The Brilliance Inside journey started with a calling and then was confirmed by a group hug.
In the summer of 2015, with no instigation or reason, Mariette heard a little voice in her head calling her to “go to prison.” The more she rejected this idea as ludicrous, the more it pulled her in. Having no idea where to start, she googled “prisons in San Diego” and, five months later, on December 5, 2015, the gates of San Diego’s Donovan State Prison opened and she stepped into this dark violent environment for the first time. That first week, she went to prison three times. And that rhythm has yet to wane.
In this place in which we lock up people we consider to be inhumane, Mariette discovered an unimaginable richness in humanity. Wishing to invite others to experience this unexpected and unseen beauty, Mariette created the first TEDxDonovanCorrectional. The first event - ideated and orchestrated entirely by a Core Team of 10 residents over five short months, with the support of Mariette and her team of dedicated volunteers - took place on May 21, 2017.
As you’ll read below, the success of TEDxDonovanCorrectional stunned everyone, from the attendees, to the incarcerated “people in blue”, to the Donovan Administration…to Mariette herself! She was so transformed by the incredible human transformation and culture change created in five short months that she decided to dedicate her life to expanding this work.
This event, that brought together 100 Donovan “men in blue” with 100 outside attendees for a day of talks, conversation and connection, culminated with Closing Circle of sharing. When Mariette called the Core Team into the circle to be recognized for their incredible work, the team fell into a spontaneous, counterculture, interracial, radical group hug! A testament to the incredible change in XX that transformed every person present as well as the prison yard.
Mariette founded Brilliance Inside in October 2017 with the mission of breaking our society’s cycle of violence and transforming prison from being strictly a container of violence to a creator of peace. Donovan administration asked her for more TEDx programming.
It was this group hug that told Mariette that there was more dignity, respect and love to bring into this degrading and dehumanizing environment. And six months later, she founded Brilliance Inside with the mission of breaking society’s cycle of violence, by first transforming prison from a container of violence to a creator of peace.