Spreading the Benefits of Taijiquan (Tai Chi Chuan) to everyone, everywhere.
We launched the Pacem In Vita program in conjunction with another non-profit organization (Pacem In Terris) in August of 2002. Pacem In Vita was originally a youth program based upon the principles of Tai chi, but within a few years it was equally apparent that the underlying concepts of the program applied to adult leadership as well. There were some Pacem In Vita programs in 2005 and 2006 in Berks County taught by CJ Rhoads and Luke Jih at the Olivet Boys and Girls Club. Additionally, Pacem In Vita ran strongly in several schools in the Delaware area utilizing the program, as taught by Jack Sol Church and Bill Wheeler (who taught in the program from 2006 to 2014). Currently, the program is taking a hiaitus while we decide whether or not to formalize the curriculum and expand.
Since the beginning the operational board and the advisory board had discussed changing the name from Taijiquan Club to something else, but we could not agree on a new name.
Then, In 2005 we lost one of our most beloved founders, David Chen. (David died tragically and unexpectedly on December 25, 2005. We sponsored a world-wide virtual memorial service for David, and started a memorial fund for him that eventually was used to purchase a Yin-Yang outdoor practice surface for Tacoma Park near his home in Rockville Maryland. Click here to see the video of everyone doing the form on the Tai Chi Court).
David had passionately presented the case for changing the name to Taijiquan Enthusiasts Organization, so shortly after his death, we changed the name in his honor. At the time, because so much of our activity was focused on the leadership program Pacem In Vita, we added an addendum at a board meeting in December of 2006 to do business as either the Taijiquan Enthusiasts Organization or Pacem In Vita Institute.
Then, in 2012, we had another epiphany. While we were still interested in Tai chi, our programs had become much larger and more all-encompassing toward health, especially for the underserved, especially for youth and seniors. Tai Chi was just one part of that. So at the July 2012 board meeting, the organization voted to change the name again, this time to HPL 501c3 Institute. The Taijiquan Enthusiasts Organization would become one of the member subsidiaries of the parent non-profit organization.
We had our first Tai Chi and Health Festival at Christ Church in Philadelphia in 2003. About 50 members came to our first Festival, and even more the next few years. We had successful Festivals in 2003, 2004, 2005 and 2006, but they were time consuming to organize and run. In 2007 and 2008 we "handed over" responsibility for the Festival to another partner group, the Philadelphia Area Tai Chi Teachers Association. Unfortunately, that group did not keep up the wonderful welcoming nature of the Festival, and we lost some really great workshop leaders. Attendance hit an all time low.
At the urging of David Elston-Phillips, we took the Festival back in 2009 and expanded the format - three days long, held at Kutztown University in partnership with the Tai Chi Club of Kutztown. It was a phenomenal success according to the attendees and workshop leaders. It was not quite a financial success, however, and we lost thousands of dollars, which was a lot for a small non-profit group of volunteers. It was a hard lesson learned. Thankfully, Martin Devlin, (the father of one of the founders, CJ Rhoads) stepped in with the needed funds to make up the difference. Much wiser, we decided to always make sure we break even in the future, even if that meant smaller festivals.
Our 2012 Festival, held at the wonderful Mensch Mill Conference and Retreat Center, had only 26 attendees, but it was absolutely fabulous. Unfortunately, in 2013 Mensch Mill Conference Center closed. Since the original impetus behind our festival was memories of the legendary "Tai Chi Farm" which was an annual Festival held in Warsaw NY hosted by Master Jou Tsung-Hwa, we decided to partner up with the Master Jou Tsung Hwa Memorial Park group. Bruce La Carrubba, the organizer of that group, was on our Board of Directors. We've been holding the Festival in conjunction with the Master Jou Twung Hwa Birthday Celebration and Tai Chi Festival ever since.
One of the goals of the organization is to put together a worldwide calendar of Taijiquan Events. We've had various calendar programs on various websites, some of which we even purchased - but none of them had sufficient features to make them useful for a variety of styles, a variety of geographical locations, and a variety of different types of events. We tried using clubexpress.com for our website, and it was able to handle the registrations, but eventually it was obvious that it would not be flexible enough for our needs. In April of 2014, CJ Rhoads took the problem to the Lehigh Valley Hackathon, and a triad of programmers started working on the website ClassesAndGroups.com which will eventually, when finished, become that world-wide calendar for all tai chi (and other) groups and classes. CJ Rhoads is continuing to work on this endeavor under HPL Consortium, Inc., and hopes to have a pilot running by the end of summer, 2014.
Another goal has been the development of a resource room - a place on the web where many different people can place files, documents, resources, etc - that would be of use to everyone in the Taijiquan community. George Hawrysch had started one, but he was never able to finish it and when we switched to using JOOMLA on our website we were unable to port the html over to it. Someday, when we've finished our other tasks, we will get the resource room up and running and linked into all the wonderful resources already available on the world wide web.
When the Taijiquan Enthusiasts Organization began, we made arrangements with the Philadelphia Area Tai Chi Teachers Association to publish an "e-zine". They did so for a number of years, but eventually stopped publishing it. Then we spoke with Barbara Davis to have the Taijiquan Journal sent to all of our members. But before the first issue went out to them, Barbara stopped publishing the magazine. Next we made arrangements with Frances Gander at the Journal of Martial Arts and Healing . Frances also donated all the back-issues of that publication to the organization, and we will be providing them with renewals as premiums. Unfortunately, however, the Journal of Martial Arts and Healing also bit the dust. We hope, someday, to resurrect some sort of publication for our members, if only an e-newsletter. In the meantime, members get emails a few times a year from CJ Rhoads with updates on what is going on.
Once again, however, we do have big plans for publications. Seeing that many Tai chi teachers need a place where they can publish their own books & DVDs, we are working with HPL Publications, another division of HPL Consortium, Inc. in order to make it easy and cheap for talented Tai Chi practitioners to publish books and DVDs. Keep an eye out for that in the coming years as well.