A New Conversation for Human Services and Criminal Justice
Day-long gathering draws out leadership in the room

Curator’s Note: A team of narrators brought their skills to a day-long summit, illuminating the essence and energy of the day through the diverse collection of artifacts we share here. Scroll down for the full collection, which includes a phrase poem, video, illustrations and written-word story. The whole experience is an example of holding a field for transformative change through dialogue and the narrative arts.

What would be possible if we deepened relationships and synergies between our human service and criminal justice silos and agencies?

That was the invitation that brought 40 people together in Peterborough, Ontario on Feb. 22. The majority of them are engaged in human service and criminal justice work across the Haliburton, Kawartha and Pine Ridge regions.

The referenced media source is missing and needs to be re-embedded.

  Part of the visual harvest of the day by Yvonne Hollandy. Click the image to see a large version.

The daylong gathering was presented as “an opportunity to understand one another’s roles even more deeply, break down barriers across counties, connect our community members with the right people and resources, build synergy and get traction on the ground. By doing so we will develop that sought after sense of cohesion and connection.”

Those attending were promised they would have a chance to discuss what is most important to them, see and meet their partners in new ways, and discover and design initiatives and projects of their dreams.

The day blended opportunities to connect with the intentions of relative strangers in small-group conversations, jumpstart new community projects through a high-speed design lab and offer support and resources to one another through a gifts circle.

The gathering surfaced new shared leadership as three live projects emerged from the resulting small groups.

That leadership also came through as people in the room expressed their intentions and aspirations. Many of those centred on several core themes:
•The absolute need to collaborate
•Finding ways to do things differently without extra resources

The referenced media source is missing and needs to be re-embedded.

  A second visual harvest of the summit by Yvonne Hollandy.

•Holding a “we can” versus “we can’t” mentality
•“Stretching beyond our mandates,” being creative and “manipulating the system in a positive way” in order to ensure the best supports for those the community serves.

The video below captures some of what participants took away from the day.

The gathering was sponsored by the HKPR (Haliburton Kawartha Pine Ridge) Regional Human Services and Justice Coordinating Committee, which seeks to co-ordinate resources and services, and plan more effectively for people who are in conflict with the law.

Peter Pua, founder and CEO of Axiom News, which is the creator of the Peterborough Dialogues, facilitated the day’s events.


Curator’s Note: The phrase poem below weaves together statements made by participants throughout the summit. Ben Wolfe presented the poem as a wrap-up to the day.

we are at a crossroads
a turning point
trying to get reconnected as a community

we are more and more disconnected
from our mission and our goals —

we need new legs, new wheels
we came wanting to learn, to understand
we are here to challenge our comfort zones,
to see things differently

we bring so many years,
so many hours
of commitment

at times
the heart of our work
is threatened
by imposed structures
that don’t take into account
our local realities

i have seen
what HSJCC can be —

an incredible place
to deal with client issues
and larger issues in the community

a place where people speak freely
they don’t put any issue aside
that may help the community
even if it doesn’t relate
to their specific agency —

an organic place
where people sometimes speak aggressively
and it’s all good,
it spills out into the parking lot,
it sometimes lasts for hours

it is the blue of calm and purpose
it is white satin
it is people first,
the true experts on their own lives,

held accountable
but treated fairly
with respect and dignity at all times

we are on the way —
we are starting to talk —

there is a willingness to learn
what each and every person knows

i believe we can learn from each other
i believe we can know each other
i believe we can be accountable to each other
i believe we can commit to shared vision

i believe we can learn from conflict and negativity

i will not hide behind mandates
we need to do things beyond our mandates
beyond standard practice
if we are going to
make a difference

i believe we can grow and improve
professionally and as a community

i believe we can break down the walls
that prevent us from working together

i believe we can offer better services
and support to our community

we carry so many stories
we all share similar struggles

i believe
we can remember
our original purpose

(Ben Wolfe, at the HKPR Regional Human Services and Justice Summit, Feb. 22, 2016)

This article was originally posted to peterboroughdialogues.media.