Lady Justice

Lady Justice with eyes covered by a blindfold is the picture of the idea of justice being impartial, she can’t see the color of your skin, your class or position in life.  The scales she holds weigh the evidence in the case and the sword represents the punishment.  This 16th century symbolism is used today and while it is rejected by some, much to my surprise at a recent event I attended, still holds the hope for justice for all. I would like to believe that the only people incarcerated in our jails are guilty as charged and only there for the time it takes for rehabilitation.

At UAF we watched the film Breaking the Cycle comparing US prisons to those in Norway.  I was taken by the high toll that is paid by the correctional officers working in American prisons who are just glad to get home alive each day compared to the comradery of correctional officers and inmates at Halden prison.  As a US Citizen I would like to see my tax dollars and state revenue spent on rehabilitation rather than punishment based on emotion.  This is not a soft on crime mentality… this is a humanizing of the criminal so that someday he/she can be my neighbor.

I came away from last weekend with tears in my eyes and a desire to bring change, to be part of the solution with the idea that Fairbanks would be a good place to build a Halden style prison to replace the aging and cramped Fairbanks Correctional Center.   Whenever I share my dreams I remind people that Fairbanks is the end of the world and in this community we could change everything if we worked together.  With that in mind please join me on December 6th to listen to retired Judge Stephanie Rhoades speak at our regular coalition meeting (10am at City Hall).

Gratitude

“Gratitude will shift you to a higher frequency, and you will attract much better things.” – Rhonda Byrne

This week I hope that you will do a little experiment with me to raise the frequency of your body by practicing gratitude.  Not only will it change your brain but it will make you more resilient.  A healthy body has a frequency between 62-80 MHz.   

THE DISEASED BODY

  • Colds and the Flu start at 57–60 MHz

  • Disease starts at 58 MHz

  • Candida overgrowth starts at 55 MHz

  • Receptive to Epstein Barr at 52 MHz

  • Receptive to Cancer at 42 MHz

  • Death begins at 25 MHz

 This study of frequency led me to healing of sound, essential oils and prayer. But today I want you to consider the power of gratitude.  It won’t change your situation but it will do something to YOU!  So this is my challenge to you today… for 21 days practice gratitude. Get a journal, your Facebook account, your blog and begin to change your life by acknowledging the good things and even the hard things in your life.  If you are like me turn on Wholetones, get that EO diffuser going and say a prayer too.

Over the weekend at the LION Think Tank at UAF I heard someone say how grateful they were for being incarcerated, it changed the trajectory of their life for the better. They proceeded to list the people in their life that had helped them along the way, the allies in the form of instructors, probation officers, counselors, friends and family that made the path just a little bit easier.  You want this man in your life because he radiates hope, hope for redemption.

Today, I am so grateful for the beautiful space that I get to invite people into here at Reentry, the large table, the comfy couch.  I am grateful for my colleagues that teach me and let me process my own journey along the way.  I am grateful to be invited to listen at community gatherings across our city.  I am honored when a returning citizen chooses to share their story with me.  Thank you Fairbanks for joining the Reentry Coalition!

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#NeverForget

This weekend I listened to SNL with Pete Davidson and his apology to Navy Seal Dan Crenshaw recently elected to represent District 2 of Texas in the House.  Humor should be funny, make you laugh and not offend.  Crenshaw said in an interview that Seal’s don’t get offended.  This exchange on SNL was a lesson in forgiveness, common ground and ended with the instruction to greet our veterans with the phrase, “Never Forget.”  If you didn’t see it, here it is… SNL

With that exhortation we all remembered our own family, friends and acquaintances impacted by war. Their heroism, their impact and our loss as some paid with their own lives for our freedom all cause us to be grateful.  

There is a statistic that causes us to pause, 22 veterans each day take their own lives in the United States.  Some of our sons and daughters suffer from PTSD just as our fathers and grandfathers did. On occasion addiction grips their lives and in the same way that anyone becomes homeless, they do. And on occasion they are incarcerated.  So on all of our reentry forms we ask that question, did you serve in the military? We ask because we don’t want to assume anything.  We also ask because veterans are eligible for services through SSVF-Support Services for Veteran Families and for treatment at the Chris Kyle Patriot Hospital in Anchorage.

My bonus dad served in World War II, when he married my mom in his early 70’s he was still having nightmares and anxiety.  He hadn’t flown in an airplane since the day a glider had rescued him from the front lines.  This meant very little to me until I visited the Silent Wings memorial in Texas and heard the stories and actually saw a glider.  Dad told me that the pilot of the glider was someone who knew his name, a neighbor from his hometown.  One afternoon we had a talk about accessing his Disabled Veteran’s benefits including a support group.  It’s never too late to heal. I am happy to report that they had many wonderful adventures and flew all over the world.

If you are struggling, there is hope and a way forward. Speak your truth and “Never Forget.”

Be Brave!

You gain strength, courage, and confidence by every experience in which you really stop to look fear in the face. You are able to say to yourself, 'I lived through this horror. I can take the next thing that comes along.' Eleanor Roosevelt

Read more at: https://www.brainyquote.com/quotes/eleanor_roosevelt_121157?src=t_fear

There are times in Fairbanks when you can feel fear in the air. Monday Marsha and I had different responses to fear. There was a person in the roof of our building in a crisis.  I had been out to lunch and I decided that since I was locked out of our building I would just take a drive and work elsewhere. I didn’t want to witness death.  I couldn’t really stand the suspense. Marsha on the other hand became one of the helpers and stood with police. She was calling him to safety with her presence.  Maybe with her motions too, I can’t be sure.  Thankfully with my prayers and yours, the first responders and Marsha got him to safety.

Every morning I put on a bracelet that says, “Be Brave.”  I bought it when I started telling the story of my foster son’s suicide,  I put it on every day when my mom was in ICU,  it was lost for a while and then I found it when it seemed everything in my life was falling apart. It reminds me that courage looks fear in the face; it gets out of bed and faces the uncertainty of the day. I can say with confidence “I am brave!” because I am a survivor.

We moved up in the hills a few years back and I was terrified of coming downhill due to an accident when I was a kid. I can remember stopping at the stop sign at the corner gathering my courage to make the descent, my heart would be pounding and my palms sweaty.  When I reached the bottom of the hill I would breathe again and hope that I only had to do that trip once a day. After facing my fear for what seemed like years I can now fly down the hill without a care, unless it’s sheer ice and sometimes it is sheer ice. 

Driving with my son used to terrify me, we had a little code because he doesn’t like me to gasp, yell or tell him how to drive. If I am afraid, I gently put my hand on his. It is just a little reminder that he’s going too fast or otherwise causing me to panic without distracting him from the task at hand. 

A new friend of mine described to me the feelings of fear getting out of prison, all of the firsts: being reunited with family, going to the store for the first time, going back to school, looking for work, finding a place to live. Because of the support he chose including reentry case management, he is still sober and not returning to his former way of life.  That choice began the day he was incarcerated and continues everyday as he owns his past and has hope for the future.  This kind of courage needs to be celebrated. 

The point of these ramblings is that in the face of fear we shouldn’t run away, hide or scream.  Instead, we should try again, be a helper and be gentle or fierce as the case demands. We should also stand witness to the incredible courage of first responders, counselors and returning citizens who everyday look fear in the face.  You all have my admiration.  If you feel my hand reach out to yours today don’t let me distract you from the task at hand, rather let my presence reassure you that we are in this together.

It's Personal

Hello,  as the Reentry Coalition Coordinator I am always seeking ways to let our community engage with our work demonstrating to our returning citizens that we as a community support their success.  In 2017, 820 people returned to our community after serving their sentences in jail or prison.  Our coalition of over 30 local agencies is working to make this a seamless and safe transition.  Our mission is to create a community where returning citizens have the keys to successfully achieve their personal goals.  We believe our community is safer and stronger when we support returning citizens process of rehabilitation.

We currently have two needs, one for clients in Reentry Case Management and the other for clients that are entering treatment through the Fairbanks Wellness Court.  This ‘Personal Needs Project” will provide dignity by giving a supply of necessary items for the first few weeks after leaving an institution.  Each purse or backpack could include shampoo, conditioner, wet wipes, an emergency blanket, feminine hygiene products, lotion, chapstick, a pair of socks, toothbrush and paste, floss, ID holder, pocket calendar, spiral notebook, water bottle, deodorant, shaving kit, nail care, and pocket first aid.  Fairbanks Wellness Court would also like laundry soap and tupperware containers.  The coalition already has soap, pens, keychains, post-its, and a few other items for each bag.

Donations can be made in person at 250 Cushman Suite 3G or financial donations by designation to our fiscal partners at Interior Alaska Center for Non Violent Living, a 501 C 3 non-profit organization.  More information about Fairbanks Reentry Coalition is available on our website at fairbanksreentry.org. Please call me, Linda, at 907-987-6045 or reentry@iacnvl.org for more information. 

Linda Setterberg

As the Fairbanks Reentry Coalition Coordinator,  my job is to bring agencies and people to the table to give reentering citizens the keys to successfully achieve their personal goals. 

Insiders

Writing prompt for a UAF Think Tank in November: We each experience ourselves in various spheres of our lives as insiders and outsiders. Sometimes our feelings and beliefs as insiders or as outsiders can help us, or more often, harm us, during our process of engaging with each other. We often carry past failures, doubts and criticisms into our current moment. Our beliefs can then limit who we connect to and what we are able to do together.

Explore in a few paragraphs, one or more thoughts or beliefs about yourself as an insider and outsider.

I am a little conflicted about choosing insider or outsider. I am a person on a journey, part of humankind and sometimes I feel like I belong and just around the corner find myself in a place where I feel excluded. I used to believe that we could divide the world into secular and sacred and desired to be firmly planted in the sacred inside. Through a time of spiritual formation I found that everything, everyone, everywhere is sacred… hope shines in the most desperate situation. As a suicide survivor, the mom of sons with chronic illness, one with severe mental illness, as an aging baby boomer with four generations in my home caring for my mom and grandchildren the reality and potential for disaster, tragedy and heartache exist.  I am part of a few clubs that entry into is because of harsh reality. After a recent brain surgery and multiple losses including my beautiful 91 year old mom, my boss found me and put my experience into community advocacy. She rescued me, brought me inside again.

This past 12 weeks I attended NAMI’s (National Alliance of Mental Illness) Family 2 Family class.  All of us feeling isolated and misunderstood by our community and then we came together for a couple of hours a week and found that we faced the same struggles, in fact others wrote a book about us.  What washed over me was knowledge that I am not alone. 

I am on a sacred journey as an insider. You are too. Because of my deep belief in the God of mercy and grace I have found comfort in His extravagant love that knows no boundaries, for God so loved the world and one day people from every tribe and nation will be at the table. The sweetest stories of redemption I have heard in the last month have been formerly incarcerated people who were given hope for the future allowing someone to hear their trauma, heal their wounds and participate in programs teaching a new way of interacting with the world.

As anyone who identifies as human I have faced rejection, judgement and criticism.  I have made mistakes, had lapses in judgement and as a wiser person I find myself unlocking the doors in our community to make a place for the formerly incarcerated.  Only an insider can unlock doors allowing the excluded to come home.

As a coalition coordinator I have the privilege of inviting everyone that has any interest in addressing the barriers of returning citizens to work together, a participant said to me recently… I don’t know why I come, I feel like I am an outsider.  Then he told me the stories of success and I realized that we must do more than talk about barriers and gaps in services.  One man can make a difference, but together we can change everything. We need to celebrate our strengths. I assured him that he belonged and we needed his voice at the table.

Linda Setterberg

As the Fairbanks Reentry Coalition Coordinator,  my job is to bring agencies and people to the table to give reentering citizens the keys to successfully achieve their personal goals. 

Hope

Hope is a big word.  We use it in small ways, “I hope you have a good day.”  Those words could be huge as we bless our family as they head out into a world that can be menacing.  In today’s blog I want to express my hope for reentry and every single person who leaves incarceration with hope for change. For the people who have lost their power, donning the ankle monitor of reentry, we have the opportunity to engage in hopeful conversations that give a vision of home, work and relationships.

This week I had an inspiration and went to look at a building for a Reentry Center.  Three of our work groups have pinned down a project that they would all like to work together on and it needs a home.  It would impact all of our work groups in a profound way.  Health, Employment and Peer Support work groups are hopeful that we could have a Day Center, Recovery Café and Reentry Center in one space shared possibly between community partners. It would give our Cultural Connections work group a space for prosocial activities. The Forensic Peer Support Specialists would have a home base. Because all of us have bosses and non-profit boards we can’t really make a project public until top level decisions are made.  Our working name is The Bridge; it could be the bridge of hope. 

The kind of seamless service that we envision starts before a person is released from incarceration, plans are made and when the day of release arrives we would like to be very intentional that the first hours of release are supported by a Forensic Peer Support Specialist from obtaining clothing, food, housing, personal needs and the appointments that continue life giving treatment, especially for mental health.  Embedded in every decision is that our community will be safer and stronger if our returning citizens are successful.

Linda Setterberg

As the Fairbanks Reentry Coalition Coordinator,  my job is to bring agencies and people to the table to give reentering citizens the keys to successfully achieve their personal goals. 

Inspiring Change!

Last week I was in West Palm Beach at the Reentry Summit: Inspiring Change.  My greatest inspiration were the speakers with lived experience, Tonier Cain brought us all to tears and laughter while reminding us to ask “What happened to you?” The change in her life came in dialogue with a therapist about the trauma she had experienced and a one year course on being a mother. “Where there is life, there is HOPE!” Tonier asked us, can you see the woman I am in the photo of me, the drug addict… what if we had eyes to see potential? From almost every speaker came the realization that we can hire referees and enforcers, but what we really need are coaches and trauma informed care providers. 

The Reentry Coalitions are examining barriers and gaps in services. I was struck that the most glaring barrier could be service providers that don’t do their jobs, listen and respond. Every returning citizen needs a plan that reflects their greatest strengths and personal risk factors.  There are some risk factors that are static, that can’t be changed, which includes everything that has happened in the past.  Other risk factors are dynamic and can be changed, but that kind of change doesn’t happen by accident. It takes time to change thought patterns and ways of doing things. It is important to have prosocial activities to take the place of antisocial activities, to have a job rather than being unemployed and to have a place to live rather than being homeless.  

On the way home I watched Oceans 8; criminal thinking at its finest, Hollywood style… a well-thought out and perfectly executed plan that brought better results than promised. What if we as communities used the same precision in forming our reentry teams? I took out a piece of paper and envisioned the perfect team for Fairbanks. Who do we need? Our team would have champions, a project coordinator, a forensic psychologist, a licensed clinical social worker, a criminologist who loves data, case managers and forensic peer recovery specialists. Together this team would prevent recidivism and break the generational ties that lead to incarceration.

We can dream!

Linda Setterberg

As the Fairbanks Reentry Coalition Coordinator,  my job is to bring agencies and people to the table to give reentering citizens the keys to successfully achieve their personal goals. 

Silence is Death!

September is Recovery Month!  I have attended a couple of events, the public viewing of the Anonymous People and the Family Night at the Armory.  So thankful for events that celebrate our resilience and help us think about our own stories.  I bought a copy of Anonymous People and Guts by Kristen Johnston.  Kristen says that silence is death.  We have to come out of the shadows with our stories.  

It’s been my honor to be the sober partner of my husband in long-term recovery for close to 40 years.  His commitment to sobriety happened early in our friendship when I asked if he would chose alcohol over love. He said he would do anything for love.   I was dating someone else at the time that was pressuring me to drink; when we broke up I told him he wasn’t even a good friend.  Months later Mike told me he hadn’t had a drink since our conversation.  He told me that for an addict if a little is good, more is better.

 My father was in long term recovery his first and last black out night while a soldier in North Africa in WWII.  He told me that he had an uncle who was an alcoholic and it was obvious to him that he had the same illness and it would be good if he never drank.   I guess I was pretty young when I decided that I would never drink.  

I wish I could tell you that our honest conversations with our children protected them from addiction. Being strong and confident they all made their own choices and one of the three inherited the illness that came from both sides of our family.  So during those early years when probably all children try their first substance he was caught in the web of addiction.  This has been my mantra… get well in the community where you live.  But in his case it took being 3381 miles away in a 6 month residential program after two outpatient programs and one 28 day program.  Recovery is a journey that takes incredible resolve and for some it takes drastic measures. We don’t give up!!

Criminalizing addiction hasn’t worked any better than criminalizing mental illness.  The war on drugs filled our jails and prisons to overflowing, but failed to treat the illness.  Drugs and alcohol fuel the vises that hurt our families and destroy our sense of safety.  The issues we have in our community aren’t really about them, they are about us!  All of us! This is my challenge today: Be a FRIEND!!  And if you are in long term recovery, share your story.  It will change your life and someone else’s.

 

Resilient

Today at a meeting someone commented on my jewelry.  My earrings are made from the necks of recycled bottles, cut in hoops and smoothed in a rock tumbler filled with water, pebbles and sea salt.  My necklace is a small bottle filled with sea glass from Ft. Bragg, California. For years residents moved trash including automobiles over the edge of a cliff.  The storms and pounding waves had recycled the pieces of glass into an amazing sea glass beach, discovered during a clean-up project in the 1970’s. To me it’s a picture of resilience.  I wear my art as a reminder that hard times can in fact be transformed into something beautiful.

Resilience is the capacity to recover from difficulties; toughness. All of us have strengths and weaknesses.  It is our strength that makes us resilient.  Possibly recognizing our weaknesses also makes us resilient when we take the steps to shore those areas up.  Bridges out of Poverty lists the following personal resources:  financial, emotional, mental, spiritual, physical, support systems, knowledge of middle-class hidden rules and role models.  These resources represent our capacity to recover from crisis, having resources makes you resilient.  So when life dumps trash your way and unending waves of crisis and loss beat away at you, take the time to examine your resources and build them. The result is that the rough edges get worn away, polished even.  Maybe it’s going to take strength and energy to get rid of the trash and find the treasure. So during the good days build on your strengths and take the time to identify a weakness and work on it.

Take a minute or two today to list your strengths. Express gratitude for the resources in your life. Name one weakness and come up with a plan to strengthen it so when life happens you recover quickly!

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