My wonderful experience at the IIRP 12th World Conference on restorative practices

I can’t believe it’s come and gone!  Last week I attended the 12th World Conference, hosted by the International Institute for Restorative Practices.  It was AMAZING!  My first IIRP conference was in 2002 (the 3rd IIRP conference).  That is where I first met IIRP President Ted Wachtel, as I mentioned in another post, he impressed me by following thru and sending my the Harvard Business Review – Fair Process article.

Ted mentioned that article again, at this conference, and as luck would have it I was telling a new friend about it when we had supper on the eve of the conference.

We had excellent speakers and breakout sessions.  The IIRP site, keeps speaker papers and conference articles, check out the library of on-line articles.

What this conference held, that was different from last years or other professional conferences, was seeing the impact of being a Restorative Justice Blogger, and social networker.  I got to meet a few people “in the flesh” and I felt connected, because we are facebook/twitter/linked in buddies.  A few of my new friends found me, because of these social network sites, and a conversation to chat on the phone happened before we actually met in person.  It was delightful to see them and spend time with people equally passionate about restorative justice!  A shout out here to Matt and Mary Ellen!

I was also approached by a few people who are blog readers, the response was heartwarming, the way they said “you’re, Kris Miner”, like putting two and two together in an ah-ha moment.  It was like they discovered something, and by the 4th or 5th time it happened, I had the feeling that it was ME, who discovered something.

I approach time and attendance at professional conferences as “professional development”, really focusing on deeping my connection to my profession.  Finding resources and shifts that make me richer and deeper as a person and a practitioner.  This conference provided a wonderful enviornment at the Historic Hotel Bethlehem and the Central Moravarian Church.  The shops on the street were cute, I’m wearing my new sweater today, purchased across the street from the hotel.

Connecting to people at conferences is so much fun.  Our conversations get to skip over an explanation of Restorative Justice and dive right into how and what type of work we do.  One of my friends said it was like being at the “spa”, he felt refreshed.

In Matt’s session, an attendee talked about being “the lone voice in the wilderness”.  That struck me right away, I know the feeling, being in isolation and the only one thinking about things in a certain way.  Then I started to think about what comes next.  It occured to me it depends on what we are using our “lone voice” for.  It it is to cry for help, that brings in others, in a certain way.  That “lone voice” could be singing a tune, like the 7 dwarfs, “hi ho, hi ho, it’s off to work we go”.  The “lone voice” could also be sharing information to those interested, as he or she is carving a path in the woods.

regardless, the conference was a clear indication, we are no longer lone wolves, isolated voices . . . we ARE Restoring Community in a Disconnected World.