The next few weeks promise to be pretty eventful. A cross-section of the Nashville Bahá’í community is engaged in a project called the Music City Initiative, which builds on a vision which the Badasht Project piloted 7 years ago in Victoria, BC. The idea is to bring music and the arts into the forefront of the community’s activities, thereby bringing a more intense spirit into everything we do.
Close Encounters (of a spiritual kind)
In late February, we will have a series of events called ‘Encounters of the Spirit.’ Essentially they’re devotional gatherings, but with a heavy emphasis on the arts, and a specific theme for each event. Rather than listening to talks or long readings, participants will be immersed in a sensory experience of the night’s theme, meditating on one or two key concepts through song, visual art, photography, dance, storytelling and poetry. The whole thing will take less than an hour, after which everyone will have time to take part in some Tennessee Bahá’í hospitality and, hopefully inspired by the heightened atmosphere created by the program, engage in spiritually uplifting conversations.
Back in 2005, when we tried it in Canada, it was an incredible experience. People from all walks of life participated in the programs, whether hosting, contributing artistic talent, planning and organizing, or simply inviting friends, family and colleagues to be a part of the experience. The turnout increased each day until, by the 10th night, we averaged over 100 participants, and for many of us it was transformative, setting a benchmark for future efforts along this path.
In the ‘Ville
Nashville seems the perfect place to pick up the trail. There is a very willing and collaborative spirit among the Bahá’ís here, and the local and area institutions are all onboard to try something new and different. The ad-hoc team that came together to organize the events has hit the ground running, and are more is getting done every day… very inspiring!
The timing of the Encounters coincides with the Nashville area’s upcoming Expansion Phase, not to mention the celebration of Ayyam-i-Há, so there will be a lot of activity around here this month. This was a deliberate move for the Music City Initiative – rather than doing something seperate from what’s already happening on the ground, we all wanted to see an integration between the ongoing processes in the community and this experimental approach.
In the midst of all this
madness action, we thought it might be a good idea to document the process as we barrel through the next three weeks leading up to the end of the Expansion Phase and into March. We’ll try to post some video of the proceedings as well as the twists and turns of the planning process. As we learn to do this kind of thing more and more efficiently, maybe the information will be of use to other folks out there who want to make the use of the arts a bigger and brighter part of their community life.