Resources on Justice – Amber Ginsburg

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.

About the contributor: Together with collaborators, Amber Ginsburg creates site-generated projects and social sculpture that insert historical scenarios into present day situations. Her background in craft orients her projects towards the continuities and ruptures in material, social, and utopic histories. She teaches in the Department of Visual Arts at the University of Chicago. Amber shares with us her Top 5 Resources on Justice for the 2017 blog project.


  1. Chicago Torture Justice Memorials and the Jon Burge Reparations

The Chicago Torture Justice Memorials project, which helped facilitate and lead to the Burge Reparations for survivors of police torture is one of the most remarkable models of artists, activists, survivors and lawyers coming together and effectively advocating for accountability. Said best their own words ––

“Chicago Torture Justice Memorials (CTJM) aims to honor and to seek justice for the survivors of Chicago police torture, their family members and the African American communities affected by the torture. In 2010 CTJM, a group of attorneys, artists, educators, and social justice activists, put out a call for speculative memorials to recall and honor the two-decades long struggle for justice waged by torture survivors and their families, attorneys, community organizers, and people from every neighborhood and walk of life in Chicago. This effort culminated in a major exhibition of 75 proposals and a year-long series of associated teach-ins, roundtables, and other public events in 2011-2013.CTJM now turns its attention to a campaign for reparations for those affected by Chicago Police torture, and to working in solidarity with other groups and individuals for racial justice and to end police violence and mass incarceration.”

The Burge Reparations offers redress to individual survivors, their families, their communities, provides education on police torture in public schools and allows descendants of survivors education and training opportunities, as well as a public memorial. This multifaceted approach to reparations, in very real terms, recognizes the depth of loss perpetrated by torture and injustice.

Recommendation: Read the Burge Reparations

  1. Inner-City Muslim Action Network (IMAN)

IMAN, a south-west Chicago organization offers health care services, dentistry, youth poetry slams (they are great!), art classes, green construction training for formerly incarcerated men, counseling and much much more. This small organization, deeply immersed in the community directly combats negative ideas spread through Islamophobia by their powerful social justice programming.

  1. Chicago Community Bond Fund

“The Chicago Community Bond Fund (CCBF) pays bond for people charged with crimes in Cook County, Illinois. Through a revolving fund, CCBF supports individuals whose communities cannot afford to pay the bonds themselves and who have been impacted by structural violence. Inability to pay bond results in higher rates of conviction, longer sentences, loss of housing and jobs, separation of families, and lost custody of children. By paying bond, CCBF restores the presumption of innocence before trial and enables recipients to remain free while fighting their cases. CCBF also engages in public education about the role of bond in the criminal legal system and advocates for the abolition of money bond. CCBF is committed to long term relationship building and organizing with people most directly impacted by criminalization and policing.”

  1. Prison + Neighborhood Arts Project (PNAP)

“Prison + Neighborhood Arts Project is a visual arts and humanities project that connects teaching artists and scholars to men at Stateville Maximum Security Prison through classes, workshops and guest lectures. Classes offered include subjects ranging from poetry, visual arts, and film study to political theory, social studies, and history. Classes are held once a week, on a 14 week semester schedule. Each course results in finished projects—visual art, creative writing and critical essays—with specific audiences and neighborhoods in mind. These works are then exhibited and read in neighborhood galleries and cultural centers. Over the course of an academic semester, artists and scholars on the inside and outside address key questions:

What can we learn from each other?

Who are our audiences?

What materials and methods best relate our concerns?

What can we say from inside a maximum security prison?”

  1. Jane Addams Hull House Museum

In terms of the theme of Justice, I would be remiss to not include Jane Addams, such an important thinker and model for lived/action-based ideas of change.