How do we run a movement?
Winter is our season to step back and take stock of what we're doing here at Cutting Edge Law. After the whirlwind cross-country tour, Michael and I both landed in Denver and an amazing house-sitting gig. We've been enjoying time in the Rockies to break up our work.
On the cross-country tour, I had many conversations and answered many questions. It was a good opportunity to take the pulse of the legal profession from law students, lawyers, judges and professors. I'm more convinced than ever that we are on an evolutionary path in the law.
The wheels in my head turn in the direction of creating organizational structures: committees, boards and directors, and the like. An event in California has me re-thinking.
The event: a potluck called together on the occasion of my visit to California to lead a CLE for SNR Denton (a multinational law firm). After a scrumptious potluck meal, we gathered in a makeshift circle of couches, cushions, stools and dining room chairs. For the next several hours, we introduced ourselves and shared what we were up to in the world. If you've never been in a sacred circle of lawyers who share the same vision, no words will adequately describe the experience. If you have, your eyes are closed and you are reminiscing and breathing deep. There is something about the shared experiences, the shared journey and commitments that pull us together. The sharing got deeper with every individual.
Some of us had known each other for years. Some had just walked into a room of strangers. We all left as family.
Janelle Orsi began the circle, talking about her book, The Sharing Solution, which has contracts and advice for creating agreements to honor and design relationships in the community - urban gardens, car-sharing, intentional communities. Next, it was an obvious opening for pioneer Stewart Levine, who basically invented the movement toward agreements based on relationship-building. And Linda Alvarez followed as she talked about how she'd followed in Stewart's footsteps. One by one, each building upon the others, we shared our passions, our hearts and our accomplishments. We were in the presence of and part of a group of visionary leaders who had each created something extraordinary.
As we finished introductions, we all sat in amazement at the space. Someone else spoke the words about needing to get organized, meet often, DO something together.
But it occurred to me that we'd already been doing our work. There had been no committee meetings. We hadn't scheduled tasks or made agreements for accountability. No organizations tied us together. We were the co-creators of a movement that was organic and hadn't required anything but listening to our own hearts and following our paths. The work was getting done without an organizational structure. It gave me hope.
Then today I talked with Cheryl Conner and she told me about the structures she's building for a health care coop pilot in Vermont. It was clear that the structures were both useful and even necessary. A new structure had to be created to show what was possible.
So I see two ends of a spectrum, both of which need to exist for systemic change to occur. We each can do our parts even if we're not part of an organization. We can join together into structures that increase our power and build new models.
So what is your part in creating this movement?