Our mission

Ithaca City of Asylum (ICOA) is dedicated to providing sanctuary to writers whose works are suppressed, whose lives are threatened, whose cultures are vanishing, or whose languages are endangered. An all-volunteer project of the Center for Transformative Action, a 501 (c) 3 non-profit organization affiliated with Cornell University, ICOA works in partnership with Cornell, Ithaca College, and Wells College. ICOA is a member of the International Cities of Refuge Network, joining people around the world advocating for freedom of expression.

Formed in 2001, ICOA has hosted seven residents: writer, poet, and essayist Yi Ping (China); playwright and novelist Reza Daneshvar (Iran); poet and memoirist Sarah Mkhonza (Swaziland); poet and playwright Irakli Kakabadze (Georgia); journalist and memoirist Sonali Samarasinghe (Sri Lanka); journalist and policy analyst Raza Rumi (Pakistan); and editorial cartoonist Pedro X. Molina (Nicaragua).

ICOA serves as a bridge to the community, assisting visiting writers and their families in meeting the challenges of a new environment.

ICOA assists residents in meeting their daily expenses while in Ithaca, including housing, furnishings, transportation, translators’ fees, legal expenses, and performance and publication of new work. We rely on contributions from individuals, foundations, and corporations. Email us for more information.

This documentary about ICOA was produced by Maureen Wietecha, our 2017 intern.

Commemorating Ten Years of Giving Voice to Freedom

Cover, Ten Year ReportOn the occasion of its tenth anniversary celebration Ithaca City of Asylum (ICOA) published Ithaca City of Asylum: Celebrating Ten Years of Giving Voice to Freedoma retrospective of ICOA’s work supporting writers who face political repression and offers detailed profiles of the writers who have come to Ithaca with the group’s support.

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