IMAN’s Community Café has been transcending barriers throughout different communities for almost a decade. It is a movement that touches the soul and ignites the mind. People come to Community Café to enjoy the music and arts, receive a message, and leave enlightened after experiencing a spiritual bond with the artists and each other. It is a bond that exists across religious, racial, ethnic and cultural differences; a bond that flourishes because the arts touch the soul, the tie that binds us all. D.C. welcomes that spiritual energy and is starving for such human connection.
The Community Café in D.C. hopes to be a platform for interconnected consciousness in an often fractured environment. It is also an opportunity for local artists to display their talents in front of their hometown, which provides D.C. natives a chance to see a positive reflection of their own selves. The theme, REACH Beyond…, exemplifies the importance of such positive reflection. The theme mirrors the need for people to “reach beyond” the norm, beyond their own selves and hold onto the positive messages that promote a healthy community life. These messages resonate with the mission of Project REACH (Realizing Effective Alliances for Community Hope).
Inspired by Muslim principles of mercy, compassion, service, and justice, Project REACH seeks to address the challenges and struggles confronting marginalized urban communities in the Washington, D.C. area. Through exposure to stimulating environments such as the “Fall Mountain Retreat,” youth talks and community service, Project REACH youth are inspired to work for positive social change in their communities. The opportunity for Project REACH youth to experience a Community Café enhances their past experiences and further actualizes the mission of Project REACH; a mission that is a reflection of IMAN’s legacy, and a mission that relies on building bridges within communities.
The collaboration of IMAN and Project REACH over D.C.’s first Community Café demonstrates the power of working together. IMAN, being the veteran establishment in this union, has allowed Project REACH to benefit from their brand of hard work to create an uplifting, family-friendly atmosphere that is sure to nourish the community. The union is a model for more organizations to arm their forces in an effort to promote positive social change.
Lastly, change does not come easily and is often resisted. It takes constant determination, unity and dedication to move people. The desired outcome of this experience is one that will cultivate the opportunity for future partnership with IMAN. We hope that it will be a partnership that fuels the power of breaking down problematic social barriers in the spirit of positive change. Our experience with this Community Café has the potential to create effective alliances and – REACHing Beyond… – help sustain hope in and for our local community.
To learn more about Project REACH, please visit the website: www.dcprojectreach.org.