Desert Rose is a not-for profit Institute serving the community through artistic, agricultural, spiritual, intellectual and practical education for people of all ages and backgrounds
Desert Rose Bahá'í Institute
Write Life by Anne Perry
Write Life began when Marlene Macke and I invited some writers to come to Desert Rose for a week-long writers’ retreat held in February 2018. In preparing and designing the flier for the retreat, one of the local writers connected to Desert Rose called it “Write Life.” The name stuck, and we have continued to hold retreats every February since. The one in 2021 was held on Zoom, and we anticipate another online retreat in 2022.
Marlene was a “snowbird”—a Canadian looking for a winter retreat when she wrote to me in 2014 to get advice on where she could go to write for a couple of months in the winter of 2015. “Desert Rose!” I answered. “Where’s that?” she asked. She acted on the suggestion, acclimating to the creative atmosphere of Desert Rose, making friends there, and generally deciding to return in subsequent winters. In 2017 we planned the first retreat and co-hosted the retreats of 2018 and 2019, and then Marlene’s health began failing. She wasn’t able to come in 2020, and she passed away in January 2021. Write Life owes a huge debt of gratitude to her!
Jaine Toth and I co-hosted the on-ground retreat of 2020, and then Joyce Litoff and I co-hosted the online retreat in 2021. We also started a twice monthly Zoom event—one session as a writers’ “check in” and goal setting time: one session for critique of our work. In addition, we sponsor online workshops through Desert Rose and occasional public readings of our works. All of these activities continue, with Michelle Goering taking on aspects of the leadership as well. A group of local writers have also met at Desert Rose, under the name “Pen and Prayer.”
We invite you to look at our authors’ profiles and see what Write Life writers are up to! Some have published books and articles recently; some are working on longer projects; some dabble in multiple genres; one is a storyteller who has performed stories publicly—all of us are finding our way through our writing, in the context of a supportive network. Check us out!
Click on the profiles below to learn more about some of our authors.
CASA DE ROSAS
Built on the concept of a large square, with all units facing an interior courtyard, the Casas offer superior comfort within a community environment. Select from 1- or 2-bedroom suites, with air conditioning, Wi Fi, full kitchens, storage and on-site access to complementary laundry facilities.
Units are available furnished and unfurnished and are wheelchair accessible. Each apartment has its own parking complete with a covered carport.
Enjoy the desert sunsets from the courtyard or take advantage of the Gazebo for quiet meditation, reading or prayer.
For shorter stays you may prefer one of the furnished Motel rooms. Note: Motel rooms do not contain kitchens and are only accessible by stairs.
VIRTUAL TOUR (Coming Soon)
RATES: Nightly Weekly Short-term Long-term
1-3 Months >3 Months
Motel Rooms $45 $180 $540 n/a
1 Bedroom $85 $220 $800 $650
1 Bedroom + Den $110 $255 $900 $750
2 Bedroom $115 $270 $1,000 $850
2 Bedroom Deluxe $125 $350 $1,050 $900
Click to Contact Us for information and bookings
Featuring Stories, Songs and a Movie about ‘Abdu’l-Bahá
PRESENTED BY THE SPIRITUAL ASSEMBLY OF THE BAHA’IS OF PINAL COUNTY
Come Zoom with us!
Topic: Abdu’l-Baha Centenary Observance
Time: Saturday, Nov 20, 2021 02:00 PM Mountain Time (US and Canada)
Meeting ID: 832 1397 3878 Passcode: 854797
ELEANOR HADDEN HALL
Eleanor Hadden Hall was the first structure to be built at Desert Rose and is named after the mother of David Hadden, one of DRBI’s founding members. It is fully air-conditioned with a large meeting area, two breakout rooms, a full kitchen, bathrooms, showers, and two covered patios. Seating for meals: 125, for presentations: 200
RATES: Hourly Daily Weekend*
Hall only $60 $275 $450
Kitchen* $90 $150 $350
Hall + Kitchen $150 $425 $800
*Weekend = Friday noon through Sunday 3:00 p.m.
Spotlight on Duffy Sheridan
Globally renowned realist painter Duffy Sheridan and his wife, artist Jeanne Sheridan have been associated with DRBI since the earliest days of its inception and their influence can be seen throughout the campus. Duffy was encouraged to paint by his artist father and his extraordinary pieces hang in private, government and corporate collections around the world as well as here, in the DRBI Art Centre.
The 2020 Spring Salon competition at the International Guild of Realism (IGOR) invited global artists to submit works for consideration, out of which 220 pieces were selected for review by an esteemed panel of judges. Duffy’s painting, “Something I Don’t Know” was awarded both First Prize within the Portrait division and Best in Show.
In 2021, the same work attracted the attention at the 15th International ARC (Art Renewal Center) Salon competition. ARC is a non-profit educational foundation which hosts the largest international on-line museum dedicated to representational art. From almost 5,000 global submissions for this year’s competition “Something I Don’t Know” was awarded First Place in the Figurative Category. It will be exhibited in the Travelling ARC Salon at Sotheby’s in New York and the MEAM (European Museum of Modern Art) in Barcelona.
To add to this recognition, the Sheridan’s were delighted to receive a copy of the June 2021 issue of Fine Art Connoisseur magazine where “Something I Don’t Know” had been chosen by the editors for the cover.
These latest win adds to the many accolades Duffy has received over the years in appreciation of his extraordinary talent.
To learn more about Duffy please visit his website at: duffysheridan.com
To read about Duffy’s win at ARC please visit Duffy Sheridan15th ARC Salon
The Memorial Garden is an oasis of desert tranquility, respecting the dignity and celebrating the lives of dedicated service led by those who rest at Desert Rose. Founder Marguerite Sears and many other supporters and past residents of DRBI are interred here.
Click to Contact Us for information on burial plots and services.
Click Here to Find a Grave
One year after submitting his plan to develop a 20-acre sustainable market garden, DRBI Board member Dwight Cox is confident we are moving closer to proving the concept that barren, desert land can be successfully converted into a sustainable farm.
Leafy greens like kale, collards, lettuce, spinach, and cilantro are thriving on the Desert Rose Farms (DRF) leased plot as are hearty brethren like broccoli, cauliflower, brussels sprouts, and cabbage. DRF expects to initiate its initial harvest in February, and harvesting will continue throughout the current market season which ends in May.
Over 150 chickens were introduced to the large coop and fenced in yard in July, and they are the first, full-time residents to fulfill their promise. As the year ended, they have been producing five to seven dozen eggs each day and are expected to produce as many as 10 dozen each day.
While DRF continues to develop the 10-acre plot it leases from the DRBI, they have also leased the first 3,000 sq.ft. plot of DRBI’s dedicated agriculture acreage to a private individual from Casa Grande. Our newest ‘farmer’ hopes to have plants in the ground by the end of January. With that plot leased, we are preparing and enclosing DRBI’s first full acre, an essential step to keep invasive rodents from the plants.
“The concept behind the initial plot is quite unique,” Dwight explains. “The person who leased the plot has a long history working in the Haitian ghetto Cité Soleil. His objective is to raise vegetables on his DRBI garden plot, sell them at market and send the revenue directly to Haiti. He works directly with a friend in Haiti who feeds 180 children four days each week. We think the plot can generate $1,000 of produce each month, and that is what the friend in Haiti needs to feed the children.”
The concept has taken root, but ‘proof of concept’ is critical. “If my friend can do with that 3,000 sq.ft. plot what we think he can do, he will consider leasing additional plots targeted to directly support marginalized organizations in other international venues.”
‘Proof of Concept’ is the operable phrase as we emerge from the winter darkness. The DRF acreage fell victim to some frost in the winter, but the greens tend to be frost tolerant to as low as 10o. We work together to move beyond the challenges that present themselves. “As a businessman,” Dwight explains, “I’ve learned many valuable lessons from my contacts around the world. One of the most important came directly from Carlos Hank, the man who built the new international terminal at the Aeropuerto Internacional de la Ciudad de México. ‘I don’t have problems,’ Carlos told me, ‘I have situations. If I don’t take care of the situation, then I have problems.’ ”
That is the tactic that we intend to employ with the DRBI agricultural program. So far, so good. ‘Proof of concept’ is imminent. Standby for updates!
Please click here to donate and help us grow the farm
Meet The Writer:
“There is a Creative Drive in us all that is alive and important.”
The Zoom call started at 3:00 pm sharp and despite the awkward technology, it was obvious from her first sentence that Anne Perry knows how to make words sing. Her comments were well-considered and organized but at the same time rich with warmth. It should come as no surprise that she is an accomplished teacher and academic. Anne’s resumé boasts two Masters degrees and a PhD focused on the intersection of religion and the arts. She is fascinated that, sometimes working together, sometimes in direct opposition to each other, art and religion have held a pivotal place in the development of human society.
Anne is the accomplished author of works of fiction and creative non-fiction, poetry, children’s books and much more. She has worked in films, in publishing and currently teaches at the Art Institute of Dallas. We are very lucky indeed to have her as a regular program leader here at DRBI.
For the past three years Anne has been a driving force behind The Writer’s Group, an annual weekend retreat for writers who treasure the opportunity to learn from other talented artists as they hone their craft. Anne creates an environment that is both nurturing and critical, where ideas can be shared in a spirit of collaboration and trust. Participants leave each session having learned more about their craft and themselves.
Of course, COVID-19 has closed the door to large gatherings, but Anne and her dedicated group still connect over Zoom every month and she is looking for more ways to bring this popular program to an even wider base.
But why should a presenter choose DRBI? According to Anne, there is a uniquely supportive learning environment here that is all-inclusive, where the people are welcoming and flexible, and the beauty of the Desert is a gift.
For all the new writers who may doubt themselves from time to time Anne has this piece of advice:
“When you get a new idea, ACT ON IT! Take time to imagine and creatively think. Write every day and remember that what you are doing is valuable. Not just for you, but for those who follow you.”
Up in the sky and down to earth
Meet Dwight Cox
Now passionate about DRBI Agriculture, Dwight Cox had no interest in his family’s Indiana farm when he was young. He preferred machines to crops, so he left the farm and joined the army.
His military service changed the path of his life in two ways. First, he became a Bahá’í in 1975 – a wonderful consequence of being stationed in a MASH unit in Hawaii. Second, when he left the military, thanks to his GI Bill benefits, Dwight attended college for aviation mechanics, and then received his pilot’s licence. This was the start of a long, successful career in aviation. As a tech rep for Rockwell International, he worked in the Philippines, Japan, Singapore, Mexico and Florida, eventually starting his own aviation engine company, Southwest Airmotive in Tucson in 2004.
Yet Dwight had never forgotten his farming roots. As part of his deep belief in service to humanity, Dwight had participated in several endeavours that improved food distribution both at home and abroad. When he moved his business to the nearby Eloy Airport in 2015, Dwight found DRBI not far away and became a Board Member. He soon recognized an opportunity to turn a segment of Desert Rose into an organic, sustainable farm.
Dwight quickly established that the ground was incapable of supporting life. He evaluated various approaches for bringing microbial life back to the soil and became excited by the possibilities of permaculture. Permaculture is the development of agricultural ecosystems intended to be sustainable and self-sufficient. After taking an extensive 28-week course from global expert Geoff Lawton, Dwight is now certified as a Permaculture Designer.
Dwight brought in Desert Rose Farms LLC to grow Pichuberries (Tomatitos) on 10 acres of the land. Desert Rose Farms will also be assisting with establishment of market gardens, one of Dwight’s earliest dreams for the property. Dwight’s intent is to teach some of the central ideas and techniques of permaculture, such as composting and water preservation, in order to create a self-sustaining ecosystem based on soil health.
To do this, DRBI has work to do. A new well is needed to support the farm and an old well at the Institute has gone bad. Drilling wells is expensive, so further developments are in limbo until adequate funds can be raised.
Dwight worked 43 years in aviation, far from that little farm of his youth, but now he has circled back, and he is loving it. When asked, “what would you tell that impatient boy back in Indiana?” Dwight replied, “Just wait! You aren’t going to believe your life!”
Click here to watch Geoff Lawton’s Permaculture video
Click here to Contribute
Click here to Book Your Farm Tour
Click for more detailed information and registration
A New Partnership Evolves with Desert Rose Farm
Gene Eskraay – Desert Rose Farms
As of June 2020, 10 acres of DRBI’s 20 acres allotted to the agriculture project have been leased to the independent company Desert Rose Farm LLC. Desert Rose Farm (DRF) shares DRBI’s vision of developing organic, sustainable farming for the purpose of growing and distributing food in our local communities and beyond.
DRBI’s original farming goals as expressed in our vision statement remain the same but methods of implementation will continue to evolve as we collaborate with DRF. The benefits to both organizations have been mutual, and the partnership has accelerated DRBI’s agricultural development.
While DRBI continues to prepare its own 10 acres, DRF initiated its project on the 10 leased acres in June 2020. As we approach Thanksgiving, DRF has completed planting its Phase 1 plot of approximately 3.5 acres from top to bottom, and expects to begin harvesting early crops – lettuce, Swiss chard, collards, and other greens – late in December. Over 8,000 beets, turnips and radishes are bedded in a hoop house, which brings the total number of plants in-ground to over 12,500.
With the farmers market season in full swing, Desert Rose Farm is represented at eight local markets – three on Saturdays; two on Sundays; two on Fridays; and one on Thursdays. The produce is outsourced from our friends at Black Orchard Trading Company in Phoenix until harvesting begins at Desert Rose Farm late in December. As we progress through the market season – October through May – more and more products will come directly from DRF until DRF produce achieves the majority position in the spring.
With the plan in motion, Desert Rose Baha’i Institute looks forward to growing and strengthening our interactions with neighbors and neighboring communities.
Please use this link to learn more about Desert Rose Farm.
Click here to participate in our Thanksgiving Tribute For DRBI
Click Book Now button for registration.
Online Courses – November 2020
Friday, Nov 13, 2020
5-7 pm Pacific | 6-8 pm Mountain
7-9 pm Central | 8-10 pm Eastern
Click for more information and registration on Transforming Our One World – Episode 3
To make art is to engage the soul. Please join Tucson artist Saraiya Kanning as she presents DRAWING INTO GRATITUDE.
Friday, Nov 20, 2020
Click for information and registration on Art and Soul – Episode 2
Saturday, Nov 21, 2020
1-3 pm Pacific | 2-4 pm Mountain
3-5 pm Central | 4-6 pm Eastern
Click here for information and registration on the Write Life – Episode 3
More to Come!
The Art and Soul Series
To make art is to engage the soul. Art is a medium for prayer, contemplation, and spiritual growth, whether it is engaged at the level of the individual or community.
Join professional artist and instructor Saraiya Kanning for Art and Soul Session 2.
Session 2 – Drawing Into Gratitude
In this class, let’s discover the aspects of life for which we are grateful and lean deeply into them through drawing! In this 2-hour class, we’ll learn basic drawing skills by drawing garden vegetables. Then we’ll branch out and apply our new learning while creating a guided drawing related to something in our lives for which appreciative. This session is appropriate for individuals, children or families.
Join Us Online: Friday, November 20, 2020
from 5:00-7:00 pm Pacific, 6:00-8:00 pm Mountain, 7:00-9:00 pm Central, 8:00-10:00 pm Eastern Time
Please bring these simple supplies to the session:
Session 1 fee: $20
Registration available after November 1st
About the Instructor:
Saraiya Kanning is a visual artist and creative writer living in Tucson, Arizona with her husband Michael and their dog Lily. She works in a variety of media, from silk painting to watercolor to ink. She believes art has a critical role to play in bringing people together and building vibrant community life
Find more of her work at raebirdcreations.com
Contact the instructor: email@example.com
Click Book Now button for info and registration on the Servant Leadership session
Join professional artist and instructor Saraiya Kanning as she guides us through this first session in the Art and Soul Series:
Session 1 – Art for Spiritual Awakening
In this class, students will participate in a number of watercolor painting prompts, all through the lens of spiritual reflection and search. We’ll explore the meditative and healing capacities of artmaking while forging new bonds of friendship through creativity. We’ll also tempt you by reviewing the subject matter for the remaining episodes in the Art and Soul Series, which will be available for you to join.
Level of experience: Beginner to intermediate level. We will briefly cover how to use watercolor, but not linger too long. Please email the instructor for suggested videos if you wish to practice a bit before the class.
Join Us Online: Sunday, October 18 from 4:00-6:00 pm. Pacific time
Pricing for this introductory session has been reduced to encourage you to try Art and Soul.
Should you wish to sign up for further sessions, series pricing will be available. Details to follow
Registration available after October 1st
Optional extras for a calming environment: essential oil diffuser with lavender oil or lavender scented candle
The Write Life ZOOMS!
Build your writing chops in an atmosphere of collaboration and trust. Learn about your craft and yourself through monthly ZOOM sessions with fellow writers and skilled course leaders Anne Perry and Joyce Litoff.
Desert Rose Bahá’í Institute has held a successful writers’ retreat for three consecutive years and is now breaking into online programing to bring this course to you.
Each 2-hour interactive workshop will include a 20-30 minute presentation on a specific topic. The balance of the session will be coordinated by Joyce Litoff and Anne Perry and will include writing time based on a prompt related to the topic and sharing of outcomes, first in small groups and then in larger group.
The sessions will be held on Saturdays on ZOOM, as follows:
Sept. 26 Oct. 17 Nov. 21 Dec. 19 Jan. 16 Feb. 20
WRITE LIFE ZOOMS: A Series of Online Writing Workshops
1–3 pm Pacific; 2 – 4 Mountain: 3–5 pm Central; 4–6 pm Eastern
Cost: $25 each session or all five for $100
(please write to Desert Rose if you require a scholarship)
The Introduction session is free of charge.
Hosted by Anne Perry and Joyce Litoff, each session
will begin with a presentation by a guest writer, followed by a writing exercise
and then sharing of writing in small groups.
Sept. 26: INTRODUCTION: “Telling Your Story, Speaking Your Truth” Anne Perry No charge
Anne will introduce the group to the process for Zoom Write Life sessions, including a presentation and group sharing module. Use this session as a chance to try the series on and see how it fits you.
Oct. 17: POETRY: “The Importance of the Reveal” “Bruce Filson $25
The poet works at fabricating a word composition in which the reader’s feelings are discovered, rather than the patently banal and overbearing truism that the poet expresses his or her feelings, which nobody wants to hear about anyway. For a writing prompt I would ask the poet to first meditate on the most insignificant and minor passing observation that he or she made in the last 24 hours. I would then ask them to cloak it in words without describing it. Any words, especially the ones that don’t seem right. There is then a third operation, the most exciting and interesting one…
Nov. 21: FICTION: Veronica Trebesh
Dec. 19: BIOGRAPHY: Kathryn Hogenson
Jan. 16: STORY TELLING: Joyce Litoff
[Tentatively, we plan an online or on-ground retreat to be held Feb. 15–21. Stay tuned for more]
Feb. 20: A PUBLIC READING BY THE WRITERS CONNECTED TO WRITE LIFE (probably online)
WILLIAM SEARS PAVILION
The William Sears Pavilion, framed by Cyprus and backed by mountains is a beautiful venue for any outdoor occasion. The landscaped gardens are accessed through a gated wall and the Pavilion has both gentle steps and a ramp to accommodate all users. Think of the Pavilion for your next wedding, memorial or devotional gathering.
RATES: Hourly Daily Weekend*
$20 $75 $75
THE SEARS’ COTTAGE
When Desert Rose was first being built, founder Marguerite Sears lived in this lovely cottage. It is now available for short-term rentals and is a quiet, homey spot for a single or couple to stay. It boasts two bedrooms, 1-bathroom, full kitchen, living and dining area.
RATES: Nightly Weekly Monthly Monthly
$130 $450 $1,500 $1,350
* Short-term = 4 -12 weeks
THE ROUND HOUSE
The Round House is a 4,000 square foot space with a kitchen and expansive seating area. Originally built as a private home, this unique and wonderful building is a favorite meeting place. A cupola crowning the building floods the rooms with light.
RATES: Hourly Daily Weekend*
$50 $250 $400
THE GUFFEY CENTRE
The Dormitory facility is named after Ray and Gloria Guffey, two of DRBI’s dedicated volunteers.
Ideal for youth groups, camps and retreats, the Guffey Centre consists of two large dorm rooms with
20 bunk beds each. Two over-size, multi-stall bathrooms with showers serve the dorms and all have handicap access.
And for the Counselors there are 2 family-style suites that sleep up to five and feature a private bath, microwave, small refrigerator and sofa -bed.
The Guffey Centre has its own patio and basketball court and is only steps from the swimming pool.
Gloria Jean / James Ray Suites $60
1 = Art Gallery
2 = Sears’ Cottage
3 = Administration Building
4 = Ala’i Library
5 = Eleanor Hadden Hall
6 = Swimming Pool
7 = Designated Smoking Area
8 = Round House / Bookstore
9 = Basketball Court
10 = KURE LP FM
11 = The Guffey Centre
12 = Female Dormitory
13 = Male Dormitory
14 = Gloria Jean Suite
15 = James Ray Suite
16 = Pavilion
17 = Casa de Rosa
18 = Detail of Motel Rooms
19 = Memorial Gardens
20 = Black Orchard Farm
21 = DRBI Farm
FOOD SERVICES: Per Person
Breakfast $6 – $10
Lunch $8 – $12
Dinner $11 – $15
Snack $2.50 – $5.00
No alcohol permitted on Desert Rose grounds
Costs may vary depending upon client requests.
Available for groups within Eleanor Hadden Hall, the Round House or the Pavilion. Final costs to be determined when menu is agreed upon.
Click to contact us for information and bookings
EQUIPMENT SERVICES: Hourly Daily Weekend
Audio-Visual Specialist $25 $100 $200
Set-Up fee (2 hr min) $25 n/a n/a
Tear-Down fee (2 hr min) $25 n/a n/a
Easels and Whiteboards $25 $25 $25
Overhead Projector $30 $30 $30
Laptop Projector $30 $30 $50
The oversized, fully accessible swimming pool provides a great place to cool off for groups of up to 50 people, socialize, and exercise. It is maintained year-round, licensed, and inspected regularly by Pinal County Health Department. See details below to book the pool for your group of 50 or less.
Rates: Hourly Daily Weekend*
$35 $100 $150
THE ART GALLERY
Taking a break from your meeting or just looking for some culture in your day? Browse through the DRBI Art Gallery and see work from a variety of local artists. Please call the office at 520-466-7961 to arrange a time.
THE ALA’I LIBRARY
Adjacent to the Administration Office is the Ala’i Library, an extensive collection of books and materials on a variety of subjects concerning spirituality, world religions and more. Make sure to see the library when you visit DRBI. Open during Office hours.
THE BOOK STORE
And while you’re here, ask to visit the bookstore in the Round House. On top of a varied assortment of literature there are DVD’s, music and so much more.
This session is complimentary however your donations help DRBI create even more exclusive content for you.
Who was William Sears?
William Bernard Patrick Michael Terrance Sears VII, was born on March 28, 1911, in Duluth Minnesota, in Pumpkin Row. His family originally came from Court MacSherry Bay, Ireland. In one of his books he referred to himself as the Seventh Son of a Gun of a Seventh Son of a Gun. At a young age, he dreamt 3 times of a “Shiny white Figure”. He later discovered that the man in his dreams was ‘Abdu’l- Baha’ the son of Baha’u’llah, founder of the Baha’i Faith.
William, or Bill as he was often called, attended the University of Wisconsin where he studied writing and drama. He wrote plays and won awards in playwriting competitions. He married a beautiful young lady named Kathleen and they had 2 sons, William Jr. and Michael. After Michael’s birth, both Kathleen and Michael became ill and were hospitalized. Bill was 25, living during the depression with no work and little food, his wife Kathleen passed away, he had 2 sons, one in the hospital, the other staying with his sister. This made him wonder “is there a God and do we have souls?” He knew life had to be more than just getting up, going to work, going to bed, and dying.
Bill met Marguerite Reimer when he was working at WOMT radio station in Manitowoc, Wisconsin where she just happened to be giving a lecture series on the Baha’i Faith. He converted her to the idea that marriage was a fine thing…she converted him to the Baha’i Faith.
Marguerite was often wanting to move to help spread the Faith and luckily Bill was happy hopping from place to place. He began his career in Television when WCAU radio became WCAU Television. He later worked for CBS with his own shows such as “The Bill Sears” show and “In the Park”. In 1951, Bill was on the Edward R. Murrow program “This I Believe”. On the program Bill stated that “I found that happiness is not a matter of geography, but it is found within myself…I need only to remember one thing: nothing must come between me and my responsibilities to God and to my fellow man…This, I believe, has helped me to look upon each dawn as a new adventure.”
In 1954 Bill and Marguerite decided to set off to Africa with their 2 sons even though Bill’s career in Television was taking off. Bill continued his radio career with radio SABC, in South Africa.
In 1957, Bill Sears was elevated to a Hand of the Cause of God for the Baha’i Faith by Shoghi Effendi. They sold their home in Africa so that they could travel anywhere the Faith needed them to go.
His son Bill Sears Jr wrote: “I believe that anyone close to William Sears, both before after October and November of 1957, had to notice an abrupt change in him. Given the magnitude of the events that had taken place in that brief period of time, change was to be expected. Yet this was really notable, as it was a great change and in so short a time. It was like watching a caterpillar turn directly into a butterfly because there is no time for the cocoon.
His warm and loving nature, his sense of humor, and that sparkle in his eyes were intact, but there was a new intensity, a singleness of purpose, and you felt that no matter what else it might APPEAR that he was doing, he was really concentrating on what he could do, himself and through the friends, to advance the Faith, and fulfill the responsibilities entrusted to him by Shoghi Effendi. ”
Bill and Marguerite traveled around the world multiple times visiting at least 60 different countries. During his talks he made us laugh and cry, inspiring us to new heights of service to God and mankind.
Bill and Marguerite also wrote many books. God Loves Laughter and All Flags Flying conveyed moral and life guidance through personal stories. Others were written about the Heroes and Heroines of the Baha’i Faith.
With the help of David Hadden, they settled first in Ontario, Canada and then in Arizona and in 1988 Bill and Marguerite started Desert Rose Baha’i School. The school was held every year at Tucson hotels over Thanksgiving weekend. Their vision continues today with DRBI in Eloy.
Bill Sears passed away in 1992, continuing to serve the Baha’i Faith to his last breath.
We are the flowers of one garden.
Who Are the Baha’is?
By Glenn Darling
So, who are these Bahá’í’s anyway? Over six million people are followers of Bahá’u’lláh, the Founder of the Bahá’í Faith, and they are people from every background, race, creed, clan, tribe or religion. Bahá’u’lláh teaches that we are the flowers of one garden. The leaves of one tree. The task set for every single soul is both a spiritual and a material one. Our spiritual duty is to know and to worship God, and our material/physical duty is to help bring forth an ever-advancing civilization. With a presence in virtually every country in the world, the Bahá’í Faith is the most widespread religion even though it is also the youngest worldwide faith, having its inauguration in Persia in 1844.
Bahá’í’s seek to be servants to the servants of God. We are to put our brother/sister before ourselves. We say obligatory prayers on a daily basis and experience a period of fasting every year. In our family life, women are given the greater opportunity to attend institutions of higher learning, because they are the first educators of mankind, and the more education they have, the better it will be for the children. In the social world Bahá’í’s refrain from using alcohol and drugs, except under the medical provision of a qualified doctor.
The Bahá’í Faith is involved in social and economic development projects all over the world, seeking to assist in areas where their services are not readily available. We foster interfaith meetings and conferences aimed at uniting the family of mankind. Bahá’í communities establish schools, food banks, life skills programs, and seek to be, on a daily basis, servants to the servants of God.
Please visit www.bahai.org for more information.
Who was Eleanor Hadden?
Eleanor Elizabeth Hadden, David Hadden’s mother, was a beloved Bahá’í who selflessly served the faith with her husband Lyall in Ghana, Zimbabwe (then Rhodesia) and the United States. Eleanor Hadden’s dedication to the Faith was an inspiration to many. She was particularly known for her way to keep isolated believers connected through her story-telling and written bulletins. In their early years, the Sears and the Haddens lived near to each other outside Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, and this led to a lifetime bond between the families.
For eleven years Marguerite and Bill Sears lived next door to David and Nancy Hadden in Port Hope, Ontario, Canada. For six of those years Bill hosted the Bahá’í ‘Gatherings’, summer weekend of spiritual deepening that drew friends from around the world. To accommodate the 150+ people who came each year, David decided to build a dormitory in his mother’s name. A beautifully carved granite stone was fashioned to mark the place where the Eleanor Elizabeth Hadden House would stand and the stone was dedicated by Hands of the Cause William Sears and John Robarts.
Unfortunately, there was local opposition to changes in zoning and many months, tears and prayers later the project was abandoned. According to DRBI Board Meeting minutes: “The dining hall has been officially named by resolution, the ‘Eleanor Elizabeth Hadden Dining Hall’. Had it not been for David Hadden, this building would have been built for much more than was projected. What better way to say thank you than to honor his mother.”
Photo – Lyall, Guy and David Hadden stand with the stone honouring their wife/mother.
Who was David Hadden?
David Hadden (1929-2017) was a devoted Canadian Bahá’í and long-time friend of Bill and Marguerite Sears who stepped forward with experience, construction expertise and funds to help lay the foundation for DRBI. He had already designed and built previous Bahá’í structures, including the Yukon Bahá’í Institute, and was instrumental in restoring the dome of the House of Worship in Wilmette Illinois. A civil engineer, David ran a reinforcing steel business in Toronto, Canada, while serving the Faith in a variety of capacities, including as Treasurer on the Canadian National Spiritual Assembly and as a member of the DRBI Board of Directors until 2005. He derived the greatest pleasure from enabling others to reach their goals and served as pilot and companion for Hands of the Cause William Sears, John Robarts and Rúhíyyih Khánum (nee Mary Maxwell) as they made cross-country trips to visit both urban and isolated Bahá’í communities in Canada, the United States and abroad.
The earth is one country, and mankind its citizens.
What is the Bahá’í Faith?
Almost 200 years ago, the Founder of the Bahá’í Faith, Bahá’u’lláh, made a staggering claim. He proclaimed that His Revelation would be the chief instrument by which the unification of mankind would take place, and through which world order and world peace would ultimately be established.
These wonderful goals are daily on the minds and in the hearts of the members of the Bahá’í Faith who seek to assist their friends and neighbors to learn more about the beautiful teachings of Bahá’u’lláh. Teachings which if taken to heart, have the potential to bring an end to such systemic threats as racism and prejudice, the inequality of men and women, and religious intolerance to mention just a few of the myriad spiritual, social, and economic imbalances that the entirety of mankind face in the troubled times that are upon us.
Please know that there is a place for each and every person in the worldwide plan of action, Baha’i or otherwise. And by the way, when a friend or neighbor asks us about the Bahá’í Faith we often begin by sharing these few words “To be a Bahá’í simply means to love all the world, to love humanity and to try to serve it, to work for universal peace and universal brotherhood.” Feel free to independently investigate the Bahá’í Faith as we go about uniting mankind, one heart at a time.
“ye are but the fruits of one tree and the leaves of one branch”
What do Bahá’í’s Believe?
Throughout history, God has sent to humanity a series of divine Educators—known as Manifestations of God—whose teachings have provided the basis for the advancement of civilization. These Manifestations have included Abraham, Krishna, Zoroaster, Moses, Buddha, Jesus, and Muhammad. Bahá’u’lláh, the latest of these Messengers, explained that the religions of the world come from the same Source and are in essence successive chapters of one religion from God.
Bahá’u’lláh teaches that the highest expression of the self is servitude. Thus, members of the Bahá’í Faith seek to be of service in all areas of their lives. These areas of service include the fostering of principles upon which the entire human race can well benefit.
Many of the principles of the Bahá’í’ Faith may already be aligned with your personal beliefs. A few examples would include:
Bahá’í’s believe that the elimination of racism and prejudice are high priorities, and that the writings of Baha’u’llah contain the keys to conquering such vial diseases. In over 100 volumes, Bahá’u’lláh presents mankind with the resources necessary to bring about what His Holiness Christ called, the Kingdom of God on earth.
Bahá’í’s believe that Bahá’u’lláh is the latest Manifestation of God to all mankind, and we are delighted to say that the followers of Bahá’u’lláh throughout the world, seek to share His universal declaration of belief indicating that “the earth is but one country, and mankind its citizens.”
Co-Farming begins with Black Orchard Farms
As of June 2020, Black Orchard Farms, an organic food grower and distributor based in Sun City, Arizona, is agriculturally developing 10 acres on the Desert Rose Baha’i Institute farm.
The Desert Rose Farm’s goals as expressed in our vision statement remain the same but methods of implementation will significantly evolve as we cooperate with Black Orchard to jump-start development of half of our 20 acres.
Vision Statement: The Farm at Desert Rose, an agricultural institute building an agroecosystem of regenerative dryland farming, hydroponics, and aquaponics for social and economic development, uses and nurtures resources of the Sonoran Desert and its knowledgeable cultivators, sharing learning and progress globally via the internet.
The Black Orchard project is going forward in two phases. Phase 1, to be completed by the end of 2020, includes a 3-acre pichuberry plot with a 1/2 acre retention pond for irrigation and to raise fish. The fish nourish the pond and can be sold at the market and to restaurants.
Pichuberries, very similar to tomatillos, are a good arid land crop, native to Peru, highly nutritious, and useful in cooking southwestern cuisine. Black Orchard Farms has specialized in them for some years. In Peru, they’re called aguaymantos or Inca berries.
Phase 1 will also include a 1-acre garden for Black Orchard crops including garden starts for sale to the public; specialty and medicinal herbs; and ethnic foods. Another 1-acre garden will be for community gardening including plots to rent to local gardeners and to use while training people in organic gardening. A hoop house for special plants is also part of Phase 1, as are storage facilities and a chicken coop to house hens for eggs, pest management, and fertilizer.
Phase 1 must also construct an on-site farmers market to sell and distribute produce. Sales of produce would occur in the usual way and also via CSA (Community Supported Agriculture) organization: people buy “shares” of a farm’s harvest in advance and then receive a portion of the crops as they’re harvested.
During 2021, Phase 2 will include the creation of a Zen Garden for prayer and meditation and also for weddings and other events; beehives for pollination and to produce honey for sale; a mushroom house; soil production for the farm and for local sales; educational outreach; incorporation of solar energy and water reclamation systems; formation of an Immigration Relief Coalition for dignified, humane and efficient employment of farmworkers.
With this plan in motion, Desert Rose Baha’i Institute looks forward to improving and increasing our interactions with neighbors and neighboring communities and our service to them, contributing to the sustainable food supply of our region, and being better able to sustain ourselves.
Greening the Sonora
Ever heard of greening the Sahara? In the Sahara and other places where increasing desertification seemed inevitable, a new kind of agriculture is making the desert bloom. Here at Desert Rose, we’re taking steps to bring that bloom to the Sonora with the same new methods: permaculture, mixed with hugelkultur.
Methods Permaculture is organic farming, plus. Organic farming grows soil. Conventional farming, which is now to a large extent corporate farming, depletes the soil. Conventional methods cover ground with imported topsoil; get water by damming and diverting watercourses for irrigation that’s often inefficient; and sow monocrops — all cotton, all soya, all corn, all wheat. Monocrops are often not natural to the land where they’re being grown. They easily fall prey to disease and insects unless sprayed with pesticides and herbicides, chemicals harmful to other plants and animals. Such farming eventually causes desertification, such as the infamous Dust Bowl of the 1930s.
Organic farmers grow healthy soil with compost, natural pest control, and other methods. But organic farms, like conventional farms, usually produce monocrops, because they’re competing in the same markets, so they often use sprays for pest control.
Although the sprays are organic, they’re not without ill-effects. A permaculture farmer or gardener, on the other hand, grows diverse crops that love the climate and land where they’re planted; they don’t need artificial encouragement to grow — they’re less prone to disease because they’re in their natural habitat, and they attract beneficial insects. And instead of over-using water, permaculture con” serves and re-uses rainwater and other water; raises water levels in the ground; and lets greenery flourish which protects and feeds the soil and creates rain. That’s why, in deserts, permaculture, with the addition of hugelkultur, can change the environment for the better with water, the elixir of life for people, animals, and plants.
Hugelkultur is basically permaculture, plus. Hugelkultur is a system of hugels, which are small berms, or swales — hills. Hugels are made of soil mounded over the fill of tree branches and other biodegradable waste. The fill is wetted down with water and compost tea. In the desert, hugels begin as ditches that are filled in, then covered.
Crops are planted atop the hugels — including trees and other vegetation with water-holding root systems. Trees are also planted all along the earthworks to provide much-needed shade for soil and smaller plants. Inside the earthwork, the fill absorbs and holds water, and as it rots and the roots work, new, fertile soil grows even while crops are tended and harvested. A prospering permaculture garden or farm is a food forest with fruit and nut trees crowning an undergrowth of smaller crop plants.
Another feature of greening the desert projects are hoop houses, a kind of greenhouse that intelligently uses water, shade and naturally enriched soil to grow fresh produce for home use; at DRBI a hoop house is in the works to supply our kitchen at Hadden Hall.
3 Board Members and managers at Desert Rose found out about greening the desert with permaculture and hugelkultur while researching ways to develop 7 1/2 acres here for which we have water rights. The acres stretch from Tweedy Road to A’la’i Drive.
According to the International Declaration of Human Rights, free access to water is the right of every person on earth. But currently, especially in desert places, access to water is limited. For most Desert Rose land, we have limited water rights and rely on our own wells.
Our Greening the Sonora project, unique in Arizona, is working with the 71/2 acres that can use corporately-owned irrigation water, and also will use acreage outside that area, nearer to the Casa de Rosas apartments. All our land is starting out barren, arid, sunburned and saline, just like the land you’ve seen if you clicked on the video links above. In the videos, you saw that land transformed, as we hope to transform our land at Desert Rose.
Join us for more about Greening the Sonora in our specific page on Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/unitysgarden/
Who was Marguerite Sears?
Marguerite Reimer Sears was born in November 23, 1912. Her mother Viola Reimer was of French ancestry and her father, Charles Reimer, was a well-known businessman in the meat packing and sausage business. Unlike many families, her parents were successful and did not suffer financially during the depression. Marguerite attended mostly private Catholic schools and her love for Jesus was quite deep. Marguerite’s education includes attendance at Stout College in Wisconsin, Marquette University, Duke University and Curry School of Speech in Boston. She also enjoyed watercolor art.
Her father, Charles Reimer, studied various philosophies and found the Bahá’í Faith. As Marguerite put it, this was one that he stuck with. After spending the summer with May Maxwell, who later married Shoghi Effendi, Great Grandson of Bahá’u’lláh, founder of the Bahá’í Faith, Marguerite embraced the Faith in 1934 at the age of 21.
Marguerite met Bill Sears in the little town of Manitowoc, Wisconsin, where she was giving a lecture series concerning her new beloved religion. Bill was working at the station and met her one afternoon when she had just finished a lecture. He converted her to the idea that marriage was a fine thing…she converted him to the Bahá’í Faith.
Marguerite also worked as a radio engineer, controlling the sound effects for Bill’s shows including such titles as “The Telegram’s Dick Tracy” readings. She learned radio engineering when she worked for the war information office in San Francisco.
After moving to various states in the United States for the Faith they decided in 1954 to sacrifice their careers in radio and television and set off to Africa with their 2 sons, Michael and Bill Jr.
When her husband Bill was appointed as a Hand of the Cause for the Bahá’í Faith, they sold their home in Africa so that they could travel anywhere the Faith needed them to go. She continued to support Bill with all his travels and duties as a Hand of the Cause. These travels, often paid out of their own pockets, took them around the work multiple times visiting at least 60 different countries.
As they got older and traveling became more difficult, and with the help of David Hadden, they settled first in Ontario Canada and then in Arizona. In 1988 Bill began yearly sessions in a Tucson hotel over Thanksgiving weekend. These sessions were called the Desert Rose Bahá’í School.
After the passing of her beloved husband in 1992, Marguerite continued with the concept of Desert Rose which resulted in her founding the Desert Rose Bahá’í Institute in 1996.
A lifelong supporter of the arts, she envisioned Desert Rose blossoming into a center for artistic expression and eventually becoming a university.
(excerpts of the above history were taken from the Salt Lake Telegram, Feb 14, 1946)
Who are Duffy and Jeanne Sheridan?
Duffy and Jeanne are two of the original DRBI community members and, with the exception of a few years’ absence, have lived near the Institute since its inception. Duffy is a world-renowned realist painter who has accumulated a number of awards and accolades over his career, including the recent honour of receiving First Place – Best in Show from the International Guild Of Realism for his painting “Something I Don’t Know”. Jeanne has joined Duffy as an artist in her own right after years in the corporate arena and is instrumental in the programming of events and activities around the Institute. Jeanne also serves as a member of the DRBI Board of Directors.
To preserve and enhance group unity and to respect the standards of the Bahá’í faith, DRBI has adopted the following obligatory standards of conduct for everyone while at Desert Rose.
Repeated violations of these standards will result in being asked to leave.
Black Lives Matter on KURE-LP FM
On August 5 I was delighted to join the Black Lives Matter regular 4pm Wednesday program on DRBI’s public radio station KURE LP FM. Attending was Jody Gutierrez from the Casa Grande chapter to speak about the movement that has been very much in the spotlight.
Black Lives Matter was launched in 2013 to draw attention to the systemic racism that permeates so many public services, especially policing, that should be consistently and equitably available to all people regardless of the colour of their skin. It shines a light on the fact that growing up as a person of colour often includes heartache and pain that simply shouldn’t be.
“It’s so important, and amazing to see… exciting to see future politicians and leaders that have that passion, that drive (to make change)”, says Jody, who talks about educating youth early on in political science in order to embed the thinking that everyone can better society.
For Jody, it’s an opportunity to unify and uplift a community that had previously suffered in silence.
With the short attention span of today’s media, I asked how she will sustain the messaging once the trauma of George Floyd and others stops trending. Jody explained how a more holistic approach to skill building will advance community strength long after the protests have stopped garnering public attention.
When asked how being on KURE LP has helped her cause, Jody confirmed that it expands the reach of her group beyond what she and her colleagues can do alone – getting their voices heard by the broader community and even, through streaming, to the world.
As Joss Stone’s “(For God’s Sake) Give More Power to the People” played in the background, I thanked Jody for her dedication and agreed to do my bit to ‘spread the word’.
MEET ‘CAMPADRE CHRIS’
In Spring 2017, through the work of dedicated volunteers like Virginia Healey and Nancy Sloman, all the red tape and paperwork hurdles had been cleared and DRBI had its own community radio station. Now, all that remained was to develop an exciting, diverse schedule of music, talk, current events and spiritual offerings; acquire talented artists to fill the time slots, keep elevating the quality and quantity of live programming, involve and inform the community… The list went on. Desert Rose needed a Station Manager, and not just any Station Manager would do.
We needed someone who is a little bit wacky because the station is out in the middle of the desert. Of course, someone who loved music and had a background in radio would be ideal. And don’t forget that whoever the candidate was, they must fearlessly face the unknown and be willing to experiment in order to build a loyal, diverse audience base.
How about a musician who, for many years, played professionally with his band all over New York City? Or what about someone who, with his wife Janet and their kids, threw caution to the winds and moved to South America to serve the Faith? Did you know that Chris Ruhe (aka Campadre Chris) had the number 1 show at the number 1 radio station in Santiago, Chile? And what about the fearlessness required to survive terrorist attacks, run national music festivals, and judge the Miss Chile Contest? OK maybe not that last one, but it’s still an unmatched list of life experiences that built a unique set of skills.
Perhaps Chris’ greatest trait is that he isn’t afraid to take risks and learn from his mistakes. More important, he encourages others to do the same. Just ask any of the DJ’s who fill the airwaves at KURE LP FM with their eclectic assortment of diverse musical genres. For some, all they did was walk in the door and express a serious interest in learning the trade. Before they knew it, Chris had them in the chair talking live on the air. So that leads us to the final must-have quality in a successful Station Manager. The faith that, with encouragement, others can and will learn to do it just as well, if not better, than you can. Thank you, Chris.
Roman Orona: iamHUMAN
“Creating art to challenge, unify and elevate humanity”
Born in New Mexico in the heart of Chiricahua country Roman proudly carries Apache, Pueblo and Yaqui blood. That background, combined with being raised in a Bahá’í household, meant that Roman has always been inspired to unite humanity.
But how do you turn your beliefs into your life’s work? The functional concept came to him over the course of 2 weeks where Roman found himself waking with a start at 3:00 every morning completely unable to return to sleep until he’d downloaded the thoughts that were swirling through his brain. On the very last night he awoke with the name for his new not-for-profit company, “iamHuman” Media.
Through “iamHuman”, Roman creates platforms where musicians and artists from around the globe can work together and shine. Using community outreach activities, pop-up events, festivals, panels and more he is pushing to build both art and even more artists. He is also sending the message of unity out to the broader community through other media. The video “7 Generations” on this website’s landing page was created by “iamHuman” to draw attention to how aboriginal children look at the impact of their actions in terms of their effect on subsequent generations.
Roman can be heard on KURE LP FM where he hosts ‘Indigenous Café’ twice a week. His aim with the program is that listeners will feel like they are comfortably seated in a small café, sipping wonderful coffee, listening to elevated conversations with fascinating artists while Indigenous music from around the world plays. It’s an energizing program that you really shouldn’t miss.
Roman has been a part of the DRBI KURE LP FM team for about 2 years now and calls Desert Rose a hidden gem. The encouragement and support he has received has allowed him the freedom to grow his program organically, something that’s not always possible at the larger stations. And when asked what guidance he would provide to new artists trying to break into the big time he said:
“How dedicated are you? Are you willing to put your heart, soul, money, time into this? If you are then you may just succeed”.
I DON’T KNOW
This extraordinary oil painting is by globally renowned realist Duffy Sheridan.
The 2020 Spring Salon competition at the International Guild of Realism (IGOR) invited artists from around the world to submit works for consideration, out of which 220 pieces were selected for review by an esteemed panel of judges.
“Something I Don’t Know” was awarded both First Prize within the Portrait division and Best in Show.
This latest win adds to the many accolades Duffy has received over the years in appreciation of his outstanding talent.
The Zoom call started at 3:00 pm sharp and despite the awkward technology, it was obvious from her first sentence that Anne Perry knows how to make words sing. Her comments were well-considered and organized but at the same time rich with warmth. It should come as no surprise that she is an accomplished teacher and academic. Anne’s resumé boasts two Masters’ degrees and a PhD focused on the intersection of religion and the arts. She is fascinated that, sometimes working together, sometimes in direct opposition to each other, art and religion have held a pivotal place in the development of human society.
For the past three years Anne has been a driving force behind The Write Life, an annual weekend retreat for writers who treasure the opportunity to learn from other talented artists as they hone their craft. With co-facilitators Marlene Macke and Jaine Toth, Anne has created an environment that is both nurturing and critical, where ideas can be shared in a spirit of collaboration and trust. Participants leave each session having learned more about their craft and themselves.
Of course, COVID-19 has closed the door to large gatherings, but Anne and her dedicated group still connect over Zoom every month, and she is looking for more ways to bring this popular program to an even wider base.
But why should a presenter choose DRBI? According to Anne, there is a uniquely supportive learning environment here that is all-inclusive, where the people are welcoming and flexible, the arts are prioritized and the beauty of the Desert is a gift.
For all the new writers who may doubt themselves from time to time, Anne has this piece of advice:
“When you get a new idea, ACT ON IT! Take time to imagine and creatively think. Write every day and remember that what you are doing is valuable. Not just for you, but for those who follow you”.
Click here to join Anne’s latest course on the Write Life.
DRBI and Accessibility
DRBI welcomes guests with mobility challenges and we are constantly working to improve our experience for each and every guest. Here you’ll find wheelchair accessible casas, studios and meeting areas. There are paths, roadways or ramps that provide access to and throughout most buildings. Even the swimming pool has a gentle ramp.
However, the centre, built in the desert, presents challenges to those with limited mobility. Please contact us in advance so that we can meet you upon your arrival to facilitate your understanding of the best routes and events available.
Click to Contact Us
Who was Shu’a’u’llah ‘A’la’i?
(1889-1984) Shu’a’u’llah (which means ‘Light of God’) ‘A’la’i was an Iranian Hand of the Cause. Born in Tehran into a prominent family: his father was set to become a cleric, but had converted to the Bahá’í Faith, and instead became physician to the royal household. Shu’a’u’llah ‘A’la’i studied accountancy, after which he pursued a distinguished career in various fields of government service, becoming chief controller of army finances (with the rank of general) at a young age. He was elected to the Tehran Bahá’í Local Spiritual Assembly in 1913, and to the very first Iranian Bahá’í National Spiritual Assembly in 1934, often serving as its chairman. Shoghi Effendi appointed him as a Hand of the Cause in 1952, and thereafter he travelled extensively, visiting Bahá’í communities in many parts of the world. He left Iran in 1978, spending the last few years of his life in France and then Arizona, where he is buried.
This succinct summation of Shu’a’u’llah ‘A’la’i’s life can’t begin to tell you why he was seen to be such an extraordinary man by so many, or why he was selected by Shoghi Effendi to become a Hand of the Cause. Fortunately, DRBI Board of Directors Chairman Taj Sabet is General A’la’i’s descendant and so we asked him to tell us a few stories about his great-grandfather. Here is what he said:
“The words I use to describe Hand of the Cause, General Alai, are loving, unshakable devotion, unwavering certitude, intense love for the cause of Bahá’u’lláh, honesty, integrity, trustworthiness, steadfastness, and devotion to family.
As a young adult around the age of 21, Shu’a’u’llah ‘A’la’i studied modern accounting principles. He was soon assigned to work for the chief accountant of the government of Iran. Periodically the government would send people out to the provinces to conduct audits and there was one province that no accountant wanted to visit. The person in charge was explosive, throwing out anyone who tried to question him. ‘A’la’i offered to perform the audit if no one else would. When he arrived, he walked straight to the man in question, whose name was Reza Pahlavi, and without a word pulled up a chair, sat down next to him and opened the books. He redlined all the mistakes, closed the books, and left without saying a word.
Reza Pahlavi was speechless. Months later, he became the Shah of Iran, and began looking for Shu’a’u’llah ‘A’la’i’. The Shah had been so impressed with what ‘A’la’i had done, not only with the province’s books, but in his courage and his professionalism, he offered him the job of chief accountant. Essentially ‘A’la’i was handed the keys to the vast treasures of the country. After a few short years, state policy was altered by the Shah to require only one signature on all accounts – Alai’s.
To be openly Baha’i in the country of Iran is a difficult choice that often ends tragically, even now.
But Shu’a’u’llah ‘A’la’i never wavered. In his meetings with high officials and government authorities he did not hesitate to state, fearlessly and without ambiguity the importance of the Cause of God.
When his brother died tragically, leaving five children ages 6 weeks to 10 years old, Shu’a’u’llah ‘A’la’i took on the added responsibility of raising the children as if they were his own. He brought them into his home, shared meals and stories with them, ensuring they would never forget their father. Shortly after the death of his brother, A’la’i’s own father passed suddenly of a heart attack, leaving his 2 young siblings without their father. A’la’i again stepped up as the father figure and moved his siblings and his stepmother in with his family, where he could ensure they would feel safe and loved.
Shu’a’u’llah ‘A’la’i carried a challenging travel schedule and was deeply devoted to his duties as a Hand. That said, his relationships with his family, children and grandchildren were never neglected. If separated from his beloved wife he wrote her long, detailed letters. Family dinners were a respected routine. His grandchildren looked forward to the times they could spend with him as he told stories, played games, and read books with them. Stories that even today, are shared with family and friends. As his grandchildren grew and moved on with their lives, he would write letters with words of wisdom on how to navigate the world.
Because of the revolution in Iran Shu’a’u’llah ‘A’la’i was forced to leave his homeland, eventually settling in Arizona in the last few years of his life. Even though did not know the language, friends and even strangers were attracted to him by the intense love for humanity that shone from his face.
Meet DJ Stella Cruz
“Never give up, never stop, no matter how hard it is. Have Faith.”
From the time Stella Cruz was ten years old she wanted to be on the radio. That’s when she won a contest, ended up on the air and since that day, working in radio is all Stella has wanted to do.
Now that’s not so easy when you’re a single mother of three living in Casa Grande, Arizona with no specific education in radio. How do you follow your dream? First, you believe in yourself. Then, you do the work. Stella approached local stations from Tucson to Phoenix and received the same answer everywhere. With no experience there was no way they could take a chance on her.
She learned that the FCC was giving away a spot to a non-profit and that they were inviting applications. Then one day while driving through Eloy, she heard KURE LP FM Eloy and everything changed. . You see, Stella was on her way to visit the grave of her son Carlos, who had passed away 2 years earlier and who’s loss left a huge hole in her life. Carlos’ favourite music included the Bee Gees and Bob Marley. As she arrived at the cemetery, “How Deep is Your Love” came on, followed by “No Woman No Cry”. Stella felt there must be a larger force at work.
A call to the station led to a meeting with Chris Ruhe, Station Manager, who invited her to sit down and try out being a DJ. Chris is known for his dive-right-in-and-let’s-try-it approach, something that worked perfectly for Stella. Working under his tutelage, she quickly learned the ropes. The catch was that she learned them live. “People know that I’m live because they hear my bloopers in real time!” Stella said, laughing.
Fast-forward one and a half years and Stella has a regular spot on the KURE LP FM rotation. Her show “Oldies – Magic’s Moments” can be heard Sundays and Fridays from 8 to midnight and Wednesdays from 8 to10 pm. Before radio, she used to craft her playlist so that she could listen to the music with Carlos. Now she bases her program on the songs he loved. It keeps her connected to him.
Stella had never been to Desert Rose before that fateful visit. She didn’t know what to think but had heard lots of rumours from other people who’d never been to DRBI either. What she says now is “Come and see for yourself. We’re everyday people just like you. Everyone’s welcome and it’s a pretty cool place”.