After reading below, if you feel inclined to donate to bring this into being, amazing. Or, maybe you have friends who’d get excited about being involved in making this happen. If so, please do share. Whichever way, thanks for giving it some thought.
We’re creating a Second Life House. This will be an Embassy-style intentional community built with and for the formerly incarcerated community.
There are currently around 35,000 prisoners serving life sentences in California prisons, representing a quarter of the state’s prison population. Under Governor Jerry Brown, nearly 3,500 lifers have been released from the California prisons in the last five years, a record number. These are humans who have served abominably long sentences, often having entered the system as children. Not only are their recidivism rates extremely low, but they have often studied diverse topics, gone through 100s of hours of transformational workshops and are intimately involved with complicated issues such as the nature of harm, forgiveness and so on. Housing, and more importantly perhaps, ‘home’ and the community that comes with this, are fundamental parts of survival and empowerment.
The Embassy Network is a collective of intentional communities dedicated to creating and diversifying the commons. We have been building intentional communities centered around self-governance for over six years. Two years ago we launched a project called Second Life, in collaboration with the Prisoner Reentry Network. This project was an attempt to build life together across the divide created by the criminal justice system. It began with gathering to play Dungeons & Dragons twice a month, but as relationships formed, our communities merged, and we all found unexpected connections and access to skills and insights our communities needed.
Now, two years in, the Second Life community is strongly bonded and committed to alternative forms of justice, but has no physical home. We need a space to grow and expand this intentional community with the members of Second Life (a combination of Embassy humans and formerly incarcerated individuals). The goal here is to empower these returning individuals to live and build a self-governing community with intentionality and shared values. The model that we propose includes a guest room that will serve to provide a small source of communal income generation with which the community itself will decide on some form of collaborative spending.
As we have all discovered, communal life provides collective abundance — both in time and finances (it is cheaper to live and eat together), social abundance, spatial abundance and also frees up time from the working day. With these generated surplus metrics, our hope is to support the Embassy Network Alternative Justices Project, and to expand this support to other returning lifers so that they too may find meaningful work, heal from their traumatic experiences, and build independent community life-lines of their own. This will be an autonomously run space, built around self and social empowerment.
For these people, the goal is not just to re-enter an existing society, but to employ their own unique skills, insights, critical reflections of the world, and emotional intelligence to help reshape it.
Here we are calling for donations to support this Second Life House.
** We need to raise 20K in order to pay the team to get this community space up and running. ** Any donation amount will be helpful. We want everyone to feel empowered to contribute to this project. Donations are tax deductible and will go through our nonprofit, District Commons.