Editors' Notes

Maria Damon and Michelle Greenblatt
Jim Leftwich and Michelle Greenblatt
Sheila E. Murphy and Michelle Greenblatt

A Visual Conversation on Michelle Greenblatt's ASHES AND SEEDS with Stephen Harrison, Monika Mori | MOO, Jonathan Penton and Michelle Greenblatt

Letters for Michelle: with work by Jukka-Pekka Kervinen, Jeffrey Side, Larry Goodell, mark hartenbach, Charles J. Butler, Alexandria Bryan and Brian Kovich

Visual Poetry by Reed Altemus
Poetry by Glen Armstrong
Poetry by Lana Bella
A Eulogic Poem by John M. Bennett
Elegic Poetry by John M. Bennett
Poetry by Wendy Taylor Carlisle
A Eulogy by Vincent A. Cellucci
Poetry by Vincent A. Cellucci
Poetry by Joel Chace
A Spoken Word Poem and Visual Art by K.R. Copeland
A Eulogy by Alan Fyfe
Poetry by Win Harms
Poetry by Carolyn Hembree
Poetry by Cindy Hochman
A Eulogy by Steffen Horstmann
A Eulogic Poem by Dylan Krieger
An Elegic Poem by Dylan Krieger
Visual Art by Donna Kuhn
Poetry by Louise Landes Levi
Poetry by Jim Lineberger
Poetry by Dennis Mahagin
Poetry by Peter Marra
A Eulogy by Frankie Metro
A Song by Alexis Moon and Jonathan Penton
Poetry by Jay Passer
A Eulogy by Jonathan Penton
Visual Poetry by Anne Elezabeth Pluto and Bryson Dean-Gauthier
Visual Art by Marthe Reed
A Eulogy by Gabriel Ricard
Poetry by Alison Ross
A Short Movie by Bernd Sauermann
Poetry by Christopher Shipman
A Spoken Word Poem by Larissa Shmailo
A Eulogic Poem by Jay Sizemore
Elegic Poetry by Jay Sizemore
Poetry by Felino A. Soriano
Visual Art by Jamie Stoneman
Poetry by Ray Succre
Poetry by Yuriy Tarnawsky
A Song by Marc Vincenz

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The California Hunger Strike: One Year Later
by the Prisoner Hunger Strike Solidarity coalition

In July 2011, a few dozen prisoners held in the Security Housing Unit at Pelican Bay launched a hunger strike to protest the torturous conditions of their imprisonment. In the first four days of the July strike, at least 6,600 prisoners throughout the state's prisons joined in solidarity with the five core demands from Pelican Bay, while in torturous conditions themselves. This round of the strike lasted nearly four weeks, as the CA Department of Corrections & Rehabilitation (CDCR) went into negotiations with hunger strike representatives at Pelican Bay and conceded to very small changes (providing cold weather caps or sweats to some prisoners, proctored exams, the chance to take a photo for family, wall calendars, etc). The CDCR promised to make more substantial changes later. Prisoners resumed the strike on September 26th, after it was clear the CDCR would not make substantial changes regarding the rest of their demands. When resumed, the strike doubled in size, reaching nearly 12,000 prisoners throughout the state in maximum and minimum security prisons as well as county jails and detention centers.

While Security Housing Units (SHUs) and other methods of solitary confinement have been the topic of multiple international human rights abuse cases and scrutiny for years, this hunger strike reminded the world torturous conditions are central part of maintaining the prison industrial complex. The hunger strike also exposed the leading reason Department of Corrections use to justify torture-gang validation, a process that further criminalizes and dehumanizes poor/working class and prisoners of color and their families, and leads to more resources poured into everyday policing.

In March 2012, the CDCR imposed a modification of the "validation" & SHU placement process, in response to the hunger strike, which was rejected by a collective of prisoners housed in Pelican Bay's SHU who were involved in the hunger strike. Amnesty International responded to the changes, saying: "California's prison isolation units remain inhumane despite department's proposals to amend policies". These proposed changes involved expanding the profile for gang validation/SHU placement, in turn expanding the prison system's reliance on SHUs instead of shrinking it, as the prisoners ultimately demand.

Over the past year, people worldwide have supported the hunger strikers by coordinating events, rallies and demonstrations, as well as calling the CDCR and their legislators to negotiate with the prisoners and their approved outside mediation team, and to bring large-scale attention to this issue. Events and rallies in solidarity with the hunger strike have been held in dozens of cities internationally.

Throughout this struggle, family members have played a major role in supporting the strike, visiting & corresponding with their loved ones, sharing vital information and organizing events, mobilization and lobby days to Sacramento to pressure legislators to get involved. Soon after the strike began, a group of family members in Southern CA joined forces in support their loved ones and started an organization—CA Families to Abolish Solitary Confinement (CFASC). Continuing to support their loved ones, the five core demands and to push the struggle against solitary confinement forward, CFASC has been working closely with Prisoner Hunger Strike Solidarity and CURB (CA United for a Responsible Budget). Recently while planning their future work supporting prisoners and fighting to abolish solitary confinement, CFASC members shared their reflections of the anniversary of the strike—what's changed since the strike, what their hopes are and how this strike relates to fighting prison and jail expansion at large.

Imelda: CA Hunger Strike–one year later from CA Hunger Strike Solidarity on Vimeo.

Sylvia: CA hunger strike 1st anniversary from CA Hunger Strike Solidarity on Vimeo.

Daletha: the hunger strike & fighting prison/jail expansion from CA Hunger Strike Solidarity on Vimeo.

The actions of the CA hunger strikers are undeniably related to other prison strikes against extreme isolation, political and religious persecution, overcrowding, and deplorable health conditions. Recently in the US, prisoner hunger strikes have been waged in Virginia, Illinois, Georgia and Ohio.

In commemorating the CA hunger strike, we know this struggle is a protracted one, and continuing to resist the forces of disappearance and death is necessary.

Prisoner Hunger Strike Solidarity (PHSS) is a coalition based in the Bay Area made up of grassroots organizations & community members committed to amplifying the voices of and supporting the prisoners at Pelican Bay & other CA prisons while on hunger strike. Check them out at prisonerhungerstrikesolidarity.wordpress.com.

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