Many Reasons to Celebrate

The Sustainable Prisons Project has a lot to celebrate these days.  Our contract – between The Evergreen State College and Washington Department of Corrections – was recently renewed, providing two more years of funding.  We’ve hired two more graduate students, rounding out a strong team.  We’ve hired our new Project Manager, Kelli Bush, who will make sure we keep all the pieces of the project flowing and growing smoothly.  And we’re preparing to launch several new (or revived) pieces of the project.  In sum, we have a lot to celebrate.

Even as we hire more staff, we know that this small team represents only a fraction of the work being done.  The Sustainable Prisons Project could not succeed without all of the support we receive. A few examples include:

  • Classification Counselors, Officers, Environmental Planners, and others at the prisons that spend time coaching offenders in gardening, horticulture, and frog rearing projects.
  • Officers and others that take time out of their duties to escort our staff and speakers through the prisons.
  • Department of Corrections administrative staff that schedule and coordinate our events at the prisons.
  • Evergreen State College staff that interpret our budget documents, process grant documents, and make sure that our students get paid.
  • A diverse group of presenters, including scientists, academics, and state agency and non-profit employees who have presented intriguing subjects to offenders.

On last Monday night (July 19) we brought just a few of those partners, participants, and others together at Mercato Ristorante in downtown Olympia – not for a meeting, but to celebrate. Although we’ve created this web of scientists, Department of Corrections staff, Evergreen State College staff, and others through the years, we rarely gather in the same room.  It was great to see biologists from Fort Lewis talking with secretaries from the college, and students chatting with prison superintendents.  We were also very fortunate to have Governor Gregoire stop by to acknowledge the work we’ve been doing, and remark on how relatively small efforts such as ours have big echoes in the halls of government.

Energized by recent events, and this gathering, our team is in the trenches, eagerly charting new paths for the Sustainable Prisons Project.  Who knows what successes we may be celebrating at our next gathering!

Thanks again to Mercato Ristorante in Olympia for graciously donating the space, hors d’oevers, and staff time to help us create wonderful celebration.

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