I wanted to share an awesome initiative spearheaded by the Baha’i Community of New Zealand called The Race Unity Speech Awards. Having started back in 2001, the event is an annual public speaking competition for senior high school students in New Zealand, and although the topic varies from year to year, the theme is always around race. Students are given one or two quotes and several bullet points relating to the particular topic, and asked to consider them when preparing their speeches. Regional heats are held in 14 locations around the country and around 25 of the regional participants gather in Auckland each year for the national semi-finals and finals. The speech awards provide a nationwide platform for students to express their ideas on how we can improve race relations, and the theme for 2019 was “Speaking for Justice, Working for Unity”. In conjunction with the speech awards are also gatherings called Race Unity Hui. These gatherings are also organized to give young people an opportunity to be heard when it comes to race relations issues, and they provide a space for young people to advance the conversation about race relations in New Zealand.
This year’s finals of The Race Unity Speech Awards just took place last month, and Robbie White of New Plymouth Boys’ High School won the competition; he cited examples of past and present New Zealand leaders who have helped to forge unity in New Zealand, and confidently wove the Maori language into his speech (which you can watch here). Nina Gelashvilli, a Year 12 student at Kuranui College in the Wairarapa, was the national runner-up and Michael Echague, a Year 12 student from St John’s College in Hamilton, was a national finalist. I was excited to hear from these three participants about their experience with this incredible event, and here’s what they shared with me: Continue reading
After much reflection, the Baha’i Blog team has decided to close down the Baha’i Blog Shop in about 30 days, so it’s your last chance to get your limited edition Baha’i-inspired t-shirts, and help support Baha’i Blog!
Since Baha’i Blog’s inception eight years ago, we’ve been exploring how the Baha’i Faith translates into various avenues of media, whether it be through our written articles, our Studio Sessions musical series, our podcast series called the Baha’i Blogcast with Rainn Wilson, or our many other forms of Baha’i-inspired content. As a part of this exploration, a few years ago we decided to experiment with Baha’i-inspired content on worn apparel, with a focus on t-shirts. We asked ourselves questions like: “Do we print a t-shirt with a direct quotation from the Baha’i Writings on it, or should the words on the shirt be inspired by a quotation from the Baha’i Writings?”; “Do we print on the front of the shirt, or do we print on the back of the shirt?”, and also, “What sort of impact do these shirts have on those wearing them, and those around them?”. Continue reading
Lisa Blecker is a bit of a celebrity in our household. My three young children have, at various times, all held our board book copy of Blessed is the Spot during prayers and we have read, and sung, The Good in Me from A to Z by Dottie as a family and in our children’s class more times than I can count! When I saw that Lisa had put out a new book called Sweet Neighbors Come in All Colors, I knew it was going to be a hit with our family — and I wasn’t disappointed! It is cheerful, vibrant, sweet, fun and a book the kids ask for over and over and over again!
Because of how much her books have meant to us, I was a little star struck when I approached Lisa to find out more about her book and when I told my six year old that Lisa and I were in touch, she was floored! It was a pleasure to find out more about the book and I hope you enjoy our conversation as much as I did: Continue reading
We live in amazing times; I’ve become friends and have been able to collaborate with some fantastic people online. Alan and Lorraine Manifold are one such example. It’s been a pleasure to work together with them. For example, Naysan interviewed Alan about his mystery novel (that features a Baha’i detective!) titled Consulting Detective and they wrote an article called “It’s OK to Be a Feminist” that involved some insightful consultations about the equality of women and men and how we write about this weighty teaching on a personal Baha’i-inspired blog — there’s a lot that happens behind the scenes here at Baha’i Blog and if you’re ever curious about the principles and ideas that guide our work, check out our Editorial Values.
I recently learned about the “Baha’i Composition Blast”, a new brainchild of Alan and Lorraine in honor of the upcoming Bicentenary of the Birth of the Bab, and it was fascinating to hear about it. Here’s what they shared with us: Continue reading
Although we’ve never met, I feel like I’ve gotten to know Jacqueline Claire over the years as we’ve connected over creating Baha’i-inspired content for Baha’i Blog. She wrote about her experiences creating imaginative spaces for elevated conversation, what she has learned in striving to be a spiritually restored and active participant at Nineteen-Day Feasts, and she shared with us some of her artwork and an arts newsletter she sent out every day of the Fast. When I heard about a new initiative she has developed that combines storytelling, art and dynamic conversation, I was eager to find out more. It’s called Awake to Your Life as a Spiritual Journey and I loved what she shared with me:
Baha’i Blog: To begin, could you tell us a little about this initiative?
Sure, I would love to. Awaken to Your Life as a Spiritual Journey is an uplifting and interactive blend of art show, storytelling and dynamic discussion designed to empower attendees to see their life path in a new way. It incorporates a series of seven mystical landscape paintings of mine called The Seven Valleys of Summer. It begins with an icebreaker that immediately creates a warm, friendly environment and starts to connect people with each other, the artwork and passages from The Seven Valleys of Baha’u’llah. I speak a little about the series and how it came about, branching in to larger concepts about life as a spiritual journey. Collectively we then discuss the Valleys, gleaning wisdom from each one.
Our friends at Bahaiteachings.org have recently started a podcast called “Cloud9”, which shines a light on the artistry and creative process of artists around the world.
The host of the series is Shadi Toloui-Wallace, the Arts Editor of BahaiTeachings.org and an incredible artist in her own right. We’ve interviewed Shadi before about her music (such as her most recent album, Daughters of the Kingdom), and she was also a guest on the Baha’i Blogcast with Rainn Wilson. This time we wanted to hear more about Cloud9 and Shadi graciously obliged, so here’s what she shared with us: Continue reading
I was excited when I heard about a recent choir festival that occurred in Johannesburg called “5 Countries, 1 Love”, which was a collaboration of five different choirs from around Africa, who came together to learn and share music with each other and the Baha’i community. They came from Swaziland, Botswana, Namibia, the Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC) and South Africa. Hosted in South Africa by the Joburg Baha’i Choir, the festival was held at the Baha’i National Center in Johannesburg. You may have seen the Joburg Baha’i Choir before, as they participated in Baha’i Blog’s Studio Sessions with their songs “Be a Baha’i” and “O Thixo”, plus we also featured their “Usifiwe Naw Ruz” music video and their album, Homage.
A few friends who participated in the event told me how uplifting the festival was, so I decided to chat with Page, one of the festival participants, to find out more about it: Continue reading
Several months ago I was invited to participate in a one-day festival called “The Ink of Light Baha’i Writers’ Festival” held in May in Brisbane, Australia, about an hour from where I currently live. Unfortunately I was overseas at the time, but I was so excited to hear about this initiative, as it’s the first I’d ever heard of such a festival. As an avid reader and as the editor of Baha’i Blog where we publish thousands of posts and articles, writing is definitely something I’m passionate about!
“The Ink of Light Baha’i Writers’ Festival” was the brainchild of Brisbane photographer and author, Ian Hallmond, and I heard so many great things about the festival. When I returned to Australia, I met up with Ian to find out more about the initiative: Continue reading
Baha’is all over the world are striving to systematize their efforts and to be methodical about their endeavours to “effect a transformation in the whole character of mankind, a transformation that shall manifest itself both outwardly and inwardly”. We are given Plans by the Universal House of Justice and are encouraged to think in quarterly cycles of action, reflection, and planning. On the personal level, Baha’u’llah tells us to “bring [ourselves] to account each day”, to strive to “let each morn be better than its eve and each morrow richer than its yesterday”, and Abdu’l-Baha encourages us to “be constant in offering [daily] obligatory prayer”. The theme of systematic action has also been further explored here on Baha’i Blog.
Bullet journaling has helped me to be reliable, methodical and systematic both in my personal devotions, as well as in my service to the world at large; it has helped me create my personal plans and be organized in my efforts and participation in community building initiatives. Of course, bullet journaling isn’t the only way to be systematic on a personal level, but I’d like to share my personal experience here in the hope that others might find something useful in it. Continue reading