international women’s day

newfound friendsJoyeuse journée internationale de la femme! / Happy International Women’s Day! This day, marked on March 8th each year, commemorates the social, economic and political achievements and contributions of women the world over. The theme of this year’s commemoration, as adopted by the UN, is “ending impunity for violence against women and girls“.

Baha’is believe in the equality of women and men, as a matter of principle, and see it as an expression of justice—since we are all members of one human race and are each accountable to one and the same God, it is only just that we manifest a spirit of solidarity and unity in all our dealings with one another, men and women alike. The achievement of equality between the sexes is seen not only as the cornerstone of a society free from domestic violence, but also as a pivotal step in achieving international world peace.

Exalted, immensely exalted is He Who hath removed differences and established harmony. Glorified, infinitely glorified is He Who hath caused discord to cease, and decreed solidarity and unity. Praised be God, the Pen of the Most High hath lifted distinctions from between His servants and handmaidens, and, through His consummate favours and all-encompassing mercy, hath conferred upon all a station and rank of the same plane. He hath broken the back of vain imaginings with the sword of utterance and hath obliterated the perils of idle fancies through the pervasive power of His might. (Bahá’u’lláh)

When all mankind shall receive the same opportunity of education and the equality of men and women be realized, the foundations of war will be utterly destroyed. Without equality this will be impossible because all differences and distinction are conducive to discord and strife. Equality between men and women is conducive to the abolition of warfare for the reason that women will never be willing to sanction it… (‘Abdu’l-Bahá)

Therefore, as woman advances toward the degree of man in power and privilege, with the right of vote and control in human government, most assuredly war will cease; for woman is naturally the most devoted and staunch advocate of international peace. (‘Abdu’l-Bahá)

intense week

well it’s been an intense week for sure. the Ottawa Baha’i community held another reflection meeting last Saturday, launching the eighth cycle of its intensive program of growth.

JARGON WATCH: basically what this means is that a bunch of people got together to reflect on and discuss the growth, vitality and vision of the Baha’i community, to share their best practices and to set goals. An “intensive program of growth”, which is composed of many “cycles” marked by these “reflection meetings”, is basically a way for Baha’is (and those who throw their lot in with them) to manage the growth of the Baha’i community and channel their efforts to bring the Message of Bahá’u’lláh to those who are out there waiting for it.

it was a blast, as usual; there were lots of young people there, junior youth (12-14 yrs) and youth (15+ yrs) alike. That was awesome and really encouraging. we put someone on a table and lifted them up with only our fingers. apart from that, of course, we had time to knock heads together and make plans for the next few months: how we would help the core activities grow and evolve, etc.

MORE JARGON WATCH: there are four generally recognized “core activities” of Baha’i community life, all of which are, in essence, open to all people no matter what their faith: (1) “devotional meetings”, which consist of shared prayer and readings that bring a group closer to God / a Higher Power; (2) “study circles”, in which groups use the study of principles found in the Baha’i Writings to understand how they apply in real-world situations of service; (3) “children’s classes”, which are classes for the moral and spiritual education of children; (4) “junior youth groups”, in which 12- to 14-year-old youth use spiritual principles to understand the world around them and to bridge the gap between childhood and adolescence.

I spent a bit of time sharing the plan for our children’s class… it’s a complicated animal. So far it looks like we will be moving towards splitting the class into two groups: one for older children (say, 9-11) and one for younger children (~5-8). We’ve also discussed holding a devotional meeting open to parents, family and friends – we’re looking for ways that parents and family can naturally become more involved in the children’s spiritual education, and sharing prayer time with them in the format of a devotional meeting may just be the thing. also on the map are home visits with parents and family to follow up on the parents’ meeting we had last October – they haven’t had much regular communication from us and it’d be about time to bring them each up to speed no?

hasta la pasta

ahh flickr and randomness

library of parliamentflickr, my favourite photo sharing website, has just added maps! You can now geotag your flickr photos by dragging and dropping them onto a map. People will be able to pick an area on the map and see all the photos that were taken there! Check out a map of my geotagged photos.

FYI, the photo featured here is from a recent Ottawa Flickr Meetup.

Speaking of flickr, did you know that there are several Baha’i-related groups on flickr? Apart from the Baha’is group that’s been featured on Baha’i Blog, there are also groups devoted to the Lotus Temple and the Baha’i Temple in Wilmette, and another group for photos of Baha’i Houses of Worship in general.

So, it’s finally September again. For many people, that means it’s time to hit the books and go back to school. Ottawa University students, don’t forget that the Campus Association for Baha’i Studies (CABS) will be beginning a new year with a booth in the University Centre on September 8th from 11AM to 2PM, and board elections will be held at 6PM on September 15th in SMD 123, followed by dinner at Zak’s.

What can college life (or university life) be like? According to Mona, being at college can mean developing “a constant attitude of egotistical nonchalance”. She contrasts this experience with the “spiritually nurturing environment” at Green Acre Baha’i School in one of her livejournal posts (blogged at Baha’i Views).

On a random, unrelated note: Witness this youtube video of a girl in the UK dancing to a song I recorded. Yes, that is my voice you’re hearing, multitracked using an audio recording program. It’s a cover of Coburn’s “We Interrupt This Programme” (with gratuitous NEDM). It’s weird to see people grooving to something you made. Update (Sept. 7): This song recently came in second in an online remix contest. Cool!

And finally, a few more random links for you to munch on: If you want to see something really cool, go see a game of full-size foosball (photo courtesy of Catherine aka zeta). You can find out more about giant foosball. And if you want your brain to hurt (a lot), check out beedogs.com. “Beedogs.com is the premier online repository for pictures of dogs in bee costumes.” o m g.

going away party @ east side mario’s, 7pm, thurs aug 31

off to vancouver/ubcso yo. you may or may not know that our dear friends, Sahba, Peyman, and Pouria Talebifard are moving to Vancouver this weekend. Peyman and Sahba will be studying for their Masters’ degrees at UBC. A few of us thought it would be only meet and seemly to see them off on this journey that marks a new chapter in their lives. so, without further ado:

JOIN US!

Where: East Side Mario’s (at St. Laurent Mall)
When: 7pm on Thursday, August 31st (that’s this thursday)
Why: To say “bon voyage” to our friends!

Catherine (zeta) is taking care of the organization, so please contact her—cjones [dot] is [at] rogers [dot] com—if you’d like to RSVP.

Feel free to extend the invitation to people who know the T-Fards and would like to come wish them luck, blessings, confirmations, and a safe move west.

Bring a heart full of love, and bring your appetite!

this is the august update

youth triohey all you wonderful people. it’s been a long week and an even longer month, filled with lots of busymaking, vacationing, and picture-taking – and even some singing. you’ve probably noticed, but just in case, do pop by my flickr site to check out the latest photos and leave a comment or two. Along with updated vacation photos – mostly landscapes so far, more people shots coming soon – I’ve also posted some photos of the Super Ex, taken on the day I performed at the Joy of Faith concert with a musical group of Baha’i youth (well, mostly youth, with one youthful gentleman along for the ride).

It’s that time again. What time, you ask? Why, the time to get children’s classes in gear for the upcoming year. Our local coordinators have been kind enough to forward me copies of a pilot curriculum for Baha’i children’s classes, developed by the National Spiritual Assembly of the Baha’is of Canada, based on the “Baha’i Education for Children” series by A. A. Furutan. I’ll be using the pilot curriculum as a framework for our children’s class (“our” because I’m not the only teacher, and because the class is starting to feel a little like a family to me), which will entail translating it into French and finding corresponding French-language activities to replace those that don’t survive translation. See baha’i children’s class ideas to follow the progress of the class this year.

Those of you who have been following the situation in the Middle East and who have wondered about the state and condition of the Baha’i World Centre and Holy Places in Haifa and surroundings will be pleased to know that, according to the most recent communication from the Universal House of Justice, “no damage was done to the Holy Places and that the friends here remained in safety, pursuing their tasks with steadiness of purpose and exemplary perseverance”. Of course, as has been noted by many people since this most recent outbreak of violence began, we must remember to keep in our prayers not only our friends at the World Centre, but also our many fellow human beings who find themselves innocent victims of this conflict. Perhaps now, more than ever, is the time to rededicate ourselves to championing the Cause of world unity and to teach peace all the world around (to borrow a turn of phrase from Red Grammer). Part of my efforts in this wise include my participation in the core activities of the Baha’i Faith, most notably the above-mentioned children’s classes. I’ve also had a strong desire to start a study circle that would allow friends, family and acquaintances to get together and exchange on some of these topics. If you’re in the Ottawa area and you’d like to get involved, please do let me know.

On a side note, I’m seriously considering returning to my earlier vegetarian diet, after a hiatus of a few years (induced by a knock on the head). I was originally a pesco-ovo-lacto vegetarian, which means I would eat fish, eggs and dairy products – I’m thinking I may become pesco-pollo-ovo vegetarian, adding chicken but cutting out dairy (since I definitely have lactose intolerance issues). Basically, that would make me semi-vegetarian, or “wishy-washy” as some might put it. Any feedback, comments, and encouragement you may have would be greatly appreciated – via email or comment on this post. And Martin, I already know what you think.

on a quiet weekend

new cameralook what I found laying around in the grass! it’s a new camera, a Canon PowerShot A430. I got tired of wallowing around not having a camera to take snapshots with, so I took my life into my own hands. it’s not a real fancy camera; it lacks many of the A610’s advanced features, but it seems to be an inexpensive camera that’s good for your run-of-the-mill snapshots. Expect to see more photos here in the weeks to come!

It’s Birthday month! Both my brother Gabriel and sister Catherine were born in the month of July, and we had some great festivities to celebrate both occasions. Apart from them, Kamran, Afshun, Delara, Sahba, and Sarah were among those who had birthdays recently. Happy birthday to everyone!

Bonne fête à Jessika, qui fête demain ses 22 ans à Winnipeg – plus de 1,900 kilomètres du patelin de sa jeunesse!

So this weekend has been partly quiet and partly active – on Saturday afternoon, a whole bunch of friends gathered at Morrison Quarry in Wakefield, Quebec to celebrate Sarah’s birthday ; it was a lot of fun hanging around by the clear, blue-green water of the lake, playing backgammon, socializing, goofing off, and watching people bungee-jump across the lake. Sarah’s Barbie cake was pretty cool, too (and packed full of yummy sugar!!!!!!!!!!!11) Today, Rama and I went to see the Ottawa Lynx pummel the visiting team at the Lynx Stadium, which was a convenient 5-minute walk away for me. It was my first legit baseball game (i.e., the first game in a real stadium, and the first I actually had to pay to see), raising the number of sports-related milestones in my life to four this year (first time going to see an NHL hockey game, first NHL playoff party, first time following the World Cup all the way through). We got rained on for part of the game, but it was worth it. All in all, it was fun – hopefully I’ll be able to catch a few more games!

You might also find it interesting to note that I’ll be on vacation soon, starting in the second week of August. Among other things, I’ll be visiting relatives on my mom’s side of the family; they’re having a family reunion, and hopefully I should be able to meet some of my long-lost relatives for the very first time. Yay!