Peter Ford, 3
Interview with Peter Ford
The vision for GoSit.org was a web site to help people decide where to go to learn about and to practice meditation. There are so many meditation centers these days. Magazines like Tricycle are full of advertisements for meditation centers. Most residential centers have web sites that explain how good their retreats are. I assume most people have limited time and money to devote to training periods. So, it would be beneficial to have an independent guide to help us decide where to go to practice meditation.
Originally the site was going to focus on centers that offered intensive training sessions, but it seemed unfair to exclude groups that regularly practice together without offering retreats. So GoSit.org lists all kinds of meditation groups and retreat centers. The main idea of the site was to provide a forum for individuals to comment on their experiences after attending retreats. I was hopeful that many people would share their opinions, and that would give others a much clearer idea of what to expect when selecting a meditation center.
Unfortunately very few web users have entered comments. However, the site does provide a number of ways to search for meditation centers; for example, by city, state, zip or area code. It incorporates Yahoo Maps and Google custom searches to provide additional information that might be useful in selecting a center. Listings are free and help promote meditation centers. To make the site more inspirational it has a number of quotes from popular books on meditation that randomly appear in the top banner.
Links to book excerpts and purchasing through Amazon are available. (Although a few dollars in commissions are earned from Amazon, the web site definitely costs more than it earns.) The Find Books link promotes a number of books that have been recommended for learning more about meditation and Buddhism. Also, the Links page gives links to a number of other web sites that might be useful for those who meditate, including libraries of free online books and articles.
Thank you for going into those details and explaining how the site works. It is a terrific idea. Perhaps this interview can drive a few more visitors there. Are you open to these same advertisers who advertise on Tricycle? You could offer these centers space at a fraction of the cost of Tricycle or Shambhala Sun all to help support this site.
I don’t think the web site could maintain its independence if it had paid advertising from centers. I never thought of it as a money-making venture, but as a hobby and providing a useful service. In my mind the cost is like a donation to a charity, and in this case I know how the money is being used, which I’m skeptical about when contributing to large charities.
That all makes sense. How do you keep your records of various centers up to date? Do they volunteer this information, or is it something you do? Also, is there any orientation or set of standards that a center must meet before you include them?