Posted 2 months ago

We’re excited to announce that Ghana ThinkTank will be speaking at the CreativeTime 2014 Summit in Stockholm alongside other panelists who explore the role of art in the public sphere, their uses in addressing human issues, and understanding socio-poltical implications.

Ghana ThinkTank’s Christopher Robbins, John Ewing, and Carmen Montoya will be discussing our Mexico Border project, based around exchanging problems between immigrants and anti-illegal immigrant groups. We’re focusing on adapting our model for a long-term collaboration between these groups.

Our operations in the Middle East focus around facilitating contact between groups that are historically or politically polarized. Working with Sudanese and Eritrean refugees and asylum seekers along with local Israelis, we organized ThinkTanks that collected problems from Israelis residents of the neglected neighborhood of South Tel Aviv as well as Sudanese and Eritrean asylum seekers living in that same neighborhood. We then asked each group to solve the problems of the other group, which after working with community members, the organized think tanks, and local organizations created plans to implement their solutions.Those efforts at bridging constructive contact between groups was part of a Tel Aviv-based art show “The Infiltrators.”

Posted 3 months ago

The uniform for our all-women community watch is complete! Israelis & African asylum seekers building a women’s patrol of south Tel Aviv.

Posted 4 months ago

Sudanese think tank at the Holot Detention Center

Today Ghana ThinkTank returned to the Holot Detention Center, where many African Asylum seekers are sent, to work with our Sudanese think tank. When we first formed this think tank, every member lived in south Tel Aviv, but by the time I personally had arrived in Tel Aviv, all but one member had been picked up and sent to Holot Detainment Camp.

 The camp is located in the Negev desert, a hot, dry, sandblown and desolate place. Last time we ran our think tank session in the shade of a tree, seated on bits of wood and pipe on blankets we had brought from Tel Aviv.

This time the tree was gone – we were told that Israeli police cut it down because it had become a place where the asylum seekers gathered. So we found a stack of industrial spools in the desert to serve as our shade.

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Seeking shade in the desert from a stack of industrial spools. (Israeli police told us to move on moments after this photo)

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We lingered long enough to eat the Sudanese food we had brought from Tel Aviv before looking for another meeting place.

Within minutes Israeli police arrived to tell us we were not allowed to sit here, so we wandered through the outskirts of the desert looking for a shady place to run our session. Eventually we found some shade from a fenced enclosure around a pipe.

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A new meeting place that evaded the interest of the police.

And so began our session.

 This session’s goal was to report back to the Sudanese think tank, show them our progress on their solutions, and ask them how to proceed.

Since we last met to discuss solutions for problems submitted by Israelis in south Tel Aviv, we had been working on four actions:

 1 – A series of gardening workshops meant to link asylum seekers and Israeli resident through skillshares. “You can communicate through your skills…”

2- A women only community watch – Israeli and African women providing security for the infamous Neve Sha’anaan neighborhood.

3 – A tour run by south Tel Aviv residents, reflecting the conflicting and overlapping agendas between Tzphonim, Mizrachim, and Refugees in south Tel Aviv.

4 – A lesson in conflicting cultural codes through a visual guide to misunderstanding between African asylum seekers and Israelis.

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The Sudanese think tank at Holot Detention center responds to our “Visual Guide to Misunderstanding between African asylum seekers and Israelis” – our implementation of their solution regarding conflicting cultural codes for refugees in Israel. Topics included the idea of Israel as a refugee state, authorities as providing safety or abuse, Sabbath as a day for rest verse mourning, homosexuality and friendship, and many others.

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Asylum seekers in Holot Detainment Camp present their tour of their south Tel Aviv from afar, to be presented in Tel Aviv by asylum seekers still living in the city.

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Thanks so much to Yael Ravid of Kitchen Talks, Maayan Sheleff our intrepid curator and partner, Haim Yafim for filming, and our Sudanese asylum seeker think tank members Adam Arbab, Ahmed Mirsal Adam, Anwar Suliman Arbab, Arbab Abakar, Bashor Mohammad Salah, Jamal Omer, Zakaria  Mohammed  Abdallah  Saleh , Hassan Ahmed Shakur, Yeman Adam, Muhamed Haron Abker, Noureldin Mohammed Adam, Adil Aldao    

As the sun fell in the sky, the Sudanese think tank and a group of visitors watched a video we produced since our last visit, of think tank session with Eritrean and Sudanese asylum seekers discussing the problems of Israelis living in south Tel Aviv.

It was a pretty inspiring moment, watching asylum seekers nod in understanding or chuckle in derision at the often piercing points of the view the first sessions had generated.

 My most poignant moment was watching their response to an argument between Israelis in south Tel Aviv:

“The refugees had a choice to fight or run – they run! We had a choice to run or fight – we fight! They suffer because they are going the wrong direction… If you love your country, fight for your country!”

“But the German Jews… they stayed in their homeland… I wish more had run… Six million died!”

We will continue to implement solutions this week, working with a groups of local artists, activists, actors, community gardeners, homeless and a politician, who can continue to develop the actions after we have left. We are trying wherever possible to connect solutions to local groups and individuals with related missions and agendas, so  that the Ghana ThinkTank process can have greater resonance into the future.

Our opening is this Thursday, and this Friday we will screen the video to our Eritrean and south Tel Aviv think tank before a public discussion.

And Tuesday is the maiden voyage of the Frankenstein TreeCycle, a solar powered media center in a leopard skin blanket and a frankenstein tree on a bike, to collect more problems from south Tel Aviv.

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Thanks so much to Yael Ravid of Kitchen Talks, Maayan Sheleff our intrepid curator and partner, Haim Yafim for filming, and our Sudanese asylum seeker think tank members Adam Arbab, Ahmed Mirsal Adam, Anwar Suliman Arbab, Arbab Abakar, Bashor Mohammad Salah, Jamal Omer, Zakaria  Mohammed  Abdallah  Saleh , Hassan Ahmed Shakur, Yeman Adam, Muhamed Haron Abker, Noureldin Mohammed Adam, and Adil Aldao.    

Posted 4 months ago

Ghana ThinkTank is back to work with Eritrean and Sudanese asylum 
seekers in Israel as part of a show at Artport, a privately-funded gallery 
in south Tel Aviv. The exhibition “The Infiltrators” examines the local 
and global state of asylum seekers and refugees through works created 
with the participation of communities of asylum seekers in Israel and 
elsewhere in the world.

https://www.facebook.com/events/230478017161139/?ref_newsfeed_story_type=regular
http://www.artportlv.org/blog/infiltrators

Posted 4 months ago

GhanaThinkTank is honored to receive a grant from the Kindle Project
Fund of the Common Counsel Foundation. Kindle Project is an “outside-the-box grantmaking organization supporting wild solutions, by unusual suspects, in the attempt to move mountains.”

Their financial, training and networking support will help Ghana
ThinkTank as we transition to longer term projects with deeper impacts.

Thank you!
http://kindleproject.org/

Posted 4 months ago

As part of “Ghana ThinkTank at the Mexican Border” (a Creative Capital
project), Ghana ThinkTank is working with designer Adrienne Finzsch to
create a “problem air drop.” Based on U.S. Emergency Aid drops, packets
will be dropped from a helicopter. But in our case, the packets will ask
Mexicans to help us solve American problems. They can fill out an
included post card to give their solutions. Adrienne Finzsch created the
design based on the aerodynamics of maple seeds, allowing materials to
spin safely to the ground when dropped from a plane.

Posted 5 months ago

Ghana ThinkTank was invited by ArtPort gallery, a privately funded Arts institution in South Tel Aviv, to organize a group of African Refugee and South Tel Aviv ThinkTanks.

We met up with the Eritrean think tank in an underground restaurant in South Tel Aviv, and the Sudanese think tank outside their Holot Detainment Camp, where they are currently “housed.”

We also worked with the South Tel Aviv residents,
who have experienced a dramatic influx of refugees to their neighborhood over the past 5 years.

Posted 5 months ago

Developing a mobile unit to connect think tanks of African Asylum Seekers and Israeli residents in a notoriously neglected part of Tel Aviv.

Posted 6 months ago

The Ghana Think Tank has been working in Israel with think tanks of Asylum Seekers from Eritrea and Sudan, discussing problems submitted by residents of South Tel Aviv.

In the region, South Tel Aviv has the highest poverty rate and is a site of increasing ethnic and social conflict. As tens of thousands of refugees have been sent there over the past 5 years, these tensions have 
increased even more.

Posted 6 months ago

"I was keen to revisit the camp in an entirely different capacity - in 
which the tables were turned, where I was the one asking for help”

A Ghana ThinkTank volunteer and NGO worker chronicles her experiences 
trying to challenge the status quo of international development in a 
refugee camp in Ghana last summer: http://delusionsofdevelopment.com/?p=1062