As Restorative Justice practitioners, hard work needed regarding victims. 5 things to do.

I want to offer some lessons for people who do restorative justice.  These lessons are for working with victims in either a victim-offender dialogue or a talking circle.  I think its important to keep up our compassion towards victims skills.  To really do our best, I have 5 things to work really hard at:

 1.) Stay grounded in the parameters of the process.  I decided that the Circle would flow better if we had the offender going last.  That’s not what Restorative Justice guides us to do.  You let the victim decide, and you give the victim that option.  You talk about it before going into the session, not at the meeting – prepare-prepare-prepare.  I caught myself, and the session went with the offender speaking first, as the victim requested.  In one session, the victim was given the choice, and she wanted the offender to decide.  On this particular point, remember you are giving the victim choices.

To stay grounded in the parameters of the process, means to also stay focues on core mission, values and vision of Restorative Justice.  Sometimes it takes hard work, to hold your care and concern for vicitms, and the values at the same time.

2.)Convey the intentions and limitations of Restorative Justice.  I think each person victimized deals with it in a very unique and personalized response.  It would be hard to develop programs, for specific reactions that victims have.  Some victims, justifyible so, are very angry.  Some hold large quanities of self-blame.  Others experience deep trauma because the incident was sudden and could have been prevented.  Some victims withdraw, from the system and the situation.  Other take on a crusade and want to change the world because of what happened.  My point is that each person has a unique reaction.

Is restorative justice going to get to the outcomes that a victim really wants?  As practitioners we owe it to everyone involved to fully share what the intentions of restorative justice are.  I say the “conversation creates the outcome”, that we don’t go in with a detailed agenda for others.  But what if the victim wants and needs to see remorse in the offender?  Share and disclose the limitations of the process, use stories and examples of other victims.  Often times the process is the start of a new layer of healing for vicitms.  Empower people that their journey is their personal discovery and growth.  Be honored to be a part of it, but a restorative session has limits and is often times a place on the path of healing.  It takes alot of hard work as a practitioner to put these things “in the air” and not offender or confront vicitms.

3)Remind victims about core RJ values.  I try to make a point of mentioning that “listening for understanding” does not mean “accepting the behavior”.  I try to discuss with each side before a meeting, things like body language and eye contact.  Victims can feel disrespected for not getting eye contact, yet an offender is feeling shame and is embarresed to make the eye contact.  Its important to meet people where they are at.  Dicuss a simple element like ‘respect’ and come to understanding and build a strong positive relationship with people before facilitating their session.  Remember strong, positive relationships are hard work.  Especially with people who have just been hurt.

4.)Negotiate the “owning of the offense”, carefully.  I had a  consequential stranger experience.  In a gift shop, playing with an item, and outloud I mentioned “I do a thing where use a talking piece, I wonder if this might work”.  The person behind the counter said “Do you mean like Restorative Justice”.  I nearly fell over.  If the words “restorative justice” come up in a conversation, the first person to do it is me!  I said, “yes” and moved in to learn all I could about how she knew these words.

She had participated in a session.  She was very nice to me, and suggested maybe the facilitator was “new”.  Her son had been a victim, an item of his stolen at school.  So she took her time to go to a session, they used a talking piece, at a table.  She shared feeling really bad for the offenders Mom, she was lied to by her son.  Offenders Mom, was a school staff person, and that added to her shame.  Apparently, the offender did not say sorry to his mother, he didn’t appear remorseful in the session.  I went into helper mode, offered a few examples of knowing people that didn’t get it at the time, but later were touched.  She offered that, yes maybe later in private he could have said those things.  I saw her be empowered in that outcome, and take that option under consideration.

Some offenders still fear getting in trouble, and will “self-preserve” over telling the truth.  They acknowledge they caused the harm, but full disclosure of the story, the details, the telling of the incident from start to finish, doesn’t happen.  Sometimes the anxiety of the meeting causes people to not remember or become frightened to speak much.  As practitioners, tread lightly, prepare victims for how this portion will go, and how they will respond to it going not at well as expected.

I am accepting of grey, and I can take offenders where they are at, except the  “I didn’t do it”.  Realize that as a practitioner where you are at, may not be shared by others.  Work hard to make sure what is likely to happen in the session, is safe for everyone.

5)accept you can’t meet everyones needs.  As Restorative Justice people, we deeply and earnestly want to help victims with their needs.  They were harmed, something was taken from them, we want to balance that by giving them what they want. 

So when Restorative Justice is victim-centered, guess what, we don’t even really know what that means, because we don’t know the victims wants and needs are.  We don’t really know what they are going to want or need as the preparation process evolves.  Victims are humans first, and as human beings sometimes we identify our wants and needs and they aren’t exactly reasonable.

I did this, working on my masters degree, trying to study.  I wanted my kid to respect that I needed quiet time.  I was frustrated when my need was not met.  That is human behavior.  Luckily when complaining to someone, they point blank told me:  “She’s 3, no way she gets your needs”.   That was all it took for me to realize my need, was out of line.  You can’t exactly be that blunt with a grieving victim.  You can put in the hard work, to help people understand their wants and needs.

Do the best you can upholding the principles of restorative justice, consult with others, co-facilitate and communicate directly.


Invitations from SCVRJP!

At St. Croix Valley Restorative Justice, we do what we can to engage our community.  Please see the attachments regarding some upcoming events!  Hope to see you there!

Open House Invitation – we are appreciating our local partners in public safety, and showing our community the new space we’ve obtained for holding circles.  February 12th from 3:30-5:30 join us for Valentines Cookies and punch!

Volunteer Training is an important part of having strong community members.  The following attachment outlines our first few months of offerings for 2010.  Please RSVP if you would like to attend!

Volunteer trainings 2010

A perspective on ‘evidence-based’ practice, Important Safety Information: Kris Miner style.

  • Life-threatening skin reactions, including rash, swelling, redness, and peeling of the skin, blisters in the mouth.  Life-threatening swelling of the face, mouth and throat that can cause trouble breathing.
  • Some people have had changes in behavior, hostility, agitation, depressed mood, suicidal thoughts or actions.
  • Common side effects: nausea, sleep problems, constipation, gas and vomiting.  Also reported: trouble sleeping, vivid, unusual or strange dreams.
  • If you, your family or caregiver notice: agitation, hostility, depression, changes in behavior, thinking, or mood not typical for you, or if you develop suicidal thoughts or actions, anxiety, panic, agression, anger, mania, abnormal sensations, hallucinations, paranoia, or confusion, call your doctor.

What the hell?  Why in the world would you take a medication that could or does all of this to you?  I mean really?  The first time I heard this on tv, I thought, how would you know to call your doctor or stop the medication! 

Another example is the weight loss pill, that you need to bring a change of clothes to work, wear dark pants, cause its likely you will have oily discharge or poop your pants!

Do you have faith in the drug industry and the products they promote?  Does it seem odd that the side effects can be worse than the actually problem you had in the first place? 

Why then is so much faith put into ‘evidence-based’ practice for working with youth?  And where are the disclosures, the ‘Important Safety Information’ that should also be included?  You don’t hear that part.  This angle on evidence-based practice was stirred by my reading of the book Deep Brain Learning.  From the introduction:

“Many popular approaches to education, treatment, and juvenile justice are devoid or any scientific rationale but still have enthusiastic proponents.   . . . People may strongly cling to such approaches, even in the absence of any solid evidence . . .”

The authors go on to explain that evidence-based may mean very little, and that some argue  “effectiveness requires random clinical trails as used by the drug industry – as if this inspires much credibility.”  Thats what got me thinking about the drug companies, and the “safety information”.

The authors go on to explain and support the American Psychological Association definition of Evidence-based.  That definition balances evidence-based practice as a 3 legged-stool: 1)informatin about the individual, 2)practice expertise and 3)research from MULTIPLE perspectives. 

I like this, when I teach about Restorative Justice, I use the APA study that rejects zero tolerance and supports restorative justice.  Fact sheet on Zero Tolerance.

Just something to think about.

Forgiveness, as mashed potatoes, the relationship to restorative justice.

We all contain operate on a mixutre of fuel.  That fuel can be knowledge gained in a book, experiences that shaped beliefs and our own attitudes and values.  My understanding of restorative justice and forgiveness was developed in very much the same way.  Articles by Mark Umbriet,  Marilyn Armour and the fact they have both trained me, have influenced me.  Many other great leaders in the practice David Lehrman, Kay Pranis, Nancy Riestenberg in conversations or trainings we have chatted about forgiveness and restorative justice. 

So this blog post is Kris Miner’s relationship to forgiveness and restorative justice.  Mashed potatoes are forgiveness.  Just a simple metaphor, go with me on this.  Can you do much with mashed potatoes without a plate?  Not exactly a finger food.  Although I have seen them shaped into snowmen, when my daughter was 9 I ate lunch with her at school.  Back to this metaphor!  Mashed potatoes are best served on a plate.

I believe restorative justice is the plate.  It creates a context for understanding, empathy, dialogue, the restoration of connections.  Some victims may choose to put mashed potatoes on the plate, and say “I forgive you”.  Does restorative justice seek out to have people forgive, NO, absolutely not.  Restorative Justice and forgiveness both have healing benefits and some might say ‘theraputic’.  The way I see it, restorative jusitce focuses on the core restorative values:  harms, needs, obligation and engagement.  These 4 words, are Howard Zehr’s 3 pillars of Restorative Justice.  I like things in 3’s and I use the three swirls of the SCVRJP logo to explain restorative justice.

In addition to the Zehr pillars – the triad’s of Restorative Jusitce are Victim/Offender/Community AND empathy/self-worth/connections.  So we have a 9 key concepts here.  You apply all of them to each other, a few examples:

-consider the harms and needs for both victims and offenders

-involve vicitm, offender and community in creating the obligations – responding to harm

-address the connections between victim and offender, victim and the crime, offender and the wrong-doing

-recognize that self-worth is important for those that authored harm and those that experienced it

Restorative Justice is also about the process, the type of experience when putting people together – a conference or circle session.  Its about the context used to faciltate the concepts.  Here is the thing about forgiveness, it can happen deeply and personally and it can occur without the other person even knowing about it.  Someone gave me a quote: 

when you forgive someone, you release the right to punish them

Restorative Justice is not about punishment and at the same time, it’s not about forgiveness, forgivness is a great by product that often occurs.  I have also experienced this quote in action, that once you speak your peace, the desire to punish evaporates.  I wouldn’t start with this quote, because I think the first thing people need is to be heard.

Restorative Justice is about creating the plate, and that keeps practitioners plenty busy.  I believe in the value of forgiveness, it’s healing qualities are documented time and time again.  I keep a close eye on the concept, love the work of the Fetzer Institute.  What I love more, is that Restorative Justice empowers people to decide for themselves if they are going to be forgiving.  That is empowering when you self select your healing.

Yesterday a Mom talked about what she would take away from the session.  She was glad that she could now see the offender in the community and not be pissed off.  We didn’t talk about forgiveness, in restorative justice, we have it, its just more of a feeling or sense than a concept.  I sure like being the person that gives people a plate for those potatoes!

Restorative Justice changes people and impacts practitioners as well.

My first experiences with restorative justice occured in the mid-to-late 90’s.  I wasn’t too sure about this stuff.  Sitting in a Circle, letting family members make decisions.  I was barely 30 then, and having finished a masters degree in my mid-twenties, I think I still thought I knew it all.  I was attracted to the notion of helping people, but I also really liked being part of the system

The notions that we do things WITH people instead of TO them or FOR them, well that was the first aspect of Restorative Justice I was willing to try.  When I experiemented with this, my clients were successful.  They seemed to see the success was their own, it was lasting and sustained.  And I took the concept of doing things with them, very seriously.  I was the social worker attending the youth conference as a chaperone.  I took a client to a college campus visit, attended cultural holiday celebrations where the Police Officer working and I were the only white people in attendance.  I was like Clint Eastwoods character in Gran Torino, the scene where he was with the Hmong family in their home.  I wish I would have kept a blog or journal, when I was a social worker in Rochester, MN I had a lot of enriching experiences with my teenage clients.

It was talking circles in a juvenile detention center that really changed me.  The young people would open up, often times shocking the guards/staff.  I brought my happy self in to a dark depressing place.  No juvenile wants to be locked up, and worse yet, they don’t like to be strippped of controlling themselves.  As people waited for court dates, sentancing information or were just serving days, there was always more than surface issues to be shared in Circle.  It changed me.  I left a negative relationship.  I set sail to learning more about Circles.

Now I have worked 5 years running a restorative justice non-profit.  That has changed me.  It has become who I am and simply what I do.  I love it.

As part of so much Circle work, my perceptions of men have shifted.  It started in teen driving circles, when the young men, were open, honest and talkative about values.  It was my daughter who flipped from the comments on the back to the gender question on the front.  “Mom, the boys liked it more than the girls”.  I have been struck by the amount of ‘Dads’ mentioned when we talk about relationship values and where we have learned them.

There is a buzz about family values being gone.  Yet I see again and again, our young people are learning our values, our positive values.  The male voice in Circle, the dose of masculinity can be very real.  Give a guy a talking piece, watch him speak his heart and you can hear, really hear, the truth.

Dad’s/Men have a way of communicating when they embrace the Circle, they “get” high accountablity/high support.  You could have heard a pin drop recently when a father was speaking.  He said how he knew and believed in each youth.  He said he had faith in them.  He said they did a “dumb-ass” thing.  Nobody seemed to wince at the swear word, because we all knew it was true. 

He went on to say that you need to “man-up” when you’ve done wrong, admit it, accept responsibility and do whatever it takes to make things right.

I couldn’t have said “dumb-ass”, but he did and it worked.  I looked at his strong big, man hand gripping the deer antler talking piece.  The role of a father, a man, a community member was being accepted, acknowledged and honored by all of us listening to him.  It impacted me seeing such a strong male role model.

Then I got distracted by my own thoughts.  I started to wonder what it would take for me to get him to volunteer in other Circles.

Restorative Justice is an avenue to ‘resilence’ for victims that select healing.

“Trauma-informed care” its a new buzz-word and an angle to address mental health.  This document, Science of Trauma is from the National Center for Trauma Informed Care.  It aligns with somethings I’ve always been around or worked with.

My professional career started with in-home family therapy for child protection and juvenile justice referred families.  It was clear, each family had some trauma, my definition of trauma is from the book –  Living with Grief, Coping with Public Tragedy Hospice Foundation of America (2003):

Grief is a reaction to loss, and trauma is experienced outside the range of normal human experience. Significant loss can be perceived as traumatic when the loss is sudden, violent, preventable or avoidable.  Trauma shatters our assumptive world views.

As restorative justice practitioners, working with crime vicitms, its very important to be aware of new awareness regarding trauma work.    Just as we have beginning to deal with not only the legal and social impacts of crime for victims and offenders, we are now moving to deal with trauma beyond just the medical model.

I think its mindful to remember that offenders often act violent to ‘justify’ a percieved wrong, and usually have a past trauma themselves.  How as practitioners who work with victims/offenders/community members, and equally serving all, we should be aware of the developments in the field of ‘trauma-care’.

I feel so much more effective to people as a restorative justice practioner, than I ever felt as a mental health therapist.  I think it has a lot to do with being equal to people.  As a therapist there was a real pressure to use the right technique, stay in the authority role, be one step ahead of the patient, outlining the treatment.  Now granted I was younger, maybe I would feel different had I stayed a therapist.  But I didn’t like being in the office, I wanted back out with the really hurt people.  I took a job as a social worker for seriously, emotionally disturbed adolescents (they needed to meet this SED diagnosis AND be violent).  Clearly they had experienced trauma, and I worked with the most violent offenders (that weren’t locked up).  This is where I was introduced to restorative jusitce, it was 1998.

As a restorative justice practioner, I support healing.  Clear a path for people to heal (regardless of the label victim or offender), to give them opportunity for meaningful dialogue.  Restorative Justice offers opportunities to really empower people, you can take control of the incident that happened to you  and be a better person because of what happened.  That is not a change that happens like flipping a switch, its a change that takes time, and layers of healing.

Julia Cameron in her book, The Right to Write, refers to “metabolizing” injury.  Restorative Justice gives us opportunity to metabolize harm, and to metabolize means to change the energy. 

This video shows a spiral and a victim responds to trauma, and can stay in that cycle.  She says something I have heard and said before ‘hurt people, hurt people.  There are other responses to trauma, including a swing into a cycle of being an aggressor.  Then eventually or by choice (at any point in the cycle) a person can take the “resilence” path.  That is where restorative justice gives opportunities, that is where I think the metabolizm of harm/trauma/injury happens.  I picked this up from a blog post titled: Trauma and Restorative Justice.  I like this video – it highlights that PTSD is not the only option after trauma.

Take a look at the model: 


How to run a meeting like a Restorative Justice Talking Circle.

I posted earlier on emotional room, ending that post with reference to Interactive Meeting Format, and a link to Moving Beyond Icebreakers, where I learned this term.  The specific 6 part format they provide makes sense, but I modified it down to the four stages of Circle process, I know and love.

Not everyone is comfortable with Circle, so over time, I have found ways to engage bits without making people freak-out and shut down.  On the same hand, I’ve gotten quite confident at running a Circle, with skeptical people.  (imagine a circle of attorney’s!)

Running a meeting like a Circle,  I’ve promoted the interactive meeting format to include:

1.) an indication on the written agenda that ‘interactive meeting format’ will be used.  

2.)start and stop on time (promote respect that everyone is important and we respect everyone’s time equally).  I promoted this to a chronic late arrival, and he stopped coming to the meetings!

3.)comments specific to agenda items (you can include this in the written area, and by offering a place for people to add items on the agenda, giving them a space to share)

4.)a roll call/opening question (a question that everyone can answer, specific to the group’s purpose)

4.)meeting ranking at the end ( a simple 1 worse, 10 best and why)

Unlike a Circle, there is not explanation at the beginning, no talking piece, no values written on paperplates, no committment to those values, no open and close ritual.

YET – what I have found, is that the roll call question, can center people to speak one at a time.  It also reminds us of our meeting mission.  The SCVRJP board of directors uses this meeting format.  As a director, its been very informative, interesting and inspiring to hear from my board members.  I have gotten feedback about what they learned during our fundraiser, or what they think is the best offering of SCVRJP.  It has given them insights from each other.  Personally I think our group synergy, is in part to this meeting format.

The other really great thing that comes out of this process is the ranking of the meeting at the end.  It’s very simply going around the room and giving the meeting a score of 1-10.  I think it’s like a Circle, because its a ‘check-out’ round.  People explain their number briefly.  It starts to get the group to understand what people want and need from a meeting.  One time a lower ranking was offered, because the meeting got slightly off track.  The very next person gave it a higher ranking, because the meeting got slightly off track.  One person needs structure, the other loves the conversation that evolves.

A story emerged once, a person shared they had been in a different meeting that was a 3, the person running it fell asleep!  That gave us all a context of a ‘boring’ meeting!

I explain that  structure offers freedom.  In Circle by following this structure, it creates a freedom for people to really express themselves.  I think the interactive meeting format provides the same sort of structure, a structure around sharing, respect and equality.

I’ve implemented this in a few settings, multi-disciplinary teams coming together, and the SCVRJP board, where it is used consistently.  I no longer do the agenda’s for the other teams, so I’ve noticed the format is no longer used.  I definately think all the experience in Circle has given me some group facilitation skills.

At the end of Circle we take turns acknowledging each other, using the values in the Circle center.  I got “true” for being caring for every person, true to the Circle itself.  It made me smile.

I found a new term, it’s funny, you’d think an oxymoron. “Church Bully”

I love to just ‘free associate’ on the web, search blogs, articles, links and just wander around, seeing what I can find on my favorite topics of Circle process and Restorative Justice.  A recent search turned up this gem:

The General Board of Global Ministries (GBGM) of the United Methodist Church, recently focused on Restorative Justice.

Circles of Learning, were used, I have appreciated the JustPeace resouces in the past, so I knew exploring the website would be worth my time.

 I found this article:  Become Comfortable with Conflict.  I think its a healthy read and a reminder as Restorative Justice practitioners, you are going to deal with conflict.  I was particularly drawn to this:

Item 4, Believe that everyone is of value, but do not tolerate a “church bully” whose overbearing nature leaves no emotional room for other people to disagree.

No “emotional room” for others. 

I had to think about this, what is this “emotional room”, what kind of space is that.  I thought about how we only have so much oxygen in a room, only so much physical space in a room.  Do we only have so much “emotional room”?  Does a group of quiet maybe non-emotional people have less room, that say a group of loud, expressive people.  Imagine the guys sitting around watching a football game.  Rank the ’emotional room’ from 1-5.  A group of women, close friends, out to lunch, emotional room 1-5.  Hmmm, see the difference? 

Does a group know the ’emotional room’ immediately or do they find it as they meet?  What about a classroom?  If a student starts to cry, does that take up the emotional room?

How does this apply to Restorative Jusitce and Circle.  One aspect I LOVE about the equality in Circle process is that an emotional center emerges.  This ‘Circlespace‘, I mention.  No one person owns it, it belongs to everyone.  It seems that the Circle gets strong, and people have emotions, and yet the equality of the talking piece, keeps enough emotional room for everyone.

Pet peeve of mine:  the one person in a meeting or group that has to go on and on about their own stuff.  I probably don’t like it because in my younger days that was probably me.  I get annoyed that the person is talking about how they stayed up all night to do this or that.  How this went wrong, or that happened.  I’m all about relationships, so why would I care or be annoyed by this.

I think it comes to the equality piece or the intention of the meeting.  When a group gathers, for a staff meeting or a collaboration, its not a check in on Ms. Let me Tell You about Me.  This ‘Become Comfortable with Conflict Article‘ helped me see, by number 4, that people can be in conflict with the person taking up all the emotional room.

Yet in a Circle, if you have the talking piece  Ms. Let me Tell You about Me, is fine.  What I’ve found though, from running lots and lots of Circles, the Let me Tell You about Me (LMTY), doesn’t happen like that.  Those LMTY’s outside of Circle, are usually superficial and meaningless.  In Circle when a person has something to share about themselves it usually relates to the Circle.  Its so deep, that you take pause to really accept it and honor it. 

This reinforces my thoughts that more meetings should be run like Circles.  Reinforced by the Interactive Meeting format, and Death by Meeting, Lencioni.

Restorative Justice is about relationships, Seth Godin explains great relationships with social media.

Thanks friends at Cool(intl)!  In 2008 you helped SCVRJP with our DVD project, again in 2009 you created another set of DVD’s for us.  We partnered with MN Public Televison and the Allstate Foundation, to produce On the Road Together: Safe Teen Driving.  Today your electronic newsletter arrived, caught my attention, I checked out your blog, and found this gem from Seth Godin.  Thanks for being an agency that helped our non-profit!  Great doing business with you!


I love the perspective of “real” relationships.  Restorative Jusitce is about relationships.  I like the proactive aspect, building positive relationships to prevent harm.  I spend more time in repairing harm in relationships, and usually the relationship is the victim-offender relationship.  Unfortunately the ‘trauma-bond’ of crime is the element of that relationship.  ( I want to go off on that, but I will stay with the social media – relationship perspective)

Seth talks about the way to real relationships, is going “out of your way” for someone.  I get that.  I do go out of my way, and I have lots of relationships where people have gone out of their way for me.

I go out of my way for vicitms willing to go out of their way for community.  See vicitms meeting with offenders, is an investment in the community.  It helps offenders understand and learn from the harmful behavior.  Victims are willing to share how they were hurt, they open the wound to show people how deep the cut was.  Healing takes courage, healing takes looking deep inside and offering yourself a better choice.  You have to go out of your way to get better.  Cause not going out of your way means you are staying the same.  I go out of my way for victims, any chance I get.

I go out of my way for offenders, because I feel like they might not have been listened to before.  The system responds to the legal aspect of their behavior.  Restorative Justice responds to the emotional aspects.  An offender shared that his girlfriend was impacted when he had to go to jail.  His niece was impacted, because she witnessed him being violent.  The young man was sent to restorative justice for assualting his nephew.  His nephew was beating up his brother, so he came to his brothers aid, and acknowledged that he was doing the same thing his nephew did.  Later in the Circle a community member, shared the pieces I just shared as examples of how the offender demonstrated ‘love’ one of the values of our circle.  He showed love for his girlfriend and niece by understanding how they were impacted.

I go out of my way for community members.  Community members go out of their way for restorative justice.  Instead of watching night two of American Idol, or studying for a final, or spending time at the cabin, restorative justice volunteers/community members come to help.  They sit in Circle with strangers, and open up during getting acquainted and building relationship stages of Circle.  They then bear witness and listen to the stories of harmful behavior.  They speak wise words to help support future behavior that is harm free.

Who goes out of their way for you?  Who are you willing to go out of your way for?  I’ve found when I extend myself for others it actually helps me and gives me a sense of belonging.  Doesn’t it feel great to belong?

Props to a company that values relationships, Restorative Zappos!

Zappos is a company that does really great work regarding community and culture.  They have identified 10 core values,

I really like number 6, I found it echo restorative justice:

Fundamentally, we believe that openness and honesty make for the best relationships because that leads to trust and faith.

We value strong relationships in all areas: with managers, direct reports, customers (internal and external), vendors, business partners, team members, and co-workers.

Strong, positive relationships that are open and honest are a big part of what differentiates Zappos from most other companies. Strong relationships allow us to accomplish much more than we would be able to otherwise.

A key ingredient in strong relationships is to develop emotional connections. It’s important to always act with integrity in your relationships, to be compassionate, friendly, loyal, and to make sure that you do the right thing and treat your relationships well. The hardest thing to do is to build trust, but if the trust exists, you can accomplish so much more.

In any relationship, it’s important to be a good listener as well as a good communicator. Open, honest communication is the best foundation for any relationship, but remember that at the end of the day it’s not what you say or what you do, but how you make people feel that matters the most. In order for someone to feel good about a relationship, he/she must know that the other person truly cares about them, both personally and professionally.

At Zappos, we embrace diversity in thoughts, opinions, and backgrounds. The more widespread and diverse your relationships are, the bigger the positive impact you can make on the company, and the more valuable you will be to the company. It is critical for relationship-building to have effective, open, and honest communication.

As the company grows, communication becomes more and more important because everyone needs to understand how his/her team connects to the big picture of what we’re trying to accomplish.

Communication is always one of the weakest spots in any organization, no matter how good the communication is. We want everyone to always try to go the extra mile in encouraging thorough, complete, and effective communication.