Our Own Private Vortex

It would be difficult to ask this group of professionals and scholars, “Where are we meeting today?” without getting an array of mostly humorous replies. “Room 444, of course,” would be the simple answer.

Far from being a 666 scenario, and still at a comfortable distance from the need for a 911-type intervention, this place – room 444 – has acquired a special meaning for the group; most of our days are spent there and it is also where brief but urgent encounters with the life temporarily left back home are made, and where little pieces of information are thrown each other’s way as engagement tokens (lots of those flying around by the end of week three of the program).

SUSI Name cards
What’s the collective noun for an assemblage of SUSI scholars? A vortex of SUSI scholars.

Room 444 is both a center of operations and a cocoon. And if we bring creative discretion acceptance into this text we could also talk of it as a private little energy vortex in a land surrounded by so many famous ones. “Spiraling motions of air caused by spiritual energy,” like people say they’ve witnessed in nearby Sedona, have not happened yet, but the “Holo-Alma moment” surely opened up an interesting path…

This positive place welcomed today a session on political lobbying, with Marilyn Rodriguez of Creosote Partners, a progressive lobbying firm, and Pele Fischer, a Republican lobbyist at Peacock Legal. Both conveyed the idea that lobbyists put forward the proposals of clients or politicians but they also stressed that credibility is their most valuable asset. “If I lie to a politician I lose the ability to meet him/her again and ultimately, I am no longer useful to my clients,” added Marylin Rodriguez.

A working lunch with Paul Eckstein, veteran partner at law firm Perkins Coie, briefly took the group away from the safety of 444, but it was worth it. A thoroughly enjoyable conversation which flew across topics like the history of legal firms in Arizona, the changes in relevance of the Federal courts, or the public image of the profession. The conversation even ended with jokes like this: “What is black and brown and looks good on a lawyer? A doberman.”

The day ended back at 444 with Dan Barr (a magnificent guide throughout the week) talking about “Social Media and liability” and presenting some examples of “twibel” cases.

Before July arrives room 444 will start to settle into a particular corner of the scholars’ memories. As it often occurs with humans – journalists can sometimes behave as if they were – some information will get lost and some will remain vivid forever. Curiously (or maybe not) July is also the month when the Hopi people hold a ceremony to send the spirit beings back to their spiritual home. The Niman ceremony ends with a sending of energy, the hope for peace, to all mankind. 

Wakan tanka nici un mitakola  (Walk in Peace)