In 2012, New Community began teaching Straight Talk (No Chaser) at Grafton Reintegration Center, an Ohio facility for men. Straight Talk hones in on current events identified by students, writing about experience, critical thinking, presentation, mindfulness, and free-flowing discussion. All classes are informed by social and behavioral research. In presenting themselves, the men have formed a strong community of learning and support. They experience two hours of freedom each week to think, speak, disagree, weep and laugh. All topics are on the table, and all points of view are allowed as long as they are backed up by demonstrable facts. In 2016 we opened a guided discussion group at Grafton for incarcerated veterans, using the same format.
Our rules are simple: Show up. Be respectful. Listen.
Rev. Sala Nolan, a New Community founder, has been a spiritual director in state and federal prisons and youth detention centers for many years. She is pastor to men and women on death row, and a mentor in general populations. She is also an advocate. For several years, she worked with private prisons in Arizona and Oklahoma to permit indigenous Hawaiian prisoners to practice the holy days of their traditional religion (below). She advocates for just policies and fairness for individuals, and attends to issues of immigration, racial and economic disparity, and political incarceration.