Leaves 3(2) June 2001


Newsletter of the
Volume 3, Number 2 --- June 2001

"Reflect upon the inner realities of the universe, the secret wisdoms involved, the enigmas, the inter-relationships, the rules that govern all. For every part of the universe is connected to every other part by ties that are very powerful and admit no imbalance, nor any slackening whatsoever."

- (Conservation of the Earth's Resources, A Compilation... p.4)


This issue of leaves contains several urgent and exciting announcements. They regard the 5th IEF conference, for the first time held in Eastern Europe, and the call for proposals for the IEF seminar at the Orlando conference on socio-economic development. But we also have lots of other bits and pieces, and as premier a story that can be read by adults and children. As a step to strengthen our collaboration with the European Baha'i Business Forum, you can find information on their 12th Annual conference. And there is lots more...

The editors have started to get in touch with several IEF members who have indicated an interest in writing for the newsletter, asking for specific submissions, and we will continue to do so. However, everyone is welcome to send in items of information, short articles, book reviews etc.
- Sylvia Karlsson and Christiana Lawson


"Knowledge, Values and Education for Sustainable Development",
19-21 October 2001
Townshend School, Hluboka nad Vltavou (South Bohemia)
Czech Republic

Governments and NGOs around the world are galvanising their energies in preparation for the World Summit on Sustainable Development (WSSD), to be held in September 2002 in Johannesburg, South Africa. While much progress has been made to implement the Rio agreements and Agenda 21, at least in some regions, it is clear that the governments and peoples of the world have not shown sufficient commitment to take firm steps on the path to sustainability. This situation calls for serious reflection on the reasons for this lack of commitment, going beneath the standard answers regarding lack of resources, of faulty incentive structures, etc., to explore the fundamentals of human society.

Commitment requires action in both mind and heart. This conference will take an in-depth and comparative view of the roles of knowledge, values and education in achieving the commitment and action necessary for implementation of the sustainable development agenda at local, national and global levels. It will explore how science and religion, culture and spirituality, and their transmission through education, can lay better foundations for sustainable development and global prosperity. Issues to be addressed include:

- Should equal importance be assigned to knowledge, values and education?
- In what ways do they play unique roles?
- To what extent do they complement each other?
- What characteristics do each possess that are most conducive to initiating change at the local, regional and international levels?
- What internal dynamic is needed among them to facilitate a societal transition?

The program will include keynote speakers (for introductory presentations), panel discussions with researchers and practitioners in a variety of fields, and smaller working group sessions. The goal of the conference consultations is to generate ideas that can both provide innovative input to the WSSD process and contribute to emerging research agendas.

Researchers, teachers, students, professionals from a wide range of disciplines, and practitioners in the field of environment and sustainable development are most welcome to the first IEF conference to be held in Eastern Europe. The working language of the conference will be English, but Czech will be accommodated to the extent possible. The conference begins on Friday with lunch and ends on Sunday with lunch. The General Assembly of the International Environment Forum will be held directly after the closure of the conference on Sunday afternoon.

An electronic version of the conference will be offered for those who cannot come to Townshend school. Participants in this version will receive, by e-mail, advance versions of the papers presented and summaries of the discussions, and will be able to send in comments and questions to speakers.


Registration forms for participation in the conference, with detailed prices, can be obtained from the conference planning committee c/o:

Richard Sherwood
Uherska 621
190 17 Praha 9-Vinor
Czech Republic
E-mail: rssherwood @ volny.cz
Registration deadline: October 1.

To register for the electronic version of the conference (no fee) please send your full name, email and mail address directly to the conference email: ief-conf-registration @ bcca.org. Registration deadline: 1 October 2001.


Once again, the International Environment Forum is participating at the Baha'i Conference on Social and Economic Development for the Americas in Orlando, Florida, to be held December 13-16, 2001. We are holding a one-day seminar on Wednesday, December 12, 2001 during the pre-conference Seminar for development professionals, as well as participating in a networking session that evening and co-hosting a networking session with the Agriculture Forum during the conference itself. We will also be holding an afternoon session during the conference. For those of you who are not familiar with this conference, it is one of the most exciting gatherings of Baha'is and their friends held anywhere in the world, attracting more than 1000 participants every year. We invite your participation in the following areas:

*Proposals for posters or workshop presentations are needed by Tuesday, June 12, 2001. Yes, this is very short notice. We are trying to meet a deadline set by the Rabbani Trust, which organizes the conference and will begin distributing promotional brochures by the end of June. The theme of the Baha'i development conference is "Continuous Learning: Divine Key to Human Progress." Our pre-conference seminar is based on themes surrounding applying Baha'i principles in sustainable development. Sessions will have a practical focus and participatory format. Topics could include environmental education, sustainability and development, environment and art, environment and agriculture. We also intend to repeat the inspiring integration of the arts into our sessions, enriching our program through the participation of the performing and visual artists on site.

*Posters/workshops/presentations - Please submit preliminary proposals by TUESDAY, JUNE 12, 2001 to Roxanne Lalonde (Roxanne.Lalonde@ualberta.ca). Please include a TITLE, an ABSTRACT (250 words or less), and a brief biography of the presenter(s). Proposals will be evaluated by the IEF seminar planning committee on the basis of both their quality and how they fit with the theme. Selected presenters will be notified in a timely manner.


European Baha'i Business Forum (EBBF)

"The Role of Business in Enhancing the Prosperity of Humankind"
26 - 28 October 2001
de Poort Conference Centre, The Netherlands

Confirmed Speakers: Dr. Eloy Anello, Bolivia; Dr. Arthur Dahl, Geneva; Louis D¹Amore, USA; Dale Emerson, Belgium; Tannaz Grant, USA; Robert Rubinstein, USA; Svenja Tams,UK. This year's conference offers a platform for exploring how to translate our individual and collective search in our daily work life for greater and a more equitably distributed prosperity of humankind. It provides opportunities to learn about cutting edge approaches in the areas of social responsibility and ethical management from experts and practitioners in the field. The panel discussions encourage stimulating debate between individuals who have made a unique contribution the fields of sustainable development, peace, moral leadership, work ethics, and corporate social responsibility.

Registration: Members and guests are urged to register now. Contact dePoort Conference Centre
Biesseltsebaan 34
6561 KC Groesbeek, The Netherlands
Fax: +31 243971745,
E-mail: register@depoort.org. see also: www.depoort.org

A registration fee of 50 Euros for non-members and 25 Euros for members will be payable in any major currency upon arrival.


The Baha'i International Community has recently issued the statement "Sustainable Development: the Spiritual Dimension". It was written for the first session of the Preparatory Committee of the World Summit on Sustainable Development, 30 April -2 May, 2001, New York. The statement was read to the collected delegates at the PrepCom on behalf of the BIC by Peter Adriance. You can find the full statement on the IEF website. Here are just a few lines:

"...On the one hand, the governments of the world have, collectively, begun to acknowledge a spiritual dimension to development...On the other hand, beyond such general statements and commitments, these global agreements offer little understanding of what the terms "spirituality," "spiritual vision," and "spiritual development" mean in principle or in practice...In seeking to incorporate spiritual principles into its deliberations, the PrepCom should take advantage of this new stage in the relations among the world's religions. It might do so by making the topic "Sustainable Development: the Spiritual Dimension" one of the "main themes for the Summit." It could then initiate a major review of international agreements, proclamations and statements which focus on religious and spiritual values, particularly as they relate to and impact the development process."


The United Nations is planning a major conference at the summit level in 2002, ten years after the Rio Earth Summit that adopted Agenda 21. The World Summit on Sustainable Development (WSSD) will be held in Johannesburg, South Africa, from 2 to 11 September 2002, with the summit itself for Heads of State and Government on 9-11 September. There will again be a global forum of NGOs associated with the conference.

The International Environment Forum has decided to participate as actively as possible in this event, with a focus on the application of spiritual principles to the problems of sustainable development. We are preparing a book to be available if possible by the WSSD, organizing this year's conference around relevant themes to provide input to the preparatory process, and planning to hold our 2002 conference in Johannesburg in connection with the events there. We have also created a special page on our IEF web site for the WSSD (http://www.bcca.org/ief/wssd.htm), with general information useful to all individuals and NGOs interested in becoming involved in the preparatory process. We are keeping in touch with the Baha'i International Community and their own initiatives for the WSSD, and shall try to complement and support them.

The WSSD is intended to be the culmination of a bottom-up process. We encourage IEF members to become involved in local or national preparations for the WSSD whenever possible, as this is the best way to get spiritual principles included in the preparatory documents. Please send us reports on your activities for inclusion in the newsletter and on the web site. These will help to encourage and inspire others as well. If you know of, or develop, resources that would be useful to include on our WSSD web page, please send them to dahla@unep.ch.


The UNEP Executive Director's discussion paper on emerging policy issues for the Global Ministerial Environmental Forum in Nairobi earlier this year included a section on Religions and Environment which makes reference to the Baha'i Faith. It is posted on the IEF web site under useful materials at http://www.bcca.org/ief/unepgc21.htm.


The IEF Board is publishing a compilation of Baha'i writings on the environment. IEF members wishing to participate in this project are invited to do any or all of the following:
(1) visit the compilations section of the IEF website to get their creative juices flowing;
(2) submit any quotations that you think should be included in such a publication that don't already appear on the website;
(3) contact Roxanne Lalonde Roxanne.Lalonde@ualberta.ca by August 1, 2001, if you would like to actively contribute to the project.


Writers and persons with expertise in agriculture and rural development are invited to inquire about contributing articles to a book on Bahá'í perspectives on agriculture. Topics to be covered include: the historical relationship between religion and agriculture; the agriculture-related activities of the Central Figures of the Faith and the Guardian; perspectives on various aspects of agriculture and rural development that emerge from the Writings; agricultural economics (micro and macro); the concept of the village storehouse; the world food system; the role of women in agriculture and rural development; sustainable agriculture; gardening, horticulture. and landscape architecture; approaches to agricultural education; and examples of Bahá'í agricultural projects and models. Recommendations of existing articles, potential contributors, and additional themes are also welcome. An outline of the book is available upon request.

All inquiries can be sent to:

Paul Hanley
Box 909, Wynyard, SK Canada S0A 4T0
Phone: 1(306) 554-2962
Email: paulhanley@sk.sympatico.ca


The Agriculture Special Interest Group of the Association for Bahá'í Studies is seeking submissions of proposals for formal and informal papers and presentations for its meeting at the annual ABS conference in Seattle, August 31, 2001.

Proposal can be sent to:

Paul Hanley, Box 909, Wynyard, SK Canada S0A 4T0
Phone (306) 554-2962 Email: paulhanley@sk.sympatico.ca


Open Meeting of the
Human Dimensions of Global Environmental Change
Research Community
6 - 8 October 2001
Rio de Janeiro, Brazil

Particular emphasis will be placed on research reports that include a regional or "place-based" perspective and that make a linkage between natural and social sciences, as well as between local, regional and global scales. Plenary themes of the meeting will address the challenges of integration in human dimensions research ­ across disciplines, across hemispheres, and across the science/policy interface. They will also address issues of central importance to both the developed and the developing world ­ "urban sustainability", "vulnerability", and "poverty and the environment". One plenary talk will discuss the climate change issue in the post-Kyoto era and the implications for human dimensions research.

In addition to plenary talks, there will be a large number of sessions devoted to the presentation of research on the human dimensions of global environmental change, including topics such as land use and land cover change, energy, environmental security, industrial transformation, sustainable development, integrated assessment, population and the environment, environment and health, attitudes and behaviour, consumption, trade and the environment, environmental governance, environmental and ecological economics and the science/policy interface.

Planned by: International Scientific Planning Committee.
More information about the meeting will be available on the following website: http://sedac.ciesin.org/openmeeting
Enquiries can be addressed to: open.meeting@ciesin.org
Deadline to register for the conference: 15 July 2001


Written by Rich and Mary Chamberlin

Once on a small planet called Earth, a random act of kindness toward an animal saved the world.

It was a warm July morning outside San Jose; the sun was beating down hard and strong, as it often did in these parts. Peter had just taken himself for a little walk in his favourite park when he happened upon a lost kitten. He couldn't help but notice such a little one, and that it was alone out in the open with no collar. The poor kitten shied away despite an outstretched hand, so Peter coaxed it with a bit of food from his pocket. Soon he was close enough to see that it was a little female kitten - and seconds later she was eating the food from one hand, and being petted by the other. As she devoured the bits, she couldn't help but begin to purr loudly.

Peter stroked the matted fur, upset that one barely old enough to walk had been abandoned. After finishing the offering, the kitten allowed him to pick her up. Cooing to his new friend, Peter tucked her to his chest protectively. He slowly started to walk, through the park, over to the shady path that led toward the place where he lived. Peter felt his heart open to this living being, so tiny that she'd drawn no notice from anyone else. Many people had probably walked right by her this very morning, in a rush to get on with their lives.

Peter realised his new friend must have a name, so he decided it should be "Grace", after his favourite niece. And so the little kitten came to live in Peter's big brownstone apartment on an old city block. The kitten, soon called "Gracie" by the neighbourhood kids, must've decided she liked it at Peter's after all. For one so small, she became a very good mouser, and soon Peter's building was free of rodents. This was no small feat for the city and took constant effort, but it seemed Gracie had found her place in the world.

Peter had a friend Jessie who was his next door neighbour, and a young circus high-wire performer. Jessie had often complained he wasn't getting enough sleep, which is a very bad thing when you earn your living by maintaining strict concentration while high up in the air. He always seemed to have mice in his apartment, especially at night. One day while practising, Jessie almost fell doing a particularly dangerous act without a net or ropes! Only his newly sharpened concentration saved him from certain death, which he attributed to sleeping well again. That, and the mysterious absence of night pests.

Anyway Jessie improved and so did his troupe. People flocked to see them, and they became well known all over. By October Jessie and his company took to the road, on a grand tour that would include stops in a country far away. How he looked forward to that; the people of this country were known to love circus acts like no other, as the huge crowds in even the smallest towns attested to. Days of touring stretched into weeks, and the audiences of their dozens of shows helped sustain them through the tiring but exciting travels.

As the tour was drawing near its end, the caravan of performers came to a remote village. The troupe was gladdened to see all the villagers drop what they were doing and approach the site where they'd set up the tent. All village activity had stopped, and didn't look like it would resume until the caravan had departed. That night, Jessie awed the crowd with his death defying manoeuvres. His bravery and skill impressed a Military General in the audience who sought out Jessie after the show.

When they talked, the General sensed this talented performer's calmness and serenity under pressure. The General appreciated this, as his own nerves had been stretched taut by stress and lack of rest. Running hard tests of his country's nuclear weapon arsenal was gruelling work in the best of times. This was, after all, the first day off he and his men had in a month, which helped make circus day so wonderful!

So the General was beginning to realize how tense he himself had become. Seeing his men's happy faces, and hearing their laughter, made the General happy and relaxed, which cleared his mind and made him aware mistakes often came from fatigue, even when one is very careful.

The next day, the crew at the nuclear site was still talking about how much fun the circus had been. But happiness fled, and fear took its place when a warning alarm went off in the nuclear silo. Confusion spread quickly - perhaps the enemy had discovered a secret new technology? The rule book, which the General himself helped write, specified they must respond with an immediate counter-attack. The loud alarm going off made it difficult to think clearly. Each man and woman was afraid their leader was about to fire the powerful missiles, and the entire world would be befouled if not destroyed.

But the General didn't immediately react; instead he took precious seconds to recheck the reading. It wasn't anything he'd normally take the time to notice, but the blip on the screen seemed to be moving more quickly than any warhead should be able. Finally, when his Major confirmed aloud it was a software glitch, not an invading foe, the men erupted in applause. Had the General not been as skilful as the circus performer he admired, he would've started a dangerous chain of events that couldn't have been stopped. All the men in the silo thanked the General for his calmness during the tense situation. They were among the few in the world that realized how close to disaster everyone had come.

Meanwhile, back at Peter's apartment, he sat with Gracie on his lap by the fireplace. The cat had been agitated all day, but now she sat purring and relaxed. Sitting here all warm and comfortable gave Peter time to think about the stone he had skipped across the pond of life. How lucky he was to have found Gracie. Perhaps you should try skipping a stone yourself; you never know what will, or won't, happen.


Erin O'Connor, Haifa
David Willis, Greece
Edward Sevcik, USA


The next issue of LEAVES is planned for August.
Please send your submissions by August 10th.

Sylvia Karlsson
Sigmund Freud Str. 36
D-53127 Bonn
Email: ief@bcca.org
website: www.bcca.org/ief

Updated 21 June 2001