Categories
Art & Storytelling Events

Call for Artists: Empathy is the Seed 

Let’s Get Free’s 5th Annual Art Show 
Featuring artists on both sides of the walls

Call for Art and Poems 

This art show is open to people currently in prison and people on the outside.This year’s show will have both online and in person elements. Select pieces will be shown in the physical gallery. All entries will be entered into the contest. 

This year’s theme: Empathy is the Seed, Truth is the Water, Solidarity is the Bloomage 

This is a recipe we think is crucial to shifting our world from the paradigm of punishment to that of healing. 

Empathy: the ability to understand and share the feelings of another. Truth: the quality or state of being in accordance with fact or reality Solidarity: unity or agreement of feeling or action, especially among individuals with a common interest; mutual support within a group. Bloomage: The blossoms or bloom of a plant or area taken collectively.

Submissions: 
We love receiving artwork connected to the theme.

Visual Art: All mediums welcome, no size restrictions. Illustrations, collage, paintings, sculpture, charcoal, textiles, cross stitch, sculpture, blankets…   

Poetry: We’re adding poetry to our art show this year! This is a new addition to our annual art show so our process is unfolding. We welcome your poems. 

Deadline to Submit Art: August 30, 2021
Art Show Sign Up Form

The show will open in mid November and have in person and online elements. Feel free to reach out if you can’t make the deadline. 

Send Art and Poems To: Let’s Get Free: 460 Melwood Ave #300, Pittsburgh, PA, 15213:

Please include: Title, Medium and artists statement 

Digital Only pieces will not be accepted this year, If you are an outside digital artist please send us a physical copy of your art to be considered in the contest. 

Let’s Get Free’s 5th Annual Art Show is a fundraiser. By submitting art or poems to the show you are consenting for your art to be auctioned and sold to raise money to support Let’s Get Free. 

This is a contest. Like last year, there will be two contest categories: Artists on the Inside and Artists on the Outside.The contest categories and prizes will be a little different this year than last year if you participated in that show.

Prizes for Artists/Poets on the Inside

Visual Art Prizes
Piece that best expresses Empathy: $100
Piece that best expresses Solidarity: $100
Piece that best expresses Truth: $100
Piece that best ties the theme all together: $100
Best use of materials $100
Best Textile: $100
People’s Choice Award: $100

Poetry Prizes

Poem that best ties the theme all together: $100
People’s Choice Award: $100

Prizes for Artists/Poets on the Outside

Visual Artists in Solidarity Prizes

Piece that best ties the theme all together: $100
People’s Choice Award: $100

Poets in Solidarity Prizes

Poem that best ties the theme all together: $100
People’s Choice Award: $100

Scholarships for Art Supplies: If you are incarcerated and participated in our contest last year or any of our previous art shows, you are eligible for an art supply scholarship if you are planning to participate in this year’s show. Please write for more details. There is a limited number of scholarships with priority to women and trans prisoners. 

T H A N K Y O U

Deadline to Submit Art: August 30, 2021
Art Show Sign Up Form

Categories
Art & Storytelling Events Take Action

Yes on Commutation! Week Of Events

Week of Events to Support Fair Commutation and People in Prison
Virtual Gallery Tours of the End Death by Incarceration Art Contest:
Sundays in August August 23 and 30th
at 11am, 12pm & 1pm EST – 30 minutes

Zoom Link for gallery tour at Our Link Tree

Contact to set up ASL or plan a specific group tour that fits your schedule. [letsgetfreepa@gmail.com]


Write letters of support to the 22 Commutation Applicants
Tuesday August 24 – 9am

This Tuesday morning, Letters from Home will be dedicated to sending messages of support to the people waiting for their hearings on September 4th. You can try to imagine how emotionally full this time of waiting can be. If you can’t make the 9am zoom gathering you can access the spreadsheet here. You can find a tab at the bottom of the spreadsheet that says “commutation”. Zoom Link for Letters from Home at our Link Tree


The Final August Premiere of the Life Cycles Toward Freedom Films featuring Stanley Mitchell and Saleem Holbrook
Tuesday August 25th from 7 – 8:30 EST.
Register here.

Featuring 3 new short films and special guests Stanley Mitchell and Robert Saleem Holbrook. If you have already seen the films tune in around 7:45 to see the 10 minute film about the Unger Ruling in Maryland which led to the release of 260 aging people with life sentences in 2012. Stanley was one of the people released 12 years ago.

If you don’t want to register and enter our zoom room, the events will be live streamed on our youtube channel


Yes on Commutation Rally
Thursday August 27th 9am City County Bldg – Pittsburgh

Join members of Let’s Get Free and the Dignity Act Now!Collective Pittsburgh in supporting applicants coming before the PA board of pardons on September 4th. Avis Lee, co creator of Let’s Get Free, is finally coming before the Board of Pardons after 40 years in prison. This is her 6th attempt at commutation! Because of COVID 19 these hearings will be held virtually and we will be unable to show the court support in the way we would ordinarily if allowed to enter the hearing.


Outside Film Screening and Social Distance Hang
Sunday August 30th – 7 – 8:30pm
Register Here (not necessary but helpful)
We are gonna social distance and wear masks 🙂

400 Roup Ave. In the parklet behind the Aldi in friendship.

Bring your own chair. Bring your own food 🙂 We will have fresh juice and beverages and snacks and bug spray! We will also have t-shirts for sale! We will screen the life cycles movies and more. Movies start at 8:30. Katina, a good friend of Tameka Flowers is coming all the way from Greensburg to talk about Tameka who is featured in one of the films. Rain date the following Sunday – September 6th.

Yay! Facebook Event


More action steps to take on the Life Cycles Toward Freedom Website

Categories
Art & Storytelling Events

Film Screenings & Art Show

Join us on August 18th!

[Image Description: Naomin Blount and Brandon Flood are pictured at the top and bottom of the is graphic which revelas only thier eyes and noses. The center of the graphic has event information which is listed below]

Tuesday August 18th from 7 – 8:30 EST. Featuring 3 new short films and special guests Naomi Blount and Brandon Flood. If you don’t want to register and enter our zoom room, the events will be live streamed on our youtube channel

Register for August 18th Film Screening

This Screening is endorsed by: Re/Creation, The National Council for Incarcerated and Formerly Incarcerated Women and Girls, ALC Courtwatch, Families for Justice as Healing, Three Rivers Community Foundation, Amistad Law Project, End Solitary Santa Cruz County [CA, USA], California Coalition for Women Prisoners, College and Community Fellowship, Human Rights Coalition Fed-Up!, Women of Color Global Women’s Strike, The Philadelphia Justice Project for Women and Girls, Reconstruction Inc, Pittsburghers for Public Transit and Islamic Communication Network.


Virtual Tours of the End Death by Incarceration Art Gallery

[Image description: This announcement for the gallery show is spelled out in mint green refrigerator magnets on a black fridge.There are bright yellow and purple flowers off to the left. A photograph of a painting of an anatomical heart is stuck to the fridge with a magnet. ]

Sundays in August
August 23rd and 30th
at 11am, 12pm & 1pm EST
30 minutes

Take 30 minutes of your day to view some of the 63 pieces of art submitted to our art show including 18 artists creating from prison and 27 artists working in solidarity.

Contact to set up ASL or plan a specific tour that fits your schedule. [letsgetfreepa@gmail.com]

Zoom Link for gallery tour at our Link Tree
https://linktr.ee/womeninprison

[Bright purple, pink red and orange make up the water color portrait of a women breaking apart bluish grey bars with the quote, ” Second Chances are first choices for Redemption” – Kristen Edmundson, Kristen is currently serving Life Without Parole at SCI-Muncy. Artwork by Morgan Overton
Categories
Art & Storytelling Events

Virtual Art Opening August 7th

[Image Description: A bright water color portrait of a women’s face looking up representing hope and her arm raised breaking apart bars representing freedom. There are few green leaves woven into her flowing hair representing ‘turning a new leaf’. The text reads End Death by Incarceration Virtual Art Opening – August 7th 7 – 8:30pm. Register at lifecyclestowardfreedom.org Artwork by Morgan Overton]

Our 4th annual art show is going virtual!! Please join us for our online opening on August 7th at 7pm. We will take you on a virtual tour of the End Death By Incarceration Art Show which is also a contest!! 

There are two categories – Artists in Prison and Artists in Solidarity. 6 prizes for each category! Top prize $500. We need you to vote for these People’s Choice Awards!! So far 17 artists in each category have submitted artwork, which means over 30 new original pieces of ART!!!

Nicole Fleetwood who recently published Marking Time: Art in the Age of Mass Incarceration will pass through from 7:30 to 8pm and we will also be graced with one of our favorite artists James Yaya Hough! 

In addition to the virtual tour you will hear from participating artists including from one of our long time friends on the inside Todd ‘Hyung Rae’ Tarselli talking about his submission he made from instant coffee – a portrait of a man in solitary confinement. 

Life Cycles Toward Freedom August Event Series Overview (All events will have live closed captioning and will be lived streamed on youtube. The films are 35 minutes total.)

  • August 7: Friday – 7 – 8:30 pm End Death by Incarceration Art Show
    • Opening Register Here for August 7th
    • Virtually Tour the Art Contest! You can vote and leave a message for the artists!
    • Special Guest: Nicole Fleetwood author of Marking Time: Art in the Age of Mass Incarceration and artist James Yaya Hough
  • August 11: Tuesday – 7 – 8:30 pm Virtual Film Screening Premier
    • This evening’s special guest is musician BL Shirelle. BL Shirelle knows many of the women featured in the films and is the Deputy Director of Die Jim Crow Records a non profit record label for currently and formerly incarcerated people. BL will be performing a couple songs from the recently released album – Assata Twoi.
    • Register Here for August 11th

  • August 18: Tuesday 7 – 8:30pm Virtual Film Screening
    • Special Guests: Naomi Blount is the 2nd woman to receive commutation in the state of PA in 30 years. (Invited Lt. Gov. John Fetterman and Brandon Flood)
    • Register Here for August 18th

  • August 25: Tuesday – 7 – 8:30pm Virtual Film Screening
    • Special Guests: Stanley Mitchell who was released 7 years ago under the 2012 “Unger” Ruling. We will hear how the state of Maryland managed a mass release of aging prisoners.
    • Additional Screening: The Ungers: A Matter of Time 10 minutes
    • Register Here for August 25th
Categories
Art & Storytelling Events

Second Chances for Women Sentenced to Die in PA Prisons – August Film Release

Tameka Flowers is pictured above in this still from “We are more than our worst day” One of the three short films being released this August.

Let’s Get Free and The Women Lifers Resume Project are releasing a multi-media campaign uplifting the stories of women and trans people serving death by incarceration called Life Cycles Toward Freedom. This August, the campaign launch will include a series of virtual film screenings, and in collaboration with Boom Concepts, will host an online art contest. The End Death By Incarceration Art Contest virtually opens on August 7 and runs through the end of October where attendees can take a tour of the art and hear from formerly incarcerated artist James “YaYa” Hough.  

The aims of this project are to raise awareness, build support and to spark dialogue that may change the commutation process.

Each film screening will showcase the latest series of short films produced by Tusko which features currently incarcerated and formerly incarcerated women. The films offer unique access to maximum security prison SCI Muncy and SCI Cambridge Springs. The films raise a number of pressing law and order issues: Does the commutation process need updating? Is LWOP out of date? Do these women have more to offer society?

Water color portrait of a women breaking apart bars with the quote, ” Second Chances are first choices for Redemption” – Kristen Edmundson, currently serving Life Without Parole at SCI-Muncy. Artwork by Morgan Overton


On average Pennsylvania spends $42,727 a year per person in prison and this cost jumps to an estimated $52,000 for people over the age of 55. The women featured in the film have served three decades, four decades, and more. Experts agree they represent no threat yet they are left without hope of seeing home again – they are just “dying out loud”.

The film entitled Pennsylvania’s Commutation Process: Naomi Blount’s Experience takes you on one woman’s journey through the lengthy and arduous steps of the commutation process in hope of freedom. Naomi Blount was the second woman to receive commutation in the last 30 years and has been home for one year. Lt. Governor John Fetterman, a leader in PA’s commutation reform, is also featured in this film. 

We Are More Than Our Worst Day, is a powerful 12 minute short that radiates resilience and the power to change that is widespread amongst people with death by incarceration sentences. This poignant vignette features the transformative journeys of Tequilla Fields, a leading church figure, and Tameka Flowers, a dancer, who are both seeking commutation. 


The idea for the film You Deserve Better Than Prison: Messages to Youth from Women Serving Life was that of Avis Lee, who is currently awaiting a public hearing that will decide her freedom. This short piece offers some words of wisdom from women who are spending their life behind bars and warns people about what it’s like in Pennsylvania’s prison system. 

People with life sentences make up the vast majority of the aging prison population, including Alice Green, who will be turning 90 this August. For the many sick and aging individuals in PA prisons, the spread of the Covid virus looms as a threat to life in an environment that is a breeding ground for contagious disease. The commutation process that is supposed to address inappropriate sentencing and offer relief to these individuals has been functionally frozen for more than three decades. This is an immediate crisis inside of the larger crisis of harsh and excessive sentencing; we demand clemency.

The Life Cycles Toward Freedom campaign is made possible by financial support from The Open Society Foundation, The Pittsburgh Foundation and The Opportunity Fund. 

August 2020 Life Cycles Toward Freedom Calendar of Events

  • August 11: Tuesday – 7 – 8:30 pm Virtual Film Screening Premier
    • Special Guest BL Shirelle: Confirmed!
    • Register Here for August 11th
  • August 18: Tuesday 7 – 8:30pm Virtual Film Screening
    • Special Guests: Naomi Blount
    • [ Lt. Gov. John Fetterman and Brandon Flood invited]
    • Register Here for August 18th
  • August 25: Tuesday – 7 – 8:30pm Virtual Film Screening
    • Special Guests: Stanley Mitchell released in 2012 under the “Unger Ruling
    • Additional Screening: The Ungers: A Matter of Time
    • Register Here for August 25th

Categories
Events

Transform Commutation! A People’s Response: Register Here

TRANSFORM COMMUTATION

Transform Commutation! A People’s Response: Envisioning Release in the time of CoVid and Beyond


The commutation process is broken. Intended as a means to reduce sentences for incarcerated individuals, increasing politicization has reduced commutation to a shadow process instead of a meaningful pathway to release.

In April, Lieutenant Governor John Fetterman announced that the Board of Pardons will indefinitely delay the commutation hearing set to take place on June 4th. At this hearing, dozens of applicants would have had the opportunity to have their cases reviewed to determine their potential for release, thus permitting them to escape the life-threatening conditions of prisons in the era of COVID-19. There is no excuse to delay commutation hearings.

If the concern is about commutation applicants not receiving in-person interviews, that question should be left up to the applicant to decide. Some applicants we have spoken with would rather have a video interview than for the hearing date to be in perpetual postponement.

Because Pennsylvania is one of only five states that excludes lifers from parole consideration, commutation serves as the only option for release for individuals serving death by incarceration. Yet since 1980, commutation has become virtually unattainable: the number of life sentences commuted dropped from ~28 per year before 1980 to ~1 per year after. Beyond lifers, commutation is also a vital system for individuals serving long-term sentences.

In the time of COVID-19, where a prison sentence is a death sentence for the elderly and immunocompromised, commutation should be bolstered as a tool to bring more people home.

We mourn the lives already lost to COVID-19 in state correctional facilities. How many of these deaths could have been prevented if our justice system prioritized community healing over retribution?

On June 4th, please join us for The People’s Response, a space for the community to voice our demands for commutation transformation. First, we will hear from individuals who will speak from personal experience about the failures of the commutation process. Next, we will collectively envision what commutation could like if it were transformed to put our communities first. Speakers include Laura Whitehorn, Jose Hamza Saldana, William L. Goldsby, Mageline Stewart, Doug Hollis, Terri Minor Spencer, and Ricky Olds.

Please join this community conversation by registering here . Together we will urge the Board of Pardons to #FreeTheVulnerable and meet our demands.

SPEAKERS:

Laura Whitehorn: A lifelong anti-war and civil rights activist, Laura Whitehorn spent the 70s and 80s organizing against the Vietnam war, white supremacist violence, and U.S. imperialist terrorism abroad. She eventually served 14 years in federal prison as a political prisoner. During her time in prison and since her release, she has focused her efforts on advocating for the release of political prisoners of the black liberation and anti-imperialist solidarity movements. She is the cofounder of Release Aging People in Prison (RAPP), an organization that advocates for the release of older and aging people, lifers, and long-termers as a way to undermine a key pillar of the racist prison system: the paradigm of permanent punishment and death by incarceration.

Jose Hamza Saldana is Director of RAPP. Jose was released from NYS prison in January 2018 after 38 years and four Parole Board denials. While in prison, Jose earned an Associate’s Degree and founded several important restorative justice and victim awareness programs. He mentored hundreds of men during his years inside and continues to inspire all of us with his energy, commitment, and leadership.

William L. Goldsby: Born in a cotton field, raise in Selma, Alabama and incarcerated for two violent offenses, both during the Jim Crow era, one in Selma, Alabama and the other one while serving in the US Military.  Attended Miles College an HBC in Birmingham, Alabama and graduated from Western Washington University with a B.A in Education. Two terns in Central America with the Peace Corp where responsibilities were with Youth Development and “Women-In-Transition”. Travelled to Southern Africa and interviewed members of the Truth and Reconciliation Commission. Founder and the past Chair of Reconstruction Incorporated, a 30-year old community capacity building grass root organization. Architect of the History and Reconstruction Project funded by Pew Charitable Trust that explored Post Traumatic Slave Syndrome which impacts the behavior of society at large and specifically African Americans. Designed and teaches Situation Management as a method in order to realize a new justice paradigm. Co-authored Reconstructing Rage, Transformative Reentry in the Age of mass Incarceration with Professor Townsand Price-Spratlan.  Philosophy is that we must access our organic intelligence, manage our own perceptions and liberate our imagination.

Mageline Stewart: Sentenced to life without parole, Maggie Stewart had her sentence commuted by the Governor last December after receiving a unanimous vote in support of her release by the Board of Pardons. She will speak to her experiences undergoing the commutation process and coming home, as well as tell us about the other lifers who are still behind bars.

Doug Hollis: Doug Hollis knows first-hand how broken the commutation process is. A former juvenile lifer, Mr. Hollis was released in 2017 due to a U.S. Supreme Court decision deeming automatic life terms for minors unconstitutional. But before 2017, Mr. Hollis underwent the commutation process six times, even winning the recommendation of the Board of Pardons in 1992, only to be denied release by the Governor.

Moderators:

Terri Minor Spencer: Ms. Spencer, a visionary community activist based in Pittsburgh, founded a grass-roots nonprofit dedicated to addressing community needs, serves as the Director of Community Engagement at the White Lily Baptist Church, and even holds a seat on the Democratic committee for Pittsburgh Ward 20. Having served 16 years at SCI Muncy, including 17 days in solitary confinement, Ms. Spencer is an outspoken advocate for criminal justice reform.

Ricky Olds: Public Speaker.Community Educator. Formerly Incarcerated individual. Wrongfully convicted of murder, Ricky served close to four decades before being released in 2017.

***

This event is hosted by the Campaign To Restore Meaningful Commutation and #FreeTheVulnerable campaign, a collective of organizers from the Human Rights Coalition (HRC) Lets Get Free: Women and Trans Prisoner Defense Committee, Coalition to Abolish Death by Incarceration (CADBI), Abolitionist Law Center, and Amistad Law Project among others. We are advocating for the release of older and immunocompromised folks from PA prisons in the time of COVID-19 and beyond.

###

Categories
Events News

May Update: 5 Yes votes for Avis & Commutation Hearings Postponed

Avis Lee received a unanimous 5 yes votes at the May 7th merit review hearing.

This is the farthest she has ever made it in the lengthy commutation process of which she has applied 6 times. Just two more steps to go. The next is the public hearing, including a personal interview with the board, in which she will need the same unanimous 5 yes votes and finally a signature from the governor.  8 out of 13 people sentenced to ‘Death by Incarceration’ were granted public hearings including Mildred Strickland and Phil Rosato.


Commutation Hearings have been postponed due to Covid. 

The Board of Pardons is postponing the public hearings scheduled for June 4th. They claim that they have security concerns due to technology and said LT. Governor Fetterman expressed that having a video interviews rather than in-person interviews would be unfair to the applicant. We think the applicant should be given a choice wether they want to proceed with a video interview. Cambridge Springs has said they have all the technology they need to conduct video interviews and in this day and age the technology concerns are unfounded.

The board will be hearing some pardon cases that don’t involve violence or sexual assault. Board secretary, Brandon Flood said that depending on COVID, the board could have the public hearings before the next scheduled hearing date which is in September.


Save the Date: June 4th → 6 – 8 pm→

Transform Commutation! The People’s Response: Envisioning Release in the Time of Covid and Beyond

On the day the commutation hearings were to take place, Let’s Get Free and the Coalition to Abolish Death by Incarceration are planning a people’s response! Hear from people who have been commuted, people who have lived along side those seeking commutation, demand reform and dream of a new way of holding justice.  What can you envision? Dream with us!  One of our beloved movement fathers, Dr. William Goldsby will be present!


Commutation Application Status

Many prisoners are curious about the status of thier submitted applications. For all those who have already submitted their applications, they are in que just as before. (It is always hard to get information about exactly where you are in the que.) While the DOC Board of Pardons website states that the board is not taking new applications at this time – that’s not all the way true. Brandon Flood assures us that the board is not rejecting or denying any applications they receive. The reason the board is asking people not to submit is because there are quite a few clerk of courts that are not open, so people are submitting incomplete applications.  Depending where the applicant is coming from they may not be able to complete their applications because they may not have access to all the forms. If your clerk of courts is open and you have all your documents you can submit your applications.


Covid in the PA DOC Update: 

SCI-Huntingdon remains the current hot spot within the DOC reporting 143 positive cases among prisoners and 44 positive cases among guards. Just today we learn that 2 people died at Huntington, including the passing of a widely beloved elder, Bumpy Johnson who died from covid at the age of 76. SCI Phoenix is claiming 35 positive cases with 3 deaths reported among the prison population. Camphill, Chester and Fayette are all reporting one positive among prisoners. People on the outside can check for daily covid updates here. It’s hard to tell what’s real because there is limited testing everywhere. Out of the 5 deaths reported 3 of them were people with life sentences.

Additionally, Governor Wolf has still not signed the 3 commutation applications on his desk. This is a simple ask – they have been vetted by the board. This demand was articulated to Governor Wolf in a joint letter from the ACLU, Abolitionist Law Center and Amistad Law Project. The letter demands Covid relief to the over 4,000 people in prison over the age of 60 and 12,000 people in prison who are medically vulnerable.

You can hear from PA  prisoners directly regarding Covid this Thursday, May 21st 6 – 8pm  at the virtual town hall: Voices From the Inside: Pennsylvania Prisoners Speak Out –  Register Here 


Rest in Peace Eliza Medley

Eliza Medley passed away on Sunday May 10th. She did receive a medical release and went to live with her sister on April 27. Sentenced to life at the age of 21, Eliza served 44 years succumbing to liver cancer at the age of 65. Eliza is remembered as being down to earth, bubbly, always with a smile and treating others equally. It is both a relief and heart wrenching that she had just two weeks home. Love to all of her friends and inner circles on both sides of the walls.


Let’s Get Free was invited to host:

Cocktails with a Conscience: Art and Activism Thursday, May 21st, 7:00-9:00PM

Screen Shot 2020-05-20 at 6.09.36 PM

Repair the World Pittsburgh is partnering with The Kelly Strayhorn Theatre for a Zoom social hour. Guest speakers, including folks from Let’s Get Free, who will discuss the ways by which art can be used for activism. Grab a drink, log on, and learn with us!

Artists James Yaya Hough, Morgan Overton, Todd “Hyung-Rae” Tarselli and etta cetera will discuss their own creative endeavors with a special video from TR who is currently incarcerated speaking about being an artist in prison. Yaya has collaborated with Let’s Get Free years before his release and is now the resident artist for the Philadelphia District Attorney. Let’s Get Free is just beginning a collaboration with Morgan for our latest endeavor to uplift the stories of women sentenced to death by incarceration. Learn more on Thursday!

Register for the zoom room HERE!


Zoomed out? Tune into a few noteable quotes from some national Zoom Room’s we have entered.

“Despair is a tool of our enemies.” — Audre Lorde

“I insist! We have power.” –Mariame Kaba leading abolitionist from Chicago founded Project Nia

“Prisons are a pre-existing condition.” Monica Crosby- recently released New Yorker speaking from her new apartment.

“Individual fingers can be easily broken but together they make a mighty fist.” —Sitting Bull

“Recognizing the brilliance of ourselves, of our people, the diamonds polished by years of oppression, war and struggle and survival among our ancestors and today as we face a pandemic.But also remembering that sometimes it was us who were not only the oppressed, the marginalized but we were the queens, the leaders, the shamans, the witches, the wise ones, the council.
We are not only shaped by our oppression and the hardness of endurance.
We are shaped by our creativity, our love, our legacies, our history, our families of birth and chosen, our beautiful cultures, our music, our food, our poetry, the land that we once belonged to and sometimes still do. The things that we have intact and not only those things broken…
Who we are and what we are come from this alchemy of struggle and life force”
-Mimi Kim on abolitionist feminists

cydsavethedate

15 minutes to Celebrate 65 years of Cyd!
This! Saturday May 23, 12:00-12:15pm, Zoom party

As Cyd turns 65, she has served 40 years of a life sentence. We want to lift her up on this day, because she has lifted up so many others, and to shine a light on aging prisoners who should be freed during this crisis!  We have 75 people signed up – wonder if we can get a 100 people to wish Cyd a happy day?

To participate, please register here. We can text remind you!! Please bring a bell AND something colorful to wave in the zoom, bright fabric, a happy birthday sign, streamers. All of our research has said it’s really hard to sing happy bday together on zoom – so Naomi Blount will lead us in song and we can ring bells. Paulette Carrington will also be present sharing the importance of birthday celebrations on the inside.

Categories
Art & Storytelling Events

End Death by Incarceration Art Contest

IMG-2877Details about contest here

Goal: To raise awareness about death by incarceration, particularly uplifting the experiences of women and trans people sentenced to life without parole in Pennsylvania.

Note: Death by Incarceration [DBI] is another way saying Life Without Parole [LWOP]

Theme: We have surveyed all the women and trans lifers in PA serving DBI that we know of, and over 50 people responded. They have sent slogans, messages to the public and ideas for you to use. When you sign up for the contest you will have access to this information to help you in the creation of your art.

We have identified the following topics that we particularly want to uplift, you are encouraged to create your art with one of these focuses in mind: Aging in Prison, Commutation, Compassionate/Medical Release, Restorative Justice, Redemption & Resilience, Domestic Violence and Sexual Violence as it relates to DBI and Crime & Safety. Resources on these topics are here

Who can enter? Anyone can enter. There will be two categories, one for artists in prison and one for artists in solidarity. You can enter more than one piece. Please fill out this form to enter. To sign up an artist you know in prison, fill out their information on the form and we will send them a contest packet.

What is the medium? 2-D images preferred. Painting, drawing, watercolor, screenprint, digital graphic, cross stitch.

What is the size? No bigger than 25” inches by 21”  No smaller than 8.5” by 11” Portrait or Vertical orientation is preferred but not mandatory.

What’s in it for you? All contest submissions will be shown at Boom Concepts for the entire month of August in Pittsburgh, with the show opening on Friday August 7th, 2020 (potentially additional shows)  All participants will receive documentation from the show. Potential prize money. With your consent, your image may end up in a newspaper ad, as a poster or on a city bus. You will be generating awareness about an important cause. We are not planning to sell the art at this time.

When: Contest submissions due by June 30th. (Running late? Contact us)

Mail artwork to: Let’s Get Free – 460 Melwood Ave. #300 Pittsburgh, PA 15213

There is no entry fee. Artists incarcerated in Pennsylvania can be reimbursed for postage cost to mail art.

People’s Choice Cash Prize: There will be two categories: Artists in Prison and Artists in Solidarity. 6 prizes in each category.

1st Place:$500

2nd Place: $250

3rd Place: $100

Honorable Mention: $50 (3 recipients for each category)

Judging: The contest will be judged by the public the entire month of the show. All participants will be notified within a month.

Public Service Announcements: Let’s Get Free will draw from all the entries to pick out designs for the public graphic campaign. This campaign could take the form of posters, bus or newspaper advertisements. In other words, you don’t have to be a Public Choice winner for your art to get turned into an ad.

Contest Organizers: This contest is part of a multi-media public education campaign called Life Cycles Toward Freedom, a collaboration between Let’s Get Free and the Women’s Lifer Resume Project.

Questions? Contact: letsgetfreepa@gmail.com

Contest website: Life Cycles Toward Freedom

Screen Shot 2020-03-03 at 5.22.31 PM
“We are not what we have done. We are who we have become. “–quote by Sheena’ King

 

Categories
Events

RSVP for Upcoming Events Here

Gallery Hours for Glow Home

October 4th – 26th Gallery Hours are every Thursday thru Saturday 1- 7pm and Sundays 1-4pm

Gallery Hours are suspended during events. Check Boom’s Calendar More info? Contact etta: 443-603-6964

 

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October 12th – 12 – 3pm – Saturday
A 3 hour participatory workshop With Kempis Ghani Songster

The event is free but please rsvp  Sign up on Event Brite Here

Back by popular demand, Ghani Songster returns from Philly to lead an interactive space in effort to free ourselves from the mental chains that inhibit our progress. Ghani believes that our salvation hinges on our ability to liberate our imagination.

Back by popular demand, Ghani Songster returns from Philly to lead an interactive space in effort to free ourselves from the mental chains that inhibit our progress. Ghani believes that our salvation is in the liberation of our imaginations. etta says, “It’s gonna be like going to the gym for your mind.”

Listen to Ghani shares 5 Lessons of the Geese from last years workshop.

Snacks will be provided.


Blountly Speaking:
Lifting Up Women in Prison

Words and Songs by Naomi Blount  Followed by a Panel Discussion:  Impact of DA’s Office on Incarcerated Women with local community leaders.

October 19th – 12pm – 3pm  Saturday @ Boom Concepts 5139 Penn Ave
Free Lunch served at 1 pm

The event is free but please rsvp on Event Brite- Space Limited

Naomi Blount, 69, is the second Pennsylvania woman to receive commutation in nearly three decades after serving 35 years of a life sentence. Released this past July, Naomi will share reflections of her experiences from prison to the commutation process as well as lift up the women she left behind.

Community Dialogue Impact of DA’s Office on Women (1:30pm)

Following lunch, we will convene for a panel discussion to speak on the impact that the DA’s office has on people impacted by the criminal injustice system. This dialogue will be facilitated by Ronna Davis founder of Za’kiyah house and LGF Board member.

Speakers include:

State Rep Summer Lee who recently visited Cambridge Springs Prison and sponsored legislation as a part of the Dignity Act, Gabrielle Monroe, a Sex Workers Rights Advocate & Activist, Members of the Bukit Bail Fund and Jane Hein, LGF Board and member of CADBI-West.

Lisa Middleman, candidate for DA will have time to respond to comments made and there will be time for community participation.

The event will conclude with a musical performance by Naomi Blount.

Categories
Art & Storytelling Events Take Action

“Glow Home” Opens October 4th – Event Series Overview

For the 3rd year running, Let’s Get Free teams up with Boom Concepts for a prison justice art fundraiser and series of events. 

Artists were asked to create work around the ideas of home and relationships to create a show that encapsulates the feeling of home: What does home look like? Feel like? A space? A state of mind? 

The call was to create things that literally glowed. People were encouraged to create work with ships and pun off concepts like relationSHIP, friendSHIP, leaderSHIP, etc.

Glow Home is an homage to friends old and new recently released from prison and a prayer that our loved ones still behind bars will be home soon. There will be an altar where you can leave something for a loved one who you wish to come home. 

Over 60 artists from both sides of the prison walls have submitted provocative pieces utilizing ceramics, photography, textiles, beadwork, silk screen, collage, stained glass, digital drawing, water colors etc. There are close to 100 pieces of art up for auction benefiting the work of this local prison advocacy group. The opening and auction will take place on October 4th from 6 – 10pm with the auction closing at 9pm. The show will stay up through October 26th.

Click on photos below a for a quick preview slide show.
Click here for more information on Glow Home

Overview of October Events

Gallery Hours for Glow Home  October 4th – 26th
Gallery Hours are every Thursday thru Saturday 1- 7pm and Sundays 1-4pm
Gallery Hours are suspended during events. Check Boom’s Calendar 

Liberate our Imaginations:  A Vital Step Towards a World Without PrisonsIMG_7463
October 12th – 12 – 3pm – Saturday
A 3 hour participatory workshop With Kempis Ghani Songster & etta cetera

Back by popular demand, Ghani Songster returns from Philly to lead an interactive space in effort to free ourselves from the mental chains  that inhibit our progress. Ghani believes that our salvation hinges on our ability to liberate our imagination. etta says, “It’s gonna be like going to the gym for your mind.” How do we stay connected to the bigger movement of abolition?

Listen to Ghani shares 5 Lessons of the Geese from last years workshop.

The event is free but please rsvp letsgetfreepa@gmail.com
Snacks will be provided


Blountly Speaking:
Lifting Up Women in Prison

Words and Songs by Naomi Blount, (Pending Travel Permission but we are speaking it into existence!) Followed by a Panel Discussion:  Impact of DA’s Office on Incarcerated Women with Lisa Middleman and local community leaders.

October 19th – 12pm – 3pm  Saturday @ Boom Concepts – 5139 Penn Ave
Free Lunch served at 1 pm

Naomi Blount, 69, is the second Pennsylvania woman to receive commutation in nearly three decades after serving 35 years of a life sentence. Released this past July, Naomi will share reflections of her experiences from prison to the commutation process as well as lift up the women she left behind.  Community leaders and Lisa Middleman, candidate for District Attorney, will then convene for a panel to speak on the impact that the DA’s office has on people impacted by the criminal injustice system. The event will conclude with a musical performance by Naomi.

The event is free but please rsvp letsgetfreepa@gmail.com


October Monthly Sustainer Drive

Collective Donations towards Collective Liberation!

Sign Up to be a sustaining donor during the month of October to help us reach our goal of 50 new monthly sustainers! You will receive a special Thank You Gift of your choosing including limited edition artwork or a bouncing baby house plant (Pittsburgh only:)

IMG_7433
Jade and Hoya babies will be gifted to people signing up at levels $ 20 & $25

Monthly sustainers are a critical part of community organizing and help us gather unrestricted funds. This money is used for: direct assistance to people in prison and returning citizens (hard to write a grant for that) stamps, printing newsletters and commutation kits, speaker stypens as well as transportation costs to visit prisons, the state capitol and faraway meetings and conferences. 

Our goal is to sign up: 

20 Sustainers @ $5 a month
15 Sustainers @ $10 a month
10 Sustainers @ $15 a month
5 Sustainers @ $20 a month
5 Sustainers @ $25 a month

If achieved would raise collectively $575 a Month. Simply click the donate button and check the “recurring donation box”


Come to Harrisburg with the Coalition to Abolish Death by Incarceration

Coalition to Abolish Death by Incarceration(CABDI)
Day of Action to End DBI & Heal Communities 
October 23rd – 7am – 7pm Wednesday in Harrisburg
Sign up for Vans from Pittsburgh by filling out this form