I have attended 3 of the 3 National Restorative Justice Conferences. I am typing this blog from the lobby of the Sheraton Hotel in Raleigh, host of the most recent meeting. I stayed tonight, the conference ended at noon. Instead of being surrounded by familiar faces, and at the very least, people in orange lanyards, I am here alone. I am feeling lost in a mystery of something much bigger than myself. This is a feeling that only being alone, without lonliness can provide.
I knew that this would be a transformative adventure. I hardly leave home without one! Why not make the most of your travels by ascribing meaning and setting yourself up to a different (hopefully better) person from going from point A to point B and back again! I haven’t even made it home and I know I am very, very different.
My adventure began by picking up Kay Pranis, and traveling out of Minneapolis together. I love Kay, she really embodies the spirt and essence of a restorative justice circle practitioner. We were joined at the gate by Mark Umbriet, and I sat speechless, as the conversation included comparisions of criminal justice reforms, via restorative justice and health care, plant care, food systems and health. I was practically tongue tied as my thoughts drifted from the conversation to the the experience of sitting with these two pioneeers of this movement. They so very humbly, chatted with me about these issues.
Breakfast day 1, Mark Yantzi. Hmmm, voice clear. You know the history of Restorative Justice includes the first form of a conference in 1974 of which Mark was the Probation Agent. He was unassuming, polite, kind and I referenced my connections with the client he took from home to home, Russ Kelly.
My friend Harold presented, he’s been at all 3 conferences, doing great work in prisons in Missouri. I love Marilyn Armour, blogged about her before. Our conference was woven together by musical phenom, David LaMotte, who so gently, eloquently weaved his gifts of song, songwrititng and humanitarianism, right into our conference.
Love was in the air. I was so happy to connect with friends that were on the planning committee, and who helped me help the conference book sales and exhibit booths. To see an excel spreadsheet of titles and authors turned into a room of resources was a remarkable feeling. Many of the authors were in attendance at this conference. Right now, my most recent facebook photo is with Howard Zehr. Outside of all of us doing our practice in our communities, it doesn’t get anymore grass roots.
I love Dr Micheal Gilbert, he is a wonderful human being. We chatted about the first conference, his connection to that. We had a few laughs when I said the first conference “felt” grassroots. He promptly told me that was because, “it was!”.
I hope for those of you that attended, my experience is a reminder and validation for all that you experienced. For those of you unable to attend, I hope this blog post shares how close our family of restorative justice really is. We are all part of a healing wave. We are taking root, we are growing and nurturing a way for our futures and our children’s futures.
I feel blessed to part of this. I acknowledge all of you and thank you.