Recent federal policy decisions around immigration and criminal justice have had a marked impact on the daily lives of many Chicagoans, and particularly those in the Marquette Park area. Recognizing the growing importance of accessible community organizing spaces, Inner-City Muslim Action Network (IMAN) began hosting weekly Grassroots Power Hour sessions to serve the needs of local individuals and families navigating our quickly shifting political landscape.
Grassroots Power Hour is a space for local residents and others from across Chicago to come together for education and relationship-building. Through relationships, IMAN has been able to collectively build power that has fueled our organizing work over the last 20 years. This type of grassroots work allows communities and institutions to build power together, allowing us to push for the types of policies and neighborhood transformation that our communities so desperately need. Grassroots Power Hour also creates space for healing through artistic expression and self-care, access to legal counsel, and training around organizing concepts.
While community organizing is at its core, each Power Hour also integrates artistic expression and practical self-care into each session. Celebrated artists like K Love the Poet and talented IMAN youth leaders have lent their voices to our day’s most pressing issues, inspiring their fellow community members and reaffirming the role of the arts in the larger effort toward justice and equity.
Under the leadership of IMAN’s Behavioral Health staff, free and accessible wellness workshops are a central part of each Grassroots Power Hour. Residents are exposed to easily implementable mental health practices in order to ease the myriad stressors that individuals, families and communities face on a daily basis.
Many community members in and around the Marquette Park area lack access to competent legal professionals. Recognizing this need, IMAN has established itself as a conduit between the two; several attorneys and activists have attended Power Hours, presenting on topics ranging from expungement to tenants’ rights.
As 2017 continues, Grassroots Power Hour will dig deeper into issues of criminal justice, immigration and national security, utilizing IMAN’s organizing model to equip our communities with the tools and education necessary to navigate the shifting landscape.
Based in Chicago and Atlanta, Inner-City Muslim Action Network is a community organization that fosters health, wellness and healing in the inner-city by organizing for social change, cultivating the arts and operating a holistic health center.
Grassroots Power Hour is held every Wednesday at 5:30 pm at IMAN’s Youth & Arts Wellness Center, located at 2744 W 63rd St in Chicago, Illinois. For more information, please contact Sara Hamdan at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Dallas Wright is the Communications & Volunteer Coordinator at IMAN. This post was expanded from an original piece by Sara Hamdan and cross-posted here with permission.