Tag Archives: Silicon Valley

What is Bad About Jail, What is Good About Jail

2017 Vanderbilt University Coursera Justice Mercy Mass Incarceration 1 Dec 2017

I recently finished a fascinating six week Vanderbilt University class called “Justice, Mercy and Mass Incarceration” presented through Coursera online.  The course goals were “to discover alternatives to the current systems of crime and punishment in order to imagine a more inclusive, just and moral society”.  It was taught by Graham Reside, Assistant Professor, Vanderbilt University Divinity School.  This is my second online class in the area of justice and criminology, the first being “Crime, Justice and Society” by The University of Sheffield, presented online by FutureLearn.  I am both interested in the topic and in the MOOC (massive open online course) method in which these classes are presented.

Since 2015, I have developed and led a seminar at Elmwood Jail in Milpitas, California, in the Silicon Valley. Our seminar curriculum and books are from the Education for Ministry (EfM) program of the University of the South – School of Theology. EfM is a four year college-level certification program, started in 1975. So far as we know, ours is the only jail-based EfM program, although there are two dozen prison-based programs in the USA. In addition to covering the official EfM material, in the seminar we also work on listening, respectful group interactions, study skills, and basic leadership skills – like how to open and close a class with prayer.

This jail-based EfM program is supported by the Correctional Institutions Chaplaincy, Episcopal Diocese of El Camino Real, St. Andrew’s Episcopal Church (Saratoga, California), and the University of the South – School of Theology. I worked with a group of volunteers from St. Andrew’s to start our first weekly seminar in a medium security dorm, and we have recently added a second weekly seminar in a minimum security dorm. Two of the EfM students at Elmwood are in Year 3 (Church History), two are in Year 2 (New Testament), with the remaining students in Year 1 (Hebrew Bible). The EfM year is only nine months long but my Co-Mentors and I run the jail-based seminars back-to-back (since inmates do not get summer vacations).  About two thirds of the inmate students in our EfM seminar are men of color – mostly Latino – and the rest are white.  We conduct discussions in English (and Spanglish) but provide Bibles, Books of Common Prayer, and Dictionaries in both English and Spanish.

In leading this EfM seminar, I have observed many consequences of incarceration. One of my reasons for taking “Justice Mercy and Mass Incarceration” was to understand more of the context of what I am observing when I am teaching in jail. Last month, I told the seminar students about the “Justice, Mercy, and Mass Incarceration” class and asked them to tell me one good thing and one bad thing about being in jail. Here is what six of them said:

What is Bad About Jail

  • I don’t see my family.
  • Some innocent people are punished (but not many).
  • I am not there for my kids.
  • I can’t be there to help my wife when she needs me.
  • Not being there for loved ones: I am frozen, unable to do anything.
  • Being a number – losing who you are.
  • I never get the time back.
  • I have no say. I am less of a citizen.
  • I am treated as low in the hierarchy.
  • There is no mercy, no leniency.
  • I can’t be there for my babies, my wife. I am hurting.
  • I am missing my family.
  • I lose my job, my apartment, my wife and kids, my paycheck, everything.

What is Good About Jail

  • Takes evil off the street.
  • Families are safe from bad people.
  • I have a clear mind. I am closer to God.
  • I have more belief, more faith, more spirituality. I am more close to God.
  • I have free time to spend on prayer, sobriety, like the worst-ever vacation. We can be with ourselves without a phone or Facebook.
  • If I stay clean, I have a clear mind, can reflect and prepare for becoming a better person out there.
  • I can clear my mind, rethink decisions on things I have done (and things I did not get caught for).
  • I can stay off drugs, not putting poison into my system.
  • It has made me think, be a better person. Reflection, closer to God. I am learning a lot.
  • There is free medication (health care).

There are connections and discrepancies between what “Justice, Mercy, and Mass Incarceration” teaches and what the EfM student inmates say. They agree on the benefit of taking violent, evil, bad people off the street. They also agree that imprisonment has the potential for supporting personal reform – inmates rethinking who they have been and who they want to become. “Justice, Mercy, and Mass Incarceration” does not spend a great deal of time on effective reform but in the recommended 1998 documentary film “The Farm: Angola Prison”, several of the long-term inmates had clearly over time become very different people, positive forces in the prison community.  My hope for my EfM students is whether they are inside or outside, they can make a positive difference in the world.

2017 FutureLearn University of Sheffield Crime Justice and Society certificate July 2017

Advertisements

Leave a comment

Filed under News & Reviews, Politics

Honoring STEM Mentoring

ECR Simple Servant Award to Katy Dickinson 3 Nov 2017

At the 37th Episcopal Diocese of El Camino Real annual convention last weekend, I was honored by Bishop Mary Grey-Reeves with a second Simple Servant Award for my work since 2010 with the TechWomen mentoring program of the US Department of State, Bureau of Educational and Cultural Affairs. The award certificate reads:

Simple Servant Award
Presented on November 3, 2017 to
Katy Dickinson
The Diocese of El Camino Real honors you. May God bless you for your
faithful ministry mentoring women in Africa and the Middle East in STEM
professions, and for your contribution to the creation of a “virtuous cycle” of
knowledge and wisdom sharing in the world of technology.

It has been an honor and pleasure to work with TechWomen and my mentees from Africa, the Middle East, and Central Asia. Watching this program thrive and touch so many lives is a great delight. Since I worked in 2010-2011 as the TechWomen Process Architect, I have been a volunteer with this life-changing program as a mentor, working with groups of STEM leaders who travel to the San Francisco Bay Area and Silicon Valley to be hosted by 122 science and technology companies and organizations for a month (and then continue a mentoring relationship once they have returned to their home country).

Beginning with the first cohort of 37 from 6 countries in 2011, there have been 518 TechWomen Fellows from 22 countries and 698 mentors. I have formally been assigned to mentor 14 women in Lebanon, Algeria, Gaza-Palestine, Jordan, and Tunisia – and have worked with many more who have asked me to be their mentor. I have also participated in nine formal TechWomen Delegations with the State Department, to: Jordan (twice), Kyrgyzstan, Morocco (twice), Rwanda, South Africa, Tunisia, and Zimbabwe, as well as making informal trips with TechWomen mentors to visit our mentees in Lebanon, Gaza-Palestine, and Sierra Leone.  Learning from my sister mentors as well as from my mentees is part of the joy and value of this excellent program for Citizen Diplomats.

Want to make a different in STEM? Please consider joining TechWomen as a mentor yourself!

ECR Convention Simple Servant award Bishop Mary Gray-Reeves, Katy Dickinson 3 Nov 2017 by Elrond Lawrence

If you want to receive Katysblog posts by email, please sign up using the Sign Me Up! button (upper right).
Photo Copyright 2017 by the Diocese of El Camino Real, Elrond Lawrence.

Leave a comment

Filed under Church, Mentoring & Other Business, Mentoring Standard, News & Reviews, Politics

Fabric Arts and Crafts in Sierra Leone

Fabric shopping, Sierra Leone, July 2017

While visiting Sierra Leone in West Africa earlier this month, my daughter Jessica traveled with fellow TechWomen mentor, Terri Khonsari, and with Ibrahim Kalokoh and Joseph Ellie of Families Without Borders Tech Center (FWB). Some of our activities were arranged by Mrs. Thaimu (“Mrs. T”), an entrepreneur in Makeni who works with FWB.

In addition to giving presentations at FWB, the University of Makeni in Makeni, and at Fourah Bay College (University of Sierra Leone) in Freetown, we wanted to learn more about Sierra Leone. In particular, we wanted to purchase some of the elegant fabric and embroidery that we had seen Terri wearing in the Silicon Valley.

Our first day, Mrs. T brought us to her home to show us samples and discuss options for design.  Then, we went fabric shopping, followed by a trip to the tailor. Most of the fabric we purchased was cotton, often with local designs but mostly manufactured outside of the country.  One variegated brown cloth  was made locally from kola nuts. Our shirts, tunics, and dresses were completed in just a few days. We ended up fabric shopping several times during the whole trip: the vast design range and high quality of available materials are remarkable.  Jessica and I will be sewing with our new fabric for quite a while!

In addition to fabric, I purchased a batik panel at the Tacugama Chimpanzee Sanctuary gift shop. It shows a woman in local costume against a map of Sierra Leone. I made it into a pillow for my office – to remember my first trip to West Africa.

Mrs. Thaimu, Makeni, Sierra Leone, July 2017

Fabric shopping, Sierra Leone, July 2017

Embroiderer, Makeni, Sierra Leone, July 2017

Tailor, Makeni, Sierra Leone, July 2017

Embroiderer, Makeni, Sierra Leone, July 2017

Kola nut fabric with embroidery, Sierra Leone, July 2017

Sierra Leone woman batik, July 2017

Sierra Leone woman batik, July 2017

Sierra Leone woman batik pillow and embroidered clothes, July 2017

If you want to receive Katysblog posts by email, please sign up using the Sign Me Up! button (upper right).
Images Copyright 2017 by Katy Dickinson

Leave a comment

Filed under Home & Family, News & Reviews

Extra Gear? Gifts for Sierra Leone

Gifts for Sierra Leone trip June-July 2017

My daughter Jessica and I will be visiting Families Without Borders in Sierra Leone next week with Terri Khonsari. If you have any extra laptops or smart phones we can bring – no matter how old or dead – the students will be delighted with your donation. Please contact me soon!

I have visited the inspiring and fascinating continent of Africa at least once a year since 2010. With TechWomen Delegations, I have been to Morocco and Tunisia in North Africa, plus participating in Delegations to Rwanda, Zimbabwe, and South Africa below the Sahara. With People to People, John and I visited Ethiopia. My only actual vacation in Africa was to Egypt in 2010 – a much longer trip than planned since our family was stranded there by the eruption of Iceland’s Eyjafjallajökull volcano.  This will be my first trip to West Africa.

I bring gifts on each trip for our generous hosts and for new friends and colleagues. For my first TechWomen Delegations, I had custom pencils made but more recently, I have brought San Francisco keychains and geeky pens and toys given away at events like the Grace Hopper Conference.  For this trip, I bought keychains, the Willow Glen Wells Fargo Bank branch gave me a big bag of red pens, and I am also bringing packages of stickers for the children.

However, the best present for the students in Sierra Leone would be empowerment and greater connection to the wider world.  Your outdated computer gear can help them.  I hope to hear from you!

If you want to receive Katysblog posts by email, please sign up using the Sign Me Up! button (upper right).
Image Copyright 2017 by Katy Dickinson

Leave a comment

Filed under Home & Family, Hopper - Anita Borg Institute, Mentoring & Other Business, News & Reviews

Flower Report – Twitter’s Sunday Bouquet

May 4, 2017 Yellow and brown African Iris starting summer bloom in SiliconValley FlowerReport

Silicon Valley is known for technical and entrepreneurial leadership but our gardens are amazing too! Every Sunday on Twitter, Alyssa Harad of Austin, Texas (“Writer. Cook. Sunday FlowerReport anchor. Books, art, perfume, witchery, feminism. Author of COMING TO MY SENSES (out now, from Viking/Penguin)”) presents the Flower Report: photos of blooms tagged by her devoted Twitter fans from all over the world. Put some calm loveliness into your sabbath – to dilute the overwrought news of the week.

Here are my contributions – photos of Silicon Valley and nearby blossoms – since May 2017. Roll your cursor over the photo for a description.

May 5, 2017 Crab apple tree in deep pink bloom Reno Nevada FlowerReport

May 7, 2017 Lilac bush blooming in Carson City, behind Nevada State Railroad Museum FlowerReport

May 10, 2017 Yucca shoots up tall spires of creamy white flowers SiliconValley FlowerReport

May 11, 2017 Dark pink tea tree hedge in full bloom - Leptospermum from NewZealand - in Emerald Hills, CA FlowerReport

May 15, 2017 Violet blooms, tall stalks, grey leaves: Rock Purslane, or Calandrinia Grandiflora SiliconValley FlowerReport

May 17, 2017 Ice blue flowers on plumbago vine - covering fence to ten feet SiliconValley FlowerReport

May 20, 2017 Flowers almost open on artichokes: 2 meters tall (over six feet), on 3 Creeks Trail SiliconValley FlowerReport

May 21, 2017 Lavender spears: just opening their purple blooms on long green stems SiliconValley FlowerReport

May 22, 2017 Deep red Daylillies with yellow centers (hemerocallis) blooming BellarminePrep SiliconValley FlowerReport

May 23, 2017 Matilija poppy (romneya coulteri) - called fried egg flowers - stems grow 6 feet tall SiliconValley FlowerReport

May 28, 2017 Violet geraniums have sprawled over a corner, all from a 4

May 29, 2017 Lovely brilliantly purple Jacaranda trees (Bignoniaceae) at Tamien Caltrain station SiliconValley FlowerReport

June 1, 2017 Pink and very poisonous oleander blossoms SiliconValley FlowerReport

June 2, 2017 Red yellow and brown flax blooms on tall spires SiliconValley FlowerReport

8 June 2017 Prickly pear cactus (Opuntia) has started opening its summer-long yellow blooms - to be followed by red fruit SiliconValley FlowerReport

If you want to receive Katysblog posts by email, please sign up using the Sign Me Up! button (upper right).
Images Copyright 2017 by Katy Dickinson

1 Comment

Filed under Home & Family, News & Reviews

Story of WP668 – Western Pacific Railroad Historical Convention

Katy Dickinson and John Plocher with UP1983 engine, Western Pacific Railroad Historical Convention, Reno Nevada, May 2017 IMG_1038

John and I took a road trip from the Silicon Valley to Reno and Carson City Nevada a week ago. I presented the “Story of Western Pacific Caboose 668” to the annual Western Pacific Railroad Historical Conference in Reno, Nevada.  The convention is put on by the Feather River Rail Society.  I was the only woman speaker! While in Reno, we toured Jim Petro’s remarkable model train layout – Jim is a master railroad modeler and scenery builder.  His layout runs on the JMRI software that John helped to create – and uses John’s DCC Brakeman as well.  We also were able to visit Union Pacific’s UP1983 locomotive in the old Western Pacific colors that was brought to Reno for the convention.

On the drive home, we looped through Carson City, Nevada, to visit the WP657 caboose (sister to our own WP668).  WP657 was moved to the Nevada State Railroad Museum from the Ponderosa Ranch.  The inside of WP657 is intact.  We enjoyed our special tour, seeing all of the original furniture, cabinets, and fittings that are missing from WP668.  We came back to California over Carson Pass in the snow and fog, and saw the very-full Carson River dumping its snow melt.

Katy Dickinson telling Story of WP668 - Western Pacific Railroad Historical Convention, May 2017 IMG_0995

Western Pacific Railroad Historical Convention, May 2017 IMG_0842

John Plocher with Jim Petro's model train layout control, 5 May 2017 IMG_0915

John Plocher and Jim Petro, 5 May 2017 IMG_0930

Reno, Nevada, May 2017 IMG_1079

Caboose WP657, Nevada State Railroad Museum, Carson City Nevada, IMG_1135

Inside Caboose WP657, Nevada State Railroad Museum, Carson City Nevada IMG_1176

Sierras waterfall, Carson River West Fork, IMG_1334

Near Carson Pass, Nevada, May 2017 IMG_1366

If you want to receive Katysblog posts by email, please sign up using the Sign Me Up! button (upper right).
Images Copyright 2017 by Katy Dickinson

Leave a comment

Filed under Caboose Project and Other Trains, Home & Family, News & Reviews

What the Presiding Bishop Said

Tweet from RealEpiscopal 11 Jan 2017, Katy Dickinson and Presiding Bishop Panel on 7 Jan 2017, photo by Elrond Lawrence

“You are doing it.  Keep going.” is what Episcopal Church Presiding Bishop Michael Curry said in Salinas, California, on 7 January 2017. I was a member of the panel that asked questions after his keynote. From my notes, my opening question was:

“The Silicon Valley has a skewed population.  In the high tech world where I work, there are about 25% female, 4% Latino, and 2% Black in the computing professions.  In Elmwood Jail where I lead an Education for Ministry seminar each week, men and women are separate and there are 42% Latino and 29% Black. I feel like I live in two worlds. What can we do to reach out, to bring this divided community together?”

When Bishop Michael answered “You are doing it.  Keep going.”  I heard that the answer lay in outreach ministries like mine – and in telling people about that work. Individuals with a foot on both sides can connect a community.

It is a good but a little scary to have an experimental program succeed so well.  I have been thinking a great deal about what Bishop Michael said – and about what to do next.  The Episcopal Diocese of El Camino RealSaint Andrew’s Episcopal ChurchCIC, and EfM have strongly backed our jail-based seminar during the last year.  My first step was to talk with the CIC Chaplain for Elmwood, and then with the EfM program at the University of the South – School of Theology, about starting an additional class at Elmwood.  They support expanding the program.  Now to find more funding!

Canon Stephanie Spellers, Bishop Mary Gray-Reeves, Presiding Bishop Michael Curry, Salinas, 7 Jan 2017

Canon Stephanie Spellers, Bishop Mary Gray-Reeves, Presiding Bishop Michael Curry, Salinas, 7 Jan 2017

Canon Stephanie Spellers, Bishop Mary Gray-Reeves, Presiding Bishop Michael Curry, Salinas, 7 Jan 2017

If you want to receive Katysblog posts by email, please sign up using the Sign Me Up! button (upper right).

Images Copyright 2016 by Katy Dickinson and Elrond Lawrence

 

1 Comment

Filed under Church, News & Reviews