Grassroots Power Hour Returns 2019

Grassroots Power Hour, our weekly community forum has officially returned. Power Hour is a space open to neighborhood residents, youth, and others from across the city to build meaningful relationships and find shared values. These sessions will be held on Wednesday evenings in Chicago and on Thursday evenings in Atlanta.

Our staff organizers facilitate these sessions, helping to build collective power and momentum to address issues that impact our families and communities, including police accountability, food access, and criminal justice reform. Power Hours in Chicago will focus on politics at the local level—as we gear up for the February 26th mayoral and aldermanic elections—and at the state and national levels, where we will engage freshman legislators to drive meaningful policy change. In preparation for Georgia Justice Day 2019, our Atlanta team will devote their first few Power Hours to analyzing key issues impacting the community, highlighting the importance of a unified voice, and creating a plan of action.

In order to continue developing our deep network of organizers, both veteran and emerging leaders will be invited as featured facilitators each month. Dinner is also served every week just before the start of each session, giving attendees an opportunity to organically connect.

Be sure to join us for Power Hour in Chicago on Wednesday evenings at 5:30pm, or in Atlanta on Thursdays at 6pm.

*If you are interested in participating in Georgia Justice Day 2019 on Tuesday, February 26, register at: https://www.eventbrite.com/e/justice-day-at-the-capitol-2019-registration-52325419739

If you have any questions, or would like to get involved in IMAN’s organizing campaigns, please contact Sara Hamdan (Chicago) at sara@imancentral.org or Atiba Jones (Atlanta) at atiba@imancentral.org

Spotlight: 2019 Behavioral Health Interns

IMAN’s expanding Behavioral Health work offers culturally competent services including individual, couples and group counseling. Faduma Sheikh-Abdi, Sandra Galicia, and Laura Caballero make up the dynamic team of graduate-level interns who have played a key role in helping increase community access to therapy. We sat down with them to learn more about their stories, experiences working with visitors to IMAN’s Community Health Center, and plans for future careers in the behavioral health field.

Tell us more about yourself.

Faduma: I was born in a refugee camp in Kenya after my family was forced to migrate from their indigenous home in Somalia due to civil war and famine. I was raised in Minneapolis, and moved to Chicago when I was 13. I grew a profound passion for intergenerational trauma after recognizing how I have internalized my family’s pain, which led me to enroll in the Clinical Mental Health program at Northeastern Illinois University.

Laura: I’m from San Antonio, TX and have been living in Chicago for 3 years now. I’m currently in my second year at the University of Chicago’s School of Social Service Administration. I’ll be graduating with a Master’s in Social Work this June.

Sandra: I am proudly from Gage Park, and am currently in my second and final year of graduate study at UIC’s Jane Addams College of Social Work. Other interests of mine include urban agriculture and food accessibility.

What are your career goals/aspirations? What inspired you to pursue a future in Mental Health/Social Service?

L: After graduation, I hope to continue my work in community mental health. As a future therapist, I feel my services should be easily accessible so individuals and families feel confident in finding appropriate resources. I would like to eventually work at the intersection of law and mental health, supporting refugees and asylum seekers with trauma-informed services.

S: I plan to help bring more accessible mental health services to Gage Park, and the larger South Side. I was inspired to do this work after my partner was killed in a drive-by shooting when I was 16 years old. Reflecting on the connection between tragedies like that, systemic inequalities and institutional violence, I have strived to live a very intentional life. I am committed to helping disrupt the violence that unjustly impacts my community.

F: Not having a relationship with my sweet grandma [Ayayo]—who was diagnosed with Alzheimer’s Disease—created within me a burning desire to foster healing for anyone who is in need of help. I value sincere connections with elders, and am pursuing a career in mental health to help community members feel heard and validated.

Share an experience you’ve had thus far at IMAN that embodies “Health, Wellness & Healing”.

S: I don’t think I’ll ever forget the circle [gathering] we had after the Jason Van Dyke verdict. Staff, leaders and residents came together to share our thoughts and feelings after that emotionally charged day. While the cause for the circle was devastating, I feel that the circle itself embodied “Health, Wellness, & Healing.” I am lucky to have shared that space with folks.

F: Phenom, a talented IMAN artist and inspirational speaker, blew my mind during an Arts & Culture workshop. I felt everyone in that space tap into one powerful force of love and unity. There was no hierarchy, no judgment, just flowing energy and laughter.

L: The circle session after the Van Dyke trial. It was powerful to see IMAN come together to heal during a moment of great pain. The Behavioral Health team facilitated reflection to help everyone process their feelings and emotions. It was a beautiful moment of support I’ve never seen in a workplace.

Steven Ward Residential Center Opens

In Chicago, the soon-to-be graduating Green ReEntry cohort gathered with neighbors and community leaders to celebrate the opening of the Steven Ward Residential Center. Steven Ward was a member of the Green ReEntry program who was tragically killed in December 2017. He helped begin the renovation of this new housing facility alongside his fellow cohort members, who completed the project and named it in Steven’s honor. Ward’s fiancé, who was with him at the time of his tragic death, cut the ribbon with their newborn daughter in her arms, and was among the first to tour the new home.

IMAN mobilizes artistic expression has been a powerful healing tool for the Green ReEntry program. During the ribbon cutting, members of IMAN’s Artist Roster including Tammy McCann and PHENOM delivered powerful performances, and Famous Inky (who is also part of the Green ReEntry cohort) wowed attendees with an impromptu performance–an ode to his program mates. Just before the ceremony came to a close, a specially designed ceramic memorial which was created inside IMAN’s Beloved Community Ceramic Studio, was unveiled. Cohort member James Collins, who contributed to the project shared reflections on the restorative and positive impact IMAN’s arts opportunities have had on his life. The artwork–a beautiful, mirrored mosaic with Steven’s silhouette in the center– will be installed on the front of the home, and features the handprints and signatures of dozens of Steven’s friends and colleagues.

The Chicago-based cohort will be graduating on Thursday, November 8 after completing 18 months of training. Please keep all the Green ReEntry participants, instructors and case workers in your prayers as they continue to transform lives and communities. For more info about Green ReEntry, please contact greenreentry@imancentral.org.

IMAN Hosts 1st Ever CommUNITY Café in Jackson, MS

For the first time ever, IMAN hosted its CommUNITY Café performance series in Jackson, Mississippi. CommUNITY Café: Truth, Healing & Transformation featured an intimate, “down in the Delta” blend of IMAN Roster Artists—including Jackson’s own Tawanna Shaunte and 5th Child. IMAN Roster artists Omar Offendum, Lula Saleh, Amir ‘Tubad’ Gray and host Preacher Moss—along with the captivating Kamilah Furqaan and Authentic Aseelah.

Hosted inside the Mississippi Museum of Art, the evening kicked off with a soulful “Café Hour” during which guests enjoyed small bites, conversation and soulful performances by jazz flutist & vocalist Kamilah Furqaan, poet & songstress Lula Saleh and trumpet & tuba player, Tubad & The Kings of New Orleans.

This Café was held in conjunction with the dynamic, Jackson-based International Museum of Muslim Cultures (IMMC), as part of their national conference which was centered around“Race, Class and Religious Intersectionality in America: An Ongoing Struggle For Human Dignity”. This incredible partnership helped to bring truth, healing and upliftment to the Jackson community, bridging a diverse and intergenerational audience through IMAN’s Arts and Culture programming. These uniquely curated engagements would not be possible without the Doris Duke Foundation for Islamic Art and Pillars Fund, whose generous support helps further the work to reach, connect with and mobilize broader audiences through artistic expressions.

Keep up with the latest IMAN Arts & Culture updates by following #IMANArts on Twitter, Facebook and Instagram. CommUNITY Café is primed for an even more exciting 2019, and we hope to see you there!