Ms. Disengaged

At our last community workshop (October 19th), we led a workshop based on one that Fiona MacBeth from the University of Exeter led with us, which was in turn based on exercises from the book From Violence to Resilience, which collects techniques used by Leap Confronting Conflict, which specializes in youth and conflict.  See what a twisty road our exercises take to find us?  This is one of the many aspects about Applied Drama that I love – we beg and borrow from other practitioners in order to make our own practice as effective and great as possible.  We all share our best games and activities in order to make the entire field stronger. Anyway, Michelle and I decided to lead the “Acts” portion of the workshop.  According to the book, an “Act” is a front, attitude or mask that you put on when you don’t want someone else to … Continue reading


Gotta find the groove.

Everything ebbs and flows, and I’m in an ebb place with one of our classes right now. I can’t seem to get into the groove with our PRIDE class. The group is small, low-energy and while there are wonderful women in there, I think I’m missing several key players we had in class over the summer. No obvious leaders have emerged in the current group so I feel like I need to exert more energy to keep the class going. Like we don’t quite have a gelled community yet, but a group of random women kind of bumping against each other. So let’s go back to community, I guess – let’s get back to teambuilding and group bonding and looking at how we all fit together. Less sitting is important – I know that. We’ve been doing more writing in that class, which means more sitting and sharing which means … Continue reading

The beginning of the end.

Conspire alum and newest board member Lauren Johnson continues her guest post series about incarceration, addiction and life in general. The first time that I recognized that drugs were becoming a problem for me, I was in my teens. The drug at the time was cocaine and I was spending a lot of money on it. I was a trustworthy user, and it wasn’t something I compromised my integrity over for a long time. I didn’t steal, lie or hustle for the drugs I did. I worked hard and paid for them. Sometimes I would get “fronts” which is essentially credit from the dealer. When I noticed what a recurring cycle it was becoming, I would make attempts to stop for a while and then get pulled back into it within a period of time because I was doing the club scene, where it was prominent. My will power only … Continue reading

Inner View and Workshop Reminder

You can listen to Executive Director Katherine Craft and Conspire alumn and newest board member Lauren Johnson being interviewed online!  Click here to go to the direct audio file and here to check out the blog post and file.  Thanks to Abigail Mahnke for being a great host and asking some interesting questions.  I always feel like I’m stumbling around on these things, so I was grateful for her pointed questions and clarifications. And of course, our Inside Out Community Workshop is still happening tomorrow morning from 10am – noon, complete with free childcare and breakfast.  I just called in our order to Einstein’s, so there will be bagels and coffee to wake you up.  Michelle and I will be leading a workshop based on British practitioner Fiona MacBeth’s excellent “Acts” curriculum, in which we’ll explore the fronts and facades that people put up in their daily lives.  I’ve been … Continue reading

Inside Out happens this Saturday!

Just a gentle reminder that our second community workshop is happening this Saturday, from 10 am to noon at Servant Church (which is in the Asbury United Methodist Church) at 1605 E. 38th st (the corner of 38th and Cherrywood). ALL Austin area women welcome!  We will be playing games and participating in fun theatre-based activities.  No experience necessary.  Breakfast and childcare provided.  Please RSVP to our Facebook page or, especially if you need childcare. See you there! Kat Craft

Inside Out Community Workshop Saturday, Oct. 22nd

Several great pieces of news! Bread for the Journey has donated $1,000 to support our Inside Out community workshop series!  We had a lovely meeting with them last night and they were so excited about our project.  Our next workshop is Saturday, October 22nd from 10 am to noon at Asbury United Methodist Church at 38 1/2 St. and Cherrywood.  ALL Austin women welcome.  Go to our Facebook event page for more details. The Project Management Class in Web Design and Interactive Media at the Art Institute of Austin is going to build us a new website!  For free!  Michelle and Kat went up to Round Rock yesterday to discuss ideas and teach the class to play zip, zap, boing.  I love how these games are fun for everyone.  We can talk and talk and talk about what we do, but it’s so much more satisfying to just do it.  … Continue reading

Small room, big emotions

More thoughts on our new class for women in maximum security: Gosh, that room is small. It’s still better than working in the dorms (like I did two years ago), where the women can leave the class and get into bed if they want but it’s still small. The women in PEACE have lots of pent-up energy, and it feels almost explosive in that room. Not in a dangerous way, just in a surprising and hard-to-channel kind of way. 13 of us in that room today, and we all faced some challenges. On the way home, Michelle said, “I wish we could take them all to a farm somewhere – with fresh air and space. I bet that would help.” It certainly would! No farm in our future, though, so we make do. We brought in our agreements, which we discussed last class – now we have to somehow build … Continue reading

Roadblocks to Recovery

Lauren Johnson continues her guest posts about incarceration, recovery and life in general.  She interviewed one of her former substance abuse counselors for this latest installment.  Sadly, relapse and recidivism are more of a rule than an exception. I like the people out there working to change that to have the chance to see they are making a difference. Recently, I had the opportunity to speak with a counselor that worked with me at the Austin Transition Center, which is a half way house near the Del Valle jail. He no longer works there but we have kept in contact over the years and he agreed to allow me to interview him. We will call him Jay, and Jay had some pretty keen insights! Jay also used to bring his guitar to the half way house to play and sing us music which was very cool, especially after being deprived … Continue reading

Begin Again.

Three things. 1. The room for our new class in maximum security (PEACE) is the complete opposite of our classroom in the education building. In max, the room is small, with no natural light and no windows to the outside. The only windows look into the center of the building, where an officer sits and watches us (often smiling). It feels smaller than it is, because we filled it with energy, movement and laughter. It feels bigger than it is because we were able to accomplish so much in such a tiny space. Walking into our ‘usual’ classroom (where we hold PRIDE’s classes) felt like walking into the clearing of a forest. Wide open spaces and big picture windows with sunlight streaming through. It felt even bigger than normal today, and I wanted us to run around it and swing our arms every which way to take advantage. 2. The … Continue reading

The New Jim Crow

Conspire alum Lauren Johnson continues her guest blogging series on incarceration, the F word and life in general.  On September 19th, at Wesley United Methodist Church, the author and activist Michelle Alexander spoke to a full and diverse crowd about her recently published book, The New Jim Crow: Mass Incarceration in the Age of Colorblindness. She made many good points that I haven’t considered, and I realized again the weight of the stigma I carry around with me. She stated that there was no one in the room that was not a criminal. That even if there were a few people who had never tried drugs at some point in their life, they were likely to be guilty of speeding up to 10 mph over the speed limit, which could cause more harm in the event of a wreck than someone smoking a joint in the privacy of their own … Continue reading