We heard about the opportunity for creative folks to spend time with inmates at the Norfolk City Jail several months ago. John was intrigued by the idea because he is intrigued by all people. He also enjoys sharing the therapeutic power of plants, and so the idea for Plant Therapy at the jail was born.
John and I met with Karen Hopkins, the Norfolk Sherrif’s Office Communication Manager, for coffee and conversation at Cafe Stella while I was in town for the Crafted and NEON events. She shared our enthusiasm for bringing inspirational community leaders into the jail.
“We are hoping to inspire these offenders to do the right things. After all, the average stay inside Norfolk's jail is just a couple months, so all these guys are coming back into our community. We hope volunteer-led programs will help make a difference,” says Karen in a Facebook post sharing a video of John’s visit.
John took the opportunity to speak at the jail because he knows these individuals need positive influence in their lives and because plants are medicine. There are physiological and mental benefits associated with working with plants. They purify the air. The soil holds “good bacteria” that makes us happy. They reduce stress and anxiety. They simply live and only want to live. They teach us patience. They allow us to connect with life.
Finding Balance & Inspiring Hope
Working with plants helps John balance a busy life and a racing mind. He wants to share that with people who suffer from similar internal struggles. He believes you can't keep it, and you have to give it away for free. "It" being your energy, thoughts, sobriety and life lessons. Why not share wisdom with those who could benefit from it most?
We also created a newsletter, the Upbeat, and handed it out in the jail. A collaboration between Glass Gardens, Small Acts Count, and anyone else who might want to share a positive voice and message. The aim is to inspire growth that may help inmates succeed after they re-enter the outside world. Topics such as mindfulness, meditation, and a primer on plant therapy were introduced. The hope being that sharing these and other tools might boost self worth and make it less likely that these individuals return to jail.
Email firstname.lastname@example.org if you'd like to volunteer or speak at the Norfolk Jail.
Produced as a Small Act Feature by Small Acts Count