Social ADvocacy and Community Work

Over a career of working as a lawyer, community advocate, and in healing, I've really generated a lot of interested in the ways that healing works at different levels from the political, to community, family, and the individual. I have always been interested in larger forms of activism, but I also feel that the power of narrative has a personal and psychological benefit that works at the individual level.

 

As a lawyer, working for the American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU), my role was to intake inmate letters from Minnesota prisons to identify any potential claims. I would read their letters, which exposed childhood abuse, trauma, addiction, economic and personal hardships, and yet, most of these letters had nothing to do with legal violations. This narrative existed outside the scope of the law, and yet, it was clear to me that this mattered.

 

I wondered, how many other narratives and truths have been lost in these kinds of filters? I was trained to tell stories that fit certain legal modalities. It is the lawyers job is to create a narrative relevant to the scope of the law, to tell a story, but what gets lost in the process?

 

But, what truths are lost to obtain certain results?

 

My disdain for this part of the law made me keenly aware of power dynamics in all areas of political life, but also at the community, family and individual level. This led me to apply for a Ph.D. program and I was awarded the MacCracken Fellowship at New York University for my work in literary studies and narrative theory. My passion for work in personal growth and transformation extended beyond academics and the university and since 2010, I have continued my work as a published writer, storyteller, podcaster, and in developing my interest in narrative as a path towards personal growth and healing. 

I also worked on behalf of domestic violence victims, in family law as a divorce attorney, and working as a writer for the American Public Media podcast, Life of the Law. I have always been interested in the stories behind the law, the way that stories drive the law, and also the truth that much gets lost in the rules of evidence. You can read more about narrative and the limits of the law here

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© 2020 by Kate Marlena