Face of Buddhism

The Fireside Program's 40th season is launched with a slide tour looking at Buddhist temples and how Buddhists integrate spirituality into everday life

Posted: Thursday, January 03, 2002

Kamchatka, Madagascar and the icy waters of Lynn Canal are coming to the Mendenhall Glacier Visitor Center this winter.

For 40 years the U.S. Forest Service has hosted the Fireside Program Series at the visitor center. During the cold, dark winter months, world travelers, scientists and Alaska adventurers have gathered at the glacier to tell their tales.

"They used to make a fire in the fireplace and the kids would lie on the carpet," said Su Lachelt, who began sharing her scuba diving adventures at the glacier 14 years ago. "Now they've changed the visitor center, but the kids still sit up front."

An extensive remodel of the center a few years ago did away with the fireplace but not the annual program. Over the years Lachelt and her husband, John, an underwater photographer and videographer, have shown slides and video of undersea life in the Caribbean and Micronesia, as well as Southeast Alaska. They will offer a presentation on shipwrecks of Southeast in early February.

Linda Buckley will open the 2002 series Friday with a program highlighting 17 years of travels through Asia. She'll offer a look at Buddhist temples and an overview of how Buddhists integrate spirituality into their daily lives.

"In Buddhist countries you wake to monks chanting and making their alms rounds," she said. "They have taken a vow of poverty and the whole community supports them by giving food. They line the central street, with their bowls, and people file past and give them food."

Buckley sorted through thousands of slides to put together this program of Buddhist practices and temples in 10 Asian countries.

"I'll go pretty fast. I want to give a lot of images," she said. "I'm not the kind of person to hold a slide to tell a long story. I'll have music, and maps so people know where they are going."

Buckley taught anthropology and music in Juneau schools for almost 30 years before retiring in 1996. She's long been a student of Buddhism and has traveled extensively in Asia and India, including Tibet, Burma, Ladakh, Kashmir and Nepal.

This winter the visitor center is open 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. Thursday and Friday and 9 a.m. to 4 p.m. Saturday and Sunday. All fireside presentations are free and run from 7:30 to 9 p.m. Fridays at the Mendenhall Glacier Visitor Center. A complete schedule follows:

Jan. 4: "Buddhism in the East - People and Temples," with Linda Buckley.

Jan. 11: "Why Are There so Many Brown Bears on the ABC Islands," with scientists Kim Titus and LaVern Beier.

Jan. 18: "Autumn Through the Pacific Ecoregions," with naturalist Richard Carstensen.

Jan. 25: "Simply Keeping Wilderness in Mind," with Dr. Greg Heming of Haines Junction.

Feb. 1: "Shuyak Island State Park, (near Kodiak)" with Gail Smith.

Feb. 8: "Preserving Underwater History - A Look at Juneau Shipwrecks," with underwater photographer John Lachelt.

Feb. 15: "Chameleons of Madagascar's Eastern Forests" with Allison Banks.

Feb. 22: "Williamsburg (Virginia) Through the Seasons," with Pamela Finney.

March 1: "Mother Nature, Moderation, Money and Salmon," with scientist Ben Van Alen.

March 8: "Bicycle Touring in Siberia and the Russian Far East," with Mike Blackwell.

March 15: "Going Alone: Journeys in Wild Alaska," with writer and photographer Nick Jans.

March 22: "Point Adolphus: Wildlife and Human Interaction," with Brady Scott and Bob Christensen.

Riley Woodford can be reached at rileyw@juneauempire.com.

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