it’s canada day so holler

o canadaHappy Canada Day! Way back on this day in 1867—140 years ago, and a mere four years after Bahá’u’lláh’s historic Declaration of His mission in the garden of Ridván—the nation of Canada was brought into being. To celebrate, here’s a little flashback for you all.

Where was I on Canada Day…

patriotic dog / chien patriotiqueOn a related note, I saw the renowned Abha Voices perform on Friday, and they put on quite the show, performing several numbers from their repertoire, all based on the Baha’i Writings. It was incongruous—yet immensely refreshing!—to hear the following words sung on this otherwise nationalistic occasion: “Let not a man glory in this, that he loves his country; let him rather glory in this, that he loves his kind.”

Update (2007-07-02): the photos from canada day 2007 are gradually going up on flickr; check ’em out and keep your eyes open for more. more photos are available on Facebook, including chronicles of the visit of a group of Baha’i Youth from Montreal’s West Island!

family photos

family photos 2hey—you guessed it, we’re back from our trip to the States, none the worse for wear. Check out the new photoset for the trip—mostly photos of family before and after the memorial service so far. i’ll keep posting photos throughout the week; still to come are the visit to Ralph & Fluff’s place in Oxford and the Baha’i House of Worship in Wilmette. k stay glued 2 ur scrnz plz.

baha’is of canada elect governing body

A little late, but here’s the Canadian Baha’i News Service reporting on the election of the National Spiritual Assembly of the Baha’is of Canada.

Baha'i National Convention, (c) Louis Brunet, elbi.smugmug.comBahá’ís elect governing body at National Convention

TORONTO, ON, 01 May 2007 (CBNS) — Over 150 delegates from across Canada gathered at the Toronto Bahá’í Centre this past weekend, 27 to 29 April 2007, to elect the national governing body of the Bahá’ís of Canada, the National Spiritual Assembly.

The elections were part of the annual National Convention during which locally elected delegates consulted with the National Spiritual Assembly about issues of importance to Bahá’ís, particularly community activities centred on the moral and spiritual development of children and youth.

Elected to the National Spiritual Assembly for a term of one year were Judy Filson, Karen McKye, Gordon Naylor, Borna Nourredin, Enayat Rawhani, Fariborz Sahba, David Smith, Susanne Tamas, and Mark Wedge.

The election, like all elections of Bahá’í institutions, was conducted by secret ballot, with no campaigning or even discussion of individual personalities. Instead, delegates based their individual choices on criteria laid out by the central figures of the Bahá’í Faith.

Shoghi Effendi, the Guardian of the religion from 1921 to 1957, specifically emphasized the qualities of “unquestioned loyalty, of selfless devotion, of a well-trained mind, of recognized ability and mature experience.”

A day of preparation for the delegates took place on the Thursday prior to the Convention, in which participants explored their role as delegates and the purpose of the convention. Part of the consultation revolved around a recent letter from the international governing body of the Bahá’í community that emphasizes the spiritual nature of Bahá’í elections and recommends, in addition to the qualities cited by Shoghi Effendi, such criteria as age distribution, diversity, and gender when voting.

Louis Brunet (elbi.smugmug.com) took the photo featured above: he’s posted photos of the national convention [set 1, set 2] on his photoblog.

Read up more about Baha’i elections:

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.

ottawa baha’i centre official opening

Mayor Larry O'Brien at the Ottawa Baha'i Centre. (c) Louis Brunet, elbi.smugmug.comWhile Baha’is have been using the newly purchased and renovated Baha’i Centre on Macarthur Street for several months now, this past Wednesday marked the official opening and public dedication of the Centre. A crowd of about 60 people, including Ottawa Mayor Larry O’Brien, Ottawa-Vanier MP Mauril Bélanger, various city councillors, heads of local religious communities as well as business owners, attended the celebration yesterday afternoon. I was invited to sing as part of a quartet from the Ottawa Regional Baha’i Choir. It was an amazing and very positive afternoon! A news story about the opening ran in today’s edition of the Ottawa Citizen:

After a small, but determined religious community in Ottawa raised enough money to buy a former restaurant and renovate it, the Ottawa Baha’i Centre opened its doors yesterday.

Baha’i rules don’t allow members to raise funds outside the faith, and that means the 1,000 members from the Ottawa area raised $700,000 through their own donations.

[…] The new centre, which took 16 months to transform, has a library and bookstore and it will be a meeting place for feasts, or for events with guest speakers. The library and bookstore will be open to the general public, Mr. Smith said.

Mayor Larry O’Brien was among the 60 people who turned up for the event. Mr. O’Brien cut the ribbon and offered an inspirational message about faith groups and how much they contribute to the city.

MP Mauril Belanger was also on hand to welcome the Baha’is to his riding. The Baha’i choir sang a few songs, and Niels Hansen-Trip, a member of the spiritual assembly, spoke.

“The event was well-received and a lot of people talked about the amount of spirit at the occasion,” said Mr. Smith.

Louis Brunet, who took the photo included above, took a slew of photos throughout the entire event, and has already posted them on his photoblog: elbi.smugmug.com. Go check them out and share in the occasion (and see the quartet in action!)

Update: martinsquest.com featured this story as well; check out his link to the Baha’i Centre renovation pictures. Also, check out Vafa’s Baha’i Centre renovation slideshow (which, coincidentally, played on a continuous loop at the opening ceremony).