Job and Training Opportunity  Application Due Date December 1

Milk Not Jails and Shadow Box Theatre seek formerly incarcerated individuals and culture workers whose lives have been directly impacted by incarceration for a training program / part time job teaching puppetry and storytelling to youth in New York City Detention Centers. Spanish language skills a plus.

The framework for the art making and classroom teaching is Identity, Purpose, Direction a problem-solving method designed b­­y Tychist Baker, one of our teaching artists and co-founder of Milk Not Jails, while he was incarcerated. Baker used this method to turn his life (and the lives of others) around, and to overcome challenges. Our workshops utilize this model to train students to be able to use it on their own. In the words of Baker, “Some people do not even identify that they have one foot in jail, and one foot out. Identity is about knowing first about oneself and what is around you. Purpose is knowing that your life has meaning, that you can do better. Direction is how you get over the obstacles you face.”

We also teach the art of puppetry. In our program puppetry is the form through which students catalyze their imaginations and tell new stories. Students physically build puppets, costumes, backdrops, scenery and stages. They rehearse and write scripts. As part of the program detained students are able to share these skills with siblings and loved ones on family days. Working with cloth, wood, paint, cardboard, music, poetic words, jokes and movement students consciously re-imagine, and re-build their identities.
This Winter MNJ/ Shadow box will train applicants in Identity, Purpose and Direction and puppetry techniques. Their goal is to cultivate a multi-lingual, cross class-race-ability-gender team of teachers who can share and expand the curriculum. The new cohort of facilitators will use their lived experience and art to empower students and their communities.

Timeline and Commitment:

  • Teacher Training: February 17 and 18 2017
  • Horizons teaching Residency: February 23 and 24 2017
  • Full team Planning Retreat: April 14, 2017
  • Horizons Residency: April 17 and 18 2017


  • 2 residencies ; 16 hours ; $50 per hr.
  • 2 training days , 8 hours : $30 per hr,
  • 1 planning retreat; 8 hours ; $30 per hr

APPLICATION FORM Please cut and paste this form into a Word Document or email.
Due Date for Application December 1 2016 5PM
Send to

Full Name:

Preferred Gender Pronoun (e.g., she, he, they):

E-mail Address:

Phone Number(s):

Date of Birth:

Languages Spoken:

Please answer all of the following questions (at least 2-3 sentences each)

What is your experience with team work?

What interests you about this job?

What is your experience working with youth?

What kind of art work are you doing now?

Recommendation from someone you have worked with before

Please provide us with the name and contact information of your recommender.

Recommender Name:

E-mail Address:

Phone Number:

Climate Justice Not JailsMilk Not Jails is fighting to end mass incarceration and is fighting for a more livable world. In that world, urban and rural New Yorkers work together to build a sustainable economy where once imprisoned people are employed and once struggling farms flourish. That is why we are part of the Peoples Climate March.

Mass incarceration reinforces environmental racism. In New York City today, Blacks and Latin@s make up 86% of arrests, confrontations which have recently escalated to police beating a young Latino man, and murdering an unarmed Black man. Meanwhile, in the South Bronx, Harlem, Bushwick, and South Brooklyn, people are twice as likely to die from air pollution, yet Mayor DeBlasio has made it a priority to arrest people of color just for walking down the street. We must create a world where everyone can march in the streets for climate justice.

New Yorkers are bound together by food and criminal injustice. When New Yorkers are arrested in food desert neighborhoods in Brooklyn, they are sent to prison in counties like St. Lawrence, Franklin and Clinton, which according to the USDA have their own rural food deserts. When New Yorkers in state universities eat the cheapest food available on the market, they’re getting same food as New Yorkers in state prison. Because these issues are interconnected, so must our struggle to create solutions to food and criminal injustice.

To change everything we need everyone. We need to reform parole so all eligible people in prison can return to their communities to parent, mentor, and organize. We need to end Dean Foodsdairy monopoly, so farmers can focus on defending farmland from development. To create climate justice we need to create a movement that sees all life as valuable and all injustice as an obstacle. Help us make that a reality this Sunday, September 21st at 10:30 am in the People not Prisons contingent meeting in front of the Natural History Museum on Central Park West. See you in the streets.

Read an interview with Stephen Pendarvis, Milk Not Jails' newest worker-owner!

Read an interview with Stephen Pendarvis, Milk Not Jails’ newest worker-owner!

Last week New York State’s legislature legalized medical marijuana, a huge feat that will open doors for more criminal justice change if we mobilize new allies now. While the legislature is on recess, Milk Not Jails will be organizing rural New Yorkers to demand parole reform and an end to racist marijuana arrests, and we need your support to do it.

To cover our operating costs, we need 100 people to make $20 contributions to Milk Not Jails each month through the end of the year.  Simply enter your donation amount—consider donating what you earn by working for one hour—and click on “make this recurring” to help us sustain our organizing efforts and to gear up for the fall elections cycle and the 2015 legislative session.

Milk Not Jails has been busy fighting for change and building an alternative to the prison economy.  This month Stephen Pendarvis joined Milk Not Jails’ dairy marketing and distribution cooperative as the third and newest worker-owner! Stephen drives the Milk Not Jails truck, delivering fresh dairy products to our dedicated customers. Read an interview with Stephen.

Monthly sustainers who sign up this week and pledge $15 or more per month will receive this hand-printed organic tote stocked full of propaganda!

Monthly sustainers who sign up this week and pledge $15 or more per month will receive this limited edition, hand-printed organic tote stocked full of Milk Not Jails propaganda!

We also moved! We’re partnering with Build It Green! NYC (BIG!NYC), which hosts our new cold storage facility. Milk Not Jails worker-owners and volunteers spent hours rebuilding a dilapidated walk-in refrigerated using reclaimed materials donated by BIG!NYC.

We just completed a pilot project with United Way of NYC, providing milk to their food pantries. We’re hoping to expand this opportunity, so please contact us if you know any food pantries in the NYC area that are interested in receiving fresh, New York-made dairy products for their clients!

With a new warehouse and office, new cooperative members, and new opportunities, we have a lot of plans for the coming months. Help us continue to make a political and economic impact in New York by becoming a monthly sustainer today!

In struggle,

Saquana, Stephen, Tychist and Lauren


Milk Not Jails

497 Quincy Street

Brooklyn, NY 11221

(917) 719-MILK


We put money in the hands of New York farmers and power in the hands of the criminal justice movement! Milk Not Jails is a cooperative business, owned and operated by formerly incarcerated people and upstate dairy farmers.

Milk Not Jails' newest member, Stephen Pendarvis, after a long day on the road.

Milk Not Jails’ newest member, Stephen Pendarvis, after a long day on the road.

This week, Milk Not Jails welcomed Stephen Pendarvis into our worker- and farmer-owned cooperative business. Stephen’s main responsibility at Milk Not Jail is to drive our truck throughout the five boroughs, making deliveries to a store near you and mobilizing people for change on the route! With a degree in Business Administration he’ll also be training us all in business development, so that we can make our social enterprise sustainable. Be sure to introduce yourself to him out on the streets. And read below a quick interview we did with Stephen will on the road yesterday.

Q: Stephen, tell us a little about yourself.

A. I was born and raised in Brooklyn. I live in Brownsville right now, but I’m a Flatbush man. I have two children, 1 15-year old daughter and a 6-year old son. I spent probably too much time on the weekends at Chuck E. Cheese with my son.

Q: You have a business degree. How does that prepare you to be a cooperative owner here?

A: I went to college down in South Carolina. I actually thought I’d be an English major or study journalism, because I love to play with language and I’ve always been told I’m a good writer. But my mother pushed me into Business, saying it was more practical. To tell you the truth, I haven’t had the opportunity to use all that I learned in any of my former workplaces, so I’m excited to have more of a voice in Milk Not Jails’ short- and long-term business planning.

Q: How did your time in prison shape who you are today.

A: To be honest, I’m not quite sure. I’ve repressed a lot of my experience there. I was upstate in prison for about two and a half years. I think the prison was somewhere near Albany. It was not a good time for me, and it’s hard to be out and see so much substance abuse and homelessness that is responded to by the system with jail time.

Q: After you got out of prison you became a substance abuse counselor. What caused you to pursue that work?

A: Several years ago a cousin of mine, who had been a football player and been in the military, died on the streets. No one would touch him. I held him in my arms. He had been suffering from a drug problem and wasted away to nothing. I wanted to be part of the solution, not part of the problem.

Q: What are you most looking forward to at Milk Not Jails?

A: I’m looking to be part of the solution here too. I want to grow this company into one that trains good people to have good jobs, gives people second chances and has a bigger impact on the systems that have such a stranglehold on our community.


Title: Driver

Company: Milk Not Jails

Location: Brooklyn, NY

Milk Not Jails is a non-profit milk marketing and distribution company with a political mission. We are working to end upstate New York’s economic investment in the prison industry by expanding and strengthening sales and marketing opportunities for farmers that take a stand against a dysfunctional prison system.   Milk Not Jails is a cooperative business, meaning that our workers have the opportunity to become owners in the business as well. We are looking for an excellent driver to safely deliver our products to clients on time, represent the Milk Not Jails vision, and invest energy in becoming a leader in our business.

Job Responsibilities

  • Pick-up orders from farms at drop off points in NYC
  • Work with staff to pack orders for clients
  • Deliver orders to clients in Bronx, Queens, Manhattan and Brooklyn
  • Deliver payments to farms and collect payments from clients as needed
  • Communicate issues pertaining to orders and new potential client information to sales staff

Job Qualifications

  • Excellent driving record
  • Knowledge of commercial driving rules and regulations
  • Good sense of direction in 5 boroughs
  • Ability to problem solve quickly
  • Excellent communication skills
  • Ability to enthusiastically represent the Milk Not Jails company mission and field questions from the public
  • Ability to work independently and as part of a team
  • Self-starter
  • Proficiency with GPS units, a plus
  • CDL license a plus, but not necessary
  • Preference for those who are formerly incarcerated

Hours and Wages

This is a part-time position with the potential to become full-time. Applicants must be available to work Tuesdays, Wednesdays, Thursdays as well as Saturday mornings. The start date for this position is mid-May 2014.

Hourly wage starts at $15 per hour, with opportunities for a raise and ownership after three months.

Application Process

Please submit a resume and cover letter describing a time, in a personal or professional setting, when an unexpected problem occurred and you solved it.   Send your resume and cover letter as attachments via email to or via mail to Lauren Melodia, 497 Quincy Street, Brooklyn, NY 11221.

Deadline: May 15, 2012

Questions? Contact us at (917) 719-MILK or

P1000162Last year, Governor Cuomo played the progressive community—promising to end stop-and-frisk policing and to increase women’s empowerment—and betraying all of us in the end. This year, we’re not going to let the Governor get away with just paying lip service to our demands. Join us now, and throughout 2014, for a series of actions to demand criminal justice and sustainable agriculture. We are stepping up our pressure, and we need your help to organize actions across New York State.

Our Priorities
Three Actions for Change

Our Priorities

1. We need SAFE Parole

Every year thousands of people locked up in New York’s prisons participate in educational and vocational programs to prepare themselves for their parole hearings, so they can return home. Tragically, the Parole Board more often than not denies people parole due to the “nature of their crime,” something they cannot change. We need a parole system that gives peoples a second chance and a set of tools to be able to return to their communities. The Safe And Fair Evaluation (SAFE) Parole Act will make the parole board accountable for its decisions, empower applicants to take concrete action to improve their readiness for parole, and reunite families across the state.

  • Download a factsheet on the SAFE Parole Act
  • Read the full text and legislative history

2. We need to Buy From Our Back Yard

The New York public school system purchases enough food and milk to feed over one million children every day. Today they purchase whatever food is cheapest, which is typically made by multi-national corporations and trucked all over the globe. Imagine the environmental and economic impacts if our public institutions purchased from local farms. The Buy From the Backyard Act will require 20% of food bought by state institutions, including schools, to be grown in New York State, and allows a 10% price margin above the bottom of the market. That means healthier food, a healthier environment, healthier local economy, and healthier kids!

  • Read the full text and legislative history

Three Actions For Change

We plan to build pressure through a series of coordinated actions across New York State. Please join us by organizing and participating in a local action in your community. Below are three actions we are planning. Check out additional resources here and contact us at or (917) 719-MILK.

1. Tell Your Story of Parole Board Neglect

Deadline: January 20, 2014     / /    More Resources Coming Soon…

This January, during the first week of the 2014 legislative session, we will deliver 500 letters to Albany from people in prison and their families about New York’s broken parole system. We will create a public installation in the Capitol Building to make sure our elected officials hear loud and clear the devastation our parole system has on the lives of families and make sure they no longer walk away from our demand for a solution – the SAFE Parole Act. Help us gather by participating in the following now:

Send a Letter Now: Write a letter about your personal experience with the New York parole system. Send one copy to Senator Gallivan and one copy to Milk Not Jails. Download a sample letter.

Ask for a Letter Now: Spread the word! Ask your friends, family and community to share their personal experiences or to send a form letter. Senator Gallivan is from the Buffalo area, so it is especially important that any friends you have from that area pitch in.

Deliver a Letter on January 21, 2014: Be sure to send a copy of your letter to Milk Not Jails and then join us as we head to Albany to hand deliver all 500 letters the week of Martin Luther King Day (Tuesday, January 21, 2013). We want the entire legislature to be aware of all of the heart-breaking stories that flooded Senator Gallivan’s office over the winter. Come with us to deliver your letter to Albany, along with all the other letters, and put them on display for the media and other politicians to see.

2. Outcry Over (non-local) Milk

Deadline March 31, 2014     / /    More Resources Coming Soon…

Organize a Class Project: Teachers and students—get together to organize a class project to explore the question, “Where does the food in the school cafeteria come from?” This project can take any number of forms depending on age and grade level: a video, a poster, a performance! We want to collaborate with you to develop a lesson plan. We can also come to your classroom to lead a brief discussion of the food supply chain in New York State.

Turn It In by March 31, 2014: Together, we’ll present these projects to key legislators in your local district and in Albany to demand passage of the Buy From Our Back Yard Act. Your students can win over the hearts and votes of their elected officials and make a difference!

3. Legislator Homecoming to Bring People in Prison Home

Deadline April 22, 2013    / /    More Resources Coming Soon…

Host a homecoming demonstration in front of your State Senator’s district office when they come home for the spring holidays. Every year the state legislature has a week-long recess when representatives return to their districts to celebrate spring holidays and connect with the voters. This year we’ll be ready for them. When they come home let’s demand that they pass the SAFE Parole Act so everyone can celebrate the holidays with their families! Welcome them with Passover or Easter treats while you let them know how difficult it is to visit your loved one for the holiday and how hard it is for them to qualify for parole.

Ever find that you have too much milk left in the fridge when you’re bringing home this week’s CSA share? Or did you run out of granola earlier this week and have a half gallon of milk just sitting there? Don’t dump that milk! Use it explore the world of fresh cheese making! Its an amazing scientific and culinary journey for people of all ages!

Homemade Ricotta Recipe

Makes about 2 cups

We’ve experimented with this recipe a couple of times, using whole and low-fat milk and also leaving out the heavy cream (because we just didn’t have any). We also made it with fresh and bottled lemon juice. The recipe seemed to be relatively the same each time; in fact, one of our tasters said the low-fat milk ricotta tasted richer than the one with whole milk and cream. This homemade ricotta has a more delicate flavor and a drier curd compared to store-bought ricotta. You may want to add some spices or extra salt to your finished product. Or serve it on crostini topped with honey and cinnamon for a dessert treat!

The ricotta draining right after its boiled and curdled.

The ricotta draining right after its boiled and curdled.


  • 1 half gallon whole milk
  • 1 cup heavy cream
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 3 tablespoons fresh lemon juice
  • Special equipment: large sieve, fine-mesh cheesecloth


Line a large sieve with a layer of heavy-duty (fine-mesh) cheesecloth and place it over a large bowl.

Slowly bring milk, cream, and salt to a rolling boil in a 6-quart heavy pot over

The final product! We mixed in fresh, chopped basil leaves and red pepper flakes to make a spread!

The final product! We mixed in fresh, chopped basil leaves and red pepper flakes to make a spread!

moderate heat, stirring occasionally to prevent scorching. Add lemon juice, then reduce heat to low and simmer, stirring constantly, until the mixture curdles, about 2 minutes.

Pour the mixture into the lined sieve and let it drain 1 hour. After discarding the liquid, chill the ricotta, covered. Optional: mix in fresh herbs, extra salt or other spices to taste. it will keep in the refrigerator 2 days.

Do you know where your milk comes from? Even though New York State is the fourth largest dairy producing state in the country, much of the milk on our grocery store shelves comes to us via a Texas-based multinational corporation called Dean Foods.  Dean Foods is driving down the price farmers receive to care for and milk their cows, but this growing season you can purchase milk directly from family farms in the Catskills and Hudson Valley at your neighborhood Community Supported Agriculture (CSA) in New York City.

Milk Not Jails is back with dairy shares at NYC CSAs this year.  This year we have full- and half-shares available to accommodate all household sizes. The deadline to buy your share is fast approaching, so order online today! We’ve added some new farms that we’re excited to tell you about.

Tim Tonjes talks about making cheese yesterday in the cheese cave on his dairy farm in Callicoon.

Tim and Mary Tonjes talk about making cheese in the cave on his dairy farm in Callicoon.

Tim Tonjes milks his cows in Sullivan County, New York’s poorest upstate county. He inherited the business from his father, who commercially milked their herd for major distributors.  But Tim didn’t like thinking of the beautiful Holstein cows on his farm as machines, and he has spent the past ten years returning the farm to sustainable practices.  He will be providing fresh, low-pasteurized and non-homogenized whole milk to our CSA.  Its single-source, meaning it doesn’t come from anywhere but his cows, who are raised from birth on his farm, never given BST growth hormone and turned out on pasture and fed forage from the farm all year long. Order your milk share from Tonjes Dairy here!

Shannon Mason and her mother, Gail Danforth, make butter inspired by their great-grandmother Martha, who won a butter award at the 1893 Chicago World’s Fair.

Shannon Mason and her mother, Gail Danforth, make butter inspired by their great-grandmother Martha, who won a butter award at the 1893 Chicago World’s Fair.

Shannon and her husband Hamilton Mason are also returning their family farm, Danforth Jersey Farm, to its legacy, inspired by Shannon’s great-grandmother’s butter award from the 1893 Chicago World’s Fair that still hang in their farmhouse kitchen in Schoharie County.  A 7th generation farm, Shannon’s parents and children help her tend to their herd of Jersey cows and produce butter in their on-farm processing plant, Cowbella Creamery.  Their 30 Jersey cows produce a richer milk than Holstein cows and give their single, source small-batch butter a bright shade of yellow. Order yogurt and butter shares here! 

Dairy shares also include products from Hawthorne Valley Farm and Ronnybrook Farm Dairy.  Read more about the Milk Not Jails farms. Pick and choose what fresh, local dairy products you want to pick-up this season at the CSA by ordering your share today!

Milk Not Jails is seeking 2 summer interns to join our statewide advocacy campaign dedicated to moving New York State’s economy towards agriculture and away from prisons. Summer interns will help organize fun, engaging outreach to rural and urban communities at summer parades, fairs and block parties. They will also assist with policy research, develop a Milk Not Jails toolkit for student and community groups, and support the operations of our exciting political line of dairy products! Interns will have the opportunity to support a variety of projects as well as identify one or more projects to dig more deeply into.

Milk Not Jails is a political campaign to advocate for criminal justice and agricultural policy reform that will bring positive economic growth. It is also consumer campaign to mobilize New York residents to support the dairy industry and the long-term sustainability of the rural economy. Milk Not Jailsinsists that bad criminal justice policy should not be the primary economic development plan for rural, upstate New York.

Candidates must be proactive, very well organized, detail-oriented, and capable of multi-tasking. They must possess enthusiasm about the campaign, experience with Microsoft Office (Word, Excel, Access), comfort conducting street outreach, and excellent writing skills. Familiarity with WordPress is a plus.

Intern Responsibilities:

  • Conduct research on the dairy industry and reach out to local dairy farmers.
  • Research and prepare briefings on a variety of issues.
  • Draft content for our website and email updates.
  • Organize events throughout New York City, upstate and western New York.
  • Respond to constituent correspondence.
  • Promote the campaign through street outreach and online social networking sites.
  • Assist with steering committee development and communication.
  • Organize fundraising events
  • Database management and administrative work.

The summer internship program will run for 10-12 weeks. Interns must be available 12-20 hours per week with availability on weekends and evenings as needed. This is an unpaid internship. We are happy to work with students to obtain credit towards coursework. Interns that are interested in working 30-40 hours per week are eligible for free housing in New York City for the duration of the internship.


Interested candidates should send a cover letter explaining interest and availability (days and times) for the position along with a resume and short writing sample (1-3 pages) to

A video still from On3’s TV segment about us.

Our mission to end mass incarceration in New York is getting press attention from different continents.  German television station On-3 produced a five minute segment about our work.  Most of the video is interviews with our founder, Lauren, and our driver, Kevin so it’s understandable to a non-German-speaking audience.  Click on over!

Contact Us

MilkNotJails [at]