From Graterford to grants, El Sawyer has used his past to affect others’ future

Bobbing and Weaving Through A Minefield

When El Sawyer was 17 years old, he was sentenced to 8 years in Graterford prison for a drug-related shooting. At night, he lay awake in his cell, in fear of a rotating string of cellmates in the bunk above him, thinking about what went on in the prison-the stabbings, killings, suicide, depression, and anger.

Gravity can’t hold local filmmakers or released offenders down

How these local filmmakers are exposing the root of recidivism – Generocity Philly

(Screenshot) If we want to reconcile the socioeconomic consequences of mass incarceration, we can’t ignore the cyclical nature of the environments we’re sending formerly incarcerated individuals back into. Those environments – produced by generations of marginalization – harness a nearly inescapable gravitational pull that victimize the people who live within them.

Trying to survive on a $1 million block in Philadelphia

The Statistically Predictable and Wholly Tragic Story of Aquil Bickerstaff

It would be wrong to say Aquil Bickerstaff was destined to end up dead or in prison. But like all black men of his generation, the odds were stacked against him. When he was born in 1985, to a working-class family in North Philadelphia, he entered a world that was becoming increasingly hostile to him.

Neighborhood Films gives those convicted a role behind the scenes

Meet the Disruptors: Neighborhood Film Company

By the time Ricky Staub was 24 years old, he was living the Hollywood dream. Just a few years out of college, he was an assistant producer for Sam Mercer, who co-produced most of M. Night Shyamalan’s films, including The Sixth Sense. In 2007, Staub was with Mercer in Philadelphia, working with Shyamalan on The Last Airbender.