India - London - UK - Rio de Janeiro - Quebec (including Bahá'í Summer School) - ebbf event in Portugal - Belgrade and Pristina - Baku, Azerbaijan - Samoa
FRANCE: Plomodiern, Brittany - La Chapelle d'Abondance, Haute Savoie - Cap d'Antibes, Côte d'Azur - Bahá'í Summer School Evian-les-Bains - Les Bauges
SWITZERLAND: Caux, Vaud - Vallée du Joux (Jura Mountains) - Swiss Bahá'í Winter School in Einsiedeln
CALIFORNIA: Pebble Beach - Big Sur - Yosemite

My first travel in 2012 was unplanned, to attend the funeral of my father-in-law in Plomodiern, Brittany, France, in early January. I then had trips every week from late February to the end of March. First was a week-long Bahá'í winter camp in the Alpine village of La Chapelle d'Abondance, France. Then I flew for two weeks to India to accompany a class on management of development projects (see MaDePro) organized by the Federal Technical University of Lausanne (EPFL) and the Indian Institute of Science in Bangalore. After 5 days back in Geneva, I was off to Berlin for 5 days for the PERL International Conference where I gave two papers. There was a 3-day break before 5 days in London for the Planet Under Pressure 2012 conference where I had 4 papers in different sessions, followed immediately by a day in Leysan in the Swiss Valais to give two workshops at an AIESEC national conference. I had a week to catch up before going for two weeks to Bulgaria to visit my brother and his family (but I forgot to take my camera). My two weeks in June at the United Nations Conference on Sustainable Development in Rio de Janeiro are described on a separate page. In July I went to a Forum on Human Security at the Initiatives of Change conference centre in Caux, and a Triglav Circle meeting near a lake in the Jura Mountains, and visited friends in Cape d'Antibes on the French Riviera, before going in July-August to North America for a month, divided between California and Quebec. After giving a course at the Bahá'í Summer School in Quebec, I returned to Europe for the Bahá'í Summer School in Evian-les-Bains on the shore of Lake Geneva. After a quiet September, in October I went to Portugal for the ebbf event at Ericeira, went hiking in the Bauges mountains in Savoie after giving a talk in Chambery, France, and then went to Pristina, Kosovo, and Belgrade, Serbia for another conference. In mid-November I was invited to Baku, Azerbaijan, to contribute to their Green Week with three talks in three days. My last trip of the year was also unplanned, when I suddenly had to go to Samoa for my brother Keith's funeral on my way to the Swiss Bahá'í Winter School in Einsiedeln an hour from Zurich the last week of December.


Claude Caillard Claude Caillard 25 April 1916 - 2 January 2012

My father-in-law, Claude Caillard, passed away on 2 January at the age of 95. Most of his 8 children, 19 grandchildren and 18 great-grandchildren and assorted spouses and friends gathered in his village of Plomodiern, in the west of Brittany, for his funeral and the commemoration of his life that followed. The son of two actors from the silent film era in France, most of his career was with Radio- and Tele-Luxembourg, but his love was the sea and he built himself a 15-meter steel ketch which he sailed after retirement down to Dakar, across to Rio, up through the Caribbean, and back to Brittany. His passing brought the Caillard clan together, and allowed me to catch up with many in-laws, nieces and nephews.

Family gathering . Family gathering . Cousins - Agnes
Family gathering at Gorré Rible after the funeral

Berangere, Agnes, Camille . Madeleine, Manu, Lawrence
My daughter Agnés with cousins Berangère and Camille; Madeleine, Emmanuel and Lawrence


On 19-24 February there was a Bahá'í Winter Camp in the alpine ski resort of La Chapelle d'Abondance, France, a couple of hours from Geneva, with 60 participants. The theme was the example of 'Abdu'l-Bahá, the son of the founder of the Bahá'í Faith, on the centenary of his visit to the West after 40 years in prison in Palestine. I taught courses on his social and economic teachings, and his description of the qualities required in political leaders and the learned. There were also music and crafts workshops, and time in the early afternoon for winter sports. Since I had not skied for 18 years, I decided to try snowshoes, and hiked in the snow on various trails up the steep valley sides around the village.

view down the valley . view up the valley . path up the mountain
Looking down and up the valley of Abundance and the trail above the hamlet Ville de Nant

Arthur Dahl on snowshoes . La Cascade . Arthur Dahl up the slope
Me on snowshoes, and La Cascade, a waterfall frozen in winter because of the extreme cold this year

view of the Alps . valley side . looking down the trail
Views of the mountains around the valley, and looking down the trail

mountains through the trees . sun through the clouds . Chalet Olinga
Views through the trees, the winter sun, and the Chalet Olinga where the Bahá'í camp was held

Arthur Dahl . looking down to the valley . Arthur Dahl
It was a perfect way to get some exercise, fresh air, and some sun in preparation for my trip to India immediately after

view across the valley . view across the valley
Views across the valley


This was my second visit to Chennakeshavapura (CKPura), a village 170 km northwest of Bangalore in Karnataka State, south India (see 2010). We accompanied the EPFL/Indian Institute of Science course on Management of Development Projects. The 26 course participants, experienced professionals wanting to improve their project management skills, spent a week in this rural village to plan useful projects like reforestation around the irrigation reservoir, adapting rain-fed agriculture to climate change, developing veterinary telemedecine for local herders, and improving the electricity supply for local water pumps. For photographs of the course and its participants, see the separate page on MaDePro. This page reports on the countryside, towns and cultural monuments typical of this part of India.

During the 4 hour bus trip to the village, we stopped in Lepakshi to visit one of the most important Hindu temples in that part of India, including the largest sculpture in India of a bull carved from a single boulder, located where the outer wall of the temple used to be.

Bull . sign . Bull's head
Giant carved bull facing the temple on the other side of the village

Lepakshi temple entrance . temple . temple
The temple entrance is ornately carved in hard granite, as is the temple interior

entrance . top of entrance . rooftop

cloisters . cloisters . cloisters
The outer temple wall is lined with cloisters where pilgrims stayed while visiting the temple

temple centre . cobra . cobra
In the centre is a 7-headed cobra guarding a sacred stone

cobra and stone .  . elephant god
The cobra, and an elephant god whose transport is a rat

temple . temple . sculptures
The unfinished back part of the temple has many carved columns.

temple . temple . temple
Work on the temple stopped when the king had the eyes of the temple benefactor, the minister of finance, plucked out.

temple . sculpture . sculpture

sculptures . priest/guide . temple
Each sculpture depicted a different god

footprint . guide . dishes for sculptors
Our guide, the head priest, showed us a stone footprint that always has water in it, and carved depressions where the sculptors ate

inner temple . side temple . temple

inner temple . dancers . roof
Before the entrance to the innermost temple where the monks officiate, there is a columned space for dancing, with sculptures of dancing

ceiling painting . ceiling painting . inner temple
The ceiling of the inner temple was decorated with beautiful paintings of court love hundreds of years ago

inner temple . horse head god . inner temple

ceiling painting . ceiling painting . ceiling painting
Ceiling paintings


The village of C.K.Pura is a small agricultural village with several casts and a muslim minority, adjacent to a large reservoir (tank), part of an extensive system for water retension and groundwater recharge during the rainy season. Our host is the village chief and descendant of the founder, and from the roof of his house there is a good view over the village and the tank.

inside walled gate . view from roof . sunset
Roadway from the gate in the former village fortification to the home of our host; view from his roof towards the tank; dry tank bed and setting sun

tank bund - dry tank bed . irrigated fields
Spillway and bund of the tank; dry tank bed looking towards the village; view of irrigated fields below the bund

There were two weddings in the village while we were there, with music going on all night long.
wedding . wedding . wedding . wedding
One couple of newlyweds came to our hosts house to pay their respect to the village chief

Early one morning we went for a hike up one of the rocky hills that dot the landscape in this part of India. We did not go all the way up, as a mother bear and her cubs were sheltering in a cave near the top.
hike to hill . sunrise on hike to hill - hike to hill
Rocky hills of granite punctuate the landscape between the fields; sunrise; the hill we were going to climb

hike to hill . hike to hill . hike to hill
Farms struggle to make a living from the parched earth

hike to hill . hike to hill . hike to hill
Approaching the hill lined with giant boulders

hike to hill . hike to hill . hike to hill
As we climbed higher, the view of the surrounding country became more spectacular

hike to hill . hike to hill . hike to hill
On the way down, we passed a simple farmhouse, and crossed the bund of a small tank at the bottom

hike to hill . hike to hill . hike to hill
The farmhouse was adjacent to a deep natural pond in the rock

hike to hill . hike to hill . hike to hill

hike to hill . hike to hill . hike to hill
Irrigated fields provided green patches among the brown; one large boulder was balanced atop another

hike to hill . hike to hill . hike to hill
The boulder in the foreground in the center picture rolled down from the hill about 20 years ago; a farm and lifestock

hike to hill
View back to the hill we climbed

drummers (see more pictures on the MaDePro page)
One evening two village drummers came to perform
ckpura farms . ckpura farms . ckpura farms
The contrast between unirrigated and irrigated fields is striking

Pavagada is the main town in the region, with stores and government services
Pavagada . Pavagada . Pavagada
A village street; haystacks; dry fields waiting for the rains

Pavagada . Pavagada . Pavagada
There are often cows and sheep along the road; a small hindu shrine

Pavagada . Pavagada . Pavagada
The streets in Pavagada are lined by many small shops

Pavagada . Pavagada . Pavagada

Pavagada . Pavagada . Pavagada

Pavagada . Pavagada . Pavagada

Pavagada . Pavagada . Pavagada

Pavagada . Pavagada . Pavagada
Beyond Pavagada there was quite an extensive wind farm, but no wind, which only really blows 4 months of the year

Pavagada . Pavagada . Pavagada
Another town on the road back to Bangalore

hill, Pavagada . Pavagada . cows by road
One outcrop was surrounded by former fortifications


The last week of March 2012 I was in London for the Planet Under Pressure 2012 - New Knowledge Towards Solutions international science conference. The conference aimed to provide scientific leadership towards the 2012 UN Conference on Sustainable Development - Rio+20. With nearly 3,000 participants, many significant plenary speakers, over 120 parallel sessions for paper presentations, 113 poster sessions, and many other events, the four days were rich in scientific exchanges, sharing of new knowledge and perspectives, and cross-disciplinary dialogues around the state of the planet and the role of science in moving towards sustainability. I had one talk and three poster presentations in different sessions (see report and texts on IEF web site at

Excell International Conference Centre . presentation . presentation . Arthur Dahl with other scientists
The Excell International Conference Centre on the Thames; two of my poster presentations; me with scientists from USA, Cameroon and Mexico

One of the sessions in the main auditorium was on values, co-organized by IEF board member Sylvia Karlsson-Vinhuyzen, and with a keynote talk by Gemma Burford of University of Brighton (both Baha'is) and two other papers (including mine) on the values-based indicators project.
Values session . audience . values session
The values session in the main auditorium; a small part of the audience; right, from left Gemma Burford, Sylvia Karlsson-Vinkhuyzen and other speakers


The European Baha'i Business Forum (ebbf) held an event at Selsdon Park, a palatial hotel south of London, on 11-13 May 2012. The theme was "Redefining Excellence" and involved over 90 participants in stimulating presentations and discussions, as well as walks in the beautiful park with the speakers. On the last morning, each of the EBBF board members gave a short talk on excellence in some domain of interest. Mine on "Excellence and holistic thinking" can be read at or

audience . Augusto Lopez-Claros
Part of the audience; Augusto Lopez-Claros speaking

group with Jyoti Munsiff . group in front of hotel . at tables on terrace
Jyoti Munsiff led a group on a walk in the park, before settling around tables to talk
Annette Zahrai, George Starcher, Assir Cerrato . ?, Ezzat and Annette Zahrai, George Starcher . Arthur Dahl, Jyoti Munsiff and group
Annette Zahrai, George Starcher and Assir Cerrato; Ezzat and Annette Zahrai, George Starcher; me, Jyoti Munsiff and group

group on terrace . group on terrace
Discussion group on the terrace, with hotel behind


On 10-24 June I went to Rio de Janeiro, Brazil, as part of the International Environment Forum delegation to the United Nations Conference on Sustainable Development (Rio+20). See the separate report, as well as the more substantive report on the International Environment Forum web site.


In July 2012, I was invited to the Caux Forum on Human Security, with over 300 participants from around the world discussing themes such as "Restoring the land, restoring life", inclusive economics, just governance, healing memory and intercultural dialogue. The conference centre in the village of Caux in the mountains high above Montreux at the eastern end of Lake Geneva was built over a hundred years ago as one of the world's most luxurious hotels, the Caux Palace, but since the end of World War II it has been run by Initiatives of Change (formerly Moral Rearmament) as a meeting centre for peace and reconciliation, first between French and Germans, then for former enemies from most of the world's conflicts. This year there was a large delegation from South Sudan and participants from many other trouble spots in Africa and around the world.

Rhone River Valley, Valais . Lake Geneva . Montreux-Vevey
The views from my room of the valley of the upper Rhone River, Lake Geneva and the towns of Montreux and Vevey

Rhone River valley, Valais . Caux Palace/Mountain House . Lake Geneva at night
The mountainside at Caux, Mountain House, the conference centre, and the view at night

Arthur Dahl . Panel . audience
Me at the conference, a panel session on sustainability, and part of the audience

On particularly touching evening event told the story of the Australian Government's formal apology for its treatment of the Aboriginal peoples of Australia, particularly the "lost generations" of children who were taken from their parents to destroy aboriginal culture by blocking its transmission. The participants were former Prime Minister Kevin Rudd, who issued the apology, and two Aboriginal leaders of the movement for Aboriginal rights and documentation of the abuses
Reconciliation in Australia . Main Hall 
The evening panel on reconciliation in Australia; the spectacular main hall


In mid-July, I was invited to join the Triglav Circle, founded by the Secretary-General of the 1995 UN Social Summit in Copenhagen and other leaders to debate ethics, spirituality and social development. Its members include retired UN officials, theologians, academics and other intellectuals. It held its summer meeting in the Jura mountains that form the western border between Switzerland and France, on the topic of harmony with nature. The mountains are not as high or dramatic as the Alps, but are covered with forest with longitudinal valleys. We stayed in the village of Les Charbonnières in the Joux Valley in the Canton of Vaud, Switzerland, beside a small lake next to the much larger Joux Lake. Steel was made there in the past using charcoal from the forests, which gave rise to the name of the village.

I returned to the Joux Lake in September for a picnic and walk along the lake organized in support of the French-language Bahá'í magazine "La Pensée Bahá'íe".

Le PontLac du Joux . Lac du Joux
The town of Le Pont at the southern end of the long narrow Joux Lake, where the train stopped

Lac du Joux . Lac du Joux . Le Pont
Joux Lake, with a statue of Pegasus;  some Bahá'ís and their friends in the village of Le Pont


A couple of friends and long-time colleagues invited me to their family home at Cap d'Antibes on the Côte d'Azur, a hundred-year-old residence in a forest with beautiful gardens overlooking the Mediterranean Sea. We had an artistic evening with a concert by a Japanese harpist, who by chance had been received in France by an old family friend, Ako Ito Dorigny, who lived with my family in California as a music student in the 1960s, and whose family I had visited in Sapporo, Japan, 45 years ago. Also at the party was a talanted Chinese artist, Ho Lui, who rapidly cut ingeneous three dimensional silhouette portraits of each of the guests.

House . Garden . Garden . Garden
The house and garden on Cap d'Antibes

View . View . View
The view from the house of the Mediterranean and Antibes, with luxury yachts in the distance

Forest . Forest . Forest . Silhouette Arthur Dahl
Mediterranean pine forest behind the house; my silhouette portrait by Ho Lui


I was in California from 25 July to 8 August visiting with my brother Greg and his family from Bulgaria, who rent a house each summer in Pebble Beach on the Monterey Peninsula where we grew up. This year, Greg, his wife Emi, the twins Gregory and Joyce (now 13), and their younger (but bigger) sister Mina (12), were accompanied by Gregory's best friend Petar (Pepi) Mihov and his mother Gergana Mihova. Pepi was just recovering from a difficult but hopefully successful treatment for cancer. We went for walks in the forest and down to the beach, took a drive down to Big Sur for a hike into the coastal redwoods, and went up to the High Sierras in Yosemite National Park. Just before I left, Greg's daughter Carrie Smith-Dahl came down from Oakland and we had a family dinner on Fishermen's Wharf in Monterey.


For other pictures of the Del Monte Forest at Pebble Beach, and Big Sur, see last year's travel album. We walked through the forest down to the seashore so that Gergana could collect shells and other flotsam for her artistic creations. The boys also organized a festive dinner outside on the terrace for Joyce on her return from five weeks of an intensive ballet academy in Chicago.

Seashore Pebble Beach . Greggie and Pepe . Gergana and Pepe
Collecting flotsam; Greggie and Pepi; Gergana and Pepi

Dinner on the terrace for Joyce, with the whole family reunited after 5 weeks
Dinner for Joyce . Dinner for Joyce
Left: Greg, Pepi, Greggie, Mina, Emi; Joyce, Gergana; Right: Greg, Joyce, Gergana, Pepi, Mina

Dinner for Joyce . Dinner for Joyce
Left: Mina, Greggie, Gergana, Pepi; Right: Pepi, Greggie, Mina, Joyce

Monterey was the first capital of California and a major fishing port, the site of Cannery Row, but now pleasure craft outnumber fishing boats. It is also a major research center in marine sciences, including the Hopkins Marine Station of Stanford University, where I studied.

Monterey harbour . Monterey harbour
Boats and shoreline in Monterey harbour

family dinner . family dinner . family dinner
Dahl family dinner, with (feft to right) Carrie Smith-Dahl, Joyce, Mina, Gergana, Pepi, Greggie, Greg; Emi also in the middle photo


On 1 August we drove down California Highway 1 to Big Sur, to hike through a grove of Coast Redwoods (Sequoia sempervirens), the tallest species of tree in the world. The fog stayed off the coast, so we profited from the warm sunny day to walk up the redwood-lined valley.

Big Sur coast . Big Sur coast . Big Sur coast
Big Sur coast between Carmel and Big Sur. In summer, the fog is never very far away.

Big Sur coast redwoods . Big Sur coast redwoods . Big Sur coast redwoods
Walking through the redwoods at Big Sur

Big Sur coast redwoods . Big Sur coast redwoods . Big Sur coast redwoods
The trees, with their thick reddish bark, are always impressive

Big Sur coast redwoods . Big Sur coast redwoods


On 2-6 August, we drove across the central San Joaquin Valley of California in 38°C/100°F heat to Yosemite National Park in the Sierra Nevada mountains, and climbed into the High Sierra back country above Yosemite Valley. When we were young, our family went every summer to Yosemite, and we began hiking in the High Sierras in the early 1950s, so the trip brought back many memories, and the mountains, at least, have not changed much in 60 years. The glacier-carved granite mountains produce dramatic landscapes. The first two nights were at Tuolumne Meadows (2,658 meters/8,720 ft.), a relatively large tented camp accessible by car, to acclimate ourselves to the altitude and make local excursions. Then we hiked up to May Lake (2,853 meters/9,360 ft.), a small High Sierra Camp for about 30 people with 4-person tents with beds and wood stoves, showers and full meal service (comfort in the wilderness). Our big hike was to the top of Mount Hoffmann (3,307 meters/10,850 ft.), which I had not climbed for 48 years, and reached again just short of my 70th birthday. On the way out of the park, we stopped at the Tuolumne Grove of giant Sequoias (Sequoiadendron gigantea), the world's largest trees, which can be over 2,000 years old.

On the road to the high camps
Yosemite Valley from Tioga Pass Road . Half Dome in Yosemite Valley from Tioga Pass Road . Pepe and Greggie on the granite
Views of Yosemite Valley and Half Dome from the Tioga Pass Road; Pepi and Greggie exploring

Pepe and Greggie . Pepe and Greggie
Pepi Mihov and my nephew Gregory Dahl

Joyce . Mina Dahl
My nieces Joyce Dahl; Mina Dahl

We spent two nights at Tuolumne Meadows (8720ft/2616m) and hiked through the meadows to the Lyell Fork of the Tuolumne RIver
Tuolumne Meadows Lodge . packing food in the bear box
Tuolumne Meadows Lodge tents; packing our food in the bear-proof boxes

Tuolumne Meadows Lodge . Tuolumne Meadows . Tuolumne Meadows
Tuolumne Meadows

Hiking in Tuolumne Meadows . Hiking in Tuolumne Meadows . Greg Dahl
Our party hiking down to the Lyell Fork of the Tuolumne River; my brother Greg

Tuolumne Meadows . Lyell Fork Tuolumne River
Tuolumne Meadows; Tuolumne River

Tuolumne Meadows . Hiking in Tuolumne Meadows
Tuolumne Meadows; Greg, Mina, Joyce and the others

Lyell Fork Tuolumne River . Hiking in Tuolumne Meadows
Tuolumne River; resting on the bridge

Tuolumne Meadows . Hiking in Tuolumne Meadows
Lyell Fork of the Tuolumne River; hiking through Tuolumne Meadows

Hiking in Tuolumne Meadows . Mule pack train
Mina, Joyce, Emi, Pepi; a mule pack train on the way to supply a High Sierra Camp

in the river . Greggie by the river . in the river
Joyce and Mina cool their feet; Greggie investigating something; Pepi and the girls in the river

For lunch and dinner, we picnicked at the base of Lembert Dome, a bare glacier-carved granite outcropping
Lambert Dome . glacier polish . Lambert Dome
Lembert Dome carved by the glaciers; glacier polish on the rock; our kids climbed as high as possible

kids on the dome . view from Lambert Dome
Greggie and Pepi, Joyce and Gergana, Mina; the view from Lembert Dome with Emi

Joyce in ballet exercise . Greggie and Greg
Joyce practicing ballet; Greggie and Greg

sunset from Lambert Dome . roasting marshmallows
We waited to watch the sunset from the dome, and then roasted marshmallows at the campfire

May Lake High Sierra Camp (9360ft/2808m), at the base of Mount Hoffmann
Mount Hoffman . Trail to May Lake . Trail to May Lake
As we hiked up the switchbacks to May Lake, we got our first glimpse of Mount Hoffmann; Emi on the trail

Trail to May Lake . Trail to May Lake
Pepi and Gorgana; Greggie on the trail
Half Dome from trail to May Lake . Trail to May Lake
At one point on the trail, we could see Half Dome in the distance

May Lake . May Lake High Sierra Camp
Our first view of May Lake; the High Sierra Camp with our tents

May Lake kitchen and dining tent . view from our tent of May Lake
The showers, kitchen and dining tent; view of May Lake from our tent

walking along May Lake . walking along May Lake
Walking along May Lake

Greg and Greggie, Pepe and Gergana . card game
Greg, Greggie, Pepi and Gorgana; a game of cards with Emi, Greg, Greggie, Mina and Pepi

Climbing Mount Hoffmann (10,850 ft / 3,255 meters)
May Lake in morning . May Lake
Mount Hoffmann reflected in May Lake in the early morning

scree field below top . last ascent
After a steep climb through meadows, switchbacks and boulders dotted with marmots, we reached the last scree field and the steep ascent to the top

on top of Mount Hoffman . Mount Hoffman secondary peak
On top of Mount Hoffmann: Arthur, Greggie, Joyce, Pepi and Gorgana; the next peak down with a sharp cliff on the north side

view from Mount Hoffman . view from Mount Hoffman
Panorama of the view from the top of Mount Hoffmann
view from Mount Hoffman, Half Dome . view from Mount Hoffman
The summit ridge with Half Dome in the distance

view from Mount Hoffman . view from Mount Hoffman
Views to the north from the summit

In the evening, we climbed to the ridge behind the May Lake camp to admire the sunset on the Sierra peaks
sunset from near May Lake . sunset from near May Lake
View to the south and toward Yosemite Valley

sunset from near May Lake . watching sunset from near May Lake
View to the east; Greg, Greggie and Emi
watching sunset from near May Lake . Emi and the kids
Greg, Emi, Greggie, Mina, Joyce, Pepi

Tuolumne Grove of giant Sequoias
giant Sequoia . upper part of giant Sequoiafamily at giant Sequoias 
Bottom and top of a very big Sequoia; Emi, Mina, Greggie, Joyce, Gergana and Pepi in the grove

giant Sequoia with tunnel . giant Sequoia with tunnel . tunnel
Early last century, a tunnel was cut through an old trunk that cars could drive through

giant Sequoia . giant Sequoias . giant Sequoias
Some of the giant Sequoias in the grove

Leaving Yosemite
Half Dome and Yosemite Valley
A last glimpse towards Yosemite Valley and Half Dome before we drove out of the park


From California I went to Quebec for two weeks with my son Alex, his wife Mahalia Gagnon, and their children Jérémie, Benjamin and Alie. The first few days we attended the Association for Bahá'í Studies Conference in Montréal, and spent an afternoon at the science museum, before going to their home in St. Romuald, Lévis, across the river from Quebec city. It was good to have some quiet time with my grandchildren Benji (6) and Alie (4 1/2). Since they have a garderie (creche, nursery school) at home during the week with other children, the place is quite lively. One day we all went to the aquarium and water playground. Just before I left, Mahalia and I went to the Quebec Bahá'í Summer School to give courses.

Benji and Alie . Alie
Benji and Alie; Alie looks at lunch with some hesitation

The creche outing to the Quebec aquarium
Mahalia, Benji, Alie . at the aquarium . Mahalia and Alie
Mahalia, Benji and Alie; with Rachel Louie and the other children; Mahalia and Alie on the see-saw

skate petting pool . Alie and Benji
The children at the skate petting pool
Benji meets a walrus . kids with walrus
Alie, Benji and Nicholas meet the walruses

Benji at lunch . Alie at lunch . Mahalia, Alie and Benji
Benji; Alie; Mahalia, Benji and Ali with Nicholas

Benji . Alie . Benji and Alie . Benji
Benji and Alie at the water playground, and Benji in the submarine

The extended Gagnon family, including the matriarch, Mahalia's grandmother, held a family dinner to celebrate all the August birthdays. I just turned 70.
Gagnon family dinner
Mahalia, several generations of Gagnons, and Mahalia's grandmother


On 20-21 August, Mahalia (my daughter-in-law) and I went to the Quebec Bahá'í Summer School at a rural camp two hours north of Montréal and Quebec, to give courses. Mine was on "'Abdu'l-Bahá: the perfect example", and Mahalia's on "Divine Civilization", followed by an artistic workshop on past, present and future visions of civilization. There were about 150 participants of all ages, and a beautiful spirit of unity.
Le 20-21 août, Mahalia (ma belle-fille) et moi ont participé à l'école d'été bahaie de Québec au centre de vacances Val Notre Dame à deux heures de Montréal et Québec. J'ai presenté un cours sur «l'Abdu'l-Baha: l'exemple parfait» et Mahalia un cours sur «la Civilisation divine», suivi d'un atelier artistique sur le passé, le présent et la futur civilisation. Il y avait à peu près 150 participants de tous les âges, et un bon esprit d'unité.

music . audience . main hall
Most sessions started with music; part of the diverse audience; in front of the main hall

Mahalia Gagnon . Mahalia's classlawn in the middle of the camp 
Mahalia Gagnon beginning her class; the audience; the green in the middle of the camp

artistic workshop . artistic workshop . artistic workshop
In the artistic workshop that Mahalia organized, groups prepared murals and other works on the past, present and future of civilization
artistic workshop . artistic workshop . artistic workshop

Sunday evening musical performances - Une soirée musicale dimanche soir
evening programme . evening programme -  Mahalia . evening programme
The school choir; Mahalia helping to lead a song; the young men and their jembe drums

evening programme . evening programme . evening programme audience
The lively drumming inspired a talented young break dance performance

evening programme . evening programme . evening programme
Soon almost the entire group, of all ages, was dancing; when the young men tired, the older women took over with equally lively rhythms and dance

dishwashing Everyone helped with washing dishes after every meal

campfire . campfire . campfire
After the evening programme, we gathered around the campfire for songs and fellowship

audience . audience . audience
The audience was always intentive and involved

closing class presentations . closing class presentations . closing class presentations
The final session was presentations by all the the children's classes and youth groups
closing class presentations . closing class presentations . closing class presentations
Each age group showed off and explained their work

closing class presentations - youth The youth had also helped with the children's classes

The Quebec Bahá'í Summer School is an opportunity for the francophone community of Canada to come together in unity in diversity.
L'école d'été bahaie de Québec donne aux francophones de Canada la possibilité de s'unir dans la diversité.


Over 400 gathered in a lakeside vacation village in Evian-les-Bains for the week-long French Bahá'í Summer School on the theme "Be an actor of social change". The approach was very participative, with workshops each morning to study and develop activities around selected texts, artistic and recreational activities after lunch, and late afternoon lectures on significant figures in the Faith. On the final morning, each workshop group shared a musical/theatrical/artistic creation with the whole school, and the creative talent of all was quite amazing. The evenings were mostly musical and film presentations, including some superb jazz by American singer Tierney Sutton and others.

Group photo

workshop . workshop . workshop
My workshop group, with participants of all ages, was let by Bernard Benghozi and Bernard Rochas

working groups . workshop . workshop
There were small break-out sessions and group activities like writing poems and illuminating a calligraphic mural

workshop . workshop . workshop
In one activity, each of us drew our vision of action for social change, then we combined images in pairs and fours

terrace . view . sunset 
In our spare time, we could enjoy the terrace and swimming pool, view of the lake, and beautiful sunsets

painting class . painting class . painting class
One artistic workshop was on painting techniques, with participants of all ages

children . children .
There were children's classes and other activities
children . children

Iranian music and prayers . audience . audience
The morning devotions always included music from various cultures; part of the audience in the main auditorium

Serge and Tierney . Serge and Tierney . Nicholas, Serge, Tierney, Baptiste
There were two performances by American Jazz artist Tierney Sutton, accompanied by Serge Merlaud, Nicholas Leroy and Baptiste Le Dun

Jasmine . Jasmine
Jasmine Farhoumand also sang
group . group and NSA
The superb jazz artists and their hosts

music . music
There were many other musical performances throughout the school
music . music

workshop performance . workshop performance
Each workshop group improvised a performance expressing what they had learned in theatre, song and painting
workshop performance . workshop performance

last night . last night . last night
The final night was rich with music, humour, theatre and a lively closing celebration of unity in diversity
last night . last night . last night


On 2-7 October I was in Portugal for the main annual ebbf - European Baha'i Business Forum event in Ericeira (see separate page). The old fishing village has reconverted to tourism and is a famous location for surfing, but while we enjoyed the view and the seafood, we were too busy to go to the beach.

beach . on the terrace . Arthur Dahl keynote
The hotel pool and beach; a workshop on the terrace; my closing keynote


The morning after giving a talk for the Baha'i community of Chambery, France, my old friend George Starcher took my and another friend up into the Massif des Bauges behind the village of St. Pierre d'Albigny where we lived for several years in the 1980s. We hiked from the top of the Col du Frêne (950m) up toward the Arclusaz mountain, about 9 km distance and 500 m vertical elevation. George is nearly 10 years older than I am, but still a great hiker and skier. With the beginning of autumn foliage, it was a beautiful excursion.

George and Veronique . Arthur Dahl and George Starcher . trail . autumn colours
George and Veronique on the trail; me and George with l'Arclusaz behind; trail through alpine pastures; autumn colours

mountains . l'Arclusaz . forest
The trail climbed through forest and alpine meadows

mushrooms . mushrooms
It was the perfect season for mushrooms, and some woods were carpeted with them
mushrooms . mushrooms . mushrooms
Even the meadows had clusters of mushrooms

l'Arclusaz . Tarantaise and St.Pierre d'Albigny . trail
As we climbed higher, there were wonderful views of l'Arclusaz mountain, the Tarantaise Valley and St. Pierre d'Albigny

Veronique . George and Veronique . trail beyond chalet
Views from the chalet; we crossed the Col du Potat (1351m) before the climb towards l'Arclusaz, but did not go to the top

Chalet de l'Epion . mountains .pasture with mushrooms
On the way down, we had lunch by the alpine Chalet de l'Epion (1385 m) with views across the Bauges mountains

trail . mountains
Les Bauges


The European Center for Peace and Development, affiliated with the University for Peace established by the UN, held its 8th conference on "Reconciliation, Religious Tolerance and Human Security in the Balkans" in Belgrade, Serbia, on 20 October, where I gave a paper on the "Right of each human being to enjoy peace, security and welfare". The conference was originally planned to be held in Kosovo, and I had already booked my ticket before the change in location, so I flew to Pristina in the evening, was driven to the border with Macedonia, took a taxi down to Skopje and up to the Serbian border, walked across and waited an hour and a half (11:45 pm to 1:15 am), to be met by another taxi for the 4 1/2 hour drive to Belgrade in time for the conference. The day after the conference I returned by minibus (6 hours) to Pristina to spend the night before catching my flight back to Geneva. Fortunately the ECPD staff accompanied me most of the way and took good care of me. When I walked down to the ECPD office, I took a few pictures of downtown Belgrade.

Belgrade . Belgrade . Belgrade National Parliament
Views of downtown Belgrade; the National Parliament of Serbia

Belgrade National Theatre . Belgrade National Theatre
The National Theatre

Belgrade . Belgrade . Belgrade
Buildings in Belgrade; terrace restaurants in front of our hotel

Pristina, Kosovo
Pristina . Pristina . Pristina
Views of Pristina from my hotel


The United Nations Environment Programme co-sponsored Green Week in Baku, Azerbaijan, in mid-November, organized by the International Dialogue on Environmental Action (IDEA) with the support of the Azerbaijani government. The first day was an International Youth Forum where I spoke on "Stockholm to Rio+20: Are we on the right track?". The second day was the UNEP European Regional Consultation meeting with civil society, where my topic was "Involving civil society in the new UNEP". The third day we were invited to the Azerbaijani Diplimatic Academy where Frits Schlingemann (former UNEP Regional Director) and I discussed organizing a course in environmental diplomacy similar to the one we had in Geneva, and we gave public lectures on "The Challenge of Environmental Diplomacy". The local participants appreciated that my book "Unless and Until" has been published in Azerbaijani.

The city of Baku
Baku waterfront . Baku waterfront . public buildings
The Baku waterfront on the Caspian Sea; a sculpture as painter; elegant public buildings

oil rig monument . fountain . older buildings
A monument to a century and a half of oil production; beautiful parks and fountains; old buildings

walled old city . palace entrance and minaret . mosque and mausoleum
The old walled city; a minaret and the old palace entrance; palace mosque and mausoleum

old town . narrow streets . walls
The old city has narrow winding streets, and is a world heritage site

carpets . artist's house . park and walls
Carpet sales for tourists; an artist's house in the old town; parks and monuments outside the walls
mall . park . shopping street
The centre of town has pedestrian malls and shopping streets with all the luxury brand stores

park The streets are clogged with traffic, mostly Mercedes and other luxury cars

Baku by night . Baku by night . Baku by night
Many of the buildings are beautifully lit, so the city is spectacular at night; a giant shopping centre on the waterfront across from our hotel

The Green Week meetings
poster . opening session . Minister of Environment
The International Youth Forum was opened by the Minister of Environment

Dignitaries at opening . audience
Various dignitaries at the opening session, with the press and a diverse audience

Sebastien Duyck speaking . audience
Sebastien Duyck (youth representative on our Advisory Group on IEG) speaking to a large youth audience

Regional meeting . Arthur Dahl and Frits Schlingemann
The UNEP Regional Meeting, and me with Frits Schlingemann at dinner

dinner . dinner . music
Each evening we were treated to special dinners, including with traditional music


Keith Dahl
Keith Gordon Dahl
27 September 1940 - 9 December 2012

In mid-December, I suddenly had to travel half way around the world to attend my older brother Keith's funeral (see separate page) in American Samoa, flying from Geneva through Dubai to Australia and on to Auckland, New Zealand, where I was kindly received by Baha'i friends and gave two talks on sustainability and climate change, one going and the other returning from Samoa. From Auckland I flew to Apia, Samoa, that had just been ravaged by a cyclone, with the mountain forests stripped of leaves, many trees down, telephone and electricity cut off, and many homes and the National Bahá'í Centre washed away by flood waters. After a night in Apia, I managed to get on a flight to Pago Pago, and stayed for a week in my brother's house in Iliili, sorting through his affairs. My brother Greg came from Bulgaria to help as well. It was finally possible to organize Keith's funeral on 20 December during our stay. On my way back, I had a day in Apia and went to say prayers at the Bahá'í House of Worship near Apia, where I was invited to lunch by some refugee families who had lost their homes. The love and support of our Samoan friends was wonderful during this difficult time.

There was not really time for sightseeing, but I snapped some photos as we drove into Pago Pago along the shore of Tutuila, and driving from the airport to Apia through villages on Upolu. It seemed strange to be back in such a familiar place that I had first visited 43 years ago and the last time about 20 years ago, seeing much that had changed and much that was still familiar.

view from Keith's house . Tutuila mountains . Tutuila coastline
The view from Keith's house; the one flat area in American Samoa at Tafuna; waves breaking on the coral reefs along the coastal road

Tutuila coastline . Tutuila coastline . entrance to Pago Pago harbor
Views along the coastal road on Tutuila; the entrance to Pago Pago harbor

Pago Pago harbor . school girls, Pago Pago . Pago Pago harbor
In Pago Pago harbor; school girls along the road

Samoan fale, Pago Pago
A Samoan fale, American Samoan style

The independent state of Samoa (formerly Western Samoa) is a hundred kilometers west of American Samoa but across the dateline. I spent a night there on my way to Pago Pago, and a day there on my return, when I took a taxi up to the Bahá'í House of Worship on the mountainside above the capital of Apia. Since the power and telephone lines were down, I had to walk most of way down the mountain, accompanied by a young Bahá'í, before someone stopped to give us a ride into town. Thank goodness I was traveling light, with only an 11 kg knapsack (and everything I needed for a week in the snow as well as a week in the tropics).

Samoan fale . coast of Upolu . coast of Upolu
A traditional Samoan fale, and other views of the coastline of Upolu on the way from the airport to Apia

coast of Upolu . Samoan village . Samoan village
Coastline and villages along the airport road

Baha'i temple . Baha'i temple interior . temple dome
The Bahá'í House of Worship on the mountainside above Apia, with its interior and dome

visitor's center . temple gardens . temple gardens
The visitor's centre and gardens of the House of Worship; the forest in the distance was defoliated by the cyclone a week before

Apia waterfront . Apia waterfront . Apia town center
The port of Apia, and views of the town on a quiet Sunday afternoon

Apia government buildings
New government buildings along the waterfront in Apia


From Samoa I traveled directly to the Swiss Bahá'í Winter School in the Catholic pilgrimage and winter sports village of Einsiedeln about 1 hour by train from Zurich, going from more than 30°C tropical heat to 0°C with snow on the ground. Over a hundred participants came mostly from Switzerland and Germany. There were four days of morning courses and workshops, half in German and half in French/English, as well as artistic activities and time to walk to the village in the afternoon, and the Dawnbreakers Film Festival ( showing films by Bahá'í film-makers and inspired by Bahá'í ideals. I gave two courses on "envolvement in social action" and on "participating in the discourses of society", and an evening programme on "'Abdu'l-Baha as a perfect example". I was also on the committee that organized the school.

Devotions in memory of Keith Devotions in memory of Keith Dahl at the Winter School

Shahnam Izadpanah . Stefan Pernau . workshop . workshop
Shahnam Izadpanah lecturing on the Bab; Stefan Pernau speaking on cooperative decision-maikng, and workshop discussions

audience . audience . school
Part of the audience

enjoying hte sun . coffee break . preparing classes
Opportunities for discussion and networking; preparing class materials

film festival . film festival . Violetta Zein
Dawn Breakers International Film Festival, presented by Mithaq Kazimi; presentation on Congo by Violetta Zein

coffee breakcoffee break . coffee break
Coffee breaks are always important

coffee break . book sales . dance
Family discussions; and book sales; dancing in the evening

Final gala evening
evening gala . evening gala . evening gala
The final gala evening, with Eric and his band; children singing

evening gala . evening gala . evening gala
Children's theatre performance, and the choir singing

Allegro Hotel . hotel . hotel
SJBZ Hotel Allegro, where the Winter School was held

Allegro Hotel . frozen pond . photo workshop in town
The hotel; a frozen pond; the photo workshop

Einsiedeln town and monastery
Monastery . Monastery . monastery
The monastery and its rococo church, which houses the black madonna

town .  . Einsiedeln
Town with ski jumps in the distance; the photo workshop; the town centre

view .  . near hotel . countryside 
Views around the hotel, with cross-country skiing, and a lake

cross country skiing . village . cross country

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Last updated 6 August 2013

Photographs copyright © Arthur Lyon Dahl 2012