IAAB 2007: Camp Ayandeh Video

We’ve just finished lunch and are watching a video about IAAB’s awesome camp – Camp Ayandeh. Check out the video here:

Sizdeh Bedar in Los Angeles

Photos and Video by Armaghan Saremi

The 13th day of Norooz, aka Sizdeh Bedar, marks the end of Persian New Year celebrations. You’re supposed to get out of the house for good luck, and being that this year was the first that I wasn’t with the fam, I took myself to Jafar Panahi’s Offside (review to follow shortly), which was hardly an alternative but as close as I could get in the horrible rainy weather of New York. Luckily my kid sister, Armaghan, took some photos at Balboa Park’s annual gathering in LA’s San Fernando Valley yesterday (it’s always done on a Sunday, regardless of what the actual thirteenth day is) and “ja’amo khali kard,” as they say (rough translation: she saved a spot for me). Above is a man dressed as Haji Firooz, a jester-like character that gave me the creeps as a child. The rest of the photos are below, but be sure to scroll down to the end of the post for a video of the cutest dancing Persian grandpa you will ever see.

Balboa Park is notable for Balboa Lake, an entirely artificial body of water composed entirely of water that’s been reclaimed, something the kid in the stream probably doesn’t know…
Intergenerational Persian chilling is what Sizdeh Bedar is all about.
Green, white, and red – not only the colors of the Mexican and Italian flags, but also that of the Iranians. Mmhm.
Welcome to the “Fesival.” They started charging for this thing last year, when some clever company got permits to host the event and started putting up fences and posting “security.” There was quite a hubbub at the gates last year, so I guess everyone’s given up and this company, whoever they are, keep cleaning up.
Oh, really? Interesting to note that someone who self-identifies as “Heir to the Throne of Iran” (see the description in the search results) would be touting democracy… interesting, interesting!

And on a joyful note:

Armaghan Saremi won her first photography accolades when she was 12 years old. She recently traveled to Mexico for a second time as part of a group building houses for impoverished families, where she photographed the mission. Armaghan has written for and edited her high school newspaper, and her essay about identity was published in the first-ever IAAB Javan Iranian-American Essay Contest eBook. She is heading to university in the fall.

The PARSA Community Foundation

A few weeks ago, I found the PARSA Community Foundation’s website as I was scoping out the Iranian non-profit world online. Intrigued by the big names that started the foundation, and by its even bigger goals, I emailed them for more information and was pleasantly surprised when a Pars Arts contributor, Mariam Hosseini, responded. Mariam recently wrote the Pars Arts story Adventures in Online Iranian Food Shopping, and she answered my questions for this piece.

What is PARSA’s mission?
PARSA Community Foundation’s mission is to become the leading institution practicing strategic philanthropy and promoting social entrepreneurship towards a strong global Persian presence. PARSA invests in these common causes:
Preservation and advancement of Iranian arts and culture;
Development of leaders through education and awards systems; and
Encouragement of civic participation and non-profit capacity building.

Who’s behind PARSA? Why did they start the organization?
Inspired by the work of passionate social entrepreneurs and the impact of strategic philanthropy, The H.A.N.D. Foundation organized a summit in Fall 2005 and invited generous members of the Persian community to share their philanthropic experiences and brainstorm on how successful efforts of the community could be taken to the next level. The participants, facing similar opportunities and constraints, and believing that the social impact of collaborative work can be just as important as producing the public good itself, agreed to pool their resources to create a platform to facilitate large-scale philanthropy for Persians worldwide. This infrastructure would enable the free flow of information, training and funds necessary to address the needs of the community. To create an enduring institution, the founders committed to hands-on involvement, professional management and the establishment of an endowment fund.

PARSA’s board consists of the following members:
Anousheh Ansari: Treasurer, PARSA Community Foundation; Co-founder and Chairman, Prodea Systems, Inc.

Noosheen Hashemi: Chairman, PARSA Community Foundation; Co-founder and President, The H.A.N.D. Foundation

Salar Kamangar: Secretary, PARSA Community Foundation; Vice President, Product Management, Google, Inc.

Omid Kordestani: Co-Founder, PARSA Community Foundation; Senior Vice President, Global Sales and Business Development, Google, Inc.

Hamid Moghadam: Co-Founder, PARSA Community Foundation; Chairman and CEO, AMB Property Corporation

Camran Nezhat: Co-Founder, PARSA Community Foundation; M.D., F.A.C.O.G., F.A.C.S., Stanford University Medical Center

You can read more about the board here: http://parsacf.org/about/board.

What are some beneficiary projects of PARSA’s efforts? What kinds of organizations or projects should know about PARSA’s work?
In 2006, PARSA made its inaugural grant of up to $210,000 to Ashoka: Innovators for the Public as part of the Ashoka PARSA Initiative to support an Ashoka fellow of Iranian origin from anywhere in the world where Ashoka operates.

Currently, we are processing grant applications from our first grant cycle, which just ended on February 15, and are excited to be announcing grantees around the Norouz timeframe. In addition to our semi-annual grant cycles where we encourage non-profits that fit our guiding principles to apply, PARSA also supports strategic grantmaking in projects such as the Cyrus Cylinder North American Tour, initiating a census campaign, and supporting voter registration. PARSA also reaches out to Persian diaspora philanthropy through its philanthropy workshops and planned NGO summits, aimed at promoting networking and collaboration among nonprofits.

How can young Iranians, like Pars Arts readers, get involved either as volunteers or as young philanthropists?
There are many ways for young Iranians to get involved, such as: Hosting a philanthropy work shop at your home, school, or any other appropriate place; facilitating a philanthropy workshop; writing articles for our newsletter; and volunteering pro bono professional services such as legal, financial, accounting services to support NGOs that don’t have the resources to purchase them.


Congratulations to Amrikaee.com, the brain-child of Pedram Moallemian (aka The Eyeranian), which went live just this week. From the Amrikaee website:

We are Amrikaee and as our mission statement reads; “we are the progressive voice of the new generation of Iranian-Americans, to serve as a bridge between traditions and provide a home for fresh expressions, unique perspectives and alternative ideas often overlooked by mainstream media.”

That’s why the name Amrikaee also made so much sense to us. Its outlook is the future; our future, the future of our lineage and the future of our new home, our new country, with full reverence and vision that comes from our past.

It also looks like there’s a print edition on the way, though I wasn’t able to find anything about how many issues a subscription constitutes, or how the print content will be different from the web content.

I love the magazine’s name; “Amrikaee” is the word for American in Persian. So it’s really the perfect name for a magazine for Iranian-Americans. I’m looking forward to more of their issues, and it looks like the magazine is a real opportunity to form a meaningful and connected diaspora community. So check it out!

Freedom Is Not Free

by Farnam Bidgoli

While protesters around the world gathered last Saturday against the wars in Afghanistan and Iraq, rhetoric continues regarding a possible attack on Iran. On Wednesday, the UN Security Council will gather to debate tougher sanctions on Iran, including a ban on loans to the country. As President Ahmadinejad’s US visa was approved today, we’re hoping – perhaps naively – that his speech in New York on Wednesday will be a call for dialogue and not continued aggressive posturing.

As members of the Iranian diasporic community, regardless of political affiliation, now is the time to speak up to our political representatives in order to make our opinions about the possibility of an attack known. Freedom Is Not Free – a pro-Iranian political advocacy group based in Toronto, Canada – has initiated a democratic protest against an attack on Iran. The 10,000 Against War Campaign is a petition calling for the Canadian government to declare its opposition both to the possibility of an attack on Iran and to the aggressive posturing of the Islamic Republic of Iran.

The group, whose name comes from Iranian journalist Akbar Ganji’s Republican Manifesto II, is a non-partisan, non-ideological advocacy group that intends, says founding member Binesh Hassanpour, “to inform decision making bodies about the nuances of the Iranian political dynamic… Our sole concern is the promotion of Iranian interests vis-a-vis responsible foreign policy. That means we want a Canadian foreign policy towards Iran that is conducive to the domestic growth of democracy and human rights in Iran.”

To sign the 10,000 Against the War petition or find out more about the group, visit Freedom Is Not Free’s website.

Farnam Bidgoli is an undergraduate student at the University of Toronto, where she is pursuing a joint degree in Peace and Conflict Studies and International Relations, with language studies in French and Farsi, at the Trudeau Centre. She has written for The Toronto Globalist, Incite, and Namak.

Christmas Mobarak!

Merry Christmas! I’m in a food coma today so here are some links:

1. I just had my first taste of turducken and actually thought of (re)definition, one of my favorite blogs which is written by Mariam, a woman in San Francisco who is a fantastic cook and takes good pictures. The photos on her blog make my mouth water, and I’d trade 20 turduckens for whatever she’s cooking. Plus, she lives in San Francisco, which is sort of the city of my dreams.

2. Browsing around on Asad’s blog, I clicked over to this blog, which had a cool link to the text of Iranian school books. I’m working on improving my Persian, so this should be a big help.

3. Iranian.com has polls for the best and worst Iranians of the year. It’s not working right now but looks like they’re on it. Sacha Baron Cohen (aka Ali G, aka Borat) is one of the choices for best, and so is Akbar Ganji, and so is the kid that got tasered at UCLA. The worsts include a guy who drove his car through a group of students, the president of Iran, and the boyfriend of an Iranian actress who put their sex tape on the Internet.

4. One last one, sorry to be depressing: UN Resolution 1737, from a couple of days ago. Sanctions, etc. Here is the press release from the UN Security Council. Let’s see what happens.