It’s been a long time coming, but our little tea group has become an official organization: the Chado Association of Philadelphia!
I don’t know how many of our know the history of our group; it was founded in 1987 by Brother Joseph Keenan of La Salle University. He was responsible for getting a tea house built on campus, and for many years taught tea classes along with Taeko-sensei and Mariko-sensei. After Brother Joe’s death, we kept on holding lessons, but in 2007 the university ended the tea program.
Not that I don’t understand the politics involved, but losing our tearoom really threw us into a frenzy. We wondered if we would still be able to offer public lessons, and if we were going to be able to continue as a group at all. For a tea person, losing your tea room is traumatic; losing your practice is unthinkable.
We were very lucky to be able to continue to offer tea lessons at Shofuso, the Japanese House and Gardens in Fairmount Park in Philadelphia – they’ve been great about supporting us. But the lesson that we learned from our experience with La Salle was that we needed to have an existence as an entity of our own if we wanted to survive as a tea group. Three years later, we’ve finally gotten nonprofit status, and we’re ready to go.
Those of you who are familiar with our tea school, Urasenke, might be wondering if we’re going to apply for status as part of the Tankokai, the official membership organization. We’ve explored that, but Urasenke says we’re still too small. It’s okay. I know that we’re going to grow and succeed.
If you want to know more, check out our web site: www.phillytea.org. We’d love to have you join us!