Realizing Rev. Martin Luther King's vision for building "the beloved community""

By Susan Brooks

Planning is well underway for the Second Annual PISLAP Conference, which will be held at the Drexel University Thomas R. Kline School of Law, in Philadelphia, PA.

The conference will provide a forum for legal practitioners, community activists and legal educators who share a desire to realize the late Rev. Martin Luther King's vision for building "the beloved community."

Conference themes will include:

Restorative Justice
Racial Justice
Community Engagement and Community Lawyering
Law and Mindfulness
Transformative Dispute Resolution
Lawyers as Changemakers/Law as a Healing Profession

Throughout the conference our aim will be to focus on the intersections among and integration of spirituality, law, and politics. Also, we will try to ensure program elements related to spirituality are as inclusive as possible, and hope to create an atmosphere where all participants can feel comfortable with the ways spirituality is presented, regardless of their own viewpoints or practices.

In terms of the conference design, one distinctive feature is our plan to devote much of the day on Saturday to allowing participants to explore a topic of their choice in greater depth using a workshop format.  Workshops on a select number of topics connected to the conference themes will be offered, and small groups of participants will be able to attend several sessions together over the course of the day.

Other aspects of the conference design will include opportunities for a broader group of participants to lead a discussion or present information about their work or interests.  The final plans will depend in large part on responses we receive to a forthcoming Request for Proposals (to be sent out in early December) and input from local community members, which we are also incorporating into the planning process.  We anticipate that such opportunities may include a poster session, table talks, shorter (TED Talk-like) presentations, or possibly “Open Space Technology,” which would allow more spontaneous offerings.  We are aiming toward allowing a large number of participants to be included as “presenters,” which we understand is often tied to funding and attendance.  Incorporating a session or sessions of this nature would also create more space during the conference for people to share and hear about each other’s work.

An exciting development connected to and dovetailing with the conference in terms of its time frame will be a Law and Social Change Jam.  The Jam will be taking place over several days just prior to the conference, from May 29-June2, at the Farm of Peace in Pennsylvania. It is being produced through YES!: http://www.yesworld.org/.  Further information about the Jam will be forthcoming soon.
As mentioned above, we will be issuing a Request for Proposals for the Conference in early December.  Proposals will be due in early-mid January.

If you are interested in getting involved in planning the conference in a hands-on manner, please contact Susan Brooks at susan.brooks@drexel.edu. I’m looking forward to working together toward enjoying a unique and memorable gathering in June!