Welcome to Inside-Out in Oregon!

Welcome to the new online outpost for all things Inside-Out in the state of Oregon! Join the conversation by commenting or emailing submissions (approximately 300 words) to insideout@uoregon.edu!

For your convenience, we recommend that you subscribe to us (top right corner of the frontpage) or add us using Google Reader, a blog subscription service.

The Impact of 10 Weeks

Last term I had the pleasure and opportunity to TA an Inside-Out class for Professor Anita Chari. The topic was Autobiography as Political Agency and, as I should have expected, the students – inside and out – blew me away. I am grateful for their willingness to share their stories and their thoughts with me throughout the quarter and I am glad to be able to share two speeches by outside students that were given during our closing ceremony. Although it is hard to summarize or reduce the experience of an Inside-Out course, I hope the words of these students help to describe the temporary community created by each course and the impact this has on each participant.

Winter 2015


First of all, I wanted to start off by saying this is the best class I’ve ever taken. I’m going to remember each and every one of you and all the conversations we had, and I wanted to thank all of you for being a part of this amazing experience. I have never taken a class before that I am so passionate about and excited to attend. A lot of times in college we take classes we don’t genuinely care about, but this class is the polar opposite. This is the only class I’ve ever taken where 3 hours feels like 5 minutes; I’m pretty sure the clocks are broken in here because time moves so quickly.

On that note, I wanted to share with you guys why this class was so important to me. I know a few of the people in the class know this, but a majority of the class is unaware that my dad is in prison. He’s been there since I was in 8th grade. I was waiting for the right time to share this with everyone, and I felt discussing what this class means to me is the perfect opportunity. Originally, I was interested in the idea of an Inside-Out class because of my dad; over the past several years, I’ve really struggled with our relationship. When I saw that the inside out class offered winter term was about autobiography as political agency, I knew this was the perfect fit for me. At first, I really had no idea what to expect in terms of how this class would affect me. After taking it, though, I can easily say it was one of the best decisions I’ve ever made. Through our writings and interactions, I’ve learned so much about parts of myself that I never even knew existed. I know many of the inside students have children themselves – in talking with you guys about your children and hearing how much you care about them, I realized that even though I might not always agree with my dad’s actions, he’s always going to be my father and he’s always going to love me no matter what. I cannot thank everyone in this class enough for allowing me to grow in ways I never thought possible through the unique community an Inside-Out class builds.

Along with these realizations, I discovered that being involved in our justice system is something I want to continue doing for the rest of my life. While I was always interested in our political and justice system before, after taking this class I realized how passionate I truly am about advocating for change. When most people think of prisons, they don’t consider the implications and consequences of what it truly means to put someone behind bars. I want to change the stigma of what it means to be a “prisoner” and how people are treated once they are convicted of a crime. Although I may not have all the answers right now, I know I want to implement change in the best way possible, and I’m determined to figure out my place in changing our current system for the better. So I hope this isn’t goodbye, and that you all still hear from me in the future. Again, thank you all so much for giving me this amazing opportunity.

Along with these realizations, I discovered that being involved in our justice system is something I want to continue doing for the rest of my life. While I was always interested in our political and justice system before, after taking this class I realized how passionate I truly am about advocating for change. When most people think of prisons, they don’t consider the implications and consequences of what it truly means to put someone behind bars. I want to change the stigma of what it means to be a “prisoner” and how people are treated once they are convicted of a crime. Although I may not have all the answers right now, I know I want to implement change in the best way possible, and I’m determined to figure out my place in changing our current system for the better. So I hope this isn’t goodbye, and that you all still hear from me in the future. Again, thank you all so much for giving me this amazing opportunity.

 – Emily


Hello everyone! I feel incredibly honored to have the opportunity to speak for a moment. My name is Gabe and I go to the University of Oregon. I signed up for this class after a friend of mine recommended that I apply; on a whim (last minute really) I turned my application in. The days before the information session, I can’t say that I was actually too excited to take this course. I still have a lot of general education requirements, I was going through a major crisis, and I’m a generally incredibly busy person. After the information session though, I knew I had to take this course. Mainly, I wanted to take this class because of the personal awareness. A lot of times in the traditional education system, students are not really asked to think critically about positionality and personal experience. This is exactly what this course worked for students to do, which made me incredibly nervous and excited. Throughout this class experience, I have never truly realized how powerful experience is, and how it changes in the structures of our society. The material in this class was beautiful. Assata’s strength, Malcolm X’ wit, Kelley’s

Mainly, I wanted to take this class because of the personal awareness. A lot of times in the traditional education system, students are not really asked to think critically about positionality and personal experience. This is exactly what this course worked for students to do, which made me incredibly nervous and excited. Throughout this class experience, I have never truly realized how powerful experience is, and how it changes in the structures of our society. The material in this class was beautiful. Assata’s strength, Malcolm X’ wit, Kelley’s critique-all of these readings were truly transformative, but some of the most impactful moments in the class was what you all did with the material. I am in the presence of some truly powerful classmates, all with unique stories and backgrounds.

I heard a story just this weekend and it really reminds me of our class. Scientists were studying a habitat in a cold climate and found an unusual group of porcupines located in this area. During the winter time when the climate became harsh, scientists observed that the porcupines would travel in incredibly close-knit packs for everything from eating to sleeping. These porcupines could never get too close due to their large quills; if they did, they would stab each other. They would maintain a distance that was not too close but just close enough to huddle for warmth. This act of the porcupines, for me, is very symbolic of our class community. The quills represent our differences- our different walks of life, different backgrounds and different identities. The warmth represents survival and comfort and working with our differences to create something special and something common for all of us.

This class has made me more aware of my quills and more accepting of that warmth. By mere default of being born and developing our own individuality, our existence is resistance. To ignore systems such as white supremacy, institutionalized racism, homophobia, colonialism and other systems (at least to me) will never provide justice and collective liberation for all. I believe that we can truly never have equality unless we learn to appreciate people for their differences before we share the commonality of being human. With that said, being more aware of who you are for yourself and in relation to the world and these systems creates conscious understanding. Lilla Watson once said “If you have come here to help me, you are wasting your time. But if you have come because your liberation is bound up with mine, then let us work together” As abstract as I’m being right now (to the point where I’m almost losing myself), I think that it is important to remember: Keep the warmth we created in this class community with you. I know that it will keep me strong.

It honestly saddens me more than ever that for most of you all, I will not see you on a weekly basis anymore, but if physically I cannot be with you all and you all can’t be with me, than at least in spirit and solidarity I keep you all in my hearts. This class has inspired me to be more aware of the quills I and others have as well as the potential warmth we can create if we know our own stories and backgrounds and how that works with others around us.

If I cry today, don’t be alarmed, I’ve never cared much for a masculine exterior anyways. In Sterling’s words, they are tears of protest and tears of compassion in this bittersweet moment. Thank you Professor Chari for your wisdom, thank you OSP for allowing the space and thank you classmates for the world and understanding. You are all beautiful inside and out. Thank you.

– Gabe

Alumni Artwork

I created both of these pieces for an Inside-Out class that I took last year, titled “Autobiography as Political Agency.” The class allowed us to explore ideas using different mediums, such as song, photography, and creative writing. I enjoyed these diverse opportunities for expression, because as a student I feel that often I do not get the chance to exercise a different part of my brain.

Encaustic

Encaustic

The medium of the art piece is encaustic, which is beeswax. The wax creates many layers, with something at each level, and is fused with a heat gun to bind everything together. The piece is inspired by the layers of the unconscious, preconscious, and conscious. Sigmund Freud believed art was one way to allow the unconscious to reveal itself. I hoped to let go, and allow my mind a chance to unfold.

At the base layer is a self-portrait I drew in the second grade. I went to an arts elementary school which lay the foundations of creativity early on.

The spine is an image of myself, and the film and photo I developed and printed in a dark room. My backbone holds a traumatic experience from my childhood that I have fixated upon. In fifth grade, I was diagnosed with scoliosis, the curvature of the spine, and had to wear a plastic body brace for two years during puberty to prevent further curvature. The photo was taken years later, at age 17. The impacts of the brace may manifest in unknown ways. Perhaps my natural inclination towards baggy, sportier clothing comes from the days when it was necessary for me to hide my plastic back. Only loose clothing could cover the hard, robot-like hunk of plastic. The rigidity the brace commanded from me may be the reason I have a tight running posture.

The compass, in my preconscious, sometimes brought into my conscious, tilts towards the younger period in my life. While I am aware of the directions I want to go in life, I am affected by earlier events I may not remember.

The top layer, my conscious, is the photo of my parents and I. My dad wears the goofy grin he sports often, I am crowded in between, and my mother poses elegantly. This is a recent memory I hold of my family.

The plants are also on the top layer of my conscious, symbolic of my desire to be in constant contact with the outdoors. As a child, I would often go on hikes with my parents. Before I could walk, my dad carried me in a child carrier on his back. As soon as I could walk, I was hiking mountains. The memories from my early childhood are ones I still enjoy with my friends on our own backpacking expeditions.

Hand_on_Fire

Hand on Fire

Hand on Fire is a double exposure black and white film photograph I shot and developed. Reading about injustices in Borderlands/La Frontera: The New Mestiza, Assata, The Autobiography of Malcolm X, and The Narrative of Frederick Douglass, and uncovering my own agency and stories, I have experienced a great deal of frustration, powerlessness, hurt, anger and vulnerability. The photo captures these mixed emotions I’ve sometimes felt, while pursuing and engaging with these emotionally challenging discussions and tasks.

– Nina Greene, Inside-Out Alumni

Revolutionaries

Scan-140923-0001

Pancho Villa and Emiliano Zapata painted by Francisco, ACE Member

“At the risk of seeming ridiculous, let me say that the true revolutionary is guided by great feelings of love. It is impossible to think of a genuine revolutionary lacking this quality.” – Che Guevara

Francisco is an artist and a member of Another Chance at Education, the Inside-Out Think Tank at Oregon State Penitentiary. For the beginning of each meeting, one ACE member volunteers to present on something from which they derive inspiration. Francisco held up this painting, identified its subjects, and spoke on the history of these Mexican revolutionaries who came from poverty, became leaders of men, and remain symbols of heroism. He told of his own family, of his father marching with Cesar Chavez, of his mother’s resilience raising children in poverty. Sometimes, Francisco said, it is not the grand actions that are revolutionary, but the ability of so many to make it day-to-day despite all the cards stacked against them.

Inside-Out Alumni on Concertina Wire

Jordan, Althea, and Emory discuss rethinking paradigms, restorative justice, and their Inside-Out classes on Concertina Wire.

Concertina Wire is broadcast weekly on KWVA 88.1 FM.

Organize for Justice, Part Two!

As those of you who follow the blog may know, our Organize for Justice event was cancelled last month due to inclement weather. Luckily, many of our speakers were able to accommodate rescheduling, and we have another great lineup of tablers and presenters!

Tentative Schedule:
5:00: Doors open
5:15: Welcoming Comments
5:20: 1st Presentation – UO Undergrad Tashia Davis presenting the History of Prison Education in Oregon
5:35: Spotlight Presentation and Transition
5:40: 2nd presentation – Kevin Alltucker, UO Assistant Professor in the FHS Department, on the importance of volunteering, service-learning, and the ability to make change
6:00: Spotlight Presentation and Transition
6:05: 3rd Presentation – Jen Jackson of Sponsors, Inc., on mentorship and assisting individuals to re-enter society
6:25: Spotlight Presentation and Transition
6:30: 15 minute intermission and refreshments
6:45: 4th Presentation – Deborah Arthur, professor at PSU, representing The Beat Within, an organization that brings creative writing and arts programs into juvenile detention facilities
7:05: Spotlight Presentation and Transition
7:10: 5th Presentation – John Aarons, Assistant Divisions Manager of Lane County Department of Youth Services, on the juvenile justice system and opportunities for local engagement
7:30: Wrap-up comments, Transition to Open House
7:35 – 9: Networking with Tabling Programs

Spotlight presentations will briefly highlight tabling groups around the room between presentations.

Thhe event will now be held Monday, March 7, 2014 at 5pm in the Fir Room of the EMU.

Ready to Organize for Justice?

Update: due to inclement weather, Organize for Justice has been postponed. We will be announcing its new time and location on the blog soon!

This Friday, February 7, the University of Oregon Criminal Justice Network and Inside-Out Alumni will host Organize for Justice, a networking event designed to bring together students and members of the community in their efforts to promote focus on criminal justice.

The event will feature presentations addressing relevant issues and ongoing projects. Presenters from Sponsors, Inc., The Beat Within, and Enlance will discuss the work being done at the forefront of the reintegration and prison divestment movements, as well as new developments in these spheres. John Aarons, Assistant Division Manager of Lane County Department of Youth Services, will give a talk as well.

In addition to live speakers, we will also have tabling from representatives of local and state organizations. Organizations set to participate include 90×30, a community-based initiative aimed at reducing child neglect in Lane County 90% by 2030; the University of Oregon Service-Learning Program; and the Diversity and Inclusion Counsel of the Oregon Department of Corrections. Students can familiarize themselves with upcoming projects, network, and engage with people already involved in the campaign for social opportunity and equality.

If you are an Inside-Out Alum, a community member who is interested in getting involved, or a UO student who is curious about the fight for social justice today, Organize for Justice is your opportunity to show your support. All you have to do is bring your self — but bonus points if you bring your friends, your resume, and your commitment to a better future, too.

Organize for Justice takes place February 7, 2014, in the Walnut Room of the Erb Memorial Union on campus.

Inside-Out T-Shirt Giveaway Contest

COMPETITION EXTENDED UNTIL SEPTEMBER 1, 12AM PST.

Write about your Inside-Out experience AND have the chance to win an AWESOME t-shirt from the (Inter)National Inside-Out Center, courtesy of Oregon Inside-Out intern Jordan W. Here’s Jordan’s challenge:

Find a piece of art that best summarizes your Inside-Out experience, whether it is Raphael’s Sistine Madonna, the graffiti art of Banksy or JR, or that song you listened to every week on the way to and from prison. Submit a statement of 300 words or less to describe why that art was so important to your experience. Be creative!

Have you created art inspired by your Inside-Out experience? Did you make a painting, compose a song, write a creative essay, story, poem, or anything else that can be considered “art” (however you want to define that)? Send it in with an short statement (200 words or less) describing why you made that art, what significance it has for you, and/or what you hope others get from it.

Submit your entries as comments to this post, or email them to insideout@uoregon.edu by SUNDAY, Sept. 1 at midnight PST. The blog team will select a winning entry (maybe more than one) and we’ll mail or hand deliver you a t-shirt (and you’ll get major kudos on this blog). Entry is limited to students and instructors who took classes/taught in Oregon.

GOOD LUCK!