Sophia Hansen-Day—2013 Fellow
Year: Class of 2015
Major: American Studies
Organization: Experimental Community Education of the Twin Cities
I collaborated with a diverse range of people committed to finding transformative processes for justice beyond carceral punishment. My primary focus was facilitating a weekly course through an organization called Experimental Community Education of the Twin Cities entitled Perspectives on Imprisonment. In this 7 week long course, myself and other participants built a space to share experiences, delve into thehistory of the Prison Industrial Complex, and identify intervention points and action steps for change in Minnesota. In addition to facilitating Perspectives on Imprisonment, I built relationships with organizers and community members fighting the criminalization,systemic disinvestment, and incarceration of people in brown and black communities. In particular, I connected with organizers at Neighborhoods Organizing for Change, the Outer Peace Circle of Saint Paul and the Connections Circle inside Stillwater prison, the Women’s Prison Book Project, the Minnehaha Autonomous Radical Free Space, Save the Kids, the Justice 4 Terrance Franklin Community Group, and with former prisoners mobilizing independently of particular community organizations.
The Chuck Green Fellowship gave me a tremendous amount of flexibility to construct and implement my own vision for strengthening the prison abolition movement in the Twin Cities. Organizing my first course furthered my interest in political education as a tool for movement building and gave me confidence in my own facilitation, research, and lesson-planning skills. Perhaps more unique however, was the opportunity the fellowship gave me to engage in a diverse and sizable number of one-on-one conversations. Building trusting relationships with former prisoners, people with loved ones behind bars, movement activists, community elders, and fellow students this past summer deepened my commitment to fighting against the PIC, helped me clarify my self-interest in doing anti-oppression work, and gave me a sense of belonging and worth as a community member in the Twin Cities. In addition, these one-on-ones informed me of the broader landscape of anti-Prison Industrial Complex (PIC) activism in the Midwest. Getting a better sense of this network as a whole allowed me to connect with more people than if I had worked within one organization. I believe such broad-based coalition work is crucial to movement building rooted in genuine relationships.