Taking Democratic Education into Jails

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As many of you know, TESA has been teaching a course at Greenfield Community College (GCC) called Creating a Cooperative Food Economy. What you probably don’t know is that GCC’s Food and Farm Program has been working with Franklin County Jail to receive grant funding to start an organic garden at the jail, and to open up a whole host of course offerings for the people who are incarcerated at the jail.

Considering the unique employment opportunity that cooperatives, specifically worker cooperatives, offer to formerly incarcerated people, TESA’s course and expertise has been called on to assist in this new initiative. Two weeks ago, Andrew Stachiw, one of TESA’s worker-owners, attended a meeting at the jail to hash out the logistics.

If the grant money is awarded to GCC and the jail, then Andrew will be able to attend the national Inside-Out training, and receive the credentials necessary to begin teaching in incarcerated settings. This is an awesome opportunity for Andrew and TESA, and will allow us to keep working toward our mission of empowering people through the potential of cooperatives and popular and democratic education.

There are some really exciting new initiatives that are emerging in places like Boston, Worcester, and Springfield that are connecting formerly incarcerated people with the opportunities of cooperatives, and we very hope to be a part of that good work—hopefully, this can be the first step.

Image credit: Greenfield Community College