Trainings Engage Emerging Organizers in Chicago & Detroit

This year, IMAN’s Community Organizing Training returned to Catholic Theological Union in Hyde Park, where 40 leaders gathered to strengthen their understanding of concepts and skills for making change in their communities. This year’s training participants brought together longtime IMAN leaders from our Green Reentry and our organizing campaigns, and included leaders from across Chicagoland and from out of state, working on a range of issues in their communities.

In addition to IMAN’s standard modules focused on the importance of knowing and sharing our stories, relationship building, self-interest, and power, this year’s training highlighted the connection between organizing, the arts, and mental health, which has long characterized IMAN’s holistic model. PHENOM, a longtime IMAN arts leader, performed pieces on power and community building, and Licensed Clinical Social Worker Suzanne Chopra led modules around the importance of goal setting and self care.

At the same time the trainees were forging common bonds in Hyde Park, the tragic events in Charlottesville were polarizing the nation. Witnessing the chaotic violence in Virginia’s streets served as a stark reminder of why holistic spaces like IMAN’s Organizing Training and Grassroots Power Hour are essential to establishing a truly beloved community.

A couple weeks after the training in Chicago, IMAN organizers traveled to Michigan and facilitated a special, daylong workshop for leaders from grassroots partner organization Dream of Detroit. The session emphasized the importance of understanding shared narratives, and contextualized key IMAN organizing principles around issues of housing and other campaigns that Dream of Detroit leaders are currently engaging.

God willing, organizers will continue to spread IMAN’s model to leaders throughout Chicago and across the country. For more information on IMAN’s organizing efforts, contact Senior Organizer Shamar Hemphill at shamar@imancentral.org

IMAN Awarded Healthy Chicago 2.0 Grant

IMAN’s Corner Store Campaign was awarded a Healthy Chicago 2.0 Seed Grant by the City of Chicago for its innovative approach toward “promoting heath in a community including access to social services and healthy food, safe public spaces, social cohesion and collaboration.” This grant will fund the launch of the new produce distribution system providing local corner stores with fresh fruits and vegetables.

Building healthy communities requires holistic support, and the Corner Store Campaign’s produce distribution system is designed to address that need in an innovative, sustainable way. IMAN Health Clinic patients will be offered coupons redeemable at local corner stores, as well as at IMAN’s weekly Fresh Beats & Eats Farmers Market. This produce distribution model—now possible with the Healthy Chicago funding—facilitates mutual, community-wide benefits: corner stores are incentivized to increase fresh produce sales, while residents enjoy easier access to fruits and vegetables.

Individuals and families deserve access to healthy food options, no matter the zip code in which they reside. IMAN’s Corner Store Campaign works to bring this basic right into reality through initiatives like the produce distribution system. For more information about the Corner Store Campaign, or to join this dynamic team of community organizers and leaders, email Campaign Manager Sara Hamdan at sara@imancentral.org.

Grassroots Power Hour Deepens Organizing Efforts

Recent federal policy decisions around immigration and criminal justice have had a marked impact on the daily lives of many Chicagoans, and particularly those in the Marquette Park area. Recognizing the growing importance of accessible community organizing spaces, IMAN began hosting weekly Grassroots Power Hour sessions to serve the needs of local individuals and families navigating our quickly shifting political landscape.

Grassroots Power Hour is a space for local residents and others from across Chicago to come together for education and relationship-building. Through relationships, IMAN has been able to collectively build power that has fueled our organizing work over the last 20 years. This type of grassroots work allows communities and institutions to build power together, allowing us to push for the types of policies and neighborhood transformation that our communities so desperately need. Grassroots Power Hour also creates space for healing through artistic expression and self-care, access to legal counsel, and training around organizing concepts.

As 2017 continues, Grassroots Power Hour will dig deeper into issues of criminal justice, immigration and national security, utilizing IMAN’s organizing model to equip our communities with the tools and education necessary to navigate the shifting landscape. Grassroots Power Hour is held every Wednesday at 5:30 pm at IMAN’s Youth & Arts Wellness Center. For more information, please contact Sara Hamdan at sara@imancentral.org

#NoDAPL and the UCCRO Convention

As IMAN prepares for this weekend’s annual United Congress of Community and Religious Organizations (UCCRO) convention, we reflect on the power of this decade-old alliance that was established to unite communities of color, organize and advocate for a grassroots human rights agenda. From the beginning, UCCRO sought to connect the stories of collective experiences, and from the beginning the stories of our First Nations brothers and sisters played a critical role in that effort.

NoDAPLEarlier this year, LaDonna Brave Bull Allard and other members of the Standing Rock Sioux Tribe began organizing to halt the construction of the Dakota Access Pipeline (DAPL), which would pump 570,000 barrels of crude oil per day from North Dakota all the way to Illinois. If built, DAPL would cut through land held sacred by the Standing Rock Sioux and risk contaminating the drinking water of the tribe and other communities along the pipeline. The #NoDAPL movement has inspired solidarity in the hearts of millions across the world who support the Standing Rock Sioux as they safeguard their ancestral land.

IMAN stands in solidarity with the Standing Rock Sioux and all communities asserting themselves through organizing and alliance-building to address systemic racial and environmental injustices.

Today, on Indigenous Peoples Day, we pause to reflect and honor the histories of native communities across North America. As we continue to support the #NoDAPL movement, we also encourage you to support in the following ways:

  • Share information about #NoDAPL with your networks
  • Click here to connect and get involved with IMAN’s grassroots organizing efforts
  • Support MuslimARC’s campaign to raise funds for the Standing Rock Sioux