet needs and satisfy wishes in the least space-intensive or excessively elaborate manner. And some difficult choices may be required.
The Planning Committee is about to embark on a series of fairly closely spaced meetings with the architects, to assist with the development of three alternative plans for the Meeting’s buildings that take into account the envisioning process and thoughts of our most active users. These will be designed to satisfy zoning and other regulations and to make reasonable use of the Meeting’s property. Estimated cost will be provided with each plan. The Planning Committee also will be developing a process for threshing these plans with all participants in the Friends Meeting community before the Meeting proceeds to make decisions in the Meeting for Worship with a Concern for Business. We look forward to everyone’s involvement.
Planning Committee: Three members of the committee, Clerk Byron Sandford, Judy Hubbard and Riley Robinson, are members of the Planning Committee, which meets regularly with the master plan architects. Many needed repair/renovation projects are on hold as we wait for the results of proposals to come from the Planning Committee. These include:
Removal of hazardous material
Meeting House water intrusion problems around the Assembly Room and Decatur Place Room
Meeting House floor refinishing
Quaker House doors
Quaker House playground
Is there a Spirit-led basis for a long-term partnership between Friends Meeting of Washington and the School for Friends that can support consolidation of all School activities at the Meeting?
How much space does the Meeting need for its core missions — worship, First Day School, committee and other gatherings — and how much “wiggle room” does it want to accommodate other needs that may arise in the future?
Can selling Quaker House and building a small addition to the Meeting House, including an elevator, accommodate the core missions in a more compact space’?
What size financial and management obligations does the Meeting feel led to undertake?
Three alternative Options, in the form of a Master Plan Report containing floor plans and ‘ball park” cost estimates, were presented to the Meeting by the Planning Committee (Bill Foskett, Clerk) and Leon Chatelain Architects in an information meeting on June 30. These Options embody the questions above.
The floor plans can be “tweaked” in many ways, but the big issues cannot be avoided.
Some things are common to all three Options. All have a new main entrance in a gated courtyard between the Carriage House and the Meeting House. This area would have a glass-roof to maintain light for our Meeting Room, as well as an elevator. It would make a welcoming entrance and facilitate universal access and security.
Each Option would significantly improve the safety of our buildings by making entry more visible, by installing fire alarm and sprinkler systems and by a new system of keys and locks.
Each would prevent the flooding we currently experience. An underground drain system would divert water from the foundations of our buildings and underground barriers at the building walls would divert any water that might reach them.
Each would incorporate “green building” principles and practices such as sustainable materials, energy- saving systems and “green” building management. A comprehensive discussion is provided in the Master Plan report.
Clearly these options pose critical choices for the Meeting. To appreciate them fully, Friends should examine the floor plans and report. Plans in large scale are posted on the walls of the Assembly Room. They are available in hand-out form on the information tables in the Meeting House and Quaker House. And they are available with the complete architects’ report on the FMW website (www.quaker.org/fmw). For a paper copy, write to FMW. There will be follow-up occasions for discussion ranging from threshing sessions to attention by standing committees. Only as information becomes broadly disseminated will these options be presented for a decision by Meeting for Worship with Concern for Business.
Tim Cline, Clerk of Finance and Stewardship Committee presented a proposal by Trustees and the Finance and Stewardship Committee to fund a financial feasibility study for building renovations. Under this financial feasibility study, Henry Freeman Associates would conduct 35-40 individual interviews with people connected to the Friends Meeting of Washington. If approved, the study is anticipated to begin in two weeks and result in a report in January. In response to questions, Tim clarified that the interviews would start with discussions of building renovations under the three options in the Master Plan, but would be sufficiently open-ended to allow Friends to raise other options. Tim also clarified that the financial feasibility study would not be looking at alternate financing beyond the Meeting; this will be the responsibility of the Finance and Stewardship Committee. He also clarified that the donor capacity of supporters of School for Friends will not be addressed in this study, but we anticipate School for Friends will conduct their own assessment of financial capacity. Friends APPROVED spending up to $25,000 (to be drawn from the ‘Other Bequests account) to contract with Henry Freeman Associates to conduct a feasibility study that will estimate the amount of money the Friends Meeting of Washington (FMW) is capable of raising for renovation of FMW’s buildings. The work of the contractor will be managed by Finance and Stewardship Committee in consultation with Trustees. A Friend noted her concern that the School for Friends not be separated from consideration of the financial capacity of the Friends Meeting of Washington.
Friends are beginning to thresh issues of stewardship and property renovation at FMW. Some queries have emerged:
· Given the necessity of doing something about universal access and about flooding, do we give enough weight to retaining the gracious and historical aspects of the Meeting House?
· What amount of renovation expense is called for by stewardship of our property and what amount is consistent with the Quaker testimony of simplicity?
· Does Friends’ testimony regarding care for children imply a much closer integration with School for Friends; i.e. bringing all their classes to FMW? Or does it imply support for the School at another site, if accommodation on FMW property strains resources?
· What are the space needs and configurations most supportive of a “Quaker atmosphere” and a strong Friends’ community? For example, do we want conversation space after worship? Do we want spaces for small group meetings or for a Friend to host a meal for other Friends in a family-type setting? Do we want outdoor space for active children and quiet meditation?
· What amount and design of space is most consistent with our FMW home being a welcoming place—for BYM functions, conferences and possible overnight uses guided by our social testimonies, offices for rent to like-mind organizations?
A spurt of messages on the FMW listserv in January related to the proposed renovations of Meeting property. We are all grateful to Dick Bellin and Tim Cline for starting the listserv and to Susan Meehan and Tim Cline for getting the ball rolling on this use. To help Friends benefit the most, those with e-mail are urged to:
· sign up for the listserv if you have email. Send your request to email@example.com or firstname.lastname@example.org.
· review the past exchanges on http://groups.google.com/groupfmwquaker
· add your queries and observations to the discussion.
Friends not disposed to use email are urged to look at the postings on the bulletin board in the Assembly Room, near the large-scale display of the alternative renovation plans. Listserv messages on this topic will be reprinted there and you may write your own thoughts, questions and responses to prior messages. (Non-resident Friends are encouraged to request the printed copy of plans and to send us your thoughts.)
The financial feasibility study for the Meeting (approved in Worship for Business last fall) is progressing a little more slowly than hoped owing to a death in the family of Henry Freeman, the experienced Quaker fund raiser who is doing the study. Trustees hope to receive the study at their regular meeting on the third Sunday of February and will be deciding after that how to proceed next. Ultimately, of course, decisions will be made by the Meeting for Worship with Concern for Business. Meanwhile, the School for Friends is also conducting a financial feasibility study for they will need to contribute in some way to the enlarged building required to meet their consolidation objectives at FMW.
If Friends would like property tours with discussion of plans, get in touch with Trustees through the office. Also, let Trustees know your ideas about meetings for learning that you might find helpful. For example, do you want to know more about issues pertaining to School for Friends, about the experience of some Washington churches with schools, or options for achieving universal access and/or “greening.”
The central question before us is how improved stewardship by the Meeting of its buildings and property will speak to the condition of Friends within and visiting the Meeting. To slightly adapt the 1931 statement of our Meeting’s purpose, what changes in buildings will quicken our powers of service to the Divine and to our fellow human beings?
Susan Lepper, on behalf of the Trustees and Tim Cline on behalf of Finance and Stewardship
Bill Foskett, Clerk of Trustees, presented a summary of the study conducted by Quaker fund raising consultant Henry Freeman Re: the feasibility of raising funds to renovate FMW properties. (Unedited copy attached). Participants in the 40 interviews conducted by Henry Freeman expressed clear support for three deeply held priorities: adapting the property for universal access, addressing the structural problems, including flooding, and the “greening” of our building. Friends were equally divided in preferences for the three specific renovation options as well as the option of “other.” The study did not reveal a maximum amount of money that can be raised. Among those Friends interviewed, there was a sense of welcome to School for Friends (SfF) but not a sense of viewing SfF as central to the mission of the Meeting or something that Friends felt moved to underwrite financially. Among the Friends interviewed, there were three primary perspectives on Quaker House: viewing it as a sacred space, viewing it as a liability, and viewing it as an asset. As next steps, Trustees recommend sequential consideration of two key decisions. First, Trustees propose to organize meetings and venues to further explore and reach a sense of our Meeting regarding the role of SW in the mission of the Friends Meeting of Washington. Second, similar meetings and venues would be organized regarding the possible sale of Quaker House.
Many Friends spoke following the presentation of the report; the Meeting requested the Recording Clerk to prepare a summary of the discussion as an appendix to the minutes. (Unedited copy attached).
Friends APPROVED asking the Property Committee in consultation with Trustees to put together a list of shorter-term fixes for leaks and accessibility in the Meetinghouse building. Friends APPROVED concurrently asking our Trustees to reach out to SfF Board for help as Trustees lead a process of discernment regarding whether SfF is central to the mission of FMW. This discernment process is expected to involve organizing a series of meetings and venues for discussion with the broader FMW community. Four Friends volunteered to help with this; other Friends with interest should contact Susan Lepper, member of the Trustees.
In Fall, 2006, Meeting for Business approved funding for Trustees and Finance and Stewardship to explore the feasibility of raising the funds to finance a range of options for renovating FMW’s property that were identified in the architectural study we completed in 2006. We contracted with H. Freeman Associates, a Quaker-owned firm whose principal, Henry Freeman is a Friend, that has conducted many fund raising feasibility studies for individual meetings, Quaker schools and Quaker umbrella organizations, such as Friends Journal, FCNL, and PYM.
The fund raising feasibility study did not reveal a maximum amount that could be raised to finance the general alternative approaches to renovation identified in our architectural planning. Instead it revealed that we have not yet found the sense of the Meeting necessary to inspire FMW’s full capacity for giving.
The study indicated that interviewees would give commensurate with how powerfully a particular alternative can contribute to their understanding of fulfillment of FMW’s mission. We do tend to find clearness is in several deeply held cores of priorities: universal access; structural integrity (preventing flooding) and the environmental sustainability of our buildings. Two of the architectural alternatives are geared to key decisions on which FMW has not found a sense of the Meeting: if and how to accommodate School for Friends and whether to sell Quaker House to help finance the renovation. We are confident that Way will open to provide sufficient financial support when Friends find the Sense of the Meeting and, in particular, when we reach clearness regarding School for Friends and Quaker House.
The study methodology was to interview persons familiar with FMW and with insight into its resources (rather than people representative of the Meeting community as a whole) regarding their perceptions of FMW, their relationship to FMW, the relationship of FMW mission to the building renovation alternatives laid out in our architectural study and the range in which they might donate towards any of the alternatives. Members of Trustees and Finance and Stewardship and several others were asked to identify such persons, resulting in an initial list of about 60 names, including all Trustees. Of those successfully contacted by Freeman Associates, 85% participated in the study—a very good participation rate when compared to other studies. Each received a packet of information including FMW’s statement of our mission as well as summaries of the alternative ways in which our buildings could be renovated to meet our needs.
H. Freeman Associates conducted 40 interviews between November 24, 2006 and January 31, 2007. Data regarding the interviewees who participated in the study is presented below:
Relationship with FMW
Years of Involvement with FMW
Raised as a Friend?
Less than 5 years
Table II. Topics Discussed In Interviews
1. The most important issues or challenges facing Friends Meeting of Washington today.
2. What the interviewee believes to be the primary strengths of the Meeting.
3. What the interviewee believes to be the primary weaknesses of the Meeting.
4. The “role” of Friends Meeting of Washington in the life of the participant.
5. Identification of the “most important” priorities and needs to be addressed through the proposed campaign and renovation plans. (See list on following page.)
6. Identification of the “least important” priorities and needs presented in the Preliminary Case for Support.
7. Identification of any critical needs or priorities that the interviewee believes should be included in a proposed campaign and renovation plans.
8. How the interviewee feels about selling Quaker House as would be required in Option III.
9. The interviewee’s perception of the relationship between FMW and School for Friends.
10. The interviewee’s identification from among the three Master Plan Options the option that they believe will enable the Meeting to most fully live out its mission and purpose.
11. Any changes in the three plans or alternate ideas he/she would recommend.
12. The proportion or percent of construction and/or future costs of Option I that should be borne by FMW. By School for Friends.
13. The “rank” of the proposed FMW renovation among fund raising efforts the study participant supports.
14. Willingness to volunteer for the proposed FMW campaign.
15. Willingness to assist in soliciting others for financial commitments in a campaign.
16. The interviewee’s perception as to how the wider FMW community perceives the proposed campaign and renovation project.
17. The interviewee’s perception as to the availability of leadership gifts to a campaign from within the FMW community.
18. An indication, if comfortable doing so, as to the general level of financial commitment paid over up to three years) that the interviewee might consider to a campaign.
19. The recommendation of the interviewee as to whether or not to move forward with a campaign; the focus of a campaign; and the campaign goal.
20. Identification of any factors not mentioned that might influence the success of a major fund raising effort by Friends Meeting of Washington.
Priorities and Needs to be Addressed by the Renovation Plans
One of the most telling findings of the study is the clear identification of a small set of deeply held core priorities that stand out from the other priorities identified by the Meeting as shown in Table III below. There is clearly a commitment to providing universal access and correcting structural issues - things identified in the Faith, Facilities and Financial Realities Report dated January 2005. Newly arising from this study is the clear support for the “greening” of the Meeting.
Table III. Priority Selection: Most and Least Important
Flooding Problem (Structural
Assembly, Meeting, Conference and Classroom Space
Circulation and Wayfinding
Youth and Education Spaces
All are Important
The perceived relationship of architectural (“Master Plan”) options to FMW’s mission is shown in Table IV below. Interviewees were asked:
Which of the three options do you believe will best serve the needs of Friends Meeting of Washington and enable the Meeting to most fully live out its mission and purpose?
Their responses to this question are tallied in Table IV.
Table IV: Master Plan Options Matching Meeting Needs and Purposes
Master Plan Option
Expanded School for Friends in Quaker House and Carriage House
Keep Quaker House without expanded School for Friends
Sell Quaker House; build more space in smaller footprint. Assume construction cost @ $3.6 million and sale of QH @ $1.75 million
None of the above or significant modification of plans. Often recommendation of “focusing on basic needs” of project
In the course of replying to this question most persons expanded on their thoughts, revealing that the depth of their generosity would depend on how closely they perceived a renovation option supporting the primary mission of FMW. Preferences for a particular option were fairly evenly spread across all three Master Plan options and “none” of the above. Interviewees did not unify around any single one of the proposed alternatives, or around “none of the above.”
Two important considerations addressed by interviewees were how School for Friends needs had been addressed in the three options, and the possible sale of Quaker House (not to include sale of the adjacent Carriage House.) Interviewees perceived School for Friends as a welcome tenant. However, interviewees appeared unwilling to underwrite the cost of providing space for an expanded School for Friends but willing to continue its current relationship provided the School would bear the cost of renovations to accommodate it. None spoke of the School for Friends as central to FMW’s mission.
Some study participants were fairly adamant about not selling Quaker House. Most of those interviewed, however, were either “open” to selling Quaker House if necessary or believe that the sale of Quaker House is a good option for the Meeting to consider. Study participants’ concern about the sale of Quaker House primarily rests in three perspectives:
1. Emotional attachment to Quaker House and a concern that the “feeling” of Quaker House Living Room during meetings for worship will not or cannot be replicated elsewhere;
2. The desire/need to sell Quaker House because it is a liability that would be costly to “fix up;”
3. Belief that Quaker House is a financial asset (not a liability) and serious reservations about selling assets that can’t be replaced.
Responses indicated strong willingness to support universal access and remediation of the flooding problem, as well as for increasing the environmental performance our buildings — as could be accomplished by all three of the alternatives offered so far.
Because amount of potential giving would depend on Meeting reaching unity on a renovation plan that best supports FMW’s and Friends are not yet unified around such an option, a reliable estimate of our find raising capability could not be reached.
RECOMMENDED NEXT STEPS
The Meeting’s way forward in finding the means to renovate our buildings requires that FMW decide if or how to provide space for School for Friends and whether to sell Quaker House (keeping the Carriage House.)
Trustees propose that the Meeting address accommodating School for Friends and sale of Quaker House in sequence. Considered in light of FMW’s mission both decisions are moderately complex and will best be framed and weighed if this is done separately.
The necessity of keeping Quaker House may depend on whether we would need that space to accommodate School for Friends. Deciding whether or not we need Quaker House to accommodate School for Friends will illuminate our decision whether keeping or selling it will be best to fulfill FMW’s mission.
Trustees will organize meetings and venues for all Members and Attenders to further explore and reach a sense of our Meeting regarding the role of School for Friends in FMW’s mission. On their conclusion, Trustees will organize similar meetings and venues to further explore and reach a sense of our Meeting regarding the sale of Quaker House.
Hayden also reported that Susan Lepper and others have organized a series of threshing sessions to discuss the role of School for Friends in the mission of FMW. These will be held next month through a series of dinners hosted in Friends’ homes. Susan Lepper informed the Meeting that about 40 Friends have signed up to participate in these sessions.
Proposal for School for Friends Study Group
Bill Foskett, Clerk of Trustees, provided an update of the ongoing work of the Trustees related to the proposed property renovations. Due to competing time demands, Trustees are uncomfortable taking on a full- scale research project on the relationship of other Friends’ meetings to Friends schools. Trustees are working to schedule another joint meeting of the Board of Trustees and the Board of School for Friends, but are struggling with significant scheduling difficulties. Friends were asked to hold the Board of Trustees and the Trustees of School for Friends in the Light as they struggle to deal with this scheduling challenge.
Grant Thompson shared his reflections on why it has been difficult for us to move forward on dealing with our physical facility. While the substantial amount of money involved is one barrier to moving forward, another barrier is the lack of unity on the question of what to do with Quaker House and divergent ideas about the relationship between FMW and the School for Friends. Three things may help us move forward. One is the ongoing threshing sessions that are just beginning. The second is the work of the two Boards to try to meet jointly. Third, he proposes establishing a task force of five people to do deep research on the issue and to come back by December, 2007 with a concrete proposal that would clarify our relationship with School for Friends. The goal of the task force would be to narrow the plethora of options so that we have one concrete proposal and a suggested path forward. In response to questions, Grant clarified that the task force would not ignore the financial aspects of the relationship. He also stated that Robin Appleberry, Barbara Nnoka, Clem Swisher, Willy Wilson and Grant Thompson would be willing to serve on the task force if it were established.
Two members of Trustees spoke in support of the proposal, noting it would be of assistance to the Board of Trustees. There are many building renovation issues — such as financial, physical, and environmental issues — that Trustees can continue to consider as the task force tackles the important issue of relationship to School for Friends. A former member of the Board of School for Friends also spoke in support, noting that a decision on this issue would be helpful to the school, even if the outcome was not what she favored.
A Friend expressed deep concern over the direction of the discussion and her belief that too much energy is being spent on the issue of School for Friends. She is concerned that it is inappropriately diverting needed attention from the desperate need for care and renovation of the Meeting House itself Another Friend echoed this concern, stressing the shortfall in the annual budget needed for stewardship of our own Meeting building.
Friends APPROVED establishing a task force as proposed by Grant Thompson. Loie Clark stood aside from approval based on her deep concern about diverting too much focus to School for Friends.
Friends also APPROVED the five members of the task force.
John Gale, Clerk of the Property Committee, presented the Committee’s annual report. He noted the Committee’s appreciation to Clem Swisher for all the work he has done on the property over the years. The Committee was asked by the Meeting to investigate intermediate steps to address the access and flooding problems of the Meeting House. They are getting cost estimates for a chair lift as an intermediate step on access. The Committee has determined that there are no intermediate steps to address the flooding problems, which require major renovation. He repeated the caution from last year’s report that the decaying water pipes in Quaker House could undergo a major failure at any time. Friends expressed concern that no actions have been taken to address this urgent matter. John Gale explained that work on these issues has been delayed because of the uncertainty about the scale of the renovation for the two buildings.
Installation of a chair lift at the Decatur Place door of the Meeting House
We wish to restate the following concerns that have been included in previous annual reports:
Time is of the essence in the Meeting’s master planning project: We continue to have water pipe leaks in Quaker House. The galvanized pipes are continuing to decay on the inside, and for now we have remedied the few pinhole leaks. Any attempt at a more serious repair could lead to major work in the building. The building needs a new plumbing system and the current system could have a major failure at any time. We were cautioned about this situation a few years ago when we first began to patch.
Serious water issues remain to be solved: a) we continue to have water infiltration in the Furnace room. The flow has not recently overcome the pump and drain system, but the leaks continue to cause deterioration of the foundation. In addition we have water infiltration problems in the storage room and children’s library. At this time we know of no “partial” fixes that will address this problem. We have engineering studies which propose major water control projects that are very expensive. b) We continue to have significant flooding of the playground and the Decatur Place sidewalk during rainstorms. The flooding has caused damage to the sidewalk which our insurance company has asked us to address.
John Gale, Clerk of Property Committee, reported on the work of the Committee in investigating possible interim fixes regarding the two issues of water control and accessibility. According to engineering studies, the only fix to infiltration of water in the back of the Meeting House us an extensive project to dig up outside the building and install a new drainage system outside the building. No minor fixes from inside the building are possible. Smaller problems in other parts of the building have been largely addressed. The other major drainage problem, the water in the playground, also cannot be fixed without major expense for renovating gutters and drainage systems.
In response to a question, John explained that the exterior draining project for the back of the Meeting House would cost roughly $100,000. Friends discussed the option of proceeding to do specific fund-raising for that drainage problem without waiting for the larger building renovation. John explained that the drainage problem could be addressed before the renovation, in the sense that the work would not be reversed or made unnecessary by the larger renovation, but it might be cheaper and less disruptive to be done simultaneously with the renovation. Friends discussed the inconvenience caused by the periodic flooding of the storage room; different views were expressed as to whether or not this periodic flooding is doing serious damage to the building. In the view of the Property Committee, the chances of catastrophic failure are much higher with regard to the pipes of the Quaker House than with structural damage related to the drainage problem. Tom Cooke stated that the storage room floods only when it rains very hard in a short period, and it is a flooding problem that is shared with others in the neighborhood.
On the issue of broader renovation, the Clerk reported the desire of Bill Foskett to reinvigorate the Planning Committee, which was established in July 2005 to work with Chatelain Architects in 2005 and has never formally been laid down. The Planning Committee, which currently consists of Bill Foskett, Judy Hubbard-Saul, Byron Sandford, and Susan Lepper, will look at the issues of accessibility and greening, concurrently with the ongoing discussions of the Task Force that is considering the relationship between the Meeting and School for Friends. The Clerk reminded Friends that the latter Task Force, convened by Grant Thompson, will be holding a listening session on October 28, 2007.
William Foskett reported that the Planning Committee has begun meeting again and, in fact, he, Susan Lepper, Judy Hubbard, and Byron Sandford met this morning to consider issues of universal access and greening of the building. They have particular interest in things that can be done now (or at least in the next five years) but also will identify things that can be done in the future when we do a large-scale renovation. They have already identified four items for immediate action. First, they will ask the Property Committee about progress on a stair-lift for improved access, consistent with the decision in last month’s Meeting for Business. Second, they will ask Property Committee to investigate short-term fixes to plumbing problems in Quaker House. Third, they will seek to identify people who can look further at access improvements that can be done to the existing building. Fourth, they will communicate with Friends who are interested in issues related to greening of the building.
Friends raised questions about expected interactions between the Planning Committee and the Property Committee, noting that just last month the Property Committee received authorization from the Meeting to proceed with short-term fixes on accessibility. Bill explained that the Planning Committee hopes to be a catalyst to help speed action being undertaken by other committees to ensure we move forward without losing momentum.
Hayden Wetzel reminded Friends of the Meeting’s May 2007 approval of the establishment of a Task Force on the relationship between the Friends Meeting of Washington and School for Friends (SfF). He asked Grant Thompson, convener of the Task Force, to discuss the process underlying development of the report, which will be discussed more fully in January, when Friends have time to digest its full 11 pages (copy attached at the end of this Newsletter). Grant spoke of how his leading to convene the Task Force came out of the support he received from the Meeting community during his hospitalization and recovery last winter. All five of the Task Force members, Robin Appleberry, Barbara Nnoka, S. Clement Swisher, Grant Phelps Thompson, and William Wilson, are in unity with the four minutes proposed at the end of the report, despite beginning from diverse viewpoints. The Task Force followed three working principles. The first was to lay themselves open to the opinions and feelings of as many people associated with the Meeting and School for Friends as possible. The second was to immerse themselves in the relevant history of the two organizations. The third principle was to hold open until the last moment possible the writing of recommendations so that early decisions would not blind Task Force members to contrary facts and ideas.
A Friend raised suggested some clarifications regarding SfF tuition ($13,500) and financial aid figures (one-fifth of students receive such aid). It was further noted that the statement that “financial aid amounts are relatively small” is a matter of some debate; the scholarship aid for 2007-2008 was $80,000. A Friend noted that the school serves students of diverse learning capabilities; this is one of the various metrics of diversity found in the SfF student population.
Friends with experience in Religious Education expressed disagreement with the facts upon which the Task Force based the sixth of its findings, that is, the finding that the Meeting’s challenges in supporting and integrating our children and families are independent of the Meeting’s relationship with the SfF. While the families from SfF are small in number, they are active in serving on committees and as teachers and care givers. There was some discussion of the difficulty of accurately measuring the number of families who joined the Meeting because of SFF involvement.
Another Friend asked about the process followed by the Task Force, raising a question about a session that sought participation by people who had little connection with the school. She asked if there were instances in the history of FMW where threshing sessions were held which discouraged or proscribed participation based on committee service, point of view, or organizational affiliation. Task Force members explained that this meeting was one in a larger series of contacts with the Meeting community.
A Friend spoke of his experience and knowledge of other Task Forces that also sought broad input from the Meeting community and similarly held sessions that varied in their focus and format.
Discussion of the substantive proposals of the Task Force was laid over until next month. Friends are encouraged to read the report, which will be available in the office and distributed through the list-serve.
Tim Cline, Clerk of Finance and Stewardship Committee, presented an interim report (copy attached) that provides further detail on the projected deficit for the fiscal year ending in 2008. The Finance and Stewardship Committee is asking all regular donors to give an additional $6 per week or $25 per month. We are currently living beyond our means and cannot continue doing soon an ongoing basis. A Friend noted that while she will meet the S25 per month challenge she is reluctant to increase giving beyond that until we have addressed the issue of a capital campaign for building renovation and she is concerned that there are members of the Meeting who do not make any financial contributions.
Friends Meeting of Washington and the School for Friends have occupied adjoining spaces for more than two decades without ever clearly defining the nature and parameters of this relationship. There has been no lease or other written agreement, little or no direct Meeting oversight of programs or practices at the School, and relatively little interaction or information consistently exchanged between these two groups.
Spurred by the deteriorating condition of its buildings, an imperative to make its facilities accessible to all, and a commitment to sound environmental stewardship, Friends Meeting of Washington came to understand that its long-standing ambiguous relationship with School for Friends requires clarification and formalization. At the May 13, 2007 Meeting for Worship for Business, the issue of “divergent ideas about the relationship between Friends Meeting of Washington and School for Friends” was raised. The Meeting agreed to establish:
a taskforce of five people to do deep research on the issue and to come back by December 2007 with a concrete proposal that would clarify our relationship with School for Friends. The goal of the taskforce would be to narrow the plethora of options so that we have one concrete proposal and a suggested path forward.
The Task Force is presenting this report and its recommended minutes in accordance with the Meeting’s direction. We ask that our report be accepted for discussion in the manner of Friends and that our Task Force be laid down as of the conclusion of this Meeting for Business.
The Task Force adopted three working principles: (1) We needed to lay ourselves open to the opinions and feelings of as many people associated with the Meeting and School for Friends as possible, talking directly with those potentially affected by the Meeting’s ultimate decision rather than relying on hearing indirectly about opinions and feelings; (2) We needed to immerse ourselves in the relevant history of the two organizations to understand each of our origins and we needed to examine current practice to understand existing pressures and opportunities; and (3) We needed to hold open until the very last possible moment the writing of a definitive set of recommendations in order to avoid the possibility that decisions reached too early would blind us to contrary facts and ideas. We used a private internet group that automatically permitted each of us to communicate what we had learned as we studied the array of issues. Thus, every member of the Task Force has had access to data gathered by any one of us.
We have read the relevant Minutes of the Meeting and of some of its committees. We have talked to Friends who were clerking committees at the time decisions were made to better understand their decisions. We have met jointly with FMW Trustees and the Trustees of SfF. We have had extensive contact with the Chair of the Board of SfF. We have talked with Jim Clay, the Director of SfF. We have met with teachers at the School and with parents of children in the School (both current and former). We held a session particularly directed to hearing from those who had little connection with the School. We received a thoughtful letter from the Meeting’s Religious Education Committee. We have been informed by visits to the School’s two locations while they were in session. Finally, we have had conversations with at least two other meetings with schools on their property. Friends Council on Education’s pamphlet, The Care Relationship: Friends Schools and the Religious Society of Friends, provided us with a valuable context for our inquiries.
Like all members of the Meeting, we benefited from reading the articles by Beth Cogswell this year printed in the FMW Newsletter that provided an abundance of current information about the manner in which the School operates and its underlying philosophy.
In addition to the proactive efforts of the Task Force, we benefited from the willingness of many in the Meeting and School communities to approach one or more of us to share ideas and concerns. Each time we learned that a particular person or group felt they might not have been heard, a member of the Task Force reached out to talk with the persons concerned.
No effort such as this can be achieved with the certainty that every single person with an idea has been heard or that every variation of each idea has been heard directly. But we are confident that our effort exposed us to the range of opinions, hopes, concerns, and dreams that exist in the Meeting and at the School. As directed by the Meeting, we have used this wealth of data to inform the wider community, to make findings, and to reach unity among ourselves on a minute that expresses our best discernment of the direction to be taken.
History of Friends Meeting of Washington and School for Friends
Friends Meeting of Washington built the present Meeting House during the last half of 1930 and held their first Meeting for Worship there on January 6, 1931. It was not just a new meeting house for an old meeting. It was a new Meeting, formed to provide a place of worship for Friends of all affiliations.
After about two decades all the available space in the Meeting House was being used on Sundays so space for the First Day School had to be obtained from Holton Arms School for Girls on S Street NW. To bring First Day School back to the Meeting premises, a committee was formed to consider various options. The Meeting then engaged an architect to add to the Decatur Place side of the building and to build a third floor that added two new classrooms. The effort proved frustrating, netted very little new usable space, and sent the Meeting back to its problems of allocating what space it had.
In 1953, a proposal was presented to the Meeting to encourage spin-off groups and to consider them as potential preparative meetings that FMW would parent. Northern Virginia was on its way to preparative meeting status by then and Bethesda moved along quite rapidly. Adelphi used funds available to it to purchase land at Adelphi on which the Adelphi Meeting House was later built.
FMW members today looking back at that period in the Meeting’s history should not underestimate the changes that played over the still-young Meeting in the first decades of its existence. Washington DC’s suburbs were being populated by families leaving the city — a trend that accelerated (largely along racial lines) following the desegregation of the District’s schools in the 1950s and 1960s. People who stayed in the city tended to be single adults or couples without children or had very small families. The combination of the new suburban meetings and the movement of families to adjoining states inevitably affected the composition of FMW. Even the young women who had come to work in DC in large numbers during World War II and stayed often did not marry; those who married frequently did not have children. Many were long-term tenants of Connecticut Avenue, Kalorama, and Dupont Circle apartments; more than a few became members of our Meeting community. This generation of stalwarts provided leadership for Meeting committees and people power for such activities as spring and fall cleaning of the Meeting House. But as a group, they did not bring many young people to our Meeting community. The Meeting developed and maintained a Children’s Library and worked to keep a First Day School alive and meaningful, both in an effort to be of service to the parents and children who were a part of FMW.
Purchase of Quaker House
In the spring of 1970, FMW learned that 2121 Decatur Place NW was about to be put up for sale. (This property consists of a former garage, sometimes called the Carriage House, and Quaker House. Current usage at FMW tends to refer to both parts of the building as “Quaker House,” a convention we adopt.) For forty years, the west boundary of FMW property had been the alleyway outside the Assembly Room door. The building next door was an underused property, at that time rented out as a dormitory for single male employees of an embassy. The sale generated a vision in the Meeting of a “Washington Friends Center” that would be so full of Friends’ activities and so dynamic in its witness, outreach and service that there would be no space to rent. Friends at that time believed that the Meeting could develop the resources to pay for the envisioned program costs, including the salary for staff to operate the Center. A similar proposal came out of the so called 3-F Committee in the early years of this century; as with the earlier proposal, the Meeting has not acted to turn vision into reality.
After the purchase, a Quaker House Committee of Management consisting of about fifteen Friends representing area meetings met monthly to concern itself with the property. On December 6, 1970, that Committee of Management viewed a film of the Adams Morgan Play School, which was then about a year old. The Play School was being displaced from 1900 T Street NW, which was scheduled for demolition. This Play School, which had been supported initially by the American University Education Department, served about fifty children who were not in Head Start or other community preschool programs. The Play School had lost the University’s funding and was applying to foundations for financial support, but its organizers recognized that the Play School needed a proper facility. The Meeting offered Decatur Place Room to the Adams Morgan Play School for seventeen of its children. The Play School remained in the Meeting House (Decatur Place Room) and/or Quaker House until 1973. In his report that year Charles Harker, Clerk of the Committee of Management, noted with regret the loss of the Adams Morgan Play School without explanation and expressed the hope that the Meeting could build better working relations with other tenants and users.
The Committee of Management struggled with many problems concerning the best use of Quaker House space, but did not revive the idea of a child care program until 1978. Eleanore Harker, Ruth Richards, Sara Hadley, and Sally Cory had never given up on the possibility of a Meeting-sponsored-and -managed daycare program. Eleanore reported in Monthly Meeting on May 14, 1978, that an interest group was forming to explore the possibility of the Meeting starting its own daycare center, nursery school or infant care facility.
Those interested in such a Meeting program filed an application to the District government for licensing a daycare facility in Quaker House. The Day Care Planning Committee, as it became known, met all through the winter of 1978 to 1979 and presented an application to the Zoning Board in the summer of 1979. The application was bitterly opposed by neighbors, primarily because the Meeting could not offer off-street parking for staff or student drop-off. At that point, the Social Order Committee of the Meeting picked up the burden of going forward with child care. In November, 1979, the Day Care Planning Committee asked to be laid down.
In 1981, a small group of neighborhood parents and Quakers founded the Friendly Child Care Center, a one-room school at the Quaker House location (the name was later changed to School for Friends). The Meeting provided a $6,000 seed grant to purchase equipment and supplies. Until 1999, the school was supported by the Meeting through an allocation from the Sharing Budget. The school has made payments in lieu of rent to the Meeting for the use of one classroom, restroom facilities, and an office at Quaker House.
In addition, the School uses other parts of Quaker House from time to time and has the use of the garden for play equipment. The School pays about $1,500 a month for space that the Meeting provides.
From the start, the program provided full- and part-time care to working parents of children ages two to five. In the first year, the school established a scholarship fund within the operating budget. Most of the fund-raising money for the first three years went to the scholarship fund. In 1983 School for Friends received its non-profit status as an independent educational facility, separate from the legal entity of Friends Meeting of Washington.
As the School became better established, its reputation as a quality child care center grew. Responding to the urging of the parents, the School began to grow. In 1984, School for Friends expanded from twenty-five families to sixty families, from five staff to fourteen staff, and from one classroom to four. But only one classroom remained at Quaker House; the others were located at Church of the Pilgrims at 22nd and P Streets NW. The two locations operate as a single educational institution under the direction of Jim Clay.
Governance of School for Friends
The School for Friends is listed in the Directory of Friends Schools, published by the Friends Educational Council in Philadelphia. All member schools of Friends Council must have a Board consisting of fifty percent Quakers. FMW has regularly appointed five members in staggered terms of three years each who sit with an equal number of parents as part of a ten-member governing board.
For twenty years between 1984 and 2004, School for Friends provided written or oral reports annually to the Meeting for Business. Members of the School’s Board were invited to be present to respond to questions and receive comments. The School was represented by its FMW-appointed Board members rather than parent members of the Board, as best we can determine.
There have been one or two occasions in the recent past when FMW’s representatives on the School’s Board have come to Monthly Meeting with special requests for financial help in an emergency, but those requests have been infrequent and the amounts of money requested have been relatively small. The School has developed its own fund-raising activities; the Meeting has cooperated by distributing brochures and posting notices. These fund-raising activities have been mostly in support of scholarship aid.
Facts about School for Friends Today
The School for Friends is widely perceived as one of the premier preschools in Washington DC. Each year the school receives about three applications for each available space. The school has three classrooms differentiated by age. Tuition for a full-time student attending all year in 2007-08 is $16,200. The majority of the enrollment is full-time. The School offers preference to siblings of current and former students and works hard to create a student population that is diverse by various metrics. Visitors to the School cannot help but be impressed with the diversity of the children and staff and the rich teaching environment within the School. The School’s application form asks, “Quaker Affiliation? [Yes] [No] Explain;” preference is given to “siblings, Quakers, and neighborhood families.”
Eight percent of tuition received from full-paying families is applied to financial aid. The school also raises additional money from a family foundation so that a total of ten percent of the operating budget is committed to financial aid. In 2006/7, the scholarship pool was $70,450 (distributed among nine recipients) and in 2007/8 was about $87,000 (being distributed among ten to fourteen recipients at the time data were available to the Task Force). Generally speaking, financial aid, while important to its recipients, is not large enough to reduce dramatically the costs of attending the School, even for many of those receiving it. (In 2006/7, for example, in a student population of over fifty children, nine children received aid; of these nine aid recipients, three received awards amounting to fifty percent or more of their tuition expenses and four received awards amounting to one-third or less of their tuition expenses.) All of the financial aid awards are allocated by a Board member (who is a member of the Meeting), assisted by input from the School’s Director.
There are 56 children currently enrolled: 26 girls and 30 boys (the school does not aim for a strict gender balance each year). The ethnic breakdown of this year’s students is: White – 25; Latino/a – 9; Black/African-American – 17; Native American/Indian – 1, and Asian-American – 8 (some children fall into more than one ethnic grouping, accounting for the difference in totals).
The children at the school come from Washington DC (eighty percent), Maryland, and Virginia. Over twenty-five percent reside in Adams-Morgan or Mount Pleasant.
In addition to the space in Quaker House and its associated playground, the School has three classrooms, two bathrooms, a small partial kitchen, a storage area, a teachers’ lounge, a Director’s office, attended off-street parking and drop-off areas, and a playground at the Church of the Pilgrims. The School pays about $4,000 per month for its facility at Pilgrims. The School formerly had the use of an additional large classroom at Pilgrims, but that is now reserved exclusively for Church Sunday School purposes. Part of the first floor space is occupied by Church offices. The Church also rents out space to other non-profit organizations in spaces at the southern end of its building complex.
The School’s budget is appropriate for its size and mission. The School is operated prudently by its Board, staff, and Director. It has shared its financial statements with the Task Force; they reveal a record of sound financial management. The service of the Meeting’s representatives to the School’s Board is valued by both the Meeting and the School.
The classroom environments at School for Friends are rich with objects and play areas to stimulate each age group. Teachers are genuinely interested in their students and engaged by their work; at least one teacher has been with the School for over twenty years. Teachers are offered opportunities for professional growth.
Children at the School are introduced to Quaker values and they are given many opportunities over the course of each day and week to practice skills of non-confrontational disagreement, sharing, helping one another and calling on others to help resolve disputes without rancor. Even young children experience short periods of silence, with tenderness toward the variety of religious values of different children’s homes and parents. The older children in Quaker House have short meetings for worship in our Meeting House. At one time, there was intervisitation between the students and guests at the Senior Center; this has not occurred for a number of years.
Taken together, all of these facts about the School for Friends indicate that it is an extraordinary setting for the development of its students. It is a School that Friends can be proud to be associated with, both in its founding and in its future.
Priorities of School for Friends
The School for Friends community has not attempted to reach unity on questions concerning the School’s relationship with FMW. However, members of our Task Force have met either individually or in groups with various stakeholders at the School. In each case, the topic arose, “What is your number one priority for the School in the future?” Without any hesitation or exception, every person or group said, “We want to be consolidated in one location.” The separation of the two “campuses” of the School imposes numerous burdens on everyone. The Director has to be present at some time at each location. Teachers who want to learn about different age groups or to team teach find it difficult or impossible to arrange. Staff absences are difficult to work around. Parents with an older child and a younger child suffer logistical difficulties, particularly given the parking and traffic challenges in our area. Even the students are affected: we heard that those located at Pilgrims hardly think about the Quaker House facility at all and lack regular opportunities to learn from and observe the older children working and playing. It is little wonder that all connected with the School yearn for a single location.
Virtually all SfF stakeholders are attracted by the social and ethical values of Quakerism, though there are varying levels of awareness and engagement with Quaker principles and testimonies. None of the SfF staff are members of Quaker meetings.
A small capital campaign feasibility study conducted by the School indicated that it has relatively little capacity for raising a large amount of money to be used to pay for facility expansions. The study estimated that a reasonable goal for the SfF community is in the range of $250,000 to $380,000. This is understandable, given that parents of young children tend to be facing many years of education expenses and ordinarily are not at the height of their earning power.
Experiences of Other Friends’ Meetings Sharing Property with a School
The Religious Society of Friends has an historic commitment to education; many distinguished educational institutions in both England and the United States trace their beginnings to the work of Friends. There is great variety in the manner in which Quaker founded or Quaker-influenced schools are now governed and in the nature of their connections, if any, with local meetings. In the pamphlet The Care Relationship, seasoned Friend Deborra Sines Pancoe describes the relationship as follows:
A Friends school may be considered under the care of the Meeting that sponsored its founding and that continues to feel responsible for its spiritual and/or fiduciary well being. While this term originally indicated a relationship of direct oversight and control by the Meeting, it is currently used to describe a variety of configurations for responsibilities, roles, and connections between Friends schools and Meetings.
Pancoe lists what she calls the “Golden Rules for Good School-Meeting Relationships” in seven maxims: (i) Know each other; (ii) Communicate well and often; (iii) Define roles and clarify boundaries; (iv) Be good “(F)friends” to each other; (v) Understand external pressures; (vi) Strengthen leadership relationships; and (vii) Actively build a healthy relationship around core values. A reading of Pancoe’s explication of each of these Golden Rules makes it abundantly clear that neither FMW nor SfF has excelled at following the recommendations embodied in the Rules. To increase and strengthen the current relatively low intensity of contact and communication that now exists between the Meeting and the School would take a major commitment of time and energy on the part of both communities. To be sure, the Meeting — that is, a group of individual Friends, each of whom is willing personally to devote energy to building a relationship and to make a sustained commitment to the process — could create FMW’s side of the partnership; SfF would need to find the resources of time and energy to mirror the effort. Whether or not such joint efforts are likely to occur is subject to considerable doubt.
The relationship between FMW and SfF is complicated both because part (but not all) of the School is located on Meeting property and the Meeting is contemplating embarking on a capital campaign to renovate and redesign its buildings. We have learned of at least two Friends schools that share space on their meetings’ property. As we understand the respective situations, one school has chosen to abandon its buildings in order to separate itself from the meeting; the other school is in mediation with its meeting over disagreements relating to use of space and respective roles and responsibilities. In the Washington DC area, Friends are familiar with the unhappy relationship between one of our suburban Meetings and a school it sponsored that ended with the school closing and serious financial liabilities being generated.
The experience reflected by the Friends Council on Education’s publication and the experience of many Friends indicates that the relationship between a meeting and a school can be extremely harmonious and offer tremendous value to both institutions. These experiences also make clear that such a powerful, healthy synergy does not happen without considerable effort, energy and commitment from all involved.
Task Force Findings
· The Meeting community treasures its children and families, but we currently struggle with providing steady support and guidance both to our children and their caregivers. A number of Friends, including parents of young children and nonparents alike, are concerned that children are not integrated into the life of the Meeting as fully as they might be and that parents do not receive the support that they need.
· The Meeting community recognizes the unique value of School for Friends as an exceptional learning environment for young children, a way to share the social and ethical values of Quakers, a form of outreach into the broader community and a source of support for children and families within the Meeting, primarily in the form of shared spaces, toys, equipment, personnel, and, for those children who attend both SfF and FMW, a sense of continuity. The Meeting benefits from the fact that some SfF teachers, who are pre-cleared by the authorities to be with children, work as paid child care providers on Sundays and at some other events; their arrangements are made directly with the Meeting as individuals.
· We recognize that there is concern on the part of some members of the School’s Board, as well as some members of the Meeting, that a lack of physical proximity will weaken the already tenuous ties between the two institutions.
· The School and the Meeting also have a financial relationship. For many years, the School has enjoyed a substantial subsidy from the Meeting in the form of use of its space at less than market rates. We acknowledge that market rates are hard to determine for the Quaker House Property so the exact size of the subsidy is difficult to calculate; nonetheless, the subsidy provides one measure of the material support that the Meeting has provided to the School over many years.
· Although the Meeting community values its ties to the School for Friends, we find that historically the relationship between FMW and SfF has been one of tenant and landlord. While some within the Meeting community see the School as central to our mission, the community as a whole does not share a strong commitment to the School and its future as a key component of any building renovation or construction project.
· We find that the Meeting’s challenges in supporting and integrating our children and families are independent of the Meeting’s relationship with the School for Friends. The School has no organized program to reach out to children of FMW members who are not SfF students, nor is that its mission or obligation. Strengthening the First Day School program, which we wholeheartedly support, is the Meeting’s work and is neither dependent upon nor guaranteed by the continued presence of the School for Friends on Meeting property. The advantage to First Day School of having SfF on our property — primarily the availability of a clean, safe, well-supplied classroom — is deeply appreciated by many parents in our Meeting, but even this benefit is an inadequate substitute for an enthusiastic, consistent, and comprehensive support of families by the Meeting as a whole. Nor is the availability of such a classroom foreclosed by the absence of SfF from our property.
· Similarly, we have not found that the School is a major form of outreach to families. The number of newly-attending children and parents brought to FMW through SfF is low relative to the total number of attenders. While some of these families make significant contributions to the community (particularly to the care of children), their presence and contributions do not and cannot fully address the underlying challenge of ensuring support for all families within the community.
· The highest priority for those directly within the School community is to have the entire population of the School under one roof. Consolidation into a single space with the School at its present size would require that four classrooms be available, together with administrative space, storage space, bathrooms, outdoor play areas, and (ideally) a teachers’ lounge.
· The School’s administration and teachers recognize that the space it now occupies in Quaker House has many features that make it less than ideal as a space for young children.
· Consolidation of SfF within a renovated FMW property would almost certainly require the construction of additional space and/or the renovation of the entire Quaker House property for conversion to School use. While some sharing of space within the confines of a renovated Meeting House building itself might be possible — the so-called “dual use” option — pursuing this path raises a number of practical considerations: delaying a capital campaign in order to determine with any accuracy the additional cost of a dual use solution; designing space to meet a school’s security needs; assuring that space was available for Meeting use when needed; assuring that any design decisions made to accommodate a school would not preclude later alternative use by the Meeting if the School’s needs were no longer being met on our property; and the frequently expressed call by Friends to have plenty of spaces available for community building purposes within the Meeting. Taken together, these factors lead the Task Force to be pessimistic that Friends would rally around such a dual use solution.
· The physical condition of Quaker House is such that unless expensive reconstruction is undertaken, the building could become uninhabitable without warning at any time. Even in its current condition, Quaker House has many drawbacks. The classroom, designed as a garage, has inadequate heating; the apartment above must be overheated (and windows left open to be comfortable) if the classroom space is to be warm enough. Plumbing appears to be cast iron, subject to internal failure. The slate roof is well beyond its expected lifespan.
· School for Friends does not have the funds now nor is it likely to have them when needed to contribute a meaningful amount to a renovation project on the Meeting’s property.
· In any event, if construction or renovation is begun on Quaker House, the School will have to find alternative housing for a minimum of one or two school years.
Based on our work over the past seven months, the Task Force recommends that Meeting for Business approve the following four minutes. Members of the Task Force are in unity with each of these proposed minutes:
The Task Force established by Monthly Meeting for Business May, 2007, having completed its work, is laid down.
Friends Meeting of Washington should continue offering the current space in Quaker House and the associated play area with no increase in cost to the School for Friends through June 2010. By that time, Friends Meeting of Washington will expect the School for Friends to have located alternative space for its programs.
Friends Meeting of Washington should, if the School for Friends so agrees, maintain its connection with the School through appointing members to its Board of Trustees and inviting connections between the two communities. The Meeting should nurture its relationship with the School by welcoming all parents and children to worship with the Friends Meeting of Washington community and to learn more about Quakers. In so doing, the Meeting should acknowledge and affirm the benefits offered to the Meeting by the School and continue to seek to support the School as a valued form of service, outreach, and enrichment.
As way opens, the Meeting should explore new ways to support and stay closely connected with the School as it moves physically from our property, such as establishing scholarships for children of members of the Meeting to attend the School, inviting parents and children to attend special “Family Worship” sessions at the Meeting on selected First Days, or taking other steps that Friends may recommend in the future.
Task Force Members:
Robin Appleberry Barbara G. Nnoka
S. Clement Swisher Grant Phelps Thompson
William A. Wilson III
The Clerk suggested that Friends focus their discussion on the substance rather than the details of School for Friends (SfF) place in the planned renovation. Recognizing that final resolution was unlikely to be achieved in this session, he asked that Friends limit themselves to one comment in this Meeting, and that the topic be held over for further consideration next month. Several Friends opined that SfF’s role in the renovation could not be discussed without a broader examination of the overall relationship between the two entities as well as the Meetings relationship to its wider community. The suggested limitations were laid aside.
A Friend reminded the Meeting of the Quaker values of simplicity and good stewardship, and suggested that comments be offered in prayerful consideration of these principles. The Ministry and Worship committee offered six queries directed toward helping the Meeting stay centered, patient, and open in this discussion, and to minimizing tensions and facilitating healthy resolutions where such tensions may occur.
Several Friends bore witness to the strong interrelationship between FMW and SfF and the mutual dependence of the two parties; many expressed their feelings of tenderness and concern for SfF. Some cited the many benefits FMW realizes from its relationship with SfF and expressed concern for the long-term health of FMW if its ties to SfF were severed. One cited her appreciation of the inter-generational nature of FMW and the vital role SfF plays in that regard. Others expressed the value of their Quaker educations and the importance of early childhood experiences in general.
A Friend cited several benefits FMW derives from its physical proximity to SfF, including, for example, SfF’s maintenance and upkeep of equipment and furnishings, its assumption of responsibility for obtaining necessary licensing and permits, its willingness to share curriculum materials, and the use of SsF’s certified teachers in First Day School and child care. She believes that further benefits would inure to FMW were all SfF ages to be served at FMW. Others spoke to the high proportion of SfF families whose involvement in FMW has continued well beyond their children’s attendance at SfF. A Friend testified to the growing number of children participating in First Day School.
Friends APPROVED laying down the Task Force appointed last May to study the relationship between SfF and FMW and to make recommendations for the future, which recommendations were presented at Meeting for Worship with a Concern for Business in December, 2007. One Friend voiced feelings of disenfranchisement in the work of the Task Force, expressing concern that some interested parties might not have been consulted. Another expressed regret that the SfF did not appear to be represented in the current discussion and cautioned against FMW’s making unilateral decisions that would have profound implications for SfF.
Grant Thompson, convener of the Task Force, cited the extensive interviews that group had undertaken and its conscientious efforts to discern and consider all opinions. Amy Lear, a Friend long affiliated with SfF and its initial director, reminded Friends of the parent/child relationship between FMW and SfF at the outset, and shared her concerns that the relationship seems to have evolved more toward that of landlord and tenant. She pled for consideration of SfF as an important member of the FMW family.
A Friend cited the certain need for major plumbing and other repairs at Quaker House in the near future. The age and condition of the building raise health and safety concerns for SfF as well as First Day School. Others addressed the various renovation options proposed by the architect and the need for consensus as to basic features the Meeting requires, both now and for its future operations.
A member of the Property Committee named three issues on which the Meeting appears to be unity: the need for renovation; the importance of the continuation of First Day School; and the value of renting unused space to a suitable tenant both to maximize use of resources and to increase income. He mentioned SfF as an available and eager tenant, and suggested the renovation be considered in terms of designing a space in which both entities might thrive. Another Friend reported that at least one consultant has indicated the Meeting has substantial borrowing capacity, making consideration of extensive renovation and expansion possible. He also suggested the Meeting explore other possible tenants for any expanded space.
Several Friends voiced their optimism concerning the future of FMW and confidence in its ability to make the leap of faith necessary to undertake an ambitious maintenance and improvement project which would have the scope and flexibility to meet current and future needs. Others cautioned against undertaking financial obligations beyond our abilities. A Friend cited the experience of St. Columba’s, a church in Northwest Washington which had faced a similar dilemma a number of years ago and had made a substantial commitment to expand its primary school; members of that congregation feel that decision has been a major contributing factor in the church’s growth and current vitality.
Friends discussed the need to clarify FMW’s position with respect to SfF, with some expressing concern that SfF may view the recommendations of the Task Force as the final decision of FMW. Friends APPROVED Clerk Hayden Wetzel’s proposal that he write a letter to SfF to clarify the status of the Task Force report as one of several recommendations and to further explain Friends’ decision-making process.
The need for further discussion, preferably before next month, was recognized. A potluck for this purpose is scheduled for Tuesday evening, 6:30 p.m. January22 at the Meeting House. Other meetings, formal and informal, are encouraged and may be scheduled as necessary so that parents in need of childcare can attend. Friends were reminded that the list-serve affords opportunity for further sharing.
Clerk Hayden Wetzel reported that he had written School for Friends (SfF), as authorized in the January Meeting for Business, to clarify the status of the Task Force Report as one recommendation among many and to explain the decision making process among Friends. He also met with Jim Clay of SIF to reiterate those points.
Friends reported on the two pot luck meetings which have been held to discuss this topic since last month’s meeting for business. Discussions at these events have been lively and the level of engagement was reported to be high. The first session focused primarily on architectural renovation options two and three, including a walk-through of the provisions and possible uses of each plan. That meeting also identified a number of unanswered questions, such as zoning requirements, square footage required per student, and the need for clarification of SfF’s needs and desires of SfF. It was reported that there was little enthusiasm at that session for a possible sale of any portion of FMW’s property.
The second session considered and set aside proposed architectural option one, which would preclude the sharing of space between SfF and FMW. It further identified the following key questions: “What does FMW need for its own use, and how much of that space could be shared with SfF?” and again, “What does SfF need and what does it desire?” At that meeting, someone asked whether SfF was a Quaker school; the meeting was assured that it is.
Friends expressed appreciation for the reports of these sessions, which many had been unable to attend. It was noted that persons attending the same sessions sometimes had divergent opinions of the tone and tenor of the meetings. One Friend voiced surprise that the possibility of a sale of a portion of the meeting’s property appeared to have been so quickly rejected. Another answered that her report was limited to the discussion at one meeting, at which approximately 20 friends were present, and did not necessarily reflect the opinions of FMW as a whole. Still another reminded Friends that FMW’s needs and dreams had been shared with and were already reflected in the architectural options under consideration. A third pot luck session is being planned, with the possibility of others if they should seem useful.
Friends spoke to the growing urgency of physical renovations and repairs. One cited the size and continued growth of First Day School, which is limited by current facilities. Others emphasized the imminence of plumbing crises at Quaker House and the lack of accessibility for a significant and growing segment of the community. Another Friend voiced her resistance to being pushed to make hasty decisions and cited the need for seasoning though expectant waiting.
David Etheridge presented a proposal from the Trustees that the Planning Committee be “reorganized to pursue answers to technical building renovation issues and to draw threads of searching within the meeting to consensus on a renovation plan.” One Friend objected to this proposal out of concern that the appointment of yet another group for this purpose could further delay the decision making process. Another suggested that the objectives of the Planning Committee be expanded to specifically include setting and adhering to a compact time line. The meeting APPROVED the reinstatement of the Planning Committee. Andrew Lightman stood in opposition to the proposal, but declined to stand in the way of its approval. This reinstatement expands upon and supersedes the planning activity which William Foskett reported in the November, 2007 Meeting for Business.
Robin Appleberry reported that the Ministry and Worship Committee plans a series of sessions to discuss Quaker process. Friends noted the need to listen to one another with love and acceptance of divergent points of view and to be mindful of our responsibilities as faithful stewards of both our physical property and spiritual community. We also need to trust one another as we seek to ascertain the sense of the Meeting.
Trustees recommend that the Planning Committee established to work with the architectural firm of Leon Chatelain be revived and reorganized. Its objectives would be (1) to pursue technical renovation issues, particularly as they relate both to shorter and longer term renovations, (2) to be an information and contact point for Friends, (3) to inform the Meeting regarding “green” matters and to assure that adequate attention to greening is given in any renovation plan, and (4) to draw together the threads of a possibly emerging consensus about a comprehensive renovation as these threads emerge from a range of ad hoc discussions within the Meeting.
It is recommended that the new Planning Committee consist of two or three members of the Property Committee, one Trustee (preferably one who had served on the earlier Planning Committee), one member of the Finance and Stewardship Committee, one member of the Ministry and Worship Committee, one member of the Religious Education Committee, and the Alternate Clerk of the Meeting.
Background: The existing Planning Committee was created when the Meeting approved the planning contract with the architect Leon Chatelain. He had requested a group no larger than seven to represent the Meeting in working with him. The proposal for the contract had been initiated by Trustees and they were represented by three people, Bill Foskett (Clerk of Trustees and Clerk of the Committee once established), Judy Hubbard and Susan Lepper. In addition, Property Committee was represented by its then Clerk Byron Sandford; Finance and Stewardship was represented by Stoph Hallward; the Administrative Secretary, Riley Robinson, was a member; and Linda Mahler was appointed as representative with special information and sympathy for the accessibility issues.
The Meeting had already approved the primary objectives for the renovation, taken from the FFF report: accessibility, security, and solving flooding problems. In addition, Leon Chatelain and his colleague discussed with many groups within the Meeting and with the SfF their perceptions of needs.
The report and floor plans from Chatelain have been available for over a year and a half and, within that time, two things have occurred: a Financial Feasibility study was conducted; author Henry Freeman concluded that it was very difficult to get a sense of capital campaign possibilities until the issues of consolidation of SfF on FMW property and the use or disposition of Quaker House were resolved. This has not happened. In addition, the membership of the original Planning Committee has eroded as three Friends have moved out of town, taken other jobs etc.
A new Planning Committee, as is recommended, should have a slightly different distribution of committee and officer representation to reflect the current work to be done.
Ken Forsberg presented what he characterized as a “pre-first presentation” report to share information regarding the Committee’s progress concerning modifications to make the meetinghouse more accessible. He indicated the Committee’s general agreement that adding an elevator to the west of our existing main structure provided the best option; additional interim solutions, such as a chair lift, an external ramp and additional railing, are also being reviewed. A Friend expressed her hope that the staff be consulted in any option that might impact their office space. Ken observed that the Committee walks a fine line in discerning the sense of the meeting sufficiently to warrant the engagement of professionals at a point at which the Meeting does not have specific proposals for review.
Bill Foskett reported that Ken Forsberg, Markku Allison, Susan Lepper, Willy Wilson, Maurice Boyd and Tracy Hart have been named to represent their various committees on the Planning Committee, which was authorized by the Meeting in February. The Committee will hold its initial meeting on Tuesday,
David Etheridge reported that the potluck meeting held since the February meeting for business had focused on identifying the minimum needs of the meeting. Results of that discussion have been posted on the list serve; additional comments may also be posted there. Friends expressed appreciation for the diligence of Roger Burns and others in arranging these sessions.
John Gale, Co-Clerk of the Property Committee, presented the attached Recommendation on Improving the Physical Accessibility of the FMW Meeting House. He noted that the Committee had been tasked to examine the issue of physical accessibility last year, has undergone significant threshing on the issue, and is now in unity on the desirability of adding an elevator to the west of the existing main building, along with a new, more welcoming and secure entrance from Decatur Place. Correction of severe drainage problems in that area would be accomplished in conjunction with this addition. Friends requested clarification and were assured that the proposed addition could in all likelihood be incorporated in any eventual renovations currently under consideration. A Friend spoke to the increasing urgency of physical accessibility given the age of many of our members. Friends APPROVED and authorized the Property Committees proposal that it work with the Planning Committee to search for a design firm to prepare preliminary drawings and develop cost estimates for the proposed addition and drainage correction work. The Committee will report back to the Meeting the results of this search; their report will include the estimated costs for preparing these preliminary drawings.
The FMW Ministry and Worship Committee invite all Friends to take part in a worship sharing session on the spiritual implications of renovating our buildings on Saturday, May 10, at 4 p.m. in the Meeting Room. Worship will focus on these four queries:
1) Is our discernment concerning the renovation an important part of our spiritual work or a distraction from it?
2) If it is a distraction, is there a way to do our discernment differently that would be spiritually beneficial?
3) Does owning and maintaining our buildings benefit or threaten the spiritual state of our Meeting?
4) Do we need new or improved physical facilities to support the meeting’s ministry or would our ministry be improved by owning fewer buildings or none at all?
Unlike a regular Meeting for Worship where we come with no prior intention either to speak or not speak, in worship sharing we come aware that we probably will speak. As in a regular Meeting for Worship, however, we do not answer another person, discuss, dispute, disagree, correct or straighten one another out. While others are speaking we try to avoid preparing what we will say or listening critically for error, points of disagreement or places where we could improve upon what is said. We lay aside our critical listening skills which serve to separate us from one another and from what is said. Instead, we try to listen to each person as a unique child of God, a unique gift of God to us. We try to hear how God might be mindful whether any pattern seems to be emerging in what is shared, whether it reflects any movement of the Spirit among us.
Pat Loring offers this image of worship sharing:
“The worship sharing can be likened to a time in which each person, in turn, carefully selects from his collection a single stone to throw in the water. The stone may be selected because it is similar to one that was thrown previously — or because it is very different. Or because it complements another, or because it’s easiest to part with — or for a variety of reasons. It is important, however, that one not choose for the occasion a large rock which will make too big a splash or take too much space. It is important, also, that one choose just a single stone and not a group or a whole collection. When the last ripple has died away, we may have a unique collection of individual stones in our pool. Or we may find that a pattern has emerged, independent of our plans or volition, which would not have arisen had we not come together in this way, or had someone missing. We may find ourselves as deeply spoken to by the pattern as by individual contributions”.
If you need child care to attend this event, please email email@example.com so the Ministry and Worship Committee can make the necessary arrangements.
The School for Friends (SfF) Board of Directors is considering making a decision at their June 10 meeting about whether to continue to monitor FMW’s progress on forming a renovations policy relating to the School’s long term presence on our property. The School’s alternative is to focus on searching for a venue other than FMW as a place where they can consolidate all their facilities. Currently, one of the School’s four classrooms is located on our property.
To help ensure that all viewpoints have been considered within FMW’s renovations threshing sessions before the School may make a decision, we have set dates for the next sessions to consider issues about the SfF. The dates are Thursday, May 8, and Tuesday, May 27. As usual, these are tentative dates. Watch the Sunday Announcements for confirmed details or call the FMW Office for information. All threshing sessions are potluck events and are held at 6:30 p.m. in the Assembly Room.
Useful discussions have occurred in recent sessions. On April 10 we discussed the needs of our First Day School (FDS) as recommended by the Religious Education Committee. In addition to learning the hard facts of how many classrooms are needed, we also heard about the great struggle that our FDS teachers and coordinators are constantly engaged in to maintain a quality program, and that volunteers are always needed. Other issues that relate to the SfF have not yet been explored in these sessions, such as the notion that an intimate relationship with the SFF has regularly contributed new attenders and members to our Meeting. This issue and others may be explored at the May threshing sessions.
The session held on March 13 was a general review of issues covered in all the previous sessions this year. The discussion that followed was very fruitful. There has been an emerging proposal to build a “western tier”, i.e. a new building, in the back of our property immediately adjacent to our Meeting Room. This would be a modified version of the Chatelain architect’s ‘Option 3’ design that was suggested to us in 2006 and which can be seen in drawings that are currently displayed in our Assembly Room. This proposal has garnered interest in several threshing sessions with no objections cited by anyone about the general concept. There are numerous ways in which rooms can be laid out internally in this concept, and these possibilities will continue to be discussed within FMW’s Planning Committee.
At the March 13 session there was also discussion of the proposal to build an elevator now, as recommended by the Property Committee. It was pointed out in this session that the work needed to build an elevator may need to displace the old playground equipment that is used by our FDS children, and that under current regulations it could be fairly expensive to replace the equipment.
Lastly, the March 13 session was a challenge. The renovations will be expensive. Is there a possibility that we are “mortgaging our faith”? Might it not be better to consider selling our property, moving to a more modest space, and using the proceeds to help the less fortunate? It was agreed to recommend that Ministry and Worship Committee consider having a worship sharing session on the spiritual aspects of our renovation plans.
– Roger Burns
A modest number of very interested and committed Friends attended a potluck dinner and threshing session on Thursday, April 10, to discuss aspects of the planned renovation of Meeting property, with a focus in this session on the First Day School (FDS). The FDS Committee had prepared a very useful list of “necessities” and preferences and Tracy Hart had supplemented this document with estimates of the costs of some goods and services now provided to the FMW FDS program by the SfF in connection with their tenancy.
In broad outline, the FDS needs four classrooms, including the one for the nursery now provided by the SfF classroom in the Carriage House; access to “assembly space”; where Junior Meeting for Business or musical and other programs can be held for all the classes together; one classroom (or other designated area) that is a “kids only” area not used for adult committee or other meetings after FDS but available for kids while waiting for parents. Perhaps using the same space, the kids would like a “hang out” space with games, available where they can meet before and after formal programs (worship, school, etc.) to increase their sense of community. Also needed is an outdoor playground. Both the outdoor play area and the classrooms need equipment and educational toys that are safe, appropriate books and arts/teaching equipment, and convenient places to store them. To meet child safety standards, all classrooms must have windows in the doors to permit those in access halls to see into the room and should have toilets close enough and arranged so that a child leaving a classroom can be seen by the teacher without the teacher having to leave the room unattended or reducing the number of adults.
These needs and consideration of how they might be met led to lively discussion of the FDS program and its place in the Meeting. On an architectural basis, space currently anticipated in the renovated Meeting House and Carriage House would have adequate classrooms. This would be the space previously found adequate to be rented to a consolidated SfF during the week. It was very useful, however, to have specifics, such as the safety standards and the desirability for space for parent/teacher interaction, made explicit. The arrangement of classrooms (most of which would be used for committee and other adult activities after FDS classes on Sundays) to meet these needs presents some challenges that are yet to be worked through with architects. Commitment by the Meeting to meeting these challenges with rooms that would be bright, cheerful spaces for FDS, with appropriate spaces for toys, books and curriculum materials, was felt to be a central aspect of building renovation that would bring much joy to FMW in the future.
The important role of the SfF was highlighted in regard to the playground but also some other needs of the FMW program. The playground equipment was built by the SfF and is currently maintained by the SfF; this function includes repairs, replacement of mulch and sand, and yearly safety inspection. Averaging the cost of the climbing structure and related equipment over a 15 year estimated life and adding other short-term or annual costs, the total amounts to about $8000 per year. In addition, the cost of maintenance and replacement of furniture and equipment in the classroom currently used by the SfF probably averages several thousand dollars per year. The SfF also facilitates availability of art and curriculum materials that could cost $100 per student per year, but actually are worth more to our teachers, indirectly, because they have been tested and demonstrated in materials on the walls and taken home by students.
The matters of what is taught, curriculum and relations within the Meeting inevitably arose in relation to use of space. The development of curriculum in recent years, now including Quaker history and belief and introduction to the Bible, and the growth of the number of FDS students were applauded. It was noted, however, that there tend to be two separate circles of Friends within the Meeting, those with children and involved in child care and teaching and those without young children and focused on other concerns of the Meeting ranging from social concerns to care of needy Friends. While the preoccupations of each group are unquestionably important, the separation was found costly in several ways. One was the fact that our youngsters may consequently have fewer opportunities to meet older Friends, as acquaintances who take a genuine interest in each other’s lives. A second is that expanded involvement in the FDS and its ranks of teachers is necessary to prevent burn out. Without new additions to the FDS Committee who have interest in curriculum development and selection of materials from sources such as Friends General Conference, it will be necessary to hire a young adult helper to assist teachers in performance of this function.
Overall, the needs of the FDS were found to be crucial to the vitality of the Meeting, both in the terms of current budgeting and in terms of architectural planning.
– Susan Lepper
I read about a monthly meeting that was spending a large amount of time seeking agreement on the color of carpet when one Friend responded that God did not care what color carpet the meeting chose. Are we seeking God’s will in Quaker meeting for business on all issues or those dealing with our relationship with the divine?
A look at history can put our process into perspective; the ministry of Jesus was less than 3 years; World War I, World War II, and the Civil War lasted less than 4 years; the American Revolution took 8 years and
29 US Presidents served for 4 years or less. A bachelors degree takes about 4 years, in seven you can earn a PhD. In seven years a first grader will be in high school and it took less than seven years to have a lunar walk.
7 years ago the Trustees, the Property Committee and Finance and Stewardship agreed to move forward on two key issues; drainage and accessibility. Committees were appointed by the meeting; they sought clarity from all segments of the meeting; they made recommendations and we still have not moved forward.
Is this a matter of seeking God’s will (who I assume has more important issues to resolve)? What is the reason for the endless process that seems to have no end? Do we trust our members who serve on committees to make recommendations? Do we value the contributions of those who have labored on our behalf? Or do we feel that we can step into the process at any time and have it revert to square one? Do we feel that the Quaker process is polite arguing or are we seeking a common goal? Are we willing to let set aside our own choices go to seek unity?
At the rate that we are going, those who currently could benefit from an elevator will no longer need one. Is this God’s will?
– Byron Sandford
Having been tasked by the Meeting on June 10,2007 with finding ways to improve accessibility while larger and thornier renovation discussions continue, the Property Committee of Friends Meeting of Washington makes the following recommendation to the Meeting: that it begin now — while discussions of larger renovation possibilities continue, and without limiting our options for those larger renovation possibilities — to investigate and develop plans for building an extension west of the current main building consisting of an elevator and a new, more welcoming entrance from Decatur Place.
Such an entrance and elevator will in all likelihood be included in any eventual renovation. The Committee is convinced that there is no need to wait for unity on other questions — we believe these pieces can and should he proceeded with now.
At this stage we ask the Meeting to approve and authorize us to take just this first step: that the Property Committee work with the Planning Committee to search for and select a design firm to do preliminary drawings and estimates for such an extension. The Planning Committee will be involved because of the relationship of this project to the overall renovation plans, and the likelihood that we would want to work with the same design firm for this and subsequent stages of our renovations. The Committee would keep the Meeting fully informed of our work and progress, and would return to the Meeting with a recommendation on a design firm. Getting to that point should not cost anything, and we would have a good sense at that point of the costs of proceeding with retaining the design firm to produce an overall plan and detailed design.
The desire to improve the physical accessibility of our facilities has been one of the primary goals underlying discussions of renovations at FMW. Other aspects of renovation possibilities — including how much “building out” we want to do, how much we can afford, and what our relationship should he with the School for Friends — have revealed differences of opinion within the Meeting, which has led to delays as the Meeting seeks unity on these questions. The desires to include an elevator and in other ways improve accessibility and to in other ways make our Meeting House more welcoming, however, have not been points of contention. On those goals and those pieces of the renovation, the Meeting seems to continue to be in unity.
While the larger, thornier discussions continue, the Property Commfttee has been charged with finding ways in which the Meeting could proceed in the meantime to improve accessibility.
Other options considered
The Committee has considered various options to improve accessibility for our facilities.
Short-term, partial fixes:
Option 1) two ramps on the west side of the building (in through the gate from the Decatur Place sidewalk up two steps to the walkway alongside the building, and down three steps at the back of the walkway to the back kitchen door) to allow stair-free access to the Assembly Room through the kitchen. (Very rough cost estimate: $5,000-$20,000)
Option 2) Ramps up the Decatur Place door stoop and then up the three inside steps to the lower hallway. (Very rough cost estimate: $2,000 -$5,000)
Option 3) a chair lift (carries one person) or platform lift (carries one person in a wheelchair) on the stairway up to the Meeting Room. (Very rough cost estimate: $5,000-$25,000)
Permanent, fuller solutions:
Option 4) an elevator inside the current Meeting House structure, roughly somewhere in the area where the parlor or library (2nd floor) and offices and bathrooms (1st floor) are now. (Very rough cost estimate: $150,000+++)
Option 5) an elevator west of the current main building, roughly just outside the office wall somewhere in the vicinity of the east end of the playground, connected to the current main building with hallways entering the current office (1st floor) and current parlor or library (2nd floor). This option would probably include a new stairway near the elevator, for additional fire egress and better “traffic flow” (Very rough cost estimate: $250,000+++)
Option 6) a new entrance to the building off of Decatur Place, where the gate is now, between the main building and Carriage house, along the lines of what is proposed in all of the Chatelaine plans. (Very rough cost estimate: $100,000+++)
Coming to Unity on West Elevator and New Entrance
The Committee has come to unity on a recommendation that the Meeting pursue Options 5 and 6, the elevator located west of the current main building together with a new entrance from Decatur Place. Our reasons for preferring these options include the following:
1. Consistency and fit with eventual other renovation plans: In the opinion of one of the committee members who is a professional architect, these options would be consistent with and could be incorporated into any future renovation options the Meeting eventually chose to consider. This judgment is supported by the fact that all three of the Chatelain options drawn up, including both the one with minimal new construction and the one with maximum new construction, include an elevator in the location we are recommending, along with a new more welcoming, more secure entrance. The Chatelain plans are not the only options we have, but as examples of possible designs and elevator placement, they support our judgment about future compatibility with a variety of possibilities. Elevators are generally located centrally, convenient to entrances and corridors and in places with good “traffic flow” as opposed to off in this or that corner of a complex, and the proposed location follows that siting logic.
To repeat and clarify: an elevator in the proposed location, west of the current main Meeting House, is likely to make sense for and be compatible with whatever eventual full renovation plans we arrive at, be they extensive or minimal. We would not have to tear this elevator down to proceed with further renovation. Confirming this point, and preserving maximum future flexibility, would be part of our consultation with an architectural design firm.
The primary accessibility improvements we need in the Meeting House are
a. providing indoor access between upstairs and downstairs for those unable to use the main stairway;
b. providing stair-free access to the downstairs from the Decatur Place sidewalk.
The following table shows which of these two issues the different options would address:
Type of accessibility addressed
I. Ramps along west side back to kitchen door
2. Ramps in Decatur Place door
3a. Platform lift on stairs
3b. Chair lift on stairs
4. Elevator – Internal to current structure
5. Elevator – West of current structure
6. New entrance from Decatur Place
Of the options addressing issue (a), only the elevators and a platform lift are sufficient here, and a platform lift is only minimally so. These lifts are slow — the platform lifts we looked at would take more than a minute to travel the length of the stairway: they can carry only one person at a time; and use of the stairway by others would be limited while such a lift was in progress up or down the stairs. Smaller chair lifts that can carry a person but not a wheelchair would leave more of the stairway available for others to use while the lift was in motion, but such a lift would not provide inside access up and down the stairs for wheelchairs. So to fully and permanently solve issue (a), we need an elevator.
Access from Decatur Place sidewalk
Of the options addressing issue (b), a new entrance is clearly preferable. A ramp in the Decatur Place door is impractical] because it would need to be put down and picked up every time it was used, with the door having to remain open whenever the ramp was in place. Ramps providing access through the gate from the Decatur Place sidewalk along the west side of the building through the kitchen could be left in place, but bringing people through the kitchen is inconvenient and not particularly welcoming.
Neither ramp option addresses the desire for a more secure and more welcoming entrance identified in surveys as another goal of our renovation. A new entrance would provide full, convenient access to wheelchairs, along with the welcome and security the Meeting desires.
We thus arrive at our preference for an elevator and a new entrance.
Elevator location: Inside vs. west of current building
Why do we prefer the west elevator rather than one internal to the current structure? Our judgment is that it would work best with a new entrance, being more conveniently located relative to that entrance. It would also be more likely to fit more easily with future renovation possibilities, as discussed above. An elevator inside the current structure, in the judgment of our member who is an architect, would be more likely to restrict our options for further renovation. The interior option would also displace current activity, while the location west of the current building would not, or at least would do so less substantially. Ultimately, the location will be chosen in consultation with the architectural design firm we retain, so as mentioned above, these judgments will be discussed with our architectural design firm as we move forward.
Friends should note that some secondary access issues will require further solutions: access to the Decatur Place Room and the Terrace Room, for example, would still need to be addressed, in due time.
3. Meeting Unity and Urgency to be more Welcoming to All: The plan has always been for the eventual renovation to include an elevator and a new, more welcoming and more secure entrance. These parts of our plans have not been under contention, as far as we know. The realization that we could proceed with this part of the renovation without limiting our options on subsequent pieces frees us to move forward now on the important things on which we are in agreement. By addressing our main mobility barriers fully and properly and by improving our entrance, this approach would make our physical space more welcoming sooner, without waiting for unity on other questions.
THINGS TO CONSIDER
1. Cost: The options we recommend are the most expensive — upfront — of the options we considered. Our current very rough cost estimate is $300,000 or more. That said, it is basically money the Meeting will probably be spending anyway, since all renovation plans considered so far include an elevator and new entrance. Building the elevator first, before the main renovation project happens, WILL involve paying some premium, i.e., it would be more economical to build the elevator and entrance as part of any eventual larger renovation project than to go ahead and build them now. Just how large this premium would be is difficult to calculate.
2. Funding: The Finance and Stewardship Committee would determine how this project would be paid for, but one possible source would be the Murray Bequest. In the opinion of one Friend familiar with the conditions of that bequest, this project would be an appropriate use for the bequest, consistent with the desires of the Murrays for how the bequest was to be used. The Murray Bequest had $354 thousand in it as of June 30, 2007. We do not mean to trespass into the responsibilities of the Finance and Property Committee in any way, but mention this possible option simply to provide some perspective on costs relative to our resources.
3. Time to complete: It is difficult to know just how long a project like this would take. It would likely be measured in years, maybe around two to four.
4. Historical Preservation: We need to consider the fact that we cannot build externally on the north, east and south sides of our building, because of historic preservation restrictions. That leaves the options of building to the west or staying within the current structure.
5. Shorter-term measures: Depending on how long it looked like this elevator/entrance project might take (if the Meeting decided to proceed), we might also consider implementing one or more of the short-term options in the interim. The Committee is in the process of collecting further information on the feasibility and costs of options 1-3 above.
6. Effect on First Day School and School for Friends: How the proposed construction would affect use of the playground, the current play apparatus, and the operation of School for Friends would have to be determined in consultation with our architectural design firm and construction firm. It is too early in the process to know for sure what these effects would be. It is possible that the play apparatus would be displaced from its current location. A member of our committee who serves on the School for Friends building and grounds committee tells us, however, that the existing play structures behind Carriage House are at the end of their life, and that the school will have to remove them in the next year or two anyway because of the structures’ age and safety considerations. Again, just what effect the proposed project would have on the larger play area and the operation of SFF would become clearer only as plans proceeded, and the Committee would communicate on these questions with the School and the Meeting as information became available.
7. Drainage and flooding issues: While the problem of flooding on the first floor has been less acute the last year or two, there are longstanding drainage issues that still need to be addressed, and many friends have expressed concern that construction west of the current building before such drainage issues are addressed would be problematic. The Committee agrees. An essential part of the proposed project is therefore that a drainage solution be incorporated into the project. Our locating and reading of the most recent and extensive engineering reports done for the Meeting with recommended drainage solutions leaves us confident that the drainage solutions are manageable and can he incorporated into the project (and, indeed, would be as a matter of course by any competent architectural design firm).
8. Zoning issues, neighborhood issues, etc.: Friends should note that we will not have answers to many questions about a project like this until we retain an architectural design firm to come up with some preliminary plans and drawings. We are asking the Meeting to commit simply to beginning to move down the road of consulting and requesting plans and estimates. The decision to hire a construction firm and build would occur at a decision point further into the future, a number of steps further down the road.
We submit this recommendation with excitement at the possibilities for moving forward, but also with humility. We recognize that we may have overlooked certain things, and that there may be more creative minds than ours in the community. While we urge the Meeting to build on our work and deliberations, and not completely recreate them on a larger scale, we understand that there may be some filling in of information gaps required, and that Friends may need some time to come to terms with our recommendations. We welcome the questions, suggestions, and concerns of the Meeting community, and all who would be affected by this proposal.
Respectfully submitted for first consideration April 13, 2008.
Members of the Property Committee:
Basil Alexander Bruce Kellogg
Markku Allison Steve Pearson
Tom Cooke (ex-officio) Brian Reiter
Ken Forsberg, co-clerk Byron Sandford
John Gale, co-clerk John Wax
Friends wishing to share their thoughts or ask questions are encouraged to contact Ken Forsberg, co-clerk of the Property Committee, at firstname.lastname@example.org or any member of the Committee as listed above.
Q and A
(based in part on actual questions posed to the Committee heretofore)
Q: I have not decided about membership in FMW and one reason is its reluctance to implement ‘Quaker values’ and testimonies. The Equality testimony means Friends have to provide equal accessibility. Doesn’t it?
A: Yes, I think Friends at FMW and on the Committee would agree with you. I think the Meeting’s slowness to act on this has stemmed not from any disagreement on that point, but simply from the difficulty of finding the way forward. That said, within ‘finding way forward’ hides a complex mix of urgency, time and energy of committee members, finances, and some other factors. Which is to say, there may be some room for valid criticism of our slowness to act… but it’s complicated.
Q: Why would property committee be considering doing something as expensive as pulling in an elevator when plans to do the whole building are under discussion and any new elevator would probably need to be ripped out in a renovation?
A: We would only do this if the elevator did NOT need to be ripped out in a renovation. The architect on our committee feels strongly that an elevator in the location we’re proposing would fit with (i.e. would be easily incorporated into) any renovation future we come up with, and the Chatelain plans suggest that as well: both the extensive and the minimal options include an elevator in the location we’re considering. We’d confirm that with a professional design firm, if we get to that stage.
Q: Is the location of the elevator practical if we decide to sell all the adjoining property — Quaker House, grounds, Carriage House — and spend some of the money gained by renovating the Meeting House?
A: The new structure that included the elevator and entrance might fit inside a tine drawn straight back from the edge of the Carriage House, but if it pushed further west than that, we would just adjust the property line we’d be creating behind Carriage House. In other words, if we sold the Carriage House, we could sell as much or as little of the space behind it as we wanted to.
Mark Haskell, Co-Clerk of the Garden Committee, presented a Proposal for Grading of the Florida Avenue Garden, which the Meeting had approved in concept several years ago. The work, which would enhance the appearance and accessibility of the “public face of the Meeting,” is proposed to be undertaken within four to six weeks and would take approximately a week to complete at an estimated cost of $11,500. Drawings of the proposed work are posted in the Assembly Room. The Committee has one bid and is currently reviewing a second. The work could be completed promptly with minimal disturbance to the community; further, it would provide a lovely outdoor space which could be a sanctuary during possible future work restricting use of the garden on the west side of the building. The Meeting APPROVED the Garden Committee’s proceeding with this work, subject to the approval of Trustees, who control the funds.
Bill Foskett presented an update on the Planning Committee activities, which include an electronic compilation of all relevant documents; communication with the School for Friends; assembly of a list of possible architects; and the drafting of a statement for use in describing for potential architects the scope of the work to be considered. The Committee expects to bring this statement to a future Meeting for Business for the Meeting’s consideration.
Bill Foskett reported that the Planning Committee has compiled a list of “green” architects and is drafting a letter to these firms to solicit additional information concerning their green credentials and their willingness to work collaboratively with the Meeting and prospective contractors on future renovations. They hope to present the list and proposed letter to the Meeting in July, although this may be delayed until September.
Update on Threshing Sessions Roger Burns clarified that the School for Friends is currently undergoing a three-year strategic plan which it hopes to have completed by the end of the year.
Report on Worship Sharing David Etheridge, Co-Clerk of the Ministry and Worship Committee, reported on the rich fellowship experienced at the recent worship sharing sessions which focused on the Meetings renovation planning. Ministry and Worship is willing to hold additional worship sharing sessions if Friends desire.
Mark Haskell, Co-Clerk of the Garden Committee, reported that the regarding of the Florida Avenue garden has been deferred until the Fall. Friends shared concerns about the need to consider endangered species, possible prehistoric remains, and the no-more-than-one-inch-per-foot gradient limit necessary to make the garden path accessible for those confined to wheelchairs.
Update from the Planning Committee Bill Foskett reported that the Planning Committee has received and is evaluating responses from multiple “green” architects. It is now scheduling interviews and hopes to be able to recommend a short list of possible firms for consideration by Meeting for Business in September. The scope of the work being discussed includes urgent accessibility and flooding issues as well as making the facilities as environmentally friendly as is reasonably possible. The Meeting APPROVED a minute of appreciation for the work of the Planning Committee.
Ken Forsberg, Co-Clerk of the Property Committee, reported its expectation that the regrading of the east and west sides of the property and the necessary cutting into the basement slab recommended by the drainage engineer and landscaper will be accomplished in September. Bids for the platform chair lift, which was being considered as a short-term solution to the accessibility problem, have come in much higher than anticipated ($25-$30,000 compared to approximately $10,000 expected), and the Committee questions whether such an expenditure for a temporary fix represents a wise use of the Meeting’s resources.
A Friend questioned whether the needs of children, and particularly the School for Friends, were being considered. Another raised concerns about historic preservation. Another Friend cited the need to review ADA requirements for grading in the Florida Avenue garden; and still another, water problems in the Decatur Place Room.
Loie Clark noted for the Finance and Stewardship Committee that the Meeting should be prepared for sticker shock, not only for the cost of addressing the construction/renovation work but also the increased operating costs that are likely to result from renovations under consideration. In response to another concern, Ken Forsberg confirmed that multiple bids are being solicited for all work under consideration.
Markku Allison, member of Property Committee reported that the Committee has reviewed the 2003 drainage study with the consultant who prepared it. The Committee is recommending installation of three trench drains to address sources of flooding on the north and west side of the Meeting House at a cost of $7,425. Property Committee will coordinate this work with the Garden Committee plans for landscaping the east yard of the Meeting House. The Committee seeks approval for $10,000 to cover cost of installing the drains and unforeseen associated costs.
This drainage work will not completely solve the flooding, but will deter structural damage to the Meeting House. Nor will this work address the leakage in the Decatur Place Room. Further work to prevent flooding and leakage will be included in the course of construction to provide universal access. The addition of these drains will not divert runoff from FMW to neighboring property.
Friends expressed concern that drainage work, as well as landscaping plans already approved by Meeting but not yet implemented would result in duplicate spending and rework in absence of an overall plan. Friends also expressed concern about further delay in providing universal access and overall planning for renovation of FMWs buildings and property. Friends encouraged further coordination of the drainage and landscaping efforts among the Garden Committee, the Property Committee and the Planning Committee.
After these considerations the Meeting approved an expenditure of up to $10,000 by Property Committee for drainage improvements on the north and west sides of the Meeting House.
Markku Allison reported that the Planning Committee solicited qualifications from architectural firms and received six responses. The Committee selected five firms for interviews which have been completed. The Committee continues to consider information about the firms and expects to make a recommendation for a firm at the October Meeting for Business.
Markku Allison reported that the Planning Committee had interviewed five architectural firms and is now in unity in asking the Meeting to approve its engagement of the firm of Quinn Evans of Washington and Ann Arbor to work with the Planning Committee to clearly define the scope of the work to be done at FMW, specifically addressing the issues of accessibility, flood control and greening. The Committee also seeks the Meeting’s approval of the expenditure of up to $50,000 for this work. It was noted that this expenditure that has already been approved by the Trustees and that funds are available for this purpose from the Murray bequest. A Friend questioned the qualifications and Quaker connections of Quinn Evans. Markku noted that the firm has extensive experience working with religious organizations and committees who report to and require the consensus of other bodies. Architect William Drewer is a Friend and will be the primary person working with FMW.
Friends APPROVED the Planning Committees recommendation of the engagement of Quinn Evans to work with the Planning Committee to define the scope of the work to be done at FMW. The Meeting also minuted its appreciation for the work of the Planning Committee.
Christie Billingsley, an FMW attender and School for Friends (SfF) board member reported that after a year’s discernment, the SFF has identified as its first priority the need to consolidate in one location which will not be at FMW. The School is currently exploring the availability of other space in the neighborhood. Christie conveyed the School’s desire to maintain a close spiritual relationship with FMW and to continue as a Friends school, a status that has deep meaning to staff, students and their families.
Tracy Hart, Clerk of the Religious Education Committee, expressed the Committee’s support of SIF during the transition period. A special invitation will be extended to SfF to worship with FMW on Sunday, November 23; at the rise of meeting, there will be a reception at which Friends will have the opportunity to mingle with staff, students and families. Several other Friends expressed sadness that SfF will no longer be sharing our space and spoke to the opportunity presented to the Meeting to deepen its relationship with the School.
Susan Lepper introduced her report with a note of appreciation to the SfF for clarifying its intent to pursue consolidation at another facility, a decision which has a substantial impact on the Meeting’s planning. She reminded Friends that, following approval at last month’s Meeting for Business, the Committee engaged the architectural firm of Quinn Evans to work with the Planning Committee in clearly defining the scope of renovation work to be undertaken at FMW. As directed by the Meeting, they will specifically address with the highest priority the issues of flood control and accessibility on which the Meeting is in unity. At a first working meeting with the architects, held on November 3, Quinn Evans was represented by William (Bill) Drewer, a Friend who will be the primary architect in charge of the project, and Baird Smith, the other principal architect in the Washington office of Quinn Evans.
Also present was Marcia Lea from EDAW, a landscape design firm with which Quinn Evans frequently works; Marcia will also be involved in the FMW project. The nature of the working relationship and the FMW decision making process were primary topics at that meeting. The architect clearly understands that the work will be a cooperative effort among the architect, landscaper, contractor and the Meeting. Not only does Quinn Evans have a reputation for being a leader in historic preservation and “green” issues, but it is also experienced in working with committees whose decisions require reports to and consensus by larger bodies. There will be opportunities for participation by Friends as planning proceeds.
Susan reported that Quinn Evans and the landscaping firm will soon begin an intensive site review. To facilitate this work, she asked that anyone who may have drawings, plans, cost estimates and any related information prepared for the Garden or other relevant committees over the past decade put copies of those documents in the appropriate committee files in the Meeting office. She also noted that Friends should be mindful of the additional burdens that will be placed on the administrative staff as this planning work proceeds.
In response to a Friends question, Susan noted that the Planning Committee is clerked by William Foskett, who clerked the committee that worked with our previous architect. The other current members of the Planning Committee are Ken Forsberg and Markku Allison (Property Committee), Tracy Hart (Religious Education Committee), Susan Lepper (Trustees), and Willy Wilson (Stewardship and Finance Committee). Faith Williams confirmed that the Ministry and Worship Committee will shortly appoint a representative to serve on the Planning Committee.
I’m co-clerk of the Property Committee, and I fear Friends will see the peeling paint and the big discolored spot on the Meeting Room ceiling and think that nobody cares, that Property Committee isn’t doing its job, or that we’re broke and can’t afford a repair — and that’s why nothing has been done. I’m writing on behalf of the Property Committee to let you know what’s really going on.
First, you do have an attentive Property Committee that is trying very hard, with extremely limited person-power, to get some things done (while also maintaining full-time lives with jobs and families and so on. We have been aware of the need for ceiling repairs for a long time, and several months ago we got quotes from painters for stripping and repainting. The spots and peeling are caused by water leaks, however, and we don’t want to repaint if more leaks are just going to cause more peeling and discoloration. So we’ve been holding off on the repainting until we got a solid understanding of where the water was coming from. We have a good roofer now, who’s been doing inspections and spot roof repairs for us, and he came a few times, crawled around on the roof, crawled around up in the crawl space rafters, even coming once during a rain storm to check out the leaks “in action.”
Here’s what he found:
1. The big spot in the ceiling was caused by leaks in an area of the roof that had not been properly “sealed.” Our current roofer has sealed that area, so that spot should not be getting any bigger.
2. When we got a new roof, 18 years ago, the roofing company failed to properly fasten down the planks onto which the shingles are nailed (again, this is what our new roofer tells us). So now, when it gets really hot, those planks warp, which pulls out the nails holding the shingles down, leaving small holes. (And Tom has seen the “waves” in the roof from this warping, on hot days.) So we have a lot of small holes and will get more such small holes each summer. The upshot: we need a new roof. The current roof was apparently supposed to last 20 years, so we’re close to when we would have needed to think about a new roof anyway.
So: we will get a new roof, and then we’ll have the ceiling stripped, cleaned, repaired and repainted. BUT: we don’t want to spend thousands on a new roof if some part of an eventual renovation in the next few years would mean tearing it off (for example, what if we want to put on photovoltaic solar shingles?) So we will first confer with Quinn-Evans, the architecture firm the Meeting just approved us working with, to get their advice on the most sensible way to proceed. We expect that to happen within the next month or two — Planning Committee is in the process of setting up our initial meeting with Quinn-Evans.
Our roofer says we have some time, a year or two. While we may want to act sooner than that, we don’t want to act unwisely. The roof is not going to fall in tomorrow. Whatever the advice, rest assured that we will do what we need to do to protect our structure as best we can.
You can also count on this: we will need to spend a lot of money on a new roof, and soon. The best, most durable option appears to be a material called fake slate, and a new roof of that material will cost us around $50,000. My understanding is that we have that much available in our capital reserves, but we will need our capital reserves for other work before too long (the elevator/entrance project, for instance!). The funding upshot, as I understand it, is this: we’re not broke, and we will be able to fix the roof and ceiling when we get to that point, but we will also need to replenish our capital reserves. So please be thinking about what our space is worth to you, and what additional contribution you might be interested in making to help the Meeting come through all this in good financial shape.
Also: Your Property Committee needs help in the form of more committee members willing to take on a little committee work. You don’t need to be skilled in any trades or even in home maintenance — we just need people to take on the work of making phone calls, collecting information, following up on small projects, etc. Please contact me if you are interested. There are things currently going undone (addressing Decatur Place Room wall problems, for instance) because of the lack of someone to take responsibility for them.
Please feel free to email or call with any questions. (202-526-5228, email@example.com).
— Ken Forsberg
Loie Clark, Clerk of the Finance & Stewardship Committee, reported that the Meeting has received $38,000 less in contributions than had been budgeted for the fiscal year to date. This serious shortfall has made it necessary to examine areas where expenditures can be cut; all committees are asked to keep their expenses to a minimum. A revised budget is being prepared for future presentation to the Meeting. Friends are advised that the Meeting’s current shortfall of donations has serious implications for future budgets as well as for any possible capital campaign.
Ken Forsberg, Co-Clerk of the Property Committee and a member of the Planning Committee, reported on the activities of the Planning Committee, which is currently compiling responses to a recent survey for presentation to the Meeting. Markku Alison has resigned from the Committee and will be replaced by a member of the Garden Committee to be named. The Meeting APPROVED the addition of a member of the Garden Committee to the Planning Committee. Ken reported the architect’s suggestion of underground cisterns to collect ground water for reuse on the property, and relayed their comment that “the greenest building is one already in existence.” He also noted, in response to a Friend’s previous suggestion of a possible energy audit, that the Carriage House was not constructed for its present use and presents special challenges for temperature control. The architects are actively reviewing regulatory requirements.
Preparations are being made for a charette to be held on Saturday, February 28, in which a group of Friends representing the Meeting’s various committees will have an opportunity to meet in small groups with the architects to share ideas and information. It was noted that cost considerations surrounding the architects’ time limit the number of Friends who participate in the charette. Friends were reassured, however, that this is a preliminary event focused on the exchange of ideas, and that there will be other opportunities for input before decisions are made. Those who have ideas, comments and suggestions concerning items that should be considered or incorporated into any renovation are encouraged to forward them at any time to a member of the Planning Committee. Finally, Ken assured a Friend that the architects are experienced in dealing with religious groups and are familiar with Friends’ approach to decision making.
Tracy Hart presented an update on the work of the Planning Committee to achieve accessibility for Friends Meeting buildings, to mitigate the flooding of these buildings in heavy rain, and to make the construction and operation of our buildings as environmentally sustainable as possible. She noted that Quinn Evans architects and EDAW landscape architects, who had been hired by the Meeting, had completed the site immersion phase of their work and had led a charette at the Meeting on February 28, 2009, in which 28 Friends (officers of the Meeting and participants in its committee work) had labored with site constraints and design concepts. It had been clear that the location of an elevator is a lynchpin. The charette provided input for the planning of the architects who will present preliminarily design concepts for review by the Planning Committee this month. This will be followed, it is hoped in April, by seasoning of plans in a variety of open gatherings at the Meeting before presentation for decision by the Meeting this spring. (Report attached.)
The Architect (Quinn Evans) has completed the ‘site immersion’ phase. This consisted of (i) a review of all past plans, studies, including Chatelain plans; (ii) multiple visits to the FMW site; (iii) constructed small 3-D model of our site with buildings; (iv) an identification of constraints posed by our site; and (v) identification of a broader group to explore preliminary design concepts.
A ‘charette’ (participatory design workshop) took place in the FMW Assembly Room on Saturday, February 28th, 2009, with representatives from standing committees and meeting officers, facilitated by Quinn Evans architects and EDAW landscape architects. The participants and planning committee members labored with site constraints, regulatory constraints, and general design concepts. Four groups produced ideas and comments for the architects to use in focusing their work. All groups decided that the location of the elevator is lynchpin. It should be emphasized that no decisions were made in this workshop.
Next, the architects will analyze charette feedback and translate this feedback into preliminary concepts/designs. They will develop and present these preliminary concepts/designs to the Meeting as a ‘master plan’. This master plan’s first-stage is to provide universal access and mitigate flooding, in a green’ or environmentally sustainable manner as where practical.
This “master plan” should have further reviewing, it is hoped, in the Planning Committee in March/April, followed by seasoning of the plan in a variety of open meetings in April and presentation to Meeting for Worship for Business in May (either as an agenda item in the regular Meeting or in a special meeting).
The Planning Committee organized and participated in a “charette” or architectural workshop on February 28, with representatives of our team of architects and landscape planners from Quinn Evans Architects and EDAW landscape planners, respectively. Apart from the Planning Committee, 20 Friends participated in this event; all of them are officers of the Meeting or are active in the Meeting’s committee work.
Bill Drewer, from Quinn Evans, set the context for the project as following up on the previous work of architect Leon Chatelain, which had been suspended by uncertainties related to the School for Friends (SfF). The current work is very specifically focused on the objectives set by the Meeting of achieving accessibility, preventing flooding of Meeting buildings in heavy rains, and making the construction and operation of the Meeting’s buildings as “green” as possible. The matter of flooding received relatively little attention once it was explained that a cistern could be used to catch the unwanted water before it entered the building and reuse it for non-drinking purposes. In regard to accessibility, it was reported that the DC Building Code includes the requirements of the national Americans with Disabilities Act but requires only reasonable effort. A Friend noted that while the provisions of the ADA provide an explicit framework for considering accessibility, the starting point of the Meeting has been a moral imperative to provide equal access.
Bill Drewer pointed out that he and his colleagues are working first on the broad outlines of a “master plan for the property that will guide future building and, most important for our current considerations, will clarify where an elevator should be located. Such a master plan includes consideration of our gardens as well as buildings. Outdoors area for children’s play was emphasized (both natural and paved for basketball and riding tricycles) but it was indicated that a formal jungle gym as big as that now owned by SfF would not be desired. Other thoughts regarding garden space included a vegetable garden, fig trees, and restoring a flat area in the front lawn that could be used (would it be big enough?) for a labyrinth.
Four groups of Friends, each working intensively with an individual architect, were somewhat diverse in regard to considering an additional building on the property and hence where to put an elevator. Most wanted to give up as little garden as possible and to use the Meeting House as efficiently as possible, but some groups were willing to consider an additional building while others were not. The floor plan complexities of having no additional building and an elevator inside the Meeting House biased sentiment toward having an elevator external to the Meeting House. It might be in the southeast corner of the space bounded by the Meeting House and the Carriage House, which would be connected to each other, or it might be somewhat farther north, connecting to the Meeting House nearer the entrances to the Assembly Room and Meeting Room. With more attention to alternative floor plans for the Meeting House and Carriage House, however, the possibility of having an elevator interior to the Meeting House continues to be explored. This exploration will require evaluation of what space to use for an equivalent to the current Quaker House Living Room if it should be desired to move that function closer to the core of Meeting activity, and the importance of First Day School classrooms being close together.
The Planning Committee is quite aware that Quakers usually prefer not to work through representatives and intends to have extensive open participation in discussion of these alternatives. Key issues will be illustrated in architectural plans before bringing the central issue of the location of the elevator to a future Meeting for Worship with Concern for Business.
— Susan Lepper, Planning Committee
Bill Foskett reported progress by the Planning Committee, which included the recent charette at which members of various committees had an opportunity to exchange ideas with the architects. The Committee is now ready to request the architects to develop detailed plans concerning the proposed elevator and its impact on our existing space as well as its integration into the “master plan.” Friends who have ideas are encouraged to make them known to members of the Planning Committee. It is hoped that work on the plans and related activities can be completed within the next two or three months and can be submitted to the Meeting for review by June or July. In response to a Friend’s question, the Committee confirmed that the cost of these additional architectural drawings will be included in the $50,000 expenditure previously approved by the Meeting for this purpose from the Murray bequest. A Friend noted that approval of various regulatory bodies will be required for any work undertaken and warned that these approvals often require extensive periods of time.
Earlier this year, William Drewer, the architect hired by the Meeting to work on accessibility and other issues with the Planning and Property Committees (under the mandate of the Meeting to the Property Committee) distributed a questionnaire about priorities for the work. The list of priorities had been culled from earlier interviews carried out by Leon Chatelain (the architect previously engaged on some of these issues) to avoid duplication of work. Respondents were asked to indicate whether they “agreed strongly”, “agreed”, “disagreed”, or “had no opinion” about these priorities. The Planning Committee would like to say “thank you” to all who did respond. We would like to assure you that the responses were tallied and that both Drewer and his associates and the Planning Committee will keep them in mind as we proceed.
It will not surprise Friends that addressing water infiltration problems at the Meeting House, universal accessibility, and making the property as environmentally sustainable as possible were top in the list ranked by number agreeing strongly or simply agreeing. Also, not surprisingly, was high ranking for maintaining a large multipurpose space in addition to the Meeting Room - i.e. the Assembly Room. Attention also is being given to the priorities that immediately followed in ranking: First Day classrooms should be close together, meet child safety standards and have adequate storage to be usable for other purposes on weekdays; spaces that can be made child-oriented are required to accommodate four classes at the same time; and an additional, smaller meeting space is desired for a second Sunday Worship place.
Ken Forsberg, Clerk of the Property Committee, reported for the Planning Committee’s recent meeting with the Trustees and Finance and Stewardship Committee, at which the architect, landscape architect and prospective contractor reviewed initial plans for construction of the elevator and building renovation. These plans are currently being modified in response to comments offered at that meeting. Ken noted that a working group had met last week to consider issues of financing. The Committee intends to bring first stage architectural drawings and cost estimates for this work to the September Meeting for Worship with a Concern for Business for consideration by the entire Meeting.
When a Friend asked whether preliminary cost estimates could he shared with the Meeting, Ken noted that the Planning Committee preferred to present the plans and estimate as a whole in September, particularly since the costs are currently being reviewed and refined. A member of the Finance and Stewardship Committee shared his opinion that he was pleased with the proposed plans as being reflective of the Meeting’s needs and values, and that he was content to wait until such time as both plans and cost estimates had been appropriately seasoned. Loie Clark, Clerk of the Finance and Stewardship Committee, noted that a “pre-capital campaign committee” was currently exploring various avenues for fundraising, which will also he presented at the September meeting.
A Friend asked whether relationships with our neighbors, particularly the Costa Rican Embassy, were being considered in the planning process, and was assured that such relationships are being addressed. Others asked whether roof repairs and issues of water infiltration had been adequately addressed, at least on an interim basis. Ken responded that roof repairs had been made and should prevent further damage until such time as general renovations and repairs are approved. Recent grading work seems to have alleviated much of the flooding problems on the ground floor, but it was noted that water infiltration remains a concern in periods of heavy rainfall. Documents regarding the Planning Committee’s mission statement and the spiritual dimensions of the proposed renovation will soon he available on the listserv and on the table outside the Assembly Room. Friends are encouraged to ponder these issues prior to the September Meeting.
Lois Clark reported for the Financial Planning Group that is developing the means to be proposed for financing the renovation plans. The target is to have a financing plan when the renovation plans are presented to the Meeting for approval, it is hoped in September. She reported that the Financial Planning Group recommends using an outside fund-raiser and financial consultant, given the likely size of the fundraising need. A capital campaign is expected to be the cornerstone of the financing. Friends APPROVED this recommendation. Henry Freeman is the lead candidate. Freeman is a fund-raiser and financial consultant who did a study for Trustees a few years ago of capital campaign feasibility at FMW. He, therefore, already has some familiarity with the Meeting.
Bill Foskett reported that the Planning Committee has reviewed the architect’s proposed plans as well as preliminary cost estimates and expects to have copies of the proposed plans available for review in the Meeting office and online within the next two weeks. As proposed, the plans provide for universal access, correct drainage and water penetration problems, and address many deferred maintenance items, all as environmentally soundly as possible. (It was noted that by no means has all maintenance been deferred. Friends expressed profound gratitude for Clem Swisher’s services over many years.) The current cost estimate for this work is between $3 and $4 million. The Planning Committee plans a special meeting in which members of the community, including committee representatives, will have an opportunity to meet with the architects to review the plans and ask questions. (A Friend expressed hope that such a meeting could be scheduled at the rise of Meeting for Worship in order to maintain a spirit of worship and to maximize attendance.) The Planning Committee anticipates the review of the plans and seasoning of the renovation proposal will take at least two months. Only when that process has been completed will an actual proposal be brought to the Meeting for a decision.
In response to a Friend’s inquiry, it was noted that the current renovation plans do not address the future of Quaker House or include any work on that facility.
A Friend asked whether any possible grants for improvements such as solar panels were being considered and noted that some might be available through the District of Columbia government.
Bill Foskett noted that the current plans should be viewed as one step in the process, and that neighbors, the city and other organizations will have opportunity for input as planning proceeds.
Friends expressed the need to trust the Planning Committee’s work in carrying out the tasks delegated to it by the Meeting and voiced their gratitude for the Committee’s extraordinary accomplishments in getting the proposal to this point.
Loie Clark, Clerk of the Finance and Stewardship Committee, noted that fundraising needed to proceed in tandem with the development of the renovation plans. The capital campaign subcommittee, which consists of Ted Green, Susan Lepper, Grant Thompson and Loie, has concluded they need professional assistance. They recommended that H. Freeman Associates, the Richmond, Indiana firm which had done a feasibility study for a possible renovation of Friends Meeting of Washington two and half years ago, be engaged to update its feasibility study at a cost of $9,000. Loie introduced Henry Freeman, who shared his observations and fielded questions from Friends.
Henry Freeman noted that the previous study had been especially challenging since at that time the Meeting was “profoundly not in unity” as to its objectives and expressed gratification that the Meeting has made substantial progress in this regard. He observed that the current economic situation makes this a very tough fundraising environment. He confirmed that the persons interviewed for the proposed study would be weighted toward older members who were more “heavily invested” in the Meeting and could tend to have more personal assets; it was his experience that although such persons might contribute only 10% of the total number of gifts, they were often the source of 90% of the dollars raised.
Several Friends expressed hope that a broader spectrum of members would be involved by any means possible. In response to other questions, Henry noted that he expected that at least 95% of donations would come from within the Meeting; he had seldom seen significant “outside” contributions. It was also noted that, although it would probably be possible to borrow some of the funds needed for renovation, debt service on those loans would increase the Meeting’s annual expenditures. Henry also stressed that, although his firm would develop the fundraising feasibility study, the actual work (including an estimated 200 one-on-one solicitations) would be done by members of the Meeting. He indicated it would be useful for him to attend the proposed called meeting to review the plans, and observed that, although planning for fundraising needs to be done in conjunction with the development of the renovation plans, it should follow that effort by a month or so. He expects to have the feasibility study completed a few weeks after the renovations plans are first formally presented to Monthly Meeting for decision. The Meeting APPROVED the engagement of H. Freeman Associates to perform the updated fundraising feasibility study for $9,000; the contract will be revised to reflect Friends’ suggestions.
Susan Lepper reported on the Committee’s continuing work with the architects, who are nearing completion of an interim set of plans they hope to have ready for presentation to the Meeting on Sunday, November 1. The plans incorporate the work discussed in previous Meetings for Business, including installation of an elevator, addressing draining, grading and water penetration problems, and many deferred maintenance items in the main building. Quaker House and the Carriage House are specifically excluded from the current plans.
The Committee expects the November 1st presentation to last approximately 15 minutes and hopes that the committees scheduled to meet that day can delay their meetings to hear the presentation and, if possible, set aside time in those meetings to discuss the plans. Several small group discussions will be scheduled during the next ten days in November to provide all interested parties opportunities to review the presentation and ask questions. The Committee welcomes feedback from individuals and committees, who are encouraged to examine the needs of the Meeting and help to discern how our spiritual community may be reflected and enhanced by the proposed renovation. The Committee currently plans a formal presentation, including architectural plans incorporating Friends’ feedback as well as input from local review boards, on Sunday, November 22 in the Meeting Room immediately following Meeting for Worship.
Susan reported that the architects’ costs are expected to exceed the $50,000 the Meeting had previously approved to be spent from the Murray Bequest, and noted that an anonymous donor has committed to give $40,000 to the building fund which can be used to pay those additional costs. Any funds not needed for that purpose will be retained to help pay for actual costs of renovations and repairs. Susan noted with regret that Bill Foskett has resigned as a member of the Planning Committee to pursue his own personal spiritual journey. Since members of the Planning Committee had been appointed by the Meeting, this resignation required Meeting approval, Friends APPROVED Bill Foskett’s resignation, and expressed deep appreciation for his six years of service.
Finally, Susan proposed that Judy Hubbard be approved as an incoming member of the Planning Committee. Friends APPROVED that request.
Susan Lepper, representing the Planning Committee, reminded Friends that architectural firm of Quinn Evans had been engaged to develop plans to install an elevator, correct drainage problems and do necessary renovation of our main building and that the Meeting had approved an expenditure of $50,000 for the preparation of those plans (10/08 - 9). The architects now expect their work will cost $89,000, the overrun being largely due to the number of changes that have been necessary (the current plan is their fourth). The Planning Committee requested that the Meeting approve an additional expenditure for architectural work such that the total amount for development of the plans to the point of their adoption would not exceed $89,000. Ted Green, Clerk of Trustees, confirmed that the Meeting had received an anonymous gift of $40,000 specifically for this purpose. The Meeting APPROVED the expenditure of up to $89,000 for architectural fees.
Responding to a Friend's question, Susan Lepper noted that the architects now expect to present the plans for the Meeting's consideration on Sunday, November 22. Friends will be invited to review and comment on the plans for a period of ten days to two weeks, during which time the architects will also be meeting informally with the staffs of various city review boards to get their preliminary feedback. Presentation of complete plans incorporating Meeting and community/government input is now anticipated on Sunday, December 20. Susan noted that the total cost of the work included in the plans is currently estimated to be around $3,000,000.
Susan Lepper reported that there would be an open session of the Planning Committee on Wednesday, January 13, at 7:00 p.m. in the Meeting House to provide an opportunity for interested Friends who missed earlier presentations to review the initial illustrative renovation plans. The Committee hopes to be ready to present the final floor plan and Henry Freeman's report on financing the building renovations at a called meeting targeted for February.
Susan Lepper reported for the Planning Committee that its financing group continues its work with Henry Freeman, who will soon be contacting a sampling of Friends regarding their willingness to contribute to a capital campaign. A report on this effort is expected in March.
Susan also noted that Bill Drewer has died and that Baird Smith has replaced him as the principal architect in charge of the plans for the renovation of Friends Meeting of Washington. The transition has somewhat delayed minor changes yet to be made to the floor plan that are related to the proposed acquisition of an external elevator and the preparation of a brochure describing the proposed renovations, which will be made available to the Meeting. Susan emphasized that a main objective of the building renovation is to enhance and facilitate the spiritual life of the Meeting.
Co-Presiding Clerk David Etheridge called upon Susan Lepper, who announced on behalf of the Planning Committee that Henry Freeman is nearing completion of his survey of the Meeting's probable ability to raise funds for the proposed renovations. She characterized the responses to the survey as being "positive and favorable." A meeting at which Henry Freeman will present his findings is scheduled for Sunday, March 28 at the rise of Meeting. Susan said that the Planning Committee will hold another meeting, at a date and time to be determined, at which Baird Smith of the architectural firm of Quinn Evans will present the plans and be available to respond to Friends' questions. Susan also announced that Grant Thompson has agreed to lead a capital campaign committee.
Susan Lepper, Clerk of the Planning Committee, noted that the committee had received approximately 45 comments and suggestions since the last version of the plans was made available, and considerable time had been spent considering those ideas. She reported that the committee will be meeting with the architects on Monday, June 14. The objectives of that meeting are to review the placement of the proposed elevator in the west garden to ensure that it can be adapted in the future to provide access to the Carriage House; to explore possible ways to expand the Assembly Room without sacrificing classroom space for First Day School; and to identify ways to reduce costs. (The current cost estimate for the installation of the elevator and renovations to the main building is $3,800,000; the financial consultant estimates the Meeting can raise $2,000,000.) Susan said the Planning Committee intends to bring a proposal for the renovation work, along with plans for financing (including a possible construction loan), to the July Meeting for Business.
Friends noted the urgency of moving forward before construction costs rise as the economy recovers. Others requested that updates from the Planning Committee be made major items in future business meetings.
. . . Transition is occurring among space users at the Meeting as well. Long-time member and former Clerk Jackie DeCarlo moved out of the apartment on the second floor of Carriage House. This space has been converted for office use. The intent is to share the space with a non-profit organization that is consistent with our mission and that can share the costs of the building. Our long-time partner, School for Friends, will be moving to consolidate space at Church of the Pilgrims before the beginning of the next school year. There are other regular space users, such as Weight Watchers, and occasional users. These users have provided funds to help offset some costs of maintaining the buildings. . . .
Susan Lepper, Clerk of the Planning Committee, reviewed recent activities of the committee and the current status of plans for the proposed renovation plans. She noted that the Planning Committee currently expects to make the first presentation of the architectural renovation concept, along with plans for financing, to the Meeting at its Meeting for Worship with a Concern for Business on Sunday, September 12. She presented the Committee’s request for authorization to pay an additional $9,000 to the architectural firm of Quinn Evans for work they have already performed. This is in addition to the approximately $89,000 previously paid to Quinn Evans. Some of the additional work was necessary due to the death of principal architect Bill Drewer. Although Mr. Drewer had originally indicated some Quinn Evans work would be donated, that intention was never quantified, and the Planning Committee felt it appropriate to reimburse the firm for all the work it has performed under the existing contract and amendments. The Meeting APPROVED this request.
A request was also made for the authority to expend up to $9,000 for architectural work to explore the feasibility of adding a connector between the Meeting House and Quaker House and the Carriage House, including a review of building code requirements for new construction in those aging buildings. It is anticipated that this work will require approximately two weeks and will not delay the presentation of the renovation concept scheduled for September. A Friend who inquired whether this proposal meant that a decision had already been made to retain Quaker House and the Carriage House was told that a sale of one or both of those properties remained an option open for discussion. A Friend spoke to the urgency of making our campus universally accessible and addressing chronic environmental problems such as groundwater and expressed his desire that the Meeting view its property as one campus. Friends APPROVED the expenditure of up to $9,000 for this additional architectural work.
Martha Solt, co-Clerk of the Property Committee, reviewed recent activity of the Property Committee, noting the new tenant on the second floor of the newly refurbished Carriage House. The international human rights group Tostan is paying $2,500 per month for this space and may eventually be interested in additional space on our campus. Martha noted that the School for Friends would be vacating its space by Labor Day, and that the Peace Tax Fund, which is three months in arrears on its rent, has not responded to the committee’s several letters or telephone calls. In response to questions raised last month, the committee submitted photographs showing current condition of the Carriage House and Quaker House, as well as the location of a proposed gate in the wall separating the Carriage House and Quaker House gardens. Martha noted that there would be another workday next Saturday, July 24. She also indicated that the committee has begun a State of the Property report giving priority to the needs of First Day school, children and families. Susan Lepper asked that the Property Committee share its information regarding First Day School needs with the Planning Committee, and it was noted that there is now a person who has been designated as a liaison between the two committees.
Martha made the second presentation of the attached proposed Deferred Maintenance and Upgrade Budget and requested approval of the expenditure of $75,450 currently available from property reserves. The Meeting APPROVED this request. A Friend shared his observation that at least in part due to the activities of the Property Committee and the spirited discussions concerning renovation, the Meeting seems to be coming together as a community.