School-based Restorative Justice Circles – handouts and example demonstration.

 

In a school gym, we placed the Circle Center items in the basketball center court.  Four student volunteers each had a direction, and at each direction 3 months of the year were designated and students divided themselves based on date of birth.  This was a technique to mix them up and to have them take responsibility for creating the shape and form of the Circle.  The students were in clustered groups in the four directions.  I explained that each volunteer would read a value, and bring a talking piece for the Center.  Each group would come to the Center and be seated, making room for the others, making a round shape.  I explained that the Center was like a fire, and we would all need to be equally warmed by it.  This was to have the students take responsibility for the shape, it was an empowering action, so I could promote them being invested in working together.

I had 4 students that volunteered to do a brief reading on each of the 4 values.  That handout is 4 Circle Values.  Once we were seated minimal adjustment was needed.

We used a powerful opening, Restorative Justice Circle in Schools (2nd page).  The first page features information about using Restorative Justice Circles in Schools.

I spent time slowly and carefully explaining Restorative Justice and the creation of a strong Restorative Justice Circle.  I had the students re-read the elements of being in Circle (4 values).

I demonstrated connectedness using an energy ball  The energy ball shown is in one hand, you put a person on each side, and make a large connection.  People will test the connection and drop hands.  When all hands are connected, the energy ball lights up and hums, very cool, especially with a large group.

I also did a collective listening practice, simply rang my tingsha’s.

Our Getting Acquainted Questions included – what you had for breakfast, and what you would have liked to have.  This helped us know each other.  We also did a round where each person ended with “thank you for listening”, at the passing of the talking piece, everyone said “thank you for sharing”.

Our Building Relationship round, included questions about the use of Circles in School.

The Addressing Issues phase included more teaching about Circles.  We “rested” the talking piece and allowed the community members and students to share Circle experiences.  I always appreciate when people who I don’t expect to share, share.  A student at the school had been referred to a Circle, and offered how his experience was better than he expected.

I accepted questions about Circle process, I encouraged individuals to participate if invited, if impacted or if given the option to be in Circle.  This particular school uses Circles to address issues.

The Taking Action phase included some feedback about the experience.  With such a large group we did a one word reflection.

An introduction to Circle is all it needs to be for a demonstration.  I got to know the students, they got introduced to the process.  The staff and teachers got to sit with the students in a different context than usual.  Together these individuals got to experience a building of their community.

I hope this demonstration gives you some ideas or example for a Circle you might hold.

A full Circle validation of teachers building relationships, an avenue to community.

I heard a teacher’s response, and I was slightly amused.  She said she builds connections with her students by telling them stories about herself.  This was not a person I knew, I had no relationship with her to know who she was.

I was amused by her response, because frankly it annoyed me she took up our group time to share how she started her hair on fire.  I didn’t know her and I didn’t really care.  I wondered if her students would say that they feel connected because she tells them stories about herself.  I thought about the importance of having a relationship with someone, before you really care about their hair being on fire.

I thought about connecting, for me, to be when someone listens to me.  I thought and became confused, I’m like the teacher, I want to tell my stories.  Think of the feedback loop, where does the connection occur?  In listening/recieving or in speaking/giving?  If I was a better listener to this teacher, would that make us more connected.  Honestly I felt like she needed to listen to connect more with everyone else.

Of course my thoughts then go to testing the theory of Circle.  I think the Circle connection comes because we are doing something together, as a group, a team, a community.  As a group of people in Circle you travel together from Point A to Point B.  As a Circle keeper, I just keep our group on the map, here is getting acquainted, next exit building relationships, rest stop at addressing issues, and lets fill out the travel diary at Taking Action!  (Circle stages).

In my relentless efforts to promote Restoative Justice in Schools, and apply my new socratic method, I asked about a teachers reluctance to be in and use Circles.  I wasn’t speaking with the teacher, but to a person telling me this.  The response was that the teacher was uncomfortable sharing about herself.

“Rules without relationship leads to rebellion”, “you can’t hold a student accountable to a relationship you don’t have”.  I had stopped asking and listening, so I dropped it.  Again, confused, slightly amuzed, but definately aware of the social safety in the enviorment of the school.  I thought it must be low if a teacher isn’t safe to share who she is.  Okay, I did go on to add that an authority figure becomes a person when you know they have a dog, or a kid named Kylie.

Same day, much later.  In a Circle of students.  The question on the talking piece is about using Circles in Schools.  The youth talked about how helpful it would be to have Circles with teachers.  The speaker explained ” it’s easy to judge someone when you don’t know anything about them.  When you see a person everyday, you think, you’ll see them everyday so who cares.  Then you realize you’ve seen them for so long, but you forgot to care who they really are.  I think Circles with teachers would really help us know them, and then probably not be so mean to some of them”

I closed my mouth, my jaw had fell open.  I actually did find my answer . . . by listening.

 

Restorative Justice non-profit, agency asset #1, the power of the human spirit.

This blog has several posts about the view of people as mental, physical, emotional and spiritual.  Or/also known as – mind, body, heart and soul.  As a Restorative Justice teacher, advocate, practitioner and student, I think it is crucial to recognize, promote and attend to individuals on these levels, Restoratively.

Self and others, victims and offenders, volunteers and paid staff, we are all in a network of creating and sustaining the work of SCVRJP.  A nonprofit exists to help, the mission and vision is to help around a specific need.  At SCVRJP, our mission statement is . . . to Build and Sustain a Culture of Peace & Belonging utilizing Restorative Justice Principles and Practices in our Community.  The SCVRJP board of directors developed that mission in Circle, with Kay Pranis.  I was a board member at that time.  I am starting year 7 as Executive Director delivering outcomes on that mission.

In a recent interview, I was asked about our agency asset.  My answer was immediate, “the power of the human spirit”. That is our agency asset.  The question came from a new, local initiative to analyze and potentially improve existing criminal justice systems.  I reflected on the role of SCVRJP within our local justice system.  I wonder what other answers were provided this interviewer.  I can elaborate here, on how I came to my response.

Called to work.  Volunteering and working in Restorative Justice results in deep and meaningful interactions with others.  Often times, reflecting on your own life experiences happens while engaged in the mission of healing and repairing harm.  What calls us?  Is it our mind telling us it is the right thing to do?  Is it our hearts, the feelings and emotions of watching and supporting others on a healing path?  What gets people to get up, get dressed and SHOW UP at 215 N 2nd Street, Suite 108 River Falls, WI?  Volunteers, staff, board members, clients, and visitors pass through our door physically.  We talk about people leaving a Circle different from when they arrived, you know what changed?  Perspectives changed, attitudes change, we all leave differently and that kind of change is the power of the human spirit.

The human spirit can be broken in a million pieces yesterday and be whole today.  The human spirit can forgive.  The human spirit forges on in the darkest of dark.  Volunteer storytellers relate experiences that bring tears to the listener.  Be it offender, victim or survivor, the power of the human spirit is to move on and take away life lessons.  The power of the human spirit is generous, generous in retelling that story for the good of others.  To witness someone access their inner strength and wisdom, brings easier access to our own.

Restorative Justice uses the power of the human spirit to acknowledge harm, to understand the obligations it creates and to take action to make things right.  Restorative Justice uses the power of the human spirit to make amends.  Restorative Justice uses the power of the human spirit to accept those amends, or to wrestle without accepting them.

As a nonprofit Executive Director, I need to be concerned about bank balance, financial strategies, fundraising process.  What fascinates me more, is that none of that would exist without our program.  Our program exists because of our volunteers, our storytellers our partners who courageously referred to us in the beginning.  I’m fascinated by the challenges ahead with regard to building our fiscal assets while we continue to promote the number one asset, the power of the human spirit.

 

Remembering what is important, science vs storytelling OR consilience.

I recently forgot what was important.  Values are important to me.  I take advisement from research (or as Capella would have it, I am a critical thinker).  I try to live my life in balance, in positive relationships.  I get lessons once in awhile.  The lesson today – science and storytelling.

Here is a post about a book Deep Brain Learning, where I learned the term Consilience.

Most nonprofit work and especially Restorative Justice depends on the social value created.  We know the fabric of community changes when we do things that promote the good of people.

Check out this great story on a celebration in Yellow Medicine County.  The story, explains the program beyond dollars and numbers.

In my reading for school, Integrating Mission and Strategy for Nonprofit Organizations, social value was defined as things that are: spiritual, moral, societal, aethetic, intellectual and enviornmental.  Nonprofits promote mission for the social value created.  The author adds that social value TRANSCENDS economic value.  Our mission statements are the fuel providing psychological energy (Phills, 2005).  You can’t measure that kind of energy and for each person it can change over time.  My relationships to those social values has gotten deeper with more and more Restorative Justice expereinces.  I have gotten to know, to really know how these things work.  Stats are great, the power of the story is even better.

So I know this.  In my head and in my heart.  There is science (outcomes, stats, concrete things) and there is story (values, feelings, knowing).   This knowing doesn’t prevent me from being overly attached to a number.  The number is just over 115,000.  That’s the number of site visits to my blog, Circlespace.  I have recently moved from a long web address that includes wordpress, to a nice short web address of www.circle-space.dev.

Right now, the site stats have not transfered.  Last I checked, only 232 site visits on the new site.  I am not taking this well.  I found myself urgently explaining to my web contractor how I want to be blogging for Time and Newsweek and 200,000 is so much better than 200.  I caught myself, because I felt anxiety as I was telling her this.  I never started this blog to be blogging for Time or Newsweek.  I started this blog to help people with Restorative Justice, especially Circles.  I recognized my anxiety as a drift from my priorities.

The wonderful calm, technology person, pointed out my content transfered.  I realized things could be worse.  All 607 posts are available at www.circle-space.dev.  We are working on the subscriptions moving and potentially the statistic rank.  My lesson, for me, the one I am sharing here, is to remember there are many influences.  We need to remember our original intentions, not to get caught up in a number.

Consilience – the merging of knowings.  Using research, practice and values, overlap those Circles, and in the middle is truth.

The truth is, I get to think outloud emotionally and intelectually with the blog.  One of my favorite bloggers, Penelope Trunk, pointed this out in a recent blog bootcamp.  The ranking being 1 million or 10 doesn’t matter, if the benefit is my sense of helping, my social value OR the social value for one person, then this blog has purpose.  The story of this blog, as I have experienced it, is that it helps.  The story of this blog, is that it gets shared. I’ve been told it does provide value.

I value social value.  I found myself getting an attachment to a numeric value.  Blogging is a great way to clarify your values, I just literally told everyone about my journey.  I took a trip, I tripped up what I know, I attached to something different a number vs a value.

I’m telling you, to help you remember consilience – the merging of your knowing.  Find your truth in the center of research, practice and values.

 

Similiar leadership tools, nonprofit management and Restorative Justice.

I’m working on a PhD in Nonprofit Administration, Capella University.  Taking a course on Nonprofit Leadership. I am starting year 7 as a nonprofit Executive Director, and learning a great deal from my coursework.

As you know, I see things through the lens of my passion for Restorative Justice.  So I’m sharing with you some of the leadership tools and areas I see organizational leadership, especially in the nonprofit sector, mimic Restorative Justice.

Defining vs Thinking about.  Leadership, like Restorative Justice can have many definitions.  Authors in the course text encourage mega-theory or approaching leadership as how you THINK about it.  This reminded me that you can have many different definitions of Restorative Justice.  Three Pillars, 5 “R’s”, there are various definitions, but the overarching “thinking” about Restorative Justice is key.  It is a philosophical approach  – – and the link to leadership is that both require skills at taking a framework and applying it to a concrete situation.*

Recently asked about my agency resource, my response “the power of the human spirit”.  A look of confusion on the interviewers face and I explained, with concrete situations, how and why that is.  Restorative Justice uses storytelling, SCVRJP volunteer storytellers are coached and supported in Restorative-Storytelling.  I explained how people are impacted by hearing stories directly.  It takes the human spirit to heal.  It takes human spirit to move ahead to be a better and different person.  The lessons of the heart are the ones that shape who we are.

I have always promoted that as beauty is in the eye of the beholder, so is healing.  No one definition, no one process for grief.  I was watching PBS on Tuesday, Elusive Justice.  The narration began to explain that there are as many definitions of justice, as there are crime victims.  That spoke to me about the individual experience of being a victim.  “No one definition”, is a way of thinking about victims, survivors, individuals.

I’ve experienced Restorative Justice to work best, when I give a person complete room and freedom, a blank slate to express and have experiences of loss, grief and healing.  Being non-judgmental in the presence of another allows them expression and someone bearing witness to validate their experience.

Leadership as non-judgmental as Restorative Justice.  From the article “The Termite Theory of Leadership”, quoting Margaret Wheatley:

All life resists being bossed around.

The article goes on to share more Wheatly-ism, in that as managers (and I believe in Restorative Justice), we need to remember “life’s great imperatives”.  These imperative, which I would also call “Universal Truths” include:

  • being free to recreate OR preserve ourselves
  • form relationships
  • invent new ways of doing things
  • be unique
  • find meaning in what we do

Wheatly explains that imposing structure results in resistance.  I share these examples as a demonstration that Restorative Justice requires us to work within an oxymoron: free-form.  The freedom that people have individual experiences – the framework & form of theory.

I learned leadership takes courage & responsibility*.  Restorative Justice takes both courage & responsibility.  It takes courage to do a practice that is counter-intuitive to most.  It takes courage to bear witness to crime, trauma, grief & loss.  It takes courage to lead a nonprofit and not know where your salary will come from!  It takes courage to lead, it takes courage to heal.  (well others heal themselves you provide the form).

The responsibility is to have your mission enacted, not just espoused.  Phillis* points out that without leadership missions are intended but not realized.  I do all I can to consistently reflect the SCVRJP mission of peace & belonging. I frequently fall short of my “ideal self”, but I take on the responsibility as a leader to do this.  Restorative Justice work also requires a responsibility (so many that’s a different post).

The last noted similarity is taking intentions & aspirations to choices & actions*.  To enact your mission (restorative justice or other) it takes the execution of policies, activities and allocating your resources wisely.  I believe in parallel process, comparing things side by side, being congruent in who you are and what your values are.  Consider your Restorative Justice work, are you aligned?  Are your outcomes (intentions & aspirations) reflected in your decisions & behavior (choices & actions)?

 

*Phills, James A.. Integrating Mission and Strategy for Nonprofit Organizations.

Cary, NC, USA: Oxford University Press, 2005.

5 Steps to Use Restorative Justice Circles for Bully Behavior.

The stories of bully incidents continue to be of concern.  I have talked with frustrated parents, confused professionals and educators dedicated to prevent and put right the wrong of behavior that is negative, unwanted, repeated, and involves a power imbalance.  These items in italics are the very definition of bully behavior*.

This post is going to offer 5 clear steps to utilize in addressing bully behavior using Restorative Justice Circles.  Other related posts, here, here and here.

Step 1) Use Circles as a process to build community – before – using to repair harm.  You cannot be accountable to someone you don’t have a relationship with.  The simple practice of Circle, for the sake of Circle (or building community) – has several benefits.  Circlekeeping is a skill, it takes practice, each Circle gives learning.  Practice the process, so youth are aware of the benefits to listening each other speak.  You will get to know the youth better, so you will have information to move towards repairing harm.  You will see Circle ‘naturals’ evolve, you will spot who would be good community representatives in a Circle to repair harm.  Using Circles to build community paves the way to effective Circles to repair harm or right a wrong.  Circles promote  pro-social skills and Social Emotional Learning!

2) Use Circles with a capital C. You can place students in a circle form, you can hold a meeting without tables.  Circle keeping is an art and science, learning to read the emotional climate of the Circle and how to navigate between the stages and phases takes practice.  Preparing your lesson plan for a Circle is important, practicing the facilitation of this type of process increases positive outcomes.  To address something as crucial as bully behavior, use the power of the process that is based in values, empowers all and focuses a change of behavior by a change of heart.

3) Use Restorative Justice philosophy (link).  Especially equal concern Victims/Offenders/Community – – view the behavior as harm to relationships and people.  The process is designed to repair harm.  Restorative Justice is grounded in respect and inclusion.  The most typical intervention – ban interaction between students.  In my experience I have seen that make things worse.  There is always a story, behind the story, I believe individuals behave poorly, when they have a (perceived) justification for the behavior.  When you set up safe space and prepare people to come together – excellent outcomes prevail!  You can make Restorative Justice, School-based Restorative Justice, simply know that victim/offender/community – is student/student/community or teacher/student/staff – – Restorative Justice is so effective because of the direct path to healing for the community representatives, victims and offenders.

4) Comprehensive, whole school approach – One restorative home on a block, does not a restorative community make.  Do all you can to promote the use of a philosophy and approach from mission to discipline.  Consistent attention to promote cultures of peace and belonging is needed.  Use engagement, (a core pillar of RJ) involve parents, support staff in efforts to build community and repair harm.  I am available and happy to offer training sessions.  I will be speaking at the MN PBIS Conference Dec 8.

5) Circle again and again.  Someone recently told me a Circle, blew up, made things worse.  What a perfect time for another Circle.  Have another Circle to show accountability to the community, show a place where behavior has consequences of social and emotional proportions.  If the behavior of bullying has paid off, it is likely a person would ramp up the behavior to get those outcomes.  It may also show that the person who continues the harm, has a real skill issue, and needs more support in developing the skill.  I don’t know all the details around the Circle that blew-up, I wasn’t part of that.  However, I view conflict as opportunity, and Circle takes and makes the best of opportunities for growth and healing.  If you find yourself in a Circle, after an earlier Circle to address, ask people how they should respond or what the plan will be if the issue continues.  Then challenge yourself to help create plans that are not punitive.  It can be very difficult.  In Circle, you have all the parties in attendance and you will be using consensus as the decision-making tool, which should take care of everyone’s needs.

*This: Violence Prevention is a ppt, I presented recently to our local Rotary Club.  Featuring our local initiative to address concerns around Bully behavior.

Different types of Restorative Justice Circles and a practitioner perspective.

Just as there are 12 major markings on the face of a clock, I could list 12 different kinds of Circles.  In four basic categories those Circles would be community building – peace building – repair building – and celebration.  This also creates a full circle!

A very brief explanation on these four categories, followed by a practitioner perspective.  All these Circles use the 4 stages and phases I have written about on this blog.  You use good Circlekeeping skills and techniques for each of these.

Community Building – Boyes-Watson, authored an article titled “Community is not a place but a relationship: lessons for organizational development”.  She explains community not being defined by a place but the perception of personal connectedness.  Boyes-Watson – also authored Peacemaking Circles for Urban Youth.  Community Building Circles connect us to our community.

The practitioner perspective (PP):  create a sense of connection, by using all 4 stages and introduce a deeper discussion on values to address issues.  You may even ask for stories about a time people felt connected, or what connection might look like.

Peace Building – Where might conflict rise?  Is a situation at risk to become a larger issues?  We know the #1 cause of death for people 16-24 is car crashes, so when teen drivers come in, we teach this.  Peace Building can be done when you sense an “at-risk” situation.  For schools – this would be Tier II of PBIS.

PP: Remember, no such thing as a victimless crime.  SCVRJP addresses things like underage consumption and controlled substance use – and we engage individuals from our community ad Circle members, keepers and storytellers.  When there is not a clear and present Victim, others take that voice, but also use what I have called Restorative Grace (extending kindess to the least deserving).

Repair Building – Circles around a specific crime or conflict.  Repairing relationships for victims and their relationship to the crime, the victim to the offender.  The offender to the crime, the offender to the community, the community to the offender and the victim.  A spiderweb of relationship connections are repaired in Repair Building Circles.

PP: Prepare people to come together.  Prepare people to come together.  Prepare people to come together.  Prepare yourself.  You can address and repair harm – no matter how big or small.  Lost pencils in a classroom to lost life.  The more serious the more prep work.  Ask for support for the more serious, use mentoring and take small movements to the deeper issues.

Celebration Circles – Back to where we started, the last segment of the Circle – setting apart Community from Celebration Circles – is that we are already in Community.  Women’s Circles, Serenity Circles, Healing Circles.  If we are grounding our work in the teachings of Native people, and drawing from the wisdom they provide, because their world view and practices of Circle resonate with Restorative Justice – then we cannot over look that Circles are present and part of spiritual practice.  The attention to who we are mind, body, heart and soul is complete with Celebration Circles.

PP: I don’t do enough of these.  This is the follow-up Circle, meeting 90 days later, or meeting to support change.  When I have done these, the impact is really powerful.  I once learned that a Circle, helped resolve Trichotilomania (I would link to that post, can’t find it at the moment).  Schools have lots of opporunity for this and I really encourage the re-enforcing of prosocial behavior and values related to behaving the same, when you are in and out of Circle.  Celebration Circles help us remember to do this.

By mastering the skills and techniques in each of the different categories of Circle, it will enhance you as an individual keeper, your agency or  school-based program will be stronger.  People are unique, our responses to incidents are unique, however deep down we are all the same, connected to humanity and yearning for those connections and the experience of a sense of belonging.

Restorative “thinking”, sticks and pairs, ideas from Kris Miner.

I’ve been doing a lot of thinking lately and this post is to offer some insight to how I think.  I try to think restoratively – to BE more than just do Restorative Justice.  Maybe insight into my brain will be insight into yours.  We are cool like that as humans, we get to think about, how we think.

When I am making decisions or offering decisions to be made by others (for example my board).  I use a “pair and a spare”.  I got this from some dating advice book.  Date 3 guys at once, yeah right, so I moved it a way to think about decisions.  The “pair and a spare” helps because it forces grey.  Two paths, can mean right or wrong, black or white.  Pair and spare, oh the options.  We are happier when we think we have options.  With three choices, you are empowered after eliminating one.  You’ve made progress.  You can also look over why you immediately crossed off one of the choices and find what your real priority or decision making motivation is.  Try it, let me know.

“Stick” thinking.  Always wonder, what is at the other end of that stick?  Here is a great example of stick thinking – or seeing things on a continuum.  The blog, Why Your Passion for Work Could Ruin Your Career, offers we can be dualistic between harmonious and obsessive.  I recognized my obsessive; when I used to get upset, even angry at others for not engaging or embracing RJ at my same level (or even half) ok, full disclosure I can sometimes still be obsessive.  Right now I am feeling pretty good about Kris Miner.

I’m is the “Oasis” season of love.  Brain expert Daniel Amen calls it the Oasis Effect (from his book The Brain In Love).  Amen describes that we come out of the desert of being alone and longing to be in a relationship (since we are wired to be intimately connected to others) and being love releases hormones that actually increase our sense of trust, where we should be more cautious.  Amen describes an anxious state of euphoria (for finding a relationships that helps us feel more complete) that we fail to see trouble.  He writes about getting water from an oasis with dead animals around and failing to see the animals.  This book really helped me understand the brain and bio-chemistry of love. I know in the past I have been victim to the Oasis Effect, so now I am calling it a “season”, a phase.  Enjoying, with caution or knowledge that this flood of good feelings will eventually level out.

New love, leads to new awareness.  Here’s a line from my life, “Don’t put THAT in the blog”.  I guess I talk about the blog enough, that those new in my life have to set boundaries with me.  I also ask alot, “can I blog on that?”.  I get permission around comments or conversation I might be able to draw a blog post from.  I bet one of every 3 asks, eventually makes it to a blog post.  Right now I have 49 blog drafts started.  I start one when I capture a good link or idea.  If the tone of my post seems negative, I leave it started, come back later, time changes perspective.  I got a great suggestion once, to blog with a voice that could be heard in Circle (with the person in the Circle).  This was a great addition to the way I think, about blogging.

Being a blogger has and continues to help me.  As I posted here, new blogs are on the Restorative Justice landscape.  Just a year ago, Restorative Justice blog readers didn’t have as many choices.  With more options for readers, I’m thinking about my particular niche in the RJ blogging world.   I’ve grown into being a blogger and finding my niche as a practitioner offering insight, I also share my lifes intersection of personal and professional. This allows me freedom to share the way I think, in thinking it might help you.  Thinking on that . . . harmony or obsession?

Restorative Justice demonstrates that using values, generates postive impacts, one after another.

I’ve heard of it and experienced it, one good deed promotes another.  I paid for coffee for the person behind me in line, before leaving the coffee shop, the barista stopped me to say it went on for a dozen people!

When we feel good, we behave better.  When we feel hurt and wounded, we see the world as a cold and harmful place.  I am to energized by the rest of the post I need to write, otherwise I would link you to articles that reinforce this concept.

The story I have to share today is pretty amazing.  We have our first offender, making his own referral/request for further restorative justice.  After participating in a Circle – an Underage Consumption Panel, the evaluation form included the request (I took out a few pieces to respect confidentiality):

I got in trouble . . . after a night of drinking.  My eyes were opened to the effects my action have on people and I would like to apologize . . . I was wondering if you could help me . . .

Here at SCVRJP we do all we can to create both an attitude and atmosphere of Restorative Justice Values.  I speak with volunteers about being inclusive, helpful, equal with all participants and people we come in contact with.  When you volunteer here, you are part of our family, you are representing SCVRJP and the values and mission of our agency.  We focus on the first step of accountability is to acknowledge you caused the harm.  Taking responsibility for our choices, means we are going to empower ourselves to the lesson of growth, discovery and change.  Isn’t that the basis of what life is about?

When Restorative Justice “works” we have repaired harm, we have helped people grow.  We use evidence-based measures, satisfaction scales, re-offending rates, studies to be in a world of competing programs, grant funding and criminal justice alternatives.  Sometimes we just have to depend on “knowing”.  I know this stuff makes sense.  It resonates with who I am as a person, to be doing this work.  I’m committed on a grand scale to bringing all the Restorative Justice I can to the world.  Then I come in and find an evaluation form on my desk, with a comment like the one above.  I didn’t keep the Circle that promoted this.  I wasn’t in the building or in town.  This is the work of SCVRJP.  We opened a door, he passed through it and now wants to do more with his new knowledge.

Often times our evaluations include comments about our program being “eye-opening”.  Today I am thinking about our eyes being the windows to our soul.  In Restorative Justice – we are viewing people holistically to promote whole-ness.  We look at people and mind, body, heart & soul – or mental, physical, emotional and spiritual.  Values, relationship values are the things that help us mentally, emotionally and spiritually.  When people reveal connections to their own inner strength and wisdom, by using these values, others are prompted to do the same.  The example: today’s story.  Our keeper, the volunteer storytellers, the supportive community members, they create the demonstration of these values.

I’m gonna be smiling today, SCVRJP provided a court-ordered service and somebody said “can I get some more of that?”