By Margaret Magnus
In May 2012, the Board of Directors of Meher Mount adopted a Master Plan. Planning for the future of Meher Mount is a careful, thoughtful and daunting process.
Over time, the Board and other volunteers examined a number of options; wrestled with the constraints of the location, infrastructure, land use requirements and funds; and searched for guidance regarding Avatar Meher Baba’s wishes from His remarks.
In the end, much of what has emerged in the plan to date has been guided by the statements Avatar Meher Baba made during His visit to Meher Mount on August 2, 1956.
In addition, the Board has tried to be both practical and visionary, taking into consideration the very realistic requirements of the site with the desire to set a framework for many years into the future.
The Master Plan Is a Framework for the Future
The master plan provides a framework for planning, operations and future development of programs, activities and infrastructure.
It is designed to be broad enough to encompass all elements and aspects of Meher Mount, while also being focused enough to provide consistent direction and guidance over the long term.
The Master Plan incorporates and synthesizes the decisions, ideas and plans developed to date, while allowing for future action within the guidelines outlined.
It does not include every detail about every aspect of Meher Mount. Those details will be developed project by project over time within the overall context and guidelines provided by the plan.
The journey continues to be a long, winding and fruitful process.
Purpose & Role of the Long Range Plan
The purpose of Meher Mount’s long range plan:
- Facilitate the remembrance of Avatar Meher Baba – To maintain Meher Mount as a medium for remembering Avatar Meher Baba and to honor His presence at Meher Mount.
- Nurture divine love and oneness through nature – To preserve the natural environment and support opportunities for loving God through nature.
- Support pilgrimage to Meher Mount – To facilitate day pilgrimage of visitors with the least impact to Meher Mount.
- Provide opportunities for service – To honor Agnes Baron’s legacy by creating opportunities for selfless service.
- Be good stewards – To preserve Meher Mount for future generations with thoughtful and careful stewardship.
Community Meeting Kicks-Off Meher Mount’s Master Planning Process
The Master Plan planning process contained many steps, and the first was a general community meeting to gather ideas, to brainstorm, and to help visualize the future.
On February 7, 2004, more than 45 people gathered at Meher Mount in Ojai, California, to begin developing its long-range Master Plan.
The meeting was chaired by Jamshid Ebrahimzadeh and facilitated by Tom Dortch, a management consultant who had worked with other Meher Baba groups with long range planning.
After a review of the zoning and land use restrictions, the full group was divided into five smaller discussion groups to address three questions:
- What is the purpose of Meher Mount?
- What are your dreams for Meher Mount?
- What would you like to see accomplished in the next five years?
At the end of the day, the community gathered together again to hear the ideas and comments from each discussion group. The comments were compiled and organized for use in long-range planning.
All the meeting notes were discussed at a second smaller community meeting on May 22, 2004. Planning then continued at a slower, but steady pace, while the Board explored and researched various options.
A Fire-Proof Building Spurs Renewed Efforts in 2007
The planning process received a push in 2007 with a $20,000 donation for a tractor and another $20,000 donation toward a fire-proof workshop/barn to house the tractor.
As discussions proceeded regarding the workshop/barn, they naturally raised the issue of overall planning and direction. One thing led to another, and the Board began to explore options and ideas not only for the workshop/barn, but also for the entire property.
The process was aided with the involvement of architect Byron Pinckert who helped to augment the conceptual framework and as well as provide building concepts.
2008 Boundary Survey and Topo Map COMPLETED
During the discussion process, Byron Pinckert suggested that Meher Mount needed a boundary survey and topological map to aid in the planning.
In 2008, the Board commissioned a topographical map of the property of the entire 172 acres with five-foot elevations. In addition, a formal survey of the property was recorded with Ventura County, and the placement of corner markers completed. (See "An Answer to Meher Baba's Question")
Master Plan IS Adopted
The Board of Directors adopted the first version of the plan on February 19, 2012. The group continued to refine and add to the discussion, adopting an updated version of the Master Plan on May 5, 2012.