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Education is not a crime | Laura Hemmati | TEDxULB

Education is not a crime - Laura Hemmati

In this TEDx talk called “Education is not a crime” by Laura Hemmati, Laura talks about the Education is Not a Crime campaign which aims to put a stop to the continued denial of eduction for Baha’is in Iran. She also shares the creation of the Baha’i Institute for Higher Education (BIHE), which was established in 1987 as an informal university to give young Baha’is a chance to learn, and which is the subject of the film To Light a Candle, produced by the Iranian-Canadian filmmaker Maziar Bahari.

The Baha’is are Iran’s largest religious minority. More than 200 Baha’is were executed between 1979 and 1987, after the Islamic revolution, and over 100 Baha’is are currently imprisoned because of their faith. The community was also periodically persecuted in the decades before the revolution. Baha’is today are still routinely harassed, denied livelihoods, arrested, and jailed on false charges.

Laura is a political speechwriter and motivational speaker. Originally from Scotland, Laura works in Brussels. She was recognized for her work on female leadership by U.S. President Barack Obama last year and believes universal education is a vital prerequisite for full participation in every society.

This talk was given at a TEDx event using the TED conference format but independently organized by a local community. Learn more at http://ted.com/tedx

Under One Sun – Shameem

Under One Sun - Shameem 864x486

This is the official music video to the song ‘Under One Sun’ by singer/songwriter Shameem. ‘Under One Sun’ is the second single on Shameem’s album ‘The Second City’, and the song has been nominated in the international Independent Music Awards, in the “Sing Out For Social Action” category.

Everything in this video is made of paper! courtesy of artist Renee Farrant. “Under One Sun” painting is by Phil Doncon.

You can read Baha’i Blog’s interview with Shameem here: The Second City: An Interview with Shameem

You can find also find out more about Shameem by checking out her website and Facebook page, and purchase copies of her album here on 9StarMedia.com.

Under One Sun – Shameem

Under One Sun Audio- Shameem 864x486

This song ‘Under One Sun’ by singer/songwriter Shameem is the second single on Shameem’s album ‘The Second City’, and the song has been nominated in the international Independent Music Awards, in the “Sing Out For Social Action” category.

The track was written by Shameem and James Bryan (Nelly Furtado) in London. It was produced by James Bryan and features the backing vocals of Glen Scott.

You can read Baha’i Blog’s interview with Shameem here: The Second City: An Interview with Shameem

You can find also find out more about Shameem by checking out her website and Facebook page, and purchase copies of her album here on 9StarMedia.com.

The Second City: An Interview with Shameem

Shameem 864x576 copy

Over 12 years ago while visiting Perth, Australia, I met an amazing young Baha’i who was singing her heart out at the Baha’i Centre of Learning there. Her name was Shameem, and even though she was only in high school at the time, it was immediately clear that this enthusiastic and talented young singer, songwriter and musician was really going places with her music!

Now on her third album, and with a bunch of awards under her belt, Shameem continues to bless the stage and the airwaves with her wonderful soulful sound.

I recently caught up with Shameem again to find out more about her and her music: Continue reading

Shoghi Effendi: Through the Pilgrim’s Eye – A New Book by Earl Redman

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Earl Redman is the author of an exciting volume about the Guardian that is fresh off the press called Shoghi Effendi: Through the Pilgrim’s Eye. You may already be familiar with his work; in celebration of the centenary of Abdu’l-Baha’s visit to the West, Earl Redman gathered together all the historical accounts of the Master’s travels and put them into chronological order in Abdu’l-Baha in Their Midst. When I contacted Earl about a possible interview, we discovered we had a mutual friend — my grandma and writer, Claire Vreeland. She compiled a book of pioneer stories (entitled And the Trees Clapped Their Hands) in which both of our families’ pioneering accounts are included. Linked through stories, I was keen to ask Earl about his creative process and the legwork behind his fascinating new book.

Baha’i Blog: Thank you for taking the time to talk to us, Earl. To begin, can you tell us a little bit about yourself and your work as a writer?

In 1977, I fell off a mountain. Or rather was invited to fall off the mountain when a friend I was roped to was blown down a steep, icy face on Mt Foraker in Alaska. We fell about a thousand feet and, during the fall, I left my body. The body was on its way to death, but I didn’t care. When I finally stopped the fall, I had two powerful emotions. First, while the body and the soul were separate, I was absolutely disgusted because I was back in, at that time, a rather battered body. That was followed, after the soul rejoined the body, by a feeling of absolute delight that I was still alive.

Knowing that the body and the soul were separate, I was prepared to listen when I met a Baha’i named Sharon. She talked of the Faith and, on the day we were married in 1980, I became a Baha’i. Since then, we pioneered in Chile for six years and have now been pioneering in Ireland for sixteen years.

I have always like to write, though I never expected to write a book. Some of my early stories somehow ended up in a book called And the Trees Clapped Their Hands. I also contributed to the Alaska Baha’i News. Professionally as a geologist, I wrote many reports and my first published book was about the history of the mines and miners in Southeast Alaska, based on many old newspaper stories. I never set out to write books on Baha’i history. They all just sort of appeared on my computer screen, quite to my surprise.

Continue reading

Jackson in Action: Youth Model the Change They Desire

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This video is told largely from the perspective of the youth in Jackson, Tennessee, who are really making things happen! The video shows how the Baha’i-inspired Junior Youth Spiritual Empowerment Program (JYSEP) is changing lives in the neighbourhood.

Here are a few more Baha’i Blog articles relating to Junior Youth and the Junior Youth Spiritual Empowerment Program:

1) Junior Youth Matter: 4 Principles for Social Transformation

2) 3 Great Activities You can Do with Your Junior Youth

3) 6 Ways You Can Support the Junior Youth Program – Even if You’re Not an Animator

Community-Building and the Reframing of Service

Members of a community in Brazil plant flowers. (Photo: Baha'i World Centre)

Members of a community in Brazil plant flowers. (Photo: Baha'i World Centre)

Baha’is and their friends around the world are currently engaged in a process of community-building that primarily consists of four core activities: the education of children, the spiritual empowerment of junior youth, the strengthening of the devotional character of communities through prayer gatherings and collective worship, and engagement in the institute process which serves both to deepen our understanding of the Baha’i teachings and to develop our skills to carry out these various acts of service. These are obviously not the only arenas of service for Baha’is. For example, the Universal House of Justice has begun to increasingly emphasize the role Baha’is play in social action, or efforts to improve the social and material conditions of our communities, as well as public discourse, or the infusion of Baha’i ideals into spaces dedicated to discussing social issues such as the media, governments, and civil society organizations. Continue reading

All Things Are Of God – A Family Affair

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This album is a wonderful resource for Devotional gatherings, Feasts, teaching and proclamation events, and just plain good listening. A little bit of blues, gospel, folk, pop, all combined in song and the spoken word, offering music for everyone to enjoy.

After attending a Deepening on the Five Year Plan, Walter Heath came away with an idea for his family to make a CD as a way to use the arts for teaching, to have music that could be used at Feasts, and to promote unity and equality and to bring his family together in regular fellowship. Walter presented to the idea to the family – all 17 of them – and they all wholeheartedly embraced it and this album was born!

You can purchase both physical and digital versions of the album here on 9StarMedia.com.

You can also find Walter Heath’s album called Praise His Name here on 9StarMedia.com.

The Baha’i Fund: An Introduction

Baha'i Fund

Abdu’l-Baha said that the material and the spiritual are closely linked. Have you ever seen something reflected in water so still that it seemed a perfect, upside-down duplicate but beyond the reflection were unfathomable depths? That is how I imagine the connection to be between this material world and spiritual existence.

Recently I’ve been thinking about this relationship, particularly as it relates to the Baha’i fund, where money is no longer just money. Continue reading

Music as a Key to Understanding Reality – Bijan Khadem-Missagh (TEDx Bratislava )

Khadem-Missagh TEDx Bratislava

In this great TEDx talk by internationally acclaimed Persian-Austrian violinist Bijan Khadem-Missagh (who also happens to be a Baha’i), he shares with the audience his discovery of the hidden connections between music and the world around us.

The talk is approximately 17 minutes.

About TEDx, x = independently organized event

In the spirit of ideas worth spreading, TEDx is a program of local, self-organized events that bring people together to share a TED-like experience. At a TEDx event, TEDTalks video and live speakers combine to spark deep discussion and connection in a small group. These local, self-organized events are branded TEDx, where x = independently organized TED event. The TED Conference provides general guidance for the TEDx program, but individual TEDx events are self-organized.* (*Subject to certain rules and regulations)

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