In December 2015 and January 2016, the Central Valley Sikh community witnessed a hate crime against an elderly Sikh gentleman, soon to be followed by the brutal killing of another at his place of employment. Whenever the community has faced hardships in the past, the Sikh Gurus shared a 2-prong solution. Build strength/resolve and share that much more (parupkaar). So this is what we are doing again here in Fresno. We began the "Meet the Neighbors" initiative back in 2013 and served pizzas to the Southwest Fresno community after the attack on Baba Piara Singh. We have continued it in Selma in 2014 and in West Fresno in 2015. This time we will be doing it in Kerman. Read more
As a community organizer, one of my biggest worries when planning an event or activity is whether or not the event will be impactful, relevant, exciting, and needed within the sangat being served at the time. As such, going into the week of screening KayRay's film "Ananke" at various SoCal universities was a daunting task - I was not sure what to expect, how to start the conversation, nor what the outcome was going to be. Read more
Our Winter Jakara Juniors Camp's theme was Sikhi Da Butta. We had a day full of lessons, activities and connecting. What is unique about Misl MN's Jakara Camps is we try to incorporate the concept of Sewa into each camp. This year we had youth pack bagged lunches. We were able to pack over 200 bag lunches which ended up going to a local food shelf. We love to share the concept of Sewa with the kids and discuss how important it is to realize that they are really blessed and to not always think about themselves. We had a group of very engaged kids and facilitators. One assignment which came out of the camp for the older group was to think of a topic and conduct research on the topic to present a 3-5 minute presentation to the sangat. We are going to have our first presentation around the Harmandir Sahib this Sunday. Stay tuned... Misl MN is always looking for new activities and ideas to incorporate into the camps so please comment below if you have any ideas that have worked well at your misls, etc. Read more
Over the summer we hosted yet another Turban Tying Day at the Minnesota State Capitol. The attendance was HUGE! We were able to tie over 300 turbans throughout the day. We plan to continue this tradition into next year and hope to get even more volunteers as well as turbans donated. This year was unique as awards were given. We are proud to say that our booth was awarded the Best Activity and Engagement booth!! Check out some pictures below and share your thoughts on how we can make this event even bigger next year! Read more
Following the attack on 68 year old Amrik Singh Bal, the Fresno community held a town hall meeting at our very own Paaras Youth Center to discuss what actions the Sikhs could take to prevent future attacks. The room was filled to the brim with supporters and well wishers from both Sikh and non-Sikh backgrounds. Read more
Are you still using plastic water bottles? A common misconception is that bottled water is healthier for us than tap water. Did you know that tap water is actually more heavily regulated in the United States than bottled water is? The Environmental Protection Agency regulates tap water over 400 times a month; they are mandated under the Clean Water Act to do so. However, privately owned companies like Nestle and PepsiCo, the two corporations that own a majority of the bottled water industry, are not required by the government to meet federal standards. Why do we need to stop? Bottled water consumption in the U.S is through the roof; Americans alone use 50 billion plastic water bottles annually. With a recycling rate of only 23%, this means our nation alone wastes 38 billion water bottles a year. The energy we waste using bottled water would be enough to power 190,000 homes. The amount of petroleum used to manufacture plastic bottles for America for just one year is enough to fuel 1.3 million cars for an entire year, 17 million barrels of oil. Along with the tremendous amount of energy and fossil fuel consumption it takes to produce this many plastic bottles, our planet suffers. The 38 billion bottles of water that do not get recycled each year end up in either a landfill or in our oceans. According to National Geographic News, eight million tons of plastic are dumped into our oceans each year, harming all forms of wildlife. Where we spend our money sends a huge message. Let us be mindful of the products we use and where they end up after we are done using them. Invest in a reusable water bottle and avoid using plastic plates, cups, cutlery and straws whenever you can. Anjum Kaur serves on Misl Council for the Bay Area and also studies Environmental Studies at San Jose State University.
The Sikh Nation is mobilizing. All around the world, its eyes are turning towards Punjab. A new generation of community organizers and activists are mobilizing to spread word of recent events in Punjab. Corrupt governments are not new to the Sikhs. Even Guru Nanak described the head of governments of his age as being mere "butchers" and their officials as "dogs" eager to prey upon the righteous. Dark days lie ahead, but so long as the guiding light of the Guru and the desire to hold the Qaum's dignity are at the forefront, then the Khalsa will indeed rule. The following is a primer for all those interested in understanding the events. Please share widely. Read more
Since 2012 the organization has undergone many changes. We hired staff, shifted the structure of the organization from being project-based to now being chapter based, we implemented new roles and introduced new programs and projects. Being an organization with over 100 active volunteers at any given time, communication can be challenging. How do we get everyone on one page? How do we learn from each other and work towards expanding and improving the work we are have all committed to? Most importantly, how do we connect as a sangat of volunteers and strengthen ourselves as individuals and a team. The answer was Adhhaara – a retreat specifically designed for Jakara Movement’s active volunteers, board, members of the LOI, and staff. Over the years the retreat has shifted organically based on the needs of the volunteers and organization. Some years we have focused the entire weekend to team building, others we have focused solely on individual skills building, and the past two-years we have been able to find a balance between individual development, team building, and meeting the needs of the organization. Read more
The following was written by a community organizer with the Jakara Movement and completely reflects the point of view of the organization. Earlier today a friend posted about the above picture being removed from his profile due to “Community Standards.: Now according to your Community Standards: “We also remove content that expresses support for groups that are involved in the violent or criminal behavior mentioned above. Supporting or praising leaders of those same organizations, or condoning their violent activities, is not allowed. We welcome broad discussion and social commentary on these general subjects, but ask that people show sensitivity towards victims of violence and discrimination." (Source: https://www.facebook.com/communitystandards) So right off the back you do a quick search about Sukha and Jinda. Ohhhh, they killed someone and that is “criminal activity.” Did you bother to do a thorough search? Read more
Ever wonder how some people have this passion, this aurora, this fire that burns so bright? It is the excitement in their voice when they are sharing their work or something they care so much about. It is the smile or sometimes the serious look. It is gesturing of hands in anxiousness to get their thoughts across. It is an accumulation of everything you see, you feel, and you hear. I think it’s just beautiful to witness it and to feel it yourself. I’ve been fortunate, that’s all I can say. I found community in the people around me wherever I went. Don’t get me wrong, I did face many hurdles- from people saying I was too Sikh or not Sikh enough. However, I had parents who cultivated a strong foundation for me and allowed for my curiosity to grow, well within limits they are Punjabi after all. (Mom & Dad I’ll never be able to repay you for all that you have sacrificed. Thank you to all the parents who have provided for their children and continue to do so). My pillars of support have taught me to face the challenges, at times with a smile and other times with tears, and not hide or walk away. That spark I talk about. I found it while I was in undergrad through my education and extracurriculars. I found it in being a Sikh, a learner. I recognized and allowed it to grow through the Jakara Movement, my sangat in California, and my education. I pushed myself to new heights, tested uncomfortable boundaries, and sailed waters I never thought I would. I mean, did we ever think growing up we would have an all girls’ Sikh leadership retreat that talks about social justice, issues girls face growing up, Sikhi, and so much more? Bhujangan was established in the beautiful summer of 2012. Did we ever think of trying to connect Sikh high school students or for there to be a Sikh high school conference? Nishaan and the Sikh Honors and Service Society were a reality earlier this year and last. Did I ever think a Sikh organization would be fully functional with local chapters and multiple full-time employees? Honestly, I never even know you could work for a Sikh nonprofit or that this was a priority our community saw there to be. But it was all possible and is possible. I sit here smiling and my screen because I have to reel myself in before I get too excited about talking about the real impact we are making (yes, you included). All of this, it starts from sparks. Sparks of excitement, activism and conversations that lead to actions. It is a spark that allows us to not feel like work is work and allows us to stay up into the late hours of the night without thinking about the sleep we are missing out on. I continue to find that spark at each new corner because I believe we all have the ability to make a difference with our actions. Small or large, it has an impact. You know why? Because you never know where you might just spark someone else’s passions. Here’s to continuing the conversations and doing the work that makes us happy.