Some colleagues and friends were talking about taking risks, and I said something to the effect that I couldn’t think of a risk I’d taken recently. One of my friends nearly fell on the floor laughing. She reminded me that not that long ago I had thrown my hat in the ring for something even though I knew that the odds against my success were great. And yet, I hadn’t identified that as taking a risk.
It started in the spring of 2018, when I received notice of a call for proposals for an international conference on Restorative Justice as sustainable Social Innovation, to take place in Italy in the fall of that year. This was right up my alley—I’ve been coaching and training restorative practices in school settings for a few years and I passionately believe that genuine whole-school implementation of Restorative Justice Practices is a valuable strategy for disrupting the school-to-prison pipeline.
Despite my experience with and commitment to these practices, the odds of my proposal being accepted for an international scholarly conference were slim. And should my proposal be accepted, the likelihood of having the resources to attend a conference in Italy was even slimmer. So unlikely was it that this would ever come to fruition, that I thought of the whole process as “I can always dream” and laughed heartily with my colleagues as I clicked ‘send’ to submit my presentation proposal.
Much to my surprise, my presentation was accepted. And much to my even greater surprise, and to the great credit of The Leadership Program community, I had the support of my colleagues and organization. That support came in the form of finding resources to make it possible for me to attend the conference and in providing me with crucial encouragement and feedback as I trepidatiously prepared to join a group of internationally renowned Restorative Justice practitioners and scholars presenting at the conference. With that support, I was able to create an informative and engaging presentation that was well-received and led to an invitation to contribute a peer reviewed article to the Padova University Press publication Restorative Approach and Social Innovation: From Theoretical Grounds to Sustainable Practices. All because I took the risk of applying to present at that conference contrary to logic and common wisdom.
So what does taking a risk look like? It can be standing up for justice when it’s unpopular to do so, or it can be standing on your own two feet after an injury. It can be making history as the first woman major party candidate for President of the United States, or it can be making incremental headway in the movement away from traditional punitive and biased school discipline toward equitable and inclusive restorative school culture. Or it can be trying something that doesn’t have great odds of success, simply because you believe in it—which is something women do as professionals, parents, and peacemakers every day.
Here’s to the women of history who took risks big and small to right wrongs in our society, and to the women of today who continue to take risks that they may not even recognize themselves. Brava! Bravissima! Keep up the courageous work!
What is one risk you can take to benefit your community? Let us know in the comments below.
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