There is a variety of ways that community stabilization work can look. One example is that during Ramadan, we took over the blocks at night to raise awareness about the lack of youth centers in the neighborhoods. This is because we believe if you want to turn youth away from something, you have to turn them towards something. We have to create alternative: youth programming, a youth center in the neighborhood, and more outreach specifically focused on young men and women. We also host block parties, barbecues, film nights, peace circles, dialogue and gang interventions, and carry out community surveys and needs assessment.
We are working to secure our neighborhoods. After all, we are living in the same community and on the same blocks. Whether at school or on private property, safety is important. You can build a new home but if people don’t feel secure in their house, if people are dying in front of their house, they will not come out. Some of us have been part of creating violence in the streets as young people and now we are trying to put things on the right path. Through Islam, we feel religiously obligated to keep our children our community’s children safe. We worked as event staff and security, as unarmed guards, and doing surveillance.
We lead guided tours of our community on the southwest side of Chicago. The tours provide a cultural education to the realities of living in Chicago in the inner-city– this is poor, working-class America. We do this because we want to build relationships and understandings across race/ethnicity, nationality, religion, and income. We also want to share ideas about the best practices from a global perspective and create solutions. Finally, the contracts that we do for community tours allow us to fund other local work sustainably and provide things like materials, food, and transportation for Project Restore Industries’ organizational activities.
We are trying to get to level where we can become developer within the community. We feel that right now there are unfair practices going on that are excluding people int he community due to low credit scores. It is very difficult for community members to get their house redone and large scale construction projects too often hire from outside the community. We want to move into general contracting including construction, painting, dry wall, moving, hauling, and general labor.