For the past year, besides enjoying a somewhat elusive retirement, five grandchildren, World Pilgrims, and my blog partners at Higher Ground, I have also been involved with a wonderful initiative called One Region. The Community Foundation for Greater Atlanta provided matching funds and its expertise to partner with a donor that was interested in increasing interfaith and cross-cultural relationships, with an emphasis on the engagement of Muslim Americans.
The primary vision is to enable Metro Atlanta Muslims to fully embrace their civic rights, opportunities, and responsibilities, while increasing and deepening the interactions and relationships with neighbors, local governments, educational and cultural institutions, and faith communities. The four basic strategies and tactics are:
- Community Building through Arts, Culture, and Public Dialogue
- Leadership Development through Youth Engagement
- Civic Engagement via Education and Training, and
- Capacity Building through Sponsorships and Grants
The Community Foundation has involved its Neighborhood Fund to expand the reach and benefits of One Region into the interfaith, cross-cultural, and immigrant communities. Its Council of Advisers includes members of the non-profit, faith, civic, corporate, public, and grassroots sectors.
In the past year, One Region has helped sponsor “Muslim Day in Grant Park”, the Georgia Humanities Council’s “Let’s Talk About It: Muslim Journeys”, “Soccer in the Streets” in Clarkston, “The Islamophobia Conference on Muslim Women”,”Atlanta Celebrates Photography”, and the theatrical performances of “The Guys”, “Third Country”, “Harabel”, and “The Best of Enemies”. We have partnered with The Center for Civil and Human Rights, the Islamic Speakers Bureau, Families First, Welcoming America, the 5th Annual Neighborhood Summit, Dekalb Library, Azizah Magazine, Higher Ground, and Eboo Patel.
What is most exciting to me, One Region has a youth competition that begins April 1st called “Ideas Challenge”. We ask college, high school, and middle school aged young people this question: “How would you use $5,000 to bridge cultures and faiths in your community?”. The 3 young people with the best ideas and plans to help their Metro Atlanta community or neighborhood become more inclusive will not only receive a $500 cash prize, but we will partner them with a non-profit and $5000 to bring their idea into reality!
Insha-Allah (God Willing), One Region will fill a void and help everyone it touches to deeply appreciate and benefit from the beauty and richness of diversity. To view the rest of our story, go to www.oneregionatlanta.org.
submitted by Imam Plemon T. El-Amin