Fresh Beats & Eats Enlivens Southwest Side Streets

For the third consecutive summer, IMAN’s Fresh Beats & Eats Farmers Market has enlivened West 63rd Street with vibrant tables of fresh organic produce, various vendors offering homemade treats, and exciting artistic expression. This year’s market season kicked off with a special musical guest all the way from New Orleans: Amir Gray & The Tubatones.

Amir and his band not only rocked the Fresh Beats & Eats stage, they also gave local residents a taste of Louisiana with a walking procession throughout the neighborhood. Children along California Avenue followed behind the “second line” and drivers honked along with the beat. This performance was the first of many efforts at “creative place-making” by IMAN’s Arts & Culture department, bringing new artistic experiences (quite literally) to the front doors of residents and connecting them to things happening in their community. IMAN leaders handed out Fresh Beats & Eats flyers behind the procession and encouraged community members to visit the market to purchase their weekly produce.

The farmers market will be held every Friday through the month of October. This initiative is a crucial component of IMAN’s mission of inner-city health, wellness and healing; each individual and family who visits the produce stand and pulls up a chair to enjoy the music serves as a proof of concept, and a small but impactful building block along the path to more dignified and healthy community life.

Interested in volunteering or vending at Fresh Beats & Eats? Email us at farmersmarket@imancentral.org to join the team!

IMAN Awarded Healthy Chicago 2.0 Grant

IMAN’s Corner Store Campaign was awarded a Healthy Chicago 2.0 Seed Grant by the City of Chicago for its innovative approach toward “promoting heath in a community including access to social services and healthy food, safe public spaces, social cohesion and collaboration.” This grant will fund the launch of the new produce distribution system providing local corner stores with fresh fruits and vegetables.

Building healthy communities requires holistic support, and the Corner Store Campaign’s produce distribution system is designed to address that need in an innovative, sustainable way. IMAN Health Clinic patients will be offered coupons redeemable at local corner stores, as well as at IMAN’s weekly Fresh Beats & Eats Farmers Market. This produce distribution model—now possible with the Healthy Chicago funding—facilitates mutual, community-wide benefits: corner stores are incentivized to increase fresh produce sales, while residents enjoy easier access to fruits and vegetables.

Individuals and families deserve access to healthy food options, no matter the zip code in which they reside. IMAN’s Corner Store Campaign works to bring this basic right into reality through initiatives like the produce distribution system. For more information about the Corner Store Campaign, or to join this dynamic team of community organizers and leaders, email Campaign Manager Sara Hamdan at sara@imancentral.org.

IMAN Staff Doubles Down on Cultivation

IMAN prides itself in cultivating a deep bench of skilled staff and engaged leaders, recognizing the value of empowering each member of the organization to truly embody health, wellness and healing in their own unique way. This past month, the IMAN family made tremendous strides in both personal and professional development.

During the sacred month of Ramadan, IMAN youth leaders and senior staff took a road trip to Centralia, Illinois for a weekend of bonding and rejuvenation. Graciously hosted by a family of longtime supporters, the group spent time in spiritual reflection, enjoying and exploring nature, and connecting with one another’s stories in more profound ways. For some of the younger travelers, this was their first venture to downstate Illinois.

IMAN Executive Assistant Ammiel Mateen and Director of Community Relations Alia Bilal each completed university-based certificate programs last month that significantly enhanced their respective skill sets. Ammiel finished an intensive Human Resources course at DePaul University wherein she studied workforce development and risk management practices. Alia graduated from the highly selective Civic Leadership Academy program at the University of Chicago, further positioning herself as a leader in the city’s civic community.

In the fall, Muslim Run Corner Store Campaign Manager Sara Hamdan will begin her studies at the University of Chicago as well. Sara was accepted into the School of Social Service Administration, one of the nation’s premier social work and social welfare programs. Especially in the current socio-political climate, such opportunities to bolster skills while exploring emerging theories and understanding will only serve to prepare staff to become innovative leaders in the near future.

Atlanta Green ReEntry Graduation

Earlier this year, five returning citizens in Atlanta joined Green ReEntry, an intensive, 12-week training and education course in plumbing and project management offered by Inner-City Muslim Action Network (IMAN). Green ReEntry offers support to formerly incarcerated individuals facing barriers to employment, and has been a cornerstone of IMAN’s work since the organization’s inception 20 years ago.

Green ReEntry manager and master plumber, Jermaine Shareef, was teacher and mentor to these five hard-working men. Four of the five completed the program. Tariq Baiyina, Qawi Clark Gerald, Malik Bradley Brantley, and Karim Andrew Vance all disprove the stigmas and stereotypes that are hurtfully attached to the formerly incarcerated. Mr. Tariq Abdullah, a community leader and the CEO of Tarchitects LLC, led seminars on project management, during which the Green ReEntry crew directly applied their newly acquired knowledge and skills to create IMAN Atlanta’s new program office located at 1007 Cascade Ave SW.

On Sunday, May 21, 2017 with a full audience, the crew successfully graduated from the Green ReEntry program and proved that they are greater than what our current criminal justice climate may have us believe. They are committed leaders and inspiring role models dedicated to transforming neglected neighborhoods into flourishing communities wherein our youth can feel safe and supported. The crew is dedicated to fostering the loving environments that were denied to them.

Family, friends, and fellow community members joined in the special graduation ceremony. IMAN Atlanta Director, Imam Mansoor Sabree, and Advisory Committee Chair, Sameera Fazili, attested to the power and strength of these extraordinary men, and the tremendous potential of Green ReEntry to push the criminal justice reform movement forward.

Other special guests in attendance were Dr. Rami Nashashibi, IMAN Executive Director , Alia Bilal, IMAN Director of Community Relations, and Mama Sol, a spoken word artist and activist from Atlanta, who elevated the spirit of #FightFearBuildPower through her poetry performances .

To learn more about IMAN Atlanta; please visit imancentral.org and ‘like’ IMAN Atlanta on Facebook to stay connected and support future Green ReEntry programs and activities.