It’s Baha’i Blog’s seventh birthday everyone, and we’re super excited to share it with you all!
Baha’i Blog’s mission is to create, celebrate and explore Baha’i-inspired content, artistic expression and use of media. Since 2011 we have been using Baha’i Blog as a “laboratory” of sorts, where through planning, action and reflection, we explore how the vast and dynamic Revelation of Baha’u’llah translates into various avenues of content creation, whether it be through the articles we publish, the videos we make, the music we record, the podcast we produce, or even the T-shirts we print.
The field of arts and media inspired by the Baha’i Revelation is a blossoming garden of personal and community projects, creations and craft. Through Baha’i Blog we aim to surface, highlight, celebrate and contribute to this ecosystem, and we do this by not only being active participants and creators ourselves, but by also encouraging, collaborating, showcasing and helping other creators as well.
The Baha’i Blog team meets once or twice a week as a group (and often with other individuals and institutions) to exchange learnings and experiences, and to study and consult on the Baha’i Writings and other relevant documents as they relate to our work in the field of media. We ask ourselves many questions, including ones like “How can we avoid falling victim to certain trends in society or in the industry, which may carry certain assumptions?”, and “How can we ensure that we consistently strive to see the bigger picture of the Baha’i world and its needs?”. With questions like these in mind, we try our best to approach our work with a humble posture of learning.
We feel so blessed to be able to help contribute to the field of arts and media in this way, and are very grateful to everyone for your continued support, both big and small! Whether you’ve helped give someone a ride to one of our “Studio Sessions” recordings, contributed by buying one of our T-shirts, written or even simply “Liked” one of our articles, we really appreciate it, and we could not function without all the support and encouragement from you!
Here’s an extract from an email we received about Baha’i Blog, which really warms our hearts:
From the minimal & modern aesthetic, to the user-friendly features, to the high-quality videos, to the consistent publication of content…Baha’i Blog makes it super easy to e-share Baha’i concepts, Holy-Days, Writings, and news through social media. I know that when I share an article/video, it is legitimate, and in a format that is digestible and non-threatening.
Baha’i Blog somehow manages to offer content that feels like it could be exclusively for Baha’is, yet simultaneously inclusive of anyone who cares to peruse the platform.
Baha’i Blog is a legitimate, beautiful resource that is filling a pressing need for a strong Baha’i presence online. It is simply perfect and the countless hours of hard work are sincerely appreciated. From playing the Studio Sessions during the Devotional portion of our Feast, to using the articles as a starting point for discussion with friends, to sharing the bite-size videos that streamline integral concepts into digestible chunks for the fast-paced digital world, Baha’i Blog is my go-to!
I really mean it- your efforts are truly appreciated!
So Baha’i Blog is more than just “a blog”. In addition to the Baha’i Blog website itself, we also have a YouTube channel, a Soundcloud page, an Instagram, Twitter and Facebook page, our very own podcast series, plus a store as well! With so much going on, we thought we’d just share a few of the things we’ve worked on over the last year:
Celebrating the Bicentenary of the Birth of Baha’u’llah
Last year marked the 200th anniversary of the Birth of Baha’u’llah, and after reading the letter from the Universal House of Justice that says that the year represented “…the single greatest worldwide opportunity there has ever been for connecting hearts to Baha’u’llah”1, the Baha’i Blog team knew that we had to do something to contribute to the celebration of this very special time, not only as individuals in our own communities, but also in the online space as well. Our highest priority was to help promote content coming from the Baha’i World Centre, like the Bicentenary website, the streaming of live feeds from the various Houses of Worship, and the wonderful new film called Light to the World. Furthermore, we highlighted many celebrations and initiatives happening in various communities and in the online space.
We also wanted to create some of our own content to honor this special occasion, but within certain parameters. After consulting as a team, we felt that if we produced reusable content such as templates for graphics and video, we might disempower communities from expressing themselves in their own unique way, and hamper the use and development of human resources and skills that might otherwise have an opportunity to develop at the grassroots. We therefore decided to limit our own content to the creation of a few things, like our Personal Reflections initiative (which I share more about later in this post), and certain articles that may help communities, such as ‘10 Places to Find Photos and Images for You and Your Community‘ and ‘10 Tips for Taking Photos at Community Events‘. We also released this dramatized reading of E. G. Browne’s account of meeting Baha’u’llah, which you can listen to below:
Personal Reflections on the Baha’i Faith from Around the World
Our “Personal Reflections” project was an initiative launched in honor of the 200th anniversary of the Birth of Baha’u’llah. We profiled 200 Baha’is and their friends from around the world, capturing a simple portrait photo paired with a quotation from the person on how the Baha’i Faith has touched their life. We published the portraits on our Personal Reflections website and on social media, focusing primarily on Instagram and Facebook.
A lot of thought and consultation went into the development of this project, and as a result, we intentionally chose not to use the names and locations of the people photographed so that the focus remains on their faces and what they have said, rather than allowing any connotations to arise because of their names or the countries they represent. It can also be difficult to determine where a person is from and which country to label each photograph. Consider, for example, a person who grew up in Australia, was photographed in Canada, and who has a Filipino mother and an Iranian father. By omitting names and nations, countries or territories, we hope the emphasis is placed on the people depicted and how the Revelation of Baha’u’llah has touched their lives. By sharing these pictures and excerpts, we wanted to answer the call from the Universal House of Justice to communicate “a sense of what it means for humanity that these two Luminaries [the Bab and Baha’u’llah] rose successively above the horizon of the world.”2
We hope you find these portraits as eye opening and inspiring as we do, and be sure to check out and follow the Personal Reflections initiative using these links:
Baha’i Blog Studio Sessions
Our popular music series called “Studio Sessions” continues with over 140 songs published from around the world so far in about 30 different locations, and in about 20 languages!
This weekly series is an initiative where we invite Baha’is and their friends in different parts of the world into a studio to film and record them singing a song based on the Baha’i Writings or letters from Shoghi Effendi or the Universal House of Justice. We then make these videos and audio recordings available on our YouTube Channel and SoundCloud page for everyone to listen to and download for free. We also include the quotation used and the chords to the song so you can learn them as well.
You can find out more about Studio Sessions from this article.
* Watch Baha’i Blog’s Studio Sessions series here on our YouTube channel.
* Listen to Baha’i Blog’s Studio Sessions series here on our Soundcloud playlist.
New T-shirt Designs & the Baha’i Blog Shop
After the enthusiasm surrounding our two T-shirt designs last year, we decided to create two new designs for adults and two new designs for children. We decided to open the Baha’i Blog Shop with the aim of making T-shirts available on an ongoing basis, with at least two new designs every year.
Besides providing cool Baha’i-inspired apparel that you can wear, the Baha’i Blog Shop serves a couple of purposes: Firstly, the sales from the shop act as a sort of fundraiser, helping us keep doing what we’re doing. Second of all, it’s another form of content, so we’re exploring how the Revelation of Baha’u’llah applies to worn apparel. For instance, some of the things we ask ourselves are “Should we use the Baha’i Writings on apparel, or should the words we use be Baha’i-inspired?”; “Do we attribute a quote to the author, like Abdu’l-Baha, or do we say ‘Baha’i Writings’ instead, or simply not put anything at all?”.
We offer FREE international shipping for all of our items as well, so head on over to the Baha’i Blog Shop and get yourself and your friends some awesome Baha’i-inspired T-shirts, which will also help us continue our efforts here at Baha’i Blog!
The Baha’i Blogcast with Rainn Wilson
In this wonderful series of podcasts, which we’ve aptly named “The Baha’i Blogcast”, Rainn Wilson interviews members of the Baha’i Faith and other friends from all over the world about their hearts, and minds, and souls, their spiritual journeys, what they’re interested in, and what makes them tick.
Each episode is approximately one hour, and we’ve released 24 episodes so far. Thousands of listeners tune in from around the world and the feedback has been amazing with so many people telling us that they love how authentic the conversations are and how they can’t wait for the next episode to be released. Here’s what one of our listeners had to say:
It’s actually been really huge for me, very meaningful, very comforting at times, very confirming and inspiring to have access to these very real, very sincere conversations and for me it’s served as a very real form of accompaniment!
You can listen to the Baha’i Blogcast with Rainn Wilson, using the following links:
* iTunes: The Baha’i Blogcast with Rainn Wilson
* Soundcloud: The Baha’i Blogcast with Rainn Wilson
* Spotify: The Baha’i Blogcast with Rainn Wilson
* YouTube [Audio Only]: The Baha’i Blogcast with Rainn Wilson
The Art Of…
‘The Art Of…‘ is a series of short films, each featuring a different artist and exploring their thoughts and ideas behind their craft. The series is produced by Half Light Media, the not-for-profit Baha’i Blog operates under, and so far we’ve published three of these films: ‘The Art of Reza Mostmand‘, ‘The Art of Kate Vestlie‘, and ‘The Art of Lua Shayenne‘.
Here at Baha’i Blog we’re passionate about encouraging and promoting the arts, and seeing as how we’ve had some wonderful feedback about these films, we hope to see this series continue pending time, funding and other resources.
We’d love to hear your thoughts about these videos, so let us know in the Comments section at the bottom of this article, or send an email to: [email protected]
You can watch ‘The Art of…’ series here on Baha’i Blog’s YouTube channel: The Art Of…
Recording, Archiving & Publishing Baha’i-Inspired Talks
One of the things we strive to do here at Baha’i Blog is to help and support Baha’i institutions and organizations with their media related initiatives and needs, including the recording and archiving of Baha’i-inspired talks. For instance we are helping the Grand Canyon Baha’i Conference organizers film and record their talks for archival purposes, and to make a select number of them available for others to listen to on Baha’i Blog and other sites.
If you are on a summer, winter school or conference committee and would like a platform to share some of the amazing speakers you’ve had, please get in touch by sending an email to: [email protected]
How You Can Get Involved
We get a lot of people asking how they can help out, and we’re so grateful to all the people who have helped in so many different ways over the years. If you like what we’re doing and would like to contribute in some way, here are a few simple ways you can help:
1. Subscribe to Baha’i Blog
A simple little thing like this goes a long way! Like us on Facebook, follow us on Instagram, sign up to our email list and subscribe to our YouTube channel. Share the page or an article or video you like with your friends, and please help us spread the word by letting others know about all the things we’re doing. Every little thing counts, and it can help make a difference.
2. Write for Us
We’re always looking for potential writers and articles for Baha’i Blog, so if you’re interested in trying your hand at writing an article, check out our Write For Us page and our Editorial Values page, then feel free to send over a few article ideas listing the potential title of the article plus a few lines about what it’ll cover to: [email protected]
3. Make a Donation
Running a website with articles, videos, music and all of the things we’re doing costs money, and as a not-for-profit initiative, Baha’i Blog is made possible thanks to the financial contributions of individuals. So if you like what you see and would like to help us continue doing what we’re doing by making a donation, you can do so by donating here.
4. Stay in Touch
We really love hearing from people who use Baha’i Blog, and it would mean a lot to us to hear from you. Tell us how it’s impacted you and/or your community, and we’d also love to hear any ideas or feedback you may have. Contact us at: [email protected]
Ok, I think that’s it for now! We’d like to give a very special thank you to Mona Jafari for making the Baha’i Blog birthday cake featured as the main header image. You can check out Mona’s cakes here on her Instagram page called Matrimona.
From all of us here at Baha’i Blog, we’d really like to thank you for helping in so many different ways, and for being a part of our online community! Thank you for your continued support and encouragement over these last seven years!
It’s been an amazing experience and here’s to another great year ahead!