I got really depressed and discouraged. Gave up. Stopped trying.
None of my projects, networking groups, or attempts at volunteer work were accomplishing anything. None of the self-help books were self-helping. I just scoffed or whimpered the whole way through You Are A Bad-Ass: How to Stop Doubting Your Greatness by Jen Sincero, The Secret, and quit before finishing so many others.
I kept reading Orange Is the New Black by Piper Kerman, however, because it had nothing to do with me and my pathetic life. Or so I thought. Of course I saw how it related to my life in that my life is like prison and I have no control over anything and my life sucks and I have no opportunity and … welcome to my wife’s world–what it’s like listening to my ongoing pity-party.
Kerman’s recollections of the “education” programs in prison lit the fire (apparently not completely out) in my heart but it wasn’t until I finished the book last night, including her equally outraging (if that isn’t a word already, I’m creating it now) description of “transitioning” courses for soon-to-be-released prisoners that I realized I might be able to do something. I’ve always wanted to teach. I’ve always wanted to be involved in some sort of “prison ministry” volunteer work.
My first thought was, “I could teach effective classes answering the questions her fellow inmates asked — how to get a job, who would hire me, how do I find those people, how do I get a place to live, how do I do all this when I live in an urban wasteland …”
My second thought was, “Coding and IT is a meritocracy. Nobody cares what you look like. To a certain (it varies) extent, nobody cares what your experience/education is as long as you can do the job–especially, ESPECIALLY if you can show that you’ve done it and can do it well. Coding and other IT stuff is so awesome because if you can find the knowledge … learning and practice can be free. And you can do it anywhere.”
Even in prison.
Even in an urban wasteland.
And we geeks? We’re outcasts, too. We’re freaks, too. We often have to fight for acceptance. We likely grew up invisible. Some/many of us are anxious in any given social situation.
We hackers–using original definition of the word–well, we hate locked doors. We have a problem with authority.
We kids with ADD and other learning disabilities who struggled through or dropped out of school? We thrive in this environment.
I’m going to go give these people inside some skills, some hope, some training, some experience …
The great thing about this skill is you learn by doing so as you learn, you’re developing a portfolio.
They’ll get education, experience, and … experience collaborating … and … I could write so much, so many of my thoughts since last night.
In the tradition of #GirlsWhoCode, #SmartyPantsWomen, #BlackGirlsCode, etc. I just registered a domain (GoDaddy is having a 99 cent sale!) for ConvictsWhoCode.com and tweeted #ConvictsWhoCode for posterity. There’s nothing at that URL yet. I’m in my cubicle and I’m supposed to be “working” right now. I’ll start building that this evening.
Now I just have to fight through an army of bureaucrats and such.
My other first thought was I’d have to convince some government person to create a position–a task that I’m sure was going to suck. I already had a business plan developing to show how inexpensive it could actually be.
My other second thought was, “But Kickstarter.” If I make it portable and it’s free from the BOP (I learned that acronym from Piper) … if I’m offering a service that doesn’t cost them anything … I could really do this. I could do it really well.