baha’i-inspired theatre: yertle the turtle

yertle the turtleI remember blogging way back about this neat initiative spearheaded by a couple of Baha’is from New York City called the Children’s Theatre Company (CTC). It’s a theatre company that goes far beyond your average elementary school plays and instead promotes theatre as an active way of learning and building character qualities.

Ottawa now has a chapter of the CTC, which just ended its first run of Yertle the Turtle, a story about a turtle king whose greed and lust for power get the better of him—to the great detriment of his subjects. One of the children from our children’s class played Yertle, which made us all feel quite proud of her. All the actors were eight- to ten-year-old children from the area; for some, English was only a second (or third) language. All the same, the production was impressive, well presented and funny, and the children seemed to have gained insight into the themes explored in the play, and how said themes apply to their own lives.

I was lucky enough to be able to be present during a few of the company’s rehearsals, since they rehearsed at the Bahá’í Centre right after our children’s class finished. Each week, they would learn their lines and then alternate between games one week and character education the next. Apparently the character education part—during which Bahá’í teacher (and excellent storyteller) John Rager would join the kids for a session of discussing moral and character qualities and how they apply in our day-to-day lives and in the world of humanity—was the children’s favourite part.

The company presented several times at local elementary schools, and once at the Bahá’í Centre to conclude their well-received run. Children and parents alike eagerly await a new season—which, although there isn’t yet a firm starting date, will hopefully be soon!

Photo © Louis Brunet,

united nations day

On October 24th, 1945, the Charter of the United Nations entered into effect after being signed in San Francisco during the summer of 1945, creating the international organization we know today. The Baha’i International Community has been accredited as an international nongovernmental organization at the UN since 1948, and was granted special consultative status with the UN Economic and Social Council in 1970. Even now, in this time of reform within the UN, the BIC continues to make positive contributions—perhaps most notable of late was its statement, The Search for Values in an Age of Transition (PDF), on the occasion of the 60th anniversary of the United Nations in 2005.

video: international environment forum

couleurs d'automneAs blogged here earlier, the 11th Conference of the International Environment Forum (IEF) took place in Ottawa this weekend, and many of my friends within the Baha’i community showed up there. I’ll probably blog a little more about it later, but for now, you might want to check out the conference yourself: presentations and notes of the plenary and workshop sessions are available in PDF, DOC and MP3 formats, along with the conference schedule and official photo gallery; as well, videos of most of the presentations are available on Youtube! Here’s a list of links—share them with whoever may be interested!

    • The science of climate change, with a specific focus on the Arctic region
      John Stone2 3
    • Ethical challenges of climate change
      Arthur Dahl2 3
    • From the Arctic to the Small Island Developing States: Ethics and Adaptation
      John Crump2 3 4
    • The spirit of climate change
      Heather Eaton2 3

  • Faith-based NGOs and the Common Good
    Ted Reeve2 3
  • Governance of Energy from the Local to the Global – A Necessity for Climate Change Mitigation
    Sylvia Karlsson2
  • The Bahá’í International Community at the United Nations: Global Focus on Climate Change and Sustainable Development
    Tahirih Naylor2 3
  • PANEL—Reflections on Value-based Approaches to Environmental Action: Lessons Learned and Challenges Ahead


it’s just the beginning

The 60’s were a turbulent and exciting time in the history of civilization, and no less so in the history of the Baha’i community. A few months ago, the American Baha’i National Centre posted videos of the 1968 Baha’i National Youth Conference, perhaps for the benefit of those of us who were merely glimmers in our parents’ eyes at the time—but perhaps also to remind us of the world-reviving spirit that permeated the Baha’i community at the time, a community fresh out of its Ten Year Crusade and already into the Nine Year Plan, which brought the message of Baha’u’llah to countless receptive souls across the globe.

Part One

Read a related article: Baby Boomer Baha’is recall joining the Faith in Summer of Love era. Also, click below to see more videos!

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photo albums overhauled

ladiesaha! after a while of messing around and banging my head against a wall of PHP, I’ve given my photos page a much-needed overhaul. now, instead of linking you directly to flickr, photos will appear directly within the comfortable doberman pizza interface you’re used to. to celebrate, I’ve posted photos from the recent reflection meeting, the refresher session on Anna’s presentation last Monday, the devotional meeting at Julie & Fanfan’s place last weekend, and the latest edition of our children’s class—all nicely arranged into photosets (i.e. albums) for your browsing pleasure. And don’t worry, if you want to see higher-res versions they’re still around on flickr. let me know what you think!

reflection meetings are better than ice cream

angels of fire and snow 2Ottawa’s Baha’i community opened up the 10th cycle of its intensive program of growth on Friday night with loud whoops and hollers, African drums, singing, laughing and dancing. In fact, the assembled crowd seemed so joyous that they even interrupted the MC’s opening jokes with outbursts of applause. So, as a word to the wise: if you had the impression that reflection meetings were supposed to be sober occasions full of number-crunching and wringing guilty commitments out of people, then you desperately need to think again.

There were two shining stars of the evening: first, those brave souls who were able to gain experience with “Anna’s presentation“, using it as a general yet complete overview to introduce seekers to the Baha’i Faith; second, those equally brave souls who participated in the first wave of the Fire and Snow initiative in Toronto and were able to report on their experience in glowing and inspiring terms. In both cases, the sharing was uplifting, exciting and inspirational—being evidence, as Regional Council member Todd Smith stated, of a “true change in culture” within the Baha’i community.

reflection meeting mc'sThose people who attended Fire and Snow, they announced, will now be leading outreach groups in which all four core activities will be offered to the general public, similar to their recent experience in Toronto. Moreover, they’re inviting everyone (meaning everyone) who wants to learn about outreach to join them during the upcoming intensive phase (Aug. 4-19) in one of three outreach groups: one in Blackburn, one in Beacon Hill and one in South Keys. If you’d like to join up, you can either contact me and I’ll put you in touch, or contact someone like Marty or Sahba and they should be able to hook you up directly.

All in all, it’s been exciting to see how reflection meetings have progressed in the last few years. When we first started holding them, they seemed like just another meeting—just another burden (an annoying one, to some) on our already-busy work week. They truly seemed to have changed into what seems like an indispensable feature of a joyous and uplifting culture of learning, encouragement, and growth. They’ve become something genuinely fun, full of celebration and inspiration, balanced with frank consultation and a serious sense of purpose. Personally, I take it as another confirmation of the infallibility of the Universal House of Justice—and that if we stick to the Plan and are wholly united in our efforts to carry it out, the promised benefits will be ours, without a doubt.

OK so one more thing: I’ve added photos from this reflection meeting to a new photoset on flickr called baha’i reflection meetings, along with a bunch of other photos from previous reflection meetings. Check ’em out!