Reflections from Fired Up’s 1st Fundraiser

As a means of extending our Fired Up! community, we asked our guests to contribute their reflections from the evening; what they took away from the event, what they were moved by, inspired by, what challenged them, the food, the environment, the outfits, the speakers and so on. Below are some reflections and documentation from the night. Enjoy!

Deirdre Wilson talks about Fired Up! and her own story

Renee Roberts: I attended the fundraiser for Fired Up! What touched me the most was the statement from Samantha who said that she didn’t know that there were people on the outside who cared about her and wanted to help.  She said that it made her want to change her life and now she is committed to helping the women who are still incarcerated and who have been recently released.  It was deeply moving to hear the women of Fired Up! speak about why they are doing this work;  I could feel how deeply they care for the women and giving them hope, love and support.

Samantha Rogers tells her story and what Fired Up! means to her

Rick Roberts:  What struck me about the fundraiser was how far the younger generation seems to have come since I was young because it would have been extremely unusual for so many diverse people to get together, all working for, dedicated to, or at least contributing to such a selfless cause back in my day. I think that there has been real progress towards diversity and inclusion since my generation was young. This makes me feel optimistic given the sometimes disheartening, and sometimes sad things that we hear in the daily news.

Our guests listen as Fired Up! members share their stories and ask for support

Leah Johnston: The feeling in the kitchen as the event was winding down was familial in the most supportive, constructive sense of that word: everyone pitched in to clean, dry, sweep, put away, not working from some sense of obligation but just knowledge of the job to be done, and in enjoyment of the company.  I was talking to Samantha about how satisfying it is to work with people who act as well as talk (or even act while talking), and the casual, companionable efficiency of the kitchen clean-up felt so right, so fitting for Fired Up! members: this is a community of people whose actions seem like natural extensions of the way they live their lives.  There is work to be done, let’s do it.  And enjoy ourselves and support each other at the same time.  I left impressed with the potential of the group and inspired to action myself.

Deirdre Wilson and Mary Campbell rehearse their presentation as Samantha Rogers and Adrienne Skye Roberts listen

Eric Kuhn:  One of the things that most struck me about the fundraiser was the tremendous amount of joy and exuberance present. While maintaining a pointed clarity and strength in their critique of the grave injustices perpetuated by the prison system and the structural obstacles to happiness and well-being faced by members inside and out, the members and allies of Fired Up! pulsed with a degree of positivity that was all the more staggering given the challenges it faces. The message was clear that these women are a force to be reckoned with, and that they refuse to give up their hope for a better and more truly just way of life. Even when tears were shed, and hard truths of troubled pasts and corrupt institutions were discussed, this elevated optimism remained– in the hearty laughter; the celebratory, upbeat music; the moving shows of gratitude; the palpable love and respect between the members and facilitators; the playfulness and wit and wisdom of Alisha Coleman’s poem; Deirdre’s fabulous red dress…the list could go on and on!

To see such hopefulness and exalted energy in the face of such a cruel obstacle was deeply moving and inspiring, and gave me hope not only for the Movement, but for people’s ability to maintain their humanity and strive to be their best selves no matter what challenges come their way.

We had a delicious taco bar with donated food and desserts

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Begging… By Alisha Coleman

Here is another poem by Alisha Coleman, a Fired Up! inside member. She wrote this poem for our fundraiser on May 5th. It was read outloud by Fired Up! member, Mira Stern to encourage people to dig deep in their pockets and donate to us!

Hello ladies and gentlemen,
dudes and duettes
I hope all is well
and you’re feeling quite generous.

I won’t toot your horn,
or pull your leg,
the purpose of this poem
is basically to beg.

The name of our group is
Fired Up!
but we are flat broke.

Our only means of survival
is dedication and hope.
We do the best we can
with what we have.

However, we’re hoping to
“change” things,
and was just wondering if
you had some to spare?

We’re like a structure
being build on CCWP’s
solid foundation,
so consider us a charity
In desperate need
Of donations!

Time, money, jobs, etc.
anything that improves services
and encourages us to do better.

So please dig
deep down
in your pockets and wallets,
give it all
even lint balls.

Maybe we will make a quilt
to keep each other warm
away from harm
as we watch a community
be built.

While the fire inside continues to burn
We thank you in advance,
for the support from outside.

Don’t worry about,
if the flame goes out.
Something beautiful
from the ashes will rise!

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Thank you for supporting Fired Up! Our 1st fundraiser was a huge succcess!

Fired Up! outside members get fired up at our very first fundraiser!

Our first fundraiser on May 5th was by all measures successful, truly inspiring, encouraging, and only the beginning!

We are so grateful to announce that we raised a total of $2,785, all of which will go towards re-entry support for our members, operational costs of meetings and organizing, and our continuing efforts to expand and strengthen our community in and outside the county jail.

We are deeply appreciative of all those who threw themselves into the fire. Welcome to the family! We will be posting photographs from the event shortly. You look really good.

We will also be posting our individual reflections of the event, of how we were moved and how we are propelled by the shared stories of strength and struggle and the gathering of kind and willing hearts.

In keeping with the collaborative and cooperative culture we envision, we want to build this site, with as many voices expressed as possible. We are not we without YOU. If you attended the event, please feel free to post your reflections of the evening; we would love to know what you thought and what you think of still. Your posts will also help convey and connect the vibrance and beauty of the evening to our members inside. Please email your reflections to firedupsf@gmail.com.

This group and this work mean a great deal to all of us, inside and outside of the jail; we feel very fortunate and heartened to have shared time, visions and stories with our amazing fundraiser guests. Thank you!

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Fired Up! builds membership outside the jail

Fired Up! is building our membership outside! We’ve begun holding meetings outside our Tuesday night jail group with those recently released from San Francisco County jail, formerly incarcerated people, family members of those still locked up, allies and the facilitators of our Tuesday group.

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Truth Is… By Alisha Coleman

Alisha is a Fired Up! inside member. Her poem, “Truth Is…” was read outloud to the crowd at the February 20th San Quentin protest organized by Occupy 4 Prisoners.

Truth Is…

The picture I’m about to paint can only be heard,
so listen closely to every word.

Innocent until proven guilty?
They can’t be serious,
In a system where
Drug dealers get more time
than serial killers,
juveniles get tried as adults,
before they become one.
I guess nobody musta warned’em
about playing with knives and guns.

Guilty by association?
That’s what it’s called
then they get hauled
off to the pen,
where some girls become boyz and some boyz
become women.
Sitting around
unaware of who they are,
wounded while in the belly of the beast.
I call’em invisible scars,
the kind that can’t be healed
by Neosporin and stitches.

Went in walkin’
came out switching.

Could you imagine what it’s like?
Being told that the beginning
is really the end of your life.
3 strikes and you’re out!
Some think it’s a game,
but it’s really outta my hands.
Lord knows, I’m not tryna do life
on installment plans.

Everybody wanna be a part
Of the occupy system,
I need to occupy my life and
find something to do with it,
otherwise it’s useless.

Some may mistake my words as verbally abusive,
But the truth is…

How do we expect our kids to grow
from concrete,
accept defeat,
have to fend for themselves
in cells where it is dark
and hot as hell?
More parents come to see kids in jail
than they do at graduations.
That’s cuz the new diploma
is parole or probation

Fucked up situation
No contender.

“Now I’ll be gone until November”
Listening to a public pretender
telling me to plea
Y?
Cuz I’m young, black, and sell crack in da streets.
Babies committing robbery,
1st degree.

Even with blind eyes
I could see it ain’t cool.
They building prison programs
and tearing down schools.
We all got an opinion
just like we all have a choice.
No one can hear you speak
if you don’t use your voice!

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Fired Up! posters at Occupy 4 Prisoners San Quentin protest

Fired Up! members inside San Francisco County jail made signs to be held at the Occupy 4 Prisoners National Day in Support of Prisoners at San Quentin State Prison. Our members and allies outside held brought these messages to the demonstration to be sure that their voices were able to transcend the walls!

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