communal justice workshop wrap-up

The workshop on Saturday was excellent. A couple of stories… Alf who wrote some psalms with us was released last week. i so hope the world is treating him gently… [i wish i had more faith we were]

Kerry was one of the speakers at the workshop – she was an inmate in the women’s prison until 4 months ago. While she was in prison she completed an arts degree, then got her masters degree in creative writing, and is now half way through her PhD. She’s one of the rare ones – someone who prison didn’t beat. People kept saying to me through the day that it was rare to hear stories that are told with such integrity and dignity. But she told us the story of another woman who was released from the prison a week ago, someone who was so looking forward to being out… who died, terribly, on Friday night… Hers is a story that’s repeated way too often: when you’ve been in prison for a very long time, getting out of prison is all you live for. You think prison is the hardest thing to cope with; you have no idea how difficult re-entry will be. When you back into the world which has got used to living without you – after the initial celebration and your family and friends have gone back to their lives, when the hardness of everything becomes all-consuming, when you miss those who are inside who have become your family – you no longer have anywhere you belong. She survived a week.

It was, overwhelmingly, a day for older people. Out of the 35 people who came to the workshop, there would have been two who were under 50. I wonder if social activism that moves beyond protests, internet action and donating money is becoming less common than it used to be – or if protests, internet action and donations have given us the mistaken belief that that’s all we need to do to change the world. I wish that anyone who believes that young people are the hope of the world could have seen the energy for action amongst that group of people – and their hands-on commitment to change the world.

It was, overwhelmingly, an optimistic day.

i’ll write more about what comes next, next week. We had some local media come along [the journalist arrived just as we were sticking it to the Herald Sun, for the damage they cause by sensationalising and reporting from ignorance. i had to do a quick check as to whether the local paper was a Fairfax or Murdoch publication… luckily the former. I’ll put their stories up if they come my way.]