Monday, February 20, 2012

Free Cultural Event on March 2nd to Celebrate Immigrant Life

Art @ the Y Opening Blurs Boundaries between Art, Religion, & Politics

Exhibition opening
Friday, March 2nd, 2012, 6:00-9:00 pm
Opens at 6:00 . Artist talk at 7:00 . Music at 7:30
Free and open to the public.
Murphy Gallery @ the Y

The University YMCA will host a cultural event on March 2nd in order to bring members of the diverse C-U community together for an evening of art, music, and celebration. Featured artists blur the boundaries between art and politics.
Featured print artist, Ramiro Rodríguez, casts his images with the aid of lessons found within Bible passages. His art speaks critically of current immigration issues both locally and nationally with a clear vision that is both impactful and sure to move those who receive his work with an open mind.
Likewise, Los Condenados Huastecos, a Chicago-based musical trio with parallel interests in bridging grassroots connections between the arts and local Latina/o communities, have performed at cultural and educational events throughout the Midwest. Interspersed with commentary about their musical heritage, the music offers insights into the transborder pathways of their art. Los Condenados Huastecos provide an undeniable verve of performance as we celebrate the richness of our local community and reflect on the shared knowledge of what people throughout this country are going through.
This exhibition will be open at the University YMCA from March 2nd - April 6th, 2012 from 9am-9pm on weekdays.  
University YMCA, 1001 South Wright Street, Champaign
Exhibition sponsored by: Art @ the Y, an initiative of the University YMCA.


Tuesday, February 14, 2012

Urgent: Support Congolese Workers Being Displaced From Their Homes

Urgent Situation: 

Workers at Flex-N-Gate’s Guardian West Plant in Urbana have been working together to form a union for many months now. They are paid wages that keep them hovering at the poverty line, and often work in dangerous conditions.
A group of workers at the plant who have stood up for change at their workplace are facing another crisis. 
Last weekend, Congolese families living at the Continental Plaza and Stoneleigh Court apartment complexes simultaneously received letters from their landlord Royse & Brinkmeyer Apartments stating the company will not renew their leases.
The letter went onto say that the landlord has had less than satisfactory experiences with these tenants. To our knowledge, every single Congolese resident in these buildings will lose their lease.
No one else in the complex appears to have received a similar letter. Altogether, 11 households will be affected when their leases expire in the coming months. Seven of these apartments are occupied by workers at Flex-N-Gate, including several who have spoken out publicly about the dangerous conditions in the plant, which uses toxic chromium to manufacture truck bumpers.
We are asking members of the Champaign-Urbana community to take action to
support these families.
The residents who received these letters were not behind on their rent. They hadn’t received warnings for noise, for not maintaining their apartments properly, or for anything else. They work hard, and go to school to improve their English and advance their education.
Royse & Brinkmeyer’s actions will make it harder for these members of our community to find affordable housing. Their actions amount to discrimination against a group of people who are trying their best to build a brighter future for themselves and their families.
Residents are in the process of filing fair housing complaints with the appropriate agencies, but they need your help, too. Please take a minuteto send an e-mail to Royse & Brinkmeyer demanding that they do the right thing, and copy members of the Champaign Human Relations Commission.

It’s quick and easy:

Just go to the Justice at Flex N Gate Website  []

Please forward to others you think may want to get involved.

Y Prom 2012, 'DIY Another Day'

by Laura Frasz, Co-President
YMCA Student Board, Red Bison

When called into action for a noble and worthy cause, YMCA students consistently respond with confidence, determination, and innovation. Anyone familiar with the University Y has seen this happen countless times in response to issues of social justice, environmental problems, and so forth. On the evening of Saturday, January 28th, students responded to a different kind of call to action: the call to dance. When hip-hop band The  Black Eyed Peas beckoned students to “get into it” and “get it started”, Y students leapt into action on the dance floor as they always do: with confidence, determination, and innovation.
The 1st Annual YMCA Prom was held on a dark, cold, mid-winter evening, but spirits inside the Y were high. Students and staff, dressed in their finest, were received into the Y on a fancy red carpet. The Y was also dressed in its finest. Murphy Lounge was aglow with elegant yet subtle beauty thanks to the homemade decorations, strings of lights, and candles that students had set up earlier that day. The theme, “DIY Another Day”, was reflected in the recycled and refashioned decorations, as well as the hand-made paper corsages that students exchanged with one another.
The evening began with a delicious spaghetti candlelit dinner courtesy of Eric Green. As dinner wound down, attendants began mingling, taking photos, and slowly making their way to Latzer Hall, where the dancing would soon begin. Despite having bellies full of comfort food, it became evident that everyone was getting butterflies in their stomachs. Who would dance with whom? Would the handsome gentleman that you exchange glances across the boardroom table with finally talk to you? Would dancers segregate into their respective Y groups, or would the night turn into the grooviest collaboration event of all time? The worry was only momentary, however. Once the music started, everyone danced their cares away. The fun continued for hours, ending in an appropriately rousing chorus of The Village People’s “YMCA”.
It is safe to say that our first prom was a success. Over 90 were in attendance, and the student board raised over $700 to help remodel the student program office. These numbers are nearly double the original goal. Hopefully, this event will continue on for many years so that future generations can fully understand what it means to say, “it’s fun to stay at the YMCA”.