June Shared Plate Recipient – Empathy in Action

Our June Shared Plate recipient is Empathy in Action, an empathy-based program that encourages emotional understanding, forgiveness and personal growth between the incarcerated at Correctional Training Facility (CTF) Soledad Prison and the public. The core beliefs include the worth and dignity of every human being, and the belief that “gentleness comes only from the strong.”

The program allows college students, faculty and select members of the public to engage in deep dialogue and listening with incarcerated men, referred to as Brothers in Blue. It follows a Transformative Justice curriculum grounded in 8 socio-psychological competencies (e.g., racism, trauma, gender and forgiveness) forming an arc of transformation. This is paired with 8 insight-oriented values which create the foundation for each of the 8 weekly discussion topics and challenge all participants to put virtuous concepts into action over the course of the program. The results are life-changing for both the Brothers in Blue and the outside volunteers.

I have participated in the Empathy in Action program at Soledad, as has UUCMP member Max Cajar. I did find it to be life-changing, especially in regard to my prior stereotypes about incarcerated persons since I knew none personally. I was profoundly moved by the vulnerable, honest, and gentle men that I experienced during my visits there, all of them eager to heal and grow. I would be happy to share more about my experience if you’re interested.
— Maren Martin