Great Conference – Upcoming Training

You won’t want to miss the next National Restorative Justice Conference!  Check out the site  May 13-15th in San Antonio Texas.  I am working on my paper to present today!

SCVRJP will be holding a Circle Training on January 15 & 16 at the Restorative Justice Center in River Falls, WI.  The cost to attend the 2 day training – which includes a handbook, lunch and talking piece is $200.00.  There are a limited number of scholorships available, and a limited number of participants able to attend.  Email SCVRJP office associate Ayesha at for more infomation.

Have a great Halloween!


Photo of the week – values

My best guess is 1,350 plates.  I put a brand new stack of 150 next to this stack, tried to accomodate that the big stack is less compressed.  I’ve missed the plates for a few circles.  Each plate has a value written on it, and by someone I’ve had the pleasure of being in Circle with.  That’s thing about Circles, I don’t ever leave one disliking anyone.  The good of a person always finds its way in Circle.

I believe in the very very important task of identifying values in a Circle.  I also believe we should use consensus early on in a Circle and all commit to honor the values.  Its a great first stage, I like to say “it lets us all know how are going to treat each other”.  One of my students did her paper on the concept of Values and she said Circles would “worthless” without them.

It’s a joke now in the office about my stack of plates.  I love what they represent, my committment to living in values, my committment to Circle and mostly to the wonderful task of bringing Circles to other people.

— Peace – – Kris

Students say Circles are important!

Imagine that the First Lady of your state (the Governors Wife) is visiting students in your alternative/charter school.  The students have an opportunity to share with her.  Are you nervous what students would say?  Curious?

Yesterday I got an email with the subject line: Proud Moment.  I consider Kristin a friend of mine.  She was emailing me to let me know that students told WI First Lady Jessica Doyle about school life a McKinley Acadamy in Manitowac WI.  The first thing the student talked about . . . CIRCLES.  Heartwarming and exciting to learn.

The journey of Circle to McKinley Academy includes SCVRJP.  Here are the steps as I understand them, and we’ll interview Kristin soon.

1.) Interest in Restorative Justice as a school philosophy and response to student misconduct.

2.) Kristin and attended a CESA 7 training on Restorative Justice.  She caught the “Rj virus”!

3.) Manitowac Public Schools, contracted with SCVRJP to provide staff in-service training to McKinley Academy staff.  This training included the janitor!  I loved that.

4.) As Principal and other district staff supported the process, application of Circles was supported.

5.) On-going staff training.  I’ve met other McKinley staff attending training sessions.  It’s fun to pass greetings back and forth.  There is a Circle story that circulates around, and it’s a great example.  I’ll do a different post on that.

I know these steps have led to parents giving gifts of talking pieces to staff, in gestures of thanks.  New staff that come to training have stories of success.  McKinley Academy is a new program and they were able to create that culture of peace and belonging.

The student obviously felt that Circles were important and unique.  I’m really proud of Kristin and all the McKinley Academy staff for implementing them.  When I visited for the training last Febuary, I saw a team of committed professionals.  They had a committment to young people and a respectful attitude.  My daughter was in her first circle at 9 years old.  Since then she was part of a young women’s circle and several restorative justice circles.  She addressed the training group to offer insight and perspective, the McKinley staff was receptive and respectful to her.  I’m really happy to have another training scheduled there.

THANK YOU McKinley Academy Staff

Tip of the Week – Prepare!

Never underestimate the value of preparing! Another great quote I remember:  Failing to prepare, it to prepare to fail.

Its very very important to remember to do this when facilitating Restorative Justice (conference or circle).  I love to do trainings and workshops, those are also important to prepare for.  Today I found myself preparing for one that hasn’t been scheduled yet!  I found some great training activities around domestice violence issues.

Never forget to prepare yourself, right before the process.  Take a moment to center, or focus on doing what is best for all parties involved.  I’ve found out the more I prepare each participant, the less I do in a conference.

Prepare with considerations about your space.  Who will come in first, who will be walked out first.  Going over all these logistics helps everyone be at ease and know what to expect.  I give as many options and choices to the person whose been harmed.  One vicitms choice was to have the offender decide.

So the photo above, I tried my best to lead a group of young women to lead a talent show.  The day of the event, my pants ripped right all along the back pocket!  Oh I did my best to prepare . . . except for that unfortunate event.  It was alot of fun anyway.

The young woman to my left, told me how often other youth remembered that they led the talent show.  This was a leadership role she took on, which I am sure, led to her graduation of an associates degree.  Little did we know she was preparing for her future at this event!


Full Circle Experiences

Have you ever had an ah-ha moment?  When things suddenly click into perspective. 

What about an experience that suddenly made a past experience completely relevant?

Synchronicity?  Finding the reason something else happened?  Let’s call those Full Circle Experiences.

Here’s my first and might I add completely appropriate example.

SCVRJP was founded by Keith Rodli and Marlene Parslow.  Recently I spoke at the Baldwin Hospital for a staff “Lunch & Learn”.  I had alot of fun, sharing about healing and giving confidential stories of our success.  I handed out our program brochures.  You can view an electronic copy at our website,  Keith’s photo is in the brochure.

After the presentation a very nice woman approached me and shared that she used to work with Keith’s Mom.  She said when she looked at the brochure she thought “That’s Ginny’s Boy”.  It was really sweet.  She had wonderful things to say about Keiths Mom, and how proud she was of her children.  I called Keith as soon as I left the hospital and left him a voicemail about this.

That is a Full Circle Experience!  When good things come back around to greet us!

What’s your Full Circle Experience story?

Site Update & heading explanation

As you can see, I’ve updated the site.  I like three column layout. I removed the Category Cloud and replaced it with a simple list that keeps a count on the posts.  You can click on a category and get to all the posts on that topic.

The header is from February 2007, I’m etching a name off of the Vietnam Memorial in Washington D.C., its to take home to my Dad.  That was the intention, it’s still in a coffee mug on my dresser.  I just looked over to make sure.  I meant to give it to my Dad for Christmas, I forgot.  It’s almost Christmas again, I’ll remember this year.

I picked this to be the border for now, because there is a Full Circle experience here.  In 1985 when I was17 years old, I etched the same name off the wall.  A farm family near ours lost a son in Vietnam.  He went to school with my Dad.  In 1985 my Dad didn’t tell me much about Curtis J. Kaupp, in 2007 he talked more about him and about my Mom, who died in 1988.  My Dad is a great guy, I love him very much.  I know this time period was difficult for him.  By showing respect to his peers, I can show respect for my Dad, he served in the US Army as an Air Ranger. 

Respect is the core value of Restorative Justice.

Post Conference Depression!

I’ve got post conference depression.  Having just spent 4 days around 500 other Restorative Justice practictioners, its back to reality. 

Off the plane and on the shuttle back to my car . . . small talk with a fellow shuttle passenger.  We got to the question “what kind of non-profit do you work for”.  When asked what I do, and not feeling up to explaining it, I say I work for a non-profit.  So there I was trying to explain to a stranger what kind of work I do, and why this makes great sense.  It was the start of my post conference depression.

I developed some great friendships at the conference.  I found myself drawn to some people because we knew some of the same folks.  Not more than 30 minutes after the flight landed and before I was even at the hotel, I met a friend of a friend.  The kind of friend, that any friend of yours is a friend of mine. 

I’d consider myself a good judge of character and I found some new friends as people of great character.  I found some session facilitators to be brilliant, passionate and helpful.  Other new friends, we had a great time, because of the fun and teasing over having a beer or two together.

The common denominator in it all we being surronding by others that had a common interest in Restorative Justice.  Regardless of if it was happening in Ireland or Western Canada, with schools, fishery departments or with juvenile delinquents, we all held passion for the prOcess.

There was no explaining the basic premise of what RJ is.  There was no rationalizing why this was a good idea.  Most people assume the present criminal justice system is working just fine.  It’s not easy to explain Restorative Justice in a brief a universal way.  Unless your at a conference of 500 and then you don’t even have to bother with it!

I’m unpacking my pens and patches from the Irish Police Department (thanks Andy and Finbarr).  Looking at my collection of business cards from Tel Aviv, Israel to Saskatoon, Saskatchewan.  I miss my new friends.

I’ve got lots of new stories about Restorative Justice, I’ve got lots of new ideas.  I’m home now and it’s time to get back to work.  We’ve gotten in two new cases while I was gone.  I got a letter and donation from a woman I never met, I helped her over the phone.  Oh yes . . . that’s the recommendation to end depression . . . to cross the street and help someone else.  Its all so very restorative!

Peace – Kris

Photo of the Week

The table at IIRP - Toronto
The table at IIRP - Toronto
I met many wonderful people at this conference and it was really fun to promote the books and Living Justice Press.  So this week’s photo is a picture of the table display.

RJ Conferences and Circles

Posting from the International Institute of Restorative Practices Conference in Toronto Canada!

Today I was volunteering at the Living Justice Press, book sales table.  I got to interact with a number of conference attendees.  I decided to volunteer, since LJP will be publishing an upcoming text on Safe Teen Driving Circles.  (two links to other blog posts).

I was approached to answer a question.  “what is the difference between a Conference and a Circle?”  Other practitioners at the table offered ideas and suggestions.

Here our a few of our observations:

1.) Conferencing questions, can happen in the 3rd phase of the Circle.  Based on the 4 stages outlined by Kay Pranis, in the book Peacemaking Circles.

2.) Conferences typically respond to a incident of harm.  Circles can happen for any purpose.

3.) Conferences involve a recommended “script” and Circles involve process stages.  Although prepared questions to use in a Circle is helpful.

4.) Emotional Charge of the incident is a factor when I decide to conference or Circle.  The number of participants and ability to speak and listen is another decision making factor.

Maybe I’ll work on a tree?  Would that help?  Is this a question readers have?  Post a comment, let me know!

Thanks for all of you that visited me at the booth today!


SCVRJP hits a new milestone

Last night we had a board of directors meeting for SCVRJP.  Basic agenda items, reviewing our minutes, financial reports, updates by me the executive director.  Your normal, kinda boring run of the mill stuff.

The have to stuff to keep an organization fully running and functioning.  The board took action to move ahead with a marketing plan, and gave me the green light for exploring special domestic violence circles.

I’ve read that non-profits are either growing or withering.  I really like the book about non-profit stages.  The Field Alliance has great resources.  SCVRJP is definately growing.

I traveled to Washington DC in Febuary of 2007, for a National Conference.  I shared a room with a YMCA Executive Director.  At that time, SCVRJP was still only Kris Miner.  We had been moved into the Restorative Justice Center for 8 months.  I was just moving to 40 hours a week.  Now . . . just 20 months later . . . (drum roll please).  SCVRJP has 3 staff and a contracted bookkeeper!  We are going to be taking over all financial responsibilities for the RJ Center.  We are not under another program or non-profit.  We operate as an independent free standing 501c3.

One of our board members was there from the very first day.  I think the group met a few times and decided to pursue non-profit status, and that’s when I joined.  I have the very first letter, agenda and meeting minutes.  From 2001-2008 serving our community adding programs and services.

Yesterday by 10 am, I had a school principal and a school liason officer call, with cases for us!

Last night at the board meeting I shared our latest awards, from MADD WI and America In Bloom.  We added these to the shelf with our other honors.  I’m really proud to be part of such a wonderful organization.