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July 2023 Newsletter

1st Annual Backpack Giveaway August 15!

On August 15, 2023, Cambridge HEART will be hosting their 1st Annual Backpack giveaway at the Democracy Center. We will have light snacks and refreshments for the children. For parents we are doing a gift card giveaway. Please feel free to share the flier with family and friends. Everyone is welcome. We are looking for volunteers so if you know anyone who would like to dedicate their time in supporting the community they can scan the QR on the flier or reach out to Amanda@cambridge-heart.org.





Outreach Event July 28th

On July 28, 2023, Cambridge HEART hosted an outreach event in Central Square Cambridge, MA. The Responders handed out toiletries, first aid kits, sandwiches, and water. We also asked the community members to help us with a survey and we rewarded 4 community members with gift cards.


Spotlight: Joseph

1. What's the story of how you got involved with HEART and what is important to you about HEART?

I got involved with HEART during a time of change in my life. I had gone through some events that changed my perspectives on myself, my situations, and my life. I was looking for things to do, ways to get out of my own head and take control of my own life. So I signed up for the Mayor’s Program. It was by pure coincidence that I was placed at HEART but I’m glad it happened. I was unsure of what HEART was or what we’d be doing at first, but as I learned more about HEART, carceral systems, and restorative justice, it was like a part of myself clicked into place. It was like I found a piece of me. Something I could truly say I wanted to be a part of my future. To me, it's the idea of helping others and myself. Helping people learn and grow, helping my community, and helping give more options and brighter futures to those who might not have that otherwise.


2. What are you working on this summer as part of the HEART team?

This summer me and my coworker Ady are working on research. We are asking important questions to young people in our communities about restorative justice and Cambridge HEART. This will hopefully help HEART interact with young people who are the future of our communities. As well as help the young people in our communities realize what HEART is and how its message and mission can help them in life.


3. Can you share an impactful memory you have from working on the HEART team?

We were in a meeting and were sharing moments from working at HEART that made us proud. I didn’t have a project or any assignment, project, or work moment that made me proud at the time so I told my story of how I was proud of my time overall. Just being there. Me and my family had gone through a lot, I had done things I wasn’t proud of due to that and the mental state I was in for a long time. During a time when I was the most lost and hurt and was trying to find my way, I came across HEART. Since then just working there, hearing about restorative justice, and being with the people at HEART have helped me move on. I feel proud of myself more than I ever have. I feel l’ve gotten a new start and a new chance to do better. Of course I didn’t word it as well as I did here but when I shared my story, I felt listened to and cared for. Kevin even took me outside to breathe because of how heavy and hard of a topic that was for me.


Queenie’s Zine

Launched in March 2022, Queenie’s Crew has been an experiment to engage children in learning about building communities of care without prisons or policing. The Crew has engaged more than 300 caregivers, educators, and organizers with their monthly newsletter, and kids have taken more than 100 actions to hone their abolitionist imaginations. Recently, Queenie’s Crew worked with many artists and organizers to create a zine. See the zine here and learn more here.




Learning Corner: Transformative Justice

Definition from Mia Mingus (longer version here)


Transformative Justice (TJ) is a political framework and approach for responding to violence, harm and abuse. At its most basic, it seeks to respond to violence without creating more violence and/or engaging in harm reduction to lessen the violence. TJ can be thought of as a way of “making things right,” getting in “right relation,” or creating justice together. Transformative justice responses and interventions 1) do not rely on the state (e.g. police, prisons, the criminal legal system, I.C.E., foster care system (though some TJ responses do rely on or incorporate social services like counseling); 2) do not reinforce or perpetuate violence such as oppressive norms or vigilantism; and most importantly, 3) actively cultivate the things we know prevent violence such as healing, accountability, resilience, and safety for all involved…


TJ interventions can take different forms, but more often than not, they include (1) supporting survivors around their healing and/or safety and working with the person who has harmed to take accountability for the harm they’ve caused, (2) building community members’ capacities so that they can support the intervention, as well as heal and/or take accountability for any harm they were complicit in, and (3) building skills to prevent violence from occurring, and supporting community members’ skills to interrupt violence while it is happening…


We are trying to build alternatives to our current systems and break generational cycles of violence within our communities and families. We do not believe that prisons or cops make us safer. We believe that we can create the things we need.

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