By Judy Van Cleave, trustee, secretary, Urantia Foundation, Boise, Idaho, United States
Information and Decisions
1. International Vice President
In January 2014, for the first time in the history of Urantia Foundation, the trustees added a second vice president position to the Foundation’s organizational structure. The Declaration of Trust and bylaws long ago provided for multiple vice presidents. We chose to act because of the growing need to be globally responsive. Trustee Georges Michelson-Dupont of France was elected to the position.
At the April 2014 meeting, the board clarified that Marilynn Kulieke, the first vice president, would assume the duties of the president if the president were unable to perform his duties. Marilynn would serve as president until the president was able to resume performing his duties or a new president was elected.
2. Reappointment of Associate Trustees
The trustees voted to reappoint Víctor García-Bory to his fifth term as an associate trustee and Share Beasley and Line St-Pierre to their third terms as associate trustees.
3. Reports from the President, Executive Director, and Board Committees
The Translation, Education, Book, Finance, and Fundraising Committees provided updates on their latest activities. A few highlights include:
Physical book sales and distribution in the first quarter of 2014 continues to be challenging. The world bookstore business faces lost sales and profits due to growing internet sales and digital book downloads. While on one hand it might seem easier to sell books on the internet and replace physical book sales with digital book sales, the reality is more complex. Last year total digital book sales from all publishers in North America declined for the first time since digital books were first introduced. As to selling more books via internet bookstores, the opportunity and problem is helping people find the book as easily as if they were browsing in a physical bookstore. We are working on solving that logistics problem.
Thanks to a team of dedicated readers in Colombia, a new distribution system was launched in the first quarter. We anticipate that books will become less expensive and more available in Colombia because of this new arrangement.
There are at least two ways you can help Urantia Foundation seed The Urantia Book in the world. 1. Word-of-mouth continues to be the number one way people discover The Urantia Book (and most other things). We need you to tell your family and friends about the book and how its beautiful teachings have made your life better. Then tell them it is available at Amazon or other internet booksellers. 2. Buy a few extra books and place them in used-bookstores. It will cost you a few dollars to do so, but used-bookstores are becoming more important with the shrinking number of new- bookstores. Used-bookstores do not purchase their books from large book distributors because they buy their inventory from individuals. They need you to stock the store. And for those of you who have ten books on your shelf, you might take seven of them to used-bookstores and get them into circulation.
The Operations Report reviewed book production and logistics, the website and social media, human resources, the building, finance, accounting and auditing, the study group directory, and trademarks. Portuguese soft cover books have been printed, and hardcovers of the newly revised French translation are being printed now.
The Education Committee reported on their activities including their seminars for the rest of the year:
June 9–11 at 533: Collaborative Education Seminar with Urantia Foundation, UAI, and the Fellowship.
October 24–27 at 533: Line St-Pierre’s Retreat for Women
October 30–November 2 at 533: Marta Elders’s Soul Seminar
Marta Elders, on behalf of the Urantia Book Internet School (UBIS), demonstrated how the new Moodle educational software platform performs. Moodle, UBIS’s new operating system, is an open source, multi-language learning software platform. It is designed to provide educators, administrators, and students with a single, secure, and integrated system to create personalized learning environments. UBIS now offers classes in English, Spanish, and French.
The Translation Committee reported progress on all fronts. The French revision was completed and typeset for the upcoming printing. Congratulations for an excellent job done by the hard-working volunteer French revision team consisting of Georges Michelson-Dupont, Claire Mylanus, Richard Lachance, and Jean Royer. We look forward to seeing their improved revision move into circulation.
4. A Standardized Formatting and Numbering System Across All Books
Over the many years of publishing The Urantia Book in multiple languages, and in various formats, Urantia Foundation has used numerous systems inside the book to designate the part of the book, title of the part, paper number, name of the paper, page number, and paper:section.paragraph notation. At the April meeting we adopted a universal system that will be consistently used in future printings and in all languages. This user-friendly system makes it simple for you to reference book locations and find your place whether you are at a study group or reading alone. It conforms to the Standard Referencing System and looks elegant on the page.
5. Renovation of the Third Floor and Coach House Completed (Add Photos)
After extensive work over the last year, the renovation of the third floor and coach house of the historic home of the Urantia Revelation was completed. Now, with the exception of the basement, the restoration of 533 W. Diversey Parkway is complete. We are deeply grateful to the donors who financed this renovation.
The board toured the coach house and marveled at the transformation of the property. What an accomplishment! The coach house had deteriorated so badly that it was becoming irreparable. We renovated it just in time. Now, the upstairs apartment has new windows, floors, kitchen, bathroom, electrical, heat, insulation, and much more. Amazingly enough, the slope of the upstairs floor was six inches before the floor was leveled. Additionally, the garage has been redone with a new floor pad poured and leveled.
Special thanks go to Jennifer Siegel and Dalius Budas for their outstanding work in completing these renovations. Both the third floor and the coach house were restored in the classic architectural style of the era that 533 W. Diversey was built. Upon completion, the third floor, coach house, and garage were immediately rented. Now, for the first time in decades, the building is self-supporting.