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Sonjel Vreeland

In her innermost heart, Sonjel is a mother, a wife and a bookworm but professionally she is a museologist and a library technician. She currently lives on Prince Edward Island, an isle in the shape of a smile on the eastern Canadian coast. Sonjel is a writer who loves to listen to jazz when she's driving at night.

Cloud9: Community Building with Socially-Engaged Art

Cloud9 is a podcast produced by Baha’i Teachings. Its aim is to feature interviews with artists and discuss what inspires them to make a positive contribution to the world. In this episode, Baha’i Teachings’ arts editor Shadi Toloui-Wallace interviews multi-disciplinary conceptual artist Shirin Towfiq. Growing up in a predominantly immigrant suburb of San Diego, Shirin began exploring ideas of displacement and cultural identity at a young age. She first heard about the concept of socially-engaged art while studying at UC Berkeley and was quickly drawn to its philosophy, which engages community members through its creative approach to problem solving. Continue reading

The Baha’i Temple in Norte del Cauca, Colombia: A Roundup of Resources

Photo courtesy of the Baha'i International Community

The Baha’i House of Worship in Norte del Cauca, Colombia has recently opened its doors to all, and in this spirit of celebration, we wanted to share some of the posts and resources relating to this unique edifice. We’ve listed things to read, watch, listen to, and study, so in case you missed them, here are a number of materials about this newly dedicated Baha’i temple: Continue reading

La cumbia del jardinero: A Song from the Dedication of the Baha’i Temple in Colombia

“La cumbia del jardinero” is a song that was performed at the dedication of the Baha’i House of Worship in Norte del Cauca, Colombia. It uses the metaphor of a gardener to describe the process of spiritual education, which has been an important feature of the development of vibrant communities in the area. The song describes how the world is like a forest, and gardeners work to expose the sun’s rays to the smallest of plants, allowing them to grow and share their fruits of love and unity with the world.  Continue reading

Garden of Virtues: A Guess-the-Virtue Book for Kids

I love books and I love reading to my young children so I get positively giddy when a new Baha’i-inspired book for children is made available. Chelsea Lee Smith, who we interviewed about her children’s album At First Light and who wrote a great Baha’i Blog article called What I Really Want for Mother’s Day, has authored a new book called Garden of Virtues. It’s a colourful and playful interactive book about virtues, all about gardening. Chelsea graciously took some time to tell us all about it:

Baha’i Blog: What inspired you to create ‘Garden of Virtues?

I wanted to create an interactive book that would give kids a fun way to quiz themselves on how well they knew what virtues look like in real life situations. Garden of Virtues features ten scenarios with three virtues listed that the kids can guess from, and the answer for each scenario’s virtue comes on the next page. The concept came to me last year when our family took a road trip around Australia in our camper trailer. We stayed in a small town in Western Australia for a few weeks where they had a lovely community garden. Our whole family enjoyed the experience of contributing to the garden so much, and I noticed how many character building opportunities there were while working in the garden. That’s what gave me the idea of creating a virtues book with a garden theme.

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Dive Deep Within, and Discover Your Potential | Jessa Munion

In this talk, produced by Bahaiteachings.org, Jessa Munion, founder of Rock Steady Bodyworks, explains how she moved from a culture of stress, pressure and competitiveness to discovering the gems of her inner spiritual potential. She learned to dive deep within her own soul, discovering a zen-like sense of clarity and focus. Jessa began a yoga and meditation practice, and coupled it to her belief in the Baha’i Teachings. Those spiritual elements allowed her to “uncover God-given gifts that would allow her to show up kind, compassionate and generous for the world…”
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BWNS: Catalyzing an Education Revolution

This podcast episode produced by the Baha’i World News Service shares how the Baha’i-inspired initiative Sistema de Aprendizaje Tutorial (SAT, or in English, the Tutorial Learning System) has proven to increase learning. The United Nations has noted that while progress has been made in providing education for the children of the world, 250 million children are not able to read, write, or perform basic math, whether they have been to school or not. The Brookings Institution, a major think tank in the United States, conducted a study that sought to identify educational interventions where not only access to schools was improving, but also learning itself. They determined that SAT is “catalyzing an education revolution” by “transforming how education is conceptualized, designed, and delivered.”

Since its beginnings in the 1970s in Colombia, SAT has expanded across Latin America to reach more than 300,000 students, and it has been accredited and recognized by a number of governments.  Continue reading

19 Images of the Baha’i Temple in Norte del Cauca, Colombia

The Baha’i temple in Norte del Cauca, Colombia has just been inaugurated and we’re buzzing with excitement!

This Baha’i temple, also known as a House of Worship, is the world’s second local Baha’i House of Worship, and to celebrate we’ve decided to share a collection of 19 sweeping and intimate photos of the temple and some of the guests at its inauguration found on Instagram. (If you’re curious to read more about Baha’i temples and their significance, we wrote about it here, Baha’i Temples: A Brief Introduction.)

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Food for Thought: Food as Medicine | Dr. Shad

In this talk, produced by Bahaiteachings.org, physician, medical educator and nutrition expert Farshad Fani Marvasti, MD, MPH (or Dr. Shad as he is known) talks about his search for a better way to treat disease — and to stay healthy in the first place — by applying the Baha’i principle of the harmony between science and religion. “It is certain,” the Baha’i Wirings say, “that in this wonderful new age the development of medical science will lead to the doctors’ healing their patients with foods.” Those words of Abdu’l-Baha inspired Dr. Shad to become a physician, and to focus his integrative medical practice on healing through the use of food as medicine.  Continue reading