The Success of Failure

danielle blogPosted by Gardner Fellow Danielle Puretz

“One of the reasons people stop learning is that they become less and less willing to risk failure.” – John Gardner

This has been an exciting couple of weeks in some of the communities that are John Gardner’s legacy. On October 17th, we celebrated the 30th Anniversary of the John Gardner Fellowship, bringing together past and current fellows from both Berkeley and Stanford. And then this past weekend in Washington, D.C. several of us fellows were able to celebrate the 50th Anniversary of the White House Fellowship program.

Since I’ve been with my placement for just about two months now, this was really the perfect time to remember the larger community that I’m participating in.

One of the greatest lessons that the John Gardner Fellowship community has shared, is this sort of comfort with failure. Alright, I’m not sure how comfortable anyone can really ever be with failure, but the fact is that no success is ever achieved without risking failure. So maybe sometimes such work, such progress, really looks like a looming failure hanging in front of your face.

Attendees of the Gardner 30th Anniversary Dinner

Attendees of the Gardner 30th Anniversary Dinner

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DC Musings

Lucy headshot for blogPosted by Matsui Washington Fellow Lucy Song

I cannot believe that an entire month has passed since my last blog. Time sure flies by quickly around here! Many exciting things have happened since the end of September, and I am happy to say that I am really starting to like this city. Sometimes (and at the risk of being slightly creepy), as I pass by quaint little apartments lined up neatly on the streets with their fancy fall decorations, I can even imagine myself living and working here in the near future.

Compared to my life at Berkeley, where I have the regular schedule of going to lectures, sitting at FSM for hours, attending club meetings, and hanging out with friends, life in DC feels a lot more exciting as my schedule is a lot more unstructured and unpredictable. Sometimes I would hear about an interesting conference 30 minutes before it starts and attend it spontaneously, and sometimes my friends and I would suddenly decide to go on serendipitous outings. Continue reading

Part II: Getting in the Swing of Things

Ozi for blogPosted by Matsui Washington Fellow Ozi Emeziem

Since, I last wrote, things have changed – mainly, I no longer feel like a foreigner in the capital! Suddenly, I got into the swing of things…as if I always wake up at 6:30 a.m. for work, or that I always come home and chef up dinner as well as lunch for the next day, or that my office has always been just around the corner from top notch lawyers, or better yet, that I always go to the gym. As much as I love Cal and miss family and friends, I have to say, I have come to love the independence and the vast amount of opportunities in D.C.!

I intern at the Lawyers’ Committee for Civil Rights Under Law and each day that I spend here, I find my curiosity grows. There’s a chance here to come along for the ride and witness action. To be a part of an organization that has dedicated itself to advancing civil rights. The Lawyers’ Committee was created at the request of President John F. Kennedy in 1963 in response to the need to protect civil rights not just in the streets, but in the courts. It is composed of a wide range of professionals including attorneys, analysts, lobbyists, publicity specialists, grassroots organizers, and even cartographers, who all work on the principal projects of Fair Housing, Employment Discrimination, Education, and Voting Rights, in order to ensure equal justice through law. Continue reading

Realizing My Dreams in NYC!

Danny MurilloPosted by John Gardner Fellow Danny Murillo

As I reflect upon my previous life where I was confined for up to twenty-two and a half hours per day to an 8-by-10 foot prison cell in the Security Housing Unit (SHU) at Pelican Bay State Prison in Crescent City, California, I recall that I would often get lost in my thoughts, hopelessly dreaming that one day I would live in New York City after my release. Although I did not have a clue of how I would make this dream come true I just knew that it was something that I wanted. At the same time I understood that opportunities that would allow me to make this dream come true would be limited to me because of my status as a formerly incarcerated person. Knowing this reality that as a formerly incarcerated person it was legally permissible to be denied access to basic resources, such as, housing, employment, health care and food stamps, I was forced to put my dream aside after my release and focus on transitioning back into society after fourteen years of incarceration. Continue reading