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. As of January, 2019, more than 1300 students have graduated from the full curriculum.

Roots of Success graduates

Roots of Success graduates talk about their time as students in the program at Stafford Creek Corrections Center. Photo by Joslyn Rose Trivett.

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 men 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. Additionally, we’re excited to share that Roots is now being offered in some Protective Custody Units.

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 incarcerated individuals 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 incarcerated 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.

CRCC's most recent Roots graduates: Kuoy Chhong, Christopher Edwards, Edwin Edwards, Seth Fulmer, Richard Johnson, James Lees, Neil Mitchell, Andrew Quinn, Jayson Smith, Travis Turley, Kimothy Wynn, and Jeffery Willis. These inmates successfully completed the Roots of Success Environmental Literacy Curriculum where they learned about a variety of environmental issues and prepared for re-entry into the green economy. Photo by Joslyn Rose Trivett

A class of graduates from Coyote Ridge Corrections Center: Kuoy Chhong, Christopher Edwards, Edwin Edwards, Seth Fulmer, Richard Johnson, James Lees, Neil Mitchell, Andrew Quinn, Jayson Smith, Travis Turley, Kimothy Wynn, and Jeffery Willis. Photo by Joslyn Rose Trivett.

To learn more about Roots of Success, contact program coordinator Shohei Morita:

Blogs on Roots of Success

Sticking with Success (2019)

First Graduates in 4 Years! (2019)

Welcoming New Roots of Success Instructors (2018)

Liaisons are our Roots for Success (2018)

Letter from one of the Roots Master Trainers (2017)

Roots of Success Gains Momentum at Airway Heights Corrections Center (2017)

Building the Pool of Environmental Instructors for the Women’s Prisons (2017)

A Master of Training (2016)

Reaching the Unreachable (2016)

Sustainability and Justice (2016)

Adding Salt to Popcorn: Gaining a taste for sustainability (2016)

Just Sustainability and Restorative Justice (2016)

Accountability: Brainstorming article (2016)

Roots of Success Graduation Speech – Larch Corrections Center (2016)

AHCC Roots of Success Graduation (2016)

WCCW Graduates first Roots class – photo gallery (2015)

Roots of Success Graduation Speech (2015)

Roots of Success Marathon Training, Part 1: Day Four (2015)

Roots of Success Marathon Training, Part 1: The first three days (2015)

Each One Teach One (2015)

CRCC Roots Course Leads to Inmate Interest in Sustainability (2014)

Inmates’ Zeal is the Key to Roots of Success in Ohio (2014)

Photo Gallery from Roots of Success Graduation at Stafford Creek Corrections Center (2014)

“Participating in the transformation of the world” : Roots of Success at Stafford Creek Corrections Center (2014)

Cedar Creek’s Roots of Success Graduation (2013)

 “Root View”: My Experience as a new Roots of Success Instructor (2013)

Roots of Success’ Successful Kickoff in Washington State (2013)