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December Updates

Lots has happened this past month as we close out the year and look forward to 2015!
E-mail blackandpinkchicago@gmail.com for more details about any of the following and to get connected…

  • We had two Neighborhood Penpal Meet-ups in November: Pilsen on November 16th and Rogers Park on November 19th. Our next one will be in Logan Square in February (location and date TBD), and we’re planning to hold one on the South Side soon. During these meet-ups, we share how things are going with our inside penpals, give mutual support on how to respond, answer questions from people interested in becoming a penpal. We’re also planning our next city-wide meet-up.
  • We had two fundraiser events on November 22nd and 23rd: Punks <3 Prisoners, a music benefit show that raised money for inside members’ commissary funds; and Poet Video, a poetry/performance event that collection donations for our chapter. Thanks to the awesome members who coordinated these!
  • We had two Holiday Card Parties on December 4th and December 7th, at which we wrote 300 cards to our inside members! We sent them along with our chapter update and a group photo. Many, many thanks to Jane Addams Hull-House for giving us the space as well as printing and food support.
  • We ran a 30-day campaign to raise $300 for our card mailing and to sign up 30 new penpals, and we’ve been excited by the response! As always, we can use more pen-pals. We have around 40 incarcerated members of our chapter waiting to be matched.  If you know anyone who lives in the Chicagoland area and would be interested in being a penpal, please have them e-mail blackandpinkchicago@gmail.com with “penpal” in the subject line, and we’ll get them connected as soon as possible.
  • We wrote follow-up letters to send to 38 inside members who had responded to our solitary confinement/segregation survey. Their testimony is powerful in giving insight to the terrible conditions of solitary in Illinois prisons, especially for LGBTQ folks. We will be sharing a summarized analysis of all the responses more widely.
  • Our first potluck Community Dinner was November 9th in Logan Square, and it was a fun time of building community with our outside members and connecting with each other on a more personal level. Our guests of honor were two recently released members.The next Community Dinner will be December 14th at Read/Write Library (914 N. California) from 5-8 pm. We’ll be sharing food and hanging out!
  • Coming up, we’ll be working on establishing our in-person penpal matching process, coordinating more prison visits, providing penpals with a list of formerly incarcerated/LGBTQ-friendly resources and a guide to discuss and facilitate re-entry support, and more!

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