QUESTIONS & ANSWERS: Maggi Simpkins & Anti-Recidivism Coalition

 
 

BACKGROUND -

- Where are you from? I live in Los Angeles, but I’m from Portland, OR!

- How old are you? 28

- What do you do for a living? Jewelry Designer… I own my own business designing custom engagement rings.

- What is your favorite color? To wear: Black. To look at: probably green.

- If you have a hobby, what is it? Building things.

CIVIC ENGAGEMENT -

Do you identify with any of the political parties?

Anything but Trump. I identify with a lot of what Bernie was/is advocating for.

Talking/learning about politics turns you off or on?  

I suppose it depends on who I am talking with.....I love learning. I think I am somewhat capable of holding conversation with someone who has opposing views, as long as they are open to listening to mine as well. I do however have zero tolerance to policy and politics that lack fundamental empathy for humans.

How has that changed over your adulthood?

It hasn't much. I am the daughter of a social worker (angel on earth). I was raised from a very young age to have love and compassion for people who are different than me. I learned early on that not everyone was given a level playing field (the same opportunities), and that people aren't always to blame for their circumstances. I learned that we don't get to choose which families we are born into: whether our parents have money or whether they are mentally ill or addicted to drugs. Most importantly that all humans deserve fair, compassionate, treatment, especially by our government. My values have been really clear to me from a very young age and remained the same through adulthood- I would say what has changed is how I see my role in this world and how I can contribute to the greater good of humanity.

What are your 3 biggest issues when it comes to politics? (i.e. education, health care, race relations, environment, immigration, etc.)

Only 3 eh? I always think the answer to the craziness going on in the world is through the younger generation- and while I believe our education systems are grossly underfunded- I have faith that with enough outside programs we will be able to educate and make a change in enough young minds to help us fight this fight. I think this also feeds into educating young minds about the environment, sustainability, clean energy, TAKING CARE OF OUR EARTH etc.

What has been going on with health care is totally fucked. At the very minimum, without a question, people with preexisting conditions should be able to get insurance. If you are poor and get sick, it should not be a death sentence. The notion that you would die because you couldn't afford treatment is beyond inhumane, in my eyes.

Militarization of the police, privatized prisons, school to prison pipeline, criminalization of brown people. This is very much race relations. Our prisons aren't built to actually rehabilitate, and the system isn't built to keep people out of prison in the first place. Feeling like there should be more programing in place to help kids who come from abusive homes and dangerous neighborhoods. When you hear some of the stories of abuse that people suffered before they ever committed their first crime, it makes you ask yourself- what the fuck did we expect them to do?  The bottom line is the way prisons are set up is a business and there are a lot of people who are making a lot of money off keeping them full. This is having a devastating effect on specifically communities of color- and our country as a whole. I wish that watching the movie '13th' was mandatory in schools nationwide. If you haven't already seen it, WATCH IT. Netflix, done.

What is the Anti-Recidivism Coalition?

The Anti-Recidivism Coalition provides a support network for formerly incarcerated young men and women, and advocates for fairer criminal justice policies. I copied the mission statement from their website because I didn't want to miss quote this-  but I don't know that that statement even begins to do justice for the impact they are making on so many people’s lives.

How did you come to find them and start giving back through them?  

I had just returned from leading a jewelry workshop inside a women's correctional facility in Belize. That trip was when it really clicked for me- that I could be an artist and still have an impact on other people’s lives. That the concept of making things for a living and empowering people and giving back weren't mutually exclusive. I was really hyped on my discovery and sharing this new found knowledge over breakfast with a friend who told me about her involvement with ARC, and how she was going to attend their upcoming annual retreat. My immediate response was I need to get involved ASAP, so I contacted them and told them I wanted to lead a workshop.

How does it make you feel to get outside of yourself & studio?

The feeling is truly indescribable. Every time I "give" back, I feel like I am getting way more in return. I always leaving feeling FULL. I feel like getting outside of my studio, and helping others create, is a really special experience. It feels even more powerful when you are leading a group of individuals that would have otherwise not had that opportunity. There is not only something therapeutic about working with your hands, but also really transformative when you create something you didn't know you were capable of making because you didn't have the knowledge/skills/tools before. It's so much fun to give people these tools and watch them light up and impress themselves with what they've made. I find that it’s an incredibly empowering experience for a lot of people- and that's why I do it.

Do you have a piece of advice you would give to someone new to giving back/finding their thing?

I would suggest to just start by saying yes to giving back in general. Say yes to things and give them a try, see how they feel, see if you identify with the cause. You don't actually know until you try.

What would you like to see Good Support do or integrate moving forward?

There are so many talented women in this network. I think it would be really powerful to create a day or two full of programming and workshops focusing on learning new skills and empowerment, for a community of underserved women. I think that could be really impactful and powerful. Big picture this could also lead to internships, apprenticeships etc.

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As a native Portland, Oregon, Maggi Simpkins has acquired a unique training in harnessing the beauty of both the natural and built environment Recognizing the importance of conservation, Simpkins has recently expanded the environmentally sustainable nature of her brand. M by Maggnolia is comprised from 100% socially responsible materials and a unique blend of reclaimed metals. Each piece of jewelry is handmade with love from her Los Angeles Studio. You can find out more about Maggi and her work HEREWe are humbled and honored to have Maggi take the time to speak with us.

What is Recidivism? noun  re·cid·i·vism \ri-ˈsi-də-ˌvi-zəm\ 

1. A return to incarceration, following release from prison or jail.

2. The failure of our justice system to rehabilitate returning citizens and keep our communities safe.

The Anti-Recidivism Coalition believes that every individual should have the chance to thrive. They fight to reduce recidivism in the following ways: Inreach, Support & Mentoring, Housing/Jobs/Education and Policy Advocacy. You can find out more about ARC HERE