When It Rains, It Pours

Dearest individuals who read these updates,

To begin:  (and I hate myself for writing this because I promised myself that this blog wouldn’t be an outlet for me to complain about my problems, but..) producing documentaries is hard. It’s really hard. And it kind of sucks sometimes.

I feel like I have this plant attached to my heart. And this isn’t like a bush. This is like a bonsai tree. It requires a lot of work, not only to grow, but to look like a legit bonsai tree. (This metaphor is going to have a lot of holes in it, but I’m not going to be picky)

This little tree in my heart began as something new. It was exciting. Things felt different. I could project all of the potential possibilities with no taste of the actual experience on my tongue. I could see the potential, waaaaaay out there in the future.

However, as time progressed, the roots started to dig deep. The plant got bigger, heavier, less manageable. It hurt a little, like growing pains.

And I would find myself in quiet moments (which are frequent in the summer) thinking to myself, “Megan, you should be doing more”, or, “Megan, you’re failing”, or “Megan, you’re not up to the task”.

And the more I felt this way, the less motivated I was to work. It felt like there was this hill in front of me, and I wasn’t equipped to even begin.

But… (and bless the Lord for this).. He provided the tools I needed.

He began, after what felt like weeks of unproductively searching, to drop contacts and opportunities into my lap.

He uprooted the tree and took it out of my hands, but instead, placed it in front of my eyes and said, “Megan, you’re going to be my hands throughout this endeavor, but this thing.. it’s mine. So, trust me.”

Since that period of time, the world has become a little clearer.

And since that time, some pretty darn cool things have happened.

For starters, I’ve had the opportunity to interview a range of people, all of which offered some amazing insight into the issue I’m featuring.

The first was Pastor James Gleason from Sonrise Church in Hillsboro. He founded the Light My Way ministry which works with individuals out of the penitentiary system, and gives them a community to be a part of. SO wonderful.

The second was Brad Holbrook. Read up on the story, it’s insane - http://blog.oregonlive.com/oregonianextra/2009/03/the_trials_of_brad_holbrook.html

The third was just today, and was Dr. Kevin McGovern from Portland. He is seriously my hero. He is a genius, firstly, secondly, has a wealth of information and experiences with/about sex offenders, and thirdly, has been the biggest resource and I can’t express my gratitude to him enough.

Fourthly, I am excited to say that I’ll be traversing up to Seattle this coming Friday to get an interview with a ministry called Tierra Nueva. They have a rockin’ prison ministry, and have such a holistic approach in regards to community.

Finally, this coming Monday, I’ll have the privilege of documenting the tragic, yet redeeming story of a local family. Through the process of their son being put on the registry, they have risen up as advocates of the cause, and I look forward to hearing their thoughts.

Annnnd… with that said, I’m running late to something, but I have quite a few more thoughts I’d like to share, so I’ll have a follow up post sometime tonight or tomorrow!

Blessings, friends.

Underdressed & CLIFF Bars

In short, I was caught unaware as I drove into Portland late this afternoon. During my previous meeting with Ken Nolley (the director of Oregon Voices), he had referred me to Gwen Griffith, another member of Oregon Voices, local lawyer, and co-founder of CLiF (Changing Lives Forever). CLiF, as I think I previously mentioned, is a project which offers pro bono legal services to young registered sex offenders who have potential to qualify to have their name removed from the registry but can’t afford the cost of an attorney to navigate the legal system.

Gwen and I had never met before, but she extended an invitation via email for me to join the premier of a radio interview that the other co-founder, Vicki Ballou, had been featured in regarding the CLiF project and sex offenders in general. I’m still not really sure what I was expecting when I left my house though. And I guess I wasn’t too underdressed. I was wearing a dress at least, but my hair was its usual array of blonde frizz, I had a messy circle scarf around my neck, and my boots were on the tad side scuffed.

When I arrived at the Pioneer high rise in Portland off of 5th, I could feel my face turning slightly red, and had to do a double take. Shucks.. I walked awkwardly into the shiny entry way where the security guard could clearly tell that I was confused.

"Miss. Can I help you find anything?"

I was furiously clicking through to an email on my ‘intelligent’ phone (it’s a step down from a bonafide smart phone and thus, takes a while to operate)  in order to remember which floor I was supposed to traverse to for the get-together.

"Does this building have the Tonkon Torp Specialty Lounge by any chance?" I  asked timidly.

"Bingo," he replied. "Just sign in and I’ll buzz you up."

Someone must have patched through to his headset in that moment because he turned his head and started muttering a bunch of number codes under his breath.

I stood there and exhaled.

A beat later, he gave a smile and waved me through to a hallway of elevators. I could see my reflection perfectly in the shiny gold siding. Yep. Underdressed. I attempted to flatten down my hair and smooth the wrinkles in my clothes.

The elevator reached the 16th floor and dinged softly open. The floor was expansive, and empty as it was past normal working hours. I walked down the hall, following signs that read “CLiF Radio Preview”.

Finally, I reached the lounge. A group of professionals were all sitting around a tasty looking tray of finger-food. I was greeted by a friendly and direct woman who shook my hand, and then, realizing that I’m still a youngin’, warmly offered soda and then more quietly stated, “we also have lots of wine”. I opted for water.

Gwen, a silver-haired and bright woman stepped across the room and gave me a firm hand shake. She introduced herself, and guessed who I was.

The next 20 minutes or so was spent in light conversation, and I could (thankfully) feel my awkwardness ebbing away as I humanized everyone in the room. One woman lives out near Banks, just a hop-skip-and-a-jump from where I grew up. One woman is working on re-building her back porch, similar to my parents continual remodeling endeavors. One gentleman worked in a local school district for years and enjoyed bantering with me about nerdy camera related things.

Finally, the time came to listen to the Vicki’s interview on KBOO. I don’t really expect for any of you to fully listen to this right now, but if you have time in the next season of life, it’s well worth checking out, and I fully plan on incorporating parts of her talk into my film.

http://kboo.fm/sites/default/files/episode_audio/kboo_episode.2.130624.1830.2689.mp3 

It was so well done, and such a legitimate and logical perspective on the Oregon Registry System as well as the punitive justice system which we’ve put in place against sex offenders.

Honestly, justice is really justice if it isn’t restorative. And what we have right now as a society is fighting against that idea.

But I won’t let myself get carried away.. 

After the radio interview was completed, the room of 12 or so people clapped and cheered for her small victory as an advocate. This was soon followed by voiced thoughts, reflections, and complaints towards our current legal system.

It felt like a more professional and fancier version of a club that I attend at George Fox called QV (which stands for quaere verum, or pursuing truth). There, we sit around and discuss theological, social, or political issues, while eating homemade bread and soup. Today, we sat around with humus, deviled eggs, and dessert wines, but the content of the discussion was still equally as invigorating.

Over the next hour, people started heading out, until finally, it was just Gwen, her husband Peyton, and myself.

She expressed her excitement for my project, and then offered herself and CLiF up as a resource. 

Grateful, and very stoked about our prospective partnership, I was about to leave when I spotted a basket of little CLIFF bars in the corner on a table. I stopped and picked one out, voicing how much I love them. Gwen laughed and explained how attorneys at Tonkon Torp Law Firm are marked by hard-work, and with that given, many work through their lunch hour. Now, CLiF is always looking for more lawyers to offer up their services, so a tactic that Gwen has embraced is walking around the office at the end of the day with her little basket of CLIFF bars. She’ll offer them up, but only if compensated by the individual taking on a case for the project. Verrrrry sneaky and well played.  Apparently it’s proven successful!

All in all, I was inspired today. I was inspired by a room full of intelligent, and successful individuals, who really care. It’s nice to know that not all advocates are lowly college students or family members who don’t know how to voice their ideas.

If we all just partner together, I have no fear that we can instigate change. And little things like this, these are the first steps.

My oh my.. It’s been a month since I last updated this page.
Let me explain where the film is at currently:
Firstly, yesterday, I had the privilege of attending the Sonrise Church - Light My Way service. Light My Way is (and I quote their website) “a safe and inviting place for anyone over 18 years of age” so, “no matter who you are or what your past is, everyone is welcome!”
The reason why I hope to include Light My Way in the film, is because it’s risen up as a beacon in the community as a ministry that reaches out the least, the last, and the lost. Although many attendees there have been convicted of different offenses (sexual and not), and are still in a process of recovery, the community there consistently works towards healing, love, and christ-centeredness. What’s crazy to realize, is the number of attacks that Sonrise has received due to the small amount of registered sex offenders who attend.
It was only a few months ago that a local news station featured a story about the ministry. I remember reading the report, and having attended Light My Way previously, was wowed by how skewed their perspective was. If anything, I feel that it goes to show how fearful we are as a society. Another handful of community members rallied against the church, and when invited to come and ‘join the table’ to discuss the issue respectfully, none attended.
I had the opportunity to interview James Gleason, the head pastor of Sonrise Church, and one who’s seen the ministry grow from the roots up. He was able to not only speak on Light My Way, but the way in which we as a community can take up the responsibility of reconciling this people group and the damage that we’ve caused out of fear.
All in all, it was a very fruitful day.
Secondly, I had a meeting with Ken Nolley, the director of Oregon Voices, which is an advocacy group whose intent is aiding in reforming the registry laws surrounding SO’s. He offered up pages of individuals to connect with about the film, and as a result - this evening, I’ll be meeting with Gwen Griffith. Gwen is one of the heads of the CLiF Project, or ‘Changing Lives Forever’, which offers pro bono legal assistance to low-income individuals, especially juveniles caught up in sexual offense charges. In meeting with her tonight, I look forward to hearing about and understanding what she and her colleagues are pursuing! (more to come later)
Thirdly, I had a lovely meeting with Kevin McGovern, a current certified Forensic Evaluator and past Sex Offender Treatment Provider (along with a million other certifications, he’s a genius). He also was such a blessing and offered up pages of different contacts whom I’m currently emailing/calling/etc. 
And finally, in the next week or so, I’ll be able to sit in on SO treatment groups through Thomas Brewer, a local treatment provider. It’ll be an interesting experience, but I look forward to understanding more of the heart of the issue.
All in all, I’m very pleased with how things are progressing right now, although I realize that it’s by none of my own strength. God is good, and he’ll continue to guide this endeavor, and with that said, any and all prayers are appreciated!
Blessings

My oh my.. It’s been a month since I last updated this page.

Let me explain where the film is at currently:

Firstly, yesterday, I had the privilege of attending the Sonrise Church - Light My Way service. Light My Way is (and I quote their website) “a safe and inviting place for anyone over 18 years of age” so, “no matter who you are or what your past is, everyone is welcome!”

The reason why I hope to include Light My Way in the film, is because it’s risen up as a beacon in the community as a ministry that reaches out the least, the last, and the lost. Although many attendees there have been convicted of different offenses (sexual and not), and are still in a process of recovery, the community there consistently works towards healing, love, and christ-centeredness. What’s crazy to realize, is the number of attacks that Sonrise has received due to the small amount of registered sex offenders who attend.

It was only a few months ago that a local news station featured a story about the ministry. I remember reading the report, and having attended Light My Way previously, was wowed by how skewed their perspective was. If anything, I feel that it goes to show how fearful we are as a society. Another handful of community members rallied against the church, and when invited to come and ‘join the table’ to discuss the issue respectfully, none attended.

I had the opportunity to interview James Gleason, the head pastor of Sonrise Church, and one who’s seen the ministry grow from the roots up. He was able to not only speak on Light My Way, but the way in which we as a community can take up the responsibility of reconciling this people group and the damage that we’ve caused out of fear.

All in all, it was a very fruitful day.

Secondly, I had a meeting with Ken Nolley, the director of Oregon Voices, which is an advocacy group whose intent is aiding in reforming the registry laws surrounding SO’s. He offered up pages of individuals to connect with about the film, and as a result - this evening, I’ll be meeting with Gwen Griffith. Gwen is one of the heads of the CLiF Project, or ‘Changing Lives Forever’, which offers pro bono legal assistance to low-income individuals, especially juveniles caught up in sexual offense charges. In meeting with her tonight, I look forward to hearing about and understanding what she and her colleagues are pursuing! (more to come later)

Thirdly, I had a lovely meeting with Kevin McGovern, a current certified Forensic Evaluator and past Sex Offender Treatment Provider (along with a million other certifications, he’s a genius). He also was such a blessing and offered up pages of different contacts whom I’m currently emailing/calling/etc. 

And finally, in the next week or so, I’ll be able to sit in on SO treatment groups through Thomas Brewer, a local treatment provider. It’ll be an interesting experience, but I look forward to understanding more of the heart of the issue.

All in all, I’m very pleased with how things are progressing right now, although I realize that it’s by none of my own strength. God is good, and he’ll continue to guide this endeavor, and with that said, any and all prayers are appreciated!

Blessings

Timing

I was having a moment of panic the other morning. I remember feeling this weird mix of claustrophobia and that I was also lost in this huge space of potential.

The only logical solution (and the only one that ever seems to work), was to sit down on my floor, dig my toes into the carpet, and pray.

Thankfully, I remembered to thank God before diving into my petition. So I thanked Him for how He has already shaped the trajectory of the film, and for the little things in life that I often forget to be appreciative for.

But finally, I found myself just giving everything up to Him. This film isn’t about me, and thus, my failures and successes shouldn’t be about me either. I asked God to just take away any of my expectations and fears, but to also provide resources. Contacts.

*ringringring*

My cell phone begins to vibrate on the night stand next to me. I reach over and answer.

"Hello?"

A very wise and chipper professor from George Fox was on the line. We had discussed my film a few months back, and he had offered himself up as a resource, but I definitely wasn’t expecting a call from him. And he, in that moment, begins dropping contacts into my lap. Two from LA, one from Seattle, two in PDX.

And you know what the worst thing was? I didn’t even realize how amazing the timing of that conversation was until I hung up the phone.

God is SO GOOD. And I think that’s really the point to this story. God is good. He has his timing, and sometimes, He allows us to take part in that and tangibly see it. Other times (and where I find myself mostly), it’s something purposefully off of our radar. But in those moments, I think the most important thing that we can do is just relinquish any idea of control and give it all to Him.

Blessings,

Megan

Update - 05/08/13

Today I sat in my favorite Forest Grove coffee shop and spent a few hours extending contact to different advocacy organizations, located in five different states, as well as several local clinical psychologists and researchers who specialize on the topic of sexual offense/recidivism studies. In the past hour I have already received messages back from two different organizations, both of which are excited to jump on board and partner in the project.

And not only that, but as people walked in and out of the shop, I was able to connect with several different family friends who came in, one of which (I learned) has a brother who is labeled a sex offender. He not only told me he’d extend contact to him about the film, but personally knows some advocates down in CA who he’ll reference me to.

I am so encouraged by the level of interest that so many different individuals have shown, and I’m excited to see how that continues to play out. Something big is happening here!

A Conversation

This past Friday, I had the opportunity to discuss the documentary with a clinical psychologist in the area and ask him some questions about his own work. He happens to meet with over 30 clients weekly, nearly all of whom have committed a sexual offense or struggle with sexual addictions. He is also currently writing a research piece titled ‘The Truth About Sex Offenders’. He had been graceful enough to offer himself up as a resource to me in the process of the film, and told me some pretty exciting news; I (apparently) could not be living in a better place.

"Why is that?" you might ask.

Well, it turns out that some of the leading experts on the exact topic that I’m pursuing live in the immediate area, some amazing non-profits that work with SO’s are located just down the street, and I now have some great opportunities to sit in on actual treatment groups and dialogue with past offenders.

Are things really supposed to be going this smoothly?

Amidst the chaos of the school year closing up and summer encroaching, I realize that it will be hard to stay focused on the present. But I know that there’s a bigger plan for all of this; something above myself and my abilities. So, regardless of how largely I fail or to the degree that I succeed, I have faith that it will carry on with or without me.

I also just want to give a shout out to everyone who has helped me thus far. I am indebted to you all for the mass of encouraging words, testimonies, ideas, and prayers. This project wouldn’t be the same without you guys.

Directly after completing the second interview (with a truly beautiful person), I had to rush over to Rockaway Beach for a weekend gig. And you know.. There’s something about being on the stormy oregon coast that puts life into perspective.
I couldn’t help but think that this film is just a small wave in the grand scheme of healing. But it makes me feel unworthy (or maybe just overwhelmed) to even consider being a part of something so big and powerful, even if I’m just taking a tiny role.
Any prayers for the future interviewees, the interviewer, and the documentary as a whole would be mightily appreciated. I’m beginning to understand how tedious this process will be, and even though I acknowledge that I am indeed nervous, I know that there’s a greater work here. Therefore, regardless of my personal success or failure, it will continue on.

Directly after completing the second interview (with a truly beautiful person), I had to rush over to Rockaway Beach for a weekend gig. And you know.. There’s something about being on the stormy oregon coast that puts life into perspective.

I couldn’t help but think that this film is just a small wave in the grand scheme of healing. But it makes me feel unworthy (or maybe just overwhelmed) to even consider being a part of something so big and powerful, even if I’m just taking a tiny role.

Any prayers for the future interviewees, the interviewer, and the documentary as a whole would be mightily appreciated. I’m beginning to understand how tedious this process will be, and even though I acknowledge that I am indeed nervous, I know that there’s a greater work here. Therefore, regardless of my personal success or failure, it will continue on.

The pilot interview was filmed yesterday, April 3rd.
I’m still mulling over some of the things that Billy shared in front of the camera. The most notable thing for me was simply his willingness to be vulnerable - and it really and truly is a vulnerable place to be.
It’s funny though, before the interview began, Billy expressed that he was a little nervous (I myself totally understand, and as such, prefer to be directly behind the camera at all times). Yet as I began asking him questions, anyone would have guessed that he was a practiced speaker. The powerful way in which he communicated his past, ideas, and hopes nearly brought my crew and I to tears.
And now, if anything, I can’t wait to hear more. If Billy is a testament to how the rest of the documentary will be, my expectations are high, and my faith is great!

The pilot interview was filmed yesterday, April 3rd.

I’m still mulling over some of the things that Billy shared in front of the camera. The most notable thing for me was simply his willingness to be vulnerable - and it really and truly is a vulnerable place to be.

It’s funny though, before the interview began, Billy expressed that he was a little nervous (I myself totally understand, and as such, prefer to be directly behind the camera at all times). Yet as I began asking him questions, anyone would have guessed that he was a practiced speaker. The powerful way in which he communicated his past, ideas, and hopes nearly brought my crew and I to tears.

And now, if anything, I can’t wait to hear more. If Billy is a testament to how the rest of the documentary will be, my expectations are high, and my faith is great!