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.

Rotary Global Grant Blog September 2017

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During September, my colleague, Haley Farrar, and I delivered a Restorative Justice Facilitator Training for a group of Victoria University staff from across the university. It was a great opportunity to spend three days immersed in the philosophy and implementation of restorative practices with a passionate group of leaders in our community. I look forward to facilitating cases with this group on campus and also to seeing how they creatively implement restorative practices in their spaces of influence.

I also had the opportunity this month to give a lecture on my research to the Graduate Certificate in Restorative Justice class. It was great for me to have the chance to distill my work to date into a two-hour lecture. The class discussion also helped me to clarify my ideas and fueled my excitement moving forward in my study.

On a fun note, this month I went on a girls trip to Martinborough, a town not too far from Wellington known for its vineyards. We were lucky enough to get a beautiful spring day and visited several vineyards by bike!

This month I have also joined the Youth Committee of the Rotary Club of Wellington. I am looking forward to working with them in the upcoming months!

Rotary Global Grant Blog August 2017

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August has been another full and exciting month in Wellington!

At the beginning of the month, I competed in Victoria University’s Three Minute Thesis Competition. The Three Minute Thesis competition challenges postgraduate students to explain their thesis research to a non-specialist audience in just 3 minutes. The goal is to clearly outline your research, engage the audience, and make them want to learn more.

I competed last year and was surprised and honored to win first place. You can read about that experience and see the video of my presentation here.

Because I had so much fun last year, I decided to participate again! This year, I won first place for International Students. You can watch the video of my presentation here.

This term, I have taken on the role of tutor for the Graduate Certificate course in Restorative Justice at Victoria University. I have enjoyed answering questions, marking papers and hosting tutorial sessions. This month, I was a guest lecturer for the course and delivered an interactive workshop on Restorative Circle practice. The content was well received and I enjoyed the opportunity to share with the class. To read more about designing restorative circles and how I am using this practice in the university context, see “How do you design a circle process?”

I have continued to interview facilitators for my research throughout the month and am learning so much from these conversations. To hear more about a recent insight, see “How does restorative justice counter biases?”

This month, I also received further training to be a facilitator in a pilot project using restorative practices to respond to elder harm issues. I am excited to be part of this new application of restorative practices.

Finally, this week I attended my first meeting with the Rotary Club of Wellington. It was a wonderful experience and I met so many great people! The speaker was Dr. Bronwyn Wood, whose speech was titled “Young people today: active or apathetic?” She suggested that these categories need to be challenged and outlined the ways in which youth and young adults are politically active in a different way than previous generations. It was an insightful and thought-provoking talk. As the Rotary Four Way Test was recited for the new members joining the club that day, I felt immense gratitude for this committed and passionate international community and for my place as part of it.

“Service above self.”

Rotary Global Grant Blog July 2017

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Starting this term, my PhD studies in New Zealand are generously supported by a Rotary Global Grant Scholarship. I am honored and so grateful to have received this support from Rotary. I was lucky enough to have the opportunity, while home in Colorado, to visit a couple of the local clubs to say thank you in person. I would also like to continue to share my journey and what I am learning through this blog.

Before returning to New Zealand at the end of June, I stopped in Oakland, CA to attend the 6th National Conference on Community and Restorative Justice. It was invigorating to be in a room full of passionate, driven and skillful restorative practitioners. I learned a lot about the state of restorative justice around the country and also delivered two talks titled Creating Transformational Space: Ritual and Restorative Justice and Building a Restorative University. 

During July, my colleague, Haley Farrar, and I had the opportunity to deliver a workshop on Restorative Justice to Wellington Community Justice Project, a law student-led society that aims to improve access to justice services in the community. I enjoyed the opportunity to discuss restorative practices with this group of intelligent and engaged law students.

On July 31st, the Rotary Club of Wellington hosted a forum with the central question “What would it take for Wellington, the city and region, to be the best in the world?” It was an exciting and thought-provoking event, featuring many great speakers from Wellington and beyond. Members of the audience were invited to share 60 seconds on their impossible dream for Wellington. I was lucky enough to be chosen to share the idea of making Wellington a Restorative City.  You can see a video of my one minute of fame here.

This month, I also began interviewing restorative justice facilitators and participants for my PhD research. It has been wonderful to go beyond the books and to draw from the experience and insight of the people engaged in the process.