What Will You Rebel For ?

bita haidarianIf three times is a charm, what’s four times?

A done deal?

I’ve posted about Bita Haidarian and her upcoming film, Finding Bibi, three times so far (check out the links for two trailers of the film !):

For this fourth post, since the Movement that’s evolving around the film is reaching a peak of excitement, I’ll publish the latest press release:

Finding Bibi
Austin, TX
New York, NY
www.FindingBibi.com
Founded by Bita Haidarian in 2009
Contact: Todd Brogan (todd@findingbibi.com), Head of Creative Expansion

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE April 30, 2009

FILMMAKER’S FANS MAKE THEIR VOICES HEARD

Voters to Decide New Organization’s First Project

Iranian-American documentary filmmaker Bita Haidarian, whose work has been described as “the best hope for film and politics in Australia,” launched a groundbreaking organization in March, and her democratic approach is already bearing fruit.

More than 200 fans voted in round one to decide the organization’s first-ever project. The three winning submissions vary widely, though all share the stories of women striving for empowerment. One idea suggests providing cameras to individuals participating in empowerment programs, which they would use to create short films on topics of their choice. Another idea proposes that Finding Bibi organize “hijab flashmobs” as a show of solidarity with women discriminated against for wearing head coverings. The final proposal would have Finding Bibi recruiting young women and girls to become journalists, reporting on the status of women in their region and having those reports carried on major networks.

Haidarian and her volunteer staff closed the site to new submissions and reviewed the top three ideas. This morning, they submitted the proposals (with notes added) to fans for one last round of voting. The polls will close in two weeks, at which point Haidarian will announce the winning project and her plans for making it a reality. Fans can vote by visiting FindingBibi.com and clicking ‘Discuss’.

The project contest and the organization were announced in March, both rooted in the spirit of Haidarian’s upcoming film Finding Bibi, which follows her on a journey of self discovery and in search of a “great female story.” Haidarian, the daughter of Baha’i religious refugees from Iran, gave her fans a deciding voice in the new initiative from the start. Fans submitted 20 ideas using the ranking site Slinkset, similar to applications used in social bookmarking sites like Digg. They were then able to vote for or against each other’s ideas.

“We are inspired by so many of the ideas that were submitted, and we’re especially pleased with those that won the first round,” said Haidarian. “We’re hoping for more votes in the final round, and looking forward to input from an even more diverse crowd.” The website, FindingBibi.com, also features updates on the film and its most recent trailer, as well as regular blog posts on the constantly innovating organization. The film is slated for completion late this year.

### If you would like more information about Finding Bibi the film or organization, please direct all questions to Todd Brogan at todd@findingbibi.com.

Spiritual Quote:

“That men and women differ from one another in certain characteristics and functions is an inescapable fact of nature and makes possible their complementary roles in certain areas of the life of society; but it is significant that ‘Abdu’l-Bahá has stated that in this Dispensation ‘Equality of men and women, except in some negligible instances, has been fully and categorically announced’.”
The Universal House of Justice, The Kitab-i-Aqdas, p. 7

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The Future = Our Youth

youth_social-action_creative_productiveIt’s sad to contemplate but too many people’s attitude toward youth is to keep them “seen but not heard”. Anyone who hasn’t tried to really listen  to a young person won’t be able to see any value in encouraging youth to take a prominent role in shaping the future.

In preparation for today’s post, I first considered news items that showed programs to help youth increase their social awareness and improve their ability to be productive citizens.

An article from the Tri-County Times  in Michigan, Enforcing good behavior of students at school, looked promising but seemed to me to sound too much like the sales training classes I used to attend…

Then, there was the article from the Mercury News , Project helps Los Gatos middle school students thrive. Promising information but only about one school in the United States…

I considered doing rather complete coverage of a program, The Virtues Project  (ideas I’m preparing to use in a Junior Youth group in the community I live in), but, blogs being what they are—entities in their own right that can often “decide” what they want and abruptly change the blogger’s mind—, I continued surfing and eventually came back to a site that I’d referenced in my previous post: The FreeChild Project.

I began exploring the many links provided on programs that not only let youth be seen but also Heard. One of them led me to a page that “…showcases a collection of organizations that will provide you with a solid introduction to the world of youth leadership and community involvement.”

Now I was on to something!!

I ended up on a page from Idealist.Org that showcased the following remarkable  kids. They each have founded an organization that provides a valuable social service:

Kristen Thomas, teenager, Alexandra “Alex” Scott, 4 years old, Annie Wignall, 11 years old, Carolyn Rubenstein, 13 years old, Ilana Rothbein, 17 years old, Cody Clark, 12 years old, Craig Kielburger, 12 years old, Emily Douglas, 9 years old, Melissa Poe, 9 years old, Mischa Zimmermann, 13 years old, Jon Wagner-Holtz, 11 years old, Janine Licare Andrews and Aislin Livingstone, 9 years old and 7 years old, Ryan Hrelijac, 6 years old, Joel Holland, 15 years old, Richard Ludlow, 17 years old, Matthew Cortland and Tina Liu, 18 and 17 years old, Jennifer Corriero and Michael Furdyk, 19 and 17 years old, Brynn MacDonald, Jason Crowe, Nadia Campbell, 18 years old, Jennifer Staple, 18 years old, Kimmie Weeks, Teenager, Ocean Robbins and Ryan Eliason, 16 and 19 years old, Lindsay and Brittany Logsdon

“Seen but not Heard?” Heavens forbid!

Spiritual Quote:

“The cause of universal education deserves the utmost support, for no nation can achieve success unless education is accorded all its citizens. Such an education should promote the consciousness of both the oneness of humanity and the integral connection between humankind and the world of nature. By nurturing a sense of world citizenship, education can prepare the youth of the world for the organic changes in the structure of society which the principle of oneness implies.
Bahá’í International Community, 1992 June 06, Earth Charter

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Social Media, Youth, and Risk

children_youth_internet_risk

Jeremy and his mom, Susan, in their living-room

J: Whadaya mean, you want my passwords?

S: How old are you?

J: Mom, you know how old I am; you were there at my birth, remember?

S: Yes, dear, I certainly remember but, at your ripe old age of 13, I don’t think you have the social wisdom you need to make completely  independent decisions on the Internet.

J: You want to censor what I say to my online friends?

S: No, I want to collaborate with you; I want to share your experience and use my  experience in the world to help you make safe decisions.

J: You’re starting to sound like a politician…

S: Jeremy, I really mean what I’m saying. I trust your judgement as long as you’re fully informed. You just haven’t lived long enough to know all the traps people can set.

J: So, I can post what I want—you just wanna see it and maybe talk some things over?

S: You got it, sweetie.

J: Well… We can try it out for awhile but, if you start cramping my style, I’m gonna change my passwords.

S: O.K., I hope we don’t have to go that far. I’ll try to be as fair as I can.

J: Mom, I’m not doing anything wrong, ya know, and what about when I’m chatting…

S: I know you’re the most virtuous son in the world, but there’re plenty of people with less virtue who can seem  to be saints. Your chat activity is something we’ll have to have deeper consultation about…

J: Whew! You really are becoming a politician…

~~~~~~~~~
Jeremy gave his mother his passwords and Susan learned that she had a very responsible son…
~~~~~~~~~

Our imaginary Susan and Jeremy have a rather remarkable relationship but there are  parents who treat their children with respect as they try to protect them.

There have been some recent reports published about social media and the risk they may pose for young users.

The one getting most of the attention now is called, Enhancing Child Safety and Online Technologies, and comes out of a group at Harvard.

One of the most interesting findings was:

“With all three types of threats (sexual solicitation, online harassment, and problematic content), some minors are more likely to be at risk than others. Generally speaking, the characteristics of youth who report online victimization are similar to those of youth reporting offline victimization and those who are vulnerable in one online context are often vulnerable in multiple contexts. In the same way, those identified as ‘high risk’ (i.e., experienced sexual abuse, physical abuse, or parental conflict) were twice as likely to receive online solicitations and a variety of psychosocial factors (such as substance use, sexual aggression, and poor bonds with caregivers) were correlated with online victimization.”

The report is heavy with detailed analyses of various technologies to protect youth yet does admit that technology is not the only answer.

An article from Agence France-Presse,  Technology alone ‘won’t assure youth safety on Internet’, which references the Harvard study, says:

“Risk for children appears more correlated to his or her ‘psychosocial’ profile than a particular Internet technology platform…”

They go on to identify the sponsors of the Harvard study:

“Task force members included Google, Microsoft, Yahoo, Facebook, MySpace, Symantec and Second Life creator Linden Labs.”

I’m sure you can see some positive as well as negative influences being brought to bear by organizations who have a financial interest in social media. Still, the bottom-line can be a significant pressure to pay attention to bad press, not to mention bad outcomes of online interactions.

An article from The Washington Times, Social networking benefits validated, references a different study that “…looked at more than 5,000 hours of online observation and found that the digital world is creating new opportunities for young people to grapple with social norms, explore interests, develop technical skills and work on new forms of self-expression.”

And, to reconsider the role technologies might play, an Australian study, Developments in Internet Filtering Technologies and Other Measures for Promoting Online Safety, is referenced in an article from ON LINE opinion,  Filtering won’t deliver for Aussie kids. They say: “Although it is accepted that children do face some risks online, these risks are more complex than government rhetoric sometimes indicates. Several studies, including the government’s own research, indicate that so-called ‘content risks’—the risks associated with viewing unwanted content—come a distant third to ‘communication risks’ and ‘e-security risks’.” Which to me says that filtering content does nothing to protect youth from potential harmful effects in the actual communicating they do online.

Protecting our younger online citizens is very important but doing it in a way that doesn’t hamper their “style” is at least equally important. It’s been shown that social media is empowering youth to take up Causes and they’re showing a remarkable ability to initiate positive change. The Free Child Project  has quite a collection of links that will show the value of not only protecting our kids from predators but also protecting their inalienable right to interact and do their best to use their unquenchable energy to help our suffering ol’ globe…

Spiritual Quote:

This quote was directed to Bahá’í youth but you can replace Bahá’í with any other Faith and the quote still maintains its value…


“For any person, whether Bahá’í or not, his youthful years are those in which he will make many decisions which will set the course of his life. In these years he is most likely to choose his life’s work, complete his education, begin to earn his own living, marry, and start to raise his own family. Most important of all, it is during this period that the mind is most questing and that the spiritual values that will guide the person’s future behaviour are adopted. These factors present Bahá’í youth with their greatest opportunities, their greatest challenge, and their greatest tests—opportunities to truly apprehend the Teachings of their Faith and to give them to their contemporaries, challenges to overcome the pressures of the world and to provide leadership for their and succeeding generations, and tests enabling them to exemplify in their lives the high moral standards set forth in the Bahá’í Writings. Indeed the Guardian wrote of the Bahá’í youth that it is they ‘who can contribute so decisively to the virility, the purity, and the driving force of the life of the Bahá’í community, and upon whom must depend the future orientation of its destiny, and the complete unfoldment of the potentialities with which God has endowed it’.
From a letter of The Universal House of Justice to Bahá’í Youth in every Land, June 10, 1966

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