Daily Archives: November 7, 2008

A mighty fine Circle – the Park Potluck

Here’s the cast of characters:

College student, doing his internship

Law enforcement officer

Alternative School Teacher

Community Member, plants park flowers

High School Exchange Student

Elected City Official & SCVRJP Volunteer

Community Member & SCVRJP Volunteer

Community Member, lives by the park, emailed concerns to the Mayor a few months ago

7 students from the alternative school, 4 completed Circle Training, 3 new to the process

With me, that makes 16 people in this Circle.  The Circle was orginally an idea that grew out of a Circle Training that was held just ONE month earlier.  No kidding, from Oct 3rd, when it orignally came up to a November 6 Potluck and Circle.  Circle training really invites a change in perspecitve, it deepens your view of community.  It allows the space to speak a concern.  The students voiced concern over the area parks.  Being blamed for bad things that happened at the park.  It was obvious they wanted a place to speak these harms and needs.  Community members at the training knew there were community concerns.  I suggested that we hold a Circle.  Of course, my answer to everything is to Circle.

We meet, meaning the students the community volunteers, the teacher involved or a regular basis.  The first meeting I felt like I was hearding cats!  We use the Circle process, but sometimes the talking piece just isn’t enough to structure the conversation.  We met again, two weeks later.  The students had drafted a flyer and shared that vandals had also stuck at the park, spray painting inapporpriate messages.  That evening the students and their teacher helped me co-lead a Circle with a confirmation class.  After that we all went to a Coffee Shop, open mic night and circle question planning.  The Circle was a week away!

The days were going by fast, the word about the Circle was circulated between volunteers, and the students made flyers, took personal time and hung these around town.

I walked in the gym and was nearly moved to tears!  The students had a Circle of chairs.  The Center was ready with our ribbon circle from training, and the talking pieces made at the same training.  Was I ever pleased to see some new students, concerned and willing community members and public officials.  We ate together a sweet little potluck of sub sandwhiches, tuna salad, mac and cheese, chips and salsa, cookies, pop, water and juice.

I guided everyone to the Circle.  The students did great!  I felt nervous and maybe said more than I needed to get us started.  One of the young people added “Circles are a strong container and can hold alot of emotion”.  How very appropriate.  She read her opening which was very aware and focused on personal responsibility.

The mood was light, and connections made in the first stage as we all shared what our favorite piece of playground equipement was, when we were kids.  We each took turns sharing what a perfect day at the park would look like, to us.  Different perspectives, but the connections deeped and the process was going well.

I became a little concerned about time, and moved right into the third stage.  addressing issues.  I simply asked how people are impacted by vandalism, fighting and just bad stuff at the park.  Personally I learned alot.  Someone that cares for the park even became tearful and suprized herself at the emotions that surfaced in sharing about this.  We got to understand that money going to repairs doesn’t leave money for upgrades.  We learned everyone wants a clean park, shared by different groups and generations.

We learned our young people don’t have a place to go.  We learned that calling the cops isn’t a good idea, for fear of retaliation or revenge.  We learned groups can be intimidating whether they mean to be or not.

The problem solving and taking action stage included smiling, being friendly to others.  Filling the space with good, to keep out the bad.  One person realized that a young person being offended by the vandalism and also being blamed for it, would be a real negative.  That showed me she considered the shoes of another.  When law enforcement thanked a teen, her expression said it all.  I did have to ask later “Did you ever think you’d be thanked by the Police”.  She said she almost fainted. 

I don’t feel like my words are conveying the POWERFUL experience we had.  At the end of the reading I said “handshake, high five, or hug to somebody else in the Circle”  people immediately followed that action.  It was really really energizing to see. 

The person that keeps the flowers, she now has 3 young people helping her on the next gardening outing.  The students may form a group that helps label the plants for educational purposes.  As a group we may take part in a “adopt a park” program.   The conversation was inspirational.  A young person commented, next time I tell someone to stop doing something bad at the park instead of saying “hey don’t, someone might call the cops”.  I’m going to say “Hey don’t, that hurts someone else’s feelings”. 

Together we showed we care about our park, students, community members, public officials.  It was a mighty fine Circle!


Comments Off on A mighty fine Circle – the Park Potluck

Filed under Belonging, Circle Keeping, Circle Process, Circle Stages, Community, Full Circle Experiences, Kris Miner, Practitioner Skills, Relationships, Responses from participants, Restorative Justice in Schools, SCVRJP, Volunteers

Rumpelstiltskin – the spin


I hadn’t worked for SCVRJP long, I started to get compliments my passion.  After hearing this for the 5th or 6th time, I finally realized that maybe there was something to that.  I decided that when I was talking about it, it would be okay to sit a little straighter, smile with the joy and tell the stories with my whole heart invested.

It’s been three years now.  Fortunately I still get feedback when I train or present abou my passion, energy and enthusiasm for RJ and Circles.  I took these compliments and I “stiltskined” them.  I just made up that word!

Yesterday in a training session on “Manage your energy, not your time” we were introduced to some Gallop Organization Research.  We learned about Engage, Disengaged and Actively Disengaged Employees.  The definationof Engage Employees included being profoundly connected to your work.  Feeling a deep passion.  I ended up daydreaming about the work “Profound” and Rumpelstiltskin came to mind.  Okay, I’ll explain.

I feel profoundly connected to my work.  I feel like I have 2 families, my blood relations my daughter, parents, sibilings.  My secondfamily is all the people I have been in Circle with, trained with, restored or repaired harm, college students.  Its nice to have such a large second family!  Is that profoundly connected?

I like Dictionary.com’s 2nd definition of profound . . .penetrating to the depths of one’s being.  So in my daydreaming yesterday . . .

1.) We all have the power to make profound connections.  It’s in our personal power and control to be so connected to our work.  It’s not dependent on the type of work, it’s in the hands of the person.  I love going to a massage therapist that makes me want to be a massage therapist. 

2.) When working with teachers, counselors, social workers, anyone I train I want to give them this message.  I think Parker Palmer thinks like this, and his work does focus on teachers.

3.) Rumpelstiltskin can be my image.  Well part of the story at least.  This little man had the power to turn straw into gold.

Restorative Justice “straw” . . . conflict, crime, racism, domination, violence, etc, etc.  The GOLD: healing, peace, belonging, personal growth, connections, relationships, increased awareness.  It’s called Stiltsking.  Turning something into something else.  We wouldn’t be anywhere without the straw in first place.  Actually this could get to be a very complicated metaphor!

I’ll just remember to not give my talents away.  Or like little Rumplestiltskin, not brag and sing so my plans are foiled for being arrogant!

Ever humbly yours,


1 Comment

Filed under Kris Miner, Practitioner Skills

1,061 blog hits in 7 weeks . . .THANK YOU!

Wow, that’s really cool!  I was going to do a post about getting to 1,000!  The next time I logged on it went from 853 to just over 1,000.  So now here it is not far from 1,100.  If you know me personally you know I can be a little competitive or always wanting to do a really good job.  I’ve gotten that response from ‘Strength Assessments’.  Spend the $20 on Strengths Finder, its great stuff.  Back to the main theme of the post!

Am I officially a blogger now?  Why is 1,000 magic to me?  I guess it shows that in 7 weeks, I might be having some peope look at this on a regular basis.  That was the orginal point, so I hope that is happening.  What I want most to happen, is people begin to use more Restorative Justice and Circle process.  It’s my hope the stories shared help others.  I’d be happy with a few more comments or submitted “guest posts”.  We’ll continue to grow together!

This whole wordpress thing is really cool!  I can go to my stats and find out, what people searched to find me.  I can see what posts have the most clicks.  First my vitae and second the post talking RJ with schools.  It’s fun to watch the stats, but in reading blogs about blogging, I’ve learned doing this for the internal rewards is more important than the stats.  Makes sense.  Other posts are flooding my brain, I’m going to try a write a few ahead, so I can make sure to post once a day.  I haven’t been consistent, so I am going to try and work on that.

Do you have any other thoughts or suggestions for me?  Leave a comment, please.  Thanks!

celebrating the 1,000 mark and looking forward to 5,000!


Comments Off on 1,061 blog hits in 7 weeks . . .THANK YOU!

Filed under Blogging, Kris Miner, Meeting Goals, Practitioner Skills, Responses from participants