Rotary Global Grant Blog November 2017

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November started with an exciting few days at the Relate Resolve Restore Conflict Resolution Conference in Wellington. The conference brought together restorative justice practitioners and mediators from across New Zealand and abroad to share insights, experiences and skills. Many participants commented on the benefit of “breaking down the silos” between these areas of practice to learn from each other.

The range of restorative justice practice in New Zealand was well-represented at the conference, featuring presentations on the topics of youth and adult criminal justice, schools, universities, workplaces, elder harm, restorative city efforts, responses to historical harms, and more. The range of applications illustrated that there is no one specific defining restorative practice, rather it is the underpinning values and the prioritization of relationships and connection that unite the RJ community.

On day one of the conference, I had the opportunity to present my research in a session titled The Role of Ritual in Conflict Resolution.  The presentation was very well-received and I enjoyed the conversations it sparked with other conference attendees over the following days.

One of the most exciting things about the conference for me personally was getting to present with Kathleen McGoey, Executive Director of Longmont Community Justice Partnership, the Colorado Restorative Justice nonprofit where I used to work. Kathleen has been a great mentor, teacher and friend in my professional and life journey and it was wonderful to have her in New Zealand! We presented Teaching Restorative Practices through Games, a laughter-filled hour highlighting a fun and effective way to teach restorative practices. The feedback for the session was wonderful!

Day three of the conference was focused specifically on elder harm issues. My colleague, Haley Farrar, and I delivered a workshop on using restorative circles to respond to elder harm issues. At the end of the day, there were two role plays using standard mediation and a restorative circle process to respond to a fictional case. Haley and I facilitated the example circle. It was a privilege to get to share an example of restorative circles with a wider audience and to showcase how the process can be effective in a wide range of cases.

This month, I also found out that I had been awarded a Quaker Peace and Service Aotearoa New Zealand Grant in order to carry out a project I proposed that will use restorative processes to cultivate a sustained dialogue on the issue of sexual violence on campus. This project will begin early next year and I will post updates as it unfolds.

The November Rotary Peacebuilder Newsletter, which William Timpson from the Fort Collins Rotary Club has been kind enough to ask me to contribute to, is available here.

This month I have also started interviews with former restorative justice participants (victims and offenders) as part of my research. It has been incredibly enlightening and an honor to hear peoples’ stories of participating in the process and the positive change it has brought to their lives. I continue to feel so incredibly lucky to be part of the restorative justice movement.

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Rotary Global Grant Blog October 2017

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October was another exciting and eventful month!

I began the month by doing something I had never done before: running a half marathon! My partner and I traveled to Tauranga for the race (he did the full marathon) and enjoyed exploring a new area of the country while tackling the run. My finish time certainly wasn’t impressive, but I enjoyed the beautiful views, the challenge, and the feeling of community at the race.

I have continued to engage with the Rotary community in very rewarding ways. I have joined the Youth Committee of the Wellington Club and I attended a forum titled “What Matters to Young Wellingtonians?” It was a great event with many interesting conversations!

William Timpson from the Fort Collins Rotary Club has been kind enough to ask me to contribute to a monthly Peacebuilder Newsletter for the Rotary community. You can check out the October newsletter here.

Victoria University hosted a Wellbeing Symposium during October. The immediate response the organizing team received after posting registration for the conference is evidence of the need for safe spaces to discuss mental health and wellbeing issues. During the afternoon, a colleague and I offered a workshop titled “Restorative Practices for Community Wellbeing.” We gave participants the experience of being part of a restorative circle process and talked about the ways that restorative practices support individual and community wellbeing. It was very well-received and an honor to get to share circle practice with a great group from throughout the university and beyond.

This month I also had an article titled “Building a Restorative University” published in Journal of the Australian and New Zealand Student Services Association (see link below). I am glad to see the word spread about the great work being done at Victoria University!

Building a Restorative University

Journal of the Australian and New Zealand Student Services Association Vol. 49 Issue 2. 2017.

Abstract: This paper examines the progress of Victoria University of Wellington towards becoming a Restorative University. Both reactive measures, including restorative justice as a response to conflicts and rule violations, and proactive measures, including the circle process as a way to build a positive culture rooted in restorative principles, are discussed. The article suggests that Victoria University has developed a framework for building a restorative community that can be adopted in other universities.