Values are crucial to Restorative Circle process.
In this photo I am placing the ‘values’ plates in the Center. ‘Safe Teen Driving Circle’ we are usually held in classrooms. Getting students in a Circle and the desks have little room for students to slip out and place their paperplates in the Center.
You won’t find me doing a Restorative Justice Circle without paperplates a discussion on the values and committment round regarding these values.
I have left the scripted ‘victim-offender’ conference process almost completely. I will use it, typically with small groups. I am preparing a young woman to meet with a husband and wife. The young woman and husband were in a car/motorcycle crash. The young woman was driving drunk.
Circles and focusing on values. Allowing/defining my work with others to begin with values, keeps me manically optimistic.
On an individual perspective, I am a better person for being a restorative justice provider and having the conversation of values in my life. I am frequently provided the opportunity to explain my perspective on a value and affirm a committment to honor a community of values.
On a Community perspective – I’m a better community member. It also enhances the social capital of our community when we focus on values.
Think of repetition as the key to knowledge. True knowledge. Again, again and again the power of talking about values. Sometimes Circles that I keep, that are not about resolving conflict or addressing an issue like safe driving, underage drinking, vandalism, etc – are the Circles that have the richest discussions about values. These are typically Circles in training sessions or as part of staff development or demonstration circles.
The stories about values stay with me.
The daugher who remembers her Dad, the community doctor, back when house calls were common. He had a back drawer for certain families. They were never sent a bill. As daughter grew older she realized, those families often did things like drop by some of their potato crop, or a freezer full of meat from a recently butchered pig.
The story of a teacher there for a young girl suffering because over the summer her brothers arm got cut off in a farm accident.
Once we identify our values and then make a committment in the Circle, we know how we are going to relate. I love that part when the piece goes around and everyone agrees.
I like the picture above – it shows my physically doing what I do emotionally when I keep a Circle.