The Trickle Down Effect of Budget Cuts

Producers: Maggie Fazeli Fard & Anna Bloom

Reporter: Maggie Fazeli Fard

Broadcast on: KQED, YouthRadio and Huffington Post

Hunt for the Red Devil

Produced by Maggie Fazeli Fard

Persians Find Their Place

How Iranians in the East Bay hold their heritage.


All Photos by Lori Eanes except upper right photo by Talieh Shahrokhi.

By Maggie Fazeli Fard
East Bay Monthly, May 2009

Thirty years ago, Iranian expatriate Minoo Hamzavi and a handful of friends jerry-rigged a local celebration of the Persian New Year. Hurriedly lighting a few candles on a deserted Berkeley sidewalk, the young women performed a makeshift version of the fire-jumping ritual that dates back to pre-Islamic Persia, hopping over the tiny flames to chase off bad spirits. Recently arrived in the United States, the small band of relatively isolated transplants had no choice but to improvise.

But this year, Hamzavi, now 48, and some of those same friends leaped exuberantly across hearty bonfires on Durant Avenue in Berkeley. In what has become an annual tradition, they—and hundreds of other East Bay Iranians—flooded the street on March 16, the eve of the Wednesday before the spring equinox. From families with young children to 20-somethings in trendy head-to-toe black, the revelers were illuminated by industrial lights and the glow of traditional bonfires lining Durant, where the fire ceremony is sponsored each year by the Berkeley-based Persian Center. Such Chaharshanbe-Suri (“Red Wednesday”) celebrations are a key item on the Iranian calendar, serving as pre-parties to the New Year, or Norouz.

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More than Voodoo: Biodynamics Takes Root on California Farms

Co-Produced by Maggie Fazeli Fard & Clare Major