After several months of spring and summer fun, IMAN’s weekly farmers market—Fresh Beats & Eats—ended its second year with a robust closing event. Nearly 100 community members visited the market on October 21, enjoying an extended live music performance by the Tubad & The Nation, an expanded lineup of some of Chicago’s freshest food vendors, and free gift bags stocked with healthy groceries. Walgreen’s representatives also administered complimentary flu shots on site.
Fresh Beats & Eats was able to begin rooting itself in the fabric of Marquette Park community life this year, with many residents becoming “regulars” and utilizing the market for their weekend shopping; while others came simply to sit, enjoy the sunshine and connect with neighbors. The arts, particularly music, truly reflected the vibrancy of the community, with homegrown talent performing everything from Latin jazz to soul classics to funk-filled grooves.
Perhaps the market’s greatest success this year was its establishment as a source of low-cost, high-quality foods in an area lacking in such offerings. Fresh Beats & Eats was able to partner with Illinois’ WIC (Women, Infants and Children) and LINK food assistance programs, which aided many residents in purchasing locally grown, organic produce from Urban Canopy each week. The community response was overwhelmingly positive, with many guests expressing their appreciation for the safety and dignity they felt while at the market.
IMAN thanks the long list of vendors and partners that helped make this Fresh Beats & Eats season successful. All vendors were local to Chicago, with many of them residing in the Southwest Side community. We also greatly thank the individuals and families who visited the market every week, see you next year!
Green ReEntry welcomed another cohort of six diligent brothers last month, and this group is truly unique. Cohort members range from age 18 to age 58, and are taking an exceptionally integrative approach to their training over the next few months. HVAC (heating, ventilation, air conditioning and cooling) skills are the focal point of this cohort’s crash course in renovation work. However, given the multilayered nature of that field, the brothers will also be receiving hands-on training in basic electrical and plumbing work. Their training is co-facilitated by a skilled local HVAC contractor who has worked with Green ReEntry in years past.
The cohort is led by new Green ReEntry Manager Ali Rashad. Ali has been connected to IMAN since its inception, and has a rich background in both the business and technical sides of construction work. He has over 20 years of experience in electrical contracting, and was educated as an electrical engineer. Ali has also run his own business for many years.
In addition to the technical skill-building, cohort members are also taking advantage of “life skills sessions” each morning. As a group, the brothers discuss current challenges and utilize each other as a support system. Green ReEntry is looking for a Case Manager to help deepen this aspect of restoration and healing.
On Tuesday, October 18th, U.S. Senator Dick Durbin joined Marquette Park residents and local leaders for a day of healing-focused dialogue, celebration of new cultural landmarks and recognition of long-standing neighborhood institutions.
Sen. Durbin participated in a community conversation during which SWOP, IMAN and Sinai Health Systems representatives shared reflections and engaged him with calls to action around the pressing issues of trauma and violence in the area. The meeting was hosted inside of Holy Cross Hospital’s newly opened Behavioral Health Center, which offers both inpatient and outpatient treatment.
Following the community conversation, Sen. Durbin toured the MLK Living Memorial with IMAN staff and various members of the Local Task Force that helped make the memorial a success. After experiencing the MLK Living Memorial, Sen. Durbin then joined Local Task Force members for a celebration luncheon at historic Beth Shalom synagogue. Fifty years prior, the synagogue served as a safe house for organizers and protestors working to reshape the future of Marquette Park. Now, on that continued journey to justice, a dynamic, diverse collection of community leaders gathered in that same space in order to celebrate the collective successes and reflect on challenges left awaiting.
We thank Sen. Durbin for visiting, and thank all the members of the MLK Living Memorial Local Task Force for their tireless efforts in mobilizing the Marquette Park community behind this project.
One year ago, IMAN took a major step forward in expanding its model of inner-city health, wellness and healing. With full organizational support, a roster of dedicated leaders and the vision of Imam Mansoor Sabree shoring up the Regional Director position, the IMAN Atlanta Project has made remarkable strides.
Click here to read the Muslim Journal’s new feature article on Imam Mansoor, who is currently in Lisbon, Portugal taking part in the Concordia Forum, and the larger IMAN Atlanta effort.
Stay tuned for an exciting IMAN Atlanta announcement coming very soon, and please continue to keep IMAN Atlanta in your thoughts and prayers.