Tuesday, May 31, 2011

A Community to Inspire

I feel incredibly privileged and lucky to be spending a year in New Zealand having no job but to learn new ways to make the family law system work for children and families. While my thesis is about the role of the lawyer for the child in what much of the world still calls custody cases, I started this blog because I keep coming across ideas that I want to share, and I hope that people will use this space to share their ideas, and together we can create a place to brainstorm and learn the best practices being utilized around the world.

In other words, I want this to be a community. I want it to be a community that reignites the passion and energy that brought so many of us to family law in the first place. I want it to be a community to learn what someone is doing down the street . . . or across a vast ocean. Together, we can make the system work. In my other blog, I talk a lot about community. My favorite post about community occurred just about a year ago, and today is the day to share that sense of community on this blog.

The post last year was a reflection on the Association of Family and Conciliation Courts Conference. I have been lucky enough to have grown up in AFCC; my father has been a member my entire life. But last year, for the first time, I felt like my own person there, and the community building, from teaching yoga in the morning, to hanging out in the hospitality suite at night, taught me that community is what makes change. Community is what inspires.

For anyone who has attended an AFCC conference, or perhaps another professional conference, you know that the energy they inspire is energy that translates to your practice back home. The discussions with colleagues old and new is a chance to learn about ideas and learn how other people deal with the stress that being a family law professional can create. It was at last year’s conference that I met a researcher here in New Zealand who helped me launch my survey to the lawyers for children. It was at last year’s conference that I first taught yoga to a group of people not during my teacher training.

In other words, community is about growth. It is about pushing our limits and finding out that we have support when we think it might be lacking.

I do not think there is any substitution for a real, in-person conference. Sure, we can get our continuing education credits online, and my hope is that this blog creates some sense of that same community, but it is not the same. The hope is that this blog can help continue the discussions that begin in person. I know that post was a year ago because this year's conference is this week - always the Wednesday - Saturday following Memorial Day. Although I am sad to be missing the conference this year, I know that it will be a source of inspiration to all who attend.

Come back here and share your inspiration with the rest of us. Only together can we ensure that the system we build is one that truly works for families, children, and our own sanity. 

What is your favorite way to engage with community, professionally or otherwise? Do you find that it helps you do your work better? What inspiration do you find in community?

© 2011 Rebecca Stahl, all rights reserved

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