ECO-Vrindaban (ECOV), the self-sufficiency wing of ISKCON’s New Vrindaban community in West Virginia, USA, is on the lookout for a general manager to oversee its steadily expanding operations.
Working as an integrated auxiliary of ISKCON New Vrindaban, ECOV covers the first two categories (and, of course, the last) in founder Srila Prabhupada’s vision for the community: “A sacred place known worldwide for Cow Protection, Self-Sufficiency, Holy Pilgrimage, Spiritual Education, and, above all, Loving Krishna.”
Originally launched in 1998, ECOV has always protected cows, which Prabhupada once described as “the main business of New Vrindaban.” But recently the organization has refocused its mission to improve its cow protection and several other areas of self-sufficiency too, leading to a busy and exciting 2014.
Today ECOV has a herd of 48 cows, oxen, and calves, in contrast to the 300 it started with at its inception. This may at first seem like a step back, but it’s actually an intentional move towards a far more sustainable model. With fewer cows, a higher budget allocated to care, and a higher number of experienced, mature carers, the standard of cow protection has greatly increased.
The cows are treated with love and care by devotees like longtime program overseer Ranaka Das, and caretakers Chaitanya Bhagavat Das, Ray, and Radhanath Das. Injured or sick cows receive the highest quality veterinary care from nearby Ohio State University. They graze on hundreds of acres of lush green pasture in the summer, and are protected from the cold in a cosy, clean and spacious barn, with hundreds of bales of hay to eat, in the winter.
Every day, the cows produce thirty gallons of milk, yielding enough to provide most of the dairy for the Deities, devotees and the community Govinda’s Restaurant during offpeak times.
And it’s not just cows that are being cared for. A concerted effort is being made this year to care for and train oxen – a central instruction of Srila Prabhupada’s.
Devotees are rebuilding an old barn in the Bahulaban area as a cosy and well-equipped new home for six new bull calves by early next year. The young oxen will then spend a year being trained by Varshana Swami, Daivata Das, and their team to get comfortable with humans, work together in pairs, transport wagons of firewood, and pull plows to till New Vrindaban’s gardens.
These gardens are home to another area ECOV has made major progress in this year: food production.
Local organic farmer Kacey Orr, who took on the position of Garden Manager at New Vrindaban in March, is overseeing the large-scale planting and harvesting of vegetables such as sweet potatoes, tomatoes, peppers, squash, and eggplant; as well as many different kinds of berries. ISKCON New Vrindaban is contracting local devotees to grow other vegetables, while culinary herbs and flowers for the community’s Deities are also being cultivated.
Many of the vegetables used by the temple and Govinda’s restaurant are produced inhouse, and with 200 fruit trees recently planted, Kacey expects the community to be producing most of its own fruit within five years.
ECOV is working on other projects, too. A proposed eco-village within New Vrindaban would be a self-contained sustainable community, creating and selling homemade natural products and inspiring visitors to consider a simpler life. A prototype sustainable rammed earth home with solar panels is already being constructed.
To see all these projects thrive and develop into the future, ECOV is looking to enlist a full-time general manager, who would work closely with ISKCON New Vrindaban president Jaya Krsna Das. The right candidate would oversee currently existing departments such as cow care and food production, working with their managers Ranaka Das and Kacey Orr.
He or she would also develop proposals for and oversee implementation of future projects such as the eco-village; prepare an annual operations budget for the approval of the ECOV and ISKCON New Vrindaban boards; and present reports at board meetings.
“It’s a position that would require a lot of initiative and self-motivation,” says ECOV chairman Navin Shyam Das. “Because they’ll be developing the vision; they’ll be the driving force.”
Navin suggests that a history of management or leadership experience, especially with a non-profit, would be ideal. So too would a history of demonstrable commitment to eco-friendly living; a regular practice of individual chanting and participation in temple programs; and of course the willingness to relocate to New Vrindaban.
And while the new general manager will of course be offering a great service to Srila Prabhupada and ISKCON’s mission, this is no volunteer position. In return, ECOV will provide a salary, and help make sure the manager and his or her family are adequately situated in the New Vrindaban community, where there is housing, a children’s school, and other facilities.
“This is a great time to be at New Vrindaban,” Navin says. He explains that after falling on difficult times in the past two decades, the community was able to resolve past legal and financial issues, and now has a visionary president, a host of happening new departments, upgraded facilities and accommodation, and a fresh culture of cooperation. What it needs now is a greater renewed focus on the self-sufficiency side of Prabhupada’s vision.
“It’s a wonderful opportunity for someone to be part of New Vrindaban’s revival,” says Navin. “To see it on its way towards truly fulfilling the role that Prabhupada wanted for his flagship farm community: a shining example of an alternative lifestyle that all the world will see and want to replicate.”
For additional information about the ECO-Vrindaban General Manager position, please contact Navin Shyam Das at firstname.lastname@example.org.[ farming ] [ new ] [ vrindavana ] [ west ]