Sustainably Educating about Sustainability
"The Wipebook flipchart is perfect for facilitating large discussions and taking notes on what the participants share"
Insight Garden Program facilitates a year-long, holistic gardening curriculum inside prisons in California with a mission of connecting incarcerated people and those in re-entry, to self, community and the natural world. Our curriculum covers a range of topics from climate change and consumerism, to soil science and landscape design, to meditation, communication, leadership skills and more. We use the metaphors of gardening in addition to hands-on gardening skills to provide opportunities for healing and end ongoing cycles of incarceration.
I manage the program at San Quentin State Prison in the Bay Area. We meet once a week every Friday to work in the gardens and discuss these broad range of topics. My goal is to make the classes as interactive as possible by including group discussion, small group work, hands on learning, and personal reflection. Prison can be a very isolating place, so the participants are eager to engage with the curriculum, share their ideas and interact with each other and the facilitators from the outside.
Before we discovered Wipebook, we brought in flipcharts to help us facilitate the class. We don’t always have access to a classroom in prison so we make do by holding classes outdoors in the garden, in the prison chapel, or visiting room. Prisons are not always conducive to learning and our program has to constantly adapt to work with the ever-changing environment of a prison yard.
We depend on our own materials to take notes, draw diagrams, and provide visual aids for the class content. Those visual aids are especially important since many participants are neurodivergent, have varying degrees of literacy, and/or do not speak much english.
It always felt extremely ironic to use large quantities of flipchart paper to facilitate a class on consumerism and waste only to take those pages home and dump them in the recycling. The disposable flipcharts are expensive and rarely made of recycled paper; and as we discuss in our consumerism class, recycling is an inefficient process at best. The materials we were using to run our program did not align with our mission and values.
Enter Wipebook - the zero-waste solution to our always moving, interactive classroom. We even bought refillable, non-toxic white board markers to use with the Wipebooks so we could really walk our talk.
The Wipebook flipchart is perfect for facilitating large discussions and taking notes on what the participants share. And I love that we can separate the sheets of paper to use in smaller groups or hang in different places around the room. And since we can’t bring phones inside the prisons, the scan app has been a perfect solution for harvesting our participants' hard work and ideas so we can share them and inspire collaboration between the programs at other prisons and with our larger community.
Wipebook is helping Insight Garden Program do our work and improve our program so that people in prison can learn, connect and heal.
Margot Reisner, Program Manager at San Quentin State Prison Insight Garden Program
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