The RJ “legacy” you’d like to leave behind – excellent question

A restorative justice researcher intereviewed me, and her final question was asking me, what Restorative Justice “legacy” I would like to leave. 

(side note I started the blog entry in January – got that first sentance and saved if for later)   Now I can’t remember my answer and wow – I am guessing it changed!

Life has given me lots of changes the past few months:

1.) Staffing at work, from the most we’ve had as an agency 3, back to 1 (me).

2.) Realizing that at 17 my daughter is really on the road to emancipation.

3.)Growing with the students in my Advanced RJ class, being asked to write professional journal articles, keynote presentations, visits from across the US

4.) Keeping Balance – being present in my home community – a youth court program is developing.  I don’t like the concept of youth court – but it might not be bad for my organization to have some healthy competition.  That is the work balance – large or local.  A real plus to see our training listed on Marquette Law School Restorative Justice Initiative Site.  Thankfully while I was out of town presenting a keynote, the volunteers were doing community clean-up back in River Falls.  You can make or break a program not balancing large & local.

So my legacy . . . I might have talked about true to the core elements of Restorative Justice three months ago (I may have  different view in three more months).  What I want to talk about as legacy to the movement today – – – is that I personally represented positive values.  Instead of accomplishments or what I have done, what I have been.  HOW I have been.  As I talked with drivers education teachers at this conference – I was amazed!

I didn’t make any apologies about my passion for Circles.  I shared how a newspaper reporter quoted me as a self proclaimed Circle freak.  I worked hard at my keynote – for it to be engaging, motivating and educational.  In addtion to restorative justice and safe teen driving circles I was talking about trauma, grief, loss and storytelling.  I have found that when I address a group on these topics, I prove myself a safe place for people to tell me stories.  I got stories from attorneys and cops the first time this happened.  Individual side conversations, I provided attentive, compassionate listening.

At the drivers education conference – something completely different.  At supper, someone teased me about the ‘Circle” we were sitting at a round table.  Someone else said something about my key note being helpful.  Some else said, yes telling stories.  I’ve had 8 students die, 4 in one crash.  Another story from another teacher about a teen car crash, with 4 young men.  Then the story of a soon to be Validictorian, killed at an intersection, she would be 32 years old now, it was 16 years ago.  Every person at the table held a quiet understanding as these stories unfolded.  My emotions were overwhelming – both for the stories and for these teachers – DRIVERS ED teachers, recounting the young people.  I thought if the families knew how their children were being remembered, not forgotten.  It was amazing the supportive ear each teacher gave the other.  There was a sense of peace and a quality of the conversation hard to describe.  I became baffled at their committment to do this and confused about how they continue doing this.  The number 1 cause of death for people 16-24 is car crashes.  My respect for drivers education teacher quadrupled last night.  I’m going to email the ones that taught my kid and the many others from my community!

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