Tag Archives: consequential strangers

Stranger kindess is so powerful, because you know it’s non-judgmental.

When I teach about restorative justice, I emphasize the importance of community members by using the kindness of strangers.  I explain that when someone we don’t know stops to help us, it has deeply positive impacts.  I explain this in a blog post.  A great relevant concept Consequential Strangers, more of my blogs on consequential strangers.

Let me explain how I came to realize ‘why’ the kindness of strangers is so powerful.

I was driving in a funeral procession, we were the 5th or 6th car.  My 18 year-old daughter and 21 year-old niece were with me.   I broke the silence by sharing my dislike for being one of the cars following a hearse.  I was remembering back 22 years to my Mothers funeral and having to be in the very first car behind the hearse.  Even as I type this the grief washes over me like a wave.  If you’ve ever had to have the first car experience you know exactly what I mean.

The cemetary was 8 miles away, down the highway.  I shared with the girls how I still stop and pull over for funeral processions.  My niece who lives in a small Nebraska town, shared they still do it there.   Daughter shared a story of seeing a driver have to cut across an intersection in St. Paul, and in that cut through the processional line of cars.

Then I noticed a truck, a car and a van, all pulled to the side of the road.  I was so touched.  I told the girls “see, you respect the dead, no matter who they are.”  I shared feeling respected and honored.  I shouted out to the cars “thank you, good luck, I hope you win the lottery.”  I was being my normal/wierd self, but also wanting to role model sending positive energy for my young passengers.  They didn’t even make fun of me.

We drove further and saw more drivers that elected to stop.  A few sped past.  I pointed these behaviors out to the girls.  I shared how deeply respected and touched I was by those that stopped.  I reinforced them to do kind things, not knowing how much a little thing can mean to someone else.  I was thinking of how deeply touched I was for those that stopped.  I knew they were consequential strangers, touching my life.  Giving me an opportunity to teach the young women in my car how to behave in a community.

I knew I would be blogging about this.  As I sat down this morning I realized its about NOT being judged.  These strangers had no idea who was in the hearse, who the family was, who the mourners were.  They didn’t know if we had money, beauty, fame, poverty or disease.  Well we have none of the above.

In restorative justice non-judgemental listening is promoted.  It’s a tool to the process, regardless of if you were harmed or harmed someone.  Community members/Circle volunteers are essentially the neutral set of eyes, they bring non-judgement kindness to the process.  It impacts others in the Circle that strangers care.  It restores and renews a sense of community.  Just like those drivers that pulled over on Wednesday morning.  They gave me a gift, another lesson that kindness has powerful effects.  Kindness restores and renews a sense of community, as only community members can do.

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Filed under Community, Full Circle Experiences, offenders, Practitioner Skills, Relationships, Restorative Justice, Victims

Turns out, I named my daughter after a consequential stranger!

I posted about Consequential Strangers, after hearing a story on NPR.  The book is great, and the concept has been very applicable to Restorative Justice.  Explaining the social convoy, and concept really draws out awesome stories.  I also made my list of 100 important people, you might want to consider giving that a try.  The person I named my daughter after, wasn’t even on that list, but all the same, he’s a consequential stranger.

I was getting ready for day two of a Circle training, and I knew that I wanted to present the importance of ALL relationships, and share the “people really matter’ consequential stranger concept.  I was mulling over this notion, answering emails and a coworker (yes I now have a coworker) asked how I named my daughter.  In total Kris Miner ADD fashion, I said “Hey that’s it, thats the story for Circle today, thanks, perfect!”  It could have been her cold medicine, it could have been me, she looked slightly confused.  I briefly explained my story.  I told the whole thing later in Circle to introduce consequential strangers.  I’ll blog the story here, a few more details than the Circle.

I got pregnant in college, a complete, unexpected shock.  I even called the 1-800 number on the pregnancy test, to let them know they were distributing a faulty product.  I had a positive test and there was no way I could be pregnant.  When the person on the phone asked if I had unprotected sex, I shot back “what’s that got to do with it”. 

Nearly 9 months later, it was the end of the semester and I was at a geography test.  Somehow I locked my keys in my car.  My apartment keys in the car, the spare set of car keys at the apartment.  I barely knew Wylie.  He was a cool guy on campus.  He was a cowboy with a great butt!  We went on one date, and shortly after I found out I was pregnant.  He was a distant friend of a friend.  Somehow after class he found out I locked my keys in my car.

He helped me out, at his own expense.  On the way to my apartment he got pulled over, his tabs were expired.  I think he mentioned that was why he wasn’t driving much.  I felt so bad.  He did his best to play down he now had a fine.  He popped off a screen, crawled down into my basement apartment.  Something at 8.5 months pregnant I would not have been able to do.

It occurred to me to remove the W, and add the K, to create Kylie.  Wylie was so original, in person and name.  I thought I created a new name.  Because of Kris, the “K” thing seemed cute, I was 23 years old.  Turns out Kylie was not the original creation I thought.

How she was named was always known to her.  When friends ask, I’ve over heard her tell a brief version of the story.

When I told the story in Circle, I shared that I don’t remember Wylie’s last name.  He doesn’t know he has a kid named after him.  I have no idea what he did with his life after college.  Yet the time he spent helping out a pregnant classmate, that act of kindness lives on and on.  People who don’t seem to matter, but really do.  Consequential Strangers.

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Filed under Full Circle Experiences, Kris Miner, Relationships

Another social networking connection provides insight, growth and a proud Mom moment.

We all just want to make our parents proud and not embarrass our kids.  I believe that is at the heart of all our relationships.  Restorative Justice is about relationships, and I’ve posted a few times here about the comparisons of social media, to restorative justice, and the impact on these relationships.  Today I have 16 posts under Social Media.   Another benefit today, in a full-circle experience way!

I got to be interviewed today, by a social media connection.  Melinda  Blau, author of Consequential Strangers contacted me after I did a post on her book.  I really embraced the new concept, and found powerful examples after asking about CS’s in a Circle.  When she let me know via Twitter, she mentioned me in her blog, the Twitter link took me there.   (I left to go grab a link) and Oh geez in my true ADD form, I just found out she blogs for Psychology Today!  Now I feel even better about our conversation.

So the insight, growth and proud Mom moment! 

Melinda and I connected right away!  We were chatting away so friendly, her voice reminded me of family back in Michigan, although she’s from Maine.  She complimented my writing, and confirmed she doesn’t offer that type of comment.  She was talking about my blog writing, which for me to be talking to someone about was really cool.  I’ve been adding ‘blogger’ onto my introductions but still feeling like it wasn’t quite “legit”.  Telling my blogging story and use of social media today, allowed me to hear out loud how this was all working for me.  I must say, “pretty cool”. 

I clarified how “putting myself out there” really puts who I am ahead of meeting me in person.  I also shared how high school friends on Facebook, have shared thoughts on my work now.  I network about Restorative Justice on Facebook, like mad.  Melinda really drew things out as we discussed this.  Who would have thought I would be talking about having a Mom who died of cancer or being adopted, today in an interview on social media!  Those two things are in my top few wounds.  I’ve said before, healing happens closest to the wound.  And making the link from who I was then, and who I am now, felt healthy.  To have what I put out there be reinforced, lends to me being more genuine, and Melinda and I talked about the importance to that.  I mentioned my value of congruence, which is when my personal and professional values stay aligned.  She agreed.

In talking about my blog, facebook, and twitter, I shared that my daughter was the only kid in her class who got to raise her hand when the teacher asked if parents were on Twitter.  A friend of Kylie’s said “your Mom would be”.  It turns out Kylie was in the office, doing some work for me for gas money.  I ended up putting her on the phone with Melinda.

The computer guy/friend was here, a friends daughter who helps me out in the office was here.  We were all impressed with my kid.  She shared that as odd as it is, her only privacy from me is her Facebook.  Long story, she won’t friend me, I “stalk” her.  She said out loud “my Mom and I are really close”.  I didn’t know or think she would say that.  I know I’m her Mom, but I must say it was pretty cool.

So the article is for the Psychotherapy Networker, and as I reflected on it later, I remembered something.  When I was a new in-home family therapist I used to LOVE that magazine!  Kylie was 3 when I had that job, and today at 18 she was interviewed for an article that is being written for it.  Wow, that’s full Circle!

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Filed under Full Circle Experiences, Kris Miner, personal growth, Social Media, Writing

Talking Circle stories about ‘Consequential Strangers’ are very inspiring.

I blogged earlier on the new book and concept Consequential Strangers.  Today as our Circle entered the “building relationship” round, I asked a for a story about a ‘consequential stranger’.  Our Circle was ready to share, the question before was about how people feel about the talking piece, speaking and listening one at a time.  The answers we just heard demonstrated the importance of us speaking and listening in turn.

I was so touched by the stories that followed a brief synopsis of the ‘strangers’ talked about:

  • the high school student that defended a new middle school student, on the day she needed it, and he moved away a few weeks later.  She never learned his name, but the actions he took shaped her life.
  • A kind person that helped a young student get off the subway (going the wrong way) and traveled briefly alongside the student giving clear directions so the student could make her appointment.
  • A drug addict sat down next to a 17 year-old, in a crack house, and told her she didn’t belong there, to go back to her family.  She gave the very day of the meeting in the crack house, and her family arrived to the very next day.
  • The prison chaplin that helped a Mom return to her family.
  • The person who stopped to help push a stuck car out of a driveway.
  • The homeless man that had a conversation, sharing his life story and listening to another.  He got a ride back to his bridge after the exchange.

The Circle started referring to the main characters of these stories and “nameless strangers”.  After we all shared stories, the conversation continued, as people reflected on the acts of kindness they themselves may have done that could be talked about.  The group teased about getting t-shirts made “Nameless Stranger”, and going out to do good acts.  The energy and tone was very positive.

This was a Circle that meets two times a month, so we are already fairly connected, we are just coming back together after the holiday break.  The Circle focusing on the kindness of strangers, was a real reminder of how part of a community all of us are.

I also appreciated that our values (the paper plates with relationship values written in marker), placed in the center of the Circle were reinforced automatically by our stories of consequential strangers.

Thank you for any kind act you’ve ever done for another!  It doesn’t go unnoticed!


Filed under Belonging, Circle Process, personal growth, Relationships, Restorative Justice