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The Role of Prison Mindfulness in Rehabilitation with Kim Grose Moore

Updated: Mar 27

In this week's podcast episode, Kim Grose Moore speaks with cohost John MacAdams on her work as executive director of the GRIP Training Institute.

  • Leaving prison before you get out: A year of profound transformation

  • The power of accountability and forgiveness for those sentenced to custody (and for all of us)

  • Maintaining program integrity, consistency and impact while scaling-up mindfulness-based programs in prison


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Kim Grose Moore has contributed for more than 20 years to making the San Francisco Bay Area a more just and equitable community. She is now the Executive Director of the GRIP Training Institute, whose mission is to create the personal and systemic change to turn violence and suffering into opportunities for learning and healing. Kim is endorsed as a Buddhist Chaplain through the Insight Meditation Center of Redwood City, CA. She is a strong believer of the community organizing principle, “the first revolution is internal." The Guiding Rage Into Power (GRIP) program currently takes incarcerated people in California state prisons through an intensive yearlong, mindfulness-based journey of trauma healing and accountability. In the last 10 years, more than 1200 students have graduated from the program, 528 have been released and the recidivism rate is less than 1%. Kim lives with her family in San Jose, CA.


The Role of Prison Mindfulness in Rehabilitation with Kim Grose Moore Transcript


John MacAdams: 

Hi! Welcome to another session on the Prison Mindfulness Summit. My name is John MacAdams. I'll be your co-host for this session. I'm very happy to be here today with Kim Grose Moore. Welcome, Kim. 


Kim Grose Moore: 

Thank you, happy to be here. 


John MacAdams: 

Right. Well, thank you so much for being part of our summit. I'm excited to speak with you and for our audience to learn about GRIP and about the Institute's work. I'm going to read a little bit of your bio to let our audience know about you and your work, and then we'll get into the conversation. How's that sound? 


Kim Grose Moore: 

Great. 


John MacAdams: 

Okay, good. Kim Grose Moore has contributed more than 20 years to making the San Francisco Bay Area a more just and equitable community. She is now the Executive Director of the GRIP Training Institute, whose mission is to create personal and systemic change to turn violence and suffering into opportunities for learning and healing. 


Kim is endorsed as a Buddhist chaplain through the Insight Meditation Center of Redwood City, California. She is a strong believer in the community organizing principle, "The first revolution is internal." The guiding rage into the POWER and GRIP program currently takes incarcerated people in California state prisons through an intensive year-long, Mindfulness-Based journey of trauma healing and accountability. 


In the last 10 years, more than 1200 students have graduated from the program. Five hundred twenty-eight have been released, and their recidivism rate is less than 1%. Kim lives with her family in San Jose, California. Again, Kim, just wonderful to speak with you. Thank you for being with us. 


Kim Grose Moore: 

Great to be here. I'm happy to be part of the summit. 


John MacAdams: 

Well, there are a number of aspects of the GRIP training and the GRIP Training Institute that I hope we can learn about from you today. Hopefully, we can get into the actual on-the-ground GRIP training to get some real kind of visual ideas of what it looks like to be in the room with these people and your facilitators as they go through the program. 


I know that the tribe naming process is pretty powerful. I've heard about it once before, and I was floored. I thought it was incredible. The peace pledge that the folks' sign, that participants sign, and the four elements of GRIP, so we'll hopefully be able to touch on that. 


And maybe you can help us understand how individuals are continuing with their journey once they reenter back into the community. And for those of us in the field, maybe we can learn a little bit about the structure of how your program is sustaining and maintaining itself within the state of California around financial sustainability and expanding the program. 


But first, before we get into all that juicy stuff. I'm wondering if you're willing, Kim, if you'll speak a little bit about your personal journey into becoming a chaplain and the work that you have been doing, and how this has not only impacted your community but how it has impacted you and your personal practice. 


Kim Grose Moore: 

Yeah, thank you. It's so important in terms of story sharing because our stories change over time. So, what's the story now in my life to share? Right? I think maybe just to start. I grew up in New York City in a very upper-middle-class kind of intellectual White family that was very involved in what was happening in the world. My father was a journalist and lived all over the world. 


I'm very grateful to them that my parents sent me to a really progressive radical elementary school through eighth grade, that the whole curriculum was based on the freedom struggle, the civil rights movement, labor movement, women's movement, American-Indian, you know, that was our curriculum. That was what I grew up in school through eighth grade. 


Most kids are always asked a lot of why, like, why this, why that, and I was one of those kids for sure that had a lot of concern for the people around me, the issues in the world, and in my own school. And so, I was asking the question why a lot. And fast forward to my adulthood, I became a grassroots community organizer and in the early 2000s or mid-2000s became involved through my organizing effort with a faith-based national organizing network. 


We got very involved in the world around dismantling mass incarceration. And so, I was involved with both organizing and then training community organizers in California around some of the big propositions that have really led to a lot of the resentencing. You know, really moving the pendulum from a system in the state of punishment, you know, lock them up, throw away the key to much more in the direction of more restorative and more progressive policies in the state. 


I'm proud of that work for sure. I think we've done some really important work. I learned two things from that for myself. One was that as organizers and coaching organizers, especially folks of color and who are directly impacted by the criminal justice system that there was a lot of burnout, a lot of exhaustion, and interpersonal conflict that we were in our own communities we were engaged with. I felt like really there was a lot of unhealed trauma and lack of practices and lack of tools and space for us to be able to heal ourselves as we were doing this important social justice, racial justice work out in the world. 


The other thing that I learned or started to feel was a sense of being out of personal integrity, that from my background in my socioeconomic status, and my being White as well, I was in a world where I did not know anybody in prison. The privilege I had from my background was that prison and the community of folks incarcerated were invisible to me. 


Somebody who challenged me, a guy named John Powell from UC Berkeley, basically asked who is outside of your sphere of human concern. Who was outside of your heart? I realized that even though I was doing this important work around policy change and organizing around dismantling mass incarceration that I did not know people who were impacted by incarceration. I'd never stepped foot in prison. 


So that was happening. And so I quit organizing, and I went back to training. I had been doing my own personal meditation practice for many years, coming out of my own, you know, looking for solutions to suffering. Solutions to issues of stress and struggle in my own life. I went back to school to train as a Buddhist chaplain. Through that, I started doing one-to-one counseling in my local jail. And also, through a community of folks from my Sangha, we would go down to the state prison in Soledad, California, and offer Buddhist services. That work was great. I really loved that. I think there's a huge value in and of just that. In and of itself, I think it can be really healing and important for the people that I met and walked with both in jail and prison. 


And then I met GRIP. I had a really transformative moment of healing myself in that encounter. It was when Jacques Verduin, the founder of GRIP, brought some of the graduates of the program to my meditation center, to my Sangha, in Redwood City, IMC. They gave a talk, and they had a discussion. What I learned is that GRIP serves lifers. People who have been sentenced for serious violent crimes to life with the possibility of parole. 


And so, Terell Merrit had served more than 20 years for a serious crime. He was released. He was back in the community. At the end of the time, he just offered to the group who was there a genuine apology. He said something like, "For those of you in the room who have experienced harm, someone who has committed who has, you know, harmed other people, I want to just say to you, I'm so sorry that you experienced that. You didn't deserve it. On behalf of those of us who have committed harm, I just want to apologize." 


It was a moment for me. We're sitting there, receiving that. I experienced recognition of a longing to hear that kind of apology that I didn't even know that I had. At that moment, it was a moment of healing for me. I thought to myself, "Well, I want to be part of that program. I want to learn more about GRIP." It took me a while. I had to do some work to sort of get the attention of Jacques, but eventually, I was able to get trained as a facilitator. About seven years ago, I trained as the facilitator, and then about five years ago, Jacques invited me to staff, and I became his successor to help really build and grow the organization and then working ever since. 


What I learned in that, and I think what's an important connection to sort of what GRIP does, what it's about, is that it really is a mutual process, an interconnected process of healing that happens in GRIP of both healing and accountability. Dr. Martin Luther King quotes. I love this quote, "I cannot be who I ought to be until you are who you ought to be. And you can't be who you ought to be until I am who I ought to be." That's the interrelated structure of reality. 


I think that's what I've learned and why I feel so committed to doing this work with GRIP is that, yes, we deliver, we go in as folks from the outside, we go into the prisons and deliver a program of healing, and accountability. And, you know, there is dharma. There is truth. There is wisdom that comes from inside that then comes out from inside, and that can serve the healing of the world as well. It's a two-way mutual process. 


John MacAdams: 

Okay. Well, thank you. That's quite a journey. And you've brought us down to GRIP. You talked about your work as a facilitator. So, can you take us inside the program? What's the first day? How do you recruit participants? 


I work with folks who are on the administrative side and the security side, and I know that there can be a lot of challenges just around the security and movement of people within these incarcerated environments. And so, obviously, you need to have a lot of cooperation. And so, I'm just wondering. How do you get your participants? What's that first day look like? How does that look?

 

Kim Grose Moore: 

Yeah. So, it sounds like there are sort of two pieces to that. One is how do we work with the institution to get access and work through all the administrative logistics stuff? And then, what does the program really look like? 


We partner with particular prisons. It is really important to have a good working partnership with the warden and the warden staff and what's called the CRM, the community resource managers at each prison. And those relationships are very important. 


We also have relationships with the state, with the Corrections Department. We are independent. We are not contractors of the state. We have our own independent way of working, but we develop those partnerships. We choose carefully which prisons we work in because we know how important it is to have a strong working relationship with the folks who do control the movement and the access and the clearance and all of that. So those things are important. We tend to act very intentionally as an organization. 


The way it works is we have a tribe. It's a circle of 30 to 35 students that we select at the beginning of a year-long journey. It's a year-long program. We have two models in St. Quentin. It's 52 weeks of a weekly class. That's about two or two and a half hours each week. And then, as we expanded from San Quentin out to we're now in five prisons soon to be, we're working on two more, but we're in four other prisons outside of San Quentin, and they run on a monthly model. So it's once a month for a full eight-hour day on a Saturday or Sunday. And then peer study and practice groups in between that we set up and support them to do on their own in between. And so, we have both of those models going. 


We also have, now that we've been in those prisons several years, we have inside facilitators that we've trained, who are part of the facilitation team. And they both teach in the class, but then they're also available during the time in between the classes for mentoring and support and, you know, health. So, that's a really important model. 


And then as they get out, so our inside facilitators who've already been trained when they get out, we've been able to hire a number of them back onto our staff to be able to be facilitators, professional, you know, paid facilitators on our staff, who then go back in to teach from the outside. So, we select. We hold an orientation and invite you. 


It depends, and it's sort of changing now, but there are waitlists that every incarcerated folk can sign up to get on the waitlist. And then, we usually do an orientation with 50 or 60 folks on the waitlist. And they learned about the program, and they learned about the expectations. We do quick check-ins to sort of see a little bit of a sense of, do they have enough time left on their sentence to be able to complete the program, you know, those kinds of things. Select a group of about 34 students and then start up the next month. I can tell you a little bit more. Would it be helpful to tell you a little bit more about what the actual program looks like? 


John MacAdams: 

I think that's great. Thank you. So, you bring together folks who are coming off the waitlist, their interests, and they know about the current word of mouth. From inside, there's interest. And so, it must be hard to kind of make those choices out of the folks who are interested. But anyway, so you've made those choices, you've got your students, your participants, and then it is another month. Is that right? Until you come back, and you really begin. 


Kim Grose Moore: 

Yeah. Yeah. The demand is great. In the prisons, where we've been for several years, there is very high demand. I mean, literally before the waitlist started, we would have 400 people come to an orientation and have to do a lottery to get to 35. So, lots of disappointment, which is really hard. But yeah, so the way it works, we sit in circles. So we have, we're a restorative justice program. So we do many of the practices of, you know, RJ practices. 


And so we have a circle of the students and facilitators, and we call ourselves a tribe because, really, a lot of the work that we're doing is welcoming back into the human community folks who have been thrown out, have been left out, have been demonized, have no sense or little sense of self-worth and sense of belonging. 


And so, by creating a strong container of a skillful, healthy tribe, it's like a family that is based on principles of "do no harm" and safety that we can re-welcome people back into that human community. 


And so, every week or every month, they're together in that big circle. We do some small group work as well. And there are four elements to the curriculum. The first one is to stop your violence and do no harm. The second one is to cultivate mindfulness. The third is to develop emotional intelligence. And the last one is to understand the victim's impact. So, mindfulness is underlying all of it. 


We recognize that mindfulness is the foundation that allows people to move into places, what we call sitting in the fire that you can then, in a skillful and safe way, move into really beginning to look back on your own life, your own histories, the original pains that happened in your own life and then start to connect the dots between what happened to you in your childhood, and what your coping strategies were to help you survive whatever that was. 


The abuse, the violence, the alcoholic family, the abandonment, the death of a loved one, whatever it was that then whatever the coping strategies were that led you to live a life that turned into violence that led to your commitment offense. And then, that enables you after you've done a fair amount of that work. That enables folks to be able to look at the harm they have caused. 


There's an intensive part around people who are expected to write out in great detail their committed offense and their crime story and share it with others. They have a choice. They can share it with other students in the group or if it's very sensitive or something that they're very uncomfortable with. They never share it, or there's some danger to sharing in some cases. 


They can share with just a facilitator one on one. So, we're flexible about that, but it's important to be able to externalize the shame and externalize what happened so that then further healing and accountability can happen. And only after they've gone through those phases do we move to victim impact and understanding victim impact. 


Towards the end of the program, we invite survivors of violent crime, not the specific survivors of the people in our group but surrogate survivors. They will come in. And sometimes, it's also children of family members, of loved ones who are incarcerated, and young people to come. 


And so, we consider them also survivors in this work, and we'll have a day-long encounter and dialogue between those who've caused harm and those who've experienced it in what is a restorative justice dialogue. So, that's a little bit of sort of how it flows. 


John MacAdams: 

Okay. Would you be willing to get a little specific about the naming of the tribe? 


Kim Grose Moore: 

Sure. Yeah. In one of the very first classes, one of the things we do is go around the circle, and everybody in the circle will say how many years they have been incarcerated. They add up all the time in juvie, time in jail, you know, whatever time they have been in prison. We list all of those up of the entire circle, and then we add that up. 


Right now, for the tribe that I'm facilitating, that number is 670. I think there's another one right now at Mule Creek State Prison that's 978. So, there's a whole range. That becomes the name of the tribe. How many years collectively has this group of students served? And then, what do we do? 


We have a concept called "The Moment of Imminent Danger." It's the moment between anger and violence or between craving and using. It's like that split second where anger arises, and then violence happens. What's that moment in between? How much time? With a lot of what we do and a lot of mindfulness practices, how do you extend that space between anger and violence? How do you create some pause to then make a more skillful choice? 


If you can take a moment to breathe and you can make a more skillful choice and avoid violence. But in the imminent danger, what we do in the naming of the tribe is we ask everybody at the moment, "When you committed the crime that you're in prison for, how much time was your moment of imminent danger?" And everybody goes around again. It's, you know, three seconds, 30 seconds, 12 seconds. It's like, what did it take you to cross the line into an act of violence? And you know, it's like that. [snaps fingers] 


So you have 670 years of incarceration, and then we add up the moments of imminent danger, and it's three minutes and 22 seconds. People then sit with that and realize, for that much, for three minutes and 22 seconds, 670 years of human life, of human potential has been lost. 


We also add. We do things. How many actual lives were lost, how many people died, and how many victims? And so, we create sort of a list that sort of the credential of each tribe where they recognize the harm they've caused, the harm that's rippled out because of those few minutes where they lost their cool, right? 


And so we say, you know, it's a sobering moment in the circle that we take to really contemplate that. That's really the basis for saying, "Well, you can't lose another moment like that ever again." That becomes the basis of the work we do together. 


John MacAdams: 

I mean, the hair on the back of my neck rises when I hear that. I can't imagine what that must feel like, the intensity of emotion and realization. I mean, it's kind of awesome. 


Kim Grose Moore: 

Yeah. It's a very heavy moment. It's a very sobering moment. It's kind of a wake-up moment. And then, we turn it. It is important that it turns into motivation and not just complete depression, right? And so, by naming our tribe that number, it's sort of honoring. Also, honoring the time that has been lost and now we're committed to doing something about it, we're committed to doing something different. And so, that name also becomes a rallying cry. 


At the end of every tribe, we have this closing ritual, where we all kind of well, now with COVID, we just bump elbows, but it used to be we would hold hands in the circle, and we would call out, you know, "Tribe 670, for us, by us, about us." And, you know, kind of create this sense of community. 


And then, out on the yards, guys would tell us that they'd see somebody from their tribe on the other side of the field or something and be like, "Yeah, Tribe 147." "Tribe 978." It's a way to create belonging to a sense that you're part of something, and over many years, people have remembered. And so, it also becomes a sense of connection. 


John MacAdams: 

At what point then do you move into and introduce the peace pledge? Can you describe a little bit about what this peace pledge is? 


Kim Grose Moore: 

Yes. The pledge is also a very important ritual. The first few months are all about creating a safe container. How do we build that sense of community, that sense of tribe, that sense of safety we go through? We create learning agreements together because, again, it's for us, by us, and about us. So, it very much needs to be buy-in and sense that you're not being told by the prison system, you're not being told by GRIP how to behave. We create it together. 


And so confidentiality, of course, is a very important thing. We spend a lot of time talking about how to build trust and a sense of commitment to confidentiality. And then, we have everybody sign a peacemaker pledge. There Are 15 elements to it. There are 15 pledges. It's, you know, stop your violence, respond rather than react. Take only those things that are given freely, and listen to myself. Things like that. We go through it. We read it. We talked about it. We discuss what might be difficult, but the idea is that you're going to sign it at the beginning of the year as a practice year. 


So, you're going to sign up for one year. We recognize you're not going to be able to do it right away perfectly, right? You're going to have a year to practice. You're going to have a year to learn how to do these things to learn how to live by this Peacemaker Pledge and also learn how to be accountable to each other. So if you mess up, if you break the pledge, you come to talk about it, you share it with somebody else in the tribe. You are transparent. We help or support. We're a team. 


And then, at the graduation, there's the ritual at the very end that they've received. So we have a graduation ceremony. That's a very important part of the whole last piece of the course, where we invite community witnesses. Family members come, usually, the warden or prison leadership comes, and we hold a big, beautiful celebratory graduation where graduates are in caps and gowns, sometimes for the very first time in their lives. 


Family members come. Sometimes those family members have not seen or talked with their incarcerated family member for 15-20 years. And there's a reconciliation or a moment of reuniting right there at the graduation, and so it's a powerful time. And what they do is they receive their diplomas. They also then sign the peacemaker pledge for life. That's another moment of serious commitment where we challenge and invite them to truly pledge to be peacemakers for life. They do it in front of the warden, and they do it in front of their family, and they do it in front of each other. 


I was just speaking with a graduate the other day, who remembers the date that he signed that pledge, and every year, it's a date, April 27, 2017. He knows that's when he signed that pledge, and it's that important to him. So, that's another piece of this to remind people to help people to stay on this path. 


John MacAdams: 

Well, I think that that's pointing to somebody that you've mentioned. I think twice in our conversation. I saw on your website, but this piece of accountability that you really present has been integral. I'm just wondering if you can talk a little bit about that. We can talk about accountability, but, you know, are we holding ourselves accountable? Is the tribe holding each other accountable? Is GRIP holding individuals? Accountability is really an internal drive, right? Internal motivation, integrity. 


Kim Grose Moore: 

Very much. Very much. I think that's so important that we really try to cultivate and support people to cultivate their own inner sense of accountability because that's the most genuine, and that's true, right? We all know what it feels like for somebody to apologize because they're told to or because they have to.


One of the assignments that we do, again, towards the very end, because you need to do some of your own work first, is writing a remorse letter, writing an apology letter to your victim. And that's something that they can choose to put into what's called their C-file, their state file that then the Board of Parole can see. They need to do that anyway. Before they go to the parole board, they need to write an apology letter and put it in. 


And so, this is an assignment that can serve that purpose. It's really important that we don't tell folks to do it for the board, right? Don't do it for anybody else. Do it for yourself. I think that's really what this is about it. And that's why it's healing and accountability. There are two parts of the same thing until you can heal your own resentments, your own hurt, your own feelings of fear, hurt, resentment, that you're not going to really be able to deeply apologize, take responsibility, be accountable for what you've done to someone else. And so, they really go hand in hand. 


The title of our course book is Leaving Prison Before You Get Out. I mean, it's very much what Fleet Maull talks about is taking radical responsibility for your own life, for your own yourself, your own actions, your own mind. Taking radical responsibility and choosing to notice when you're blaming others, to notice when you're putting yourself in the victim's place, and to choose to take responsibility for that, which is yours. 


No more, no less, right? Like, that's also. Like, take responsibility for that which is yours. And that is freedom. That is how you can leave prison before you get out. So don't do it for the board. Don't do it for your family. Don't do it for anybody else. Do it for you. That is what's going to lead to freedom. 


John MacAdams: 

Great. Well, thank you for offering that and tying those together. 


Kim Grose Moore: 

I want to share also that as a woman going in, I have chosen to go to male prisons. Sometimes I'm the only woman in the circle. I work with that. That's part of what we work with. All the projecting, I become the mother, the whatever figure for the healing process, but it also has been a transformative experience for me as well in my own healing journey and my own accountability journey. 


And particularly, I work in a prison where there are a number of folks who have committed serious, violent harm against women and children. So they've killed their wives or girlfriends, they have raped people, they have committed sexual violence or physical violence against children. It's kind of the worst of what our society would, you know, the worst of the worst. 


And for me to be able to fully welcome some of these folks into my own heart and to see them as full human beings who are beautiful, responsible, caring, and loving beings has been an incredibly important part of my own spiritual journey. 


Guys inside will often say, "Thank you for coming in. It's sort of re-humanizing us. It's like you treat us as human beings." But in a lot of ways, I feel like it's re-humanizing me as well. We all become more human when we can get past that piece around what's your crime and really see each other as human beings. That's been really powerful learning for me to be able to facilitate with folks who've committed things that are very painful and have yet to move forward as full trusting, loving colleagues. 


John MacAdams: 

Yes, work that includes personal growth. Sometimes, in a very big way. Thank you for pointing that out. If there are folks in our audience who are considering and who haven't maybe spent time in prisons or jails, this is one of the most amazing and often unexpected, I think, aspects of working in these environments is our own personal growth and, really, humility. And as you're saying, spiritual growth and humanizing ourselves. 


This Institute is a model for so many levels of success. I'm wondering if you can talk a little bit about just the structure and how it has lent itself towards this level of sustainability and the fact that you are growing it, you're scaling it into more and more prisons within California. I don't know if you're looking outside of California, but if you could just touch on a couple of points there for folks who are in the field and other administrators who are working in nonprofits? 


Kim Grose Moore: 

Sure. One of the things was when I joined the staff and eventually became the Executive Director and looked at how to grow the GRIP Training Institute to be able to deliver GRIP to more folks. I really wanted to, and I've been a sort of a student of how do you build an organization that is reflective of and rooted in the DNA of GRIP. 


So, mindfulness-based emotional intelligence, understanding, all of that. The teachings of GRIP and the practices and the tools of what we do in the classroom or in the tribe. How do we create an organization that is deeply rooted in that where that's the DNA, and how do we scale it? How do we start to grow so that we can serve more people? 


There can really be tension between those two things. I think that having done quite a bit in my background, I have been the leader of several other nonprofit organizations, grown other organizations, and the challenge of professionalizing work that originally is volunteer or service oriented and, you know, at a small scale to professionalize it can become quite problematic in a lot of ways. 


You start to get into the fundraising grind. There are traditional management structures. There are power dynamics. There are skills expectations. There is a whole lot of stuff that can come with the effort to professionalize something that had started as a really wonderful, generous offering by some volunteers. 


And so, a lot of what I've been trying to do and that we're working on our leadership team and our broader staff is looking at how do you build the GRIP Training Institute with three interlocking lenses. One lens is the lens of sustainable infrastructure as a nonprofit. How do we have the staffing and the money and the management practices that can sustain an organization over time to deliver services? 


And then there's another lens, which is the lens of the inner work. So how are we bringing the GRIP? How are we bringing mindfulness in? How are we bringing the expectation or the inspiration to keep doing our inner work as staff, as board members that keep that alive and hold each other accountable? 


And then the third lens is around justice and equity. And so, how are we within the organization questioning traditional management structures, creating opportunities to shift the balance of power? And then, how is GRIP acting in the world in terms of broader movements toward criminal justice reform? You know, reimagining the prison system to one that's a restorative model, etc. 


And so, it's really looking at all three of those. Every decision, everything we're building here, we're really trying to look at all three of those together. Here are a couple of examples of what that means. What does that look like? So, you know, with fundraising, we've been inspired. And in fact, we're doing a board meeting next week, where we've been reading this book called Decolonizing Wealth, a fabulous book, a big shout out to Edgar Villanueva, who wrote it about really recognizing or sort of treating money as medicine. 


How is money healing, as opposed to something that you, you know, kind of are on the hamster wheel trying to raise money to sustain that can be a scarcity mindset? Well, how can money actually serve as healing? And so, the relationships between people who have and give money and people who receive money, how is that a healing relationship, as opposed to a difficult power relationship? 


Another example is our leader. We've created some leadership pathways in the organization where there's traditional management. You can kind of go where you're a coordinator of a program to a manager, to a director, etc., sort of traditional management. But we've also created a facilitator leadership pathway where we recognize that people, especially people coming out of prison, have trained as facilitators. 


They have enormous wisdom and skill from being inside for many years, that's a huge benefit to being able to deliver the GRIP program. And they might not have as much technology skills and task management as all of the traditional management skills and practices, but we have a facilitator leadership pathway as well. So you can move as you're learning some of the more traditional things. 


You're also being recognized and compensated for the leadership and the wisdom that you are bringing. So, things like that that we're working on to create power with culture. And then, as I said, we work in partnership with the state. We're not a contractor, where we have to deliver on what the state tells us we need to do. We are board set. 


Our budget is such that we have a maximum of 25% of our budget that can come from the state from CDCR, the California Department of Corrections. And the board was very clear about that because we don't want to become dependent on the state. We want to be able to have diverse funding so that we know we can continue to deliver the program, even as the state money goes up and down. 


So, we apply for grants, and we do get grants from the state to be able to deliver the program, but we're also very careful and thoughtful about how we do that so we can maintain our independence. 


John MacAdams: 

In terms of growth and in terms of sizing up, sometimes that can be a bit painful and very exciting. So, can you give us a little view? Are you looking at other states or moving into other states? 


Kim Grose Moore: 

First, we really are committed to California. There are 35,000 lifers incarcerated in California alone. We have a commitment to that population first. Our North Star, our big vision is to transform the prison system and to create a transformative model, a restorative model of how incarceration happens in California first. 


We'd love to go to other states subsequently. And we do have some ideas and models for how that might happen, but our first commitment is to California. So, as I mentioned, we started in San Quentin. Our first scaling effort was to move out to five prisons and create this monthly model. 


COVID really actually challenged us to create some alternative delivery models that we're looking at how we do things in a more hybrid way, how we get the teachings out in different ways. And so, we are experimenting and piloting with a couple of new, like peer-based models where graduates are delivering some of the teachings, and we're training the trainers, more kind of hybrid correspondence model as well. 


We will be taking the next couple of years to pilot some ways that we can then scale to serve many more prisons in California. Start to really eat away or offer more of our teachings to those 34,000 to start with. And it is a challenge. It's definitely a challenge. I think it's a faith walk also that trusts that these are teachings that are in demand and that we will find a way that folks inside will be able to access and benefit from. 


John MacAdams: 

Well, it's a very uplifting way of, I think, bringing our conversation to a close, Kim. I would like to ask you if you're willing if you could guide our audience in brief mindfulness practice or however you see fit. 


Kim Grose Moore: 

Yes, I'd be happy to. And maybe I'll preface it by offering what we think of as a preparation-guided piece that we often use in preparation before doing a deeper meditation around forgiving ourselves and forgiving those who have harmed us or going deeper into some of the more difficult parts of our lives and our minds. 


And so, in preparation, we do some practice around just cultivating a sense of self-love. I think we don't call it that, but I'm calling. I will call this little gift of offering self-love. So, if you and the audience would like to just take a moment, you can close your eyes or just allow yourself to have a soft gaze at a point in front of you and just bring your awareness and bring your attention back into your body however you are in this moment. 


You might notice taking this moment to bring your attention to whatever parts of your body are making contact with the ground or the seat. Notice your feet. If you're sitting in a chair, maybe your feet are on the ground, and the backs of your legs and buttocks behind might be touching the chair, or if you're seated on a cushion, you might just notice all of the places, and ways that their legs are touching, making contact with the ground and the cushion. 


Then allow yourself to notice the breath as it comes in and out of your belly, chest area, and nostrils. Maybe take a few long deep inhalations and exhalations. Allow whatever thoughts or mental activity from this conversation, from listening to it or being part of it, whatever thoughts came into the mind, just allow them to filter down, filter out, maybe melt away so that you allow your awareness to really come back into what's happening right here in this moment, in this body, in this mind. 


Now, I'm going to guide you in a way to connect to yourself. That can be a support for any deeper work you may choose to do. Either in meditation or just in your day. So first, bring it into your mind. Think of the time that maybe if you're a parent, you can think of the first time that you are handed your newborn child. And if you're not a parent, just imagine or think of a time when you were asked to hold an infant. That's not part of your actual experience. 


Just imagine what it might be like if someone has just handed you an infant child. Become aware of the vulnerability of this child, the need for protecting the softness of their skin, the heaviness, and the weight of their little body in your arms. Notice yourself gazing down as you cradle that child in your arms. 


Allow yourself to be open to unconditional love flowing from your heart through your arms towards this child, unbidden and spontaneous. The wonder of this infant life held so lovingly by your arms. Take a deep breath. Take a moment to connect with the experience of feeling this unconditional love radiating out from you into this child, into this infant. 


And then, when you're ready, you can give the infant back to its parents. And now, imagine extending the same unconditional regard to yourself. Imagine holding yourself in that same caring embrace. You may even choose to put your arms around yourself and hold yourself in an embrace if that feels like what your body would like to do. 


There's a realization that can arise that you are a child of God, Buddha, Allah, or Mother Earth, however, you are comfortable putting it. Recently I've enjoyed imagining the Buddhist figure, the goddess of compassion, Kuan Yin, who has a million arms to offer compassion to the whole world. I imagined her arms just wrapping me in her embrace of compassion. 


Receive and absorb that love until you radiate with its shine. And then, repeat this phrase in your mind. Breathing in. "I feel unconditionally loved." Breathing out, "I remain connected to this feeling of being loved." Breathing in. "I feel unconditionally loved." Breathing out, "I remain connected to this feeling of being loved." 


And then just allow your awareness to settle back into your body. Notice again any sensations that arise in the body right now. Notice any changes from when we began. Allow yourself to offer that moment of gratitude with whatever benefits of this practice, this meditation we've just done together, near the benefits of service to the world. And when you're ready, you can open your eyes and come back into the space. Thank you. 


John MacAdams: 

Well, thank you, Kim. I feel good about myself. First of all, that's wonderful. Well, Kim. I think we're going to close our conversation. If folks are interested in more information about the work of GRIP and yourself personally, how can they learn more? 


Kim Grose Moore: 

Yes. Sure. Well, they first could go to our website, GRIP Training Institutes. There's a trailer video. There are actually a lot of resources there. They can learn more about GRIP. We do post if we are looking to hire. We do post positions there. And there are lots of resources as well. So, that's probably the best thing. There's also a way to contact us if there are any questions or if folks want more information. Happy to be of service in that way. 


John MacAdams: 

Great. Well, again, Kim, thank you so much for spending your time with us today. We really appreciate that. 


Kim Grose Moore: 

I'm so happy to be part of this summit and grateful to the Prison Mindfulness Institute for inviting us. Thank you so much, John, for the interview. 


John MacAdams: 

Thanks, Kim. Be well. 



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