I've been teaching playwriting to the men at MacLaren Correctional for three years now. At the end of each term (which is 8 weeks long) I bring in actors from Portland to read their work for them.
Since I'm not paid anything, the actors participate as volunteers. I'd love to be able to compensate them for their driving and performing. I'd even love to reimburse myself for the gas every week and the money I spend for the party at the end of each term (but the actors come first.)
Feel free to reference the article The Oregonian wrote about this program and my beloved students. It ran in the Sunday Arts section in May, 2014. You may also contact Kathleen Fullerton at MacLaren.
I invite you to observe any Wednesday night (new term starts August 12th) from 5:30 to 8:00 p.m. Come meet the students that inspire me and you'll be inspired too!
Recently one of my students grew me a tangerine tree. They rarely get fresh fruit but a volunteer had brought in tangerines so he dried it and grew it until it was about an inch in height. Then he gave it to one of my former students who lives in Portland but he lost my phone number. So he took care of it for a month while living in a halfway house in a room that only got sunshine for 45 minutes a day. Then he brought it to the group home and tended it with care. I finally found out about the tree and was able to meet up with him and pick up my tree.
You can go out and buy a seed. It wouldn't take five minutes out of your day. But this tree (which is now in my backyard) was born from the most fragile of environments. It could have been knocked over or taken away. The roommate at the halfway house could have dumped it in anger. It might not have survived the move across town. These two men are who most people in society are afraid of. Yet the men I teach did all that for another. That's who they are at their core. And that's why I continue to go back and teach them.
Funded by Portland, OR (September 2015)