by Christina Stalnaker, SPP Roots of Success Coordinator
Coyote Ridge Corrections Center (CRCC) graduated 16 Roots of Success students November 25th, 2014. Empowered by what they’ve learned in the course, these inmates were excited to share their experiences at graduation and are ready to become more involved in the sustainability of their facility. Graduation speakers Travis Turley and Kuoy Chhong discussed how the class changed their views on environmental problems. Chhong cited a teaching of the First Nations, “we are the protectors of the Earth.” An avid snowboarder, Chhong wants to be more active in saving our winters to protect the snowpack.
Next, Turley spoke of a common goal for humanity: “a better life and sustainable future.” He referred to environmental challenges and said that to him, “this knowledge meant nothing. It’s not that I didn’t care, I just didn’t know enough.” Armed with new insights gained through Roots, Turley says he now has, “a chance to hope and a chance to change people like ourselves.” After Chhong and Turley’s speeches Joslyn Trivett, SPP Network Manager, and Christina Stalnaker, SPP Roots of Success Coordinator, gave a virtual tour of SPP throughout Washington State. Students were curious about existing sustainability projects at CRCC and had questions about what future programs for the institution might be.
During SPP’s “peer to peer” planning event in June, education and culture change was one of the top three priorities voted for CRCC’s sustainable programming. Educating inmates on environmental literacy through programs like Roots of Success is but one step towards that goal. CRCC is the nation’s first LEED Gold prison, and since the structure itself is already so sustainable it presents a unique challenge to find ways to improve.
Offenders are excited about sustainability and have requested to be a part of CRCC’s Sustainability Committee. This committee is charged with implementing sustainable initiatives throughout CRCC’s campus. The first joint staff-inmate meeting will be in January 2015. We are excited to hear what ideas arise and how recent Roots graduates will be putting their newly acquired knowledge into action!
Congratulations goes out to all staff and inmates involved in the success of this latest cohort!