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The Roots Project will explore the rhythms and challenges of the Arab American community in flux. Visit www.rootsodyssey.com.
The Roots Project will explore the rhythms and challenges of the Arab American community in flux. Visit www.rootsodyssey.com.
75 backers pledged $3,575 to help bring this project to life.

About this project

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$3,575

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All funds raised through this campaign will directly support our reporting for The Roots Project in the Arab American communities in Dearborn, Michigan and Bay Ridge, Brooklyn. The costs for this reporting will go toward living and travel expenses needed to complete the in-depth and accurate work we believe the project deserves. We estimate that the $3,500 dollars will support us for two months. These particular funds will help the project get off the ground and allow us to establish ourselves within Bay Ridge and Dearborn.

OUR START

Erin and Jake’s involvement with the Arab American community began in the fall of 2011 when they spoke with youth members from the Arab American Association of New York in Bay Ridge about their communities and what it meant for them to identify as an Arab American. It was these discussions that inspired Erin and Jake to continue the conversation, and to expand their work.

Erin moved to Cairo last winter where she spent nine months reporting on Egypt’s political shifts, and the conflict in Syria. When she returned, she wanted to continue reporting on the Arab community, and decided to pick up where she and Jake had left off the year before. Jake and Erin revisited the idea of starting a grassroots reporting project based in the Arab American community that focused on identity. It wasn’t until they started interviewing community members and leaders that they realized how many different kinds of challenges the communities were facing, each one affecting their identities in unique ways.

THE PROJECT

The Roots Project will explore the rhythms and challenges of a community in flux, one that redefines itself in an often hostile environment. The stories of the Arab American communities in Dearborn and Bay Ridge are ones inherently affected by the political upheavals occurring in the Middle East, the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan, and the trend in religious hate crimes spreading across the U.S.

Roots will be a gateway to the lives of contemporary Arab America. Through prose and multimedia, Roots will explore issues including political asylum, mental health among those traumatized by war, assimilation, and the tension between the youth population and their foreign-born parents.

But we can only complete our goal of reporting accurately and with intense detail if we embed ourselves within the Bay Ridge and Dearborn communities. We want to live among the Arab American people so that we can get a closer look at the dynamics of each neighborhood and produce a more realistic set of stories.

We have already established strong connections within each community. Organizations such as the Arab American Association of New York and ACCESS have worked with us over the past several months by allowing us to follow their work and introducing us to key leaders in each area. It is through these connections that the Roots Project will begin its journey. We hope that the project will evolve in the future, and that we will be able to report from other large Arab American communities in the U.S. But for now, we will focus on bay Ridge and Dearborn. We will only stop reporting in these areas once we feel that each demographic has been explored and given a voice. 

Risks and challenges

There are just a few risks and challenges that we see could possibly arise in the Roots Project:

1. Some of our reporting will focus on sensitive topics, but by living in the communities and establishing relationships with the people who live in Bay Ridge and Dearborn, we will establish a high level of trust required for reporting on these issues. We have already begun to forge these relationships.

2. We are freelance journalists who will be working tirelessly to make sure our reporting reaches the greatest possible audience. We thought about adding our work (published) into parts of the reward section. However, because of the nature of the freelancing game, we will not always know when or where our work will be published. So, to bypass this scenario, we decided to include as many of our project images as possible into the rewards section. Published or not, we will always have a backlog of digital work to send our backers!

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  1. Select this reward

    Pledge $15 or more About $15

    A thank you shout-out on our Facebook page. www.facebook.com/rootsodyssey and an e-mail (with image from latest slideshow) that describes our most recent reporting endeavor.

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    Pledge $25 or more About $25

    A postcard of thanks featuring an image from the project. (International buyers please add $3).

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    Pledge $50 or more About $50

    A set of three postcards featuring project images from Dearborn and Bay Ridge, plus exclusive emails detailing project progress for the duration of the project. (International buyers please add $3).

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    Pledge $100 or more About $100

    A set of three postcards featuring project images from Dearborn and Bay Ridge, plus exclusive emails detailing project progress for the duration of the project. (International buyers please add $3) PLUS an open edition 8x10 print of a photo from the project AND an order of Baklava Shatila Pastries in Dearborn (amazing—no joke). (International buyers please add $5)

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    Pledge $500 or more About $500

    All of the above PLUS an archival, open edition 16x24 print of an image from the project and official SPONSOR status on our website. (International buyers please add $5)

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    Pledge $1,000 or more About $1,000

    $1,000? You are amazing! We're coming to you.We will travel to the city of your choice, (within the continental United States) and profile the Arab community in that area!

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Funding period

- (30 days)