Hello everyone and welcome to the Violence Prevention Literacy Group…aka: Stone Catchers.
The name Stone Catchers represents those who throw stones at others by way of verbal abuse, gossip, or other negative means. Wait! Those would be the stone throwers. We are the Stone Catchers. We catch those potentially destructive stones and lay them to rest in our beautiful stone garden that represents peace, love, and harmony.
The more stones we catch, the less they hurt. We are changing prison culture one stone at a time.
You might wonder how a literacy group can inspire peace and encourage violence prevention?
The answer lies within the participants. These men have committed a variety of crimes. Some of them have been in prison for 20, 30, 40 years! That makes them heavyweights amongst their peers.
When they talk, people listen. Their actions are closely observed. This wasn’t always used in a positive manner.
Times are changing. These men are realizing that they can be just as influential in a positive manner.
Stone Catchers is just one vehicle that allows us to drive positive messages to our peers and to each other as we all work towards a common goal : peace, love, and harmony within prison.
The book we are reading is called “Seedfolk” by Paul Fleischman.
Before I start to read, I must answer the following questions based solely on the book cover (The book cover shows 9 pictures. 5 of them are of people, all ages, all different races. The other 4 are : a picture of water, a zucini, binoculars, and a funnel.)
Q #1) What do you think the book is about?
A) I think its about a diverse group of people who face extreme challenges and find ways to overcome.
Q#2) What do you think will happen in the end?
A) The people will evolve and grow as their lives transition from chaotic to balanced and healthy. They’ll all live happily ever after.
Q#3) Who are the characters?
A) Everyday people. All ages. All races.
Q#4) What is the setting?
The setting is their environment. And that depends on their walk of life, poverty, middle class, upper class, etc.
* * *
I’ve read the first 6 chapters, as instructed. Now I will go back and answer those four questions again. (This book doesn’t have a Table of Contents. Chapters are arranged by each character. So instead of saying I just read 6 chapters, I could say I just read : Kim, Ana, Wendell, Gonzalo, Leona, and Sam.)
A#1) This book is about the domino effect of one little girl’s actions. It shows how everyone has similar desires, likes, passions, and dislikes. Regardless of age and race.
A little girl (Kim) plants three bean seeds in a vacant Cleveland lot that’s infested with rats and garbage.
An old lady (Ana) observes her, but can’t quite see exactly what she’s doing. The old lady assumes she’s hiding drugs.
So she tells a friend (Wendell) to go investigate. He does. He discovers the three beans.
This sequence of events leads to the entire community getting involved. Before long the lot is transformed into a beautiful garden in the midst of a poverty stricken, crime ridden, concrete jungle.
As more and more people get involved, more problems arise. People start to put up little fences, chicken wire, barbed wire, and “keep out” signs.
The garden becomes racially segregated. Vandalism and theft occures. Not everyone likes the garden.
A#2) In the end the paradise will be lost due to the selfish nature of mankind. The lot will come full circle as it travels a journey that sees love, compassion, possessiveness, hatred, and violence. It will come to rest completely ruined.
A#3) The characters are as described in my first answer.
A#4) The setting is in a lot full of trash that becomes a garden. The garden is in the heart of the characters neighborhood/community, which is located in Cleveland, Ohio.
MY THOUGHTS THIS FAR
This book shows how a casual act can blossom into something big.
No matter what you do, someone is always watching.
As more people watch, some will get involved.
As people get involved, they bring new visions and perspectives. This can be a slippery slope without strong leadership and firm rules to maintain order.
As you can see, this program promotes powerful food for thought. I’m excited to see what the rest of SEEDFOLK has to offer and how it’ll inspire and impact my life.
Stay tuned for week 2!
Steven D. Jennings