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Finding Freedom is a collection of poetry & portraits from recently incarcerated individuals living at St. Leonard's Halfway House.
Finding Freedom is a collection of poetry & portraits from recently incarcerated individuals living at St. Leonard's Halfway House.
356 backers pledged $31,448 to help bring this project to life.

About this project

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$31,448

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The background:

Shortly after moving to Chicago, Brandon Crockett volunteered to teach a poetry class at St. Leonard's Ministries, a halfway house and agency of Episcopal Charities and Community Services on Chicago's near west side. The agency serves individuals recently released from prison. In the seven years since, Brandon has collected hundreds of poems and now he will be sharing them with the public.

The idea:

Since the early days of the class, Brandon's goal was to publish the residents' poetry in tandem with their individual portraits in a coffee table book entitled "Finding Freedom". The book would be used to raise funding and awareness for St. Leonard's to better help individuals readjust into society upon being released from prison. 

The book:

In January 2014, Brandon reached out to world-renowned Chicago photographer Sandro Miller (known most recently for his acclaimed John Malkovich portraits). Sandro enthusiastically jumped at the opportunity to work on the portraits. Over the next year, he photographed over 60 residents in five separate photo shoots. 

Brandon and Sandro teamed up with some of Chicago's top graphic designers to pair the portraits with the residents' handwritten poetry to create a beautiful coffee table book to be printed by Blanchette Press, who Sandro says, "is probably the greatest printer I have ever seen."

This is a high-end art book in both content, design, printing and binding that will spark conversation, and stir new thought. As you turn the pages, you will peek into the thoughts of those who rarely have a forum to share their voice and stare into the faces of individuals who often go unseen. 

Why:

The experiences Brandon shared with the individuals at St. Leonard's greatly impacted and shaped his life and he feels it's time to give back. Viewing the residents' photos and reading their innermost thoughts will likewise have an impact on you, as you realize the difference between you and those who have gone to prison is likely far less than you think. 

What's next:

Brandon has turned to Kickstarter to raise money to pay for production costs. All proceeds will go towards the book's creation. Any remaining funds will be donated to St. Leonard's. 

We invite you to donate and help the residents of St. Leonard's continue on the path to finding freedom. 

Media Coverage:

Thanks to Elizabeth Griffin at Esquire for giving us our first national media coverage in their exclusive story. 

Thanks to Joseph Erbentraut for his story in the Huffington Post.

Thanks to Tony Sarabia and Jason Marck for having us in studio on WBEZ's (Chicago's NPR affiliate) "The Morning Shift."

Thanks to Frank Mathie and ABC7 Eyewitness News in Chicago for giving us our first TV story.

Thanks to Michael Zhang at Petapixel likewise for an excellent story. 

Thanks to the staff at Bored Panda for featuring the work on their homepage. 

Thanks to Gayle Nelson at Non-Profit Quarterly for connecting the project to a bigger story, not to mention all of her behind the scenes help.

Thanks to Keith Estiler for his story on Pixable

And a huge thank you to Eleonora Giovinazzo for making this an international story featured on Italy's main online newspaper La Repubblica

More to come!

Risks and challenges

As with any publishing job, there is the risk of running into printing and shipping issues.

However, all of the content has been collected, the book has been designed, and the printer has a long history of working with Sandro, so there shouldn't be many issues in the printing process.

If there are setbacks, you will be kept up to speed with the progress as the team relies on their experience to trudge through.

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  1. Select this reward

    Pledge $1 or more About $1.00

    - One sincere thank you email because you're awesome!

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    Pledge $5 or more About $5

    - One high-res portrait and poem emailed to you.
    - And a sincere thank you.

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    16 backers
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    Pledge $10 or more About $10

    - Your choice of one postcard sized portrait or poem signed by a St. Leonard's resident.
    - And a sincere thank you.

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    Pledge $25 or more About $25

    - One copy of the eBook.
    - Have your name included in the acknowledgements section of the book.
    - One postcard sized poem and portrait signed by a St. Leonard's resident.

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    Pledge $40 or more About $40

    - One 12x18 poster of thumbnails of all the portraits.
    - One copy of the eBook.
    - Have your name included in the acknowledgements section of the book.
    - One postcard sized poem and portrait signed by a St. Leonard's resident.

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    Pledge $60 or more About $60

    - EARLY BIRD SPECIAL!
    - Get your hardcover coffee table edition of the book before anyone else. We'll send you one of the first 25 copies that come off the press.
    - Have your name included in the acknowledgements section of the book.

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    Pledge $65 or more About $65

    - THE ALMOST EARLY BIRD SPECIAL!
    - Get your hardcover coffee table edition of the book before almost everyone else. We'll send you one of the first 125 copies that come off the press.
    - Have your name included in the acknowledgements section of the book.

    ***NOTE*** only order this if the $60 early bird special is no longer available.

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  8. Select this reward

    Pledge $70 or more About $70

    - One hardcover coffee table edition of the book.
    - Have your name included in the acknowledgements section of the book.

    ***NOTE*** only order this if the $60 and $65 early bird specials are no longer available.

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  9. Select this reward

    Pledge $80 or more About $80

    - One copy of hardcover coffee table edition of the book.
    - One 12x18 poster of thumbnails of all the portraits.
    - Have your name included in the acknowledgements section of the book.
    - One copy of the eBook.
    - One postcard sized poem and portrait signed by a St. Leonard's resident.

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  10. Select this reward

    Pledge $100 or more About $100

    - One limited edition copy of hardcover coffee table edition of the book with slip cover.
    - One 12x18 poster of thumbnails of all the portraits (signed by Sandro).
    - Have your name printed in the acknowledgements section of the book.
    - One copy of the eBook.
    - One postcard sized poem and portrait signed by a St. Leonard's resident.

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  11. Select this reward

    Pledge $150 or more About $150

    - One hardcover coffee table limited edition with slip cover copy of the book. Signed and numbered (out of 300) by Sandro.
    - One 12x18 poster of thumbnails of all the portraits (signed by Sandro).
    - A handwritten personal dedication from a St. Leonard's resident.
    - Have your name printed in the acknowledgements section of the book.
    - One copy of the eBook.
    - One postcard sized poem and portrait signed by a St. Leonard's resident.

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  12. Select this reward

    Pledge $250 or more About $250

    - A 60 minute phone conversation with the project organizer, Brandon Crockett.
    - One hardcover coffee table special limited edition with slip cover copy of the book. Signed and numbered (out of 25) by Sandro.
    - A handwritten personal dedication from Brandon Crockett and a St. Leonard's resident.
    - Have your name printed in the acknowledgements section of the book.
    - One 12x18 poster of thumbnails of all the portraits (signed by Sandro).
    - One copy of the eBook.
    - One postcard sized poem and portrait signed by a St. Leonard's resident.

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  13. Select this reward

    Pledge $500 or more About $500

    - A 20 minute phone conversation with the photographer, Sandro Miller.
    - One hardcover coffee table special limited edition with slip cover copy of the book.
    - A handwritten personal dedication from Sandro Miler and a St. Leonard's resident.
    - One 11x14 premium quality print of your choice signed by Sandro with corresponding poem.
    - Have your name printed in the acknowledgements section of the book.
    - One 12x18 poster of thumbnails of all the portraits (signed by Sandro).
    - One copy of the eBook.
    - One postcard sized poem and portrait signed by a St. Leonard's resident.

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  14. Select this reward

    Pledge $1,500 or more About $1,500

    - A 60 minute phone conversation with the project organizer, Brandon Crockett
    - A 30 minute phone conversation with the photographer, Sandro Miller.
    - One hardcover coffee table special limited edition with slip cover copy of the book.
    - A handwritten personal dedication from Sandro Miler, Brandon Crockett and a St. Leonard's resident.
    - Three 11x14 premium quality prints of your choice signed by Sandro with corresponding poems.
    - Have your name printed in the acknowledgements section of the book.
    - One 12x18 poster of thumbnails of all the portraits (signed by Sandro).
    - One copy of the eBook.
    - One postcard sized poem and portrait signed by a St. Leonard's resident.

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  15. Select this reward

    Pledge $3,500 or more About $3,500

    - Flight to Chicago with hotel stay (for two) to join St. Leonard's poetry class on a second Tuesday of any month and have dinner with current residents.
    - Collect all signed poetry written that night by residents.
    - One hardcover coffee table special limited edition with slip cover copy of the book. Signed and numbered (out of 10) by Sandro.
    - A handwritten personal dedication from Sandro Miller, Brandon Crockett and a St. Leonard's resident.
    - Five 11x14 premium quality prints of your choice signed by Sandro with corresponding poems.
    - One 12x18 poster of thumbnails of all the portraits (signed by Sandro).
    - Have your name mentioned in the acknowledgements section of the book.
    - One postcard sized poem and portrait signed by a St. Leonard's resident.
    - One copy of the eBook.

    NOTE: If you live in or near Chicago, we will work something out in place of the flight and hotel.

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  16. Select this reward

    Pledge $10,000 About $10,000

    - Learn from the best and join Sandro on a professional photoshoot (includes flight to Chicago and hotel stay).
    - One hardcover coffee table special limited edition with slip cover copy of the book. Signed and numbered (out of 3) by Sandro.
    - A handwritten personal dedication from Sandro Miller, Brandon Crockett and a St. Leonard's resident.
    - Ten 11x14 premium quality prints of your choice signed by Sandro with corresponding poems.
    - One 12x18 poster of thumbnails of all the portraits (signed by Sandro).
    - Have your named mentioned in the acknowledgements section of the book.
    - One postcard sized poem and portrait signed by a St. Leonard's resident.
    - One copy of the eBook.

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    Limited 0 backers
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Funding period

- (30 days)