The second year of One Chicago, One Nation (OCON) is off to a spirited start. OCON launched in 2010 as a collaborative between One Nation, Interfaith Youth Core (IFYC), IMAN, The Chicago Community Trust (CCT), and Link TV. It was developed with the goal of bridging the interfaith divide, while placing a particular focus on the Muslim tradition, given the rise of hate crimes following 9/11. The 2010 program model mobilized a network of Community Ambassadors from a broad spectrum of Chicago neighborhoods and from different religious and cultural backgrounds. These Ambassadors hosted interfaith community conversations across Chicagoland to bring community residents together and find common solutions to community problems. OCON’s opening year culminated with Community Ambassadors applying for community solution grants, and with Mayor Daley congratulating them all at a graduation ceremony during IMAN’s Takin’ It to the Streets 2010 festival in Marquette Park.
This year, on January 15th, the opening words of CCT’s Phil Thomas kicked off two days of Community Ambassador training on interfaith collaboration. During this training, conducted by IFYC, Community Ambassadors learned best practices on interfaith networking, while engaging and forming bonds with other Community Ambassadors of different faith traditions. The weekend closed with a much anticipated brunch in honor of civil rights leader Reverend Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. at the Spertus Institute of Jewish Studies. Terry Mazany, President and CEO of CCT, recognized Community Ambassadors, from the 2010 cohort, who had received community solutions grants. Later, the audience was captivated by remarks from Executive Directors Eboo Patel of IFYC and Rami Nashashibi of IMAN. In the end, OCON program managers Saleem Muhammad and Rochelle from Interfaith Youth Core detailed the OCON mission. They introduced newly inducted community ambassadors and invited them to take the podium and regale the audience with their plans and hopes for interfaith action.
The 2011 OCON model relies on IFYC and IMAN to train and mobilize a collective cohort of fifty-one Community Ambassadors, with funding provided by CCT. Thirty Community Ambassadors, dispatched by IFYC, will lead interfaith projects within their faith congregations or on their university campuses. Likewise, IMAN will manage a group of twenty-one Community Ambassadors who will engage local communities in the spirit of interfaith solidarity, while focusing on specific tracks of community development, arts and culture cultivation, and health and wellness advancement. Given the passion and enthusiasm of these Community Ambassadors projected at OCON’s MLK Day brunch, this initiative is sure to inspire the collective consciousness of Chicagoans of every color and creed.