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BW Goes Global, Again

A few weeks ago, I wrote about a grant BW was awarded to increase diversity in media. Our proposal to the grant committee was a project we've since named The Grip, a blog by two new Americans who have been relocated to Boise through refugee agencies. The Grip went live only two short weeks ago and has been garnering some interesting attention. One recent post in particular, "A People Without a Nation" from Congolese blogger FBM Fidel Nshombo, generated an interesting international debate. Nshombo wrote about the Banyamulenge, a people from the mountains of Congo who the Congolese considered Rwandan immigrants, but who Rwandans consider Congolese, though many helped the Rwandans overthrow Congolese leader Mobutu. Nshombo's post on The Grip was ultimately about a group of refugees living in Boise, who have been nicknamed the Cogorwa—Banyamulenge who, even in Boise, are neither Congolese nor Rwandan—but the background information he provided spurred debate among readers all over the globe.

I sincerely hope these initial blog posts, as well as the ensuing global discussion, are indications of what we can expect from The Grip in the future, particularly because it's the only public dialogue of its kind in Boise. Between 1998 and 2008, 5,343 refugees were relocated to Boise. Almost 1,000 refugees came to Boise between October 2007 and September 2008. Most recently, the majority of Boise's refugees are from Somalia, Burma, Iraq and Bhutan, countries in which life is vastly different from Idaho. Today Boiseans see handfuls of African Muslim women and their children waiting for the bus on one of the city's busiest streets. We hear Nepalese spoken as we walk through downtown. However, I don't believe the mainstream media has figured out how to incorporate these newcomers into not only coverage but also reporting. I believe it's up to the alternative media to blaze the trail forward, and The Grip is our first attempt.

Nshombo's co-writer is Luma Jasim, a graphic designer from Iraq. In a recent post, Jasim talks about her 24-hour journey to Idaho, a place she'd never heard of until the refugee agency assigned her family here. With each of her blog entries, Jasim also posts her vivid art work, including a whimsical piece depicting six people leaping from a fiery landscape across a swath of blue into the safety of a nebulous green. It's called "Immigration."

Log onto boiseweekly.com. You'll find The Grip under "Blogs" in the main tool bar.

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