Scheduled events, art show promoting positive social change

MARQUETTE — With the Building Love: Imagine series, members of the local chapter of Forward Action Michigan, a nonpartisan group with nearly 1,000 members in the Upper Peninsula, are promoting positive social change through scheduled events and an art show, showcasing the importance of countering hatred with love.

Forward Action Michigan was formed after the 2016 general election, according to Judy Kitchen of Marquette. Members meet once a month to discuss how to make the community better through active roles, Kitchen said.

After witnessing the violence in Charlottesville, Virginia, in August, when a white nationalist rammed his vehicle into a crowd of people, Kitchen and other local organizers started planning events to counteract the hate crimes.

“We wanted to create opportunities for people to come together and raise our voices to stop this hate, to insist this is not normal, and to support those who are feeling especially targeted,” Kitchen said in a press release.

Through planning and reaching out to community members, the Building Love: Imagine series was created.

Most of the scheduled events focus on raising awareness on world cultures, diversity, the community, environment and children’s futures. Events will be held at the Peter White Public Library, unless noted otherwise.

“I think it’s especially important right now to come together and learn from people who have different experiences than our own,” said organizer Megan Collier. “We’ve been taught to point fingers and blame people who are ‘different’ than us for our struggles as a society, when really, we all just want the same things — things like neighbors who pick up our mail when we’re out of town, city blocks that are safe for our kids to ride bikes around, places to live that are warm and have food on the table. I see the Building Love: Imagine series as a really beautiful step toward that in the Marquette area.”

Organizers are calling on local artists to submit by Friday their work depicting an experience with hate and/or countering hate with love. Submissions will be featured at a March 2 showing at The Creative House art gallery along Washington Street in Marquette.

“I’m especially excited about the Countering Hate art show coming up at The Creative House,” Collier said. “Art can turn emotions, like hate and love into something we can see and hear and touch. I think being able to look at how an artist experiences hate or love is going to be powerful and moving.”

Lali Khalid, co-owner of The Creative House, said she immediately agreed to host the showing.

“I feel it is essential to address the hate happening all around us right now. It is relevant,” Khalid said in a press release.

Khalid has been working on a project titled “Muslim Immigrants” and says she finds it difficult getting Muslims to participate because they don’t want to draw attention to themselves. Khalid is a Pakistani Muslim and recently spoke at the Marquette Women’s March on Jan. 21 where she talked about encountering prejudices in the area because of the color of her skin. With that in mind, Khalid said she hopes the art show will create awareness and counter hatred.

Artists submitting works should be residents of the Upper Peninsula or have strong ties to the region. More details and specifications for submitting are available at:

The Building Love: Imagine series events are scheduled as follows:

≤ March 1 — “Homelessness in Marquette,” a discussion with Doug Russell, executive director of Room at the Inn;

≤ March 28 — “Bystander Training,” presented by Neighbors for a Kinder Community, which is to be followed by a short play focusing on respect for other cultures;

≤ April 5 — Poetry to Celebrate the Earth;

≤ April 12 — The U.P. Environment, an interactive World Cafe-style conversation. About six different groups will provide information regarding the environment, water, mine protection, energy and more;

≤ May 9 — “From Alaska to Our Neighborhoods: What helps children thrive?” Linda Remsburg of Grow and Lead: Community and Youth Development, Jaimie Dieterle and Jane Pajot will be presenting on raising awareness of community struggles. Pajot is a retired teacher who subbed in a remote Alaskan village;

≤ May 14 — “Do it for Daniel,” a documentary presented by Ishpeming High School football coach Jeff Olson about recognizing depression in youth and children at risk.

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