Open Engagement has invited a group of contributors to make this year’s blog into a timely resource for organizing, moving forward and thinking creatively during particularly unjust times.
In light of our current reality and to align with this year’s conference theme of JUSTICE these blog posts will feature strategies, testimonies, literature, art and instructions as tools for working and living in the world as we know it.
The 2017 blog project, Resources on Justice, will grow over time, be published incrementally and will feature responses from a wide range of participants including activists, writers, thinkers, artists, teachers, arts professionals, community leaders, cultural workers, and more. It is an inclusive and accessible platform to think through the conference theme, introduce dialogues specific to the conference’s host city, as well as instigate ideas that can be applied beyond the context of this conference.
Allison Burque is a licensed therapist, organizer, and dedicated advocate for the health and political agency of Chicago’s queer community. Prior to establishing her private practice, she was a social worker for Howard Brown Health Center and a member of the collective Chances Dances, where she co-coordinated two grassroots arts grants: Critical Fierceness, and the Mark Aguhar Memorial Grant. She is a core organizer of Make Yourself Useful, a network of people committed to actively fortifying POC-led racial justice movements in Chicago and beyond.
The Howard Brown Health Center offers free health care services without an appointment for trans and gender nonconforming people on the first and third Friday of every month from 6-9 p.m. Participants are able to access primary medical care, information about hormones, HIV/STI testing, behavioral health services, and even access to a free clothing swap. This service is organized by Trisha Holloway, a long-time activist, and is regularly evolving its programming to meet the needs of Chicago’s trans/gnc communities. Contact Trisha for information.
Mothers Against Senseless Killings started in 2015 after a corner in Englewood became “the deadliest” block in Chicago. Tamar Manasseh, founder of MASK, decided to take matters into her own hands and gathered a group of mothers to monitor the block. Everyday from 4pm-8pm they sit on the street corners, talk to neighbors, hand out food, and create a culture of community respect and accountability to prevent gun violence. MASK has recently been awarded ownership of a vacant lot on this corner and they wish to turn it into a family-friendly play lot where members of the community can peacefully gather and MASK can continue their effective anti-violence work. Consider donating to their campaign to support the development of this space.
TJLP provides free, zealous, life-affirming, and gender-affirming holistic criminal legal services to low-income and street based transgender and gender non-conforming people targeted by the criminal legal system. In addition to the very rad training, education, and legal work TJLP provides, they also offer a monthly name-change mobilization. The event takes place the last Friday of every month at the Daley Center and the TJLP crew will literally walk people through completing and filing their paperwork in order to get their name/gender marker changed on legal forms. It makes a very clunky bureaucratic process accessible and, in many cases, affordable (free!). Contact TJLP here for more information.
95% of people being held at Cook County Jail are waiting for trial, the majority of these locked up individuals are nonviolent, and some owe as little as 100 in bond in order to be free before their trial date. Illinois State Representative Christian Mitchell has introduced the Equal Justice For All Act to the General Assembly in order to abolish cash bonds for nonviolent offenders. The hope for this is to eliminate the current criminal legal system that punishes people for being poor, keeps people away from their families & employment as they await trial, and essentially incarcerates people without their constitutional right to due process. To support this bill, please contact your Illinois State House Representative by finding them here, and let them know you expect their vocal support on this act.
Chicago Dyke March Collective is a grassroots mobilization and celebration of dyke, queer, bisexual and transgender resilience. It is the radical response to the Pride Parade, where programming is created by and for QTPOC. The thoughtfulness, inclusivity, and practice of social justice values this group manifests is continually inspiring. And their instagram is totally hilarious. Learn about them here, support them here, and attend the march this summer!