The "Real" Real

Welcome to our first ever Community Voices Issue, entirely dedicated to your stories. If this is the first time you’ve read RISE, welcome. You may think this issue is like all the others, but it’s not. Newcomers and those who’ve been with us all along, you’re in for a real treat.

Many of you have written in and impressed us with your art, thoughts, and poetry. It takes courage to share something so deeply personal.

Some of these stories are from people who are currently incarcerated, and others are from people who’ve made it out and want to share their experience, strength, and hope. You may not agree with everything you read, but we’re here to give everyone a voice. The common thread is staying strong, rising up, and realizing you are more than your mistakes.

The greatest gift I can give you in these four pages is what I like to call “the real real.” I go into the Hamilton County N32 G pod every Thursday, and we talk about the things in life that can really change us, and how in those moments, if we listen to our gut, we can make good decisions.

You know what I’m talking about: that voice that warns, “If you do this, you could get into a lot of trouble,” or “You know that’s the right thing to do.” The difference in my life has been my willingness to listen to my real real, and follow what I knew was the right thing to do. I hope you find inspiration in the real real of the amazing and powerful stories and poetry shared in this issue. Enjoy!