Outreach Does an About-face

When Will Picard co-founded the Yemen Peace Project in 2010, his intention was “to put a human face on Yemen” for other Americans. But the YPP’s online offerings—a mix of political analysis and cultural features—found an audience base Picard hadn’t anticipated.

Yemenis inside the country, who make up 60% of audience households, saw it as an alternative source of local news, while members of the Yemeni diaspora in the US, who comprise much of the remaining 40%, welcomed the window it provided onto new developments back home. This live link between inside and outside proved vital in 2011, when the YPP was the first foreign NGO to send cash relief—mainly from the diaspora—to support medical aid for wounded protestors.

Now focusing on cultural outreach, Picard has added podcasts to the mix, with a recent profile of fusion oud player Ahmed Al-Shaiba stirring up waves of enthusiasm from all sides. A Yemeni film festival with screenings in New York, LA, Sana and Aden is in the works for early 2014.

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Jennifer MacKenzie

Poet, writer and teacher Jennifer MacKenzie grew up on Bloomcrest Dr. in Bloomfield Hills, MI, which inspired her to wonder about places with patterns other than floral. Following her education at Wesleyan University's College of Letters and the University of Iowa's Writers Workshop, she followed a zig-zag course that included a pilgrimage across the top of Spain and a long sojourn in Syria in pursuit of the language of Muhammad al-Maghout and Moudthaffar al-Nawwab. While in Damascus she completed the books of poems "Distant City" and "My Not-My Soldier" (forthcoming from Fence Books) and edited the magazine Syria Today. Her poems and essays can be found in numerous journals including the Kenyon Review online, Guernica, Quarterly West, and Lungfull. She currently lives in New York.

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