15th Anniversary of SGI-USA Florida Nature and Culture Center Celebrated
On June 18 SGI-USA marked the 15th anniversary of the opening of the Florida Nature and Culture Center (FNCC) in Weston, Florida, and SGI President Daisaku Ikeda's first visit to the center. The meeting was planned and conducted by SGI-USA youth leaders and was attended by some 1,200 members, of which 400 were youth.
The FNCC is a facility for SGI-USA members to refresh their spirit and determination to practice Nichiren Buddhism. It is located on 125 acres of restored wetlands in the Florida Everglades.
Conferences on various topics of Buddhist study are held for different groups. Some such groups include Veterans and Active Duty Military; Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual and Transgender; the Culture Department; and families.
The opening ceremony commenced with pop Latin beats and participants dancing to the music and tossing beach balls. A photomontage followed, highlighting Mr. Ikeda's visit to the center in 1996 and showcasing snapshots of SGI members from over the last 15 years. The meeting also included a choral performance by the Ikeda Chorus, joined by youth.
A message from Mr. Ikeda was introduced at the meeting, in which he stated: "Severe winters await us occasionally on the long road of life and in the course of our endeavors in society. Yet, these winter seasons are opportunities for youth to strengthen their character and polish their wisdom. As you change every poison into medicine, cheerfully and wisely call forth a springtime of victory. The drama of your experience will inspire hope in the next generation of youth who will face challenges in the future."
One SGI member shared how she rose up during a difficult time in her life and used her practice to challenge her tendency to be defeated by self-doubt and postpone dreams. She has returned to college to pursue her dream of becoming a writer.
In her talk, SGI-USA Young Women's Leader Vinessa Shaw spoke about the ongoing process of generations of young leaders inheriting a vision for the future that encompasses both their own happiness and the ongoing responsibility of developing the SGI.
SGI-USA General Director Danny Nagashima reflected on the 15-year history of the FNCC and spoke about the six guidelines for happiness that Mr. Ikeda outlined during his June 1996 visit to FNCC: fulfillment; to possess a profound philosophy; conviction; to live cheerfully and vibrantly; courage; and tolerance. Mr. Nagashima also remarked, "When you start moving forward, all your dreams come true. What's important is the victory and happiness you build while accomplishing your dreams."
[Adapted from an article in the July 8, 2011, issue of the World Tribune, SGI-USA; photos courtesy of Pablo Barilari and World Tribune]