Author Archives: Alicia LeDuc

Opportunity to Support the Sustainable Prisons Project

Nearly a month has passed since the announcement of the deep state budget cuts that terminated the Sustainable Prisons Project’s two-year contract with the Washington State Department of Corrections. The Sustainable Prison Project (SPP) staff and students at The Evergreen State College have been working to secure alternative sources of funding to keep the Project moving forward.  As mentioned in a previous blog, initial success has come in the form of “bridge funding”  allocated by the The Evergreen State College. This funding will provide temporary breathing room, supporting the Project’s core staff and operations through June 2011.  Even with the bridge funding, however, SPP programs and staff will be significantly reduced if additional funding sources are not secured. Therefore, it is at this time that we ask SPP supporters to step forward and aid in the continuation of the Sustainable Prisons Project by donating to the Project’s fund.

The need for the scientific research, conservation work,  and education provided by the SPP is at an all-time high. The recent state  budget cuts have induced severe changes for DOC: 300 jobs have been frozen or cut, monthly offender lock-downs have been implemented, and drug treatment and education programs have been substantially reduced.  Meanwhile, the loss of biodiversity, accelerated by increasing pollution and habitat destruction, threatens the very ecosystems on which we all rely.

Many of our projects address these problems by connecting scientists, offenders, prison staff, and graduate students in collaborations to implement cost-saving sustainable practices, captive-rear endangered native species, while also providing a multitude of learning opportunities for offenders, students and scientists.  If the Project ends, society as a whole will lose the beneficial human, economic, and ecological impacts made possible by the SPP at a critical time when the Project can  serve as a national model for addressing societal problems in a healthy and sustainable way.

We are actively seeking grant and foundation support;  it is our goal to restore funding to our previous level by June 2011. This process of pursuing grant and foundation funds, however,  takes several months to complete. Donations received by the SPP at this time will help ensure our work continues as planned while the process of applying for grants is underway.  If you have ever wished to be involved with the Project, or have been involved and have wanted to “do more”, now is your opportunity to make a difference by providing education, conservation, and life-changing hope.

Examples of what your donation will provide:

$25 = 100sqft of Rare Native Prairie Plants restoration

$100 = one fully raised Oregon Spotted Frog

$200 = total sponsorship for one Science and Sustainability Lecture in a prison

$500 = supplies needed for the new Butterfly Conservation Greenhouse

$1,200 = Science Training for Conservation Projects for offenders and staff

$1,300 = one Student Research Intern’s monthly stipend

$5,000 = Green Collar Job Training Program for offenders (beekeeping or arboriculture)

Despite funding setbacks, the SPP continues to receive regional and international recognition.  We have received hundreds of notes and responses to the DOC termination announcement from people around the country and the world, stating their support for the project and their desire that it continue. The Kennedy School of Government at Harvard University recently selected the SPP as a recipient of the “Bright Ideas in Innovation in American Government Award” for 2010.  The SPP was also featured on the National Science Foundation’s website in a Science Nation video segment detailing the important impacts of the prairie plant restoration efforts underway at Stafford Creek Corrections Center.

While unfortunate, the loss of the DOC contract presents opportunities for growth. We are seeking participation from individuals, foundations, and agencies in the form of volunteers, ideas, contacts, and funds. Any contribution, whether it be $200 to sponsor the honorarium for a Science and Sustainability lecture, or a donation of supplies for our captive rearing projects, will make a real impact on the future course of the SPP and the lives of those it touches.  We thank you for your interest and support, and encourage you to share in the success of the Sustainable Prisons Project by making a contribution. Donations may be made through the Evergreen Foundation by clicking here.  We also invite you to share this message with others.

Thank you!

Please contact Project Co-Director Nalini Nadkarni (nadkarnn@evergreen.edu) or Project Manager Kelli Bush (bushk@evergreen.edu or (360) 867-6863) with any additional questions, gifting arrangements or information on how to become more involved with the Sustainable Prisons Project.

Outreach at the South Sound Science Symposium

By Graduate Research Associate Jill Cooper

On October 27, 2010, former and current Sustainable Prisons Project Research Associates Liesl Plomski and Jill Cooper attended the South Sound Science Symposium on Squaxin Island where they represented SPP’s Oregon Spotted Frog Captive Rearing Project at Cedar Creek Corrections Center in Littlerock, WA.

The symposium provided an opportunity to network within the South Sound’s scientific community and spread the word about the great success SPP conservation projects have experienced in the past year.  Plomski and Cooper presented a scientific poster at the symposium describing the Project, garnering  interest in the Project from symposium goers.

The symposium proved to be a great outreach and learning opportunity for Sustainable Prisons Project staff and event attendees. “It was wonderful to see the wide array of cutting-edge environmental work being done in the Puget Sound area,” Cooper said.

Dick Meyer Brings Fair Trade to Prisons

On October fifth in Gig Harbor, Washington, Olympia resident Dick Meyer walked through the security gates of the Washington Corrections Center for Women (WCCW) headed for the visit room. “When I worked here thirty years ago,” he said, “they didn’t have all this security.”

The reason for his visit? To bring fair trade education to prisons through the Sustainable Prisons Project’s Science and Sustainability Lecture Series, a program geared toward scientific education and sustainable practices.

A former counselor for WCCW in the early 1970’s, Meyer left social work to become a small business owner in the Puget Sound region. The founder of Traditions Café in Olympia and owner of The Antique Sandwich Shop in Tacoma, Meyer currently uses his storefronts and free time to promote fair trade partnerships and awareness.

Guest lecturer Dick Meyer demonstrates a Tibetan singing bowl inside his fair trade shop in Olympia, WA.

“I view talking about fair trade and doing outreach as something that’s motivating for me to do. Whatever opportunity to engage people in talking about values and relationships is important to me,” Meyer said.

Each month, the Sustainable Prisons Project hosts guest lecturers in three of Washington’s prisons to speak with offenders and DOC staff about topics related to science and sustainability. Speakers include scientists, engineers, environmentalists, farmers, business owners, and community activists, with topics ranging from bear ecology to sustainability in poetry.

Seated in a circle with DOC offenders and Sustainable Prisons Project staff, Meyer began his talk with a brief history of the fair trade movement. According to the Fair Trade Federation, of which Meyer is a member, fair trade is an economic partnership based on dialogue, transparency, and respect. Fair Trade organizations seek to create sustainable and positive change.

Stories about various products, such as clothing and chocolate, stimulated an hour-and-a-half long discussion between Meyer and the offenders about the issues surrounding fair trade. Having brought sample items from his stores, Meyer demonstrated what fair trade products look like and how the average person can go about finding and supporting such partnerships. Nearly all the products were hand-made by women cooperatives in developing countries.

Through the Science and Sustainability Lecture Series, the Sustainable Prisons Project seeks to connect lecture participants to the larger world of scientific research and conservation while introducing offenders to educational and employment opportunities they may pursue upon release. A large part of this involves presenting on lecture topics that have relevancy and meaning to the offenders’ current situation as prison residents.

Meyer discussed the connection he saw between the women sitting with him in the prison and those working across the globe in conditions and economies that fair trade is trying to change. “The information is not readily available about how much the rest of the world has to work to survive,” he said. “And to a certain extent they can’t control their own destiny. The message is not exclusively, but predominately, about women, and to the extent women inmates can empathize and understand; I think that at least one part of it becomes a shared empathy.”

For more information about fair trade, visit www.traditionsfairtrade.com.