2021 marks Drepung Gomang Center For Engaging Compassion’s 20 years of service in the Louisville community. DGCEC became a Green Spirit partner with Kentucky IPL in July 2020. Even though the partnership was made official last year through the Kentucky IPL Partner Community program, Director Anne Walter has been connected to KIPL since its inception.
“I was at an event on the day Tim [KIPL’s Emeritus Executive Director] told me he was thinking about bringing Kentucky IPL to our state. I was on staff at St. William church at the time where he attended,” said Anne.
The DGCEC is a Tibetan Buddhist Dharma Center as well as a nonreligious compassion education center. Anne became involved with the Center as a volunteer around the same time Kentucky IPL was founded. She was the first hired Director for the Center in 2014 and is currently in charge of programming, fundraising, and scheduling.
“Buddhism has a core value in interconnectedness, everything is dependent on everything else,” said Anne, “When His Holiness, Dalai Lama, was given the Nobel Peace Prize in 1989, it was the first Nobel Peace Prize that had a component about Earth care or environmental concern in it. Since then, a bunch of Buddhist teachers have spoken out with great emphasis on the importance of caring for the environment. Buddhism itself is rooted in the interconnectedness – respect for all beings – not just people.”
The Education Center has made Earth Reverence one of the main four areas of education. From events such as growing a yard forest to mediation, DGCEC provides several opportunities to learn and engage in creation care. Before COVID-19 hit, DGCEC hosted monthly movie nights. Community members would gather, eat dinner, and watch a documentary or movie. Months alternated between something about Tibet and something about the environment. So five times a year, for a number of years, there was a movie night dedicated to Earth Reverence.
DGCEC has partnered with Kentucky IPL for a number of events over the years including hosting Kentucky IPL speakers, going on environmental justice tours, and being a part of the Louisville Earth Walk.
In 2014, DGCEC honored the Buddhist belief of interconnectedness through the green building plan of the Center’s building extension. In the design the following were included: efficient electric wiring and lighting, optimal wall insulation, low water volume toilets & shower heads, Energy Star rated windows, light-colored roofing shingles, low VOC concrete flooring/paint, energy efficient HVAC systems & gas water heaters, well insulated and sealed ductwork, rain barrels, and last, but not least, a 19.6 kW solar array.
“Now, sometimes more than half, or even all of the electricity, is covered by the solar panels. Kentucky IPL’s advice really made a difference in the process of doing that,” said Anne.
DGCEC was awarded the Cool Congregations award, a national award from Interfaith Power & Light, and won a Hope in Action award from Kentucky IPL for the green building plan.
Anne said that being a part of Kentucky IPL as a partner community just makes sense. “In a lot of ways, Kentucky IPL is doing a piece of our mission for us,” said Anne, “That’s why we help support different events and serve as a sponsor sometimes. I hope people that come later can look back and see all of the differences KIPL has made because of being in Louisville - just for its existence, awareness raising, and education.”