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Asylum City is a storytelling project exploring the life and death consequences of seeking sanctuary in Chicago.
Asylum City is a storytelling project exploring the life and death consequences of seeking sanctuary in Chicago.
167 backers pledged $11,537 to help bring this project to life.

About

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Asylum City: Stories of Immigration and Sanctuary

$11,537

167

The problem

We are experiencing the greatest displacement crisis since WWII with over 65 million people being forced to leave their homes.

The world's most vulnerable men, women and children could once be guaranteed a home in the United States. But their futures are now uncertain. 

While seeking the safety of asylum is not a crime, those hoping for refuge here are being painted as criminals.

Our government's family separation and travel ban policies as well as its recent decision to remove both domestic violence and gang violence as reasons someone can ask for asylum have put additional pressures on people fleeing violence and persecution in their home countries.  

Our response

As the award-winning journalists and artists of 90 Days, 90 Voices, we understand the power of stories. Our team wants to fill a gap in coverage about asylum seekers in Chicago — the nation's third largest city. 

To support asylum seekers and fight ignorance about why they are coming to the United States, we are producing a six-month collaborative storytelling project called Asylum City.

This project will explore the life and death consequences of seeking sanctuary in Chicago today with a focus on the voices of asylum seekers. 

Our team of Chicago reporters, photographers and artists will produce:

  • A stunning photo essay and deeply-reported feature story about Venezuelan asylum seekers, the largest group by nationality of people currently seeking refuge in the United States. To be published on www.90days90voices.com.
  • A series of reported stories and exclusive oral histories with asylum seekers in temporary housing after their release from detention centers and with the people supporting them on their new journeys. To be published on www.90days90voices.com. 
  • A graphic novel featuring the harrowing true story of a man who fled the Syrian army and sought asylum in Chicago. Limited-run of 250 copies published in softcover book.
  • A FREE e-book curated with the best of our Asylum City content. To be distributed to classrooms, legislators and community groups across the country to raise awareness that seeking asylum is not a crime.

Why we need your help

Photo by 90 Days, 90 Voices contributor Geoff Stellfox
Photo by 90 Days, 90 Voices contributor Geoff Stellfox

90 Days, 90 Voices is a storytelling nonprofit made up of Chicago-based journalists and creatives. Founded shortly after the immigration ban in 2017, we have partnered with over a dozen local and national organizations and publications to uplift the stories of immigrants in this age of unrest.

We are the winners of the 2017 Chicago Headline Club award for Best Online Start-up. Our guidelines for ethical reporting on immigration have been lauded by the Global Investigative Journalism Network and our storytelling work has been recognized on WTTW’s Chicago Tonight, Chicago Public Radio's Worldview, Migratory Notes and in the Chicago Tribune.

While we are determined to offer our content to readers of all backgrounds without a paywall, producing high-quality journalism is hard work.

So for the first time, we are coming to you and asking for your support. 

Your Kickstarter donation will be used to cover the costs of reporting, editing and publishing stories for this series and support our team of local Chicago reporters, artists and photographers. 

You will also help us produce our first print book — a professional-quality softcover graphic novel — and an e-book to be distributed to schools and community groups for FREE.

Your tax-free donation* will help uplift the stories of asylum seekers in Chicago while educating the public about immigration policy.

We cannot produce Asylum City without your support. 

What others are saying about 90 Days, 90 Voices

Panel from 90 Days, 90 Voices' nonfiction graphic novel. Art by Jon Brown.
Panel from 90 Days, 90 Voices' nonfiction graphic novel. Art by Jon Brown.

“In 90 Days, 90 Voices, you’ll find amazing stories of immigrants and refugees building their lives in the U.S. in spite of a hostile White House.” - Darryl Holliday, City Bureau Co-Founder

"I share my family's story so that people can understand the realities refugees and asylum seekers face, and the complicated process they must go through to get legal protection in the United States." - Abdinasir Kahin, human rights activist and former asylum seeker from Somalia in his essay for 90 Days, 90 Voices

Best Online Start-Up of 2017 - Chicago Headline Club, the largest chapter of the Society of Professional Journalists in the United States

5 things you should know about 90 Days, 90 Voices 

Photo by 90 Days, 90 Voices Art Director Dan Rowell
Photo by 90 Days, 90 Voices Art Director Dan Rowell

1) The majority of the sources we interview are not in positions of power. 

2) In every interview, we are careful to explain not only how a person's story will be shared with the public but also the potential consequences of speaking with news media.

3) We don’t assume our sources understand the complexity and danger of immigration law and how going public with their personal narrative may impact their lives.

4) Our narratives seek to provide relevance and context and avoid being careless with language.

5) 90 Days, 90 Voices believes we have an obligation to protect sources, not jeopardize their psychological state or immigration status.

3 projects that represent our work

South Side Weekly cover illustrated by Dan Rowell
South Side Weekly cover illustrated by Dan Rowell

1) “La Vida de La Villita: The Life of Little Village.” For this special collaboration with the South Side Weekly, we produced a dozen bilingual comics and stories about the challenges undocumented immigrants face in what is known as "the Mexico of the Midwest."

2) "Hazim’s Electronic Dreams: Documenting the Yazidi Genocide." We interviewed a self-taught Iraqi programmer who built software to help victims of the ISIS-led genocide of the Yazidi people and track medical histories and prescriptions within a refugee camp. With the help of George and Amal Clooney, he’s now studying at the University of Chicago. This story was co-published in Chicago magazine.

3) "The Father of Three Bracing for Deportation." We produced this original comic about a Guatemalan immigrant who sought political asylum in the United States after being threatened for his activism in his home country. We co-published the piece in the arts and politics magazine Guernica the day he was scheduled to be deported.

You can read more stories at 90Days90Voices.com.

* 90 Days, 90 Voices is fiscally sponsored by the Experimental Station, a 501(c)(3) nonprofit.

Risks and challenges

If we don't reach our goal of $10,000, we will not be able to do this project.

We have intentionally set this project budget at the lowest number possible in order to fully fund the project through Kickstarter.

We can't do this without your support.

Learn about accountability on Kickstarter

Questions about this project? Check out the FAQ

Support

  1. Select this reward

    Pledge $10 or more About $10

    Fan

    Thank you! Every little bit helps.

    Includes:
    • Virtual shout-out on www.90days90voices.com
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    19 backers
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  2. Select this reward

    Pledge $25 or more About $25

    Swag Pack

    Show off your support for asylum seekers and local journalism! The postcards are perfect for writing to your legislator or displaying on your walls.

    Includes:
    • Set of Asylum City stickers
    • Set of 5 postcards with original art and photos from Asylum City
    • Virtual shout-out on www.90days90voices.com
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    41 backers
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    Pledge $50 or more About $50

    Morning News Pack

    Wake up ready to change the world! Enjoy this original two-tone ceramic mug every morning knowing you're helping uplift the stories of immigrants.

    Includes:
    • Two-tone ceramic Asylum City mug
    • Set of Asylum City stickers
    • Set of 5 postcards with original art and photos from Asylum City
    • Virtual shout-out on www.90days90voices.com
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    Ships to Anywhere in the world
    29 backers
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  4. Select this reward

    Pledge $100 or more About $100

    Weekend Reading Pack

    Read one of only 250 copies of our nonfiction graphic novel while drinking out of your Asylum City mug! You'll be among the first to read this harrowing true story of a man who fled the Syrian army and sought asylum in Chicago.

    Includes:
    • Limited-edition graphic novel about a Syrian asylum seeker
    • Two-tone ceramic Asylum City mug
    • Set of Asylum City stickers
    • Set of 5 postcards with original art and photos from Asylum City
    • Virtual shout-out on www.90days90voices.com
    Less
    Estimated delivery
    Ships to Anywhere in the world
    Limited 33 backers
    $
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    Pledge $250 or more About $250

    Founder's Club

    Join the 90 Days, 90 Voices team for a home-cooked Syrian meal inspired by the flavors of Damascus to celebrate the release of of Asylum City. Receive a signed copy of our limited-edition graphic novel, too!

    Includes:
    • Two tickets to exclusive dinner with Asylum City team in Chicago
    • SIGNED limited-edition graphic novel about a Syrian asylum seeker
    • Thank you in free e-book distributed to schools and legislators
    • Two-tone ceramic Asylum City mug
    • Set of Asylum City stickers
    • Set of 5 postcards with original art and photos from Asylum City
    • Virtual shout-out on www.90days90voices.com
    Less
    Estimated delivery
    Ships to Anywhere in the world
    Reward no longer available 5 backers
    $
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Funding period

- (30 days)