The Getting to Know Our Muslim Neighbors initiative hosted the first Coffee and Conversations event at Fuel Coffee Shop today. Thirty people ate and discussed community issues (public and mental health, education, arts and culture, and homelessness and hunger) together for two hours.
It was moving to see four full tables of strangers talking with each other. Throughout our time together, several people pulled chairs up to the tables to join. By the end, one table that began with four individuals concluded their talk with nine or ten crowded around it.
It is the start, I hope, of a series of interfaith dialogues and service collaborations. More resources will be posted soon at www.muslimneighbors.com.
I am currently working on a photonarrative research project with a group of young Muslim Americans, mostly Purdue undergraduate, graduate, and medical students. This exhibit is part of a larger initiative that began with the intent of a) forming a network of church leaders who would be ready to respond in support of our local Muslim community if any kind of anti-Muslim demonstrations would take place and b) offer dialogue events at area churches. There have been a number of other outreach efforts locally, such as the "Meet a Muslim Day" and "Islam 101" and attention in local media to area Muslims. It is a timely topic given the rise of Islamophobia in response to political campaigns and media coverage of current events.
Ruth M. Smith
Community arts educator and researcher. Drinking coffee. Home educating. Making art. Listening intentionally.