It’s been nine years of Baha’i Blog – yes nine! (…oooh the number nine…), and we’re so excited to have come this far!
As many of you know, we take the work we’re doing in exploring and creating Baha’i-inspired media content very seriously, and we feel blessed to have been able to continue creating Baha’i-inspired content in various avenues of media over the years! As we continue to work hard at making Baha’i Blog what it is today, we really hope you’ve enjoyed what we’ve been doing, and have found it useful and inspiring as well!.
With so much going on here at Baha’i Blog, there’s no way we can cover everything we’ve been working on in this article, but we wanted to share a few highlights of some of the things that have been keeping us busy over the last Baha’i year:
Baha’i Blog – More Than Just A Blog!
Since Baha’i Blog’s birth in 2011, we’ve been celebrating and exploring the Baha’i Teachings and Baha’i-inspired ideas, news, resources, artistic expressions and personal reflections through the use of various avenues of media. We see 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, or the podcast we produce, we look at each of these avenues as projects in and of themselves.
With hundreds of posts being published each year, the core of the Baha’i Blog website is still written articles that share personal reflections, news, resources, and interviews on a wide variety of Baha’i-related initiatives and topics, contributed by a team of regular writers and guest contributors. The site has definitely evolved over the years with more sections and content to supplement our articles, such as video, audio, and image posts, and even quizzes, plus other Baha’i Blog platforms, such as our growing YouTube channel and Instagram page. We also continue to create new supplementary projects to honor special occasions, such our Personal Reflections initiative, and wherever possible, we also work behind-the-scenes to support many other “non-Baha’i Blog” initiatives from Baha’i Institutions, communities and friends worldwide. Our aim therefore, is to both support and to contribute to the ecosystem of Baha’i-inspired content found mainly in the online space.
The Baha’i Blog team also makes it a priority to hold regular meetings to plan, act and reflect on the work we’re doing, and to explore what the Baha’i Writings and other guidance from the Baha’i Institutions say about the creative and online space. We try our best to constantly evaluate otherwise-unspoken assumptions we might bring to our work, putting due consideration to our processes and practices, and to look at how they might reinforce or question those assumptions. In light of this, we also reflect on both traditional, and trending norms in the world of media, making a genuine effort to ensure that we don’t fall victim to the traditions or trends that may contradict our understanding of what our values are as Baha’is, while also taking into consideration the way in which many users consume content. Learn more about some of our values here on our Editorial Values page.
Ok, first things first! Let’s quickly talk about the fact that at the end of the Baha’i year, the world was suddenly hit with COVID-19, a Coronavirus which has become a pandemic affecting the global community in a drastic way. The full extent of the effects this pandemic is having on the world is still unfolding as I write this, but sadly it continues to spread, having taken the lives of thousands globally so far, and its economic and social implications are also worrying, to say the least.
As a result of this global pandemic, the Universal House of Justice wrote in their recent Naw-Ruz letter: “Seldom has it been more evident that society’s collective strength is dependent on the unity it can manifest in action, from the international stage to the grassroots, and we know that you are giving your support to the essential efforts being made in this regard to protect the health and welfare of all.” As the world changes the way they do things, and individuals, neighborhoods, and nations practice social distancing and initiate lockdowns, we’ve seen a number of Baha’i-inspired content and initiatives come about as a result of this. We’ve seen celebrations like Naw-Ruz go online, and we did a special interview with Dr Kim-Farley about the virus on the ‘Baha’i Blogcast with Rainn Wilson’, and we also posted a collection of Baha’i content relating to COVID-19 in this article called 12 Online Baha’i Resources Related to the Coronavirus (COVID-19).
We’ve had interesting conversations about how much of the pandemic we should cover in relation to our regular content, but there’s no doubt that we’ll continue to post relevant content relating to COVID-19 as the situation continues to unfold. We would also like to add that we are grateful to have access to the internet, and we are very aware of the fact that much of the world doesn’t have internet access, let alone electricity. We hope that the world will pass through this health crisis soon, and grow closer together as a result. As the Universal House of Justice so beautifully wrote in their Naw-Ruz letter: “However difficult matters are at present, and however close to the limits of their endurance some sections of societies are brought, humanity will ultimately pass through this ordeal, and it will emerge on the other side with greater insight and with a deeper appreciation of its inherent oneness and interdependence.”
Celebrating the Bicentenary of the Birth of the Bab
We feel blessed to be a part of this once-in-lifetime occasion, where Baha’is and their friends around the world celebrated this historic time in various settings, both large and small, and through a myriad of initiatives.
Baha’i Blog made sure we played our part in promoting and featuring content related to this unique occasion. We created and shared Baha’i Blog-specific content such as these 62 Baha’i Blog Posts and Resources Relating to the Bab. We also made sure we promoted other initiatives and events, especially those coming from the Baha’i World Centre, such as the live streaming of bicentenary events held at Baha’i Houses of Worship, and sending as much traffic as possible to the Bicentenary website dedicated to all the artistic expressions and celebrations happening around the globe.
We were also deeply moved when we joined the world in watching the film commissioned by the Baha’i World Centre called ‘Dawn of the Light’, of which some of our Baha’i Blog team members had the honor of being a part of. You can watch this beautiful film available in a number of languages via this ‘Dawn of the Light’ playlist.
Introducing Baha’i Blog TV (BBTV)!
We are super excited to have launched Baha’i Blog TV, or BBTV as we like to call it! BBTV allows you to access and watch hundreds of Baha’i-inspired videos on your iPhone and iPad handpicked by the Baha’i Blog team, so as well as Baha’i Blog content, you’ll also find awesome content from a wide variety of sources, including videos from the Baha’i World Centre, BahaiTeachings.org, and many others! So whether you’re looking for inspiring Baha’i talks or podcasts, beautiful Baha’i music, or Baha’i films to share with your friends, we’ve got it covered!
New videos are being added every week, and you’ll receive one weekly notification of new videos added to the app (you can always turn these notifications off if you’d prefer). Baha’i Blog TV continues to be a work-in-progress, and we hope to be able to continue to contribute to the diversity of Baha’i-inspired media and content out there, so we really appreciate your support!
We’re hoping to make an Android version of it as well, but in the meantime, if you have an iPhone, please download the app, and when you do, it would be great if you could rate the app on the App Store as well, as this really helps with exposure. If you don’t have an iPhone, we’d really appreciate it if you could let others know about it too! Thanks for your support!
Over 200 Baha’i Blog Studio Sessions From Around the World, and Counting!
Our Baha’i Blog Studio Sessions series is an initiative where we invite Baha’is and their friends in different parts of the world, to come into a studio on location, 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 be inspired! We also include the quotation used and the chords to the song so you can learn them as well!
So far, we’ve published songs from approximately 40 global locations in about 30 different languages, and we’re always blown away by all the wonderful talent and songs we’ve uncovered in communities worldwide! Here’s what one of our listeners had to say about the Studio Sessions series:
To me this project is nothing less than an example for unity in diversity. It’s really wonderful to see and hear so many different voices from around the globe, showing their individuality, their musical uniqueness and all inspired by the same source, the same spirit. Really amazing!
We couldn’t have come this far without the help of so many wonderful souls who have not only taken part by singing in the Studio Sessions, but to all those who have helped in so many different ways, from picking people up from a train station, to helping to edit the videos. We’d really like to thank EVERYONE who has helped so far in making this wonderful contribution to the arts a reality!
The Baha’i Blogcast with Rainn Wilson
In this wonderful series of podcasts, which we’ve aptly named “The Baha’i Blogcast”, actor 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 44 episodes so far with more to come! 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!
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
More Baha’i-Inspired Talks… and Now Interviews Too!
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 help the Grand Canyon Baha’i Conference and the Australian Gold Coast Baha’i community film and record some of their talks for archival purposes, and then we make a select number of them available for others to listen to on Baha’i Blog. We also take special care to ensure that all the talks we publish have the permission of both the speakers and the organizers involved, and we never publish something just because we’ve found it online. Furthermore, Baha’i Blog team members, with the help of volunteers, review the content and quality of every talk, often spending a lot of time on this process, before we publish anything.
We’ve recently started including interviews as well, like this interview with Baha’i singer/songwriter Grant Hindin Miller, and we’ll be adding more throughout the year. We’ve published over 100 talks and interviews so far, and we hope you’ve found them as inspirational and informative as we have!
More Audio Readings, Plus Audio Versions of Our Articles Now Too!
The Baha’i Blog team continues to provide audio readings of certain letters from the Universal House of Justice and the Baha’i International Community (BIC) whenever possible, and now we’ve also started creating audio versions of some of our articles too! For example here’s an article called Seasons of Spirituality: Ayyam-i-Ha, the Fast and Naw-Ruz, read by Preethi, the article’s author herself, and here’s an example of the recent message from the Universal House of Justice.
Baha’i Blog’s Personal Reflections Series Continues
We first launched our Personal Reflections project two years ago, in honor of the 200th anniversary of the Birth of Baha’u’llah, and as this year marks the 200th anniversary of the Birth of the Bab, we decided to do it again with another 200 portraits and personal reflections.
This initiative profiles 200 Baha’is and their friends from around the world, capturing a simple portrait photo paired with a quotation taken from an interview with 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 has gone 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.”
We hope you find these portraits as eye opening and inspiring as we do, and be sure to follow Baha’i Blog’s Personal Reflections initiative by using these links:
Special Projects and Collaborations
Baha’i Blog literally receives hundreds of requests to help, support, or even just brainstorm with others about their ideas, projects, and initiatives. We’re always torn because we wish we could work on almost everything that comes our way, but with limited time and resources, we have to be selective and careful we don’t stretch ourselves too thin, especially with all that we’re already doing on Baha’i Blog. The projects we have been involved with have proven to be wonderful learning opportunities and have enabled us to forge stronger relationships with others who are also striving to serve the Baha’i Faith. It should also be added that we feel quite strongly about the fact that a lot of what’s important about the work we do on Baha’i Blog is about what happens behind-the-scenes – often the stuff that people don’t necessarily see – rather than than the end product and what gets published. Having said that, here are some notable initiatives and projects we’ve either been behind or involved in over the last year or so, that people have seen:
An Introduction to the Baha’i Faith by Rainn Wilson Animation
When Rainn Wilson first called to chat about the idea of making an animated introduction to the Baha’i Faith, I was excited because of what was learned when Baha’i Blog made this short video about the Baha’i Faith, and because sadly, there’s still not that much out there when it comes to introductory Baha’i materials online. Seeing as how 57 percent of the world are actively online these days, there’s definitely a need for videos like this, so we joined forces with our friends at BahaiTeachings.org, SwissVBS to make the idea a reality.
A lot of thought and time went into the making of this animation, and we’re super excited to have had over 1 Million views within the first few weeks of launching it!
Watch the animation here on the BahaiTeachings.org YouTube channel: An Introduction to the Baha’i Faith by Rainn Wilson
And check out the audio version which includes some of Rainn’s commentary about the animation on this episode of the Baha’i Blogcast with Rainn Wilson.
Baha’i Blog Presents ‘Una Serata con NAIM (An Evening with NAIM)’
Baha’i Blog is excited to share this music initiative called “Una Serata con NAIM”, which is Italian for “An Evening with NAIM”. In this live concert filmed in his hometown of Genoa, Italy, Italian singer/songwriter NAIM takes us on a musical journey where he shares music from his album Libero, and interweaves principles of the Baha’i Faith and the inspiration behind the songs.
A couple of years ago Baha’i Blog wanted to experiment in creating a music video series called “Baha’i Blog Presents An Evening with…”, where we would film and record live Baha’i-inspired concerts featuring various Baha’i musicians and bands. I had just interviewed NAIM about his album Libero (which you can read here), and he was organizing a concert based on the album. It was as if the stars aligned. He graciously accepted to be the first to help us try out the idea of filming “An Evening with…” and so “Una Serata con NAIM (An Evening with NAIM)” came to life!
We were also excited that the concert was in Italian, as we not only wanted to keep it authentic, but having lived in Italy briefly myself, I knew that we could use more Baha’i-inspired content in Italian online. Don’t worry, we’ve included subtitles in both English and Italian as well!
“Una Serata con NAIM (An Evening with NAIM)” is available on both Baha’i Blog’s YouTube channel and Soundcloud page, where we’ve also included edits of the individual songs without the commentary in case you just want to listen to the songs.
Ink of Light Baha’i Writers’ Festival
The Ink of Light Baha’i Writers’ Festival is an annual festival that explores and celebrates the work of Baha’i writers and creatives. Taking place in Brisbane, Australia, speakers and attendees all come together to share ideas, learn from one another, and celebrate various avenues of creative expression.
Seeing as Baha’i Blog is a “blog” after all, which means there’s a lot of writing involved, and the fact that the festival is held in Australia, where most of the Baha’i Blog team is based, we thought this was something we should definitely help out with in order to help promote and encourage creativity and writing in the Baha’i community,
You can find some of the talks and interviews given at the 2019 Ink of Light festival here on this Ink of Light playlist, and find out more about the festival from this Baha’i Blog article, and InkofLight.org.
The Heroes Teaching Conference and Music
In April 2019, some 1,000 Baha’is and like-minded friends from all over Southern Queensland and Northern New South Wales, Australia, gathered together in the city of Brisbane to attend a historic conference aimed to help its participants find their place in service to Baha’u’llah and humanity. The conference was called ‘The Heroes Teaching Conference’, and Baha’i Blog had the honor of helping out with the filming and recording of the event. As well as presentations and workshops, also woven throughout the two-day program were beautiful songs performed by conference participants who were inspired by stories of heroism in the Baha’i Faith’s history, and from the spirit generated at the event. Within a few weeks after the conference, these songs were recorded live in a music studio in Brisbane, and we are so excited to be able to share this wonderful collection of inspiring songs as well as some of the presentations.
Use the following links to watch the videos from the Heroes Teachings Conference:
Music from the European Baha’i Choral Festival 2019
The 2019 European Baha’i Choral Festival was held at the Baha’i House of Worship in Langenhain, Germany, and it was the second European Baha’i Choral Festival to date. Over a hundred participants came together to sing, share music with others and to strengthen the bonds of fellowship and harmony amongst Baha’is and their friends across Europe, and we had the opportunity to help them film and record the songs they performed at the event.
The songs performed at the festival were composed by a diverse range of Baha’i composers, and were conducted by a variety of musicians. The songs are in English, Albanian, Arabic, Finnish, Swedish, French, Spanish and German, and all are based on excerpts from the Baha’i Writings.
For more information about the European Baha’i Choral Festival, check out bahaichoralfestival.de, and you can also read Baha’i Blog’s interview with festival director Ameli Dziemba here: The European Baha’i Choral Festival
Drawing Nigh to Baha’u’llah – A Series of 12 Talks Given by Adib Taherzadeh
Baha’i Blog is thrilled to be able to share this series of 12 talks collectively called “Drawing Nigh to Baha’u’llah” given at the Alaskan Baha’i Summer School in 1984 by Mr. Adib Taherzadeh, former member of the Universal House of Justice.
It took us a while, but we were able to get permission to publish this amazing series of talks, and we are extremely grateful to the National Spiritual Assembly of the Baha’is of Alaska (www.akbahai.org), and to Peaceful Pages for giving us permission to republish these talks.
You can read more about the life of Adib Taherzadeh in this One World newsletter article from the Baha’i International Community. Of his many legacies, Adib Taherzadeh’s scholarship and strength as a writer also live on in his works, such as the four volumes of ‘The Revelation of Baha’u’llah’, which you can read more about in this Baha’i Blog article.
The Justice Conference
The Justice Conference is an annual Baha’i-inspired conference created for the exploration of international law, global governance, justice and ethics. It takes place in the Netherlands, and in 20129, the Baha’i Blog team started helping with the filming and publication of some of their presentations online.
Gold Coast Baha’i Community Talks
Fortunately for me, I live in the beautiful city of the Gold Coast, Australia, where we not only have beautiful beaches, but a vibrant and active Baha’i community. From time-to-time, the Local Assembly of the Gold Coast hosts information evenings that seek to explore a Baha’i perspective on topics that relate to the life of society, and Baha’i Blog has been filming a number of these talks and publishing some of them as well.
These talks are given by a range of Baha’is in the community, and offer a wide variety of topics, and they can be found in the Baha’i Talks & Interviews Playlist on Baha’i Blog’s YouTube channel. Included below are links to some of them as well:
* Purposeful Parenting – A Talk by Dr Melanie Lotfali
* Dreams: The Language of the Soul – A Talk by Dr Reza Samvat
* Medicine & Spirituality – A Talk by Dr. Arman Sabet
* Is Spirituality a Solution to the Economic Problems of Today? – A Talk by Dr Soheil Abedian
* The Life & Legacy of Bahiyyih Khanum – A Talk by Dr. Janet Khan
The Grand Canyon Baha’i Conference
The Grand Canyon Baha’i Conference is an annual conference held in Scottsdale, Arizona, USA, and it boasts over 2,500 attendees each year, making it the largest regularly held Baha’i conference in the world. The conference program caters for people of all ages, allowing individuals, families and groups the opportunity to come together and share personal and spiritual experiences, and to also learn more about the Baha’i Faith as it relates to the world we live in.
For the last few years, Baha’i Blog has been working with the conference in filming many of the talks and workshops, and we also designed and built their new website.
Andy Grammer’s Happy Ayyam-i-Ha Song
We were so happy when Andy Grammer sent the song to us and allowed us to publish it for everyone to enjoy during the special days of Ayyam-i-Ha! Special thanks to Andy Grammer, Red Grammer and Jamey Heath for this fun song, and for letting Baha’i Blog share it with everyone! Lyrics and chords are also included so you can all sing along!
How You Can Get Involved and Help
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. Once you’ve done that, feel free to send over a few article ideas listing the potential title of the article plus a few lines about what they’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, so send us an email: [email protected]
And finally, it’s become a little bit of a tradition to have a cake each year for Baha’i Blog’s birthday, and the cake you see pictured in the main header image at the top of this article is this year’s cake! Pictured right are Baha’i Blog team member, Sonjel Vreeland’s kids digging into the cake after patiently waiting for Sonjel to finish taking photos of it!
From all of us here at Baha’i Blog, stay safe, and THANK YOU ALL SO MUCH for your continued support and encouragement over these last nine years!