Light Joyousness of Springtime
BY REESA PARKER
Henri Matisse said, “I have always tried to hide my efforts and wished my works to have the light joyousness of springtime which never lets anyone suspect the labors it has cost me.”
This quote reminds me in many ways of the efforts of our volunteers, staff, and board. They accomplish myriad objectives in a seemingly effortless manner; we seldom see the labor behind the scenes. Unlike Matisse, they don’t intentionally hide their efforts. In our everyday lives, we have so many things to do we often overlook the contributions of others.
Let us consider just a few things, then.
Just prior to the new year, we heard that defendants Esquire and Atkinson-Baker were victorious in the Engate appeal. NCRA has been working on this issue since Engate first issued its demands in 2001. That is when NCRA created a Joint Defense Group for reporters and firms that chose not to pay Engate to continue to use the realtime technology for which Engate demanded license fees. Due to the importance of the realtime technologies at issue in the Engate litigation, NCRA supported this massive defense effort by providing extensive factual evidence of prior art (including testimony by former NCRA President Merilyn Sanchez), by hiring a patent counsel to advise the Joint Defense Group, by filing an amicus brief in the district court, and by providing financial support for the appeal after the insurance coverage for the remaining two defendants was exhausted.
We will see the fruits of our labor in three major (but very different) events in February: the Firm Owners Executive Conference, NCRA’s Legislative Boot Camp for state leaders, and our spring board meeting. The Legislative Boot Camp, hosted by NCRA’s Government Relations department, trains state leaders to help foster relationships with many lawmakers on Capitol Hill and in state legislatures. During the spring board meeting, your duly elected board members and I will once again deal with the issues affecting our profession. On top of that, next month, March 30 through April 1, volunteer and staff efforts culminate in our midyear conference in Vancouver, Canada. I hope you’ll plan to join us there.
Additional work behind the scenes by staff and volunteers includes development and production of a Teachers’ Workshop for reporting instructors and school administrators. For students, NCRA has a Virtual Mentors program, a quarterly newsletter in the JCR and a Student Community of Interest. Distance learning enrollment has increased from 15 students in 2000 to more than 700 in 2005. This increase in no small measure is directly related to NCRA helping to obtain $12 million in federal grants over the past five years. For videographers, there are CLVS conferences for training and certification. We host communities of interest for each specialty and offer numerous online and teletraining seminars for professionals to attain continuing education.
NCRA is also representing court reporters to the legal professions. Preliminary planning is underway for the Court Technology Conference being held in October 2007. The presence of an advocate for the stenographic reporting method is vital at this conference because ER vendors outnumber us by more than 10-to-1 at this event.
NCRF and NCRA have been official partners with the Library of Congress since 2003. NCRF exceeded its goal to transcribe 1000 veterans’ stories for The Library’s Veterans History Project by Veterans Day 2006. What a wonderful example we continue to set by using our stenographic talent to assist the Library of Congress in honoring our veterans by preserving their stories.
Furthermore, NCRF — the foundation for court reporting philanthropy — currently provides in excess of $86,000 a year in grants to Courtroom 21 and to deaf and hard-of-hearing organizations to support CART at their conferences. Its scholarship program has expanded from 2 to 10 scholarships and from a thousand to $13,000 in awards.
All these volunteers and staff work together ultimately for the betterment of our profession.
I recently discovered a bird’s nest in one of the trees just outside my office. It was interesting to see its components: a piece of plastic from a grocery bag, red and white ribbon, a blue twist-tie, a piece of woven rattan, a window-cleaner’s paper towel, yarn, sticks, grass and mud. Any one of these items by itself is not worth much, but when working together, provides a perfect shelter for a mother bird and a few eggs. Eventually the hatchlings emerge and take flight.
Volunteering is a lot like that. By yourself, you think you have little to add to a committee, task force, or board. But by pooling our individual attributes, we can create a perfect shelter where ideas are laid out, are hatched, and take flight. You can and do make a difference.
Matisse would laud us for thinking about the light joyousness of spring time just around the corner, as well as appreciating the fruits of our labor.