In April 2023, Lutheran Metropolitan Ministry, as a member of the Greater Reentry Leadership Coalition Advocacy and Policy Committee, hosted the second People’s Reentry Assembly. This two-part event featured restored citizens, policy experts and community leaders.
The first part of the Assembly took place on April 15 at LMM’s Richard Sering Center and focused on the power of storytelling. Sharing one’s story can be cathartic for individuals with past justice involvement. It can help the person organize their thoughts and create a cohesive narrative that explains a past that may be complicated and traumatic. To help attendees think about their story and the trauma they faced, attendees were provided the opportunity to hear from LaToya Logan of Project LIFT Services, and from other individuals with past justice involvement. Attendees were then given the chance to learn how to tell their story through poetry, in writing, or by interview.
Storytelling is also an important part of the advocacy process. It is typically a more powerful way to convey the need for new or changed policy to people in power than facts and statistics. By sharing one’s story, you are able to connect on a human level with the person you are trying to convince to support your priorities. Storytelling also demonstrates the real-life impact of a particular policy challenge in a way that is tangible to a person in a position of authority. This makes it easier for the person in power to communicate their support or opposition. To help make this connection between storytelling and policy, attendees heard presentations from Towards Employment and The Fair Housing Center for Rights and Research on the importance of Fair Chance Hiring and Fair Chance Housing.
The program concluded with an invitation to the second part of the People’s Reentry Assembly, a community conversation that allowed individuals with lived experience to share their experiences with people in power and convey the need to lessen collateral sanctions.
The second program took place during the 2023 Reentry Week. More than 70 individuals from City and County government, foundations, nonprofits and individuals with direct and indirect experience attended the program at LMM’s Richard Sering Center, which featured stories from individuals with lived experience. The half day program also provided deep dives into the concepts of Fair Chance Housing and Fair Chance Hiring policies and how these policies can and should be advanced locally. Following these presentations, attendees were encouraged to share their experience with the justice system and the impact that collateral sanctions have on the people they know through small group discussions.
Attendees left the People’s Reentry Assembly with a better understanding of the barriers facing returning citizens and the role they can play in lessening collateral sanctions in Cuyahoga County.
To read more about the 2022 People’s Reentry Assembly visit: The First-Ever People’s Reentry Assembly
– Margie Glick, LMM Director of Advocacy