Abolitionist Visions and Intersections Summit - March 19, 2024

Abolitionist Visions and Intersections: Centering Human Relationships and Building Institutional Connections for Social Justice

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Playlist and Resources Now Available! ⭐️⭐️⭐️

Summit Description

Abolitionism is a positive, proactive, cross-sector project that redirects resources to ameliorate harms; promotes new forms of and investments in community health and well-being; centers the voices, experiences, and concerns of impacted individuals and communities; and addresses systemic, structural, and institutional injustice and deprivation. In both concept and practice, it opens up dimensions of activism, solidarity, and opportunity that expand upon the possible to illuminate the potential. Abolitionist-aligned campaigns and collectives around the world showcase the diversity and breadth of this critical work, demonstrating that there is no one vision of what this looks like—it is and will be the reality created by those committed to upending current systems of oppression and bringing something new into the world.

Conference panels will explore information access and censorship in carceral settings, creative arts programming in prisons, archival stewardship of incarcerated persons' records, financial divestment and community organizing, innovative public library programming to serve vulnerable and reentry populations, solitary confinement, public safety, the interface of immigration and policing, and more. There will also be two film screenings and a participatory workshop. Our presenters are from a wide range of backgrounds and environments and speak from deep and diverse perspectives. This event is free and open to the public, but registration is required.

Schedule

Monday, March 18 & Tuesday, March 19

Click here for the full schedule with bios.

Monday March 18

Full day recordings

Session #1. Building Landscapes for Justice: Activism and Investment

“Towards Abolitionist Land Use Activism,” Jordan Packer
Focusing on Gowanus, Brooklyn, this project explores the use of performance art to build community self-determination in the face of profit-driven land use change.

“How Financial Activism Can Stop New Prison Construction,” Reetu Mody, Christina Hollenback, Veronica R. Johnson, and Jordan E. Martinez-Mazurek
This presentation explores how organizers in Alabama worked with investors to create an unprecedented alliance that for the first time in history compelled the market to reject supporting a $3.5 billion prison construction plan (ongoing).

Presenter Bios

Recording


Session #2. Inside Out: Lived Experience, Carceral Realities, and Public Knowledge

“Solitary Confinement,” Justen Hedden
This talk will explore how solitary confinement marginalizes different cultures and demographics and is a draconian process that not only violates constitutional rights but marginalizes people of color, women, Children, and the Mentally Disabled.

“Explicit!: A Case of Banned Manga in US Prisons,” Sue Jeong Ka
Explicit! deals with American prisons' uneven and sexually biased standards to classify not only manga but also comics in general as “sexually explicit” material. The project asserts that prison personnel’s handling of comics reflects broader patterns of prison censorship’s (and other cultural, racial, and social forms of) discrimination against visual content.

“Law v. Practice: Incarcerated People on Library Access,” Doran Larson and Jason Rodriguez
This presentation will draw on first-person narratives by incarcerated people writing about lack of access to law and other library materials. Co-Presenter Jason Rodriguez will speak from his experience as a law-library clerk inside Attica Correctional Facility.

Presenter Bios

Recording



Session #3. Participatory Workshop: "Rooted Resilience: Fighting the Polimigra" Presenter/Facilitator, Yesenia Moya Garay
This participatory workshop centers the lived experiences of undocumented communities, inviting allies to listen, reflect, and actively engage in dismantling the Polimigra and the broader carceral system through storytelling, reflection, and actionable strategies informed by abolitionist values.

Presenter Bio

Recording



Session #4. Whose Knowledge? Whose Archives?

"'We Want Freedom’: An Abolitionist Methodology for Stewarding Personal Records Created by Incarcerated People in University Libraries,” Emily Benoff
When university libraries acquire personal records created by incarcerated people, they sever these records from the key regional, political, and affective contexts that most fully activate their evidentiary value. To mitigate harm, an abolitionist methodology for stewarding such collections in university archives would center the epistemic autonomy of all record co- creators, linking them to their records through participatory and place-based archival practices.

“Rehumanizing College History Teaching by Emplaced Humanities,” Shu Wan
Concerned about integrating the pedagogy of Critical Race Theory (CRT) into history education through primary materials, this presentation aims to reflect the practice of teaching the 1967 Buffalo "Riot" at the SUNY-Buffalo's University Archives. It explores how to rehumanize history classroom by teaching and touching local archives as a means of bridging rehumanizing higher education and emplaced humanities studies.

Presenter Bios

Recording



Session #5. Institutions, Education, and Intellectual Engagement

“Liaison Librarianship at WCCW: Services and Struggles,” Arielle Rodriguez
This presentation will serve as a reflection of my first year as a liaison librarian for Freedom Education Project Puget Sound (FEPPS), including current services offered to students seeking an associate’s or bachelor’s degree, and the struggles encountered by myself and students working within a digital divide.

“Using a Learning Community Model to Build Abolitionist Awareness and Engagement on a College Campus,” Marta Brunner
This talk will outline the Racial Justice Learning Community model as envisioned and implemented at Skidmore and describe the learning community Marta is facilitating this semester called, “Libraries, Incarceration, and the Humanizing Power of Information.”

“Reimagining Great Works for Liberated Learning in Libraries,” Elyse Seltzer
This talk will explore how libraries have the potential to provide equitable access to learning through utilizing tenets of Great Works Programs while reimagining what we classify as Great Works.

Presenter Bios

Recording



Session #6. Designing for Yes in a World of No

Presenters: Stacy Lyn Burnett, Ryan McCarthy, and Grace Cope
JSTOR Access in Prison provides free access to the archives to incarcerated people and uses design to encourage more robust content approval in restricted environments. Design cues on an interface can influence whether prison content is denied or approved by an administrator. This presentation will touch upon interface conception, design, and user experience to uncover what the implementation of JSTOR inside prisons looks like.

Presenter Bios

Recording



Session #7. Film Screening and Q&A: Before Time / After Time

Screening of a film of lived stories from those who have encountered the criminal legal system and have returned home followed by a Q&A with the creators and ensemble members.

Presenters: Daniel Kelly, Shaun Leonardo, Bruce Levitt, Naquasia Pollard, Betsy Ramos, Isaac Scott, and Wanda Valez

Presenter Bios

Recording



Session #8. Abolitionist Futures: Dreams, Designs, and Co-Creation

"Reimagining the Carceral State: Art, Imagination, and an Abolitionist Future," Marissa Gutierrez-Vicario
This presentation will explore the incarceration alternatives that currently exist in other regions of the world, be exposed to visionary art that challenges existing oppressive structures, and briefly examine visual art that stimulates discussion on an abolitionist future. What are the possibilities that will emerge when groups of individuals are called upon their own creativity to reimagine the world we currently inhabit? What does it matter to create a world where all individuals are free?

"Imagining Liberation: Libraries as Catalysts for Abolition," Sophia Xiao-fan Austrins, Lelund Marzell, and Natalia Revelo
This presentation explores the transformative power of libraries as hubs for community care, collective action, and re-envisioning societal structures away from carceral systems, featuring perspectives from architects and organizers striving to create liberated futures through organizing, advocacy, and design.

Presenter Bios

Recording



Tuesday March 19, 2024

Full day recordings


Session #1. Information Access in Carceral Settings: Lived Realities and Critical Interventions

"Creating Continuity of Service: Returning Freedoms Through Library Services Behind Bars," Aaron Blumberg, Brian Smith, and Suvi Manner
This presentation will discuss what library services and access to information in carceral environments look like from varying viewpoints, including shared writings from currently incarcerated members of a prison library’s writing club.

“Prison Book Programs and Mutual Aid as Abolitionist Strategy,” Michelle Dillon, Moira Marquis, and Alexandra Schoenborn
This panel will offer an overview of prison book programs and an introduction to the published collection, Books Through Bars: Stories from the Prison Books Movement, which gives the history and current state of this mutual aid strategy.

Presenter bios

Recording



Session #2. Prison Book Bans: How the Texas Prison System Denies Incarcerated Women and the LBGTQA+ Communities their own Experiences

Presenters: Raquel Garcia, Marci Marie Simmons, Jennifer Toon, Hannah Whelan, Harris Dubin and Jake Langford
Lioness Justice Impacted Women’s Alliance, in partnership with students from the University of Texas and Texas A&M University, will talk with the Texas After Violence Project, community-based archive, prison book bans and how this censorship is an effort to control and negate the experiences of women and the LBGTQA+ community.

Presenter Bios

Recording



Session #3. Interrupting Systems and Activating Imagination toward Liberated Futures

“The Problem with ‘Problem Patrons’: A Brief History of a Long Discourse,” Jeremy Abbott
This presentation will provide a brief history and contextualization of the poverty-targeting “problem patron” discourse that has permeated US public libraries since the Boston Public Library opened its doors in 1854, as well as the poverty-criminalizing behavior codes that libraries have enacted in response to that discourse, focusing especially on the Kreimer v. Morristown trials of the 1990s.

“Abolitionist Library Association,” Alison Macrina, Jim DelRosso, and Megan Riley
Created in July 2020, Abolitionist Library Association (AbLA) is a collective of library workers, students, and community members taking action to divest from all forms of policing in libraries and invest in our collective liberation with the goal of creating libraries that are rooted in community self-determination and intellectual freedom through collective action.

Presenter Bios

Recording



Session #4. Rethinking Public Safety and Community Accountability

Presenters: Romarilyn Ralston (speaker), Allen Burnette (speaker), and Frieda Afary (moderator)
This panel brings together two scholar-activists who were formerly incarcerated, and can offer ways of rethinking violence prevention, public safety and community accountability.

Presenter Bios

Recording



Session #5. Creative Opportunities and Abolitionism from Within: Voices and Photographs from the Arts in Corrections Programs in California Prisons

“The Passion of Incarcerated Artists,” Peter Merts
This presentation will show photographs—presented as a slide show with narration—of incarcerated men and women who are engaged in art practice.

“Abolition from Within: A Participant Based Prison Music Program,” Jack Bowers and Reggie Austin
Operating from 1982 to 2005, the "Inmate" Band Program at Soledad Prison provided opportunities to create, rehearse and perform for up to 20 bands, based in 4 rehearsal sites. As Institution Artist Facilitator of the Arts in Corrections program at Soledad, Jack Bowers worked with incarcerated musicians to develop and support the program. He, together with musicians formerly incarcerated at Soledad, will discuss how the program operated successfully, and discuss how it can represent the idea of prison abolition from within the carceral system.

Presenter Bios

Recording



Session #6. Public Libraries: Partnerships and Possibilities

“Reaching the Unreached,” Lisa Thompson
Let’s talk about how you can partner with your local drug court and what it means to your library, community and the participants.

“What Kind of Extremists Will We Be?: How Racine Public Library Became the First to Host a Participatory Defense Hub,” Nick Demske, Diego Rodriguez, Dant'e Cottingham, and Brittany Lee
In January of 2024, the Racine Public Library (WI) became the first library in the country to host a Participatory Defense Hub. The hub is run by directly impacted community leaders and exists to support and empower community members to actively participate in shaping the outcome of their own legal cases.

“Digital Literacy Services and Programming for Patrons in Reentry,” Estelle Yim (they/them)
This presentation will provide an overview of ongoing research into the specific gaps in digital and technological services to formerly incarcerated people and the possibilities for public libraries to address them through trauma-informed, restorative, and abolitionist practices and programming.

Presenter Bios

Recording


Closing Session. Film Screening and Q&A: Reimagining Safety, Filmmaker, Matthew Solomon

In the documentary Reimagining Safety, 10 experts from a variety of backgrounds discuss the false premise that more police and prisons make us safer while presenting humane, equitable, and practical alternatives rooted in dignity and care.

Presenter Bio

Recording