Anyone interested in how spiritual centers might serve as models for small community living, particularly those centered in the arts, would probably find interest in numerous examples of dharma centers. Like the very basic analogy of a tree, these center's main purpose, the trunk, is the practice of the dharma, while their activities branch and flower into numerous other engaging activities that allow the dharma to be further cultivated in earthly and community works.
Tsogyelgar Dharma Center in Ann Arbor, Michigan is one such example. Extensive garden work, art projects, a poetry program in the making....a historic preservation program in the works in the form of the rehabbing of a barn (a beautiful red structure that can be seen on Tsogyelgar's main page), a 35 foot tall stupa constructed on the grounds (and a smaller one in the works) and a stunning and extensive Tantric Buddhist mural.
Constructed in 1998, the Dorje Trollo Stupa at Tsogyelgar is filled with many sacred and precious items including 500 sacred texts of Tibetan yoga.
"The stupa is constructed according to subtle ritual that empowers its form and structure."
Source: Tsogyelgar website
Source for images: flickr, Tsogyelgar
I've been chewing on ideas to write about relating to sangha (common term for Buddhist community or association) and the practical spirit cultivated in sanghas which can be seen as an exemplary model for communities of all types. More to come on the Dharma and the Sangha, stay tuned.....