Santa Barbara Summit for Tibet, Jan. 19–26, 2013

If you're in Southern California, here's a week-long event well worth checking out. Starting this weekend, The Santa Barbara Summit for Tibet (SBST) is hosting a "Tibetan Cultural Week of Celebration and Education to increase awareness in our city of the Tibetan culture's philosophical and spiritual richness, as well as the challenges it faces."

Here's a schedule of events, all of which are free to the public.

A flyer for the event is here (PDF), and more on the project website, including a "Proclamation of welcome and support for Santa Barbara's Tibetan friends and the people of Tibet," endorsed by the offices of the Mayor and City Council, State Assembly, Santa Barbara County Board of Supervisors, State Senate, and California Congressional Representatives.

The event comes as news of more self-immolations inside Tibet and greater China, protesting Chinese policies and military actions inside Tibet.

Just this week, Chinese authorities arrested eight Tibetans, "including a family member of a self-immolator, for sharing information with outsiders in the Luchu region of Kanlho, eastern Tibet," reports.

The The Santa Barbara Summit for Tibet schedule includes a wide array of presentations, activities, and learning sessions. Of special note: a screening of the 2008 documentary "Leaving Fear Behind" by filmmaker Dhondup Wangchen, who is imprisoned in China for having produced the film. There will be a question and answer session after the screening with his wife and advocate, Lhama Tso.

Below, Ven. Thepo Rinpoche, 8th Thepo Tulku, special cultural advisor for the Smithsonian Institution Tibetan Library, and board member for the Tibetan Association of Northern California, addresses the Santa Barbara County Board of Supervisors.

Photo: Mike Outmesguine