I feel a connection with almost every episode of Frontiers, but this one has a special place in my heart.
This summer we began documenting the Lullaby Project, a collaboration between the Carnegie Institute in New York and the Keys to Life Program in Alaska.
This episode is a follow up to a program we did earlier this year.
It brought two groups of women together: 16 inmates and 16 musicians.
The vision was a collaboration to create lullabies that would help the inmates reach out over the prison walls to their children.
We followed the process from the beginning until what we thought was the end – the production of a CD and concert at Hiland Mountain Correctional Center in September.
The project has since grown some wings. Children at North Star Elementary, classmates of two inmates’ kids, want to write a lullaby for the moms. Volunteers began work on this project at the end of November — and have begun raising money to produce a small CD. A GoFundMe site has also been set up for this project.
The children of inmates are scattered across our state. Many of them struggle, because they don’t understand why their moms are serving time or because they feel they are unloved. In Alaska, we have seen an alarming trend in intergenerational incarceration.
There are hopes the Lullaby Project will help to heal some of the trauma children have experienced and break the cycle.
This is the second Lullaby prison project in the nation. The first was at Rikers Island in New York. Other correctional centers across the country will be watching this project to see if it holds promise for their inmates.
We hope you will find inspiration in this week’s program. It was a labor of love by our Frontiers team, which includes producer Gina Romero, photojournalist and editor Will Mader, photojournalists John Thain and Rick Rysso as well as the talents of Jessica Stugelmayer, who created our Lullaby Project interactive web story. We also want to thank our news director, Bert Rudman, and general manager, Gary Donovan, for giving us the time and resources to bring this story to you.
This is a story about more than inmates at Hiland. It’s a story about the remarkable community of Alaskans who helped these lullabies take flight — a true Frontiers of the heart. Enjoy!