I've just returned from two weeks in Vermont. The small town of Greensboro (population just over 750) celebrates the 4th of July in great style every year with a parade down Breezy Avenue, a barbecue chicken lunch on the grounds of the Congregational church and an afternoon of local music, crafts and food. After dark, we row canoes out onto Lake Caspian to experience a spectacular fireworks display that reminds us of our freedom.
But amidst the celebrations and the pageantry, we do well to remember that not everyone is free. Trafficked women, men and children continue to live in conditions of degradation, abuse and exploitation around the world and in our own neighborhoods.
Our mission at ArtWorks for Freedom is to raise awareness and inspire action to end human trafficking. We do so through art, by using compelling visual imagery and performances that shed light on modern slavery and encourage residents of small towns and big cities to ask probing questions. What is human trafficking? Where does it take place? Is there anything we can do? Please continue reading to learn what the citizens of Beloit are doing to end human trafficking.
As we reflect on the benefits of our own freedom, we are grateful to you, our friends and supporters, for helping us to end human trafficking, one community at a time. Thank you for partnering with us to make sure that all men, women and children in this country are free.
Sandy Kinkaid, founding member and co-chair of the Women's Fund, acknowledges that Beloit, as a transportation hub in the state, creates conditions that favor human trafficking. In October of 2015, the FBI reported that underage victims were rescued from eight different communities in Wisconsin, including Monroe, La Crosse, Oshkosh, Monroe, Oak Creek, Racine, Brown County, Milwaukee and West Allis. The Wisconsin Attorney General, Brad Schimel, told the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel that human trafficking is “one of the hardest fights facing Wisconsin.” A new task force is training law enforcement officers to combat trafficking and aid victims. Schimel, together with Elise Anderson, Secretary of the Wisconsin's Department of Children and Family Services, are leading the Wisconsin's Human Trafficking Task Force.
The Red Sand Project
Kincaid explains that rural girls are vulnerable and easily exploited, even by their own families. The Women's Fund focuses on empowering women and girls, supporting gaps in services and highlighting hidden issues such as human trafficking. “The Fund is bringing this exhibit to our community to increase awareness about this form of modern slavery; we want to bring human trafficking out from under the shadows,” said Kincaid. “This effort helped to inform the public about the local effort to participate in the work of the Anti-Trafficking Task Force of Wisconsin.”
Local groups are becoming involved and taking advantage of the momentum to bring their message to the community. Unity in the Community, a community pep rally and block party, will feature the Red Sand Project focused on reaching Beloit young people. And throughout the exhibition, community groups including the YWCA, Care House and SARP (Sexual Assault Recovery Program) are present to answer questions and provide information.
Click to view: The exhibit evoked a powerful response
One young viewer was visibly moved by the art. "The visual impact is intense and the stories are so powerful," she told us. "I am definitely going to talk to all my friends and family about human trafficking."
We wish to thank Sandy Kincaid and Pat Foster of the Women's Fund of the Stateline Community Foundation for their help in launching this awareness campaign, and to the Beloit Daily News for their consecutive days of front-page news coverage.
The University of Wisconsin-4W Initiative at the School of Human Ecology together with the Women and Gender Studies Consortium and the Wisconsin Women’s Council were instrumental in bringing the installation to Beloit, along with local donors that include the Women’s Fund of the Stateline Community Foundation, The Wright Museum of Art, Beloit College and Visit Beloit, with local cooperation of the City of Beloit Parks and Recreation, Downtown Beloit Association, YWCA of Rock County, League of Women Voters and Zonta Club of Beloit. Thank you all for your help and contribution to making this event such a success.
If you would like information on how to bring ArtWorks for Freedom to your community, please contact Artistic Director Kay Chernush at email@example.com.
Good Company, Good Food
and a Good Cause!
Jeremiah Sarella, Jesica Crist, Michele Clark, our hosts Lynn Lewis and Caroline Mindel, Sharon Payt, Kay Chernush, Betsy Bramon and Barbi Brooadus
On May 11, ArtWorks for Freedom launched our inaugural Dinner with Friends, bringing together new friends and old for stimulating conversation about human trafficking as well as the opportunity to learn more about how to become involved in our work.
Carline Mindel was joined by Barbara and Richard Herzog and Lynn Lewis, co-hosts of the well-attended event in Caroline's historic brownstone in the heart of Washington, DC. A special thanks to our Board Chair, Betsy Bramon and Board Member Kenton Keith for being part of the evening!
Dinners with friends is an important part of our strategy to strengthen and grow our support base here in our community and beyond. It's a great way to bring friends and neighbors together over a meal to learn about human trafficking and what they can do. If you would like to host a dinner (or a breakfast or lunch!) please contact Michele Clark at firstname.lastname@example.org.
First-ever ArtWorks for Freedom Yard Sale!
We’d like to thank everyone for supporting ArtWorks for Freedom’s first-ever yard sale! Pictured are Rana Koll-Mandel, ArtWorks friend, and Betsy Bramon, ArtWorks Board Chair. Also pictured are Jerry Eisley, Abigail Eisley and Nathan Mitchell. Happy camping to the people who bought the tent! Thank you for coming out and contributing.
Until next month,
Executive Director, ArtWorks for Freedom