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In the fall of 2012, the Pluralism Project announced its third annual Photography Contest to document the vibrancy of religious diversity in the United States. We received excellent photos from across the country featuring religious practices and rituals; participation of religious groups in American civic life; interfaith encounter and social action; and women’s leadership and participation in communities of faith. The photos in this slideshow feature the 2012 Pluralism Project Photography Contest winners.
Congratulations to our 2012 Pluralism Project Photography Contest Grand Prize Winner, Stefanie Felix!
Congratulations to our Honorable Mentions, Kris Snibbe and Muhi Khwaja!
“The Hindu and the Cowboy... and Other Kansas City Stories” is the title of a play based on interviews with Kansas Citizens of many diverse faith traditions. It is the resulting product of the Mosaic Life Stories Project, a process undertaken in 2002 by a group of volunteers who were inspired by both the need for first-hand interfaith understanding and by belief in the power of story in dramatic form. The idea was sparked by the Gifts of Pluralism Conference hosted by CRES (a not-for-profit organization which facilitated the Kansas City Interfaith Council), falling by chance on the heels of September 11, 2001. The play first premiered in 2004 and since then has been staged over 25 times.
The Mosaic Life Stories project provided a process for bringing the rich life experiences of diverse Kansas City individuals to wider awareness through drama. Scriptwriter Donna Ziegenhorn designed the project and wrote the play based on her experience in story-based performance. Seven individuals were trained to interview, and the team collected and transcribed approximately 80 stories through personal interviews and story-telling circles. The transcribed stories fill three two-inch ring binders.
The project has encouraged people to come forward and tell the stories they have lived, the stories that have affected them in a visceral way. All generations, including youth, and all major religious faiths have been involved in the storytelling. Specifically, individuals have been interviewed from the following faith traditions: Native American, Baha’i, Christian (Protestant and Catholic), Hindu, Islam, Judaism, Pagan, Sikh Dharma, Sufi, Unitarian Universalist, Zoroastrian, Jain and non-affiliated.
The stories—which convey tragedy, healing, humor and reconciliation—are personal and unique. Together they present a rich and varied face of Kansas City. The stories show that people who join the community add their personal histories to those whose families have lived in Kansas City for generations. The project is a tribute to the changing identity of the metropolitan area.
“The Hindu and the Cowboy” was scripted from selected stories that are performed by local actors. The names of the original storytellers have been changed in the script.
Read a promising practice of "The Hindu and the Cowboy" featured in the Pluralism Project's pilot initiative, "America's Interfaith Infrastructure: An Emerging Landscape."
Read articles on “The Hindu and the Cowboy” in our Religious Diversity News archive.
Initial Project Sponsors:
CRES, Vern Barnet, President
Kansas City Harmony, Diane Hershberger, Executive Director
National Conference for Community and Justice, Juan Rangel, Executive Director
In the summer of 2011, the Pluralism Project announced its second annual Photography Contest to document the vibrancy of religious diversity in the United States. We received excellent photos from across the country featuring religious practices and rituals; participation of religious groups in American civic life; interfaith encounter and social action; and women’s leadership and participation in communities of faith. The photos in this slideshow feature the 2011 Pluralism Project Photography Contest winners. Congratulations to our 2011 Pluralism Project Photography Contest Grand Prize Winners, Baskar Gopalan and Yusuke Suzuki.
On January 30, 2011, the Sikh Temple in Indianapolis hosted an interfaith celebration to honor the work of the Interfaith Hunger Initiative (IHI), an organization that brings faith communities together with the goal of ending hunger for children and families in central Indiana and Kenya. The event welcomed visionary interfaith leaders and friends of the Gurdwara to celebrate cross-cultural cooperation and awareness. Guests were treated to a traditional North Indian Punjabi vegetarian lunch and a program that included presentations by a variety of religious and civic leaders. While community volunteers briefly spoke about the central tenants of the Sikh faith, the overarching message of the lunch highlighted a common theological mandate: to serve in faith. The diverse gathering demonstrated the need to bridge cultural and religious differences in order to support critical humanitarian programs.
Sri Swami Satchidananda founded Satchidananda Ashram-Yogaville as a place for spiritual reflection and practice. Located on the James River in Buckingham, VA, the Ashram features five sacred sites to host activities such as meditation, prayer, and group gatherings. Swami Satchidananda pioneered interfaith explorations until his passing in 2002, and today Satchidananda Ashram-Yogaville follows his example by hosting interfaith services and supporting education through interfaith display cases, retreats, and workshops. Photos by SAYVA Photo Department - Copyright SAYVA
On Thursday, October 21, the Pluralism Project screened the documentary film “Welcome to Shelbyville” for a diverse audience of Harvard students, staff, and faculty, local civic and religious leaders, representatives from immigrant advocacy groups, and members of the Greater Boston community. Directed and produced by Kim Snyder and executive produced by BeCause Foundation in association with Active Voice, “Welcome to Shelbyville” takes an intimate look at a southern town as its residents – whites and African Americans, Latinos and Somalis – grapple with their beliefs, their histories and their evolving ways of life. The film was followed by a panel discussion moderated by Pluralism Project Director Diana Eck on issues of immigration and religious pluralism, and how the lessons of Shelbyville can be applied to our own context in Greater Boston. Panelists included Cooperative Metropolitan Ministries Executive Director Alexander Levering Kern, Agencia ALPHA Director of Programs Damaris López, and Nancy Khalil, a doctoral student in Social Anthropology at Harvard University, and a member of the Muslim American Society Boston and the Islamic Society of Boston Cultural Center Board of Directors. Event co-sponsors included the Center for the Study of World Religions, the Outreach Center at the Center for Middle Eastern Studies, the Harvard Organization for Latin America (HOLA), United World College, the Harvard Islamic Society, Cooperative Metropolitan Ministries (CMM), Massachusetts Immigrant and Refugee Advocacy Coalition (MIRA), Agencia ALPHA, Active Voice, and the BeCause Foundation.
On October 4, 2010 Harvard Divinity School celebrated the opening of a meditation space located in the Center for the Study of World Religions (CSWR). The CSWR aims to bring together scholars and students who seek “to advance interdisciplinary, international, and interreligious exchange, learning, and research on the world's religions…” The Center, which first opened its doors in 1960, serves as a resource for all who endeavor to engage the topic of religion to meet the complex demands of a globalizing world. The CSWR meditation space is non-sectarian and aims to encourage reflection and spiritual nourishment on campus. It joins Andover and Divinity Chapels as places on the HDS campus set aside for meditation and reflection. All three spaces are open to members of the community during regular business hours.
More information about this event can be found in The Harvard Gazette article "Ceremony Marks Opening of CSWR Meditation Room".
In the summer of 2010, the Pluralism Project announced its first-ever Photography Contest to document the vibrancy of religious diversity in the United States. We received excellent photos from across the country featuring religious practices and rituals; participation of religious groups in American civic life; interfaith encounter and social action; and women’s leadership and participation in communities of faith. The photos in this slideshow feature the 2010 Pluralism Project Photography Contest winners. Congratulations to our 2010 Pluralism Project Photography Contest Grand Prize Winner, Dwight K. Morita of Kailua, Hawaii, for his entry, “Floating Lanterns,” and many thanks to all who participated in this contest.
Photos from the North American Interfaith Network NAINConnect 2010, Salt Lake City, Utah, July 25-28 2010
Center Inauguration of the Jain Center of Greater Boston, Norwood, 26-28 June 2010
The Jain Center of Greater Boston (JCGB), established in 1973, has seen great growth over the years. Now with over three hundred members, the community purchased a former synagogue in Norwood that will better serve its needs than the small former church it used to occupy. After months of collaboration to renovate the new Center, it was officially opened at the Inauguration in June 2010. A rare event, the Inauguration was celebrated with vibrant decorations, rituals, a procession, and a cultural program.