Urban Democracy Feast Successful Crowd Fund Dinner Awards Three Socially Motivated Intitatives

Urban Democracy Feast Successful Crowd Fund Dinner Awards Three Socially Motivated Intitatives

First Congregational Church UCC Kalamazoo

March Urban Democracy FEAST

Kalamazoo, MI- A diverse mixture of community advocates, allies, survivors, and organizations gathered to fellowship, collaborate, network and listen to projects that connect a need for change in the community of Kalamazoo.

Since 2015, UDF, which is comprised of a collective of community members wanting to create a face-to-face crowd funding opportunity for community projects. This process occurs over a meal while exchanging information about shared problems, common obstacles and ways to overcome them.  Including money generated from this evenings FEAST, UDF organizers have raised more than $4000.00 to support social justice projects demonstrating direct democracy and accountability. Urban Democracy Feast defines social justice as equal access to all the resources and services. 

Justyce Calvert, her younger sister, Jaide, and “Glam mother”, Gwendolyn Hooker started JABS. JABS stands for Justice Against Bullying at School. Justyce, a victim, and survivor of bullying shared that JABS was started because she did not have anywhere to go to talk about bullying when it happened to her.

Hooker shared at the opening of their presentation, “Children that are bullied are compounded and affected in a negative way. They are traumatized from the types of things that happen to them. If they are being beaten up, mistreated, being called names, they (students) internalize that stuff and it comes out in negative ways.” According to a study that was released in 2016, Michigan ranks #1 as the worst state in the country for bullying. WalletHub.com conducted a national analysis using 17 metrics, ranking states on data using three key dimensions: 1) Bullying Prevalence, 2) Bullying Impact & Treatment and 3) Anti-Bullying Laws. The National Education Association estimates that 160,000 children miss school every day to fear of some form of bullying or intimidation by other students.

Every 7 minutes, a child in the U.S. is bullied. Only four in 100 adults will intervene while 11 percent of the child’s peers might do the same.  As for the other 85 percent, absolutely nothing will happen.

La Amistad Horticulture Training Program, an introduction to sustainable agriculture, market gardening, and horticulture for young people of color ages 17-21 in the Kalamazoo area.

The farm located just six miles north of downtown Kalamazoo. The farm grows veggies, herbs, and flowers on 10 acres of land as well as a children’s nature education program. Their principles, “we are recreating a model for thriving, inspiring and resilient community homesteading”. The program involves hosting youth ages 17-21 for 8 hours a week for 9 weeks. The training includes classroom activities as well as hands training related to horticulture and homesteading.

Jordon, a Graduate Student at Western Michigan University, conducting a research project on infant mortality disparities across the state. ” In Kalamazoo, if you have a black baby, it’s four times likely to die before it’s first birthday as if you have a white baby”. Researchers have asked the questions, ” What do black moms do wrong? What’s wrong with black people in general? What kind of DNA do they have that makes them die? Nothing to do with genetics, practices or medical conditions. Black children are more likely to die from the effects of stress.

Over $1000.00 was raised at the FEAST. JABS received 35% ($368.20) of the votes. La Amistad Farms received 21% ($220.92) and Infant Morality in Kalamazoo received 44% ($462.11) of the votes.

The goal of the organizers is to generate funds that kick start projects that might otherwise not get funded, or help them make a qualitative leap in their work. These three groups will report back at the next Urban Democracy Feast, what the funds were used for, a practice of direct democracy.

The next FEAST is scheduled for November 18, 2017. For more information about the FEAST or how to apply, visit www.urbandemocracfeast.org.

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Kick-Off to Without/-Borders? 2016 on Kalamazoo College

Kick-Off to Without/-Borders? 2016 on Kalamazoo College

Kalamazoo, MI-

Friday morning on K-College,busy with visitors local and distant for the kick-off of With/out-Borders? 2016.
Facilitating the dialogue for the first AfroFuturism Plenary are Alex Lubin.  Alex Lubin is Professor and Chair of the American Studies Department at the University of New Mexico, Shante Smalls-Assistant Professor of English and African American Literature & Culture at St. Johns University. Joining them as well, Cynthia Young, Adrienne Marcee Brown, writer, sci-fi/Octavia Butler scholar, organizational healer, pleasure activist, organizational healer, facilitator, live/love/relationship/work coach, doula, speaker/singer. Kai Green, Assistant Professor of Feminist Studies at UC Santa Barbara.

To view live:


Let Us  “Caucus” and Be Heard

Let Us “Caucus” and Be Heard

Kalamazoo, MI-Michigan United, a statewide organization of community members and institutions fighting for the dignity hosted a debriefing/processing dialogue for members (MU), community leaders, and community members to discuss the recent mass shootings in Kalamazoo. A “space” was created for the community to share, process, speak openly, and know that others in the community are feeling isolated, hurt, and vulnerable.

The evening opened with a prayer/poem by Archbishop Oscar Romero, “A Future Not Our Own”. The attendees were asked to break into discussion groups based on how each person identifies racially. The facilitated groups then reported out what was discussed and the other racial groups listened and gave an interpretation of what they heard from the group reporting what was discussed.

Elisheva Johnson, lead organizer for the School to Prison Pipeline Campaign at Michigan United spoke with Majyck Radio, ” We realize we have to have this conversation because the community asked for this (conversation). People didn’t know how to process the information that was being reported so close to home.” Six fatalities and two victims have a long road of recovery ahead. The outpouring of support not just from communities in Michigan. Kalamazoo is not also known as “that town” where there were mass shootings occurred. Johnson went on to say, ” A lot of people decided to repress and move on business as usual, so this space was intentional where folks could come and be brave about how this made them feel and talk about how they process things differently because of race”.

There is definitely more work that needs to be done. More open conversations are in the early stages of planning for 2016. For more information about the School to Prison Pipeline and other social justice campaigns, visit www.miunited.org


RSS EIN Presswire: Education Press Releases

New Initiative Provides Micro-Grants to Local Social Projects

Majyck Radio-(Kalamazoo, MI)

 In just a few short weeks, a group of community organizations (including a co-operative), educators and graduate students, independent media operators, urban farmers and professional cooks have started a face-to-face crowd funding process in Kalamazoo. This process occurs over a meal instead of over the Internet so that we can exchange information about lived experiences that reveal shared problems, common obstacles and ways to overcome them by thinking together and teaching each other. Twice this year and three times next year we will host an urban FEAST to raise funds that will support social justice projects demonstrating direct democracy and accountability. We define social justice as equal access to all the resources and services.

The goal of the organizers is to put together a meal every few months in order to generate funds that can kick start projects that might otherwise not get funded, or help them make a qualitative leap in their work.

Their first feast will be held at the Hispanic American Council on May 2, 2015. The council is located at 930 Lake St, Kalamazoo, MI. To find out more information, visit their website at www.urbandemocracyfeast.org

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