Community Development Track: Engaging a Community
Out of IMAN’s 21 Community Ambassadors, I am 1 of 7 interns in the Community Development track. In this track, our projects share the common theme of being tools for community development: we aim to unite and organize the community through encouraging community members’ activism and involvement.
Our first project was to write letters to politicians informing them of our goals. We wrote to politicians who represent Chicago’s Southwest side as well as those of our own wards and districts, aiming to increase awareness and earn support. We have also been collaborating with the two other tracks (Arts & Culture and Health & Wellness) to organize a repurposing community space event that will take place on Saturday, April 16th. Additionally, the Community Development track is planning a mural project that will serve as a community-organizing tool. Community members will paint this mural on large boards and we hope that the images will bring awareness of foreclosed housing in the area. Finally, our largest project is a documentary that we are preparing to show in May. This documentary will focus on 4 issues: health and wellness, education, poverty, and safety and include interviews with business owners, students, and other community members. We believe their personal stories will bring life to the issues. The documentary will not only present problems, but also our actions toward solving these problems and success stories.
Planning the projects and events is just one aspect of the Community Ambassador program. As strange as it sounds, I did not expect to “learn” as much as I did so far in this internship. Each group meeting and task comes with a new set of skills, everything from communication and teamwork to leadership and time management, and an increased passion for making a difference. Watching how our grassroots efforts can join people of different faiths together and unite a community only renews our passion to keep working and to challenge ourselves to achieve higher goals. Come to our future events and watch us transform these skills, tasks, and goals into successful projects.