cultivating the roots

wi-fiHowdy. I’m currently reporting from the Cultivating the Roots conference at Bosch Baha’i School in Santa Cruz, California. So far, the sharing has been awesome. Everyone has has amazing insights and ideas for different types of projects and collaboration tools—all to help Baha’is develop better ways of interacting, collaborating, and channeling their energy into systematic action. I’m currently posting up a bunch of photos from the conference; check them out on flickr. Big ups to prema for letting me use her laptop.

It’s fascinating to ponder the holes out there in the Baha’i community that could be filled by judiciously chosen and developed IT initiatives. Throughout the day today, we’ve been talking about the needs out there—from tools to benefit Baha’i Institutions (for example, accounting software that operates according to the 19-month Baha’i calendar, or geomatics software to aid in planning various types of community campaigns) to software to sift through the Sacred Writings of the Baha’i Faith, to collaboration software to help Baha’i institutions, communities, and individuals to work together more effectively… there are so many ways that computers and the Internet can help us do our work better, yet there’s so little time to accomplish them all. A few projects that were put forth in one of the last workshops this afternoon: a functional Baha’i events database (similar to bahailocations.com) that can be used by Baha’i communities throughout the world to track their core activities, holy days, and various gatherings; an online presentation platform (similar to webconferencing) for holding formal or informal talks and “fireside chats”; and a process for providing technical and material support for Baha’i communities throughout the world who wish to develop their first websites.

So yeah, some really intense consultation here. The workshops have been the best—that’s why I really came to this conference. This morning, I attended a workshop on blogging by the authors of bahainine.com, the growing online portal to Baha’i blogs everywhere. That was awesome, just to be there and to be able to talk shop with them about blogging software, search engine optimization, content management systems, and miscellaneous Web 2.0 hobbledyhoy. The whole project is really interesting—creating an online portal to basically aggregate all the Baha’i-related content on the Internet, giving the “Baha’i blogosphere” a friendly face. The current site just contains a map and a searchable index of Baha’i blogs, but there’s a lot more in the works—photos, videos, full tagging capability, and so on. Speaking with the team that’s working on this mammoth task is immensely uplifting and exciting, and the possibilities are endless. I’ll be sure to post more later; remember to check back—apart from photos, there’ll also be videos (and/or mashups) for your enjoyment and upliftment.

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.

quips ahoy

ahoy there mateys, I be captain redbeard bluebottom the yellow-belly, and I see poop to be scooped off the poopdeck. ahem. arrrrrr. it’s not even talk like a pirate day.

so there we go, it’s been a rough week. started out by messing up my foot in jiu-jitsu class. I rolled in a way I shouldn’t have and smacked my heel on the ground. I’ve been nursing a bruise since then.

On the plus side, I’ve managed to finish a few large projects at work. check out the Conference Board’s Ukraine SEPPAC project: I put together a bilingual english-ukrainian website for them. It’s pretty trippy making a web site in a language you can barely even read.

my good friend Dave F. got married this past Friday, to a lovely lady by the name of Karine. the ceremony and reception were at the Courtyard restaurant down in the Byward Market. it was a simple, intimate Baha’i ceremony; I was asked to sing a few prayers before and afterwards. This was the fourth wedding I attended in less than a year – I’m starting to get used to them. the first was aram + natalia’s wedding last october – a beautiful affair! I sang a prayer at their wedding, too. Want to hear a good example of me singing? Check out my newest creation on ytmnd: The Sad Clown Choir. Of course, I can’t sing multiple tracks together at your average wedding, but hey.

Anyway, I digress. Catherine, Andréanne and family were in attendance at Dave and Karine’s wedding – it was cool to have Baha’i friends from Sherbrooke over in Ottawa. Catherine, of course, apart from being my sister’s namesake, is one of the two youth who just returned from serving in Gabon (pictures are up on flickr). Catherine and Andréanne will be back in town for Canada Day weekend, so maybe some of you will get a chance to meet them.

in other news, keep your eyes open – the Baha’i youth BBQ season is on. breaking news at martinsquest.com.

chat room ambience

<dragfyre> bleargh
<Bucher> moof
* dragfyre dies over and over
<katster> DF
<katster> 🙂
<Salinnatwork> df: bad day?
<dragfyre> tires
<dragfyre> tired, even
* dragfyre just came back from children's classes %)
<Salinnatwork> df - how old of a children are you, exactly?
<Zibblsnrt> df: As instructor or pupil?
<dragfyre> instructor 😛
<Zibblsnrt> hehe
<dragfyre> grrrr
<dragfyre> 6 and 7 yr olds
<Salinnatwork> yay! I love them
<Salinnatwork> (sorry.)
* dragfyre loves them too 🙂
<dragfyre> but they do have a lot of energy
<dragfyre> which is good!
<dragfyre> but it is tiring to deal with many of them at a time
<dragfyre> on the other hand, it is an interesting challenge and teaches one many useful parenting skills
<dragfyre> I'm trying to be positive here instead of dying all over the place and/or sticking forks in my eyes

ruhiresources.org gets a facelift!

That indispensible resource for participants in the institute process, ruhiresources.org, just got a nice new look, and I must say, it’s the difference between night and day. In fact, I think I just got J. The new site offers vast improvements over the old, particularly in terms of the clear, simple organization of content, the improved user interface, and the addition of new categories like “Practice”, “Service Ideas” and “Tutor Tips”, each rich with content and growing. Colour-coding the tabs along the top of the page to match the colours of the Ruhi books is a nice touch. You’ll notice that there’s now a “Book 3A”: that would be Teaching Children’s Classes, Grade 2—what we used to know as Book 5. A new book 5 will be coming soon, of course, devoted to raising up junior youth animators. A few of us in Ottawa had the chance to study a draft version of this new book over the winter, and I think we can safely say that it’s well worth studying. Look out for it.

Anyway, enough said. Go to ruhiresources.org. Browse through it. Bookmark it. Keep coming back. Thank you!