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Abolitionist Storywork: Weaving Collective Narratives of Freedom
September 23, 2021 - September 24, 2021
Transforming narratives of punishment demands a reckoning with the past while keeping our feet planted in the direction of the future we want to create. Abolitionist Storyworkers use narrative strategies to reflect on our shared experiences of criminal punishment and state violence as a starting place for building a shared vision for a world free of systems of punishment.
In this two-day virtual convening curated by LP Radical Imagination Fellow Piper Anderson, learn, imagine, dream, and weave stories of abolition. The program will bring together practitioners working in oral history, community archive development, and an interdisciplinary range of narrative justice strategies to create community care, safety, and liberation.
This virtual event is free and open to the public. Register for individual components below.
The Laundromat Project is committed to hosting accessible and inclusive events. Real-Time Captioning (CART) will be available for both Kitchen Table Conversations in Abolitionist Storywork. If you require any additional accessibility accommodations, please email [email protected]
Day 1 | Kitchen Table Conversation – Naming to Repair: Documenting Narratives of State Violence
September 23 @ 6:00-7:30pm ET – Watch Recording
Join us for a dialogue amongst practitioners who utilize a range of narrative strategies to document and expose state violence committed against targeted communities. Their work contributes to the transformation of public memory; revealing institutional harms and demanding a reparative justice for communities that continue to be the targets of policing and criminal legal systems. Featuring Andrea Ritchie, Interrupting Criminalization; Gabriel Solis, Texas After Violence Project; and Sarita Daftary, Freedom Agenda. Moderated by Dylan Brown.
Day 2 | Opening Session – COVID in Confinement: Archiving the Pandemic in Prisons and Jails
September 24 @ 10:00-11:00am ET – Watch Recording
Across the US, state and federal authorities have failed to prevent the spread of COVID-19 in jails and prisons. As a result, 1 in 4 incarcerated people have contracted the virus, and the incarceration machine has added more than half a million COVID cases across the US. Over the last year, both The Rikers Public Memory Project and Texas After Violence have built archives with currently and formerly incarcerated narrators sharing their experiences of confinement during the pandemic. In this workshop, story workers from both initiatives will share lessons learned from their projects, excerpts of narratives from each archive, and discuss the ways the pandemic has further revealed how deeply entrenched health inequities are in systems of confinement. Facilitators: Regina Campbell, Rikers Public Memory Project; and Murphy Carter, Texas After Violence Project and Sheltering Justice.
Day 2 | Practice Session 1 – Developing Aftercare Practices
September 24 @ 12:00-1:00pm ET – Watch Recording
As a story worker, “I am often asking people to share narratives about some of the most painful experiences they’ve ever had,” says Radical Imagination Fellow and Abolitionist Storywork curator Piper Anderson. How do we ensure that narrators are cared for at every phase of the process? How do story workers ensure that they have their own aftercare practices to prevent burnout? In this workshop, Piper will share practices that she has utilized to center care, healing, and connection at every phase of the story gathering process.
Day 2 | Practice Session 2: Untold X Presents Five Things with Free Bangura, Portal Keepers Edition
September 24 @ 3:00-4:00pm ET – Watch Recording
Each person, regardless of where they come from, stands on the shoulders of the honored ancestors from their own lineage, whose praiseworthy lives deserve to be remembered. Join independent historical strategist Free Bangura for Untold X presents Five Things: Portal Keepers Edition, featuring her interactive toolkit designed to help changemakers discover which of their abolitionist superpowers work best to dismantle the systemic inequity that we were collectively born into. Come with an open heart and a willingness to do good. Leave knowing if you are a self determined Portal Keeper or if this is your season to hold space at the front line for the free Black future among the underground Conspiracy of Good People.
May this collective work inspire generations. Power to the people! May it be so.
Day 2 | Kitchen Table Conversation – Remembering Ourselves Free
September 24 @ 4:30-6:00pm ET – Watch Recording
The power of stories is in the way they can transform us when our stories are in dialogue with others. Suddenly, our own personal narratives gain new meaning and purpose when shared in relationship. Stories told in community have the power to heal, restore a sense of belonging, and reveal collective truths that become the foundation for the futures we want to build. In this closing dialogue, we will discuss the collective healing power of gatherings grounded in story. With Amita Swadhin, Mirror Memoirs; Jonel Beauvais, Welcome Home Circle; Piper Anderson, Rikers Public Memory Project, and Emilce Quiroz, Common Justice.
Naming to Repair: Documenting Narratives of State Violence
Andrea Ritchie, Interrupting Criminalization
Andrea J. Ritchie is a Black lesbian immigrant police misconduct attorney and organizer whose writing, litigation, and advocacy has focused on policing and criminalization of women and LGBT people of color for the past two decades. She is currently Researcher in Residence on Race, Gender, Sexuality and Criminalization at the Barnard Center for Research on Women, where she recently launched the Interrupting Criminalization: Research in Action initiative. She is an author and has published numerous articles, policy reports and research studies.She is a nationally recognized expert and sought after commentator on policing issues, and works with groups across the country to support campaigns to end profiling, police violence criminalization, mass incarceration, and deportation.
Gabriel Solis, Texas After Violence Project
Gabriel Daniel Solis is the Executive Director of the Texas After Violence Project. Previously he worked as a post-conviction mitigation specialist for the Office of Capital and Forensic Writs, criminal justice researcher at the Brennan Center for Justice at New York University School of Law, and coordinator of the Guantánamo Bay Oral History Project at Columbia University. Gabriel’s writings have appeared in the Texas Observer, Oxford American, Scalawag, Cultural Dynamics: Insurgent Scholarship on Culture, Politics, and Power, and Kula: Knowledge Creation, Dissemination, and Preservation Studies. Gabriel is the recipient of the 2018 Pushcart Prize for Nonfiction.
Sarita Daftary, Freedom Agenda
Sarita Daftary is an organizer with over fifteen years of experience supporting people and communities to exercise self-determination. Her experience includes previous roles as the coordinator of the East New York Oral History Project, Senior Community Organizer with JLUSA, director of the Green Light District at El Puente in Williamsburg, and East New York Farms! (ENYF) Project Director at United Community Centers. Now, as a co-director of Freedom Agenda, Sarita has been among a group of core partners working on the Rikers Public Memory Project.
Dylan Brown (he/him) is a Black American researcher and student of the Black Radical Tradition. He was born and raised in the San Francisco Bay Area, and currently serves as an editor for The Abolitionist, a publication of Critical Resistance dedicated to the strategy and struggle of PIC abolition which is circulated free of charge to thousands of people in jails, prisons, and detention centers throughout the US. Dylan has worked and organized with the NYU Prison Education Program, Dollar Bail Brigade, the Bronx Freedom Fund, Abolition Is.., and the Rikers Island Public Memory Project. He pays homage to his ancestors through abolitionist organizing work, and is committed to advancing decolonial freedom struggles for Black liberation.
COVID in Confinement: Archiving the Pandemic in Prisons and Jails
Regina Campbell, Rikers Public Memory Project
Regina, an educator and environmentalist, was born and raised in the California Bay Area but has spent her adult life living and traveling the United States and abroad. She has private, non-profit, and government experience in planning, implementing, and monitoring programs. With 20 years devoted to elementary, high school, and adult learners, Regina encourages a learning culture that values mutual responsibility and respect. She dedicated four years to service leadership in Belize, developing educational systems for youth and creating economic opportunities for women. Upon her return to the U.S., Regina worked to break the cycle of illiteracy, poverty, and low expectations by helping families in low-income communities address the barriers to lasting success. Regina now provides the overall project management for the Rikers Public Memory Project ensuring that the stories of those who have suffered because of Rikers are preserved.
Murphy Carter, Texas After Violence Project and Sheltering Justice
Murphy Anne Carter (she/her/hers) joined Texas After ViolenceProject in 2020 after years of teaching creative writing at Travis County jail and serving as executive director of Freehand Arts Project. A graduate of the University of Texas at Austin, where she majored in Plan II Honors, English Honors, and History, Murphy moved to New York and taught AP Literature and Composition and creative writing classes at a high school in Hell’s Kitchen. When she returned to Austin, she began organizing writing classes at the county jail in addition to workshops from visiting poets, artists, and writers. Having taught nearly every age, from PreK to the elderly, Murphy believes in community storytelling, narrative power, and memory as transformative, abolitionist tools for both the personal and political. Murphy earned an MPA from the LBJ School of Public Affairs at the University of Texas and began her new role as Program Coordinator for the Texas After Violence Project this past summer.
Developing Aftercare Practices
Piper Anderson is a writer, cultural organizer, healing practitioner, and founder of the social justice consultancy Create Forward. Through a TED Residency, she developed the innovative storytelling project Mass Story Lab, which traveled to thirteen cities across the US, bringing together communities to reckon with the impact of incarceration. In 2018, she co-founded the Rikers Public Memory Project, a community truth and healing initiative making the case for reparative justice in NYC through an oral history collection, and multimedia exhibit. She is a faculty member at NYU’s Prison Education Program and the Gallatin School.
Portal Keepers Workshop
Free Yannoh Bangura, Untold RVA
Free Yannoh Bangura is an independent historical strategist and portal keeper from Richmond, VA—the final battle ground where the South was defeated at the end of the Civil War in 1865. She is the founder of Untold RVA, Untold X, and Untold Tours. Free is a George Soros Equality Fellow with Open Society Foundations, a transcontinental Monument lab fellow, a WPA fellow with the United States Department of Arts and Culture, the co-chair of Richmond Region Tourism’s BLK RVA initiative, and serves as the chair of the City of Richmond’s History and Culture Commission. In 2021, President Julius Maada Bio graciously welcomed Free home as a DNA tested descendant of the Thmne nation in Sierra Leone, West Africa, granting her dual citizenship and tasking her as an ambassador for diasporic returnees whose lineages survived generations of enslavement. Free has been credited as the originator of the international Commemorative Justice movement, a liberation-centered Ancestral remembrance strategy designed to stimulate the Black creative economy. Many of her unique tactical urbanism and sacred street art projects have been featured in national outlets such as NextCity, BBC, Al Jazeera, PBS, NPR, Boston Globe, The New York Times and The New Yorker magazine.
Remembering Ourselves Free
Amita Swadhin, Mirror Memoirs
Amita Swadhin (they/them) is an organizer, educator, storyteller, and strategist working to end interpersonal and institutional violence against young people. They are the Founding Co-Director of Mirror Memoirs, a national, abolitionist storytelling and organizing project intervening in rape culture by uplifting the narratives, healing and leadership of Two Spirit, transgender, intersex, non-binary and/or queer Black, Indigenous and of color survivors of child sexual abuse. Amita is also a published writer. They hold a Master’s in Public Administration from NYU, where they were a Reynolds Fellow in Social Entrepreneurship, and a Bachelor’s in Foreign Service from Georgetown University.
Jonel Beauvais, Welcome Home Circle
Jonel Beauvais is a Wolf Clan, Mohawk who is the proud mother of three children and chosen auntie, sister and friend to many. She works diligently to empower and induce healing within all Native/Indigenous communities in order to prosper in the Haudenosaunee teachings of good medicine and good minds. Ms. Beauvais is the founder of the Welcome Home Circle in Akwesasne, which is inspired by her own carceral experience and the undeniable need for representation and support for those directly and in-directly impacted by the criminal system, especially in Native communities. She is actively working on their “Tiny Home Project,” which will give those transitioning back into community peer support and safe housing to ensure those coming home get the opportunity to demonstrate transformational justice.
Emilce Quiroz, Common Justice
Emilce Quiroz is a multi-media journalist and the Sr. Manager of Storytelling and Content Strategy for Common Justice. She has been a communications professional in the movement to end incarceration for over 3 years and is passionate about elevating Black and Brown voices as a way to heal and to repair the inaccurate telling of their histories.