Mo*Con Intersections

by Maurice Broaddus

Coming up the weekend of May 4th, I will be hosting my twelfth Mo*Con. For the uninitiated, Mo*Con is a mini-writers conference that I host (“Maurice Convention”), bringing together speculative fiction writers from across the country for a weekend of conversations—sometimes hard conversations—all done over food. In a church. The conceit being that the church should be a safe place where people could question and discuss things.

Mo*Con exists in intersectionality. It began as a place to explore the intersection of faith and speculative fiction. The first Mo*Con featured horror writer Brian Keene giving his testimony of unbelief: how he has always struggled with the idea of God, why he has, and how it has played out in his fiction.

What I mean when I say intersectionality is that we are intersectional people, we exist in multiple dimentsions. I can’t separate me as a black man from the role faith plays in my life or how both impact my art. The sociological theory behind intersectionality recognizes that an individual’s identities overlap—age, race, sexuality, health, religion, etc.–and discrimination can follow. We can get caught up pursuing the interests of “part” of us while ignoring—or worse, at the expense of—another “part” of us. Which is why we’ve had Mo*Cons revolving around sexual identity and Christianity, mental health and the artist, atheism and art. Because to move forward, we have to realize we are all in this together, all parts of our identity.

This year Mo*Con will be held at the Switchboard, a community co-working space in Fountain Square. The event brings together partners such as Spirit & Place, the Kheprw Institute, and gROE Inc. Our guest of honor line up this year includes Lynne and Michael Thomas (editors of Uncanny Magazine), speculative fiction author/black feminist/social media icon Mikki Kendall, horror author John Urbancik, and agent Jen Udden. As a community, we’ll be discussing race, feminism, the business of art, fluid fiction, and protest through art. Which is how I see Mo*Con: at the intersection of faith and social justice; community and continued conversation.

Find more information about Mo*Con at this link.

A pre-Mo*Con event featuring Mikki Kendall and Chesya Burke will be held Thursday, May 3. Find more information and RSVP here.

Controlling Our Own Food

By Chinyelu Mwaafrika, Kheprw Institute Intern

With the loss of Double 8 foods in our communities last year, the people searched for an alternative means of obtaining affordable produce without having to drive all over creation to access them. From that need, the Community Controlled Food Initiative (CCFI) was born.

CCFI is a community led initiative that was started by the Kheprw Institute shortly after the closing of many Double 8 stores throughout the city. Although initial support for the initiative was small, it has grown exponentially since its inception.

Eulalia Johnson, another member of the CCFI team said, “I was very excited about the food feast and next event I’m going to be even more excited because we’re getting more people.”

CCFI partners with local gardeners/farmers to provide produce, so that not only do community members receive fresh, affordable food, but local growers profit off of their produce which strengthens the local economy.

The amount of money you pay for food depends entirely on your household income. A single person that makes less than $22,000 a year will pay $12 a month and someone making more will pay $25 (EBT/food stamps are accepted). Everyone gets the same amount of food which they pick up at Kheprw Institute on the second Saturday of the month, where they can also participate in a cooking demonstration and a shared community meal.2016-06-15

Mimi Zakem, of the CCFI organizing team said, “The first CCFI Food distribution was just a beautiful thing, and it was really special to partner with a grower from the neighborhood so we had food grown by community, distributed by community, purchased by community, eaten by community. We really have a wonderful grassroots thing going here and we’re excited to keep growing it.”

First CCFI food distribution

First CCFI food distribution

So far, CCFI has tremendous momentum behind it, and from the looks of it they have nowhere to go but up. Paulette Fair, a member of CCFI’s management committee said, “I was so proud of meeting a bunch of residents and community people who came together to bring produce fresh off the farm into our community.”

Tysha Ahmad, another committee member said, “Our goal is to continue to grow so that people can continue to come and be able to pick up healthy food.”