Collaborative Dialogue and Community Building to Honor the Loses of 9/11

Initially named Hate Free Zone, OneAmerica was founded immediately after September 11, 2001 to address the backlash in a post 9/11 world against immigrant communities of color, primarily Muslims, Arab Americans, East Africans, and South Asians.  However, the need for a larger immigrant rights organization that could advocate for issues facing all immigrant communities became clear quickly. Today, OneAmerica is the largest immigrant rights organization in Washington and a leading force nationally.  We combine grassroots community organizing and broad-based coalition building to build the power needed to produce structural policy change for the advancement of fundamental rights for immigrant populations in the United States. OneAmerica’s mission is to advance the fundamental principles of democracy and justice through building power in immigrant communities, in collaboration with key allies

Partners

OneAmerica will use our strong community partnerships to turnout volunteers for our September 11 day of service.  We will include the Seattle Police Department, the Attorney General, Seattle Fire Department, Counsel on American Islamic Relations (Washington Chapter), Somali Community Services Coalition, local legislators, UFCW Local 21, SEIU, Asian Counseling and Referral Services, as well as multiple other individuals and agencies with whom OneAmerica has strong connections.  These connections will highlight our multi-ethnic movement, bringing together diverse populations of people, including members of the Latino, East African, Caucasian, etc. communities.  OneAmerica also hopes to reconnect and include volunteers and supporters who were with us in 2001 when the organization was founded.

Commemorating 9/11

Following the tragic events of 9/11/2001, the United States went into crisis.  Residents stood together, posting flags outside their houses showing allegiance to our great country.  It was a beautiful show of solidarity with the victims’ families and friends.  Likewise, during this time policies were implemented nationally that divided entire cities and incited violence against communities of color.  Attacks and backlash on the Muslim, South Asian, East African and Arab American communities skyrocketed, creating fear in many communities, including Seattle and Washington State.  For ten years, OneAmerica and its partners, have worked to mend this damage.  This is an opportunity to commemorate and again stand in solidarity with those lost on that tragic day, and acknowledge how far the country has come in ten years and how far it still needs to go in rebuilding after September 11, 2001.    

To commemorate this event, embrace the grief and examine the past ten years of struggles facing the people of the United States, OneAmerica seeks to provide a day of community reflection on how September 11 affected this nation; the community and political response immediately after and since (positive and negative); the work to rebuild communities who lost loved ones and those who have since been victimized; and most importantly where the people of Washington, and the United States, need to go from here to continue the healing process.   These facilitated discussions will take place on September 11, 2011 at an afternoon-evening event.  It will commemorate the losses of September 11, 2001 and celebrate the growth of the nation since that day.  It will also highlight many of the ongoing community challenges brought on or exacerbated by the terrorist attacks, including racial profiling and civil rights issues.  It will also highlight those that we continue to make positive strides towards including building collaborative relationships between law enforcement and ethnic communities in Seattle.  This event will also include two short-film screenings.  One called “Hawo’s Dinner Party” which reflects on the re-building of community and fosters tolerance through education, introduction and open dialogue.  Following this screening, OneAmerica will facilitate a discussion with the audience in a small and large group format to examine the implications of the movie and how it can apply to our own communities and creating community dialogue. 

Turnout

OneAmerica will engage 300-500 volunteers.  We will have sign in sheets with name and contact information at all entrances of the venue.  Also, in engaging people from outside of Western Washington (coming from hours away), we will register people on their bus ride to the venue.  These sign in sheets, present at all OneAmerica events, will be copied and emailed to report the number of volunteers.

Volunteers will engage in dialogue with diverse people, police and fire officials, the attorney general, labor unions and all others present for this important event.  This dialogue, though facilitated, will create community connections across all professions, ethnic groups and communities to build on the past ten years of healing following the September 11th terrorist attacks.  The volunteers’ dialogue will lay the groundwork for continuing to build bridges and community to repair the damage done by the attack of 9/11. Without their service, re-building would not be possible.  OneAmerica facilitators will engage the community in not just reflecting on the past, but identifying where to go in the next ten years and what each volunteer can do today and on and ongoing basis to facilitate understanding and open dialogue with their neighbors.  This commemoration will truly engage and build relationships between all groups of people and create the opportunity for volunteers to continue connecting. 

Outreach

To reach our membership, supporters, and the broader community we will promote the event using online and offline strategies, including our email list, website, social media, distributing flyers, and partnering with allies to get the word out to their lists. To engage the larger community, we have a media strategy that involves outreach to key press, broadcast outlets, and bloggers – with a particular emphasis on ethnic media – in order to garner press coverage, but also spark community dialogue. This will involve partnering with the groups that are helping stage the event to place op-eds and reflective essays and join public affairs call-in programs to discuss the intentions behind our event.