Welcome BACK to Our Blog
Hello all who are committed to peace, social justice work, critical literacy, community building, prison abolition work, reform, and those who would like to learn more about these important areas! My name is Daring Dana and I am the co-founder of Peacemakers’ Alliance and I am joined by our amazing Jambalaya Jamaal who is a formerly incarcerated participant and one of the newest additions to our Peacemakers’ Alliance staff and team! Together we will keep our blog up to date with you all by sharing news as well as information regarding our distance learning program, which is currently being piloted at Deuel Vocational Institution, CDCR as well as in the San Mateo County Jails.
So much has changed for us in the last 6 months. In March of 2020 we planned on celebrating the annual accomplishments of our participants inside the walls of DVI. This was the day before the State of California began to shut down due to the COVID-19 pandemic. We have obviously not been able to proceed with in person work and as a result of the pandemic we’ve had to think outside of the box in terms of how our program can continue to inspire and connect participants and also reach others that are interested and can benefit. As a result, we have created a distance learning program to suit the needs of our Peacemakers and others in the midst of these trying times. We have sent about 60 distance learning packets to prisoners in numerous institutions. In addition to this, we will be including versions of our letters here, along with selected wellness and healing exercises to sample in each blog post.
We invite you to think about the themes discussed in these letters, and try the suggested exercises. We also encourage you to leave a comment and let us know what worked or which themes you’d like discussed so that we can address these things in future posts. Our first letter is written by our Director and Co-Founder Adventurous Angèle. The letter provides insights about how we have navigated barriers and services as well as the ways in which Peacemakers’ Alliance has pivoted and found its footing once more. Enjoy!
-Daring Dana and Jambalaya Jamaal
It’s been so long since we’ve had the opportunity to work and grow together. I am grateful to finally be able to correspond and develop packets to keep our work active and engaging. I was so excited for our banquet in March. Unfortunately, as we all well know, the coronavirus thwarted our plans to gather and celebrate. Even though it’s not possible to do Peacemakers’ Alliance programming in person, I’d like to create an opportunity for us to do work through correspondence.
I want to be honest and say that navigating life and work during a pandemic and trying to do my part to dismantle racism has been challenging. On the work front, I’ve had to shift all of my focus from Peacemakers’ Alliance to getting food and learning materials to families and children in Redwood City. Each week the organization I work for, Project READ, provides groceries for 70 families and take-home literacy activities for 200 children. It’s a tall task that requires a lot of planning and prep. Since the March 15th shutdown, my colleagues and I have distributed more than 5,000 grocery bags of food to families.
I’ve finally gotten to a place where I’m able to be engaged with Peacemakers’ Alliance again. I haven’t forgotten about any of you during this time and have been sending you compassion, kindness and thoughts of health and safety from afar. Part of the challenge is that I’ve had a mental block for how to creatively continue the Peacemakers’ Alliance work while not being able to provide services in person. Well, I have a deep sense of gratitude for our fellow peacemaker and recently released participant, Liberating Latiyf. During a phone conversation from his transitional house, he reminded me that Peacemakers’ Alliance started as a correspondence course and that we could shift to that again. Wow! I got so caught up in stress and anxiety that I’d totally lost sight of how this all started. So- it’s time to go back to our roots!
Liberating Latiyf (facilitator released May 2020), Jambalaya Jamaal (facilitator released May 2019), Daring Dana (PA co-founder) and I, Adventurous Angele, are going to work together to create monthly activity packets for those interested in continuing the critical literacy and community building work with us. We can also revive the “Hope Alive!” newsletter to compile any poems, quotes, artwork or essays you’d like to share with fellow peacemakers. This could be a way for us to stay connected.
To start here are 2 exercises to try:
Gratitude: Identify three (3) things you’re grateful for and two (2) goals for this week.
Progressive Muscle Relaxation: First start with your feet, tense your muscles slowly while taking a slow deep breath through your nose. Hold your muscles and breath for 5 seconds and then breathe slowly through your mouth while releasing the muscle tension in your feet. Now repeat with a different body part working your way all the way up to your head. Try focusing on key spots of tension like neck, back, and shoulders.
Peace be with and upon you,