SOUTHERN ATLANTIC HEMP AND ARTS EXPO 2021

FREEDOM GROW NEWS FEED

Southern Atlantic Hemp and Arts Expo 2021 - attended by Freedom Grow Forever!

June 25-27 2021 Freedom Grow attended the inaugural SAHAE event in Asheville, North Carolina!  The event was a success!  FGF Board members met from all over the nation!  Kristin Flor came from Washington State, Randy Lanier (and his family) came from Ft Lauderdale, Florida, and Stacey Theis, Jake Shepherd and friends traveled in on the Cannabus!  Other Freedom Grow family, and friends came also, like Beth Curtis (founder of Life For Pot), Paul Free (served 25 years of a life sentence), Dickey Lynn (served 31 years of a LIFE sentence) and Richard Delisi (served 32 years of a life sentence)!  The purpose of coming together was to educate the community of Ashville about our cannabis prisoners and to gather signatures on letters to present to the President in the future, hand delivered by Tommy Chong. 

We had lots of things at the booth to help educate the public, such as images that Adella Falk made showing our cannabis prisoners' faces and their lengthy sentences.  Each image had a chair to sit on in order to help represent their missing bodies.  We had pens, t-shirts, banners and jury nullification flyers, and images to help educate the public about their right to vote ‘not guilty’ when called to jury duty.  The best education came from x-cannabis prisoners themselves, as they helped get letters signed for others still in prison! Telling  their stories about their LIFE sentences brought a sense of Reality to the masses, who had no idea so many are locked up for Cannabis.   Kristin Flor's experience with running a booth showed!  

Stacey Theis pulled in late Friday as the Cannabus struggled to get there, but Stacey’s dedication made it happen!   The Cannabus was parked just across from the booth, and was the center of the good times!  Letters were signed on the bus and everyone who came on the bus left with an education about prohibition.  Stacey Theis’s warm  welcoming smile  made  each person stepping on the Bus feel at home.   Off and on throughout the day we went back and forth from the bus to  the booth sharing good times all over the place!    After the event, the kind people associated with Dr Bronners helped get the bus back on the road to smokeout in DC!

Green Touch Awareness had T-shirts and pens made for us!  The shirts said ‘Bringing Light To A Dark Cell’.  The shirts were a major success, and brought a lot of attention to our cause.  The attendees of the event were more than willing to sign our letters, and enjoyed meeting our cannabis POW’s and learning their stories and what they can do to help!  Freedom Grow President ’Stephanie Landa’ had fresh cupcakes ordered daily with pot leaves on them!  Everyone loved them!

Randy Lanier, Steven DeAngelo, Chris Conrad and John Gettman spoke on a panel together and discussed the drug war.  It was an amazing talk!  Afterward, Steve DeAngelo  (founder of Last Prisoner Project) stopped by our booth and hung out for a while!   LPP has helped us  in a lot of ways, so it felt good for everyone to get to spend some time with him and prison outreach!

 On the last day of the event Mike and Amanda made sure we all had fun in the FOMIE HOMIES Bubble Machine!  The fun from all the bubbles will last us all a lifetime!  They gave us the kindest hospitality!   They soaped us up and down with their products and it felt good for all of us to let go and have some fun! 

 The music was wonderful, and Don Pickett, who put on the event, was a perfect host!  He gave us the BEST spot in front of the stages where a lot of people walk by,  everyone at the event made us feel like we were home.  The bands played till midnight with laser light shows and Puppeteers.   We are thankful to all of our sponsors such as Green Touch Awareness, SAHEA, Cannabis Sativa Magazine, Family Hemp Brands, Cannabus,  OOBERLIFE.Com, and we are excited to attend the event next year!

 We at Freedom grow wish to Thank our sponsors for making it possible for FreedomGrow Forever to attend the Southern Atlantic Hemp, and Art Expo.  Green Touch Awareness, Cannabis Sativa Magazine, Family Hemp Brands, Cannabus, OOBERLIFE.com You all Rock. Thank You for helping to spread the message “No One should be locked up for a Plant”.  In so doing, you give Hope, and Faith to the Cannabis Prisoners that  their Lives Matter. For that we have an Abundance of Gratitude, and Appreciation for YOU. Thank you  Don Pickett, the event Organizer and Producer of  SAHAE for being such a Great Host. We also like to mention Michael Gosney and Stephanie Grande for helping with tickets for our guests.   The music was fantastic as were all of the Dragons,  Butterfly Puppeteers, and fire Jugglers.  Freedom Grow Forever made new friends,expanded our horizons, and created more awareness.  It takes a village to coordinate an event, and to help spread the message. We are always looking for people and companies interested in being a sponsor, or volunteer. Please contact freedomgrowforever.org to donate, our WISH Program needs your Help!

A GLIMPSE INTO THE BELLY OF THE BEAST

A GLIMPSE INTO THE BELLY OF THE BEAST

Out of the many places on the planet, prison is one of the least known to the American public.

   The plethora of prison movies and scripted reality shows barely denude the realities of prison life. They deliberately omit the psychological concentration camp experience.

   The little amenities and hard-earned privileges in the form of prison visits and 15-minute phone calls, television, commissary, musical instruments, hobby craft, and exercise equipment, can hardly do justice in comparison to the living conditions in such a confined place.

   The twelve-foot-tall chain-link fences topped with looping strands of razor wire, the granite-looking walls, and metal doors upon metal doors, keep you conscious of the cruel hand of punishment you’ve been dealt. The ten-by-twelve dungeon-like cells adorned with a metal bunk, paper-thin mattress, burlap-looking blanket, plastic faded mirror, washbasin, and stainless steel toilet, are a constant reminder that you’re not at the holiday inn. The unspeakable loneliness, confusion, frustration, depression, tears, hopelessness, anxiety, anger, guilt, shame, and grief (which repeatedly pound on you day in and day out) causes your homesickness to be amplified at least an hundred-fold. And to top it all off, the non-ending orders of when to wake up, when to go to sleep, when to shower, when to eat, what to eat, when to use the phone, what books to read, and even when to pray, drives you to the edge of madness.

   How does one survive such a corroding wave of negative emotions and physical oppression? I can’t say. I honestly don’t know. The only survival instinct I’ve found to work in my life is to believe in something greater than myself. That’s the only way I’ve been able to carry on, in a world where I have no say so; in a world plagued by gang violence, drug usage, and psychological torment; in a world designed to deprive you of your human dignity.

   Don’t get me wrong – besides the down-side perpetual effects of confinement – some prisoners do find ways to rise above water. A few work menial jobs in the kitchen and elsewhere within the prison. Others work in the prison textile factory (UNICOR) for pennies on the dollar. Others attend educational classes. The key is to enjoin yourself into the busyness of prison life until the day of your release. Until the day when you can breath easily once again.  

   Still, others become victims of the dehumanizing, punishing effects of an environment which doesn’t have much to offer. These are the ones who are always consuming illegal substances trying to escape the reality of their dire condition; these are the gang members who are desperately trying to control their peers through fear and violence and subtle manipulation; these are the ones who spend days reading fiction novels or sharing grandiose stories with others trying to reinvent a dark world that needs transformation. Do I condemn any of them? Not in the least. I sympathize with them rather.

   As for me, most days you’ll find me locked in my ten-by-twelve, either reading, studying, or exercising religiously. When out in the housing unit (with the other 103 confined prisoners), I’m either on the phone or on the computer sending e-mails to the outside world. When out and about on the prison compound, I’m either heading to the chapel to fill my soul with inner peace, or the recreation pen to jog and breath in the open air, to release the emotional stress I’m repeatedly garnering through this ongoing, turbulent prison experience.

   A few days from now will mark the 24th time I’ve celebrated my birthday in prison. Have I really been here this long? When this is over, I hope I’m not emotionally scarred by the results of a world unfit for human living (at least not in its gargantuan approach). The American criminal system, like any other across the world, is cruel at its best. A carceral system unfairly designed by a political silent majority who decry what a crime is and what punishment to carry. Minorities are the ones who end up paying more than they bargained for. But that’s a story for another day.

   Living in the belly of the beast hasn’t been easy. It has emotionally disturbed me in more ways than one. Notwithstanding, I continue swimming up the river and against a carceral system which categorizes me as ‘damaged goods’ and ‘incorrigible’ – in spite of the tantamount educational and rehabilitative strides I’ve made so far.

   This isn’t a place for a normal human being to live in. This isn’t a place for hope and optimism … the belly of the beast … abandon hope, all ye who enter here.   #freedwinrubis