That’s a Wrap: Trailblazer 2020!

Every couple of years, our team here at NewGround convenes Angelenos to celebrate the Trailblazers doing important work in our communities. This year, we hosted our first ever virtual Trailblazer Awards Ceremony, honoring journalist Ezra Klein, comedian Hasan Minhaj, and four of our wonderful Change-makers who took it upon themselves to convene a conversation about parenting and race this past summer.

If you missed any part of the inspiring reflections of our Change-makers or of the conversation between our awardees Ezra Klein & Hasan Minhaj, we encourage you to watch the event on our Facebook page, where it is readily available to stream! You can also access the event on YouTube – we’ve linked the recording below!

As we look toward the end of 2020 and the start of 2021, we know that the wounds in our body politic won’t magically knit together as the calendar turns. We will still struggle to listen to each other with curiosity. To quote Ezra, “The hard part isn’t [winning] the argument. The hard part is getting people ready to hear.”

NewGround’s mission is to create space for people to be ready to hear. We want to provide more “rough draft spaces,” as Hasan put it. Our Change-makers remind us that it is crucial to face the hard issues in relationship and with compassion – challenging ourselves and one another to be better and do better. In the year ahead, we plan to commit with even greater strength to all of these lessons.

July 20, 2020 Comments are off admin

Our alumni tackle race and state violence

At NewGround, we make space for hard conversations on a backdrop of empathy and relationship. NewGround was founded because people were unequipped to engage in difficult conversations, and were walking away from their relationships. This is why, rather than making statements, we convene so that our people can broach these topics bravely. We’ve already been engaging in these conversations within our fellowship cohorts, and we are committed to getting better at it.

Over the past decade, we’ve learned from convening Muslims and Jews that it can be especially difficult to have conversations among our own people. As such, this is an important time to address the racisms that exist in our communities, and to nurture our capacity to have these complicated conversations within our communities and with our families.

Our Change-makers have been doing this very work, and we are dedicating this newsletter to their voices and their efforts. We hope you’ll take time to read their perspectives below.

Our alumni have been active in continuing important conversations around race in the United States, through online thought leadership as well as through facilitation. NewGround alum Nate Looney, JOC Recruiter for Avodah, recently wrote a timely and moving piece for Medium, in which he discusses many of the challenges and dilemmas he faces as a Jew of Color. Fellowship alumnus Reza Bavar also recently published a piece on Medium, detailing his journey of deep listening, which started him off in one place and ended up taking him to another. You can read both Nate’s important analysis and Reza’s reflection on Medium.

Sultan Sharrief, filmmaker and NewGround alum, was at the premiere protests in Santa Monica. Here, he recounts negotiations between the protesters and the Santa Monica police, and the occurrence of subsequent arrests; he also shares his own family story. This elaborate, first person account may give you some perspective on a variety of active elements floating around on the ground that day.

On June 12th, Umar Hakim, NewGround alum and Executive Director of the ILM Foundation, was the emcee of L.A. Voice’s interfaith gathering on racial equity and action. The event featured the powerful words of Bishop William Barber and Rev. Angel Kyoto Williams, and many others including other friends of NewGround.

June 3, 2020 Comments are off admin

Our first ever virtual Iftar has wrapped!

On April 30, 2020, NewGround hosted its first ever virtual Iftar.

Many of you know that the annual NewGround Community Iftar is a tradition very near and dear to our hearts and to the Los Angeles interfaith community. Each year, NewGround convenes hundreds of Angelenos across faith, class, and race for a night of breaking bread, facilitated table-side dialogue, and commemorating the month of Ramadan.

This year, we were unable to convene in person, but something didn’t feel right about not gathering at all this year.

We made the decision to host our Iftar, for the very first time, virtually. Streamed on Facebook Live, thousands of you showed up and made the evening a meaningful, communal, and spiritually fulfilling experience.

Among those thousands of you who tuned in were our friends at the Los Angeles TimesVoice of Americathe Forward, and ABC News, who have recently released coverage of the evening for all to enjoy. We encourage you to read, watch, share, and soak in the familiar faces!

A video of the event is available to view on both YouTube, as seen below, and Facebook, with the latter also including preservation of comment section engagement.

April 14, 2020 Comments are off admin

COVID-19: Changes in the Community

NewGround exists to convene and build community.

So what do we do when community safety requires that we physically distance ourselves from each other?

Right now, the need for connection and community is more urgent than ever. We are mindful of the risks that we face at this moment. We also know that, under these circumstances, it is easy to feel distanced from one another.

However, this time of physical separation doesn’t need to be a time of social isolation. What we hope will follow the COVID-19 outbreak is the opportunity to reflect, rekindle, and strengthen bonds in intentional and creative ways.

In that spirit, we will gather online for our Community Iftar on the evening of April 30, 2020 for a virtual experience of spiritual reflection and community building. We are currently in the planning process, and are working to make sure that the event is distinctive, engaging, and fulfilling in this time of increasing distance.

We invite you to “be” with us on April 30. We hope you’ll also sponsor this community-building event at a time when convening matters most. Your presence and support will help us continue our essential work as we meet this moment together. 

We’ve been contemplating the ways in which our NewGround community can actively support one another and our city at large. We look forward to sharing these reflections with you soon. We are here to care for one another in times of uncertainty, and it is through that mutual care that together we will be able to move through the challenges that lie ahead.