Barbara Brooks, President, Summit Unitarian Universalist Fellowship
Last week, I spent six days, April 11 through April 16, 2016, in ongoing training and as a facilitator, together with a partner, of a circle group of 18 inmates at Ironwood State Prison in Blythe, California, under the auspices of the Victim Offender Education Group (VOEG) Restorative Justice Project. For our first group meeting in March 2016, there had been no scheduled, planned, written homework assignment. During my check in with the group at that first meeting, I read a poem that I had written. The men were intrigued, interested and spontaneously asked, “Can anyone write something like that?” I answered, yes, of course.
How I wish I could touch the green,
Breathe the fresh, escape the cold,
feel the sun, embrace what’s warm,
that which is love, feel its passion,
except its pain, grow in life & enjoy the change,
detest the loathsome act, understand the irony,
the test of time & the point in trying me,
the fight worth fighting, the reason for loss,
Destiny, Determination, cost,
the walk, the stroll, the run, the race,
uncontrol, to control my pace.
How I wish you could see my face,
How I wish I could see your face,
my wish to wish, open the cage.
I became interested in this project when Rev. Andrea Travers approached me. Rev. Andrea is a Summit Member and trainer of facilitators for the VOEG/IPP project. Each volunteer is screened and evaluated. Once accepted, the project requires travel to Blythe, CA (where Ironwood Prison is located), or to the San Quentin area, or other prisons. We stay at a local hotel and go into the prison for the day. There is information and training for us at every step. We have a detailed curriculum for each facilitation day and we teach the items in the plan for that day, with creative leeway. Andrea is also starting a project locally at Donovan State Prison. If you are interested in getting involved or making a donation to help with expenses visit www.insightprisonproject.org.