On the weekend of September 22nd, the one-day gathering of “Iranians on Internet” was held in San Francisco. I want to tell you how proud I was of the event, of the many hands and minds that planned and implemented it, and of those who participated in it as presenters, audience, artists, reporters, or politicians, making it a unique experience of its kind for Iranian community in diaspora, entirely put together by volunteers.
Though as a first experience it certainly could have been better in several areas, the fact that it did take place with the help of intelligent and loving Iranians from all walks of life was really heartwarming. San Francisco State University’s Iranian Cultural Club did their best to plan and execute the gathering on their campus, doing everything from technical and physical setup to preparing food for the guests, to welcoming us all.
Participants, some of whom had come from as far away as Los Angeles and Sacramento, each added flavor, excitement, and content to the program. We had artists present, some of whom like Mojan Nowroozi, an ICC member, performed a small piece with his Ney; and professional musicians Hamed Nikpay and Tobias Roberson, who played several pieces of delightful fusion-style Iranian music; and Arash Sobhani of Kiosk who was among the audience, each lending their support to the effort. There were reporters from internet media such as ParsArts.com, Bia2.com, and Iranican.com. There were service providers such as Salim of Crazymenu.com, who did a bit of networking with those present. Among the presenters were several California bloggers presenting their blogs, Iranian.com, and Balatarin. Guest speakers such as Sima Shakhsari and Sanam Dowlatshahi (by video conference) addressed the group and talked about their research and experiences. Iranian.com writers came and talked about their experiences writing for the popular medium. Everybody did their best to cooperate in making the event a success.
Aside from the gathering itself, during which many individuals presented their own contributions to cyber sphere, Jahanshah Javid of Iranian.com was recognized for his contributions to Iranian community in diaspora. What happened was pretty amazing. Dr. Elaheh Enssani, who is advisor to Iranian Cultural Club of SFSU, as well as a Commissioner in City of San Francisco, heralded an effort to recognize Jahanshah Javid. She discussed her idea with Ross Mirkarimi, a second generation Iranian and a reputable politician who is a Supervisor in the City of San Francisco, and he took the effort on, proposing to San Francisco Board of Supervisors to award Jahanshah with the highest citation the City issues to outstanding citizens. In those few, seemingly simple steps, not only Jahanshah as the founder of Iranian.com, but a whole community was highlighted, recognized, and honored. The gesture was a reminder that where there is energy devoted to a cause, results can be achieved.
Though only a small fraction of Iranian internet professionals and enthusiasts were present at the event, the small group of Iranians who pulled off the feat each were a source of pride and honor to me as an Iranian, proving that we can do anything we want to do, so long as we gather around a cause we all understand and appreciate.
Next year’s event will be even better, with more volunteers, participants, and presenters I am sure from the feedback we have received. With more effort, the quality will improve, too, as is expected of any project. At this time, however, I am taking a moment to take a deep breath and to say: I love all Iranians*.
*To mention her name and quote her here again would give a hateful and blatantly racist individual too much credit. Suffice it to say that the individual in Robert Gates’ administration leaves something to be desired for form, decency, and integrity. I chose the title of this post to remind us all that to ward off mean and hateful politicians, we must first love ourselves as a community.