Dalai Lama arrives in Seattle; expect traffic delays through Tuesday
The Dalai Lama arrived in Seattle today for the five-day Seeds of Compassion conference.
Seattle Times staff reporter
The Dalai Lama arrived in Seattle today for five days of inspirational speeches and workshops.
The Tibetan Buddhist leader was met in the Hyatt hotel downtown by singing and bowing supporters.
He told local Tibetans there that he supports nonviolent demonstrations but was saddened by Wednesday's protests of the Olympia torch run in San Francisco. He says he supports the Beijing Olympics.
He planned to spend the day resting.
A total of about 150,000 people from all over the Pacific Northwest and California are expected to attend at least one of the dozen events at the Seeds of Compassion conference, most of which headline with the Dalai Lama. Here's how the next few days stack up:
He'll begin his whirlwind tour Friday with a panel discussion on the scientific basis for compassion from 9 to 11 a.m. at the University of Washington Hec Edmundson Pavilion, where 8,000 people are expected to attend.
At least some portion of that audience will then commute to KeyArena, where the Dalai Lama will join community leaders in a discussion from 12:30 to 2:30 p.m.
Crowds of about 8,600 are also expected at KeyArena from 4:30 to 5:15 p.m., when the Dalai Lama will join Dave Matthews and Ray Heacox, president of KING-TV, for another discussion about compassion, followed by a concert with Matthews and Tim Reynolds.
Roughly 55,000 people are expected to attend a sold-out speech by the Dalai Lama from 1 to 3 p.m. at Qwest Field — the biggest single event in the conference aimed at teaching compassion.
Later that same day, about 30,000 people are expected at Safeco Field for a 6:10 p.m. Mariners game, according to a Seattle Department of Transportation traffic advisory.
Adding to the crowds downtown on Saturday, between 25,000 and 30,000 people are expected to attend Seattle's Green Festival, a two-day conference on environmental responsibility, held at the Washington State Convention & Trade Center between 10 a.m. and 8 p.m.
You'll want to stay away from Seattle Center from 9:30 to 10:30 a.m., and noon to 1 p.m., when about 14,500 school kids — and their yellow entourage of 200 buses — arrive at, and then depart from, an event with the Dalai Lama at KeyArena.
During that same period, two other Seeds of Compassion events are planned at Fisher Pavilion and other facilities at Seattle Center. On Monday evening from 7:30 to 9 p.m., an undetermined number of people will rock out at the Seeds for the Spirit Benefit Concert at McCaw Hall, making late rush-hour traffic in Lower Queen Anne a little rocky, too.
Traffic, crowd control
The Seattle Department of Transportation (SDOT) has issued a general traffic advisory approaching downtown Seattle on I-5 or Highway 99 today through Tuesday, said spokesman Rick Sheridan. The SDOT does not plan to limit traffic in any areas of the city.
"We plan to operate much in the way we would with a baseball or a football game," said Sheridan, noting that 60,000 people routinely move through Qwest Field during a Seahawks game.
King County Metro buses will continue to run the normal schedule, in addition to its regular Mariners' home game Park and Ride routes on Saturday only, said spokeswoman Rochelle Ogershok.
"We're asking people to understand that there will be added congestion and interruptions," she said.
Seattle police will also ramp up the number of officers at several of the Seeds of Compassion events, providing crowd control, and directing both motorized and pedestrian traffic, said spokesman Mark Jamieson.
"This is a unique situation in that most dignitaries fly in, give a talk, and take off the next day. But [the Dalai Lama] is here for five days, with a lot of public events," Jamieson said.
Police are not expecting any particular trouble with protests or the Dalai Lama's security, but say they are taking "necessary precautions," said Seattle police spokesman Jeff Kappel. Seattle police will work with the University of Washington Police, the King County Police and the State Patrol in case of problems.
Details of the Dalai Lama's travel plans and accommodations are being kept under wraps for security reasons, said Beau Fong, a spokeswoman for Seeds of Compassion.
Events on TV
Tickets for all events where the Dalai Lama will be present are sold out. Workshops on building compassion in parenting, education, public policy and the workplace, where the Tibetan Buddhist leader will not be present, are first come, first served. Seeds of Compassion organizers expect large crowds at all events.
If braving the streets and thronging masses sounds like the kind of thing that might erode compassion rather than foster it, consider watching Seeds of Compassion events on TV or online.
Friday's Day of Review and Learning starts at 9 a.m., on UWTV Channel 27. Saturday's Compassion in Action starts about 1 p.m., on KONG 6/16. Monday's Children and Youth Day starts at 10:45 a.m., on Seattle Channel 21 and UWTV 27. Tuesday's Youth and Spiritual Connection Day starts at 9:30 a.m., on UWTV 27.
Public TV viewing parties will also be held throughout the city, at Seattle Public Library branches and public spaces. Check out one near you at wiki.seedsofcompassion.org/ViewingParties.
The Dalai Lama will leave early Tuesday afternoon to head to another conference in Ann Arbor, Mich.
The Associated Press contributed to this story. Haley Edwards: 206-464-2745 or firstname.lastname@example.org
Copyright © 2008 The Seattle Times Company
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