Prison Project Training in Oakland, CA, 2007

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Alaska Airlines, Portland, OR. =0= Alaska Airlines, Portland, OR. =0=
I made reservations to leave work early as we have flexible hours and there was no reason to be rushed. I flew from Portland on Alaska Airlines (under American Airlines flight, go figure) and arrived in Oakland, CA airport about 5PM on September 20, 2007. As I had loads of time, I took the express bus (shown here) to the BART station. I then took BART to Berkley stop (I hadn't looked up which stop to take before I left). BART express bus. =0=
BART, Oakland Airport, CA. =0= BART. =0=
BART interior. =0= BART station. =0=
BART was quite comfortable (padded seats), pretty quiet, and lived up to its name of rapid transit. Very nice. I had never ridden BART, but it is getting pretty extensive around the SF Bay area. I walked almost three miles to get to the ashram (shown here), but I had the time and it was a nice walk. The ashram is an older building with about fifty room upstairs, most of which are set up as dorm rooms like mine, shown below. They had replaced the awning since I last visited in 2002. The next morning I got up at my usual time and chanted the Gurugita. It was in the main hall in this building which is pretty large. Could easily seat hundreds, but there were only about twenty Friday morning (at 6:30AM). Oakland Ashram, CA. =0=
My room, Oakland Ashram, CA. =0= PP Hall, Oakland Ashram, CA. =0=
The rooms are very nicely done, but there is only a sink in each room (indicating a older hotel) with common bathrooms and showers scattered around. There weren't that many people there that weekend. Our Prison Project training had about 15 people for the training and about 5 facilitators (which was a wonderful size). The training was held in a separate building shown above on the right. It is just down the block from the ashram in a building which is reputed to have been a biker's bar before it was converted. That is where they usually hold the Gurugita chant, but we had it for the whole weekend (which is probably why the Gurugita was in the main hall that morning). Catty-corner across from the smaller hall (and across the street from the main ashram) was the Prison Project office, shown here. Prison Project Office. =0=
Madhu's Office. =0= Data entry station. =0=
On Friday, Linda, the Prison Project Office Manager, took us on a tour of the Prison Project office. Above is a picture from Madhu's office of a map with all the prisons where we have more than 10 prisoners taking the 'correspondence course' which is really a series of lessons mailed to each prisoner. There are about 6,000 prisoners receiving lessons in about 1,500 prisons. Madhu coordinates the different prison projects activities around the U.S. (there is a national steering committee that is in charge, but he does the day to day stuff). Next to that is a data entry station. While the lessons are sent free of charge, each prisoner must send back a slip of paper to get the next lesson. Volunteers (or sevites) need to process each such slip and update the prisoners record so that the next lesson will be sent out (once a month). Here is Linda's office. They have recently shifted the printing and mailing work to a contractor in Long Island, NY, so the entire full time staff is now just Linda and Madhu. In this picture is Linda and Cheryl (from Portland area). Linda's Office. =0=
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This page was last updated on May 8, 2009.