For many years a small group of us in Pensacola, Florida, circled our discussions around a compelling question: What would happen if we were able to bring artists and those with a passion for the arts together to commune with each other, to network, to inspire and support each other, to cross-pollinate ideas and learn new techniques and concepts, all with the purpose of sharing ways of using the arts to serve and celebrate the Bahá’í Faith?
We yearned for such a gathering and felt sure that others would welcome the catalyzing spark we thought it would ignite. Somehow, 2006 seemed to be the year to DO something about it. A group of us from Florida, Alabama and Georgia organically drew together at a Bahá’í gathering in Tennessee, and our enthusiasm grew with each new idea that burst forth during our consultation. Then and there we decided we would work together to nurture this seed into a reality and plan a conference.
From the very beginning we decided that we were embarking on an experiment, and that the best way to approach our planning was to treat every element with open mindedness and to “jump in and see what happens”. Seven months later we hosted the first Wings to the Spirit Conference in April, 2007 on Pensacola Beach, Florida. Since then we have had a total of five large conferences (normally held every other year) and 8 workshop weekends in the intervening years. In 2011 we were awarded 501c3 status as the Wings to the Spirit Foundation, Inc., a non-profit organization. The Foundation now plans all Wings events, efforts and sponsorships. We have worked steadily to maintain an intimate environment at the events, to keep ideas fresh, and to adapt and adjust to the needs of the community as they change.
Our great hope is for individuals and communities to arrange for deep consultation on the power and purpose of all forms of the arts, and their expressive, educational and healing value. Our own growth process, tending a seed of an idea to a growing entity, has been a lesson in much love and care. Its transforming momentum has presented many challenges, creative thought, intensive planning, a great deal of laughter, lots of delicate and sometimes difficult consultation and much fun! We have learned so much from each other as we seek to align ourselves with consensus, with unity of thought, and through confronting in our own small group many of the issues faced by artists and communities in general. We feel we can address many of those issues with care and courage because of our own experience.
The Wings to the Spirit Foundation is a Bahá’í-inspired organization, and we welcome those of all beliefs and traditions to join us at events to nurture artists and celebrate the arts.
For more information on the Bahá’í Faith, please see:
http://www.bahai.org/ and http://bahaiteachings.org/