When Kat invited me to go see the Conspire performance with the women of PRIDE at the Travis County Correctional Facility, I had no idea what to expect. I certainly had no idea I would be invited to participate in some warmups and exercises before the performance! I was delighted, though, to get the opportunity to connect, however briefly, with the performers, and the laughter generated by our efforts opened up an avenue of tacit communication between audience and cast that made what was to come all the more meaningful. And boy, was it meaningful. I found myself wiping away tears more than once. Not because of the sorrow. hurt, and anger so many of these women struggle with (although signs of that are naturally evident), but because I was so moved by the support and encouragement the participants offered one another throughout the performance. It’s hard enough for anyone to open up and show vulnerability in day-to-day life outside prison walls. Imagine doing it in an environment where you’re just trying to survive! But that’s what I witnessed, and that honesty and human connection is what will make it possible for not just these women, but for anyone to progress toward a better life; a life that is good because we are good to the people we share it with. I can never be reminded of that too often–it’s like I forget it every day and have to relearn it whenever I can. So I’m grateful for the opportunity to relearn it, and it really was my honor to be able to witness the generosity and courage evident in that room. My hope is that Kat and Meg and everyone connected with Conspire can bring that opportunity to many, many more.
Board Member of the Crime Prevention Institute