State of the Movement - December 2016

We have so much big and exciting news to share that I wanted to give you a warning in advance for the length of this email.  I hope it'll be informative and interesting to you as it covers the state of your Jakara Movement, while touching on some of the interesting happenings for the California Sikh community in general.  Here is a snap shot in bullet form of what this blog will cover.  If you're brave enough to get to the end, don't hesitate to share with me your thoughts and ideas.

  • Introducing Ramandeep Kaur - Our Bay Area Community Organizer!
  • Gratitude for Amrit Kaur's Seva
  • Now Hiring - 2 new community organizer positions (Sacramento/Yuba City and North Central Valley)
  • Soojh - Building Begampura and Casting out Caste
  • The State of the SHSS - High School Sikh Life
  • The State of the JMC - Collegiate Sikh Life
  • Nishaan - Make Your Mark and Why EVERY High School Sikh Needs to Attend
  • Sikhiya - The Highs and Lows
  • Paaras Sikh Youth Center (Fresno) - What's Stirring Now?
  • Standing with our Muslim Brothers and Sisters - #NSEERS
  • 1984 Sikh Genocide Resolutions Rolling Forward
  • Standing Rock and Sikhs
  • Why Haven't You Gotten in Touch?
  • Holiday Sharing

Introducing Ramandeep Kaur - Our Bay Area Community Organizer!

For those that have been volunteers for the Jakara Movement, Ramandeep/Rimmy Kaur needs little introduction.  Since 2011, she has been a volunteer, an attendee, a facilitator, a committee member and so much in-between for many of our larger events and southern California programs. When I write that she is committed, passionate, and excited - well, that's still an understatement.  We are so excited to have her join our team and you can feel her exuberance in her own introductory message to the the community.  Read it here!

Here's just a taste:

I believe in a Sikhi that creates Ekta- where everyone feels loved, welcomed, and encouraged to go further in the message Guru Nanak Sahib envisions. I feel the Jakara Movement strives to fulfill that vision. It is an organization like no other I have been involved in and I am very excited to join as a full time staff member. Read the rest here!

Gratitude for Amrit Kaur's Seva

When Amrit Kaur joined the team as our Southern California Community Organizer, we were so eager to build our presence south of the Grapevine.  We learned the possibilities and challenges that make Southern California so unique compared to Northern California.  For the past three months she has returned back to her native Sacramento and has been working to create new opportunities in the community there.  She had such a tremendous summer - overseeing our Lalkaar collegiate conference, our numerous Bhujangan girls' retreats, and our first-ever JMC and SHSS retreats.  The Jakara Movement is in a much better place than when she joined it and in no small part thanks to her seva.  While she leaves us in a full-time capacity to pursue some new ventures, we are grateful for her seva and that she will be continuing again in a volunteer role as this movement continues to build and grow.

Now Hiring - 2 New Community Organizer Positions (Sacramento/Yuba city and North Central Valley)

We have two exciting opportunities for anyone seeking a career change or looking to engage with the Sikh community in one of the fastest growing organizations.  We are looking for community organizers in the Sacramento/Yuba City region and another in what we term as the North Central Valley, which runs from Stockton to Merced.  We promise - blood, sweat, lots of tears but also a life-changing opportunity to make a real difference in shaping the future of the Sikh community.  Apply today!

Soojh - Building Begampura and Casting out Caste

Soojh has a dual purpose.  Labeled as an 'alternative winter break', it gives an opportunity for college students to 1) learn about a subject in a deep way and 2) experience the subject in a way they never have before.  In years past, we have looked at the question of immigration - and finding our own Sikh history in the United States as part of a larger conversation with those that initially came to this country without a legal status, only to have one solidified later.  It's the story of so many of us.  This year as part of our larger theme, we discuss and unravel the topic of caste.  For most in the United States and in other areas of the diaspora, caste is a useless conversation amongst those that are privileged.  While we deny that caste exists among Sikhs, so many of us know the reality is far more complex and dark.  We begin this conversation in Sacramento, CA from December 17-19 and will explore topics ranging from the role of Punjabi music in shaping our perceptions, to the possibilities of a Sikh history from "below" that pays special attention to luminaries such as Giani Ditt Singh and others, as well as spend time with the sangat at the Guru Ravidas Gurdwara in Rio Linda, CA.  We expect it to be life-changing.  We are proud to work with our partners for this project including OFMI (Organization for the Minorities of India) and Dr. Ambedkar Sikh Foundation - We hope you will attend - click here for more information.  If you would like to read Bhagat Singh's own reflections on the issue of caste and untouchability, read his Achhoot Samasya in English here.

State of the SHSS - Reflections on High School Sikh Life

Sikh Honors and Service Society (SHSS) started as an initiative last year and has continued to increase and grow.  For the month of October we organized voter registration drives at all major Gurdwaras in Bakersfield, Fresno, Livingston, Ceres, Turlock, San Jose, and El Sobrante.  High school students were at the forefront of registering a record number of our community members - over 1000 in all!  Amplifying our community voice is at the forefront of their seva.  November was Sikh Awareness and Appreciation Month.  To celebrate Sikh arts, our SHSS clubs hosted the Colourfornia II tour by world-renowned art, Inkquisitive (Amandeep Singh).  Inkquisitive shared his story, Sikh inspirations and art pieces at Ceres High School, James Logan High School, Evergreen High School, Livingston High School, Central East High School, and Ridgeview High School.  Over 1000 Sikh high school students engaged with him and his art during the month of November and we are proud to create a showcase for young talent in our community as well as instill pride in our youth.

State of the JMC - Reflections on Collegiate Sikh Life

This year we started a new initiative to begin Jakara Movement Chapters (JMCs) at our universities and colleges.  Concentrating at the CSUs - we are proud to have started new organizations bringing new conversations and community to college campuses.  At CSU Stanislaus, the JMC has been active creating both large events and small, while consistently organizing sacha sauda langars for the houseless.  At CSU Fresno, the JMC has chosen its officers and is officially recognized.  We are gearing up for the upcoming semester.  At CSU Bakersfield, we are still hopeful, so if you are a student at CSUB or have family, please hit 'reply' and get in touch.  However, our JMCs are not limited to only the CSUs.  They are joined by organizations on UC campuses, such as UC Davis, UCLA, and UC Berkeley.  These college students have taken time out of their schedule to create extremely unique programming.  At UCD, they organized a workshop around consent.  At UCLA, they hosted Inkquisitive and spoke about Sikh arts.  At UC Berkeley, they hosted a program with Aman Sohota, nephew of slain US Army veteran, Parminder Shergill, and spoke about issues related to policing, mental health, and finding a new Sikh voice.

Nishaan - Make Your Mark and Why EVERY High School Sikh Needs to Attend

Nishaan 2017 is fast approaching - CHECK OUT the promo vid.  Last year over 120 high school Sikh students came to Fresno, CA for a weekend of Sikhi, seva, learning, and fun.  From workshops on college admission to understanding the Trump Presidency; from Celebrating our Kaur Voices to understanding the movement to take down Gandhi statues in California, this is an opportunity your child will not want to miss.  If you allow me a moment to digress.  Often times, many parents will approach me and the Jakara Movement when their child is doing something they don't like.  Maybe they are dating a non-Sikh, maybe they come to realize that their child is so assimilated that their child has little knowledge of Sikh values and ethics.  I often time say, please get me your son/daughter involved and send them to the upcoming event (FORCE them if you must, because you are their parent and your responsibility is to be their 'parent', not their 'friend' and give them exposures to new ideas and possibilities).  The parent will say, I want to, but......my child has track practice or volleyball or something of the like.  If your child is going to get a scholarship to play golf at Stanford, BY ALL MEANS please do not send your child to a Sikh event - but send them to golf practice (it'll save you thousands!).  Buuuuuuut, and from my experience this is the majority, if your child is playing because they enjoy being on a team and you like giving them positive outlets, then why would you not send them to a Sikh event?  Is your responsibility as a parent merely to please your child or is it to parent them and give them the ethics, values, and exposures that will last them a lifetime.  I am not saying sports and other extracurriculars don't have value (I have greatly benefited!), but if maintaining their identity and sense of self is important, then your actions as a parent should mirror its importance to you!  For more information on Nishaan, check out the following link.  Nishaan 2017 will be held from January 13-16 in Fresno, CA and is open to ALL high school students.

Sikhiya - The Highs and Lows

Every year we offer college/graduate help for aspiring Sikh students.  From college workshops at our Paaras Sikh Youth Center in Fresno and one-day help workshops at West Sacramento Gurdwara to online help, we attempt to provide services to promote our kids' education.  This year fewer students took advantage, probably in no small part because I didn't advertise the services enough.  Regardless, we send a big thank you to all that helped and worked with our Sikh kids.

Paaras Sikh Youth Center - What's Stirring Now?

The Paaras Sikh Youth Center (5470 W. Spruce Ave. #103; Fresno, CA 93722) is the new hub of life for the California Sikh youth.  The last few weeks have highlighted this unique position.  Last month, we were proud to host a special event to honor the late Shaheed Jaswant Singh Khalra.  Over 100 Sikh youth attended to keep the light fighting against the darkness burning and hear words of inspiration from Fresno-State Alumni Navkiran Kaur Khalra.  We were also joined by Fresno-area elected officials, including Councilman Oliver Baines and Councilwoman Esmeralda Soria.  They learned about this Panthic Hero and committed to keep his memory alive.  We also had a special Sikh Arts night highlighting both Inkquisitive (Amandeep Singh) a UK-based Sikh visual artist and L-Fresh the Lion (Sukhdeep Singh), an Australian-based Sikh rapper.  The event was attended by nearly 120 Sikh youth, who left motivated, inspired, and enthused.

Standing with our Muslim Brothers and Sisters - NSEERS Program

This week we had an article published in the Fresno Bee as part of the "Valley Voices" feature decrying against the so-called "Muslim Registry" that has been floated by some politicians.  Sikhs stand against racial profiling of any community.  See the article here.

1984 Sikh Genocide Resolutions Continue to Roll Forward

In Fresno, CA the Jakara Movement was an instrumental part of the team to pass the 1984 Sikh Genocide Resolution.  Along with 700 community members, we came to Fresno City Hall and made sure that the movement would not end in Fresno.  If anything it has continued to gain momentum and speed.  This month alone new cities to join the movement are Selma, CA, Lathrop, CA, Union City, CA and Southington, CT.  They join Harvey, IL, Kerman, CA, San Joaquin, CA, Fresno, CA, Stockton, CA, Sanger, CA, Fowler, CA, Madera, CA, and Bakersfield, CA - we're up to 13 cities.  Make it happen in yours!  Get in touch with us and we can provide literature, the actual resolution, and any other materials you need on how to strategize.

Standing Rock and Sikhs

The Standing Rock Indian Reservation is the sixth largest land area reservation in the United States.  It is the home for a number of indigenous nations, the largest being the Sioux.  It has increasingly received media highlight due to the protests against the Dakota Access Pipeline.  The Pipeline would threaten the only water supply for the reservation and it was on the private land of one of the Sioux nation members that a protest against the pipeline was initiated.  It was the largest gathering of Native Nations in the past century.  Many Sikhs have participated in this protest for justice and we salute all of them including Damanjit Singh of Fremont and Navkiran Kaur.  We were in the midst of putting together a caravan and truck of supplies.  With Sunday's call that the pipeline would be halted, we are celebrating the stoppage.  However, we are trying to stay in touch with friends on the ground that are monitoring the situation.  If something changes, we will be making a public announcement to go and will be needing the sangat's seva.  More details to follow soon.

Why Haven't You Gotten in Touch?

Make this month the month you volunteer!  We have programs throughout the month of December in so many of our California communities.  Whether you are 12 or 62, we have something for you!  Go to our volunteer page and sign up!

Holiday Sharing:

Make this month you donate!  STOP thinking it's someone else's responsibility.  It is YOUR responsibility - YOU - yes, I'm talking to YOU.  Do it well and do it as a family.  Generosity makes YOU a better person and makes your life a better life.  Share!  Share your time, share your kindness, and share your wealth with the Guru.  Do it with your family.  Do it with your kids.  Tell them you're doing it.  Model those actions.  We hope this organization is one that speaks to your heart, but whatever does - do that! 

In humility, gratitude, and eternal optimism (chardikala),

Deep Singh

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