Community Leader Rami Nashashibi | 2017 MacArthur Fellow

We’re a community-based organization
that is in many ways inspired by deep overlapping and transcendent principles
in our faith, and in the faith of others. My name is Rami Nashashibi. I’m a
community organizer. I lead a nonprofit organization known as the Inner-City
Muslim Action Network (IMAN) that works for health, wellness, and healing in the
inner city by running a holistic community clinic, leading community
organizing campaigns for social justice, and cultivating the arts. We have seen
issues like housing, and access to fresh food, and even criminal justice reform, as
linked to the idea of holistic health and wellness in the neighborhood. Just
treating one aspect of that and not the other, particularly in low-income black
and brown communities, really ignores the profound obstacles that exist at every
juncture. The corner stores are relevant to organizers like us. Many low-income
communities still subsist off these all-inclusive stores for everyday
access from everything from milk to diapers. They also are this space where
low-income immigrants are interacting with low-income African American
residents, and we feel like those spaces should be places of hope and possibility
and not just places where we are pitted against one another.
Green ReEntry is a program that is working directly with returning citizens, i.e. the formerly incarcerated, many of whom are coming home after long significant
prison sentences, and a youth demographic of 18 to 25 year olds in the city. The
program provides job training for that population, particularly around
rehabilitation of formerly vacant, vandalized, and foreclosed homes in the
neighborhood. IMAN is also extraordinarily excited about seeing our
clinic campus grow with the vision of building, really from the ground up, a
state-of-the-art cutting-edge holistic health facility
that will include everything from gym space to an integrative clinic. That
alongside a surge of phenomenal artistic programs through vehicles like our
full-time ceramics studio and citywide artistic programming that continues the
legacy of bringing artists from all different walks of life together in
various spaces across the city. We have our first full-time operation outside of
Chicago based in Atlanta led by an extraordinarily dynamic team of leaders,
activists, and organizers. IMAN is very deliberate in its own ability to both be
rooted in this large broader American Muslim experience, but also broadly
informed and inclusive of the many different traditions that we interact
with every single day. We’re in this together, Muslims and Jews and Christians
and black folks and brown folks and white folks of different backgrounds, we
have a collective shared interest. We believe we have the possibility of being
catalytic force of igniting that passion to do this type of work in urban centers
across the country.

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