France I Quebec I California I France: Devil's Bridge I Germany I Portugal I Montenegro I Budapest I Netherlands I Australia I France: Dijon
Tours III Reunion

Much of my travel in 2011 to various meetings was not photogenically inspiring. My return to Tours, France, 50 years after being a student there, was interesting for the photographic comparison over half a century, as well as for discovering some sites I did not know in the company of people I had not seen for 50 years. The month I spent in North America, visiting my son and his family in Quebec, and then 2 weeks in Pebble Beach, California, where I grew up, visiting with my brother Greg and his family, not only reinforced family ties, but allowed me to photo document some of the beautiful places that I knew well as an adolescent. The visit to the Gorges of the Devil's Bridge in France behind Thonon-les-Bains was a kind of pilgrimage to a beautiful natural area visited by 'Abdu'l-Bahá a hundred years ago. From early November to mid-December I made 5 trips in 5 weeks, including lectures in Mulhouse, France, and Madrid, Spain. At the World Science Forum in Budapest, I had some extra time to visit museums and photograph some of the spectacular buildings. A UN University workshop was held in a 900-year-old Dutch abbey. Finally, I flew to Tasmania for a weekend to attend the International Environment Forum annual conference, which was an outstanding success. The year ended with a week-long Bahá'í training institute in Dijon, France.


Before joining the Stanford-in-France III reunion in Paris and going on to Tours, I had a couple of hours to stroll through the Luxembourg Gardens in Paris in the spring. The Palais de Luxembourg, seat of the French Senate, is at one end of the gardens. There are wide avenues lined with trees, and more intimate areas dotted with sculptures.

For Tours 2011 and 1961-62, see separate pages

Palais de Luxembourgcentral avenue . central area
Palais de Luxembourg at one end of Luxembourg Gardens, and the dome of Les Invalides in the distance at the other end

wide alley . gardeners at work . sculpture
Wide avenues, gardeners at work, and sculptures in the bushes

Statue of Liberty . sculpture . Chopin
A small version of the Statue of Liberty, a sculpture of Bacchus, and the bust of Chopin


My time in Quebec was essentially spent with my son Alex, his wife Mahalia, and their three children, especially my grandchildren Benjamin (5) and Alie (3) in St. Romuald, Lévis, across the St. Lawrence River from Québec City.

at the beach . Benji at the beach . Quebec City
Mahalia, Alie and Benji at the beach, with a view of the city of Québec across the river

new play house . Benji on swing . Alie in the wading pool
The new play house (they run a day-care centre), Benji on the swing, and Alie in the wading pool

Alie's first swim . Benji cleaning the pool . drying off
Alie's first swim by herself, and Benji cleaning the wading pool

Alie . Benji . Mahalia, Benji and Alie
Alie and Benji sending me birthday wishes, and on the ship to the Magdalene Islands (photos by Alex Dahl)


In late July and early August, the Monterey Peninsula in California is usually shrouded in fog, with sunny periods relatively rare. My brother Greg and Emi had rented a house in Pebble Beach for a month,and I joined them for two weeks. There were opportunities both to walk the forest paths in the Del Monte Forest where we used to live, and to go for excursions to the boardwalk at Santa Cruz around Monterey Bay, the Monterey Bay Aquarium, Fishermen's Wharf, and down to the Point Lobos State Park and the Big Sur coastline. Emi's nephew Mitko and his daughters were there for a while, and Greg's daughter Carrie and her boyfriend also came down one day to visit.

Miko and Emi with children . Children with Emi . Emi, Gregory and Greg
Mitko and Emi with Mitko's two girls and Mina, Joyce and Gregory. Emi, Gregory and Greg Dahl on a cool summer day at the coast.

Santa Cruz boardwalk
boardwalk with Greg . boardwalk . solar-powered trash bin
The Santa Cruz boardwalk even has solar-powered trash bins

Gregi on ride . Gregi on ride Greggy (right) on the Double Shot ride

Monterey (first capital of California under Spain and Mexico)

We had lunch one day on Fishermen's Wharf in Monterey with my niece Carrie and Jay, who came down from Oakland.
Fishermen's Wharf Fishermen's Wharf
Customs House . Yacht Harbor . Fishing boat
Monterey Fishermen's Wharf, the old Spanish Customs House, and the boat harbor with an arriving fishing boat

seagull . seals . pelican
Local wildlife outside our restaurant window on Fishermen's Wharf

We also visited and said prayers at my Mother's grave
Greg and family at grave . Mother's tombstone
Greg, Joyce, Emi, Mina and Gregory at my Mother's grave

Point Lobos State Park

Point Lobos, at the southern end of Carmel Bay, is one of the most beautiful meeting places of land and sea in the world. Our family home in Pebble Beach had a wonderful view of Carmel Bay and Point Lobos. The weather was perfect for our visit.
southern side . southern side . southern side
South coast with kelp-filled bays

Jeff and Carrie . covecoastal vegetation
Jay, and Carrie Smith-Dahl on the south coast
covebeachCalifornia poppies
Beaches on the south coast. Wildflowers were abundant, including California poppies

beachsouthern coastcoast with cypresses South coast

Monterey cypressold cypressrocks and sea
Monterey cypress (Cupressus macrocarpa) grove and outer coast

north coast . north shore with Carmel Bay and Pebble Beach behind
North shore with Carmel Bay and Pebble Beach behind

Pebble Beach

Pebble Beach, on the 17-mile Drive in the Del Monte Forest, now has seven championship golf courses (there were 3 when I was a kid, but I never played golf) and many more homes. The coast was only a mile from the house, so we often went down for walks along the shore.
Pacific shoreline towards Cypress Point . Emi at coast . what is left of sand dunes behind the beach
The coast looking towards Cypress Point. Most of the sand dunes we used to play on were mined 50 years ago.

Cypress Point . coast . homes along golf course
Cypress Point; coast with golf courses lined by expensive homes

beach . Bird Rocks . Greggy
A beach, Bird Rocks, and Greggy reading a sign
golf course . sand dunes . old house 1940s
Golf course; sand dunes, golf course and coast; picturesque house from 1940s now being restored

I used to ride horses through the trails in the Del Monte Forest when I was in high school. This time I explored some of the same trails on foot. One trail looped through the S.F.B.Morse Botanical Reserve of Monterey pine forest and scrub with a few redwoods and the very rare and localized Gowen cypress.
deer on trail . Scrub oak
The first thing I encountered was deer on the trail. Some of the area looked like it had experienced a forest fire, a real danger here.

Monterey pines . redwood . Gowen cypress
Monterey pine (Pinus radiata), Coast Redwood (Sequoia sempervirens) and Gowen cypress (Cupressus goveniana)

young Gowen cypress . Gowen cypress?
Young Gowen cypress

Manzanita . Monkey flower . Poison oak
Manzanita, monkey flower and poison oak added color to the vegetation

sunset from our living room sunset from our living room window

Big Sur

The Big Sur coast south of Carmel along Highway 1 is steep and spectacular, with coast redwood groves in narrow valleys.
Big Sur coast . redwoods
Big Sur coast, and redwoods in Palo Colorado canyon

Big Sur coast . Point Sur
Big Sur coast and Point Sur

We hiked down an old mining trail through a tunnel to where boats used to load the ore in calm weather.
Redwood-lined valley . wildflowers . bay
The canyon we walked down, abundant wildflowers, and the bay at the bottom of the canyon

Redwoods along slopes . windswept trees . stunted redwood
Trees struggle for a foothold on the steep slopes, and are twisted by the strong sea wind

Joyce and Emi ,Greggy and Greg . Greggy, Emi and Joyce
Joyce, Emi, Greggy, and Greg on the trail (Mina came later)

coast beyond landing . inlet . tunnel
The narrow inlet where boats loaded ore, and the tunnel to the landing

Greggy at landing . path to creek . creek
Greggy, Emi and Joyce at the landing. The creek at the bottom of the canyon provided a little shelter.

girls and Greg . Greggy
Mina, Joyce, Greg and Greggy by the creek

Emi and Greggy . Redwood . Greggy and Greg
Emi, Greggy and Greg. The redwoods were stunted, and some had grown back from logged stumps.


The end of August was a special time for Bahá'ís in France and Switzerland, as we commemorated the centenary of the visit of 'Abdu'l-Bahá, son of the founder of the Bahá'í Faith, to Thonon-les-Bains and Geneva. The Swiss community held a weekend commemoration in Geneva with nearly 500 in attendance, which included a field trip to the Devil's Bridge, in the gorges of the Drance River behind Thonon, which was visited by 'Abdu'l-Bahá in 1911. The French Bahá'í Summer School, with over 500 participants, was held the same week in Evian-les-Bains just up the lake from Thonon, where I taught a junior youth class and gave an evening presentation on 'Abdu'l-Bahá as an environmentalist. See the separate page on the visit to the Gorges of the Devil's Bridge.


At the beginning of September, I took the train to Bonn, Germany, for a UNEP Global Consultation with Civil Society on Rio+20, and a UNEP European Regional Consultation, where we also had a partial meeting of the UNEP Major Groups and Stakeholders Advisory Group on International Environmental Governance that I co-coordinate. This was immediately followed by the 64th UN Department of Public Information Non-Governmental Organization (DPI/NGO) Conference, with over 2000 participants. The Bahá'í International Community organized a workshop on "Making the Invisible Visible: Values and the Transition to Sustainable Consumption and Production", and I was rapporteur for a UNEP workshop on "Assessing Stakeholder Participation in International Environmental Governance Processes". The International Environment Forum governing board also met with the BIC representatives to discuss our strategy for Rio+20 next year.

DPI Conference . DPI closing concert
A DPI panel session, and the closing session with international choir


The European Bahá'í Business Forum held its annual conference in early October in the fishing village of Ericeira, now a tourist centre, on the Portuguese coast north of Lisbon. It is always inspiring to see how business leaders are applying spiritual values to transform how business operates and to make work more meaningful. The beachfront hotel had both fresh and saltwater pools, and the weather was nice enough to take a swimming break each day. We also had a meeting of the EBBF Governing Board after the conference.

beach . hotel . coast



The European Centre for Peace and Development, of the United Nations University for Peace, based in Belgrade, organizes an annual conference on Reconciliation, Religious Tolerance and Human Security in the Balkans, with the theme this year the "New Balkans and European Union Enlargement". The conference was held on 21-22 October in the beachside tourist centre of Milocer, Montenegro, where we also met three years ago. I gave a paper on "European Union and Global Sustainability: Issues for Rio 2012". The conference attracts political and religious leaders and academics from across the region and internationally.

Conference hotel

Arthur Dahl . Arthur Dahl . Arthur Dahl
Presenting my paper at the conference; there were opportunities for networking

port . Adriatic . beach
Views from the hotel, and the hotel beach


Chain Bridge lionOn 16-19 November, I attended the World Science Forum in Budapest, representing the International Environment Forum. This high-level biennial event to discuss the changing world of science is organized by the Hungarian Academy of Sciences in partnership with UNESCO and the International Council for Science (ICSU). It is described as the "Davos" of science, attended by presidents of academies of science, Nobel prize laureats, ministers and other leading figures in the world of science, by invitation only. It met in the beautiful building of the Hungarian Academy of Sciences on the banks of the Danube, and in the Hungarian Parliament upper chamber. Because of a flight cancellation, I had to spend extra time in Budapest, so I gave a lecture at the Central European University, met with professors there, spent an evening with some Baha'is, and visited museums, including the Hungarian National Museum where 'Abdu'l-Bahá spoke in 1913.

Hungarian Academy of Sciences . World Science Forum . Ceremonial Hall
Hungarian Academy of Sciences, on the Danube, and the Ceremonial Hall where the World Science Forum met the first two days

World Science Forum in Parliament . WSF Parliament . WSF Parliament
The final day of the World Science Forum was held in the upper chamber of the Hungarian Parliament

Pres. Schmidtt . Schmidtt - Lee . Lee
Keynote speakers included Pál Schmitt, President of Hungary and Nobel laureate Yuan Tseh Lee, President of ICSU

Princess El Hassan . Dahl . Parliament on Danube
HRH Princess Sumaya bint El Hassan of Jordan also spoke. Center: me in the parliament. Right: the Parliament Building on the Danube.

Parliament . Parliament . Parliament
The Hungarian Parliament was completed in 1906 in neo-gothic style

Parliament staircase . Parliament dome . Parliament
The interiors of the Parliament Building are very ornate

Parliament . Parliament . Parliament upper chamber

St. Stephan's crown . Crown, scepter and sword . Parliament dome at night
The symbols of Hungarian sovereignty, including the crown of St. Stephan, are on display. The Parliament dome at night.

Danube . Castle on the Danube . Danube
Buda is on one side of the Danube, and Pest on the other

Chain Bridge . Chain Bridge and tunnel . Chain Bridge, Gresham, Cathedral
The Chain Bridge was the first to link the two cities. A tunnel goes under Buda Castle and a funicular railway goes to the top. The view of Pest is spectacular.

Danube from Buda . Danube from Buda . Danube from Buda
Views of Pest across the Danube from the heights of Buda Castle

Buda . Buda . Buda Museum
The Hungarian National Gallery in Buda Castle features Hungarian art

Buda Museum . Cathedral . Gresham Hotel
The Hungarian National Gallery in Buda Castle. St. Stephan's Basilica in Pest. The art nouveau Gresham Hotel facing the Chain Bridge.

Museum . Museum . Museum
The Hungarian National Museum in Pest traces the history of Hungary. It also had a wonderful temporary exhibit of the Hungarian/American photographer André Kertész (1894-1985).

Museum entrance . Plaque . Plaque Abdul-Baha
'Abdu'l-Bahá walked up these stairs to speak in the Museum in 1913; a plaque across from the entrance commemorates His visit.
It starts: "The earth is one country and mankind its citizens" Bahá'u'lláh (1817-1892)

autumn trees by museum . statue
There are lovely gardens with fall colours, and sculptures everywhere

Ethnography Museum . Ethnography Museum . Ethnography Museum
The Museum of Ethnography is across from the Parliament. It is grandiose but rather old-fashioned, and reminded me of my days as a museum curator at the Smithsonian Institution.

statue . statue . Kossuth statue
There are statues featuring Hungarian patriots

Buda castle at night . Chain Bridge at night . Chain Bridge at night
Budapest is particularly beautiful at night


The United Nations University Institute of Advanced Studies and the Copernicus Alliance (European Network on Higher Education for Sustainable Development)  organized a workshop on University Appraisal and Assessment for Sustainable Development at Rolduc Abbey, a 900 year old former monastery in Kerkrade, The Netherlands, on the German border between Maastricht and Aachen. I was invited as a panelist to share the ESDinds experience with values-based indicators, but finally ended up giving the opening keynote on value assessment in work of higher education. The speaker immediately after was a former Prime Minister of the Netherlands.

The Rolduc Abbey is probably the oldest institution of higher education in Europe, founded in 1106. It has been a monastery, a seminary and a boarding school, and continues to host a seminary as well as a hotel/conference centre. The romanesque church in its centre dates back to its founding.

Rolduc Abbey . Hotel/conference centre . cloister
Outer courtyard of Rolduc Abbey, the hotel/conference centre, and the inner courtyard with cloister

Church . Church from cloister . crypt of church 
The Romanesque church built 1106-1205, and its crypt with the remains of the founding monk

church interior . church interior . church interior
Interior of the Romanesque church

forest between Rolduc and the border . lake in front of abbey
The Abbey is surrounded by a green belt and forest separating it from the towns on either side


The International Environment Forum held its 15th Annual Conference in Hobart, Tasmania, Australia on 9-11 December 2011. As President of IEF, I made the effort to fly to Hobart for the conference, my first visit to Tasmania. The conference was held in the Bahá'í Centre of Learning for Tasmania, a very ecological building on the historic site of the Hobart Railway Station. I gave an opening public lecture Friday night, spoke on a panel and led a workshop. The conference was a great success, thanks to our Australian members and the Bahá'í community of Australia.

Baha'i Centre of Learning . BCL . BCL
The BCL has a domed central auditorium with two radiating wings of meeting rooms and offices around a central courtyard

auditorium . entry . entry
Outside the auditorium is a large lobby and exhibit area

BCL auditorium . BCL atrium . window
The building uses ecological materials and natural lighting; a central atrium preserves an established tree on the property

BCL lobbycoffee shop . atrium
There is a popular public coffee shop in the lobby

BCL dome . BCL floor . BCL dome
There are beautiful designs in the dome and the flooring

BCL . BCL model . BCL
The property is surrounded by greenspace and landscaped with native Tasmanian plants; architect's aerial view of the BCL

International Environment Forum 15th Annual Conference
Opening session . Peter Adriance opening keynote . IEF conference
The International Environment Forum conference in the main auditorium; IEF board member Peter Adriance gave the opening keynote

IEF conference audience . IEF conference audience . IEF conference audience
The audience came from around Australia, New Zealand, and other countries
IEF conference audience . IEF conference audience . IEF conference

IEF conference . IEF conferenceIEF conference

IEF conference . break . break
The breaks were a chance to meet people and to discuss the issues

Adriance - Humphriesbreak . panel

Charles Boyle . Charles Boyle . Peter Adriance . Starke - Adriance .
Former IEF board member Charles Boyle chaired the first day; Peter Adriance (USA) was keynote speaker, with Kevin Starke providing technical assistance

Stuart Hall . Stuart Hall . Arthur Dahl
BCL architect Stuart Hall described the unique environmental features of the building; IEF president Arthur Dahl speaking

 Zarin Salter . Tessa Scrine . John Davidson
Second day chair Zarin Salter; keynote speaker Counsellor Tessa Scrine (Australia); panel moderator John Davidson

Al Riebau . Tony Press . Peter Boyer
Speakers Al Riebau, Australian climate scientist Tony Press and journalist Peter Boyer

IEF panelpanel . panel: Press
There were panel sessions with multiple speakers

Ribeau and Muller workshop . IEF workshop . IEF workshop
Workshops allowed for more participation. Workshop leaders included (left): Al Riebau and Christine Muller (by skype from the USA); (right): Zarin Salter

choir . Rebecca Bryan violin . Bryan band
There was excellent music including traditional Tasmanian themes; the Saturday evening musical programme with the Bryan band had people dancing in the aisles

dancing . Ken Zemke . tv crew
Dancing Saturday night; Ken Zemke (NZ) and his assistant filmed the conference for television

The conference was streamed live on the internet for members around the world. For a full report and recordings of the IEF Conference, see the IEF web site
Photographs by Arthur Dahl and Corinne Podger


Dijon 2011

On the week between Christmas and New Year's Day, I went to Dijon for a Bahá'í Training Institute offering intensive courses in the Ruhi Books used around the world for study circles, children's classes and junior youth activities. Ten different courses were offered and 190 people including over 100 youth attended. I took Book 5 on animating activities for pre-youth ages 11-14, the one book in the series that I had not yet done. There were 30 in our group, and we completed the main course and two supplementary books in 5 1/2 days. The first two evenings there were creative workshops on music, dance, singing, acting, and one I co-organized with Julien Garenne on environment and infographics (using images and video to communicate Bahá'í environmental texts). There was an evening performance on the centenary of 'Abdu'l-Bahá's visit, an evening on year-of-service opportunities, and a final evening presenting the results of all the creative workshops, followed by a dance welcoming the Gregorian New Year. A few youth stayed up all night and taught the night clerk at the conference centre, who joined the Bahá'í Faith. Needless to say, the spirit of the week was fantastic.

Each morning and evening programme started with devotions organized by the participants from a region.

Dijon 2011 . devotions . Dijon 2011
Devotions in the main auditorium before the evening programme

Our group for Book 5 was one of the largest, with people of all ages. Sabine Faranpour and Mitch Tran were our tutors. Counsellor Bernard LoCascio joined us for part of the time.

Livret 5
The Book 5 group

Livret 5 . Livret 5 . Livret 5
We worked at least 9 hours a day
Livret 5 . Livret 5 . Arthur Dahl Livret 5

Livret 5
We were all happy when we finished. Mehdi (in the blue sweater) declared his faith in Bahá'u'lláh at the end of the week.

The presentations of the artistic workshops on the last night brought out the amazing talents in the participants.
Singing . Singing . Rap composition
Singing and slam composition

Theatre . Theatre . Theatre

Dance . Dance . Dance
Song . Song . Song
More singing

Instrumental music . Instrumental music . Instrumental music
Instrumental music

Dijon group
The spirit coundn't have been higher (I am on the left)

Everyone left with new skills and renewed dedication to implement institute activities in their own areas.

See also the facebook photo album for larger versions of most of these pictures:

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Last updated 15 January 2012

Photographs copyright © Arthur Lyon Dahl 2011