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Getting Free (Juneteenth)

In the weeks since George Floyd was murdered brutally by police, we’ve witnessed the faultline of racism crack open across the country and the world with a force many of us have never seen in our lifetimes. Protests that started in the name of Floyd, Breonna Taylor, and Ahmaud Arbery have given way to demands to defund police, change the way we memorialize history, and reinvest in Black communities.

Many of us have marched, donated, and educated or been educated. Yet when the protests wane and streets empty, what do we do? How can we continue to raise the banner of affirming the value of Black life?

Today, on Juneteenth, we’re asking you to keep raising that banner by re-committing to helping us build a liberated community on the westside of Detroit. A community that protects itself. A community in control of its own future. A community of people who have been agitated and awakened and empowered. An organized community.

Since its inception, DREAM has bridged cultures. We’ve connected Muslims from urban and suburban communities, descendants of those enslaved and descendants of immigrants. We’ve tied our Black Muslim community even closer to the folks living around us in our 90%-Black neighborhood. And we’ve tied our faith community to movements for racial and social justice in Detroit. Why? Because we have a moral imperative to oppose oppression, to fight racism, and to do the work of supporting our neighbors—the people we’re in community with.

DREAM’s staff, interns, and volunteer leaders have been busy over the past few weeks. We’ve spoken to hundreds of people in the metro Detroit area about racism and this moment of change that we’re all experiencing together. But we’ve also continued the daily work of rebuilding our neighborhood—moving a new family in just last weekend, repairing damaged homes, relocating our office to make space for more residents, and deepening our work with partners.

We’ve worked before and through this moment because we know full well that when the mass outrage fades, the media finds a new focus, and we’re all absorbed by our own problems again, the work for real liberation still continues. We hope that when that time comes, you’ll still be right here working with us to get free.

May all our hearts turn toward justice and may you be blessed with well-being in this time and always,

The Dream of Detroit team

P.S. Here’s a look at some of the programs we’ve been involved in over the last few weeks and a quote from one of our volunteer leaders in the Ann Arbor News:

 

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Help Us Launch Good in Detroit

As Salaamu Alaikum! Peace be upon you.

Our goal with Dream of Detroit is to transform an entire neighborhood. No less.

But en route to that goal, it’s critical that we’re also building community—building community among our volunteers, with the folks who live here currently, and with everyone who we want to see this area as a potential home for them and their families.

With that in mind, we’re planning a special event this August—and we hope that you can be involved. We’re calling it the Dream of Detroit Street Fair.  It’ll be an all-day event shutting down two blocks of a local main street for an outdoor fair featuring vendors from the community, a free health fair, games for children and adults, and live performances.

To make it happen though, we need to raise at least $15,000 before the end of June—so we’re kicking off a crowdfunding campaign to hit our goal. Can you make a contribution today?

In a crowdfunding campaign, every single donation matters, no matter how small or big. So if you can donate $5 today, it’d make a big difference. And if you could donate $500, well, we’d happily accept that too. 🙂

We believe the Dream of Detroit Street Fair will be a one-of-a-kind community building event.

And while we finish our next homes, and prepare to send our next entrepreneur training graduates out into the business world, we think this is exactly what’s needed to get and keep the community excited about what’s ahead for our neighborhood.

Click here to chip in to our campaign on LaunchGood.com today. The next 30 days are going to fly by, and we know that the most successful crowdfunding campaigns all have a strong start.

Peace and blessings,

The Dream of Detroit Team

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Motor City Makeover 2017 Another Successful Cleanup!

On Saturday, more than 50 volunteers gathered to clean up the neighborhood adjacent to The Muslim Center. We boarded up 10 vacant homes, collected 50 bags of garbage, and threw out 20 tires that had been dumped in our neighborhood. Our volunteers also worked to cut 15 lawns to beautify the landscaping around the vacant homes, as well as help some of our neighbors.

 

On the same day, youth interested in joining the medical field participated in “Doctor for a Day” at the HUDA Clinic, while the HUDA Urban Garden was filled with volunteers building raised garden beds, planting seeds, and more. It was a lively day in the neighborhood. Thank you to everyone who came out to support!

Peace and blessings,

The Dream of Detroit team

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Clean Up Day + Open House

Dear DREAM Supporter,

July is shaping up to be a busy month for DREAM. We wanted to make sure you knew about three important events coming up.

Join us to keep beautifying the neighborhood surrounding the Muslim Center. There’s garbage to remove, buildings to paint, overgrown lawns, and weeds to chop down. Everyone’s welcome and all hands are needed!

 

Our first class of entrepreneurs from the ProsperUS Detroit Entrepreneur Training Program is graduating. Come out and celebrate with them, and learn about the businesses they hope to start!

 

Interested in moving into the neighborhood? Want more details on how to buy a house? Just want to learn more about the vision of Dream of Detroit? Join us for our first Neighborhood Open House.

Peace and blessings,

The Dream of Detroit team

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The Mayor Has Seen Your Work

Asalaamu alaikum! Peace be upon you.

Last week, when Mike Duggan, the Mayor of Detroit, visited the Muslim Center Mosque and Community Center for a special iftar, he spoke passionately about the importance of bringing our neighborhoods back and of DREAM’s upcoming neighborhood Open House.

He talked about the difficult balance of removing blight in the city, while still preserving the beautiful homes that once defined Detroit’s landscape. In short, Mayor Duggan showed a real understanding of the challenges of a project like ours—and voiced a commitment to helping us succeed.

Our neighborhood is looking better than it has in some time. And yet, we know there are still many houses to fill—and, God-willing, many more homes to build one day.

However, this project has always been about more than fixing a few homes. And it’s about more than creating community service opportunities. Dream of Detroit is about community building—with all the complexities, frustrations, joys, and accomplishments that comes along with a goal like this. And that’s why we’re committed to this project for the long haul—because, by its very nature, it’s an ongoing process, in need of deep care and attention to sustain.

At one point during dinner, a member of the Muslim Center asked our District Manager—the mayor’s appointee to oversee our area of the city—what was the city’s plan for this neighborhood. The manager responded quickly and succinctly, “Dream of Detroit.” The next day, we held a special community meeting for our local neighbors, where many came out to express their appreciation for and support of DREAM’s work. We don’t seek politicians’ validation, but it’s important to note that the work of our community so far has been neither unseen nor unappreciated.

As this blessed month comes to a close, we want to say thank you. Your gifts—of financial support and of prayers—are what allow us to do this work and are appreciated more than you know. May your reward be with The Most Generous, The Giver of Gifts. Early prayers for a blessed Eid to you and your families.

Peace and blessings,

Mark Crain
Project Director

The Dream of Detroit team

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Muslims Building Bridges

Asalaamu alaikum! Peace be upon you.

From its inception, Dream of Detroit has been a vehicle for bridging communities in the metro Detroit area. Ever since Neighborly Needs first joined with the Indus Community Action Network to give rise to the DREAM project, we’ve welcomed Muslims (and people of other faiths) from all over the area—and indeed, the country—to come together in re-building our neighborhood and creating a healthy community.

That’s why we’re excited to partner with Muslims Building Bridges for tonight’s iftar dinner at the Muslim Center. MBB’s vision is to break down barriers that are keeping the mosques in our communities from realizing we are all living under the same roof. We share a goal of a more unified community and so we’re proud to co-sponsor this event.

On Wednesday night, we welcomed more of our local neighbors into the Muslim Center for a special community meeting to get them excited about where we’re headed with this initiative. They were engaged, inspired, and several said they were ready to get to work. Then they stayed for dinner as we broke our fasts.

Tonight, we have another opportunity to share a meal with the growing community of people who are going to be key to the long-term success of this initiative. We hope to see you there!

Peace and blessings,

The Dream of Detroit team

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This Inspires Me- A Letter from Waseem Ullah

Dear DREAM Supporter,

Asalaamu alaikum! Peace be upon you.

Early this month we all faced the cold reality that our beloved Champion and the greatest humanitarian, Muhammad Ali, would not be amongst us any longer. What he said and the life he lived still serves as a beacon of light for all of us:

“Service to others is the rent you pay for your room here on Earth.”

I co-founded Dream of Detroit after being inspired by the transformative work I saw Muslims doing under the leadership of IMAN and Br. Rami Nashashibi in Chicago.

Their program to train formerly incarcerated Muslims to rehab homes—all while providing shelter and spiritual development for those brothers—resonated deeply with me, as it reminded me of the journey my father took through homelessness in Pakistan after the partition.

This year, DREAM’s own housing work is poised to make a huge leap, God-willing. But, actually, what’s motivated me lately is a different type of empowerment initiative—DREAM’s Entrepreneur Training Program.

I’m writing you today to ask that you help us make an investment in our budding entrepreneurs as they graduate in July and take the next step in their journeys.

DREAM's Entrepreneur Training Program in action

DREAM’s first class of entrepreneurs taking a look back at the lessons from weeks one through twelve.

Through the ProsperUS Detroit program, DREAM has been able to offer nearly 30 hours of instruction and coaching to six emerging businesses in the City of Detroit. In just this first cohort, we’re supporting a chocolatier, a shoe cobbler, a restauranteur, a dollar store operator, and a writer offering professional services.

We want to help our student-entrepreneurs get off to the best start possible, so we’re asking you to help us make an investment in them.

Will you make a gift today to help these budding entrepreneurs get off to a strong start?

It’s not easy being an entrepreneur—trust me, my partners and I have struggled to start two new businesses in the last year alone. That’s why I’m so moved by the commitment of this cohort of aspiring small business owners—and why I believe in the future of this Entrepreneur Training Program as a core part of DREAM’s offering to the local community.

Thanks for your continued support.

Waseem Ullah

 

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We’re Invested – A Letter from Thad And Baheejah Shakoor

Dear DREAM Supporter,

Asalaamu alaikum! Peace be upon you.

We can’t tell you how thrilled we are about the house that we just bought! Acquiring this home was like dream a come true (pun intended) and now we’re working every day to make it one of the most beautiful buildings on the street adjacent to our mosque.

If you believe, like we do, that our community has the power to transform this entire neighborhood—that the Believers can make this area a beacon of light for all of Detroit—will you make a small contribution today to support the work of DREAM? Your donation will help DREAM sell the next set of homes to new residents and responsible landlords.

Here we are on the porch of the home that we just bought and started rehabbing. We’ll be done by next month, God-willing.

By the grace of the Most High, we’ve been here from the start of this effort. Seven years ago, we helped found a group called Neighborly Needs to provide support and resources to the people living around the Muslim Center of Detroit. Several years later, Neighborly Needs partnered with the Indus Community Action Network to give birth to Dream of Detroit to accelerate our housing development work.

At each step in the process, we’ve become more and more convinced that the Muslim community and its allies—in metro Detroit and beyond—have the ability to bring this once beautiful neighborhood back to life, if we all chip in a little bit to make it a reality.

We make it a point to attend every DREAM event—the volunteer meetings, the clean up days, the tree plantings. All of it. Because when it’s all said and done, we want to be sure that we’ve played our part. For us, buying this home was the next phase in our commitment.

 

Our intention is to turn the lower level of the house into a rental property for the immediate future—and we’ve already lined up a faithful family eager to move in. We’ll turn the upstairs unit into an office space for Neighborly Needs, DREAM and any other organization sincerely serving the people of this community. We know that being filled by a loving family and community servants will make this home shine bright.

Trust us, if we could self-fund this entire development project, we would, but unfortunately, we aren’t in a position to buy every home that’s available. That’s why we’re turning to you—the supporters of DREAM—to ask that you double down on your commitment during this month of Ramadan.

Between now and July 30, we have a lot of work to do to make our neighborhood look pristine before we welcome tens, maybe hundreds, of prospective residents for a neighborhood Open House. We’ll need at least two more clean up days, we’ll need marketing materials, and we’ll need the support of professional inspectors, graphic designers, and contractors. In total, it’ll cost about $3,800 to do the important work that has to happen before DREAM’s Open House, where we hope to find buyers for at least our next five homes.

The gift you give today can go a long long way toward helping DREAM take the next step on its path to building a neighborhood we can all be proud of. Will you make a tax-deductible gift today?

We’re honored to be in community with you. Whether you donate today or not, please remember DREAM and every individual working hard on behalf of this project in your prayers during this blessed month.

Sincerely,
Thaddeus and Baheejah Shakoor

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"The true life that God wants for all people—not one people—their true life is a life of cooperation… community life!"
- Imam W.D. Mohammed