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Prisons and Schools. Synonymous?

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Post-Cannery dinner?

Just throwin' it out there, but might anybody be interested in going to dinner in Center City after Friday's class in the interest of getting to know each other/celebrating Restaurant Week? No pressure, I just thought it might be fun! 

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Hey guys, 

Here's the article I was talking about in class today (or rather a link to it from Bryn Mawr's website):

Something about it just rubs me the wrong way. People (even JMac!) are speaking about her with such authority, like they know her so deeply. And it's been, what? a month? I think her story's incredibly brave, but I think what I was trying to get at today is that: as a student body, do our perceptions/treatment of her change thanks to this new knowledge? What do we do with her story? 

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Required to speak

I light of our recent Silence (and Serendip) conversations about getting to know each other better, I was interested in the expectations that were put upon the Visions women to "share" during group therapy sessions. Haney notes that the aim of these therapy sessions was "to push one another to divulge and reflect [...] quite specific things". I was so troubled by the notion that these women were required by the rules of the facility to share specific parts of their life -- they even didn't get to choose the proper time or avenue. As I mentioned in my last Silence post, although I desperately want to know more about you all (and props to Chandrea's activity today!) stronger still is my desire for us as a class to feel comfortable or inspired to share. In my opinion, everyone should have the choice to pick silence, especially when it comes to revealing very personal experiences. Unfortunately, due to the structure of the program, women at Visions didn't have that choice. And, in regards to the core goal of the program, I feel like being forced into discovering your voice isn't nearly as "therapeutic" as being given a safe space to find it on your own. 

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Leftover thoughts

Near the end of class today, Michaela's comment prompted a discussion of the importance of getting to know our fellow 360ers better. This followed an ongoing discussion about assumptions. While I've been thinking about constructive ways in which we can learn more about each other and where we come from (and, unfortunately, gotten nowhere) that's not what I want to discuss here. During today's talk the word "deserve" was flying around in terms of what we as a class "deserve to know" about our classmates. However, what I want to know is what we deserve to share. Personally, I would love for you all to know a little bit about me (particularly the aspects of my background and current situation that may challenge some common "white/middle class" assumptions (!)) However, I lack the knowledge of what the proper time/space/way is to share these things. Maybe we can brainstorm about that, because I think it's an important step in our class becoming as tight-knit as it has to potential to be. But, with this post, I wanted to make the distinction that I try and think less as though I deserve to know about others and more that I would really appreciate if others knew more about me. 

It's just a small step but I think I'll take a whack as this getting to know each other thing. So, here are two things you probably don't know about me: I love cantaloupe juice and I'm a first generation college student. Nice to meet you!

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Cracks in our veneer

To be honest, it is easy for me to forget that a large piece of our conversation in class Thursday was based upon something that I had written (or more aptly, blubbered,) in my Web Paper.  In that paper, I spoke it like I saw it: through a lens of self-consciousness and doubt, and I called you all “a group of women who are clearly flourishing in this environment.” I don’t mean to sound callous when I say thank you for proving me wrong on that point. But you all did, and I am grateful. When your self-confidence is rock bottom, it’s easy to assume that everyone else is passing you by, standing on a higher level that you can’t even begin to see. After Thursday’s class and our lunch on Friday, it is clear to me now that that’s not necessarily the case. I commend the struggle that we’ve all undertaken – to understand ourselves as 360ers, as learners, as people – because I know that the struggle can be beneficial. Showing each other our cracks and admitting that we don’t have it all together is, in my opinion, something our group needed. Thank you for your honesty. Because, as many of you said during our read around, honesty is what we need to flourish here. 

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This is research done by a Bryn Mawr GSSWSR professor. It ties in well with the idea of dependence that we've been discussing in Barb's class! 

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Is one show of independence more valid than another?

Before I'd even finished reading Offending Women, I was already caught up in thinking how I would have done it better (now I’m potentially falling into this trap of damage-based thinking…). Alliance, as Haney made clear, was riddled with problems. Something I found particularly interesting, however, was the way in which Alliance's shortcomings did more to promote independence within the young women than the actual program did. Their initiative to ban together and instigate change within the institution demonstrates just the type of self-dependency that Alliance aims for, but for all the wrong reasons. It's ironic, then, that the groups butted heads so much just because the avenues through which these women displayed their independence were misaligned with the expectations of Alliance. I was also saddened by the women's whole-hearted confidence in the ability for welfare to be able to provide for them once they got out. I think this dependence speaks again to the need for structure that was demonstrated when the women fought against the constant schedule changes they encountered in the facility. Not necessarily a sign of laziness in my opinion, depending on welfare as a steady constant presence for these women would much less stressful than trying to find an employer who will take them in despite the inevitable black mark of a felony. It almost makes sense that Welfare Queens (to borrow from couldn'tthinkofanoriginalname and Chandrea) are born from these young women. However, especially after the presentation last night, I see the value of programs like YASP.

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Who are the murals really for?

So many thoughts are running through my mind after yesterday's trip. First off, I'd like to say that it was really a joy exploring the city with you all. Getting out of the classroom felt so freeing; I hope we have another opportunity to get into the city as the semester progresses (fancy Philly 360 dinner, anyone?). 

I was really, really excited to go on the mural tour. But, as soon as I got onto the trolley I began to have misgivings. Unfortunately, it was difficult to physically see the murals. As we learned by looking at the restorative justice mural up close (versus the picture on Barb's PPT) there is so much detail that really transforms and adds to the meaning of the art. I felt handicapped not being able to see that detail. Riding in a trolley through some poorer neighborhoods of Philly also felt particularly awkward. Not only were we blatantly advertising our tourism of the neighborhood, but the tour guide encouraged us to "wave to everyone" which made the fact that we didn't belong even more obvious. This feeling of foreignness encouraged me to think about who the murals are really for. Are they for the tourists who go to see them? This question was extremely relevant as we passed this mural:   

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Web Event #2: Silenced by a lack of Silence

Webpaper 2

Lately, I’ve left our class with anger nipping at my heels as I trudge back to Denbigh. Thoughts, complaints and unspoken words swirl through my already over-full mind and I just want to scream. But I don’t. Instead, I shut myself in my room and wish I had splurged for that journal I saw in the bookstore a week ago. It seems wrong, but out of desperation and lack of proper medium, I’ve turned to this essay to help me sort out my thoughts regarding my own role in our class, and also the role of silence.

I am exhausted when I leave our class. I feel the weight of my unpacked thoughts making me so heavy. My silence, I will readily admit, is self-imposed, but I won’t take all of the responsibility. I feel silenced because I just need space to think. Such heavy topics deserve a response that has been thought out. But there is no time for silence. For it seems that we would much rather talk about it than observe it.

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