ZEALOUS INSTITUTE 2019 
BROOKLYN, NEW YORK 
SEPTEMBER 20, 2019

An evening of conversation and art organized by public defenders exploring how language and storytelling by those with direct experience can shift the “justice” narrative to help end mass criminalization. 

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Public defenders from around the country convened in Brooklyn, New York to learn how to leverage traditional, social, and new media advocacy, coalition-building and collaboration, technology, storytelling, client partnership, policy advocacy, and campaign creation to drive transformative change.

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Zealous Institute 2019

The Recap

In September 2019, Zealous launched a new community of defenders and held its first national training: An all-expenses-paid media and movement building event in Brooklyn for 52 defenders, representing 42 different offices, in 27 different states. The immersive training combined plenary sessions with interactive, small group workshops led by a range of expert facilitators from a wide variety of fields.

See Recap Video View Participants

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The Rundown

The event opened with food, drinks, and a mixed-media exhibition of work by artist and writer Molly Crabapple

A conversation on the critical impact that storytelling by those with the closest proximity to the problem—directly impacted people, as well as frontline practitioners like public defenders—can have on the way the public and those in power think about “justice.”

From the civil war in Syria to the trials on Guantanamo, to a wide variety of criminal justice issues, Molly Crabapple has long leveraged her unique blend of written reporting, court drawings and paintings to bring the thorniest injustices around the world to life. Crabapple has also pioneered the genre of illustrated explainer journalism, creating films that capture live-drawing animations with voice-overs on issues including money bail, the war on drugs, broken windows policing, collateral consequences, solitary confinement, and the evolution from slavery to mass incarceration. 

A conversation about how our current system of incarcerating people charged with violent crime not only hurts individuals and communities, but fails to address the root causes of violence, undermines public safety, and perpetuates trauma for survivors of violent crime, and how public defenders can help identify alternative solutions.

Rabia Chaudry is an attorney, advocate, NYT Bestselling Author, executive producer of The Case Against Adnan Syed HBO docuseries, and co-host of the Undisclosed podcast. Chaudry wrote Adnan’s Story: The Search for Truth and Justice After Serial, a book about the criminal case of her friend Adnan Syed who was featured in the podcast Serial.  On Undisclosed, a podcast about wrongful convictions, Chaudry and her co-hosts have investigated Adnan Syed’s case and other’s. 

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THE TOPICS AND SKILLS DEFENDERS LEARNED:

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Storytelling

Storytelling

How to communicate experiences for maximum impact.

Collaboration

Collaboration

How to identify key allies and build trust to fight together.

Campaigns

Campaigns

How to use multi-dimensional strategies to change laws.

Social Media

Social Media

How to harness new tools to raise awareness and drive action.

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Traditional Media

Traditional Media

How to work with journalists to share the injustices we see.

New Media

New Media

How to propel policy advocacy with video, web, data, technology and art.

Narrative Shifting

Narrative Shifting

How to command language to disrupt the status quo.

Media Ethics

Media and Ethics

How to be thoughtful and deliberate in how we share.