Seeing Two Worlds Combine

By Tiffany Webb, SPP Lecture Series Program Coordinator

(Follow-up post from May 2015 lecture at WCCW.)

Tiffany Webb is finishing her graduate degree in Environmental and Social Justice at the Evergreen State College. Her interdisciplinary thesis focuses on the intersection of environmental justice and education in prisons.

I can’t keep down some strong feelings about leaving every time I am at a lecture now. After nearly two years as the SPP Science and Sustainability Lecture Series Program Coordinator, I only have two more lectures to host before a new MES graduate student finds their own spot in this position. It is exciting to pass the opportunity to someone new, offering an experience that I imagine will be just as eye-opening and rewarding as my own. At the same time, it is very difficult to leave knowing I likely will never again see the people I’ve worked with, learned alongside, and advocated for in prisons.

Tiffany Webb presenting on the environmental justice paradigm and climate justice.

Tiffany presenting on the EJ paradigm and climate justice at Stafford Creek Corrections Center.

Tuesday was a beautiful day. The SPP Network Manager and I have developed science and sustainability education certificates for incarcerated men and women who attend the lecture series regularly. After Tuesday’s presentations, a woman who has been going to lectures at Washington Corrections Center for Women (WCCW) for years received the very first certificate recommending transfer credit at Evergreen! We shared such a moment of pride in that room—women lifting each other up and celebrating, owning the classroom and their minds. I am thankful for these moments of victory behind prison walls, and the lasting impact formalization of the Science and Sustainability Lecture Series will have.

Chelsea Smith Waddell, recent MES graduate, giving a presenting on her thesis research.

Chelsea Smith Waddell, recent MES graduate, giving a presentation on her thesis research at Washington Corrections Center for Women.

That day, the new MES Director—someone I consider a huge mentor—Kevin Francis, gave a presentation. Chelsea Smith Waddell, one of the most brilliant and vibrant women I know, also joined us and she shared her thesis research with the class. Her research focused on habitat characteristics of the Oregon Spotted Frog, an endangered frog species being reared at Cedar Creek Corrections Center and released on WA prairies through SPP partnerships.

Kevin Francis, MES Director at the Evergreen State College lecturing at Washington Corrections Center for Women.

Kevin Francis, MES Director at the Evergreen State College, lecturing at WCCW.

It was amazing to be in that classroom, seeing my two worlds combine: my Evergreen and WCCW peers all in one room, engaging in education together. It brings me joy to know that while I am leaving this deeply important work, it doesn’t end here. The incarcerated men and women I know continue to push for more education and classroom space at their prisons. The Evergreen faculty and graduate students continue to engage with education outside of an academic institution “bubble”. And unique and empowering spaces will continue to develop in prisons as more people become aware of the injustices associated with the U.S. criminal justice system.”

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