Canticle Farm – Arya Samuelson


At first glance, you might think Canticle Farm in Oakland is like the many other community gardens and urban farms, growing vegetables and other local produce. But it’s actually a radical social justice experiment that plants the seeds of people’s dreams and nurtures them into fruition. While Canticle runs many projects, my podcast episode will focus on Canticle’s communal residence run by and for former prisoners. The residence provides a safe home base from which formerly incarcerated men can support each other in their journey to heal and pursue their dreams.

Sound Wish List:

–       interview with Anne Symens-Bucher

–       1 or 2 interviews with men living in the re-entry house

–       interviews with regular participants talking about what Canticle means to them

–       sounds of the farm – animals, people working in the garden

–       sounds of children playing in the garden during their class visit

–       Anne explaining how the farm works at various events I’ll be attending

–       ambient sound from the street – what does the immediate neighborhood sound like? may also want to walk around a busier street in Fruitvale for contrast

–       people greeting one another at the weekly Sunday liturgy

–       singing, chanting, dancing, and sharing at the Sunday liturgy

–       sounds of community and eating at the weekly dinners

–       interactions between people at the re-entry house

–       sounds of eating at the re-entry house

–       the sounds of moving through the space at Canticle Farm and the re-entry house with narration describing what it looks like



Interview Questions for Anne Symens-Bucher, the founder


What experiences in your life inspired you to launch Canticle Farm?

-Why did you choose Fruitvale?

-Can you tell me about your initial vision for Canticle Farms?

-How has your vision evolved over time?

– I’ve read in interviews that you describe Canticle Farms as a “peace community.” What does this mean to you?

-How is spirituality important to Canticle?

-What does diversity mean to you?

-How has the immediate neighborhood received Canticle?

-What have been the biggest challenges?

-How are decisions about projects/programs/offerings at Canticle made? (i.e. consensus, majority, appointed leaders, strategic groups)

-What does leadership look like at Canticle?

-How do you want to see Canticle grow?

-What challenges do people face upon leaving the prison system?

-How is your re-entry house different than the programs offered by social services?

-Why are alternative models to these programs important?

-How is Canticle responding to gentrification?


Interview Questions for the Men living in the Re-Entry House


-How did you learn about Canticle’s re-entry house?

-What appealed to you about their model?

-What does living in community mean to you?

-How is this house different than the other re-entry programs?

-What’s the hardest thing about living in the house?

-What are the challenges that people face upon leaving the prison system?

-How do you choose and assess whether someone is a good match for Canticle?

-Describe the kind of person who would succeed in the re-entry house

-Describe the kind of person who wouldn’t succeed

-What have you learned about communication by living in the house?

-Why does the house only accept 4 people at a time?

-What do you wish more people knew about what re-entry is like?

-How do you want to see Canticle grow in coming years?

-What keeps you living at the house?

-What do you think your life could look like if you weren’t at Canticle?

-What does home mean to you?




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