Commitment, Community, Cooperation

Archive for September, 2011|Monthly archive page

Creative Exchange

In Refugees & Immigration on September 23, 2011 at 12:28 pm

Building Community with Refugees through the Arts

 Creative Exchange aims:

To offer an opportunity for refugees to share artistic expressions of their experiences and feelings.

  • To create a supportive community for refugee youth.
  • To use the arts to help them tell their stories of conflict and resettlement.
  • To use these artistic products to educate the public about the effects of conflict and resettlement on young people.
  • To offer the broader Lexington community opportunities to discover more about the many assets refugees bring with them.


Kentucky Refugee Ministries; EnterChange Clinical Counseling; Fayette County Schools

Therapeutic Art Project

Since 1990, Kentucky Refugee Ministries (KRM) has placed over 5,300 political refugees in various Kentucky communities. In 2009, the Lexington office of KRM settled 230 refugees in the Lexington area. With the current political instability in many countries, there is every reason to believe the number of refugees arriving in Lexington will not decrease any time soon.

Before coming to live in Lexington, most refugees have experienced horrific trauma and are still dealing with the aftermath. Upon arrival, they are still in survival mode, scrambling to secure housing, food, clothing, employment, etc.

When fleeing the country in which they were persecuted, refugees also left behind the only social, emotional, and cultural support they have ever known. And because most do not know English, there is no means of reaching out for support here in their new country. Through translators, gesturing, and intermittent concrete grasps of American English, refugees eventually make known their most basic survival needs.

However, there are limited means by which to express the less concrete thoughts of their emotional trauma.  There are limited ways of reaching out for help for dealing with the piercing ache of seeing their fathers and brothers gunned down before their very eyes. No second-hand translation which can adequately convey the overwhelming sense of terror/rage/helplessness that refuses to leave after watching their mothers and daughters raped. No elementary word in a bilingual dictionary to express the constant longing for the time before the trouble began, for a home which does not exist anymore, for people who are not alive anymore.

There is an incredible need for refugees in Lexington to express their past and present experiences of displacement, conflict, and trauma through a non-threatening, therapeutic outlet. Artistic expression provides such an outlet. Helping refugees express themselves through artistic media would not only provide a means of conveying/coping with their traumatic experiences, it would also build a bridge of communication between refugees and their new community, allowing them to forge a new means of social and emotional support.

A picture really is worth a thousand words.  Artistic expression allows the refugees to immediately communicate, to themselves and to their new community, the question of “Who I Am.” The high level of communication and cultural understanding required to communicate this verbally normally takes years to master, bypassing the crucial bonding time with the new community and creating a situation in which the refugees live among-but-separately from their new community.

Debt: The Movie

In Economics on September 22, 2011 at 2:50 pm


“an INCONVENIENT TRUTH for the debt crisis . . . “— Michelle Orange / The Village Voice

Omaha’s Holland Center for the Performing Arts hosted a sold out crowd of 2,000 gathered to watch the live national premiere of Agora Entertainment’s documentary film I.O.U.S.A.  Directed by Patrick Creadon (director of the critically acclaimed documentary Wordplay), the film examines the topic of America’s national debt and its implications for the current and future generations of Americans. The film was simultaneously broadcast by satellite to 400 theatres across the country and followed by a live panel discussion hosted by CNBC’s Squawk Box co-anchor Rebecca Quick. The five person panel included Omaha’s own Warren Buffett, CEO of Berkshire Hathaway; Pete Peterson, senior chairman of Blackstone Group; David Walker, chairman of The Peter G. Peterson Foundation and former Comptroller General of the United States; Bill Niskanen, Cato Institute Chairman; and Bill Novelli, AARP CEO.

One Horizon initiated production for I.O.U.S.A., brokering the partnership between Agora Entertainment, Open Sky Entertainment and producer Sarah Gibson that led to the production of the film. One Horizon also provided initial funding for the film and assisted in the selection of Patrick Creadon as director. The film, which debuted at the Sundance Film Festival, was ultimately bought by the Peter G. Peterson Foundation who sponsored the live premiere and will be overseeing circulation of the film in a limited general theatrical release along with separate TV and DVD releases.

Not On Our Watch

In Human Rights on September 22, 2011 at 2:39 pm

“This is a prophetic and powerful book that deserves our attention and support.” —Cornel West, Princeton University

One Horizon teams up with Washington-based ENOUGH Project and the General Board of Church and Society of the United Methodist Church to create a faith-based mobilization guide on Darfur. The Not on Our Watch Christian Companion: Biblical Reflections on the Movement to End Genocide in Darfur and Beyond connects churches, fellowships, and individual Christians to the global movement to end genocide in Darfur and other crimes against humanity in Africa.

Co-authored by One Horizon president Greg Leffel and GBCS Civil and Human Rights Director Bill Mefford, the Companion expands on New York Times bestseller Not on Our Watch: The Mission to End Genocide in Darfur and Beyond by actor Don Cheadle (Hotel Rwanda) and Africa expert John Prendergast, co-founder of the ENOUGH Project. An important link in the growing Darfur coalition of secular and religious organizations the Companion was initiated at the invitation of ENOUGH Project’s Prendergast.

Drawing from the rich Christian humanitarian tradition as well as from traditions of public political involvement, the Companion provides biblical reflections on ethical issues as well as practical guidance for action to create change in Darfur. Each chapter constitutes a weekly study session—eight in all—designed to guide group discussion and reflection about Darfur and the movement to end genocide. Each session includes a biblical passage for reflection, a lesson applying the passage to Darfur, a weekly action step, and vignettes by refugees and people from many walks of life who have awakened to the problem of genocide and become active in the Darfur movement. 


KEF Energy Conservation Study

In Environmental on September 22, 2011 at 2:16 pm

Blue skies over Lexington mask its high “carbon footprint” produced by coal-fired energy production throughout the region.

[Originally posted February 20, 2008]

A Brookings Institution report ranks Kentucky’s two largest cities—Lexington and Louisville—respectively the first and fifth worst urban “carbon footprints” in the United States. And close-by Indianapolis and Cincinnati ranked second and third. The enormous challenge to policy makers, businesses, and citizens in this region is quite clear.

Brookings analyst and study co-author Andrea Sarzynski says, “These areas tend to use a lot of relatively dirty fuels for their electricity . . . [Relying] fairly heavily on coal,” which, she adds, produces more carbon than other energy sources. The study clarifies two important problems facing the region: First, that this is a regional problem that requires a regional solution. Second, that the region’s dependence upon “dirty fuels,” specifically coal, is a major contributor to the problem and is therefore something that needs to be closely examined.

This is the background behind a One Horizon grant in support of an important energy study jointly commissioned by the Kentucky Environmental Foundation (KEF), The Sierra Club, and Kentuckians for the Commonwealth.

The KEF Report

Released on February 20, 2008, A Portfolio of Energy Efficiency and Renewable Energy Options for East Kentucky Power Cooperative, is a study designed to “steer EKPC away from dirty energy and down a path to a clean energy future for Kentucky,” says KEF’s Elizabeth Crowe. The study outlines a combination of energy efficiency and renewable energy options that can meet the energy demand that EKPC projects without EKPC having to build its proposed “Smith 1” coal fired power plant in Clark County. “While coal-fired power plants are fraught with economic, environmental and health risks, energy efficiency and renewable energy programs such as those highlighted in this portfolio are a wise investment in Kentucky’s future,” says Crowe.

The study, authored by nationally known analyst Susan Zinga, was delivered to board members and representatives of East Kentucky Power Cooperative and its member cooperatives as an alternative to the proposed plant, and an important step in the direction of developing a more progressive regional energy policy. One Horizon has also worked with the same coalition to help organize and fund a CFL (Compact Fluorescent Light Bulb) distribution program intended to further promote and enact the principles outlined in the study.