The future comes to the Wagram Prison

By: By Katelin Gandee - Staff reporter

WAGRAM — Growing Change, which is refurbishing the old Wagram Prison, got a visit from the 22nd century on Friday.

The Delta Collaborative was founded in 2102 and was able to travel back in time to help find common ground to change the course of the future. They have been traveling on their “time-traveling school bus” — which has been converted into an educational museum — throughout the United States to spark conversations and discussions.

The project started after Emma Yip and Elena Ricciardi graduated from the University of California-Berkeley. During the last political election, the two realized that there is a large gap between the political sides and wanted to start conversations that could be beneficial to both sides. Besides helping take on the political gap the museum also has an environmental component to it.

“We also wanted to see if asking questions and starting these conversations if we can see how people in different communities can find ways of addressing environmental issues that are specific to the place that they live in,” Ricciardi said.

Along the way, they were joined by Laura Rostad, who acts as communication captain, and the three have had an estimated 3,000 people on the bus so far.

Taking on the role of being from the future opens up different conversations and lets people who experience it take what they want from it.

“They can gather what they want and take what they want from it,” Rostad said. “Shifting the lens from this is what this is this what we stand for just kind of telling these stories and allowing people to take what they want from it.”

So far the bus has been to 14 different states and celebrated the 49th opening of the museum.

The three, along with Growing Change’s Noran Sanford, opened the prison up to students from Trinity Child Care, letting them not only tour the bus but the grounds of the old prison.

For Sanford, the environmental component was something that was a very important message to be bringing on to the kids.

“Since one of the key mission statements of Growing Change is to sustain personal and environmental wellness for our community we believe this kind of environmental education is key,” Sanford said. “Regardless of people’s political differences we can all agree that we should take care of what God has given us and I think educating our young people about what appropriate environmental protection looks like is essential.”

The group contacted Sanford after hearing about the project through different organizations that have worked with Growing Change. The Delta Collaboration felt like it would be a great site to share the message of taking care of the environment as well as spreading the word of the refurbishing of the prison.

“I think this is special because we can partner with Growing Change because it’s harder to make connections with places like this that are so special,” Rostad said. “And doing so much good for the community so I think this is definitely one of the more special stops.”

Sanford is happy that the organization was able to bring in the Delta Collaboration because Growing Change is still a young organization. Not only has Delta Collaboration brought new discussions into the old prison but in a few weeks, another organization will be bringing yet another conversation in.

Solitary Gardens will be coming to the prison in a few weeks to build a garden the size of solitary confinement cell. Growing Change will then get in contact with a prisoner who is in solitary confinement who will get to chose what is placed in the garden and how what is grown there will be used.

“If you create an innovative opportunity it brings more innovation,” Sanford said.



By Katelin Gandee

Staff reporter

Reach Katelin Gandee at 910-506-3171 or at [email protected]

Reach Katelin Gandee at 910-506-3171 or at [email protected]