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Sonjel Vreeland

In her innermost heart, Sonjel is a mother, a wife and a bookworm but professionally she is a museologist and a library technician. She currently lives on Prince Edward Island, an isle in the shape of a smile on the eastern Canadian coast. Sonjel is a writer who loves to listen to jazz when she's driving at night.

A is for Allah-u-Abha: A Children’s Alphabet Book by Andrea Hope

Andrea Hope is no stranger to the Baha’i Blog team! In the past, we interviewed her about her spoken word (you can read all about it here). Now she has taken her skills with words to create a book for young children called A is for Allah-u-Abha. Illustrated by Winda Mulyasari, this bright and bold book will help little ones learn spiritual qualities, Baha’i concepts and history such as equality, the Fast, and the station of Abdu’l-Baha as our exemplar.

Andrea lovingly shared how her picture book of poetry came together, the process involved, and what she’s working on now. Here’s our conversation:

Baha’i Blog: Can you tell us a little about yourself?

I publish under the name Andrea Hope, which is my first and middle name. “Hope” comes from my great-grandmother, Virginia Hope Jones, who was the first Baha’i in our family and my spiritual guide. Growing up, I was always quite empathetic toward the plight of humanity. At age 11, I found my first solace in writing poetry with lines like, “If the world were full of blind men what a beautiful sight it would be … we’d be forced to feel, not see.” I remember wondering as a junior youth, “Why would God put me on this earth if there was nothing I could do about suffering?” The Baha’i Faith both relieved and empowered me. I have been working for some time to combine my passion for the arts and children’s education with the needs of the Faith. This has included developing children’s programs for holy days, organizing a theatre performance of the children’s book Rooth Sees a Trooth, creating Baha’i Holy Day memory cards, writing a poetry activity book called I Am & I Can, and now, publishing the picture book A is for Allah-u-Abha. Continue reading

The Art of Gerry O’Mahoney

Every now and then I come across an artist who I think would be great to showcase on Baha’i Blog’s images section. I reach out and hope they reply. While I wait, my selfishness increases because the more I contemplate their work, the more I get lost in it, and the more eager I become to hear them talk about it. Gerry O’Mahoney is no exception and I am thrilled that he was willing to share a small collection of his work as well as some words about what inspires him, what lies beneath the surface of his paintings, how he became a Baha’i, and what words of encouragement he might offer anyone else thinking of becoming an artist:

Continue reading

Cloud9: Elizabeth De Souza – Is Art the Secret to Building Community?

Cloud9 is a podcast produced by Baha’i Teachings. Its aim is to feature interviews with artists and discuss what inspires them to make a positive contribution to the world. In this episode, Baha’i Teachings’ arts editor Shadi Toloui-Wallace interviews interdisciplinary artist, writer and educator Elizabeth De Souza, in a conversation about artists, how we value them, dealing with the culture of criticism, and the various creative practices that contribute to community building. Continue reading

Songs of the Spirit Volume 2 – An Upbeat Album & Songbook for All-Ages by Diana Howlett

Diana Howlett’s upbeat and catchy melodies remind me of singalongs from the summer schools of my childhood and sing along is exactly what she hopes you’ll do! Diana is equally passionate about producing songbooks as she is with creating albums and she releases them jointly. Her music thus far has consisted of devotional music based on the Writings (these albums are called Intone O my Servant) and those that are Baha’i-inspired in their content (such as Songs of the Spirit). Songs of the Spirit Volume 2 is her latest work featuring music about holy days, the history of the Baha’i Faith and concepts such as love and unity.

Diana shared with us about how it all came together. Here’s what we chatted about: Continue reading

Cloud9: Dr Smile – Dentist, Hip-Hop Artist, Activist, Baha’i

Cloud9 is a podcast produced by Baha’i Teachings. Its aim is to feature interviews with artists and discuss what inspires them to make a positive contribution to the world. In this episode, Baha’i Teachings’ arts editor Shadi Toloui-Wallace interviews South African dentist, musician, jeweller, fashion designer and university lecturer Alex Faizi Rawhani, about balancing his pursuit for excellence with service to humanity. Continue reading

Cloud9: The SoulPancake Story, with Golriz Lucina Gundry

Cloud9 is a podcast produced by Baha’i Teachings. Its aim is to feature interviews with artists and discuss what inspires them to make a positive contribution to the world.

In this episode, Baha’i Teachings’ arts editor Shadi Toloui-Wallace interviews Golriz Lucina Grundy about creating meaningful, joyful and uplifting content that could change the world. Continue reading

BWNS Podcast: Australia, Diversity, and the Pursuit of Social Cohesion

In this podcast episode produced by the Baha’i World News Service, two representatives of Australia’s Baha’i community discuss what they are learning about consultation’s power to build greater unity of thought and action in society. Ida Walker and Venus Khalessi, from Australia’s Baha’i External Affairs Office, have been representing the Baha’i community in one of the most pressing discourses in Australian society—the discourse on social cohesion. Continue reading