Rotary Global Grant Blog March 2019

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After submitting my dissertation at the end of February, March kicked off with a trip to Melbourne to visit one of my closest childhood friends. It was wonderful to relax and laugh with a good friend after the final push to complete my thesis. And Melbourne is such a great city!

Since returning to Wellington, I have been busy catching up on the work that got put to the side during the final weeks/months of writing my thesis including finalizing two forthcoming articles, one on using games to teach restorative practices and one on the sustained restorative dialogue pilot. I will post more information as soon as they are available!

There were two training highlights this month! We offered a training on restorative tools for transforming workplace culture to attorneys at Crown Law. It was a great group and they were very engaged with both the proactive and reactive applications. It is wonderful to see the positive impact these tools can have in workplaces!

The second training highlight was offering a workshop on how to teach restorative practices in a way that is in alignment with the restorative philosophy to a group of fellow restorative practitioners. I have been dreaming about this training for a while and designed all new activities to help encourage a discussion about what makes a learning experience restorative and to give them the experience of designing, facilitating and debriefing their own activities for teaching restorative practices. We were amazed by what they came up with! I also got to try out a brand new activity I designed called “Build the Nest,” which engages with the Nested Theory of Conflict in a creative way in order to better understand the structural roots of crime. It was two evenings of amazing conversations and creativity and something I hope to get to do again soon!

Rotary Global Grant Blog February 2019

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The biggest and most exciting news this month is I submitted my dissertation!! It feels wonderful and exciting to have completed such a significant piece of work on a topic that is so important to me. This journey has been challenging at points, but ultimately so rewarding. I am so grateful for how my understanding of restorative justice has deepened through the process and for all the support I have received along the way! Next, my thesis will be sent out to three examiners, one at VUW, one in Australia, and one in the United States. In approximately four months, I will have my oral defense, likely followed by required revisions. There are still a few big steps in the process, but it is nice to be able to take a deep breath and relax a bit before the defense!  

February started off with a week of training with the VUW Residential Advisers. As always, they were a wonderful and inspiring group of young people, who picked up very quickly on restorative principles and practices. I have high-hopes for the year ahead! If you would like to read more about restorative practices in the residential halls at VUW, check out my article in Conflict Resolution Quarterly.

This month, I also learned that the University of Western Australia is going to adapt the Sustained Restorative Dialogue process developed at VUW to hold a restorative circle dialogue with a group of law students on their experience of competitiveness and stress in the law school learning environment. It is very exciting to see this process spreading, as I think it is a promising new development in the field of proactive restorative practices aimed at broader culture change in communities.

I contributed several pieces to the most recent NACRJ Restorative Well, which you can view here.

This month’s Rotary Peacebuilder Newsletter is on the topic of Risk Taking. My contribution is titled “Taking the Risk to be Vulnerable: What We Know from Restorative Justice Research and Practice” and can be found here.

Rotary Global Grant Blog January 2019

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2019 is off to a great start!

My dissertation is due at the end of February, so I have been working hard writing and revising. It is really exciting to see the final version coming together! I feel so grateful looking back at the last three years of work to have had the time and support to dive so deeply into a topic that I care so much about!

We started the new school year at Victoria University by training another group of residential halls staff as restorative justice facilitators. It was a great couple days and a wonderful group of people! It is so exciting to see restorative practices implementation continuing to grow in the university. We will also be training all of the Residential Advisers in circles and restorative conversations like we did last year over the coming weeks. I can’t wait! If you would like to learn more about restorative practices in the Residential Halls at Victoria University, check out a recent article I published Restorative practices in residence halls at Victoria University of Wellington, New Zealand.

I was very excited this month to have the art piece I commissioned illustrating restorative justice shared by Brunilda Pali, whose article and presentation at the EFRJ Conference originally inspired me to try to create an image. She has also kindly shared my blog on her site She has some great content – I highly recommend checking it out!

The January 2019 Rotary Peacebuilder Newsletter is available on the district website and also on the Peacebuilder Blog.

Rotary Global Grant Blog November 2018

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I can’t believe how quickly this year has gone! November really flew by with most of my time devoted to completing a full draft of my dissertation, which has now been submitted to my supervisors for feedback. It feels great to have hit this milestone! While it was difficult to be away from family on Thanksgiving, we had a nice time celebrating with friends and certainly have a lot to be grateful for!

An article I wrote about the use of Restorative Practices in the Residence Halls at Victoria University was published this month is Conflict Resolution Quarterly. You can read the full article here.

I contributed several pieces to the most recent NACRJ newsletter, the Restorative Well, which you can find here.

The most recent Rotary Peacebuilder Newsletter is on the topic of journaling and will be posted here soon.

Finally, I was very excited this month to receive a Postgraduate Research Excellence Award. This award recognizes a postgraduate student that:

  • Displays academic rigour, excellence, originality, and/or creativity;
  • Demonstrates an impact within the scholarly, economic, or wider stakeholder communities;
  • Displays clarity of expression that addresses an educated but non-expert audience;
  • Advances knowledge in the field and/or contributes to knowledge.

It was a real honor to receive the award and I feel very grateful!

Rotary Global Grant Blog October 2018

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Happy Halloween! As the leaves change colors and the weather gets cooler in Colorado, we are experiencing the first signs of spring here in New Zealand, though still with a fair share of rainy, cold days!

I kicked off the month by attending a Thesis Bootcamp. Designed for students in the final phase of their dissertation writing, the weekend brought together a group of PhD candidates for 2.5 days of intensive writing. It was a wonderful experience! So great to have the solidarity of writing alongside other students.

This month, Haley and I offered a training called Restorative Practices for Transforming Workplace Culture at VUW. It was a great day with an excellent group of professionals, diving into circle practice and restorative conversations. The first half of the day focused on using restorative tools proactively to build community and trust and establish positive group norms, and the second half of the day focused on how to use restorative processes reactively when issues arise. The course received great feedback.

This was a highly enjoyable course. It was thoroughly practical and immediately useful. Great facilitators and a really engaged group of learners. Restorative practices have existed in various forms across history – and not so ironically, they are the way for the future.

We also offered a Community Restorative Justice Facilitator Training, which was excellent! This is something I have been wanting to do for a while. We offer facilitator training through the university, but the cost that the university sets is often prohibitive for people from non-profits and other community groups. A few months ago, we sent out a message to a few people who had expressed interest saying we wanted to offer a Community RJ Facilitator Training. We calculated how much it would cost for us to provide the training and said we would divide that cost among the total number of registered participants, with a maximum of 20. The training quickly filled and it was an excellent weekend with a group of passionate and highly-skilled community members! One participant even came all the way from Perth, Australia after reading an article I wrote about Building a Restorative University and reaching out to me a couple weeks ago. This is something I would love to do again. I think it is so powerful for community leaders in a variety of settings to have restorative knowledge and skills!

During October, the Chair in Restorative Justice at VUW also hosted a conference titled “Effective and Humane”: Restorative and Māori Justice Approaches to the Prison Crisis. My partner, Sam, and I delivered a workshop on the potential of using circle processes in prisons, inspired by our experience delivering an RJ workshop at Manawatu Prison. I also helped out as a circle keeper, facilitating opening and closing circles at the conference. It was a great couple days and a chance to hear from some amazing international restorative practitioners.

You can check out the most recent edition of the Peacebuilder Newsletter on the topic of Cartoons and Peacebuilding here.


Rotary Global Grant Blog September 2018

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Lots of great opportunities to learn and share Restorative Practices this month!

The primary focus for me in September has been writing and revising my dissertation. I have a full draft due on October 8th, so am working away! Wish me luck! 

I have also had some great opportunities for engaged practice this month. My colleagues, Haley and Sarah, and I were asked to participate in a campus event called Sex in the Hub. Billed as “the sex talk you wish you had,” the event focused on sexual health and consent, and also had a very powerful exhibit where you could listen to audio recordings of stories of sexual assault from students. It was heartbreaking and incredibly moving. We were there to facilitate circles as a way to debrief the experience of the exhibit.

On the training front, Chris and I led a half-day workshop on Leadership and Restorative Practices as part of the Leading People Program at VUW. It is great to see the University increasingly embracing the restorative vision! I also gave a talk about restorative justice to a study abroad group visiting Wellington and had the chance to bring circle practice to a local church community. You can read more about that experience here.

One of the things I had the most fun with this month was playing with the idea of how images can effectively portray the idea of restorative justice. I ended up commissioning an image of a Restorative Lady Justice from a local artist. You can read more about my thought process and see that image here.

You can check out the lasted edition of the Rotary Peacebuilder Newsletter reflecting on Sticks and Carrots here. My contribution is titled “Beyond the Carrot and the Stick.” We are also now sharing these newsletters on a Rotary Peacebuilder blog.

I contributed several pieces to the most recent Restorative Well, the National Association of Community and Restorative Justice newsletter. You can read that here.

Finally, I mentioned in July that David Karp visited VUW and gave an excellent lecture on the use of RJ for sexual assault cases in the university context. A recording of that lecture has now been posted here.


Rotary Global Grant Blog August 2018

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For the first part of August, I was home in Colorado visiting my family. It was great to have a chance to soak up some Colorado summer and to visit my loved ones. While I was home, I also got the chance to visit the Rotary Clubs of Fort Collins and Loveland, to thank them in person for their support of my research. It was wonderful to get to reconnect with Rotarians who I have been in so much email contact with and to meet a few new friends! I continue to be amazed by and endlessly grateful to the Rotary community for the work they do.

While in Colorado, I also delivered an Introduction to Restorative Practices in Schools training for Mountain Sage Community School in Fort Collins. I have deep ties to the Mountain Sage community, having been a Waldorf student myself growing up, and I also have a love and admiration for the educational philosophy at the root of their school. It was a privilege to get to share my work in restorative practices and some practical skills for building healthy communities and resolving conflict with the Mountain Sage staff.

Towards the end of August, my colleague Haley and I delivered a two-day Restorative Justice Facilitator Training for Victoria University of Wellington staff. Through these trainings, we are growing the community understanding of what it means to be a Restorative University and are growing our team of facilitators who can take cases. I always love the opportunity to spend two days taking a deep dive into restorative philosophy and skills with a group of learners! We also had a chance to try out a couple new games I had designed for teaching facilitation skills, which was  a lot of fun!

You can read the most recent edition of the Peacebuilder Newsletter on the topic of Paradigm Shifts: An Argument for Studying Peace here. My contribution describes how restorative practices can teach students how to handle difficult conversations.

During July, I got to pilot a project I have been trying to get off the ground in the university for over a year. The “Sustained Restorative Dialogue” method is a proactive restorative process to hold difficult conversation about important community issues. The inaugural dialogue explored the issue of sexual harm and harassment on campus. It was a “sustained” dialogue in that it was run over four sessions with the same participants. It was a “restorative” dialogue in that the conversation moved in sequential sessions through the main steps of a restorative analysis – What is happening? What are the impacts? What is needed to make things right? The aim of the dialogue was to explore the broader climate that gives rise to sexual harm in the campus setting and beyond and to explore possible solutions.

This month, I received feedback from the Sustained Restorative Dialogue participants and compiled a report on the project. I am happy to say that the pilot was a great success, and the university is excited to move forward with wider implementation. The report below includes background information, the circle outlines for each session, feedback from participants, recruitment processes, and lessons learned.

Sustained Restorative Dialogue Report

Rotary Global Grant Blog July 2018

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July has been another exciting and full month!

A lot of my time this month has been devoted to dissertation revisions. I recently completed a full draft of my dissertation (minus the concluding chapter) and received feedback from my advisors on the three chapters that are most significant to my argument. I remember reading about the PhD process early on that you may think that getting a full first draft together is the hardest part, but the revision process can actually be even harder and more time consuming. I was skeptical when I read that, but it has certainly proven to be true in my case! My advisor, Chris, tells me to think writing like an oil painting, layer by layer, very slowly. I am encouraged by how I can see the work improving as I go, but it is certainly not an easy phase of the process!

A highlight of this month was a visit from David Karp to Victoria University of Wellington. He came to participate in a round table event hosted by the Chair of Restorative justice on the Restorative University concept. He also delivered a public lecture on Restorative Justice in the Time of #MeToo. David is a leader in the US in the implementation of restorative practices on university campuses and the use of restorative justice to respond to sexual harm. Both events and the chance to talk with David were outstanding!

This month I continued delivering Restorative Justice workshops for FGC Coordinators in Rotorua, Palmerston North and Christchurch. It has been a real privilege to get to work this inspiring group of people!

Haley and I also delivered a day-long Restorative Practices workshop for an early childhood center, Nga Tamariki. We facilitated skills-building exercises and facilitated conversations about the application of restorative approaches to community building and responding to conflict and misbehavior both with children and within the staff group. It was a great day!

You can check out the most recent edition of the Rotary Peacebuilder Newsletter on the topic of Peacebuilding and the Rotary Four-Way Test here. My piece highlights the alignment between restorative approaches to justice and the wisdom of the Four-Way Test.

If you are interested in reading previous issues of the Rotary Peace Building Newsletter, they are all available online here.

Rotary Global Grant Blog June 2018

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June was a very exciting month for me! Earlier this year, my proposal to present my PhD research at the European Forum for Restorative Justice Conference was accepted and I received funding from my university to attend. Once I knew I was going, I submitted another proposal to deliver a workshop on Teaching Restorative Practices through Games, which was accepted as well. It was wonderful to get to share my research and training techniques with a European audience and to meet people from around Europe and the world doing such incredible work. You can check out a detailed conference program here. I will be sharing a few reflections from the conference in blog posts. The first of these reflections is about collective trauma. I felt incredibly fortunately to have the opportunity to attend and to learn more about what is happening in the European context!

This month, I also designed and delivered a restorative justice training for Family Group Conference Coordinators at Oranga Tamariki. You can see a beautiful visual note taking piece that was produced during this training in the photos above. Family Group Conferences are widely considered one of New Zealand’s greatest Restorative Justice achievements, but when a process is so thoroughly engrained in the standard justice system, it can easily lose its restorative focus at times. It was wonderful to have the opportunity to provide a reminder of important restorative principles and practices and to engage in conversation with so many inspiring practitioners. I am looking forward to three more of these sessions coming up in July.

I contributed several pieces for the most recent Restorative Well, the NACRJ newsletter, which you can read here.

I also contributed a piece on the Restorative Paradigm Shift for the most recent Rotary Peacebuilder newsletter, which you can read here.

Finally, last Friday, Wellington kicked off Matariki, the Maori New Year with a big celebration on the waterfront. The centerpiece of the celebration was seven floating fires in the shape of the constellation Pleiades. My partner, Sam, proposed the idea of the floating fires and was responsible for making it happen. The fires came together beautifully (see photo above) and it was a lovely mid-winter event!



Rotary Global Grant Blog May 2018

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May began with the opportunity to offer a Restorative Practices workshop to the Human Resources staff at Victoria University. It was great to have a chance to share the restorative approach with this group and to talk through their questions and reactions. Having the HR team on board is an important step in our effort to build a restorative university.

On May 14th, I was the guest speaker for the Rotary Club of Wellington lunch meeting. It was wonderful to get to share a little bit about my research and how it contributes to the Rotary mission of peace and conflict resolution with my host club. Many club members also didn’t realize that New Zealand is a global leader in restorative justice in so many ways, so it was great to get to share that information!

This month, I also went to the premier of the New Zealand-made film The Breaker Upperers with a live Q&A with the three main actors. The movie was hilarious and I highly recommend it if you have the opportunity to see it. In my opinion, kiwis make some of the best comedy!

The rest of my time this month has been filled with facilitating restorative justice processes for student misconduct cases at the university, continuing to put my research findings into writing, and reading to deepen my understanding of restorative practices. One interesting insight from my research this month is a connection between Carl Rogers’ necessary conditions for effective therapy and the facilitation process. You can read more about that insight here.

The most recent issue of the Rotary Peacebuilder newsletter is on the topic of creativity and peace. You can read my contribution along with the rest of the newsletter here.

Haley and I were interviewed for the EdX course Restorative Justice and Practice: Emergence of a Social Movement about the implementation of restorative practices at Victoria University, specifically in the Residential Halls. Check out the videos below for two clips from that interview.