Roots of Success
Following SPP-Ohio’s success with Roots of Success, an environmental literacy curriculum, SPP-WA support the program in 9 of Washington’s 12 prisons. Roots covers vital environmental topics and issues, and challenges students to think critically in order to innovate community-based solutions. The program also emphasizes job readiness and re-entry skills; graduates are equipped for work in the green economy.
Roots is an ideal introduction to SPP’s other sustainable programs. At Washington State Penitentiary’s Sustainable Practices Lab (SPL) successful completion of the course is a prerequisite for offenders seeking employment in the pioneering SPL. The lab is also paired with the classroom work, and the students gain practical experience working in many sections of the lab until they graduate. They have the chance to extend theory to the practice of vermiculture, aquaponics, wood reclamation, and more.
In this video Willie Lagway, Roots Master Instructor for Ohio Department of Rehabilitation and Correction (ODRC), explains how SPP-Ohio ties lessons from Roots classrooms to sustainable programs in prison. “We were able to appreciate what ODRC is doing because now we can show [the students] that the knowledge they have can be implemented.”
Video by Roots of Success
Roots classes are instructed by inmates who have been trained by Dr. Raquel Pinderhughes, Professor of Urban Studies & Planning at San Francisco State University and an internationally recognized expert on the green economy and green workforce training. She says the curriculum is different from most environmental classes; rather than focusing only on environmental problems, it offers a problem>solution model.
“People have to leave our classes with hope, believing that there is something they can do…we want them to understand the problems, and be part of the innovative discussion about solutions.”
Once inmate-instructors gain sufficient experience in the program, they are candidates for advanced training with Dr. Pinderhughes. SPP-Washington identified six incarcerated men who have shown exceptional teaching and leadership skills, and invested in the three-day training needed to certify them as Master Trainers; now they may train and certify more male Roots instructors statewide. Once Roots is established at the two women’s prisons in WA State, we will make the same investment in female Master Trainers.
As of August, 2016, more than 800 students have graduated from the curriculum. Nine of Washington’s 12 prisons host the course: Airway Heights, Coyote Ridge, Larch, Mission Creek Corrections Center for Women, Monroe Correctional Complex, Stafford Creek, Washington Corrections Center, Washington Corrections Center for Women, and Washington State Penitentiary.
To learn more about Roots of Success, contact program coordinator Emily Passarelli: firstname.lastname@example.org.
Blogs on Roots of Success
Reaching the Unreachable (2016)
Sustainability and Justice (2016)
Each One Teach One (2015)