The Vice President of the Alliance for Safety and Justice, Jay Jordan, sat down on the Changed Podcast to talk about what motivates change, get a little personal and share thoughts about where we *might* be headed as a country
If you’re not familiar with the important work of the Alliance for Safety and Justice, a National organization bringing together state leaders, advocates and crime survivors to reform justice policy to prioritize safety over punishment. this video provides an overview.
In our conversation, Jay Jordan and I covered a lot of territory thinking about change in the past, present and future, luck vs perspective and pulling back from these broad concepts to get a little personal.
Jay shared a lovely story of a moment in his childhood that really motivated him to change something on a personal level that was holding him back. His story really illustrated how a little patience, and a little heart can be hugely impactful on changes down the line. It also left me with a craving for strawberries and deeply nostalgic for my own schoolyard memories.
Takeaways from our conversation
“Just know that the pink pony is going to come back around again. You just have to be ready to hop on.”– Jay Jordan
One of the things that really stayed with me from this conversation was the perspective, similar to previous guest insights shared by Madeleine Ryan in episode 16, that certain opportunities will keep showing up for us throughout our lives until the point that we embrace them. Jay used the colorful metaphor of a pink pony on the carousel. Maybe you miss the first or even the second time that pink pony comes around… but eventually you’re going to get that pink pony.
When it comes to luck vs perspective and seizing the opportunities within arms reach, maybe it’s helpful to remember that from up close things can seem bleak (like the guy arguing over being double parked in New York), but if you can zoom out and get a high-level view you realize that there are all kinds of opportunities (for example a parking space just around the corner). Take time to develop your ability to get that big picture view.
When it comes to the question of the future of this country while the future is not certain, it is also far from bleak. There is no doubt that 30 years from now this world will look, feel and operate in ways that are completely different from today. The only question is… how do we want to get there? Because the choices we make today, will influence those outcomes. This reinforced for me the deeply important need to be able to have tough conversations with each other.
“Our deepest fear is not that we are inadequate. Our deepest fear is that we are powerful beyond measure. It is our light, not our darkness that most frightens us.”– Marianne Williamson
Links and Resources
Want to read the same book that Jay was reading at the time of his interview? Check out Rules for Radicals by Saul Alinski
Interested in developing the skills needed to have the important, tough and critical conversations necessary to steer humanity towards a better future? Check out these workshops from The Art of Change skills for Life, or if you’re looking for insight and advisement about a particular question, feel free to reach out to me directly.
If you resonate with the value of shifting the focus of the justice conversation from ‘crime and punishment,’ to ‘creating safe communities,’ one way to get involved is to back the efforts of the Alliance for Safety and Justice, and you can do that here.
About Jay Jordan
Jay Jordan is the Vice President & National Director of TimeDone for the Alliance for Safety and Justice —- Jay Jordan has worked at the intersection of social justice and politics throughout his career. He serves as ASJ’s Vice President, overseeing all of ASJ’s state-based teams and reform advocacy efforts, as well as the #TimeDone National Director. Jay co-founded the organization’s #TimeDone campaign to organize people living with past conviction records to eliminate the barriers to opportunity that block them from success. He previously served as executive director of ASJ’s flagship state-based program, Californians for Safety and Justice (CSJ).
Prior to his time at ASJ and CSJ, Jay was instrumental in recruiting and training church congregations in the South Los Angeles area for LA Voice PICO. He served as one of the lead organizers for the Campaign to Ban the Box for the city of Los Angeles and co-founded Faith in Action, a group of crime survivors in the Westmont area of Los Angeles working to transform their community by employing an asset-based community development strategy. As Special Projects Manager for the California Applications Research Group in Stockton, California, Jay spearheaded the launch of the widely successful anti-graffiti mobile app, Clean Up Stockton. He also established a first-class call center that was instrumental in securing victories on several political and social campaigns across the West Coast.
Jay was compelled to create his own non-profit that focused on teen diversion and civic engagement because of his experience as a troubled youth who served time in prison. With the help of Stockton City Councilman Michael Tubbs, law enforcement, and several other allies, Jay launched the innovative youth organizing program, The First50 which in its first year saw both 100% high school graduation and college enrollment. He has been recognized over 20 times for his organizing talents including the American Red Cross’ 2014 Hero of the Year, the Literacy Foundations’ Innovative Library Concept Award, and a Special Congressional Recognition for Outstanding Youth Program.
In addition, Jay Jordan served as co-chair of San Joaquin County’s Boys and Men of Color Alliance Juvenile Justice Committee and was a Board member for the African-American Chamber of Commerce of San Joaquin. He made history by becoming the first and only formerly incarcerated Field Director for Congressman Jerry McNerney’s successful reelection campaign.
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