Local street to be renamed in honor of Buddhist teachings

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Berkeley will be saying goodbye to Harold Way and introducing Dharma Way, depending on the outcome of Tuesday’s Berkeley City Council meeting.

Harold Way will officially become Dharma Way on June 28 with a ribbon cutting ceremony if the change is approved by the council, following an initiative led by the Tibetan Nyingma Meditation Center.

The center, a non-profit organization that seeks to preserve Tibetan Buddhist culture and owns three properties on the west side of the street, began to contact the city in hopes of changing the name in April 2011.

The center owns Dharma College, Dharma Publishing Bookstore and Mangalam Centers. To keep up with their own theme of Tibetan culture the new street name reflects the beliefs of the center.

“We greatly appreciate the city council for considering the change, it further helps us put the Dharma teachings in the public,” Co-Director of Dharma College Robin Caton said.

The center began the street renaming process by gaining signatures from more than half the residents on the street favoring the change. According to the council documents of the name change, all of the residents signed in favor of the change.

After about a year of going through the process with the council and writing an $800 check for materials and maintenance, the center will now finally be able to unveil the new street and introduce Dharma Way to Berkeley.

City spokesperson Mary Kay Clunies-Ross said the process of changing a street name is easily laid out.

“The process to change a street name is fairly straightforward,” Clunies-Ross said. “The (center) completed every step and once the council votes on the matter the street name will be determined.”

Dharma is a Sanskrit term for the truth, reality and natural order of things. Dharma is used in all religions of Indic origin such as Hinduism, Buddhism, Jainism and Sikhism.

Harold Way was named after Harold Woolsey, the grandson of Francis K. Shattuck. While some believe it represents Berkeley history, others feel that Dharma would provide a piece of culture to the street in honor of the Tibetan preservation.

“There’s an incredible amount of religious diversity in Berkeley including a high number of Buddhists so I think it’s a sweet name for that street,” Worthington said.

Worthington said that he doesn’t think there’s a logical basis for the city to keep names of streets that have been there for decades, except for the obvious few.

Robin Caton, co-director of Dharma College — the center’s teaching institution — said that she hopes to bring awareness of the Tibetan culture and Dharma teachings to Berkeley.

“We feel that it is important to show that we as an organization are committed to the community and show the revitalization of the culture for the future,” said Caton.

In addition to renaming the street, Dharma College is offering free art tours, open houses and lectures throughout the summer to further enlighten the public about the Dharma teachings.