by Mark Crain
On a warm and sunny Fourth of July Sunday, the Islamic Society of North America (ISNA) and IMAN promoted a new partnership that will provide meaningful independence to formerly incarcerated Muslim brothers ready to be pillars of the Chicago Lawn community. At 9:30 AM, nearly 35 brothers and sisters boarded an unassuming school bus that transported them from the comfortable suburb of Rosemont to Chicago’s Southwest Side, the heart of Illinois’s foreclosure crisis, for the ISNA-IMAN Green Reentry tour. IMAN’s Executive Director, Rami Nashashibi, led the tour and used the bus ride down to IMAN as an opportunity to give a history of the patterns of white- flight and immigrant settlement that have dramatically shaped the Chicago Lawn community, ravaging its housing market in the process, over the past two decades.
A short presentation on IMAN welcomed the visitors at the main office. After an impromptu rally to support the project by ISNA Vice-President, Imam Mohamed Magid, the group headed to the Green Reentry house. Currently in its final stages of construction, this project will become home to 4-6 brothers each now equipped with a skill set for the new economy. The current Green Reentry house will become a model for at least three more buildings that will anchor the Community Safe Zone – a collaborative effort started in the summer of 2008 to address the continuous rise of violence that affects the lives of youth and their families on Chicago’s Southwest Side – being established by several organizing and social service groups in partnership with IMAN. Each house is estimated to cost $200K to acquire and renovate, but once finished it can become an invaluable tool in providing stability and safety to the neighborhood. Encouraged by remarks from ISNA President, Dr. Ingrid Mattson, our guests spent their rides back asking questions and conversing about how their community could not only contribute to this project but employ this model as well.
For more information on the Green Reentry project, please contact Ma’alam Abdullah, firstname.lastname@example.org.