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E-news- February 15, 2016

Feb 15, 2015

Hello Fair Shake friends ~


Time is flying by. Our opportunities are growing exponentially! We’re getting used to each other (again) in the Westby office, and connecting with the NYC as often as we can to really feel our team working together. We all feel very lucky and highly motivated!

In this issue we share news of our impact and relevance, Terrell reflects on LOVE, and we announce a major fundraiser.

We Are Reaching Out! We do not market Fair Shake, all outreach is organic. We could grow very large very quickly with support. The need is great.

Website Visits: One year ago, 200 people visited our website during the first week in February. This year, during the same week, 411 people visited Fair Shake. Our biggest week yet!

Reentry Packet requests: We receive 30 to 45 packet requests each week, up from 12 – 18 last year. (Our current cost is $7.40 per packet) At least half of those requests ask for specific resources in specific locations. We do not currently have the capability to provide this service, but we think this is a perfect job for Fair Shake. (see below)

Facilitator Guide requests: We receive 3 to 5 requests per week for facilitator guides, workshop worksheets, boxes of reentry packets for reentry class settings and other reentry class materials. A recent Fair Shake reentry technician told us we provide the ‘golden seed’ for reentry.

Software requests: Three additional states have contacted us about software in January. FYI: Our next release will be at the end of March and will include many additions!

Clemency Letter Request:

Last month I wrote my first clemency request letter. Adam Clausen, who is serving 213 years in federal prison foadamr robbery (under Federal Mandatory Minimum Sentencing Guidelines), asked me to share my experience working with him and my considerations regarding his character. I met Adam a year ago and in that time I have been nothing short of amazed by his dedication to helping incarcerated people succeed and his understanding of the importance of doing this work with others. He is a certified Life Coach, Health and Fitness Trainer and participates in an amazing Peer Facilitator Group that has reached out – through video teleconferencing technology – to help us understand that change is possible while inside, and that it is best facilitated by the experts…those most affected by the experience of prison.To find out more about Adam, please look through his website: http://www.helpfreeadam.com/ If you would like to see the letter I wrote, please contact me. (sue@fairshake.net).

Bureau of Prisons / FS Software update:

I want to clarify the retraction request I received from the Bureau of Prisons last week: our software will be able to be utilized on stand-alone computers – yes – but my announcement in our e-newsletters was sent out before authorization from Central Office was received throughout the institutions. Hopefully I will send that announcement again in the very near future. Thank you so much for your words of encouragement; and your patience and understanding through this process.

Finally, Thank You, Fair Shake Supporters, for your reliable support of our efforts! ~ sue

Take it away, Terrell:

LOVE

Any theory of love must begin with a theory…of human existence. – Erich Fromm

What is love?

This is a question I’ve heard countless times throughout the course of my life. I’ve heard as many different answers which confirms my belief in the emotional connectedness between people. I researched the word love and found:

Love, defined in the Merriam Webster online dictionary:

What is love?

noun:

1: a quality or feeling of strong or constant affection for and dedication to another

2 a: attraction based on sexual desire: the strong affection and tenderness felt by lovers

3 a: warm attachment, enthusiasm, or devotion

How do we love?

verb:

1: to hold dear: cherish

2 a: to feel a lover’s passion, devotion, or tenderness for b: to touch or stroke lightly

3: to like or desire actively: take pleasure in <loved to play the violin>

4: to grow well in

We can consider how love is presented to us in television commercials and shows, movies, magazine ads, sports and even in the news. What comes to mind the second you hear the word LOVE mentioned? Does your mother or father’s face pop into your head; or that of your brother, sister or friend? Is it thoughts of your lover, or a sought after object of your desire? Is it a pet, or chocolate, your home or even your car?

I continued to search, including origins of the word or words that describe feelings of love in a number of languages. I found that the definitions change slightly but throughout the world people express feelings of love. Some recognize variations of love, and some see love on a scale the increases the depth of the feeling. According to the ancient Greeks, there were at least four distinct words for love that we still consider in some way today: agape, eros, philia, and storge:

  • Agape –the love we feel for our neighbors or someone that we don’t know intimately. We feel it when we hear a touching human-interest story.
  • Eros- Romantic love; the physical desire, and ‘head over heels’ obsession
  • Philia – Friendship love, love of the mind
  • Storge- Family love, natural affection

We all have the basic human need to feel loved. According to Abraham Maslow’s Hierarchy of Needs: humans need to feel a sense of belonging and acceptance among their social groups, regardless of whether these groups are large or small. These groups may consist of family members, intimate partners, friends, sports teams, religious groups and confidants, among others. Feeling love boosts our self-esteem, making us feel accepted and valuable. And if we don’t engage in the feeling in a healthy way, we will seek it or find substitutes for the feeling of love or belonging.

How love is defined and expressed varies between cultures and is a reflection of that culture at a certain moment in time. As the culture evolves, definitions evolve: things are added and things are taken away, and some things are changed altogether due to contemporary influences.

Neil Postman stated in his book The End of Education that

…definitions are instruments designed to achieve certain purposes, that the fundamental question to ask is not, is this the real definition? Or is this the correct definition? But what purpose does the definition serve? That is, who made it up and why?

This is a very interesting and thought provoking statement. If we would examine definitions in this manner, I believe it would help us to stay true to word origins. This is not to say that the word can’t or won’t evolve, but that it would do so with intention, carrying over the significance it held from the outset.

Words have a great deal of power which influences our perception.

Again, Neil Postman provides insight into this consideration: Humans use language to transform the world and then, in turn, are transformed by their own invention.

We use words to describe our existence from who we are to what we feel, and those same words carve out our existence as well. When we label lust as love, lust becomes the prominent association, which influences our perceptions of love and is eventually passed on to future generations, moving away from its purpose, until it is redefined altogether.

If we consider the definitions of love, how could we say we love chocolate cake or a favorite car?

Erich Fromm reminds us that love requires effort, that it is an active relationship and not something to acquire: Love isn’t something natural. Rather it requires discipline, concentration, patience, faith, and the overcoming of narcissism. It isn’t a feeling; it is a practice. (from The Art of Loving)

Before we can truly love others we must love ourselves. Not in the egotistical or narcissistic sense, but by having respect for your own uniqueness. Having love for, and understanding of, self enables you to have respect, love and understanding for others. Truly loving yourself enables you to reflect on your values and desires so you can set clear boundaries; it allows for growth, failure and development. It is the foundation from which we construct all other relationships

I remember a point in my life when I wanted everyone to believe that I loved myself while I really didn’t have a clue about what self-love consisted of. When I did something wrong I felt bad about myself; like I didn’t deserve anything better, especially when most people were telling me that I was “bad”. I internalized their views and they became self-fulfilling prophesies that took most of my life to shake.

Loving myself brought a whole new set of conditions regarding how I would deal with others and how I would allow others to deal with me. I learned that it was okay to make mistakes, but that I needed to learn from them and not to judge myself too harshly. I learned to accept responsibility for my actions, understanding that the things I did were an extension of who I am. It was only through self-love that I developed the skill set to accomplish this.

As I began to navigate life through self-love, I began to forgive myself instead of waddling in the mistakes from my past. I saw that I had to create a healthy standard by which to judge myself. This allowed me to trust myself and not depend on others for validation, respect or love. With all my flaws and imperfections, I remain me and I owe it to myself, to those I love, and to society to be the best me that I can possibly be.

In today’s society, we have taken on a capitalistic views when it comes to love, focusing on what we want and what we can get, both emotionally and materialistically.

But we are missing the point. The primary act of love is giving. It is giving respect to the differences of others while maintaining our integrity, it is caring for others close to us and those we don’t know who share the trials and tribulations of the human experience. Love is care and support for the growth and well-being of the people we love. In essence, true love is incompatible with selfishness; you give of yourself in practicing love.

Without love humanity would cease to exist. Diminishing the value of love through our misconceived notions or actions puts us all at great risk. Love is an activity that requires effort. You grow in love; we all grow in love. In order to sustain love it must be practiced according to its original intent.

Love is greater than us all, it gives us power as we give it power. We must be mindful of how we cultivate this sacred activity. By seeking to truly understand love, we intensify its essence rather than diminish it.

Let’s move forward by no longer diminishing the full power of love by relegating it to simplistic sexual desires, or things that a person does for us; but by dedicating ourselves to how we love, honor, and respect ourselves as well as others. Connecting through our commonalities while respecting each other’s differences. Understand the power of the words we associate with love and how it influences our actions in love.

Love is a relationship based in sentient beings (having the ability to feel, and the power to perceive, reason and think) and because your car or other inanimate objects don’t possess these traits, it is impossible to love them. You can really like objects, but love requires activity that the inanimate objects are incapable of.

I really like my car, but I love my daughter.

We’ll be looking forward to hearing your thoughts!

Readers Reflections on GRATITUDE:

I’ve found that being thankful, NO MATTER WHAT, required gratitude for it all, and not just what pleased me. I begin to see everything as opportunities to “practice” embracing a lifestyle of change and growth, and by doing this I found myself not resentful, but grateful and motivated. – Curtis

I can only say that gratitude to me gives me substance and meaning in life which allows me to help as many people that I can without asking or expecting anything in return back. – Albert

I try to practice gratitude. Every night when I pray I say 5 things that I am grateful for and I find that my days tend to be happier. Even if I have had a bad situation, I find that I am grateful because of the lesson that I learned from it. – Victoria

UBUNTU

Here at Fair Shake we subscribe to the philosophy of Ubuntu which means: I am who I am because of who we all are. I learned how to be a person through my relationships. My destiny is inexorably bound to yours. I cannot hurt you without hurting myself, and the only way I can be all that I can be (and achieve self-realization) is to support you in becoming all that you can be.

HUGE REQUEST: FAIR SHAKE MAJOR FUNDRAISER!

We hear a call from incarcerated individuals that is not being answered by our state or federal servants in a consistent manner. When it is answered, it’s by exemplary individuals which are too far and few throughout the system to adequately address the problem.

The problem is this:

Incarcerated people need to obtain resources prior to release. For many, their parole or release is contingent upon obtaining resources.

We actively seek but have yet to find clearly identified people whose task is to get current and viable resources into the hands of those who seek them.

Every day we receive letters asking us to dig into our huge data base to provide custom resource lists for individuals. We could do this, and we think it’s in our scope!, but we can’t do it without your help.

To address this huge and urgent need, we need to hire a Resource Director.

Will you help us reach our fundraising goal of $38,000?

650,000 people are coming home this year, many without adequate resources or direction, and many without family or friends to support them before or after they leave prison. According to latest study by the Bureau of Justice Statistics, more than 75% of those who have come home from prison were rearrested within 5 years.

We are happy work diligently to support successful transitions.

And we need your support to slow the revolving door.

Please help us provide this much needed information to those coming home, which can benefit them while benefiting society. Even small monthly donations are a great way to do this. When you make small but steady monthly donation, we can build a reliable budget to be as efficient as possible while we fix the ‘broken system’.

We thank you! The people we work with Thank You!

Ubuntu! ~ sue

Sue Kastensen
Founder and Director
sue@fairshake.net
608-634-6363

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Fair Shake relies on the support of people who believe in our work.  If you like what we’re doing, please consider joining Dr. Bronner’s Magic Soaps, Cosmic Egg Studios, Mountain Forum For Peace, Good Grocers and many dedicated individuals by sponsoring our innovative and integrational work!  We offer several ways for you to make donations, including spending a few dollars each month and making a one-time donation $125 to receive a free box of Dr. Bronner’s soaps and lotion. Thank you!