Posted by Editor: FDBobko
April 13, 2023
Warren Hack - TravelingThrough Mongolia
Article by Susan Kealey

Irwin introduced Warren Hack. Irwin first met Warren as he was bushwhacking Montara Mt.  Warren taught sound and filmmaking at SF State. Warren introduced us to his grandson, Jacob, who is 8 years old and on Spring Break. 

The film, Roaming the Steppe, chronicles Warren’s second trip to Mongolia and reveals the culture of the nomads of the Steppe. The film is a finished cut and he  is  going back again to finish it up this summer. He describes Mongolia as an island of democracy surrounded by China and Russia. The huge uranium deposit in the Gobi Desert threatens this democracy. The nomads of Mongolia have roamed the Steppe, or high prairie, for hundreds of years. Their culture embraces shamanism, throat singing and Nadam (games). Warren’s documentary employs three generations of Kazakh eagle hunters, a shaman and a man who spent the winter in a cave at a Buddhist monastery to learn how to deal with his anger. 

The film allows us to experience this rich, engaging culture along with the stunning views of the land itself. We also become aware of just how fragile it is. China and Russia’s presence looms, technology spurs changes and young people move away for other opportunities and a different lifestyle. The film opens with a golden eagle and expands to reveal the enormity and desolation of the Steppe. Mongolian tradition is to keep the Eagle for 5 years, train it, hunt with it and then release it. One hunter, on releasing his eagle, explained that it is hard—she is a member of his family—but it is necessary to allow her to be free to raise a family of her own. We were able to see how eagles are trained and used in hunting. We also heard that women now are allowed to hunt with eagles. 

This film is not your usual travelogue. Sure, the cinematography is stunning, but the insight into a people who seem to be at one with their environment, who are super competitive, who include shamans, monks and hunters is a unique opportunity to experience another culture.Under the previous government, monks and shamans were persecuted. Now, with democracy monks and shamans can express themselves and be part of their community again.  During the interview with the shaman, she described how she helps her community, organizes chants, prays with them, connects with animals and reads her dreams.  She predicts that there will be tough times ahead and that we need to be sensitive to life and the earth. She also indicated there will be a new beginning. 

The rhythm and singing reminded me of American Indian chants—the drums are actually very similar. Sadly this nomadic way of life is disappearing. 

Q and A

What stops the Russians and Chinese from just taking over? Mongolia became democracy  when the Soviet Union disbanded. Both Russia and China have other priorities at this time. 

What altitude?  The altitude is 5,000 ft at the capital. In the far west it is 6,000 feet. They camped at 11,500 feet. 

How did you get onto this project?  Michael Powers said “Warren I’m going to Mongolia, wanna go?”  Of course the answer was “sure”. He went back in September and is going back this summer.  If anyone is interested, he will be going in July. 

Is Mongolia is open to westerners and filmmakers?  Yes, partly because there are so few people. It is important to be respectful, guides are very important. Regarding photos or filming, ask first. His technique is to give out pictures when he goes back, he made books of photos for the Eagle hunters. 

It is impressive to see women’s rights and women hunting with eagles. How did the yogurt vodka taste? It was nice—warm, earthy, a little like wine. There is equality, they are surprisingly modern in that respect. 

What happened in Mongolia during bloodbath? The reindeer herders fared okay as they are in remote areas. Many shamanic practices continued in secret. Sadly hundreds of thousands of monks were killed. Most temples were torn down, some have been rebuilt. 

CLUB MEETING, April 13, 2023

Krystlyn led us in the pledge.  


Liz introduced her guests Kerry Lobel, retired Director of Puente; currently involved in Little Eagle Project, Table of Plenty Volunteer

Sue Wieser, retired from Cabrillo Unified School District, Volunteer at Table of Plenty

Mike and Gity Salari, Kumon tutoring business owners and soon to be a new member (Mike)

Yosem Companys, Coastside resident, father of three, involved in creating educational opportunities for our children; Yosem is joining our club.

John Evans introduced Larkin and Susan introduced Dennis



Liz - May 4: Coastside Gives, our Foundation has been listed in the booklet, our goal is $5,000. Will support scholarships and housing for displaced farm workers. Make it Main Street, we will have a booth, working on a pamphlet, see Barb and Liz for info. 

Youth Exchange is on!  John and Ginger will be our leads. John Evans advised, we are just starting to ramp up. We Club to participation, we especially need homes for the kids to stay in. John would like to bring one in this fall. We have no trouble attracting students to our area. It is a lot of work and we need a commitment. 3-4 month commitment to house the students. 

Liz reminded us of the time when 24 exchange students joined us on Zoom.

Community Service update from Susan Kealey: 

  • Coastside Hope packaging next Wednesday. Breakfast April 26, at 6 am or 8 am. 
  • Sign up for Relay for Life!   Beach Clean up April 22. 
  • Home Rehab Day June 3, we will try to have a gardening team and a handy person team. 
Happy/Crappy News yescrying
Irwin submitted this from a former Exchange Student he hosted:

Irwin spent last week with Peter Arnfeldt and his wife Ulla and his family 

Peter was a Rotary exchange student  and stayed with Irwin and his family when he was 16 years old..That was 34 years ago.

Picture taken at Prarie Creek CA

 Marble Game -  coolsadwink  N/A