Rethinking and Deconstructing Violence with Youth

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September 14 – Violence in the Lives of Girls – A Conference for Adult Allies

Chicago Taskforce on Violence Against Girls and Young Women
Conference on Violence in the Lives of Girls

The Chicago Taskforce on Violence against Girls and Young Women is hosting a conference about Violence in the Lives of Girls on September 14 and 15, 2012.

The purpose of the conference is to re-inject the voices of girls and young women into the conversations about violence in Chicago. Discussions about violence in the lives of Chicago youth are mostly focused on boys and largely address lethal and public violence. Within this context, girls and young women are generally silenced, and their experiences of violence are minimized and overlooked.

This gathering is divided into two days. On September 14th, adult allies who work with and support young women will share innovative intervention ideas and re-frame the discussion about violence in girls’ lives. On September 15th, several groups of young women representing Global Girls, the Illinois Caucus on Adolescent Health, and A Long Walk Home are planning and organizing their own conference.

Agenda for Friday September 14

9-9:30 a.m. Registration

9:30 a.m.-12 p.m. Workshops: 1) Reconceptualizing Relationship Violence by Centering Young Women of Color
2) Healing Justice

12-1 p.m. Lunch (on your own)

1:15-3:45 p.m. Workshops: 1) Baby College for All
2) Strategy Session for Collective Responses to Teen Dating Violence

Conference Location: Roosevelt University, 430 S. Michigan Ave, Room 300

Information: Space is very limited and Pre-Registration is REQUIRED. You can register HERE – Registration will close once we reach our capacity.

The conference is being offered at no cost to participants but it doesn’t mean that there are no costs associated with organizing it. We are grateful to the Mansfield Institute for Social Justice and Transformation for providing the space for the conference, special thanks to all of the facilitators who are donating their time, and finally a huge amount of appreciation to all of the conference planners.

Please also keep in mind that we anticipate that many people will want to attend this gathering. Space is however limited so that we can have engaged conversation and discussion. With this in mind, we ask that you DO NOT register if you are not certain that you will attend. We want to insure that those who are able to attend are not turned away. So we ask that you not register unless you are certain that you will attend the event. We really mean this. Thanks in advance for your consideration.


9:30 to 12:00 p.m.

Title: Healing Justice
Facilitators: Stacy Erenberg (Young Women’s Empowerment Project), Tanuja Jagernauth (YWEP, Sage), Sangeetha Ravichandran (A Long Walk Home)

Wondering how you can incorporate Self Care and Healing Justice into your work with youth? Then look no further! Join Sangeetha Ravichandran (A Long Walk Home), Stacy Erenberg (Young Women’s Empowerment Project, Sage Community Health Collective), and Tanuja Jagernauth (YWEP, Sage) for an interactive and popular education-style Arts-and-Body-Based Exploration of Self Care and Healing Justice. Participants will collectively define Self Care and Healing Justice and adapt an example curriculum to weave in Self Care and Healing Justice activities. Expect to have fun and walk away with tools you can use to create your own Self Care and Healing Justice curriculum for young people.

Title: Reconceptualizing Relationship Violence by Centering Young Women of Color
Facilitator: Mariame Kaba (Chicago Taskforce on Violence against Girls and Project NIA) and Scheherazade Tillet (A Long Walk Home)

Over the past 20 years, several teen dating violence and date rape curricula have been developed to educate youth about the warning signs and dynamics of abuse. This seems to be a good time for adult allies, youth workers, and educators to assess whether these curricula are relevant to the current lived realities particularly of young women of color. How should relationship violence prevention programs and curricula be re-conceptualized to meet the specific needs of young women of color in Chicago? Participants in this workshop will discuss the strengths and limitations of current teen dating violence and date rape curricula and programs. They will leave with specific ideas for how to more effectively intervene particularly with young women of color who are experiencing violence in their lives and relationships.

1:15 to 3:45 p.m.

Title: Baby College for All
Facilitators: Katy Groves (Youth Service Project) and Chez Rumpf (Center for Urban Research and Learning, Loyola University and Project NIA)

This workshop seeks to shift the framework around teen pregnancy and parenting. Pregnant and parenting teen girls often are pathologized as deviant young people who have become pregnant as a result of their personal deficiencies and problems. As such, services targeting these young women often attempt to “fix” or “reform” them through individual-level interventions. This workshop will engage participants in imagining ways to de-stigmatize teen pregnancy and parenting. Rather than frame teen pregnancy as a life-ending event that shoulders young women with insurmountable barriers, we will consider how to create structural supports for young mothers and how to cultivate a culture that places a high value on children.

Using a popular education approach, facilitators will lead participants through an activity to identify the current stigma and pathologizing discourse about teen pregnancy and to investigate the causes and consequences of this stigma. Through another activity, facilitators and participants will explore the historical evolution of this stigma. The workshop will close with a visioning exercise to develop concrete strategies to foster a sense of communal responsibility for children.

At the end of the workshop, participants will leave with:
• an understanding of the historical development of current discourses about teen pregnancy
• a critical assessment of these discourses
• ideas about how to create supportive environments for teen parents and their children

Title: Strategy Session for Collective Responses to Teen Dating Violence — Healing, Intervention, Accountability and Prevention/Transformation
Facilitator: Ann Russo, Building Communities, Ending Violence.
This workshop will offer the experience of a collective strategy session to show how community members might work together to effectively respond to teen relationship. The workshop will provide a structure for people to imagine collective responses that do not rely on the police or external authorities, and, if time, a chance to practice some of the skills it might take to implement them.

Stay tuned for information about the Youth-Led Girls’ and Young Women’s Conference that will take place on September 15th! We will be sharing information here on the blog about how young women can register to attend.

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Save the Date: Blue & Black: Talking about Policing and Violence With Youth

In the last few months of 2011 into early 2012, the issue of police violence once again burst into the mainstream with the treatment of Occupy protesters. We at Project NIA and the Chicago PIC Teaching Collective found ourselves concerned that the conversation was divorced from historical context.

Over the past couple of years, we have been developing and co-creating a number of resources that we hope will help to inform and educate the broader public about the longstanding tradition of oppressive policing toward marginalized populations (including some activists and organizers). In addition, we have been supporting projects that constructively engage young people in talking about their encounters with the police.

by Rachel Williams

Join us on Saturday May 5th 2012 from 1:30 to 4:30 pm at UIC Student Center East, 750 S. Halsted Street, as we unveil and discuss several popular education resources focused on the history and current manifestations of policing in the U.S. In addition, you will hear a presentation from Chain Reaction based on our documentation of youth encounters with police in Chicago. Finally, you will learn about how Circles & Ciphers is engaging young men in constructive discussion about policing and violence.

Agenda for the Event:

1. Where we are right now in Chicago? The contemporary realities of policing and violence for Chicago youth
A presentation about the Chain Reaction project.

2. Constructively Engaging Youth in Dialogue about the Police — Circles & Ciphers Model

3. New Resources Developed to Help in Fostering Productive Reflection and Dialogue about Policing and Violence
Some of the resources that we will unveil include:
1. A new zine about the roots of police violence by Rachel Marie-Crane Williams.
2. Some new pamphlets from the Historical Moments in Police Violence Project.
3. A new curriculum unit about police violence.
4. Two new interactive timelines about the history of policing in the U.S.

RSVP is REQUIRED at projectniaevents@hotmail.com.

We hope to see you on May 5th for what we anticipate will be an engaging and challenging dialogue.

When: Saturday, May 5th
Time: 1:30 to 4:30 p.m.
Where: UIC, Student Center East, 750 S.Halsted Street (Commuter Wellness Center)
Info: This event is at no cost to participants but you MUST RSVP, projectniaevents@hotmail.com.

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New Resource: The Interrupters Community Discussion Guide

From Kartemquin Films:

Now available for community screenings, schools, Interrupters House Parties and for all Interrupters outreach events is The Interrupters Community Discussion Guide (PDF download).

Created for Kartemquin by The Interrupters Community Engagement Media Consultants Sonya Childress and L. Anton Seals Jr., the guide is designed to engage audiences and communities – young people in particular – in reflection and discussion around the issues in the film. Whether you use excerpts or the entire film, your screening can be a springboard for dialogue or the centerpiece of a strategic community action plan around violence. While there are many ways to use the film, you might use a screening to:

• Highlight successful examples of local violence prevention efforts
• Help audiences explore the historical context and root causes of urban violence
• Brainstorm creative approaches for interrupting the cycle of retaliatory violence
• Encourage young people to reflect on the choices they make and their role as change-agents in their communities

The guide features:

  • Character Profiles
  • Discussion Questions
  • Statistics on violence, resources on violence prevention
  • Suggestions on “5 Things You Can Do Today” to help interrupt violence

You may also want to use the guide in conjunction with www.InterruptViolence.com, a new interactive outreach website for the film.

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Resource: Peer Educator’s Manual For Ending Gender-Based Violence Among Youth

Don't Make Me Repeat Myself (PDF) is a facilitator’s guide to a workshop for youth peer trainers. This detailed guide concentrates on workshops around gender based violence within an anti-oppression framework. Created by Metrac (Metropolitan Action Committee on Violence Against Woman and Children), the manual has a great basic agenda, complete with introductions, ice breakers and forming a safer space. It uses community dynamics and personal experiences within the group to introduce anti-oppression concepts, like how to be an ally. The workshop also covers:

What is violence

City politics

Interactive scenarios

Multiple activities


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Art Against Abuse: February 3rd

Art Against Abuse:

Engaging Youth to End the Cycle of Violence

Date: February 3, 2012

Time: 9:00 am – 1:00 pm

Location: Jane Addams College of Social Work

1040 West Harrison Street

Chicago, IL 60607

Description: In honor of Teen Dating Violence Prevention and Awareness Month, this training provides an opportunity for social workers, counselors, and educators interested in developing tools to use various art forms (poetry, puppetry, and visual arts) to engage youth who have experienced violence. The training will include workshops facilitated by leaders from community organizations, such as Between Friends, A Long Walk Home, Puppeteers without Borders, and Project NIA. Free Illinois Certified Domestic Violence Professional and Social Work CEUs will be offered, as well as Continuing Professional Development Units for educators. The training will also be an opportunity to network with other community organizations and social service providers! This training is being organized by Between Friends in partnership with the Jane Addams College of Social Work at UIC. The training is FREE.

Workshop titles include:

Therapeutic Puppet Play,
Using Arts as Tools for Social Change and Healing,

Giving Name to the Nameless: Using Poetry as an Anti-Violence Intervention with Girls and Young Women, and

(UN)PUBLISHED: Applications of the Use of Altered Books.

In depth workshop descriptions and facilitator biographies may be viewed here as well as on the registration form!

Space is limited – Registration is required!

Please complete the registration form and submit to: Between Friends c/o Colleen Norton. E-mail: cnorton@betweenfriendschicago.org, Fax: 773-262-2543. You will receive a confirmation email for the workshops for which you have registered prior to the event. Due to limited space, you may be required to choose another workshop.

For more information, please contact Colleen Norton at (773)274-5232 Ext. 26 or cnorton@betweenfriendschicago.org.

Visit the event on the Between Friend’s facebook page at https://www.facebook.com/BetweenFriendsChicago#!/events/125251380920218/

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Call for Submissions: Zines about the Attica Prison Uprising

This September is the 40th Anniversary of the Attica Prison Rebellion. In September 1971, the nation was transfixed as journalists and photographers documented the unfolding tragedy at Attica Prison. Americans followed the events on television and when Nelson Rockefeller ordered state troopers to retake control of the prison, he unleashed a massacre. At the end of the episode, 43 people were dead, including 32 prisoners and 11 hostages.

At the core of the rebellion were the prisoners’ 28 demands for changes in prison policy including better medical care, better food, and more educational programs. The prisoners offered a statement of their beliefs to the public which included these words:

“WE are MEN! We are not beasts and do not intend to be beaten or driven as such. The entire prison populace has set forth to change forever the ruthless brutalization and disregard for the lives of the prisoners here and throughout the United States.”

This September, Project NIA will commemorate the 40th Anniversary of the Attica Prison Rebellion by curating a photographic exhibit, organizing a reading, co-sponsoring a film screening and creating a primer on the uprising.

We will partner once again with Mess Hall to display the photographs from September 6th to the 8th. More information about dates and events will be forthcoming.

Here’s how you can help with this project:

1. Create a zine about the Attica Rebellion and send it to us so that we can make it available to community members this September. Send us your zine by e-mail at projectnia@hotmail.com or by snail mail to 1530 West Morse Ave, Chicago IL 60626. Deadline: August 15th 2011.

Some key questions that you might consider include (but are not limited to):

1. Why and How did the Attica Uprising Happen? This question lends itself to creating timelines etc…

2. Who Were The Key Characters in the Attica Story? Here you might submit short biographical sketches of key players in the uprising (both inside and outside the prison).

3. How Did The Media Cover the Incident At the Time? A content analysis of the way that the incident was covered would be great.

4. How was the incident covered by community-based organizations? If anyone has access to old newsletters or pamphlets from local groups who supported the prisoners, it would be great to write about how they covered the story.

5. Why or How is Attica relevant in the 21st century?

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Project NIA at Mess Hall – May 2011

We are honored to be an organization-in-residence for the month of May at Mess Hall. We look forward to partnering with this local Rogers Park cultural center to present a series of events including art exhibitions, community discussions, and workshops. We are also excited to partner with the talented artists who are participating in the residency. The theme that we are exploring is how art can play a role in critical thinking about the meaning(s) of violence, incarceration and “justice.”

May 1, 2011

Join us for the opening reception of Krista Wortendyke’s photo exhibition Killing Season: Chicago 2010.

Time: 2 to 4:30 p.m.
Where: Mess Hall, 6932 North Glenwood Avenue

Killing Season will be exhibited from May 1st to May 7th at Mess Hall. Interested individuals can stop by during that week from 2 to 6 p.m. daily to view the exhibition.

May 5, 2011
Photography Workshop for Middle School Students at Hayt School

May 10th

Art from Representing the Pipeline - July 2010

Prepping for Prison: A Discussion about the School to Prison Pipeline.

Join us for this conversation about the School-to-Prison Pipeline facilitated by educator and Project NIA volunteer, Emily Mannake. The discussion will focus on the social and institutional mechanisms driving up levels of incarcerated youth and adults. Read the following post by Criminal Injustice Kos about the School-to-Prison Pipeline prior to the discussion. You can also visit Suspension Stories for more information about the School-to-Prison Pipeline.

Time: 6 to 8 p.m.
Where: Mess Hall, 6932 North Glenwood Avenue

Representing the Pipeline, an exhibition of youth art depicting the school to prison pipeline, will be open to the public from May 10th to May 13th. Interested individuals can stop by to view the artwork from 2 to 6 p.m. daily.

May 15
Join us for an opening reception for Haley Miglietta’s Ceilings of Oppressions as well as Terrence T-z Eye Haymer’s work.

Time: 2 to 4:30 p.m.
Where: Mess Hall, 6932 North Glenwood Avenue

The “Ceilings of Oppressions/Acts of Resistance” exhibitions will run from May 15th through May 21st. They are open to the public from 2 to 6 p.m. daily.

Cook County Jail by Halley Miglietta (Ceilings of Oppressions)

May 19th
Using Zines to Discuss Juvenile Justice and Prisons

from the PIC Is Zine by Billy Dee and the PIC Collective

Join us as we share some newly-released zines that were developed as part of the Cradle to Prison Pipeline Project. We will discuss how the zines can be used as part of consciousness-raising and organizing around issues of juvenile justice and prisons.

Time: 6 to 8:30 p.m.
Where: Mess Hall, 6932 North Glenwood Avenue

Click here for a flier of all of the events scheduled for May at Mess Hall.

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Check Out Talking Pictures Festival: April 14-17 2011

Now in its third year, the Talking Pictures Festival celebrates independent films from around the world mixed with brand new offerings by local filmmakers. The festival will take place April 14 – 17, 2011.

This year the Festival is proud to present two inspiring documentaries that confront head-on the issues of sexual and domestic violence – TRUST: Second Acts in Young Lives, about the way art transforms a sexual abuse survivor’s life at Chicago’s Albany Park Theater Project, and Sin By Silence, which documents a group of incarcerated women advocating against domestic violence.

Another film titled “Concrete, Steel, and Paint” focuses on how restorative justice can be used to build bridges between prisoners and community members.

More information about these films, as well as others in the Festival, can be found at here.

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Killing Season: A Conversation about Violence – April 9th 2011

Please join Project NIA and Building Communities, Ending Violence at Depaul University on Saturday, April 19th from 2 to 4:30 p.m. as we welcome Krista Wortendyke who will talk about her powerful photography project Killing Season: Chicago 2010.

After Krista’s presentation, participants will brainstorm ways that we can use this photography project in our organizing and educational work about violence. Specifically, we will leave with several ideas for concrete activities that we can use along with the photography project to spark dialogue and change around violence in our communities. Let us know you are coming by RSVPing at projectniaevents@hotmail.com.

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Tools for Working with Youth #2: Engaging Conversations about Masculinity & Femininity

Reposted from Chicago Taskforce on Violence against Girls Blog

I grew up in New York City loving rap music. I was blessed to become a fan of the music at a time when women like Queen Latifah, MC Lyte, Monie Love, and others were central to hip hop culture. I could see myself at least partially represented in their music and personas.

Rap music is only a part of hip hop culture but it is the most visible and commercialized part. As such, it deserves special scrutiny in terms of its influence on our culture and on the young people who consume it. The case that I want to make here is that it is extremely challenging today to develop a healthy gender identity for young people who uncritically consume rap music and images. Some of the key features of contemporary rap include:

1. the overrepresentation of women as sex objects. Sex is usually shown as a commodity.
2. the overrepresentation of women as male adornments.
3. the overrepresentation of men as power brokers.
4. the growing relationship and association between the sex industry and hip hop [for example, the glamorization of so-called pimping by artists like Snoop Dog and 50 cent].

Consuming a steady diet of these representations surely distorts young people’s understanding of themselves as men and as women. We cannot ignore how this contributes to violence against girls and young women. Last year, I come across a TED talk by Tony Porter from A Call to Men addressing his own personal journey in struggling to define a healthy masculinity. As part of our ongoing series to share resources and tools that can be useful in our work with youth to address violence in their lives, I think that this video should be required viewing for young men and women in our violence prevention programs.

Finally, another useful resource to engage youth in conversations about how hip hop culture can influence their self-image is Brigitte Gray’s spoken word piece titled “My Letter to Hip Hop.” This piece can be a great starting point for encouraging young people to write their own letter to hip hop.