create Winner / 2021
People's Pottery Project
People’s Pottery Project’s mission is to empower formerly incarcerated women, trans and non-binary individuals through the power of art-making, grassroots advocacy, and meaningful employment through our non-profit ceramics studio. PPP provides paid ceramics classes for individuals navigating the extremely difficult transition out of incarceration, thereby providing meaningful art therapy and urgent resources to prevent individuals from returning to prison.
In which areas of Los Angeles will you be directly working?
- East LA
- County of Los Angeles
- City of Los Angeles
What is the problem that you are seeking to address?
Los Angeles holds the bleak distinction of jailing more people than any other US city. At the same time, women have become the fastest growing percentage of the prison population. Post-incarceration, women face even greater trauma, steeper barriers and fewer resources than men. Women return home from prison to stigma, economic precarity, and a lack of supportive services. As the 2019 Prison Policy Initiative briefing states: “Given the dramatic growth of women’s incarceration in recent years, it’s concerning how little attention and how few resources have been directed to meeting the reentry needs of justice-involved women”. For trans and gender non-conforming people, discrimination adds to the impacts of structural racism and gender-based discrimination. These forces along with systemic disinvestment lead to high recidivism rates for this group. After decades behind bars, dreaming of life outside, women are coming home to a city that does not support their return to society.
Describe the project, program, or initiative that this grant will support to address the problem identified.
People’s Pottery Project’s (PPP) mission is to empower formerly incarcerated women and trans people through our non-profit ceramics studio. We put into practice the principle of “Care Not Cages,” by centering the needs of people coming out of prison, most of whom are Black, Brown, Indigenous and LGBTQI. Guided by our formerly incarcerated leaders, we are collectively building an arts based center for healing, education and community. In response to the urgent needs of people leaving prison, we provide paid work opportunities and job training in design, production and distribution of the People’s Bowl and other homewares. We offer part-time work on a flexible schedule that provides economic stability to people in reentry. PPP offers ceramics classes free of cost to formerly incarcerated individuals. Arts programming is essential for healing trauma and helps recently incarcerated women establish a sense of self, power, and hope. This program offers an inspiring pairing of women in reentry and PPP staff, who have navigated this transition home successfully and are leaders in their community. PPP recognizes the need for grassroots advocacy led by directly impacted communities. One of the primary barriers for formerly incarcerated people to advocate for systems change is economic stress and inflexible, low-wage jobs. PPP centers advocacy by encouraging leaders to participate in coalitional movements to provide safety, healing, and dignity for formerly incarcerated people.
In what stage of innovation is this project, program, or initiative?Expand existing project, program, or initiative (expanding and continuing ongoing, successful work)
Approximately how many people will be impacted by this project, program, or initiative?
- Direct impact
Describe how Los Angeles County will be different if your work is successful.
At People’s Pottery Project, we celebrate the freedom of every person who is released from a life sentence and walks from the prison gates; our goal is to create a community for them to come home to. Our mission is to provide every disenfranchised formerly incarcerated individual access to a therapeutic arts practice and paid vocational training. Over the next year, with increased support, we will expand our programming to provide 6500 hours of free therapeutic classes for women in reentry and paid training for formerly incarcerated individuals. We will increase sales and production of the People’s Bowl, and in the process hire an additional full time member to develop professional work experience in a holistic and supportive environment. This year we will develop the advocacy that is at the center of PPP, by providing support for our members to move into pre-existing coalitional spaces to continue fighting for the needs of formerly incarcerated women and trans people.
What evidence do you have that this project, program, or initiative is or will be successful, and how will you define and measure success?
People’s Pottery Project is in the early stages of development, but has already had immense success. In the last year and a half, we have taken on five employees who have been recently released from life sentences. We have provided paid job training, leadership development, and trauma-informed management systems. PPP has partnered with A New Way of Life Reentry Project to offer free ceramics classes to women in re-entry. We have provided 180 hours of our paid ceramics program to formerly incarcerated people. We have had six features in prominent arts publications, bringing visibility to our community and the issues we face while transforming public narratives about incarcerated individuals. Looking forward, one way we will measure our success is by expanding the hours our formerly incarcerated leaders spend working directly with target communities: people in re-entry, formerly incarcerated individuals, and non-system impacted members of the community.
Which of the create metrics will you impact?
- Employment in the creative industries
- Minority- and women-owned businesses
- Economic opportunities for formerly incarcerated
Indicate any additional LA2050 goals your project will impact.
- LA is the best place to LEARN
- LA is the best place to PLAY
- LA is the best place to CONNECT