We had a really nice time here in Cincinnati. While we had the set up inside, it immediately moved outside due to the weather being so pleasant! For the event we had individual mini sheets with brief bios and mailing information to use while we wrote letters and for people to take home at the end of the night. In my experience, letter writing in social settings can be tricky for some people due to getting easily distracted or general anxiety for newcomers, so we wanted to make sure that writing at home was encouraged too.
My favorite part of these get-togethers is the ability to share ideas and thoughts with each other. We had people experienced with these topics, people without much prior knowledge at all, and people who haven’t seen that there is a local community for this until now. The June 11th statements from prisoners were read aloud and all featured very different tones and ideas. Marius mentioned the concept of “othering” and I think we’re all too familiar with seeing circles break off in different directions when it would be better if they’d work together, or the rejection of new ideas which can turn into our groups becoming smaller and smaller. The different tones, ideas, and concepts in these statements made for really rewarding discussions. We all struggle with figuring out the BEST way to do things. A big topic of discussion was how writing letters can be stressful while trying to figure out what is and is not okay to write about, send, or create. But someone gave their input on how that is purposeful. They want to make it complicated, so that momentum is stopped or so that people are too overwhelmed to start in the first place. It encouraged everyone and cleared our heads, making the process easier and focusing on the positives instead of the negatives, and empowered everyone present.
At the end of the night, everyone walked away with new perspectives and a new momentum. We all know the feeling of being worn down in our continually efforts, and that can come with immense guilt while we compare it to what anarchist prisoners are facing, which can lead to the defeatist attitude the state relies on so heavily. With June 11th and all letter writing to prisoners, the lesson time and time again is that we need to practice empathy and love. It reminds us that we need to do that on the outside as well. It is another act of solidarity, as we foster the friendships of those around us, welcome newcomers with encouragement, and continue to build something much bigger than ourselves with stability and continued empathy.
That goes to organizers and participants all around the globe. An annual day to remember that we are not alone in our efforts and that these prisoners are not alone while confined to their cages. I cannot express my gratitude to all involved, but we will continue to do our best in showing it through our actions and support.