Defying the Odds

I was inspired that Obama walked through a jail and then pardoned more than a few people who he felt had served their time.  Second chances are important.  Then Catherine Hoke of Defy Ventures shared this video with me.  I had to share.

Comments (Archived):

  1. William Mougayar

    Very inspiring.In 2009, Marc Thuet, a famous Toronto chef (who is a recovering drug addict and alcoholic himself) opened a new restaurant called Conviction, staffed with 13 ex-convicts, 7 in the kitchen, and 6 on the dining floor.…[it closed a year later, but it was a good experiment while it lasted]

    1. lisa hickey

      Great idea, needs sustainability and scaleability. And sad that it’s difficult to think of single example like that. But thanks for the link @wmoug:disqus

  2. lisa hickey

    Wow. That is amazing. What a great video and story. Thanks for sharing that.My youngest daughter is working at a transitional community for the formerly incarcerated in Harlem this summer. She is a sophomore in college, studying economics, and wants to be a lawyer for social justice issues. But she had a blinding flash of insight about what privilege really is as she was helping to teach a GED class. She had to help teach multiplying and dividing fractions, and she realized she had to back up—she couldn’t start with “lowest common denominators” she had to start with the fractions themselves, and how they worked, and what a common denominator even was. The people in her class were hungry to learn, and could embrace the fundamentals pretty quickly, but my daughter realized just how much her knowledge of fractions was something she took for granted. How can you live in a world without knowing fractions she realized? She obviously never would have gotten as far as she has without that knowledge, something she couldn’t even remember learning. It was just a part of her. That is privilege.Part of the reason that video was so powerful to me is that I think that the way the economy is going, everyone need to learn entrepreneurship skills on some level. Those skills should be like fractions—a part of the core learning. As we move more and more to a freelance economy, being able to work on your own, patch together small jobs to get you through bad times, understanding where the opportunities are and how to make them work for you. And to solve the income gap, people need to learn how to owners—owners of wealth, owners of property, owners of businesses, owners of things of value.Solving some of the root causes of how to get all people a fair chance of success is incredibly important. Yes to second chances, to education reform, to the elimination of institutionalized racism.The other reason that video is so great is because it takes something very small and very tangible and gets results. If an idea like that can scale (which it could with the right commitment and resources), it can create social change at the level it is needed.

  3. Lisa Abeyta

    It takes so much courage to decide to not take the safe, conventional path but to use one’s talents and experience to lift others up that no one else will help. Thanks so much for sharing this, Joanne. I’d love to meet her some day and discover some of her lessons learned to help Jessica and myself with our vision at HauteHopes. Our first group of women are nearing the halfway point of our year with them, and they continue to inspire me, and it drives me to learn all I can on how to help them be successful so that we can continue to help more in years to come.

    1. Kirsten Lambertsen

      HauteHopes looks absolutely great, Lisa! How long did it take from idea to launch? I’m curious what the runway to starting something like that looks like.

      1. Lisa Abeyta

        Jessica and I are a good team together, so it didn’t take long. We spent about 6 weeks or so getting everything in order – applying for our 501c3 status, finding a fiscal sponsor, forming a core committee last July. We put out a call for applications, and our board filtered those down to the top 10. We held our first gala fundraiser in February and raised enough to have 6 finalists. One is no longer in the program and the other 5 are blowing it out of the water.

        1. Kirsten Lambertsen

          You know, I was expecting the answer to be more like 18 months. Consider me floored!

  4. Kirsten Lambertsen

    “Transform your hustle” is a great slogan.There’s an operation in SF called Delancey Street that has a restaurant and a moving company (maybe more, but those are the two I was aware of when I lived there). It’s been going strong for a long time now. We hired them whenever we moved, and they were excellent.But, I really like the idea of empowering people to be entrepreneurs. To see the talent people have and say, you are capable of great things and having been in prison doesn’t mean you have to be a dishwasher or furniture mover the rest of your life, is just epic.

  5. pointsnfigures

    Rand Paul has been talking a long time about our jails being full of non-violent offenders for too long.… I’d like to see America legalize drugs, and end the war on drugs. It was one that couldn’t be won.

    1. Gotham Gal

      ending the war on drugs would be a dream.

    2. Matt Kruza

      Couldn’t agree more on this… wish rand paul had played his cards better to be a player in this election as his work / advocacy on this issue (with corey booker from new jersey – democrat) would have been nice to get much more discussion on a national level. The war on drugs is one of the most obvious / consequential policies around race inequality in this country and its frustrating that this side of it isn’t discussed more often

  6. awaldstein

    One of my largest learnings funding a company that hires on the low end of the employment scale is hiring.You can’t judge people by what they look like and often, not by mistakes, sometimes serious ones, that they’ve made.It’s challenging but some of the very best people you can find are ones who you are giving a huge second chance.

  7. JLM

    .One of the problems with pardoning criminals is the failure to actually understand their criminal history.On paper, a prisoner may appear to have simply possessed marijuana, as an example. Seems like an easy case to deal with, no?The problem is that the sentence for simple possession was a plea bargain which got the prisoner a fairly lengthy sentence. In fact, the actual crime was distribution of heroin and running a RICO (racketeer influenced criminal organization), both very serious Federal crimes. He had some pot also but he was a heroin dealer and ran a heroin dealing organization.The prosecutor in the case — in order to clear his desk and to get the criminal in jail where he belonged and to avoid a long, costly trial — agreed to a fairly long sentence on a simple pot beef.Now, these hardened criminals — in the instance I am referring to the man’s family had been running the heroin trade on the west coast of Florida for two generations and had enforced their franchise with several death sentences — are being presented as simple marijuana possessors seemingly wronged by the system.Many marijuana convictions are simply plea bargained sentences bargained down from very serious crimes.JLMwww.themusingsofthebigredca…

  8. TanyaMonteiro

    We have a Defy oven, it’s something I’ve not liked till now. That just made me suck it up and find ways to enjoy my DEFY. Brilliant