Woke up today and realized that there was a big problem staring me in the face. The realization came in an email from a volunteer in the Sacramento area of California who was arranging an place for a talk that was operated by the Catholic Church. The priest said something to the effect that the subject of Women and Children in the Jails and Prisons of the Nation would never attract enough interest to pay the overhead for a talk.
That thought has been stuck in my subconscious for over a week and have not been able to give it legs. Then went over the calendar and realized that the most success we have had in lining up presentations is either with like minded groups or from within the our school of Zen. Bear in mind that we have had six people for over a couple of months working getting sites in metropolitan areas across the country using a host of strategies and hitting dry holes in places like Houston, Los Angeles, Denver, Salt Lake City, and San Francisco. The most telling remarks was from a Buddhist group in a major metropolitan area that said “it would not be a good fit for our groups.”
As I watch the faces in the audience, the single biggest reaction I get from them is on the slide that quotes an inmate at Lowell CI telling me: “KC, don’t you get it. The only people that will be glad to see us get out are our pimps and drug dealers.”
In the last week, I did one presentation and one 15 minute introduction. So, decided to test the waters and use that as a benchmark in my presentation. Don’t know what was going on but in the presentation it got a lot of attention. In the introduction, there was a neighborhood police officer, a representative from the mayors office and a city commissioner. To a person, they were all taking notes when I focused on that subject and made it Gainesville specific.
About a month ago, I sent out packages to all the local papers, radios stations and TV news stations. Then I spread the net to Jacksonville, Tallahassee and Orlando. Not a beep. Did it again towards the end of last week and still not a peep. Am beginning to think the catholic priest in California was correct and if I paired his statement to the reaction I got from the two talks I have last week, I would say there needs to be a change in the wind and the focus is clear.
I know that in those that get my emails, texts and visit there is an incredible amount of feelings and emotions tied to the topic of Women and children in the jails and prisons of the nation. However, the punch line, hook, by line or whatever needs to be short and with punch. Something that is loaded with emotion and feelings that hits a broad spectrum of potential audience appeal. Something that triggers guilt but not so much guilt that people will shy away from the talk. Once they get in the door, I can take care of the rest.
Remember: this is not about us but those kids by virtue of their birth are regulated to a life of abuse, addictions and incarceration through no fault of their own. We are talking about a felony being a life sentence and not just time served. It makes no difference if it was for a non-violent crime or murder; it remains a life sentence that relegates the children of those doing time or having done time to the jails and prisons of the nation.
Phrases like-Slavery and servitude in a democracy has a lot more impact but a limited audience appeal. Any suggestions out there.