IARP Reconciliation Report
Issue 2, May 2009
Art shows, water systems, and expanding outreach
By Kathy McKay, Executive Director
Greetings from the Iraqi and American Reconciliation Project! I hope this second edition of the Reconciliation Report finds you well and enjoying spring.
I want to thank you for your support for IARP. We're particularly excited about a number of art shows in the U.S. and Iraq, new water sanitation systems providing clean water for Iraqi schools and hospitals, and our expanding outreach efforts--none of which would be possible without you. This edition includes information on these activities, a note from Sami Rasouli (Director of Muslim Peacemaker Teams), and links for you to learn and act.
IARP believes strongly in the power of art to transform perceptions and ideas. An Iraqi artist's expression of war and occupation provides a window into her personal experience. For Americans, this window can counter the objectification of Iraqis as mere recipients of U.S. action (as depicted in photographs and media; e.g., American soldiers with guns bursting into an Iraqi home) and instead personalize Iraqi life.
A number of exciting shows are displaying Iraqi art this spring and summer. At United Theological Seminary in New Brighton, MN, the gallery show Art of War: Artists in Dialogue will be on display through June 15th. The show includes art from U.S. veterans and Iraqis. In conjunction with the gallery show, Iraq War veteran and UTS student Luke Leonard will hold a public discussion on May 6th about the situation in the Middle East. IARP hopes to see you there!
Through July 5th, the Salir a la luz gallery brings to light the interconnectedness of the world and enters "into the lives of children in war-torn Iraq." The children's art exhibit is from War Kids Relief, an organization that connects Iraqi and American youth. The Salir a la luz gallery is open Tuesday-Sunday 12-6pm or by appointment and is located in the Blair Arcade Building (lower level) at the corner of Selby and Western, St. Paul, MN.
IARP will display Iraqi art at Art-A-Whirl, the large art weekend in Northeast Minneapolis from May 15-17th. IARP's display will be at 1400 Van Buren St. IARP will also showcase Iraqi art at the Sabes Jewish Community Center and the Lanesboro Arts Center this September-November.
In Iraq, IARP's partner organization Muslim Peacemaker Teams (MPT) recently hosted an art show in Najaf for Iraqi artist Shaima'a Saad. Images from the show, which over 500 people attended, can be found on IARP's blog.
Water sanitation systems
With support from IARP and a number of American groups, Muslim Peacemaker Teams continues to install water sanitation systems at schools and hospitals in Iraq, providing clean water for Iraqis. Below are some recent photos sent by Sami Rasouli, Director of MPT.
IARP and MPT are thankful for the many people who have expressed interest in contributing to the Water for Peace project. Dr. Marcus Eriksen and Anna Cummins are currently on a 2000 mile cyclying/speaking tour on the U.S. West Coast to bring attention to two water issues: plastic waste filling the ocean and the critical need for clean water at schools around the world. Part of their mission is to raise awareness and funds for water sanitation systems in Iraq. Dr. Eriksen says, "Anna and I firmly believe that if every citizen could choose two causes (one human rights cause and one conservation cause) to know well, teach about, and defend with time and money, then the world would be a much different place. For this tour down the coast, we chose 'Plastic waste in our seas' and 'Clean water for schools.' We hope to make difference." Their website can be found here.
For teachers and others interested in the water situation in Iraq, IARP has a short synopsis of the situation here.
More pictures from the Water for Peace project can be found here.
IARP is working hard to expand its outreach, connecting with a number of groups and individuals. Our new blog provides an open place for you to explore and contribute to IARP's work. We invite you to submit activities, events, articles or other content that expresses your views on reconciliation, peace, and the relationship between Iraqis and Americans. IARP also has a Facebook group and Twitter online.
Recently, IARP Board Member Matt Gilroy visited a number of local and national organizations that support peace and human rights in the U.S. and Middle East. IARP is exploring ways to collaborate with Friends for a Non-Violent World, AMIDEAST, Global Action for Children, Friends Committee on National Legislation, the Evangelical Lutheran Church in America Washington Office, and others.
IARP also recently met with War Kids Relief to talk about collaboration and exchanged some exciting ideas. Both organizations work with kids and students in Iraq and the U.S. to build friendship and peace. What if there had been programs like the Young Ambassadors Program and Water for Peace 40 years ago, throughout the U.S. and Iraq? Would the same war have happened? It's much harder to go to war with your friends than your "enemies."
A note from Sami Rasouli, Director of the Muslim Peacemaker Teams
Dear IARP and friends,
Congratulations! If there is any kind of CHANGE taking place or will take place in the US since January 20th, 2009, CHANGE of minds and hearts would be what we need in Iraq, and this is happening right now, day after day in Najaf due to your fine work of peacebuilding and extending bridges of respect and understanding between people of the US and Iraq. I would like to report to you about Water For Peace action that took place this morning at Al-Khawrnaq High School for boys (700 students) in Najaf. The School is an old teaching institution, was established in 1923. I personally had attended my 7th, 8th and 9th grades in the sixties. A large unit of 300 Gallons of drinking water production purifier has been installed at the school. Thank you!
School Principal, Staff members and students have expressed with enthusiasm their appreciation for you and the donors of the gift they have received and friendship you are offering. They also have listened with interest to MPTer Samirah (project coordinator) who graciously explained MPT & IARP plans for Minneapolis-Najaf sister city project.
More reports to come soon.
Sami Rasouli, Muslim Peacemaker Teams
Update on Najaf delegation planning
IARP continues to plan for a delegation from Najaf, Iraq to visit Minneapolis this coming September. Members of the delegation will include professors (likely a Dean and a Department Chair) from the University of Kufa, a representative from the Chamber of Commerce of Najaf, one or two members of the Najaf City Council, representatives from two or three women-focused NGO's, representative(s) from the Social Science research group AFAAQ, and a member of the writer's group currently corresponding with a group at the Loft in Minneapolis. Several of these visitors already have communicated with individuals here in the Twin Cities.
The Najaf residents are reportedly excited to meet people here that they have communicated with, to see how our city is run, and see how we live.
The delegation planning group has met once and is looking for more volunteers to make sure this is a rich, relaxing and educational visit for our friends from Iraq. Please respond to email@example.com if you would like to be involved.
UNAMI Human Rights Report: the recently released report from the United Nations Assistance Mission for Iraq, covering the period from July 1 to December 31, 2008.
Peace with Justice Center (Vermont): provides some good resources for peace and justice activists.
Blogs of the Month
Preemptive Love Coalition: "Life-saving heart surgeries for Iraqi children & cooperation between communities at odds."
Checkpoint Baghdad: Newsweek's Iraq blog. Stories are usually interesting and informative.
From Baghdad to New York: "Iraq as Iraqis see it and love it."
The Shape of Change project is an expanded sculpture project, investigating Iraqi and American concepts of political change, independence and civic agency. People across both countries are answering questions ranging from the meaning of democracy to the importance of national identity. Answers will be collected in an open source data base and interpreted in several ways. As content evolves in response to political events, artistic renderings of the data will function as evolving representations of change. If you are interested in the project, you can read more information and fill out the questionnaire here.
Urge President Obama to support Iraqi refugees.
Minneapolis-Najaf Sister City Initiative: If you live in Minneapolis and have not yet contacted your Council Member, please consider doing so. We encourage you to have a personal conversation specifying why you think establishing a Sister City relationship between Minneapolis and Najaf, Iraq would be good for Minneapolis citizens. You can find your Council Member's email and phone number at www.ci.minneapolis.mn.us/council.
Iraqi and American Reconciliation Project
Join IARP's Facebook group or follow us on Twitter
Visit IARP's website or Blog
Donate online and help strengthen the work of IARP. Donations can also be sent by mail to:
Iraqi and American Reconciliation Project
1346 Westwood Hills Road
St. Louis Park, MN 55426