A Mandala at St. Mary's

Twelve Tibetan Buddhist monks from Drepung Loseling Monastery will construct a mandala sand painting this week at St. Mary's College of Maryland.

For more information, visit www.smcm.edu/users/jwschroeder/tibetan or call John Schroeder at 240-895-4456.

Painting with colored sand is one of the most special artistic traditions in Tantric Buddhism. Millions of grains of sand are painstakingly laid into place on a flat platform over a period of days or weeks to form the image of a mandala.

During the monks' visit, area residents are invited to watch them construct the mandala and attend public lectures. All activities will be in Daugherty-Palmer Commons on the college campus.

Work will begin tomorrow, after a 12:30 p.m. opening ceremony. At 5 p.m., the head monk will deliver a 45-minute lecture on the social and political history of the Tibetan people.

On Tuesday and Wednesday, the monks will work all day on the mandala, breaking for one hour at noon. At 5 p.m. Wednesday the head monk will deliver a lecture describing the significance of the sand mandala.

On Thursday the monks will complete the mandala. At 5 p.m., during a closing ceremony, the monks will dismantle the mandala by sweeping up the colored sand; then they will lead a procession, accompanied by the public, to the waterfront, where they will pour the sand into the St. Mary's River, symbolizing the Buddhist idea of the impermanence of all life.

Parking for CSM Students

During Calvert County Fair week, beginning tomorrow, parking for College of Southern Maryland students will be available at the former Prince Frederick campus on Broomes Island Road.

Shuttle buses will be available at 9 a.m. tomorrow through Thursday, with the last shuttle leaving the Prince Frederick campus on Williams Road at 10:30 p.m.

College officials advised students to allow for additional travel time during this week. After the fair, on Oct. 3, parking and shuttle service will resume at the Calvert County Fairgrounds.

Alternative Energy Forum

A public forum on alternative energy and conservation is scheduled from 7 to 9 p.m. Thursday at the St. Mary's County Northern Senior Center on old Route 5 in Charlotte Hall.

Speakers will include St. Mary's County Commissioner Larry Jarboe (R-Golden Beach), who drives an electric car; Paul Waxman, whose Volkswagen Jetta is powered by biodiesel; and Budd Gray, who uses solar energy and heats his home with a biomass stove.

Erik Jannson, president of the Potomac River Association, will discuss how government can encourage energy conservation.

The program is sponsored by the Sierra Club Southern Maryland Group and the Southern Maryland Greens, a local chapter of the Maryland Green Party. Both groups advocate energy conservation and cleaner sources of energy to help slow climate change.

Blessing of the Fleet

The 38th annual Blessing of the Fleet, sponsored by the Seventh District Optimist Club, will take place Saturday and next Sunday on the grounds of the St. Clement's Island Potomac River Museum in Coltons Point.

On both days, festivities will include live entertainment for adults and children, boat rides to historic St. Clement's Island, a parade, local crafters, Southern Maryland-style food and fireworks.

Gates open at 10 a.m. Admission: $5; free, children younger than 16. For directions or further information, call the St. Clement's Island Potomac River Museum at 301-769-2222.

Next Sunday, a parade will start at noon, and the Blessing of the Boats will take place at 2 p.m. from the Dove ship. All boats are welcome and will be blessed by the Rev. Edwin F. O'Brien, archbishop of the U.S. military services, and the Rev. Kathleen Vermillion Price, rector of All Saints Episcopal Church in Avenue.

Hazardous Waste Day

Charles County's next household hazardous waste collection day and gas can exchange is scheduled from 9 a.m. to 3 p.m. Saturday at the Charles County Sanitary Landfill on Billingsley Road East between Piney Church Road and Route 5.

Items accepted free include pesticides, herbicides, fertilizer, gasoline, motor oil, antifreeze, paint, cleaning supplies, pool chemicals, batteries, prescription drugs and other poisons that are around the house. Materials should be kept in their original containers whenpossible and brought to the collection site in cardboard boxes to ease unloading.

During collection hours Saturday, residents may also trade in their old plastic or metal gas can for a free new spill-resistant two-gallon gas can. These containers automatically shut off and seal tightly after fueling, reducing harmful emissions by up to 75 percent.

Household hazardous waste collections will be held on the first Saturday of each month through December.

Tibetan Buddhist monks from Drepung Loseling Monastery will construct a mandala sand painting this week at St. Mary's College of Maryland.