Human Kindness Foundation: Free People

Though the United States represents just over 4 percent of the world’s population, it houses 2.3M or nearly 20 percent of the world’s prisoners.

For most Americans, this is a rarely considered and largely anonymized population. But to the Human Kindness Foundation, this forgotten population is an untapped resource for love and creativity, and a diverse, colorful, wholly-human community whose incarceration is a reflection of all of our imprisonment, and whose freedom is tied up in all of our liberations.

For over 30 years, co-founders Bo and Sita Lozoff couple gave talks and workshops in hundreds of prisons, churches and community centers around the world, and distributed countless copies of their spiritual guidance to legions of incarcerated Americans, in order to encourage more kindness, simple living and service.

Their book, “Deep & Simple.” was a favorite of Fred Rogers, who supported the foundation by purchasing and sharing copies by the box load; he appreciated the universality of HKF’s message. That’s why the phrase is at the center of our film, Mister Rogers & Me.

Sita has continued HKF’s work since Bo’s death in 2012. As the organization anticipates its 50th anniversary next year, she has handed the organization’s operations and growth to newly-appointed Executive Director, Erin Parish, a PhD in Cultural Anthropology, and Masters in History, Conflict Resolution and Reconciliation Studies.

“We’re all doing time,” Sita reminds us.

“And what we’re trying to tell people inside and out,” Erin continues, “Is that they can help from wherever they are with their suffering.”

“Are we going to be super entrenched, hanging on to the crumbling vestiges of these institutions that are falling apart in our hands? Or do we want to imagine what this new world is and is becoming? A space in which we believe in the abundance of every human spirit and we want to open the doors for everyone, for what everyone has to give.”

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