Our guest today is Lynden Harris, the founder of Hidden Voices, a radically inclusive, co-creative collective committed to a more just and compassionate world. In this episode, we talk about Lynden’s journey and learn about the stories of the men on death row, and how those stories have transformed people, and how they can possibly transform us.


Lynden’s Vision

“The number one outcome that all the guys said they would like to see is they would like for people to know - we are not monsters.”

Lynden started Hidden Voices around 20 years ago when she worked as an art director in a theater. At the time she realized that the theater world was not very inclusive and she got in touch with a variety of different communities with an intention to co-create plays that these communities wanted to see and bring forth. 

One of her first Hidden Voices projects was with women in prison. Around 7 years ago, Lynden had an opportunity to develop a project WITH men on death row. Over the years they co-created a program with the men to share their life stories as the men wanted to show what they were not monsters.

Lynden talks about how the men on death row all came from poverty and how their violent and harsh upbringings paved their paths in life and why one cannot see the responsibility of the mean for their actions without the context of systemic responsibility.

The Ripple Effect Of Hidden Voices

“That last story is going to be the story of them walking out of those doors and going back home to their families and their communities.”

Lynden shared how many of teh men who co-created the first play were transformed by this experience and further explored their creative sides. 

Listening to the stories of the mean on deathrow is gut wrenching, heart-braking yet inspiring at the same time. The play was also performed outside of the prison and had remarkeable effects on the audiences in terms of raising awareness and cracking their hearts open. While 99 out of 100 people usually have a different life experience, there is usually one person in the audience that says "this is the life of my brother, father, friend."

One day, an editor heard about these remarkable projects and suggested to Lynden to collect the men’s stories in a book. She collected 99 life stories, for her book, Right Here, Right Now, which is coming out at the end of April 2021. 

Restorative Justice Circle

“This practice gives us an opportunity to look at the bigger picture of who was harmed.”

Lynden holds Restorative Justice circles, that are dedicated to holding space for the people in it, so everybody’s voice can be heard.

At the beginning of these circles, everybody shares a story of when they were being harmed and also when they harmed someone. This approach helps to see the bigger picture and creates an equal playing field as there is no one who can say they have never been hurt or never hurt anyone. That´s how healing can begin.

At the end of the episode, Lynden talks about how liberation is possible for all of us, and how we can stop recreating these horrible systems and patterns. 

Palma’s Reflection On Building Your Compassion Muscle 

This week, we invite you to reflect and practice compassion and cracking your heart open.

Take a moment and ask yourself - how often have you othered someone in the past few weeks? How often have you judged others?

Being human, it is completely normal to judge others, but try to be aware of how often you are doing it.

Some of the most powerful practices to build the compassion muscle are loving-kindness meditation and the “just like me” practice.

If you would like to learn how to practice this meditation, you can find Palma’s loving-kindness meditations on Youtubeor Insight Timer.

How to get started with practicing “just like me”? Every time you see someone in the street or on Zoom, no matter if they are young or old, more successful or less successful than you, more beautful or less beautiful than you, rich or poor, a woman or a man, pause and say silently. “just like me”. This will help you to acknowledge that underneath all the outer layers and all the masks, we all share a common humanity.

About Our Guest, Lynden Harris

Lynden is the founder of Hidden Voices, a radically inclusive, participatory, and co-creative collective committed to a more just and compassionate world.  For twenty years, Lynden has collaborated with underrepresented communities to create award-winning works that combine narrative, performance, mapping, music, digital media, and interactive exhibits. 

During her decades of facilitating community connections, Lynden developed a participatory workshop model to empower change through collective visioning and collaborative action.  This process facilitates a dynamic exchange between documentary, art, and community that allows for a multiplicity of voices and a multiplexity of understandings.

A founding Cultural Agent for the US Department of Arts and Culture and member of the MAP Fund Class of 2017 for Serving Life:  ReVisioning Justice, Lynden is a 2020-21 Fellow with A Blade of Grass, the 2020 recipient of the Ann Atwater Theater Award, and the 2020 North Carolina Playwriting Fellow. RIGHT HERE, RIGHT NOW: Life Stories from America’s Death Row (DukeUPress) will be released in April 2021. Her music theater work-in-development, A GOOD BOY, is currently a semifinalist for the National Music Theater Conference. 

Lynden is a Restorative Justice circle-keeper and a Truth, Racial Healing, and Transformation circle facilitator.

A special thanks to Lynden Harris for taking the time to share her inspiring story with us.

Continue Your Journey

Now it is time to find your own unique path. We can help you to connect with your innate wisdom and create an inspiring vision for a deeply fulfilling and meaningful life. Apply for a discovery session on our website,palmamichel.com.

Learn to meditate with Palma on the MUSE brain-sensing device and receive a 15% discount (will be shown at checkout only) with this link!

Thank You

Thank you for joining us on this journey of the Explorer’s Mind Podcast.

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