Zaarin documents and shares her learning experience on subjects related to the legal, political, and social systems of California prisons.
After a tumultuous year, an empty campus and discussions with Tim Young, our Solitary Gardener in San Quentin, we have decided to rejuvenate the garden and prepare for spring replanting.
"Friendship is the path to freedom."- Tim Young
“The medical staff said this morning that people who were sick and were having symptoms—there was nothing they could do. They are just going to leave people in their cells...the only way people will be moved is if they are having respiratory problems to the point they can’t breathe” ~Tim Young, San Quentin State Prison, June 23, 2020
If abolition is about building new systems, modes of being, and networks of care that make prisons obsolete, in what ways does gardening fit into a broader abolitionist agenda? In what ways does relationship building with plants - through creative, embodied use of them - align with “planting” abolition?
While waiting for the election to be called last week, a couple of us at the IAS masked up and tended to the changing seasons at Solitary Garden. After discussions with Tim Young, we took out some plants which were failing and seeded the bed with cover crop to add nutrients to the soil over the winter. Our plan is to get the garden ready for a spring replanting.
In our most recent letter from Tim Young, the Solitary Gardener currently incarcerated in San Quentin, Tim describes his experience of the orange skies that have been covering California and the West Coast. Like many of us, he sees this as a troubling forecast for the future of our climate and environment.
We recently received a message from Tim, our collaborator on the Solitary Garden public art project at UC Santa Cruz, who is currently incarcerated in San Quentin State Prison. He was writing to express his gratitude for all the people who have written him letters and sent him support!
This week we received the first letter from Tim, our Solitary Gardener currently incarcerated San Quentin, since mid-July! The good news is that Tim is feeling better, but he is definitely struggling.
Looking at the 6’x 9’ sculpture of a solitary confinement cell sitting in the smoke of the fires is also to see an urgent question—a reckoning— emerge. When prisoners are called state “resources,” what are the connections between mass incarceration, our overflowing prisons, and the state's need for labor of this sort?