For Immediate Release: Create Forward Launches Mass Story Lab in NYC

For Immediate Release
Piper Anderson
Create Forward

Mass Story Lab: Designing A Future Beyond Prisons

RELEASE DATE, New York City - On June 29, 2016, Mass Story Lab will kick off a  national tour to 20 U.S. cities grappling with the impact of mass incarceration, starting with Mass Story: Rikers Island.

Mass Story Lab is an innovative art & design project by Create Forward that seeks to arm communities with creative tools to design solutions to mass incarceration.

According to the Bureau of Justice Statistics, 1 in 36 adults is under correctional supervision. In 2015 when the Justice Department took the historic step of releasing 6,000 people from Federal prisons, the largest one-time early release of prisoners in history, it signaled the end of an era marked by tough on crime rhetoric and a ‘war on drugs’. Yet the federal system accounts for less than half of the U.S prison population and efforts at criminal justice reform on a state level continue to fall short.

“There are as many criminal justice systems as there are states. So if we want to change the systems then we need to give each a community a voice and platform to envision change.” Says, Piper Anderson, creator of Mass Story Lab.

Mass Story Lab is currently being incubated in the TED Residency Program in New York City. Known for the thousands of filmed talks given by innovators from around the world, TED is now incubating and supporting break-through ideas in-house through their 4-month TED Residency program. Piper Anderson is a member of TED’s first class of Residents who work out of the TED office and receive support to develop their ideas.

“I spent the last 15 years traveling the country using poetry, theatre, and community art projects to inform the public about the impact of mass incarceration on communities of color but it just never felt like it was enough.” Says, Piper Anderson, creator of Mass Story Lab.

Mass Story Lab brings together some of the best tools available to create empathy and cultural change from the worlds of arts and design; storytelling and design thinking. “Its time we give people the tools to actively design a world beyond prisons,” explains Anderson, who is also the founder of Create Forward, which delivers creative strategies for social change to activate the collective imagination.  Mass Story Lab is the first national initiative Anderson has developed under the banner of Create Forward.

The project will launch in New York City on June 29th, from 9am – 12pm at The New School 55 W 13th Street, with Mass Story: Rikers Island. To launch this ambitious initiative Create Forward has teamed up with national criminal justice advocacy organization, JustLeadershipUSA. JLUSA’s Close Rikers Campaign is calling for the closure of the country’s largest jail complex sighting decades of violence, abuse and mismanagement. The launch will be hosted at the New School in partnership with Humanities Action Lab (HAL). HAL produces public history projects to create dialogue on urgent social issues. Their most recent project is “States of Incarceration”.

At Mass Story: Rikers Island, ten people whose lives have been changed by Rikers Island will share their story, and audience members will then break into small groups to begin a imaginative ideation sessions to generate creative strategies to redesign justice.

Some of the stories you’ll experience at Mass Story: Rikers Island include:

  • Khalil Cumberbatch, who witnessed the senseless and brutal beating of an inmate by correctional staff to instill fear in the population.
  • Johnny Perez, was 16 years old when he was detained on Rikers Island. He recalls a feeling of helplessness and a culture in which survival meant a transformation from victim to victimizer. 
  • Ann Pastorasta spent several days searching for her son in the system before she was informed that he was sent to Rikers Island. “I kept searching on the internet and could not find Riker’s Island until I finally located a gray spot on the map.

These stories and many more provide a fuller picture of what Rikers Island represents in the lives of so many New Yorkers. Mass Story Lab aims to ensure that their stories drive a movement to build safer, healthier communities while eliminating that dark ominous spot called Rikers Island that is a blight on the New York City skyline.

Event Info:

Mass Story: Rikers Island

Wednesday, June 29, 20169-12pm

The New School 55 W 13th Street New York, NY