SCVRJP Summer and Fall Training Opportunities, workshops open!

Plates from Circles in 2009

SCVRJP has been providing trainings on Restorative Justice since 2006, with a special emphasis on training school staff.

Trainings are interactive, experiential and without  ‘role plays’, participants get to experience the power of Circle in Circlekeeper training.  Trainings are enhanced by those that attend and learn together.

The summer and fall session:  SCVRJP Summer and Fall Trainings.

Training sessions include a “Little Book” of Restorative Justice, handouts, lunch, snacks and a certificate of completion.  SCVRJP also offers on-site trainings and workshops.  Contact me if you are interested, I’ve been training and speaking to groups since 1998.  I really enjoy the opportunity to engage others in the passion and potential of restorative justice!


Fan SCVRJP on Facebook, or follow me on Twitter @krisminer

Being a trustworthy person and a trustworthy non-profit.

I was listening to MN Public radio and caught a quick statement about trust.  One of the guest speakers said that trust depended on two things, if the agency or the person was 1.)well-intended and 2.)competent about the matter at hand.

I thought about this on a few levels, neither on was my relationships to the US Government (the topic of the radio show).  Because I often hear about “trust” in Circle.  People often use that on the relationship-value plate we create for our Circle center.  It’s often mentioned as a “must have” to having a relationship.

I’ve also seen that our customers respond differently based on levels of trust.  People participating in Restorative Justice, seem to get more when they understand that the intention behind the process is one of help or healing.  It seems our process can go further and deeper when people see Restorative Justice as competent.  Some vicitms are able to step outside of the victim role, and see that perhaps the intentions of the offender were not of malice but more of an error in judgement, a mistake.  Mistakes have consequences, mistakes don’t mean you are free from being accountable to your behavior.  The majority of offenders do take a well-intented approach to repairing the harm.  They may not always be comptent in empathy or understanding, but that is where the restorative justice process helps. 

The majority of victims are also well-intented in the restorative justice process.  I have dealt with a few that wanted to use the process for shaming or punishing.  Sometimes people harmed can forget to look at the greater context of the human family, as they are focused on their specific wound.  Even in extreme circumstances some victims can trust.

An example, the RJOB, featured a story about two sisters coping with the murder of their sibling.  The surviving sisters lived out what they saw as their sisters final wishes.  Their sister Nancy, in her last moments alive took her own blood and drew a “Heart” and a “U”.  Nancy was murdered, shot by a 16 year-old.  This prompted the sisters to advocate against the death penalty and promote life sentances without parole for juveniles (full article).  The sisters trusted Nancy.

A new volunteer recently shared that where ever he talks about his volunteer work at SCVRJP, people confirm what a good program that is.  He shared this in Circle recently as he was helping help some juveniles.  Making the point that there might be something they could take away from the Circle.  Our volunteer was delivering that SCVRJP is well-intended and competent.

I work hard at the reputation at our non-profit and I am aware that building relationships takes that.  I so appreciate the two pieces I learned today, that being well-intended and competent (or at very least being percieved as such) are cornerstones to trust.

I am sure those around me will appreciate me assuming they are well-intented, and well as making sure I behave out of good intentions.  Never underestimate the power of maintaining and building trust, as a person or a non-profit.

Teaching Circle as a method of communicating and processing and Circles as Restorative Justice process.

SCVRJP and UWRF have a great relationship.  I am have been fortunate enough to have key staff in Circle Training.  They have taken the process and applied to different groups, enhancing the communication and structure of teams.  UWRF also provided Talking Circles as part of Social Justice programming.  These experiences have proven to be valuable to students.  I know I like facilitating discussions around racism, gender equity, GLBQT rights, especially with fresh young minds.

The photo above was taken when I was facilitating a training for the student leaders of UWRF Destination Trips.  The goal was to give the student leaders another “tool” to process service learning experiences.  It was a training where I really felt like “Johnny Appleseed”.  Each attendee was given a talking piece.  I brought several pieces from my collection, ones I was okay passing on and sharing.  The participants picked a piece, and then shared why they selected the item.  The Circle was able to share how they saw the individual in each piece.

It was fun team building as the leaders exchanged feedback with each other.  Then I suprised the group, by gifting them each the piece they had selected.  I got to imagine Circles happening over Spring Break.  If I remember correctly groups were heading to California, Chicago and the Southern United States.  I know for sure one Circle happened, the group used the Destination Trip t-shirt as the Circle center.  Although the talking piece from the training was forgotten, it was still mentioned and they used something of a similiar color.

Today I am preparing for different type of Circle, instead of processing, reflecting and team-building like the example above, I am preparing for a Victim Empathy Seminar.  This is a Circle session where community members meet with offenders whose victim is not ready for a face to face meeting, but a social worker, probation officer or court official referred the case to SCVRJP.

This type of Circle embodies Restorative Justice.  Our Circle will specifically have an issue to address, I use the 4 stages to do this.  In a communication or processing Circle, its less structured about addressing any harm, or righting a wrong.

My suggestion to Circle-keepers in training – is to find a balance of each.  Find ways to implement a little bit of Circle in meetings or car rides.  My daughter once grabbed a pepper and declared it a talking piece, which brought us some much needed peace.

I love Circles for processing or problem-solving, for increasing communication or repairing the harm.  A new friend referred to this as a “Human Technology”  I loved it!  In the face of all we do, there are things that as humans we can still offer each other as “Technology”.

Restorative Justice Training for Circle Facilitators requires 4 elements.

Stages of a Talking Circle

I love Circle-Keeper training.  Teaching others how to facilitate the process.  I feel like I was trained by some of the best, Kay Pranis, Jamie and Oscar, Linda Wolf . . . and equal teachers:  the girls in Ramsey County Juvenile Detention, the girls in the Amicus Girls Group, youth at the alternative school, the 1,000 or so other cases and Circles I have facilitated.

I have been facilitating my own Circle trainings since 2005 and as time marched on I have evolved, improved and crafted a training that brings both the gut emotional contact and the head the concrete steps for “how”.  I’ve merged in activities for teaching specific concepts, one of which was an experience as part of the team at the USD Counseling Center.

The most recent training was AWESOME!  Each training session is my favorite.  There is something so Spiritually fullfilling about connecting people to the power of Circle.  I’ve narrowed it down to 4 key elements.  This is what I believe is necessary to really get a good, deep Circle and Circlekeeper training.

1.) The Circle itself.  This seems a little obvious that you would be participating in the Circle.  Its deeper than that.  Its experiencing something new within yourself about something old.  Its talking about an experience in the supportive space of Circle and realizing something new about it.  This takes the facilitator technique of moving people into a space to share these experiences.  Before you move there, you create the space.  The concepts are covered while engaging people to use the process.  The results are powerful.  Circle itself includes: Values, Talking Piece, Storytelling.

2.)Keeper Confidence.  As in any Circle, the keeper has a tremendous influence on the climate.  When training its really, really important to remain grounded.  I have lots of time in Q & A, it seems everyone stays engaged in this segment.  I give open honest responses.  I tell stories as most of my answers.  I have a story for almost every single concept.  I put ALL credit back to the Circle.  This validates for the learners that the process is powerful, and as long as they know the process, they will be fine.

3.)Activities.  Lots of activities for applying the concepts.  In 2 days we have a “give-away”, made talking sticks, planned circles, and make written hug sheets for everyone.  We had deep story-sharing times and reflection rounds.  The group got to connect by working in small groups.  The learners were emerged in the process by doing.  When I pushed the non-crafty types to craft, I reminded them, we never change IN our comfort zone.  You need to step out a little and try something new.  Keeping Circle can be risky, taking calculated risks by have risky experience in the training is important.  It reinforces to learners they can do it!

4.)Engage the future.  Ask often where people could see Circle used, ask where in their life could they have used a Circle, project hope on the future.  Someone said if the world could be in Circle for 24 hours, war would disband!  I grab newly trained people for volunteer experiences.  I point out how I made up Circles just to get Circle keeper practice.  I make sure we are talking about applying our new skills.  I make sure to cover specific points of facilitating.  I give questions to use at stages, I make sure that keepers have both a compass (gut experience) and map (format).

So these 4 key elements – those are the 4 stages of Circle!  Look back over them and you will see they align with these stages!

I have to thank everyone who has ever been in one of my trainings!  I learn and grow from you!  Special thanks to all the teachers!  You are the ones who really pushed me to get context into the training.

Experiencing a “change of heart”, restorative justice gets to a change of behavior by a change of heart.

I have said that line soooo many times “a change of behavior by a change of heart”.  I have my buddy Ken Sharp to thank for this.  I was doing a radio interview on our Vicitm Impact Panels.  Ken was interviewing me for his radio show – Ridin Dirty, where he makes the case not to drink and drive.

We get at a “change in behavior by a change in heart” rolled out mid monologue.  Ken jumped in wait, wait, wait what was that?  I repeated it, and the words became more alive.  The concept was explained in those 8 words.  Now I add in that we get to a change in heart by sharing our stories.

I was talking with a volunteer, and she brought it up.  “You really do feel, a change in heart” as she said this she was motioning to her heart area.  I loved it, because she was in Circle as a community member, as a volunteer she was feeling change.  I often think that if our volunteers are feeling it, that perhaps those required to be in the Circle are feeling it as well.

I’m big on monitoring the emotional climate in a room.  Increasing self-awareness to grasp what is going on.  I LOVE public speaking and I have come to really enjoy the service club presentations.  When I speak at trainings, workshops, conference I feel a pressure to deliver.  To make sure the learners have the right information, that they are motivated to do something different.  I want to make sure I am delivering on my contract.  Ok, not just delivering on my contract, but WOW-ING them.

When public speaking, presenting I tell stories that have emotional depth.  I’ve noticed that there are moments of deep silence.  I took a pause after one recently.  I looked around the room, while taking what I call the emotional climate temp.  I noticed a few people then gave nods to each other.  Looks I read as “good point”, “can’t argue with that”.

I believe I caught the “change of heart moment”.  The collective perception shift.

Some stories have many and some have a few.  These powerful moments of really getting the story.

I spoke to a fatal crash, bystander/service provider.  This person was on scene of a car crash where a 3 year-old child was killed.  He shared that every time he drives by that intersection he says a little something for that little girl.  Years have passed, proabably 5 or 6.  Yet, yesterday I was driving that road, I crossed that intersection, I thought of the story “I say a little something”.  I remembered that, I said something for that little girl on my friends behalf.

A change of behavior by a change of heart . . . stories change our hearts.

Restorative Justice and the age of webinars, easy access to training information.

My friends at IIRP are starting to use webinars, they are starting out with two great topics.  When that asked me to post this on my blog, I was happy to help and recommend these opportunities!

If you aren’t getting the e-forum information, I suggest you sign up, details below.

The IIRP Graduate School is excited to announce a new series of webinars — live, web-based seminars about topics in restorative practices. We’ve scheduled two webinars to date.

Responding to Bullying with Restorative Practices
May 11, 2010—3:30-5:00pm EDT
Register »
Presenters: Bob Costello, IIRP Director of Training & Consulting; John Bailie, IIRP Assistant Director of Training & Consulting

Bullying has become far too common in schools today, and its consequences can be tragic. Many programs try to prevent it, with varying results. What do you do when it happens anyway? You empower those who have been harmed, by means of supported, face-to-face meetings with those who have harmed them, and you widen the circle to include everyone who has been affected. Prohibiting such face-to-face meetings only ensures that that next time these parties cross paths no responsible adult will be present, and more bullying will result.

The webinar will also address:
how to identify bullying, a very specific power dynamic
the harm in labeling children as bullies or victims
bullying fallacies and controversies
Safer Saner Schools — Whole School Change Through Restorative Practices
May 25, 2010—3:30-5:00pm EDT
Register »

Presenters: Bob Costello, IIRP Director of Training & Consulting; Steve Korr, IIRP Trainer & Consultant.

Learn more about the IIRP’s Safer Saner Schools Program, an effective way to achieve lasting whole-school culture change that builds relationships between students, staff and parents, improves student behavior, reduces violence and bullying and creates a sense of community.

The webinar will also address:
our comprehensive two-year school implementation program
how we customize plans based on a schools’ needs and goals
how we achieve 100% staff participation in restorative practices

International Institute for Restorative Practices |
Restoring Community in a Disconnected World
Join the Restorative Practices eForum |

How to love your job, 5 keys to unlock passion and committment.

At a recent social event, I was introduced, and it turned out the person had seen me speak about Restorative Justice.  The next comment was something about how I seemed really into it.  That kind of comment lights me up.  I usually get a big smile, and reinforce “why yes I am” and say a few more good things about restorative justice.

Sometimes, I say corney things like how my job gives me a “front row” to healing.  I imagine, I’m the Celeberity pictured at the Laker Game.  Who doesn’t want to be front row. 

Othertimes, I comment on how Restorative Justice lets me live my values.  Sometimes I just say how much I LOVE my job.


This post is about giving you some keys, to unlocking a door.  The door to feeling passion and purpose about your job.

Key 1Own it.  Be who you are.   I am Kris Miner, Restorative Justice fanatic, all the time.  It has annoyed boyfriends that I talk about work.  Friends encourage me to read novels.  Well I have taken my job, and made it about me.  Made it who I am.  Balance is highly recommended, don’t forget you are also Mother, Daughter, Friend, sister, etc.  People who own who they are take pride in their work, they are invested.

Key 2 Do it with LOVE.  I have went to a massage therapist and she made ME, want to be a massage therapist.  I got my haircut by someone so into it I wanted to be cutting hair.  The LOVE is contagious.  You don’t have to LOVE milking cows, but you can do it LOVINGLY, and that makes a big difference.  Believe me I’ve milked cows, made beds, wiped butts in a nursing home.  Lovingly feels so much better.  Lovingly means your focus is on others and not yourself.

Key 3Work Hard.  Nothing pays off like hard word.  You feel good for putting in the effort.  Even if a boss, coworker or client doesn’t take note, you know.  I have worked hard, people notice.  Working hard means going out of your way every once in awhile.  I keep a mental list of rationale, by finding times people have gone out of their way.  Our program began because someones wife sent information about RJ.  If I get asked I try to send helpful packets, and information along.  It was a seed that created what is now SCVRJP.  So I go out of my way and sew seeds.

Key 4Stay Fresh.  Things change, people change.  Have you met the person who has stopped growing inside, kind of grouchy, they see the world the same and its usually negative.  Be amazed by the new, the fresh, the developments.  Everything changes, be aware of best practice in your field.  Be open to trying something a little different.  In a recent Circle, I was casually passing the talking piece to the left or right.  It popped in my head there was a time I only went left.  I was glad to be comfortable with this style and practice.

Key 5Recognize Meaning.  Everything has a purpose and there is a purpose to everything.  Can you finish this sentance?  I was put on this earth to_________ .  You get to make up this sentance.   You have equal value and equal worth as anyone else.  Have this conversation with yourself.  What were you put on this earth to do.  Are you doing it?  There is nothing more powerful than a connection.  Connect to people, connect to values, connect to your meaning.

Now if I could just stop losing my own keys!

The power of stories, the power of listening, I too am “Pro-Voice”.

The random magic of using my ADD on the internet. 

Somehow I found Exhale an after abortion counseling hot-line.  What a concept, a place for people to talk.  Religion and politics and right and wrong – all about abortion.  Not a lot of room for acceptance, listening, compassion, when politics, religion, right, wrong are in play.  And regardless how you feel about abortion, or which side of the topic you fall on, this post is about something bigger than that.

I was quoted in Glamour magazine in a brief editorial piece titled “It’s Time to Make Peace on Abortion”.  I am quoted talking about the impact of personal stories.

I’ve always thought that carefully planned and specifically intented a healing circle a sharing circle about abortion would be helpful.  I can just imagine the power of sharing your story in the strong loving container a circle creates.  I ran this idea by someone once with no idea about what I would hear back.

She had two abortions.  She needed to tell me about the circumstances.  I of course listened with all of my heart.  Then she told me how difficult it would be to come to a talking circle.  The fear of judgement, the fear of who else would be coming to the Circle.  I put the idea away.  Until today.

Something about the topic grips me.  I’ve never had an abortion.  Like most women, I know people who have.  If abortion was more accessible and legal in 1968 I might not be here.  I had an unplanned pregnancy, I did not have an abortion.

I am about healing and justice.  I am about compassion and caring.  I am about helping people be better than their past.  How can I not be “PRO-VOICE”?

After reading more about Exhale, I had to get to the blog of the Executive Director, Aspen Baker.

From Aspen Baker’s blog:

I had completed some important stage of the healing process by physically getting the story outside of my body.   By telling the story to strangers, I really was able to let go of some of the residual pain and trauma I’d been carrying -B.T.

I don’t know what this quote is about, and that’s the not point.  The point is the power of storytelling for healing.  The point is the power of “Pro-Voice”.

In restorative justice we harness the power of storytelling.  The power of having victims and others listen to offenders speak about “what happened”.  Community members and offenders supporting victims as they share their stories.  Hearing stories helps.  I am a far better human being because of all the stories I have heard in Circles.  The work of exhale, is a vivid and strong reminder of why the simple act of speaking and listening in Circle, helps heal hearts.

follow them on Twitter@XhaleIsProVoice  (building abortion peace through listening and storytelling).

Using your board as a mini-focus group, multiple benefits, here’s how.

I love my Board.

I love that I can say that.  I might not say it all the time, but I am saying it today.  I am not just saying it because they read this blog.  I only think one of my board members reads the blog, well maybe 2, but he’s new.  The point of this post:  use a roll call question to get good information.

Board – Executive Director dynamics are HUGE in the non-profit world.  I remember hearing the number one reason ED’s leave, is conflict with the board.  I know it hurts me deeply if I feel we are off track.

I’m an ‘alpha’ type of person, a type A, I admit it openly.  I got my blood donor card from the Red Cross:  A Positive.  Partnerships can be hard for Type A’s, we’d rather run the show.  We get so caught up in getting it done, we only see one way.  Our way. 

Did you notice I went from talking about myself to all type A’s in general.  I stopped liking what I was saying so I needed to be in a group.  We percieve oursleves as less wrong in a group.  “everyone else is like that” mentality (remember that we default to group acceptance, the next time you deal with a group of juvies that have been naughty).

So I have shared a shortcoming, I am ready to share a strength.  I’m proud of getting my board engaged.  I feel like I have developed more partnership-style-leadership skills.  I have found a balance from running the show, to running the organization.  Running an organization requires great board skills.

Almost a year ago, I suggested interactive meeting format.  To over simplify means a roll call question at the beginning and each person offering a meeting ranking at the end.  Last month for the first time in 5 years I missed a board meeting.  This put me in a unique position to ask the different members about the meeting with none of them knowing what I had heard from everyone else.

You know you are on a good team, when everyone experiences it the same.  Our interactive meeting format paid off.  Someone simply said “9’s, all the way around”.  I knew what that meant.

The board chair runs the meeting, and I prepare the agenda (obviously with input from board members).  I’ve crafted the roll call questions.  I have notice that I end up taking notes on what the board responses are.  I love that I get a mini-focus group feedback at every meeting.  Its been fun to hear what programs the board values, what other organizations they serve on and what they are looking forward to in the new year.

Next month the roll call question is going to be asking about why they made the last donation they made.  The second part of the question is going to be: what do you need to know about SCVRJP to make a donation? 

I am gunning up to be a fundraising tornado.  I will need my board’s help.  I will need to know why people in River Falls make donations.  I need my board to hear from each other why people donate.  I will be covering later in the agenda, my big plans to ramp up on individual donations, so the roll call question will be foreshadowing (unless they read the blog).  A huge benefit to working with any group, it to understand the urgency of the issue.  A roll call question gives you focus group type of feedback AND sets up your agenda.

MORE benefits of the roll call question:

-getting every voice heard before the meeting starts, experiencing that we are all equal and all contribute.

-building relationships, learning about each other in the process.  Connecting to each other because we know more about each person.

-the scoop on what they think, feel, observe and want for the organization. 

Don’t limit this to a board meeting dynamic, give it a try in other meeting groups – simple open and end with every voice.