Tents of Witness

Genocide and Conflict

Ellen Kennedy & Margo O'Dell
by Ellen Kennedy & Margo O'Dell | Mar 22, 2012
| 4 Comments
Competition Winner

This entry has been selected as a winner in the
Challenge III: Working Together Across Cultures and Faiths competition.

Summary:

World Without Genocide has created an exhibit called Tents of Witness: Genocide and Conflict.
This multimedia, multicultural, multigenerational exhibit is designed to educate people about genocide; illustrate causes and consequences of genocide; present action steps to prevent genocide; and remember those who have fled from these atrocities and whose families and communities have been destroyed.

The exhibit features 10 tents, 8' x 12', like those used in refugee camps. Each tent depicts the story of a different group persecuted based on its race, religion, ethnicity, or national origin. The tents highlight the Holocaust, Native Americans, Cambodia, Bosnia, Rwanda, Darfur, Argentina, Sri Lanka, Congo and North Korea.

Survivors and descendants from each of these tragedies live in Minnesota today, yet their reasons for flight from their home countries are not well known or understood. To learn these stories turns strangers into friends and creates stronger communities.

The story for each tent was prepared by local artists from the affected cultures and communities, and highlights the pre-conflict society, the conflict and the post-conflict challenges the survivors face today.

Funding from Idea Open would allow us to provide the exhibit for free to communities around the state for a year – communities that might not be able to host the exhibit otherwise. Funds will be used to support exhibits at schools, faith organizations, and public spaces throughout the state. This is a unique opportunity to bridge cultures, faiths, and experiences within Minnesota and globally through dialogue and awareness around issues of discrimination and violence wherever it occurs – and will help to build a world where the phrase ‘never again’ indeed means ‘never’.

About You

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About You

First Name

Ellen

Last Name

Kennedy

Country

United States, MN, Ramsey County

City

St. Paul

Innovation

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Title

Tents of Witness: Genocide and Conflict

What is your best idea to build bonds and work together across cultures and faiths in your community?

World Without Genocide has created an exhibit called Tents of Witness: Genocide and Conflict.
This multimedia, multicultural, multigenerational exhibit is designed to educate people about genocide; illustrate causes and consequences of genocide; present action steps to prevent genocide; and remember those who have fled from these atrocities and whose families and communities have been destroyed.
The exhibit features 10 tents, 8' x 12', like those used in refugee camps. Each tent depicts the story of a different group persecuted based on its race, religion, ethnicity, or national origin. The tents highlight the Holocaust, Native Americans, Cambodia, Bosnia, Rwanda, Darfur, Argentina, Sri Lanka, Congo and North Korea.
Survivors and descendants from each of these tragedies live in Minnesota today, yet their reasons for flight from their home countries are not well known or understood. To learn these stories turns strangers into friends and creates stronger communities.
The story for each tent was prepared by local artists from the affected cultures and communities, and highlights the pre-conflict society, the conflict and the post-conflict challenges the survivors face today.
Funding from Idea Open would allow us to provide the exhibit for free to communities around the state for a year – communities that might not be able to host the exhibit otherwise. Funds will be used to support exhibits at schools, faith organizations, and public spaces throughout the state. This is a unique opportunity to bridge cultures, faiths, and experiences within Minnesota and globally through dialogue and awareness around issues of discrimination and violence wherever it occurs – and will help to build a world where the phrase ‘never again’ indeed means ‘never’.

Impact and Sustainability

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How will your idea have a positive impact on your community?

Tents of Witness: Genocide and Conflict use throughout the state will enable needed conversations across cultures and experiences as our communities continue to diversify. Reports estimate over 70,500 refugees live in Minnesota and refugees constitute nearly a third of our immigrants. This project will provide opportunities to bring people together across the divides of race, ethnicity, national origin, and religion to enhance our new neighbors’ paths towards social and economic justice. For native Minnesotans, the exhibit will 1) expand their empathy and understanding of their newest neighbors; 2) increase the likelihood of peaceful community relations; 3) expand their world-view; 4) engage them in becoming 'upstanders' for social justice and peace through personal connections to the stories of individual people and families around the globe.

In addition to an unfortunate rise in hate crimes, Neo-Nazi, anti-Muslim, and anti-immigrant groups are also expanding their influence in Minnesota. We have also experienced tragic loss and long-term effects of bullying in our schools, signifying that discrimination and violence are not issues for adults alone. These acts of hate – based on misunderstanding and fear—tear apart the social fabric of our communities, and when left unchecked pave the way towards atrocities like genocide. This project can help reduce prejudice and discrimination and combat anti-Semitism, ethnocentrism, and xenophobia.

There are ways this project helps on a very individual level. Immigrants and refugees often feel isolated and alienated from economic, educational, social, and political opportunities. Community events around the state, using Tents of Witness can connect and empower these new Minnesotans. Additionally, many refugees feel guilt, fear, and anxiety about what happened to them in their home countries. We can acknowledge these human rights violations they experienced and provide opportunities for personal reconciliation.

What do you think the lasting effect will be if your idea is implemented?

World Without Genocide works to protect innocent people around the world; prevents genocide by fighting racism and prejudice; advocates for the prosecution of perpetrators; and remembers those whose lives and cultures have been destroyed by genocide. We have the administrative infrastructure to to promote Tents of Witness and related programming. Interested communities would contact us for shipping of the tents and consultation for their event. The tents are of heavy canvas and all related exhibit pieces are designed for long term use, including shipping, without damage.

We envision these events to be of various themes. Therefore, participants would not only learn about current and past genocides and conflicts, they would learn more and share their experiences through films, speakers, discussions, art projects, etc. that accompany the exhibit. The awareness raised and relationships built through these events help to create understanding and compassionate communities that are welcoming and willing to stand up against violence and hate both within their communities and around the world.

This grant provides the financial support, to be sustained beyond the granting period, through a combination of internal and external funding.

The creation of strong communities through honest dialogue in Minnesota will have positive effects that endure. In the building of a culture of compassion, individuals and groups will be empowered to stand together against the tide of fear and division.

Tents of Witness: Genocide and Conflict has been chosen as a winner in Challenge III: Working Together Across Cultures and Faiths. - 2392 days ago
elsa leven said: I encourage you to vote for Tents of Witness, because they help you feel how small and insignificant people can feel in such small ... about this Competition Entry. - 2405 days ago read more >
maryam yusefzadeh said: All the best and good luck.............. about this Competition Entry. - 2407 days ago read more >
Fred Amram said: Wonderful, creative, informative, inspiring tents. Important cause. about this Competition Entry. - 2408 days ago read more >
Katina Petersen said: This is a great idea- best of luck to you! about this Competition Entry. - 2408 days ago read more >

Ellen Kennedy & Margo O'Dell updated this Competition Entry. - 2447 days ago

Ellen Kennedy & Margo O'Dell updated this Competition Entry. - 2462 days ago

Ellen Kennedy & Margo O'Dell submitted this idea. - 2462 days ago