Project JAM (Justice Actually Matters), is a program that was co-run by Marius Powell and Mallory Muya during the 2017-2018 school year. Situated at Gale Elementary in the Rogers Park neighborhood, Project JAM was an arts and social justice program that centered principles in popular education, restorative justice, youth-voice, social-emotional learning, circle-keeping, and learning from nature. Young people in 2017-2018 cohort chose to focus on storytelling through a time-travelling news show as well as writing and choreographing original work to present at open mics.
Coming from our time in circle together, Project JAMers decided they wanted to build a project that looked to Donald Trump’s oppressive policies towards refugees and immigrants during a time when many cities started to explore the idea of what cooperation with ICE would or would not look like. Project JAMers, explored the ideas of sanctuary, home, and belonging through looking at how birds and other animals rely on borderless migration to create sanctuary for themselves. Project JAMers further investigated the meaning of a sanctuary city, and explored ways in which they could contribute to Chicago being a sanctuary amidst harmful policies. Project JAMers created birdhouse sanctuaries as visual representations that ICE is not welcome in their neighborhood.
“What You Pay Attention To Grows”
Integral to Project JAM curriculum was staying rooted in Rogers Park, and engaging Project JAMers’ friends, family, and neighbors in advocating for the caring and nurturing of the Rogers Park community. We used the quote “What you pay attention to grows” (adrienne maree brown, Emergent Strategy) as the launching off point to connect these ideas. Project JAMers began by planting seeds they felt connected to, and used these seed’s growth as markers for their goals in shaping change in their community. As they cared for their seeds each day, Project JAMers reflected on the personal goals as change-makers. Project JAM practiced community care through asset mapping, working in the greenhouse, and gardening vegetables and herbs in two community garden plots.