Thanks to tireless work of many; thanks to protocol, procedure, and policy that has led to legislation and allocated funding; and, thanks to the innovation of individuals and coalition building among organizations and institutions: a lot has been working to change how gender-based violence is addressed across the world.
And, thanks to the American Public Health Association’s meeting in San Francisco in 2012, I met Prof. Ann Taket (Centre for Health on Action for Social Exclusion, Deakin University, Melbourne, Victoria AUS). Together we worked on a cultural adaptation of You the Man (2013), and when she and her colleague Prof. Beth Crips were putting together chapter proposals for a book that addressed efforts to end GBV across the world, they asked me if I had any ideas.
Certainly: my idea was to ask friend and colleague Clara Porter (Prevention Action Change) if she would like to co-write a chapter that addressed her time at the University of Southern Maine as the Campus Safety Project Coordinator. The excuse to meet in person during my trips to the US, and for us to get on Skype regularly to work on this chapter was welcomed, as it meant we got to spend some real time together even as we were an ocean away.
The initial idea for the chapter was a planned but casual interview. That was magical thinking… in time we fell into line with a more traditional academic voice. An academic approach with citations and findings serves the forthcoming book itself and the work Clara did at USM; and in turn, the chapter serves practitioners looking for resources to inform their own work on campuses or in communities. But, if you get the chance to hire Clara to do any Empowerment Self Defense work (there’s a chapter on this in the book as well!) or if you can collaborate with Clara regarding your violence prevention project, you will enjoy yourself immensely, and understand why a conversation was my initial thought.
For me as a writer, this was a rewarding project. Clara is not one to toot her own horn, and the premise of most of what she did at USM as the Campus Safety Project Coordinator over three years was steeped in partnership, collaboration, and a shared set of goals. That said, it takes a special kind of leader to pull off that kind of coalition building and get an institution to move the needle on culturally entrenched issues and implement adequate protocols and policies. I enjoyed helping tease out the story of the origins, findings, and recommendations from her time as the Campus Safety Project Coordinator, as well as hearing about the anecdotal stories and personal experiences that made it a rich three years.
Eliminating Gender-Based Violence (Routledge) is due out in 2017.