As mentioned in my two-years-in-prison anniversary post, I’m amazed at the transformation possible when we create a safe space in which the men cultivate their brilliance, those gifts that make them truly unique.
Here’s one such magical transformation…
When last February David first became part of the Core Team organizing the first TEDxDonovanCorrectional, he was a very broken human being: unexpressive and completely hidden. Here’s this kid, hidden behind his sunglasses, hair in front of his face down to his chest and with his guitar as a permanent crutch. No one saw his eyes for our first three months together. He would barely participate in conversations, not engage in the decisions. He sat there, holding his guitar.
Instead of writing him off, we showed David – like all the men – unconditional love. We first met him where he was at and honored and celebrated even the minuscule ways he could show up, like strumming his guitar as we planned the TEDx event. We gave him a safe space where he was allowed to be himself – something that he may have never received before. Little by little over the summer, we saw him open up.
He dropped his guitar, and then his glasses and then cut his hair. But it did not stop there. Today, David is unrecognizable. He now is in almost constant eye contact, speaks up in our meetings, constructs well articulately arguments for his opinion and we’ve even discovered a phenomenal writer who wrote the intricate theme description of the next TEDx event. Just a couple weeks ago, we identified, from 45 applications, 18 Donovan residents we invited to interview, from which the inside Core Team selected 10 speakers-in-training for next March’s TEDx event. David was not only selected to be one of the 10 speakers-in-training; he received the highest score of all interviewees!!!!
This success from a man who a few months ago stayed hidden and voiceless!
* All names changed.