#136 – March 13, 2022 — Meeting Hall Construction To Begin!

Dear Friends,

Exciting News!  During the last year, volunteers have worked to design an affordable building that can serve as a gathering place for Ishwar’s friends from all over the world. ISHA has signed a contract with an architectural firm to develop the final plans for the Meeting Hall at Ishwar’s dera in Bruce, Wisconsin. 

If all goes well, construction will begin this summer!

The Meeting Hall will be built on ISHA Hill at the dera property, exactly where Ishwar planned for it to be built.  

Hot News!  ISHA has developed a new website for the Meeting Hall project. Please visit https://dera.ishanews.org to learn all about the project, and to register to perform seva for Ishwar.
The Dera Building Committee

Shortly before Ishwar left his physical body in December 2020, he established a five-member ISHA Dera Building Committee (DBC), with Jagannath Kerai as chairman. Ishwar authorized the committee to have complete responsibility for building the Meeting Hall on the ISHA lands in Wisconsin. He also authorized the committee to manage all of the dera projects on the ISHA lands, including the gardens, orchards, buildings, equipment, and the seva programs.

A Short History of the Meeting Hall Project
For many years, Ishwar dreamed of building a dera as a humble tribute to his own Master, Great Master Baba Sawan Singh Ji. Ishwar designed the Wisconsin project to follow the methods used by the Great Master in India, with all work supported by donations, and all seekers offered the opportunity to perform seva for their beloved.
Since the building committee was established in 2012, the Meeting Hall design has evolved and changed many times, all under Ishwar’s leadership. Ishwar always emphasized that the building project was about people, not about a building. 
During the last ten months, the project has continued to evolve as the committee has worked to finalize the design of a building that ISHA can afford to build. The cost of the previous two-story design turned out to be significantly higher than the budget that Ishwar approved, so we have designed a less expensive, one-story, steel-frame building that contains all of the same components at a lower price. The revised building design seats over 400 people in the auditorium, and contains a kitchen and dining hall that is capable of feeding the sangat.
The Meeting Hall Plan
The facility will be located on the ISHA dera land in northern Wisconsin, atop a hill by the Chippewa River. The Meeting Hall will be 155 feet long and 109 feet wide, for a total of 16,800 square feet. Over 400 people will fit in the domed auditorium, and a commercial kitchen and dining hall will be capable of feeding all visitors. It will also contain a meeting room, a family room, office space, a quiet room, bathrooms, storage space, and a covered, outdoor, dining patio. Ishwar recommended that ISHA utilize green building methods whenever possible, and to support the community by buying locally.
Here are some images of the concept design for the Meeting Hall. Note that these drawings are preliminary, and therefore the colors and other design elements are not final.
A view of the front of the building where cars can drop off visitors.
A view of the back of the building, showing the covered, outdoor, dining patio.
Here is the Meeting Hall floor plan. The 60-foot dome will cover the 5000-square-foot auditorium.
Ishwar made it clear that all of ISHA’s construction work would be done using voluntary contributions, and that all seekers will have an opportunity to offer seva. In Ishwar’s own words: 
“I want every satsangi, even the poorest of the poor, to be given the opportunity to offer something in seva, even if it is only a dollar. I would also like all satsangis, rich and poor, young and old, to participate in the construction, even if they can only carry one brick. Your smallest efforts are precious to me and to Great Master. This is seva of love and devotion.”
“Great Master said — and I agree with him — that if you do seva service for the Master, for a friend, for people in general, without expecting any reward, it prepares you better for meditation. Indeed, at one time Great Master said it is equal to meditation, and that you can see the result in meditation by how quickly you can make progress. So that is why service is so important in our spiritual lives. I thank all of my friends for their service to my humble tribute to Great Master Baba Sawan Singh in Bruce, Wisconsin.”
ISHA has created an online seva registration form as part of the new dera website. Visit https://dera.ishanews.org/register-for-seva/ to fill out the form.
In addition to the many hundreds of volunteers who have offered their service on the dera, the project has greatly benefited from many donations of equipment and materials from Ishwar’s friends, including a pickup truck, lumber, a fiber-optic hookup for the dera internet, use of a backhoe and excavator, loan of a Bobcat, a new riding lawn mower, a cement mixer, rototillers, tools, an engine and transmission for the dera dump truck, and so much more! To learn more about donations of equipment to ISHA, please visit https://dera.ishanews.org/equipment/
The Schedule
  “Phase 1 Design”:  All architectural and engineering work to be completed by mid-summer of 2022.
  “Phase 1 Construction”:  If all goes well, construction will begin in mid-summer of 2022.
  “Phase 2  Design and Construction” are not yet scheduled. The scope and schedule of Phase 2 will be determined later this year if sufficient funds are available at the end of Phase 1.
Phase 1 will include the concrete footings and foundation, and the steel skeleton of the building, as shown in this image.
More Hot News!  Please note that Ishwar’s traditional Mitti Seva Day will be held on September 4, 2022 at the dera in Wisconsin. Watch for announcements from ISHA with more details.
Don’t Forget to check out the new website for the dera project at https://dera.ishanews.org.
Any questions related to Ishwar’s dera can be directed to Jagannath at chairman@ishanews.org.
With warmest regards,
Paul Bauer
ISHA Dera Building Committee