By Niema Dancy | Originally published on August 30, 2018 by Inner-City Muslim Action Network (IMAN)
Inner-City Muslim Action Network shares strategies and outcomes from its unique community organizing curriculum in this report on its most recent training session, which drew participants from four states for two days of immersive skills-building. Read about the gathering’s impact below.
Nearly 25 leaders gathered at Chicago’s Catholic Theological Union on August 18th and 19th for IMAN’s two-day, immersive community organizing training. During the weekend-long training, participants deepened their understanding of ways to build power at the grassroots level, and explored strategies for moving their communities into action. The diverse, intergenerational group of attendees hailed from four different states seeking to sharpen their organizing skills.
Over the course of the training, IMAN’s veteran Organizing staff introduced useful tools and key concepts during various interactive exercises. Attendees learned how to conduct effective relational meetings, or “one-to-ones,” which strengthen relationships between community members through the exchange of personal stories. The group then visually mapped the “The World As It Is vs. The World As It Could Be” in small teams, sharing and comparing their visions and ideals. Participants were given time to reflect on their lived experiences, identify their own self-interest, and understand the self-interest of others, all of which are essential to foster intentional relationships and facilitate grassroots community organizing
IMAN Roster Artist Lula Saleh, who traveled from Minneapolis for the training, infused the weekend with powerful artistic expression, including an original poem and a bluesy song enlisting the rhythmic skills of her fellow trainees. Lula also helped to re-energize leaders during the training with deep breathing exercises and free movement techniques.
In line with IMAN’s organizing philosophy, this training delivered the wisdom and inspiration of earlier generations of freedom fighters to a new generation of organizers, highlighting the beauty and importance of people uniting to address issues that directly affect them. This was the fourth training nationwide that our organizers have facilitated in 2018 using IMAN’s unique community organizing curriculum. We will continue to develop leaders across the country, carving out a healthy space for nuanced conversations about shared concerns, and transforming glaring differences into the means by which communities #FightFearBuildPower.
Niema Dancy is the Strategic Communications Director at Inner-City Muslim Action Network.
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. IMAN incorporated as a nonprofit in 1997 through the drive of people directly affected by and deeply invested in social issues affecting communities of color living on Chicago’s South Side. Since that time, IMAN has steadily grown and, in 2016, opened a second office in Atlanta to continue mobilizing a cross-section of people committed to this mission. This post was originally published by IMAN.