call-in day to save the thai temple

I've previously written about the Thai Temple in Berkeley, and their ongoing struggle with irate neighbors who want to put a stop to their Sunday Food Offering. Over the last twenty-five years, the weekly food have become a part of the cultural fabric of the Bay Area, and an important gathering point for the local Thai American community.

They've won several battles, but the Temple is still in danger of being shut down. In April, three complainants submitted an appeal to Berkeley's City Council to overturn the Zoning Adjustment Board's approval permitting a Buddhist shrine and the continuation of Sunday food Offering activities.

The City Council will vote whether or not to uphold the decision at a hearing on Tuesday, September 22, 2009 at 7:00pm. If you want to help, contact Berkeley City Council members to let them know what the Thai Temple means to you and the community:
Use the sample phone transcript and/or letter of support below
to call and email the Berkeley City Councilmembers.

Mayor Tom Bates
T (510) 981-7100 | F (510) 981-7199

Councilmember Linda Maio (Dist 1)
T (510) 981-7110 | F (510) 981-7111

Councilmember Darryl Moore (Dist 2)
T (510) 981-7120 | F (510) 981-7122

Councilmember Max Anderson (Dist 3)
T (510) 981-7130 | F (510) 981-7133

Councilmember Jesse Arreguin (Dist 4)

Councilmember Laurie Capitelli (Dist 5)
T (510) 981-7150 | F (510) 981-7155

Councilmember Susan Wengraf (Dist 6)
T (510) 981-7160 | F (510) 981-7166

Councilmember Kriss Worthington (Dist 7)
T (510) 981-7170 | F (510) 981-7177

Councilmember Gordon Wozniak (Dist 8)
T (510) 981-7180 | F (510) 981-7188

Sample Phone Transcript:

"Hello, my name is [your name], and I'm calling to urge the Berkeley's City Council to re-affirm the Zoning Board's approval of the weekly Sunday Food Offering activities at the Thai Buddhist Temple. The Temple should be allowed to continue its religious practice of food-sharing and merit-making. I urge you to support this Berkeley tradition because it is vital to our community.

Thank you for your time."

Sample Email and Fax to Elected Officials:

Dear Councilmember:

I am writing to express my concern at the possible appeal of the Zoning Adjustments Board's decision of the weekly Sunday Food Offering at the Thai Buddhist Temple in Berkeley. I strongly urge you to support the ZAB's judgment as well as this beloved 28-year-old Berkeley tradition because citizens like me have benefited from the Temple's longstanding presence in Berkeley.

1. The Sunday Food Offering activities are an important religious practice for Buddhists. Food-sharing is an essential aspect of contributing to and receiving Buddhist merit. The practice of creating a space where monks, volunteers, neighbors, and patrons alike can engage in foodsharing is part of merit-earning. The Food Offering activities have become the center of the Temple's spiritual activities.

2. The Temple has been and continues to be a good Berkeley neighbor. In the past 27 years, no complaints have been filed against the Temple until the recent months. In light of the recent complaints, the Temple has not only addressed the specific concerns of the complainants, but it also has undertaken efforts to continue to be a considerate community partner through surveys and land use impact studies.

3. The Temple is a critical community institution for the Thai community. Shutting down the Sunday Food Offering activities would have devastating effects on the Thai community that relies on the Temple as a support network and the center of Thai culture. The Thai community urgently needs places like the Temple to allow the community to grow.

Berkeley is counting on you to save this important and dynamic part of the Berkeley community.
Thank you for your time.

[Your Name]
[Your Organization]
For more information on the community effort to protect Wat Mongkolratanaram, the Berkeley Thai Temple, go here: Save Sundays at the Berkeley Thai Temple!. For more info on organization efforts for the night of the hearing, September 22, go to the Facebook event page here: WAT Now!

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