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 firstname.lastname@example.org.
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!
After months of community engagement, grassroots outreach and advocacy trips to the state capitol, the IMAN-drafted Path to Restoration Bill was finally signed into law last month. This crucial legislation generated bipartisan support, and establishes several amendments promoting transparency within the Illinois registry system tracking individuals convicted of violent crimes against minors. Alongside the Removing Invisible Bars Bill–passed by IMAN organizers in 2016–the Path to Restoration Bill advances efforts to open pathways for returning citizens to positively contribute to their communities without fear of lingering surveillance and stigma.
The Path to Restoration Bill was born out of personal connections between our leaders, fellow community members, and IMAN organizers. As those most directly affected by the opaque, overly punitive Illinois registry system shared the obstacles they faced, Staff Attorney Aaron Siebert-Llera and Staff Organizer Nasir Blackwell took the lead in gathering support for the bill from the grassroots level to the state legislature. Several instructors and alumni of our Green ReEntry program stepped forward to tell their stories to the media and public officials alike.
The bill will go into effect in Illinois on January 1, 2019, giving residents the power to file a petition with the State’s Attorney’s Office in the county of their conviction. Such a petition could amend any erroneous information attributed to them on the registry, and/or have their names erased from the registry in the case of significant errors. IMAN organizers are currently developing an implementation and education strategy to help individuals navigate the newly amended state registry.
IMAN’s push to #FightFearBuildPower continues, and community-informed criminal justice reform remains at the forefront of our efforts. To learn more about this and other campaigns, please attend our weekly Grassroots Power Hours on Tuesday evenings, or email email@example.com for more information.
Nearly 25 leaders gathered at Chicago’s Catholic Theological Union on August 18th and 19th for IMAN’s two-day, immersive community organizing training. During the weekend-long training, participants deepened their understanding of ways to build power at the grassroots level, and explored strategies for moving their communities into action. The diverse, intergenerational group of attendees hailed from four different states seeking to sharpen their organizing skills.
Over the course of the training, IMAN’s veteran Organizing staff introduced useful tools and key concepts during various interactive exercises. Attendees learned how to conduct effective relational meetings, or “one-to-ones”, which strengthen relationships between community members through the exchange of personal stories. The group then visually mapped the “The World As It Is vs. The World As It Could Be” in small teams, sharing and comparing their visions and ideals. Participants were given time to reflect on their lived experiences, identify their own self-interest, and understand the self-interest of others, all of which are essential to foster intentional relationships and facilitate grassroots community organizing.
IMAN Roster Artist Lula Saleh, who traveled from Minneapolis for the training, infused the weekend with powerful artistic expression, including an original poem and a bluesy song enlisting the rhythmic skills of her fellow trainees. Lula also helped to re-energize leaders during the training with deep breathing exercises and free movement techniques.
In line with IMAN’s organizing philosophy, this training delivered the wisdom and inspiration of earlier generations of freedom fighters to a new generation of organizers, highlighting the beauty and importance of people uniting to address issues that directly affect them. This was the fourth training nationwide that our organizers have facilitated in 2018 using IMAN’s unique community organizing curriculum. We will continue to develop leaders across the country, carving out a healthy space for nuanced conversations about shared concerns, and transforming glaring differences into the means by which communities #FightFearBuildPower.