Hello everyone and welcome to the Violence Prevention Literacy Group…aka: Stone Catchers.
The name Stone Catchers represents those who throw stones at others by way of verbal abuse, gossip, or other negative means. Wait! Those would be the stone throwers. We are the Stone Catchers. We catch those potentially destructive stones and lay them to rest in our beautiful stone garden that represents peace, love, and harmony.
The more stones we catch, the less they hurt. We are changing prison culture one stone at a time.
You might wonder how a literacy group can inspire peace and encourage violence prevention?
The answer lies within the participants. These men have committed a variety of crimes. Some of them have been in prison for 20, 30, 40 years! That makes them heavyweights amongst their peers.
When they talk, people listen. Their actions are closely observed. This wasn’t always used in a positive manner.
Times are changing. These men are realizing that they can be just as influential in a positive manner.
Stone Catchers is just one vehicle that allows us to drive positive messages to our peers and to each other as we all work towards a common goal : peace, love, and harmony within prison.
The book we are reading is called “Seedfolk” by Paul Fleischman.
Before I start to read, I must answer the following questions based solely on the book cover (The book cover shows 9 pictures. 5 of them are of people, all ages, all different races. The other 4 are : a picture of water, a zucini, binoculars, and a funnel.)
Q #1) What do you think the book is about?
A) I think its about a diverse group of people who face extreme challenges and find ways to overcome.
Q#2) What do you think will happen in the end?
A) The people will evolve and grow as their lives transition from chaotic to balanced and healthy. They’ll all live happily ever after.
Q#3) Who are the characters?
A) Everyday people. All ages. All races.
Q#4) What is the setting?
The setting is their environment. And that depends on their walk of life, poverty, middle class, upper class, etc.
* * *
I’ve read the first 6 chapters, as instructed. Now I will go back and answer those four questions again. (This book doesn’t have a Table of Contents. Chapters are arranged by each character. So instead of saying I just read 6 chapters, I could say I just read : Kim, Ana, Wendell, Gonzalo, Leona, and Sam.)
A#1) This book is about the domino effect of one little girl’s actions. It shows how everyone has similar desires, likes, passions, and dislikes. Regardless of age and race.
A little girl (Kim) plants three bean seeds in a vacant Cleveland lot that’s infested with rats and garbage.
An old lady (Ana) observes her, but can’t quite see exactly what she’s doing. The old lady assumes she’s hiding drugs.
So she tells a friend (Wendell) to go investigate. He does. He discovers the three beans.
This sequence of events leads to the entire community getting involved. Before long the lot is transformed into a beautiful garden in the midst of a poverty stricken, crime ridden, concrete jungle.
As more and more people get involved, more problems arise. People start to put up little fences, chicken wire, barbed wire, and “keep out” signs.
The garden becomes racially segregated. Vandalism and theft occures. Not everyone likes the garden.
A#2) In the end the paradise will be lost due to the selfish nature of mankind. The lot will come full circle as it travels a journey that sees love, compassion, possessiveness, hatred, and violence. It will come to rest completely ruined.
A#3) The characters are as described in my first answer.
A#4) The setting is in a lot full of trash that becomes a garden. The garden is in the heart of the characters neighborhood/community, which is located in Cleveland, Ohio.
MY THOUGHTS THIS FAR
This book shows how a casual act can blossom into something big.
No matter what you do, someone is always watching.
As more people watch, some will get involved.
As people get involved, they bring new visions and perspectives. This can be a slippery slope without strong leadership and firm rules to maintain order.
As you can see, this program promotes powerful food for thought. I’m excited to see what the rest of SEEDFOLK has to offer and how it’ll inspire and impact my life.
Stay tuned for week 2!
Steven D. Jennings
“Stone Catchers” is the name of the Literacy Group that I participate in.
This program is bran new. I’ll share the syllabus with you. As you read the syllabus, keep in mind that I am copying it EXACTLY how it reads. So the poor editing, typos and confusion is not my doing.
The literacy’s group goal is to encourage and support each other in learning. Participants will learn together inn small circles supporting each other and making a commitment to solve problems jointly through discussion and shared explanations.
*Groups will be flexible about which book is selected for reading.
*15-20 minutes per group is a substantial amount of time to discuss goals of the group.
*Once groups are selected one set of books per group will be assigned.
*Each offender will sign for the book and be held responsible to return the book upon the completion of the assignment.
*Each individual member has a responsibility to contribute to the group and do his “fair share.”
*A team Captain will be designated for each reading to keep the group on task and focused. The Captain will read assignments to the group, mediate conflicts and manage time.
*A Recorder will take minute4s and write down salient points then report back to the group.
*A Encourager gives the group feedback and is responsible for ensuring that all group mangers are heard.
Ok, here’s where it gets confusing. Even more so than the part that says,” A Recorder will take minute4s and write down salient points then report back to the group.” What? I thought they were in the group. What do you mean they report back to the group? Where do they go?
I’m in GROUP 2.
I was nominated and received the Reflector position.
I have no idea what a Reflector does. Here’s what the syllabus says:
“A reflector keeps track of dynamics of group process and makes comments (to be turned in with the reporters) focus, directions, organization, listening skill, participation of all members.”
After reading that, I STILL don’t know what a Reflector does. So I asked the Captain, Recorder, and Encourager. No one could give me a clear and concise description.
So I broke it down as I understood it. Until someone tells me otherwise, my job as a Reflector is to :
Keep track of group process.
Make comments that pertain to how guys are focusing within the group.
Make comments on the direction of the group, as I see it.
Make comments on the organization skills of the group.
Make comments regarding the listening skills of group members.
Make comments regarding the participation of all group members.
The syllabus goes on to say :
*The discussion will start with a walk through of the book based on the cover.
~What do you think the book is about?
~What do you think will happen in the end?
~Who are the characters?
~What is the setting?
*Discussions and predictions about the text will be weekly.
*At the conclusion of the storyline we will sequence events and do a flow map together.
That’s it. My next post will be called “STONE CATCHERS (WEEK 1), where I’ll dive into the book and answer the 4 questions. Stay tuned! And tell all your friends and family to tune in. Bye!
Steven D. Jennings
Under the umbrella of Redemption there are many new programs.
Each program falls under a specific category.
The categories are :
It is my goal to participate in, and/or contribute to, all of the programs within these categories.
I’m currently participating in a program that falls under COMMUNITY OUTREACH. The program is called Freedom Tails. AKA : The dog program.
I’ve completed Roots to Success, which falls under the SUSTAINABILITY category.
One category I really want to get involved with is the VIOLENCE PREVENTION.
So last Friday I joined a Literacy Group called the Stone Catchers. This program is one of many that fall under VIOLENCE PREVENTION.
With the rise of our new Superintendent Margaret Gilbert, comes a plethora of new programs and categories.
Gilbert is extremely “hands on” when it comes to positive programming. She inner acts with the inmates and exudes an aura of genuine compassion. In short, she cares.
Her attitude makes all the difference in the world, and will only inspire and encourage as time goes on.
Many of these programs are still being developed or are in their infant stages.
As I learn more, I’ll continue to share. As these programs evolve I’ll continue to share.
I’m excited about all the opportunities here at Stafford Creek.
A big “Thank you” to Margaret Gilbert for all the meaningful activities that she has brought to this facility. She will make a difference.
Please allow me to introduced myself. My name is Steven. I am the nations leading blogger from behind bars. I am also a published author, constantly looking for more exposure.
My eBook is called, Stone City: Life in the Penitentiary. It can be found in all major eBook stores.
I’m currently participating in a VIOLENCE PREVENTION LITERACY GROUP called STONE CATCHERS. link
We are reading SEEDFOLKS by Paul Fleischman. And that is how I met you.
I admire your optimistic attitude and your ability to solve problems. The way you polled the people, and came up with a water solution, was genius!
You have inspired me to employ the same tactic.
My goal is to get millions of blog followers. This is where your strategy comes in.
I’m going to conduct a contest to see who can come up with ideas to increase my blog following.
As the ideas stack up, I may use only one, or I might use several.
For those ideas I use, that person will win the gift of blogging. Meaning : I will post their writing on my blog, where tens of thousands of people (world wide) will read it.
This contest is open to anyone who wants to get involved.
All I need to do now is draw up the BLOG FOLLOWING CONTEST and get it into circulation.
Thank you for the inspiration.
Its been an honor and a privilege working with Rolo over the past 10 weeks.
He taught me just as much as I taught him.
The graduation ceremony takes place in the visiting room. The center of the room is cleared out, and all the tables and chairs are set up around the perimeter.
As we enter, half the dogs and trainers split off to left and the other half splits off to the right. The audience applauds.
We circle around the room like two trains heading for a head on collision.
Right before impact, we strategically shift and intersect one another like race cars on a figure 8 racetrack.
Before you know it, we’re all circling in the same direction.
The assistant trainer (he’s an inmate) stands in the center with a microphone and gives a series of commands, such as: sit, down, stay, come, circle, reverse circle.
All the dogs perform beautifully.
Then we circle off the floor in a single file line.
A crew of handlers quickly set up an obstacle course. Rolo and I are last in line.
As we wait our turn I kneel down by Rolo and talk to him. I point to all the other dogs who are running the course. I whisper the commands as the dogs perform them. Rolo watches and listens.
Before we know it, the assistant trainer announces, “Up next is Steven and Rolo”!
“Rolo, heel!” I say as I lead him to the slinky tunnel. He cruises through with ease.
I lead him to a make shift door. “Rolo, sit!” I say as I give the hand signal. He sits like a champ. The door opens. “Rolo, heel!” He follows me to three steps that leads up to a ten foot plank.
All the other dogs conquer it in one continuous motion. I have Rolo sit and wait. Then I say, “okay, let’s go!” He jumps up and trots across. Before he jumps down, I tell him to sit. Then I say, “Dance pretty” as I guide him up on his hind legs and make him shift back and forth before he does a 360.”
This is all extra. All the other dogs ran through the course non-stop.
Next is the cone weave. Before he starts I say, “Rolo sit.” He does. “Rolo, focus.” He looks me in the eye and holds the stare until I say, “Lets go!” He quickly weaves in and out of the cones.
“Rolo, sit.” He does. “You did good! Give me five.” He does. Then we trot over to our seat.
After the obstacle course, its time to give an oral presentation introducing ourselves and the dogs.
This is my 2nd oral presentation. The audience consist of my peers, high ranking DOC staff, sponcers, volunteers, and members from the community.
I get up in front of the audience and say:
“Hello, my name is Steven. This is Dicky. And This is Rolo. Rolo is a Jack Russel Rat Terrier Mix. He was a stray that came to us through PAWS. When we first got Rolo he didn’t know any of his commands. Today he knows all of his commands. For more on Rolo, here’s Dicky.”
That’s it. Nice and easy. In and out!
After all the speeches, Dicky, Rolo, and I went to a table and met with an elderly lady who adopted Rolo. We gave her all the info we had on Rolo, which included a ten week journal of his progress.
Then it was time to say goodbye. A sad time…but a happy time too. Rolo found a good home and will be well cared for.
Now I’m just waiting for my next dog. Stay tuned.
Steven D. Jennings
Love never gives up, never loses faith, is always hopeful, and endures through every circumstance. 1 Corinthians 13:7
Every marriage faces choppy waters. Divorce is at an all time high. Just the other day I heard a guy in here talking about how he’s about to “fire his wife!” He’s tripping on her because she’s slow-walking his food package.
Actually, no it’s not. So many men in here play games with love and emotions. They are not sincere with their love. They are users and abusers. They continue to use until the money dries up, or till they get released. These type of relationships are scattered throughout prison visiting rooms all across America. It breaks my heart and it’s sad to see.
I sincerely love my wife with all my heart. All I wanna do is love this woman and make her happy. No drama, no stress, no arguing, no fighting.
Wouldn’t that be sweet?
Oh, it is!!!
Suzie and I enjoy a strong circle of harmony. But every now and then, we find ourselves in choppy waters. In those times, it is my duty as a husband, to take positive steps that will change the emotional climate and calm the choppy waters.
Smooth sailing in the sea of love is always possible when true love guides the heart.
I’m not perfect, and I still have a lot to learn. But one thing I know for sure is that I love my wife with all my heart and I will forever cherish her and the sweet love she gives me. My #1 priority in our marriage is to treat Suzie with nothing but love, understanding, compassion, and respect.
Our mantra: LOVE CONQUERS ALL!
There’s so much I can’t give this magnificent woman…at least not right now. But what I can give her, is the unconditional love she desires and longs for. I can always give her my very best! When it comes to our marriage and our love, I will always put forth effort, as I maintain faith and hope that our love will only grow stronger throughout our journey.
I love you my sweet Suzie. Thank you for blessing my life with your precious love.
Hello my darling wife. I love you!
Thank you for all the pictures. I hope your legs are feeling better. I was shocked to see them all bruised and scraped! Baby, what did you do…roll down a mountain in shorts?
I’ve been missing you, Suzie. I love you so much! You are so precious to me. You have enriched my life greatly. Your love and kindness guides me throughout my days. Thank you for being so amazing.
Dear Heavenly Father,
Thank you for the love Suzie and I share. Please help us to grow even more in love. Please show us the way to pure marital bliss as we learn to love each other through the peeks and valleys of life.
Steven D. Jennings
This is a continuation of a post I wrote called, My 1st Narcotics Anonymous Meeting.
In that post I talked about LIABILITIES AND ASSETS as I took a moral inventory.
I listed my LIABILITIES and gave a brief narrative as it pertains to my life.
But then, as I got to my ASSETS, I only listed them. I didn’t dive in and give any narrative.
Well, to be completely honest, I got lazy. All my posts are typed up on my handheld JP5 device, one finger at a time. So by the time I got to ASSETS, I was ready to be done and post!
This did not go unnoticed to some of my loyal, intent followers. I was called out on it. And rightfully so.
So now, I’ll take the time to properly finish my list of ASSETS, what they mean to me, and how they impact my life in a positive manner.
I’ll start with my beautiful, amazing wife.
SUZIE – My greatest asset. She allows me to feel love. She gives me love. She is the Love in my life.
Her love has opened so many other doors in my life. Its like a domino effect. Her love teaches me patience, understanding, forgiveness, how to effectively communicate, and so much more.
FAMILY – My family is also my greatest asset. Suzie is family. These two assets easily go together.
My family is always there for me with love, support, advice, and encouragement. They inspire me to be the best man I can be. I am very blessed to have such an incredible family. I strive to make them proud.
FRIENDS – A huge asset in my life. Suzie and Family also fit in this category.
The friends I have are amazing. There are never any arguments or fights. Most of my friends and I say, “I love you” to each other.
The circle of harmony I share with my friends is truly heart warming and inspiring. Its a real life testimony to the living power found within The Law of Attraction.
My heart, spirit, and personal conduct, attracts certain type of people to me. From this pool of attraction, I find my best friends.
LOVE – Intense affection. I’m an intense guy. Therefore I love easily. I’m focused on the things I love. I want more love in my life. Love has changed my life because it feels so much better than anything else I’ve ever felt. I’m on a mission for more love.
AWARENESS – It is so crucial to be aware of my environment, the people around me, and my mood.
By being aware, I’m able to avoid conflict and undesirable situations.
OPEN-MINDEDNESS – By keeping an open mind I’m able to try new things and meet new people without prejudice.
For example, I entered NA with an open mind. As a result, I grew to enjoy it. And that allowed me to get the most out of it.
As for people, today I associate with a diverse bunch. I keep an open mind as I get to know people on an individual basis.
Having an open mind has definitely served me well.
POSITIVE ACTION – This means to simply do what’s right. In every aspect of life. It takes great focus, commitment, will-power, and a true desire to be a good person.
The benefits of positive action comes in many forms. Such as:
The way people treat me.
Earning the trust of others.
I don’t have to worry about shake downs, UA’s, or discipline write ups.
Positive action creates positive returns from “The Law of Attraction” & “Cause and Effect”.
Through positive action I’ve earned my wife, the dog program, my early release, the love and respect of my friends and family, employment within the prison, respect from prison staff, and so much more.
HONESTY – Lying is a form of weakness. I pride myself on being a strong man.
With constant Positive Action, there’s no need to lie.
The truth will save me every time. An honest answer is like a kiss on the lips.
Sometimes people won’t like the truth. But at least I can work through the issue with trust and integrity in tact.
BEING CLEAN – This is very important to me. It entails:
Brush and floss at least 2x a day
Stay well groomed
Keep clothes nice and clean
I always need a fresh pair of kicks
Keep my living quarters sanitized, neat, and orderly.
Being clean contributes to a balanced, healthy lifestyle. It minimizes germs, bacteria, and dieses.
Keeping my cell neat and orderly benefits me psychologically. It gives me a sense of calmness and tranquility.
I’ve also noticed that some of the Officers are a little more respectful when they search a clean, neat, tidy cell.
SHARING – Sharing is against the rules, but I do it anyway. The main thing I share is food. Food is huge in prison. Everyone is always hungry and ready to eat in here.
So when my celly runs out of food, and I’m in here eating…I offer to share with him.
Sharing makes me feel good and it teaches me to be kind and compassionate.
I also share my life and journey with all of you. I love to share. It makes me feel good. Wanna bite?
WILLINGNESS – I’m always willing to take on challenges and to help people.
I’m willing to try new things and meet new people.
Some examples of this is when I discovered the power of blogging. I wanted to share the blogosphere with fellow inmates. So Suzie and I created stonecityblog.com.
I’ve also just recently joined a Violence Reduction Committee, where I work with staff and inmates to reduce violence in prison.
I’m Willing to do whatever it takes to succeed and serve humanity in a positive manner.
COURAGE- I have the courage to be myself and step out on my own. To blaze my own path and not fall victim to peer pressure.
I don’t care about prison politics and those who embrace the negative prison culture.
I’m going to stand up for what’s right as I continue to live a positive lifestyle from within prison.
FAITH – I have faith that all my efforts and hard work will pay off. One day my visions of success and freedom will be a reality.
I have faith that the Law Of Attraction is a law that cannot error.
CARING – Because I care, other people care. When other people care, it serves everyone well. The law of attraction is in full effect.
KINDNESS – Being kind to everyone is extremely hard to do…especially in prison. But its possible. Anything is possible if I make it a top priority. And Kindness IS a top priority.
GENEROSITY – This asset is similar to Sharing. Although its in my heart to be generous, I must be selective and careful. Its against prison rules to give, share, sell, loan, or borrow anything.
Not too long ago a friend of mine accidentally slept through dinner. That means he would go about 20 hours without eating. When he asked if I could help him out, I did. I broke the rules and gave him some food.
As I write this, I don’t like how I’m admitting to breaking rules. I don’t like how I have to break rules to be kind and generous. When I gave him the food, I had to sneak it to him.
I guess I could’ve and probably should’ve told him, “No, giving food is against the rules. Please respect my efforts to be a model prisoner and don’t ask me to break the rules because your lazy ass slept through dinner. Besides, they’ll be calling breakfast here in about 20 hours…you’ll be okay.”
But if I would’ve said that, I’d be in violation somewhere else in my personal code of conduct…such as Sharing, Generosity, Being Impeccable With My Words…etc
Life is full of choices. Sometimes we just have to do what we feel is right in our hearts.
THANKFULNESS – I’m extremely thankful for all my assets and blessings. Despite being in prison for so long, I’m a very lucky and blessed man.
APPRECIATIVE – I’m very appreciative for everything that comes my way. My wife, family, and friends fill me up with so much love, that it leaves very little room for anything else.
In closing I’d like to point out that the quality of your life is completely up to you.
Condition your mind to focus on your assets and all your blessings. Don’t give negativity any energy.
If your in an undesired situation that you cannot change…change the way you think about it.
Learn to control your mind. Direct your thoughts in the direction of peace, love, forgiveness, and understanding.
Change your mind and it’ll change your life. The choice is entirely up to you.
Steven D. Jennings
July 8th, 2016
Hello my sweet lady,
I love you! MWAH. A big kiss on your lips.
You’ve only been gone three days and I already miss you like its been three weeks.
I’ve been calling you several times a day, hoping you’re in a spot that gets reception. I’ll keep trying.
Today’s Love Letter revolves around Negative Emotions: anger, fear, disappointment, loneliness, frustration, depression, sorrow, regret… all that!
You and I often push our negative emotions to the back burner and try to ignore them.
That works for awhile, but it doesn’t make them go away. As a matter of fact, by ignoring them, they build up and intensify.
PROVERBS 14:13 says, “Laughter can conceal a heavey heart, but when the laughter ends, the grief remains.
All I want to do is LOVE you and enjoy you. We have already overcome so much. Our marriage and love continues to grow and evolve. Our circle of harmony has never been stronger.
In order for us to remain on this path and to truly unite and grow as One, we must always be open and honest about our Negative Emotions the second we feel them.
I love you and I care about your emotional state, and how you’re feeling. As your husband, I will do everything in my power to be the man you need me to be.
My prayer for today and always:
Dear Heavenly Father,
Please give Suzie and I the wisdom to resolve negativity in a way that is soothing unto our loving hearts.
Let our love grow strong enough to withstand every trial and tribulation we encounter. Please give our love the strength and power to bring us even closer as we successfully deal with negativity.
Please give our love the ability to turn negativity into positivity, so that we may come through the other side with a greater love and understanding towards each other.
Lord, thank you for bringing this beautiful woman into my life. It is my sincere desire to love her the way a husband should love his wife.
With a spirit of love, I say…..
July 6th, 2016
Hello my sweet darling,
You’re constantly on my mind. I love you with all my heart and soul.
How are you sleeping out in the wilderness? Do you hear Wolves and Coyotes howling? Have you been a little afraid at times?
I’m so proud of you. Your courage and strong will is admirable.
As you continue on your journey, take the time to reflect on the importance of balance. Specifically, the balance between work, love, and leisure.
A healthy, happy, positive, productive lifestyle always has a strong sense of balance.
When we communicate with each other, we need that same balance. Our topic of conversation needs to be balanced and diverse.
We need to talk about WORK, our blogs, getting followers, selling ebooks, publishing more ebooks, etc.
We need to talk about LOVE, romance, family, fantasies, making babies, EFV activities, ect.
We need to talk about the LEISURE activities in our lives, what’s going on, and how we’re feeling.
Here is my prayer for us:
Dear Heavenly Father,
Please help us to be balanced in our lives. Help us to find the right priorities in life. Help us to act upon the things that serves us and others well. Help us to love each other in a way that is pleasing to the creator of love!