Democracy Convention

This past summer, we attended the Democracy Convention in Minneapolis, Minnesota.  It was a busy and interesting 4 days of workshops, lectures, and presentations on a wide range of issues and topics; from peace studies to monetary policy, human rights to a discussion of the viability of blockchain technology.

The event is organized by the Liberty Tree Foundation and this was their third such convention.  This conference included such well-known participants as Gar Alperovitz, Dr. Jill Stein, David Cobb, Jacqui Patterson, Medea Benjamin, and many others.

Many of the topics discussed at the convention relate directly or indirectly to issues we here at The Center have been involved with since our founding.  We hope you find the insights, stories, information, and resources we share here interesting and useful.

Let’s take a look at economic issues first

Women’s Reentry Project Presents at Major U.S. Conference

The Women in Transition project is a collaborative initiative whose mission is to shed light on and work toward reducing the specific and unique barriers that women face when transitioning from prison back to their families and communities.  We realize that the specific and unique needs of women are often not well understood nor adequately addressed in current transitioning programs, both inside the fence and out. This project attempts to identify those unique issues as experienced through the lives of women at various stages of the transitioning process in order to help inform others working in the field, policy makers, and the ever growing number of women facing these challenges.

As a result of this on-going project, we were invited to take part in a major international conference, International Correctional Education Association to held in Arlington, Virginia July 12 – 15, 2015, where we presented stories and discussed needed changes as transition programs are planned and developed.

Women are the fastest growing population in prisons across the country.  Like males, females involved with the criminal justice system face many challenges upon release and reentry to their communities.  However, our current programs inside and outside of prison do not adequately address the issues women face, and if left unaddressed, will only lead to further involvement with the criminal justice system.  Gender-responsive programs and policies are needed to address the inequalities and unfair policies that face women as they transition.  For many women, their primary concern upon release is how to reestablish relationships with their children and what steps need to be taken to regain custody.  We know that these issues are not addressed in programming inside prison that is meant to prepare inmates for reentry.

We believe that more work needs to be done to uncover root causes to those barriers and to identify successful strategies to help women overcome and cope with those barriers.  And finally, we believe that outdated and harmful policies that perpetuate unnecessary barriers to full reintegration and continue to imprison women after release need to be changed.  Those whose lives are bound by those policies can tell us best.

Read more and listen to samples of what women transitioning have to say…

Kendra’s story



Police Accountability App

Freddie Gray Protest

The Center is currently creating a hotline for residents of West Baltimore to report police misconduct.  Victims can report misconduct and have the assistance of a civil rights attorney help them file a complaint with the Citizen Review Board.  If they don’t want to file a formal complaint, the incident will be entered into a data base to document and support the need for reform of citizen oversight and policing strategies.

With the help of cellphones and police cameras, police misconduct, abuse, and killings has been exposed.  The number of incidents is staggering.  In the aftermath of the death of Freddie Gray while in police custody, a study done by No Boundaries Coalition in collaboration with BUILD and the University of Maryland, documented the stories of the residents of West Baltimore of police abuse and misconduct.  Many were afraid to give their identities in this report.  Most never reported it or filed formal complaints for fear of retaliation by police – many had such stories.  This initiative will give those people support and a voice.

Read more…

More Than 1.5 Million Floridians Do Not Have The Right To Vote

Thanks to the great investigative work of the Florida ACLU and the League of Women Voters of Palm Beach County, we have a better understanding of the effect Florida’s voter disfranchisement policies have on our democracy.  Since 1868 Florida has barred people convicted of a felony from voting until the have had their civil rights restored.  Charlie Crist, while Governor, signed an Executive Order automatically restoring the voting rights of felons after they had served all conditions of their sentence.  Governor Rick Scott rescinded that order after taking office and replaced it with a long, cumbersome clemency process…

Read the entire post….

Sustainable and Just Communities Forum

The Center is proud to have been an integral part of The Sustainable and Just Communities Forum held at the African American Research Library and Cultural Center this past Wednesday.  It was an excellent program organized and coordinated by Ms Silvie Suri.  Presentations regarding issues, including incarceration and reparations were part of this diverse program.  The unifying theme of the evening was the empowerment of the people to control and shape their own communities in ways that are beneficial to them.

Professor Richard Weisskoff of the University of Miami presented the concept of Unicas, a member-based, community-organized lending and alternative economic system. This system is being implemented throughout Latin America.  There is also a Unica active in Homestead, Florida.  This is a system that enables everyone, especially poor and excluded communities to have access to financial resources without being subject to usurious fees and interest charges.

Professor Weisskoff gave an excellent presentation and explanation of how the system works.

The Center Sponsors Community Forum

We are very excited to sponsor The Center for Sustainable and Just Communities Forum in Ft. Lauderdale, Florida this evening.  This is the first of a planned monthly series of community forums designed to share awareness of the peoples’ challenges and solutions to those challenges.  Tonight’s forum focuses on incarceration issues, community activism, and local economics options.

The program will be held at the African American Research Library and Cultural Center beginning at 6PM.  There will be a candlelight vigil and food sharing after the meeting.

All are welcome to attend.

Find more information on Facebook here.

Women’s Reentry Project Presents at Major U.S. Conference

The Marigold Project, an initiative of The Center, has been interviewing women as they make their way from prison back into their communities.  The focus is to look at the challenges they face and to celebrate their spirit and resilience.  As a result of this on-going project, we were invited to take part in a major international conference to held in Arlington, Virginia July 12 – 15, 2015.

You can read more about The Marigold Project at their website here.



Community Grows in Frederick, Maryland

Fall GatheringThis past Fall, The Center invited families from our neighborhood to pick “guest” pumpkins that somehow sprouted up in our back yard during the year.  We all enjoyed some good company and refreshments.  And the neighborhood children had a great time going through the garden discovering pumpkins among the tangle of vines.  The stories and memories shared by all were truly wonderful and brought new life to a community that has had a great deal of the life taken out of it by gentrification and economic decline.  Read more…