Fergus

img_7457One of the best things about working with Vox is how unsettling it is. That might seem like an odd thing to say. What I mean is that in its creative practices and in the connections it makes, Vox is disruptive and challenging – in a very good way!

Let me make an example of myself (!). I’ve been in the criminal justice ‘business’ since 1988. I’ve lived and work in a ‘total institution’. I’ve worked in communities as a criminal justice social worker. For the best part of the last 20 years, I’ve worked as an academic, trying to bring research and evidence to bear on criminal justice policy and practice development. By now I’m supposed to know what I’m talking about!

But if you put a guitar in my hand and ask me – alongside a group of people in different situations — to spend a couple of days reflecting on my own experience of ‘reentry’ (or coming home), suddenly I’m in very unfamiliar and unsettling territory. And if – a few months later – you tell me that my job is to spend a couple of days co-writing a song about being supervised with someone subject to life-long post-prison supervision, then I’m more than a little bit lost.

After a while though, I start finding my way. Not just with chords, melodies and words that seem to make some sense. Not just with new ways of experiencing, feeling, understanding and communicating the things I have studied for all this time. Somehow, I also find my life and my work coming together in new and satisfying ways. I’m more engaged emotionally and more involved personally. I’m more committed to the people I meet, to the community we try to build and sustain, and to the challenge of changing things together.

It’s good to be unsettled. It drives us on.

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