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!

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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


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.


Three Hours a Week, for Ten Weeks

I’ve often struggled to explain the effect that the Inside Out class I took last term has had on me. It’s easy to tell people that it was the best class I’ve taken in college, or that it was a life changing experience. Although those statements are true, the clichés don’t really capture the most important parts of what I experienced inside the walls of Oregon State Penitentiary.

The beauty of Inside Out is that from the very start you are forced, rather than encouraged, to make strong personal connections with all of your classmates. The first day all of the outside students sat approximately 18 inches across from a series of 13 maximum security prison inmates and answered a set of questions that ranged from goofy to deeply personal. This is not an experience that most people can claim they have had. Since that first day I have found myself acutely aware of eye contact; looking into someone’s eyes as I listen and speak to them has become increasingly important to me. Inspired by our first wagon wheel, I strive to make my everyday conversations more real, often by channeling the strong gazes of those inside students whom I met on my first day.

Having such limited class time (only 24 hours in total) I found that each conversation, whether casual or a formal group discussion, suddenly became much more important. I have never felt so engaged with such a large group of people. Our prison classroom was an incredibly safe and open environment, something that is inherently at odds with the whole idea of what a prison is. In my opinion that is the greatest strength of the Inside Out program: it deconstructs preconceived notions about what all of your classmates will be like and allows a space in which all students can act as equals, learning from each other as well as the instructors.

I was lucky to be part of a group of outside students that was enthusiastic about spending time together outside of the program. Most of us wished weekly that we could lengthen the two one-hour van rides, even the 15 minutes spent going through security, but most importantly, by spending more time with our fellow outside students we hoped to make the 3 hours we spent with our entire class last a little longer. If nowhere else, in conversations with each other, and in the memories we will take with us. I will continue to try to make those nine weeks live on through contact with my fellow outside alumni, re-reading my anthology (currently one of my most prized possessions), and continuing to grapple with the things I learned about making personal connections before judgments, the importance of cherishing the time you have with people, and our incredibly ineffective prison system. I have truly come out of my Inside Out experience a different person, and I don’t think I could ever thank all of my fellow classmates, both inside and outside, as well as my instructors, enough for that.


UO Inside-Out Alumna

Newspaper Tables

Last Thursday, I was one night away from turning in the defense draft of my senior thesis. Needless to say, I was not in attendance at our regular Thursday night book club planning meeting.

During the drive to the Serbu Center, I was briefed on my role for the day’s session: to lead a small group discussion about how to build a table out of newspaper. I would distribute half-sheets of paper that each contained a few quotes from a relatively complicated article on the utility of the triangle in building prisms, then I would encourage the groups to think about the use of bracing in their table designs. Each group would chat about their experiences with tables, and then start to think through elements of design.

This session fit into our larger goal for the term: to think about the role of education in our lives, and to consider ways to improve our classrooms and schools. During this session, we attempted to meet a single objective (an understanding of how to build a table that would withstand books using only newspaper and tape) using three teaching techniques: lecture, small group discussion, and hands-on experimentation. We talked about the pros and cons of each as we went, and we tried to draw out each person’s reaction to different teaching styles.

Going into the session, we (the outside students) were not sure how the session would go. There were only three of us, instead of our normal eight, because most people were at the Dalai Lama’s lecture on campus. We all agreed it was a creative lesson plan, but it was also one that would either flop or fly, and we didn’t know which.

As soon as we brought out the newspaper, however, I knew it would be a success. The first two segments (lecture and discussion) were pretty dry, although some of the youth were already clearly invested in drawing table designs and discussing what would make their tables withstand the most weight. For the last segment, each group got a pile of newspaper and four long pieces of duct-tape, and within minutes, UO students, youth, and the classroom teacher were down on the floor rolling, folding, ripping, and taping.

I heard conversations about bracing, and angles, and material density. Every single person in the room was on their hands and knees, and for almost the entire time, everyone was fully engaged in the activity. I was surprised to see that within twenty minutes, every group had managed to make a table that withstood at least one fat literature textbook and some withstood at least four (I’d guess around 15 pounds).   Even though we ran out of time to have a full conversation about what teaching style worked the best for them, it was clear to all of us that working with materials, experimenting, and moving around caught everyone’s attention.


Inside-Out UO Alumna