Village board should drum up a new location for Magawa

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Dear President Pope and Village Trustees,

I strongly encourage you to assist the Magawa African Drum Studio in finding a new home in Oak Park. After such a dynamic beginning at its present Harrison Street location, it would be a grave loss for the Oak Park community if the studio leaves Oak Park when its temporary lease expires at the end of July. Although I am a drumming enthusiast and want the studio to remain here for my own personal pleasure, I am also concerned that Oak Park not lose a venue that promotes racial diversity in such meaningful ways.

One key way Magawa Studio promotes diversity is that its African drumming lessons and drum circles attract a racially diverse group of people (I've participated in both). This is an important asset for Oak Park because our community could benefit from having more activities that bring forth interracial participation and interaction.

As a researcher of issues related to race, I have found that many Oak Parkers tend not to socialize in a substantial way across racial lines. Although we are residentially integrated, we appear to be more racially separated as we pursue friendships and leisure activities. Occasionally, opportunities arise in our community to help fight this dynamic of racial separation. Project Unity, an organization that focused on bringing together racially diverse adults so they could develop interracial friendships was one such opportunity. Another is the integrated drum circle that occurs at the Oak Park Farmers' Market, now beginning its third season.

Oak Park has the ability to further expand community opportunities for interracial interactions and friendship with the musical activities offered by the Magawa Studio. For this reason, I hope the board will devote serious effort in helping this business relocate to another suitable location in our village. Let's not lose a vital business that has interracial management, that promotes music and dance of the African experience, and that brings together residents and other individuals from diverse racial and ethnic backgrounds.

In the meantime, maybe I'll see some of you at a Magawa Studio drum circle. For only five bucks, I think it's one of the best entertainment specials in town!

Denise Rose
Oak Park

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