Thursday, April 30, 2015

SED: Samples of endeavors reported for 2015

Some examples of social and economic development endeavors underway across the country . . .

o   Planting a garden in a neighborhood in Naples FL with another organization

o   Offering seminars and scholarships through the Esperanza Foundation in Portola CA

o   Church-sponsored talks, potluck and speakers on MLK Day in Scottsville VA

o   “To Light a Candle” documentary on religious and educational freedom, across the USA

o   Roadside cleanup in Grand Rapids MN

o   “Education is not a Crime” seminar and consultations, across the USA

o   Pet rescue volunteer service in Trophy Club TX

o   Clothing drive in Camas WA

o   Student Virtues Aware program to high school students in La Crescenta CA

o   Tutoring program in Bethlehem PA

o   Earth Day Fair on climate change in Milford MI

o   Race Equality Discourse in Rocklin CA

o   Brilliant Stars Park cleanup in Fontana CA

o   Trash Bash neighborhood cleanup in Richardson TX

SED in Ithaca NY: "We still have time"

The Ithaca Junior Youth Group was formed in November 2010, and since then the participants have been involved in different service project in the community: 

o   They’ve performed step dances in several local Festivals (like the Food Justice Summit, the Boricua Festival or Juneteenth) to raise awareness about the power of youth to make changes and the potency of united work.

o   They’ve raised money for several causes - some of them sponsored by local organizations (like the SPCA of Tompkins County or Green Star Community Projects), and some of them international (like Hope is Life Foundation and one of their schools in Haiti, or Mujeres Solares in Costa Rica).

o   They’ve supported local efforts to ban the use of plastic bags in Ithaca by organizing video forums in their neighborhood and their own middle school classrooms, collecting signatures, and participating in public meetings to support this cause.

In 2012 it started in Ithaca a project organized by the Public Art Commission (PAT) called "21 Boxes", which according to that commission: "[the] Artwork displayed on electrical boxes functions as a form of communication to a moving audience with the goal of creating a safe, inclusive and inspired urban environment. Successful proposals will foster community good will and become a beacon of neighborhood pride." That project has been happening every year since then.

The participants of the group, all of them very artistic oriented, felt in love with the idea of painting one box, using it as a way to share a positive message with the people of Ithaca. By the end of 2013 they submitted a proposal which was approved, and they painted during May and June of 2014. The process of thinking of what to paint it was itself a great experience of consultation and reflection. This is how they described their mural:

"With our mural, called 'We still have time', the Junior Youth Group illustrates our desire for a happy future where people live in harmony with each other and nature, thus we created an image of a bright future. The buildings are powered by alternative energy. People get around the cities on foot, bike, and mass transit. Unity is depicted by little people holding hands and kids feeling safe to play outdoors.

All of this is painted along the bottom of the painting/drawing in black silhouette, without color. The sky is a gorgeous collaboration of stars and beautiful colors, the style similar to starry night. A small fun detail that will appeal to youth is a TARDIS time machine from “Doctor Who” flying through the sky, which plays on the idea of time and the future."

Tuesday, April 28, 2015

I didn't understand why the churches were not in unity

“I had a job in a northern town of Indiana. It was a long way from where I lived and I had to drive to the job site. On the day the job started, I arrived early and had some time to kill. I was walking around the parking lot near where the job was and I saw a water logged piece of paper lying on the ground. I picked it up and it was a pamphlet about the Baha'i Faith. I carefully opened the pages and started to read the information. I started to think that this is what I believe. I was raised a Southern Baptist and didn't believe all that I was told. I didn't understand why the churches were not in unity . . .  I went online and found the Baha'i website and registered."

I was never a devout Christian to begin with . . .

“ . . . I was never a, "devout," Christian to begin with. After a lot of research and reading about the foundations of the Baha'i Faith, I really agree with a lot of them. I think one of the ones that stood out for me is that we are all one. Not necessarily segregated due to religious beliefs. I remember at Christmas, my uncle was asking why I didn't bring [my Baha’i boyfriend] with me. He was out of town visiting family, but also he does not celebrate Christmas. Then of course the whole family surrounded me, and asked me what his beliefs were. When I said he was a Baha'i, they were really confused and made some jokes about it. My mom and I have also talked about it, and she seemed to be really put off at first, and she said, "Well, I don't really know what that is... But if he doesn't believe in God, then . . ." I interrupted her, and corrected her. I think it just scared her a bit, because she was afraid I would end up with someone who does not believe in God! Lol. But I really like the fact that it unifies all social classes, nationality, culture, and religious beliefs. I feel like it focuses a lot on peace and kindness. Practicing patience, and serving your community, which are all things that I am very passionate about, as opposed to condemning people for their wrong doings  . . . .  I don't think any type of religion should do this to anyone . . .”


It made a lot of sense; it clicked for me

Julie shared . . .
“It made a lot of sense; it clicked with me.  I started going to weekly meetings that started with the Báb and 'Abdu'l-Bahá and Bahá’u'lláh and His journey and the Holy Land and the Universal House of Justice.  Someone shared a video about the youth conferences that went on and the fun activities that the youth activities did that made me excited about starting up some things here in Iowa.  My sister is working with some young girls and I've been interested in getting study groups together or community activities.   I learned more about Bahá’u’lláh, then I finally made a conclusion.  I really enjoy the faith.  It brings a lot of feelings and a lot of positive things have happened since I learned about it.  Every time I read the scriptures, it gives me positive feelings . . . I saw the video how we focus on the junior youth group age.
Even before I found the Faith I found there shouldn't be division of people because we’re all humans, all created by God for a reason.  That's why I felt lost in the Christian household.  That's why I'm glad I found the Bahá’í Faith.  It answered a lot of questions.  I didn't know which way to go and it just made so much sense and made me so happy.
It’s so exciting to learn about Bahá’u’lláh and 'Abdu'l-Bahá.  It’s the dawn of a new day, the dawn of a new cycle, great to be living in these times.”


I cannot overstate the degree to which this Faith has chamged my life

Anthony shared . . .
“One year ago today I took a blind step into the world of the Bahá’í Faith, this after becoming acquainted with it through a series of very brief evening broadcast spots on National Public Radio and having spent several months investigating it further online….Prior to the call back I received from a representative about 24 hours later, I had not met a single Bahá’í . . .
I was attracted to its explicit commitment to the unification of humanity, and its core principles of religious and scientific harmony, eradication of prejudice, equality of men and women, and proposal for a universal education, among others. I cannot overstate the degree to which this Faith has changed my life. I believe I have grown more in the short space of a year than in the past 5 years. From coasting through life depressed, isolated, and disenchanted, I had quickly emerged into an active member of my community and have cemented many strong friendships.
I have now made it a priority of mine to help guide the youth in my community along their own path of spiritual empowerment and enlightenment, as this is where we will begin to bear witness to the fruits of incipient change. I am overflowing with thankfulness and am duly humbled by the sheer level of enthusiasm and rapidity with which I have been accepted into the Baha’i family. I truly do feel like I have 'come back home'. Serving, fellowshipping, and worshipping among my brothers and sisters has endued me with a renewed sense of purpose and belonging. I heartily await what the future holds for me.”

I would like to see if it is a good fit for me and my husband

Jessica shared . . .  

“I am very interested in the Baha'i faith and community and I would like to see if it is a good fit for [me] and my husband, as we are looking for new directions and a community of like-minded individuals.”

From what I have read so far, my beliefs are on the same path

Tina shared . . .
“I am interested in learning about Baha'i. From what I have read so far, my beliefs are on the same path.”

I have never been big on religion or church . . .

Lonnie shared . . .
“I'm very fascinated with the Baha'i Faith and outlook on religion. I'm 19 years old and I have never been very big on religion or church. I feel like religion isn't something that should be judged and so many religions discriminate [against] anyone who doesn't believe exactly what they do.”

My family and I are very interested . . .

Jennifer shared what she is looking for . . . .

"I came across the Baha'i faith through conversations with a family member and I am so excited to find a group that I could belong to and whole heartedly support. My family and I are very interested to learn more!"