Solitary Garden and the fires at UCSC

We have not gotten a letter recently from Tim. With a brief telephone call last week, we know he is slowly recovering from the coronavirus in his small cell in San Quentin. Hopefully we will receive a new letter and update to share with you soon.

We did want to share this image of Solitary Garden, the participatory public art project at UC Santa Cruz. The picture of the sculpture similar to the one that Tim spends upwards of 24 hrs a day, and the garden that is being grown on his behalf was taken in the hours before the university was evacuated on August 20 for the CZU wildfires.

The photograph is a poignant reminder of the relationship between California wildfires, firefighters, mass incarceration, and prison labor. Repeatedly, the governor and other officials have talked about the ‘lack of resources’ available to combat the fires sweeping across the state. By “lack of resources,” they are speaking about California’s dependency on the labor of incarcerated firefighters. These firefighters are a limited “resource” because of how the COVID-19 pandemic has impacted prisons.

Looking at the 6’x 9’ sculpture of a solitary confinement cell sitting in the smoke of the fires is also to see an urgent question emerge. When prisoners are called state resources, what are the connections between mass incarceration, our overflowing prisons, and the state’s need for labor of this sort?

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