Support for responding, reacting or restorative-ing.

St. Croix Valley Restorative Justice Program utilizes the principles and process of Restorative Justice to address public health issues of impaired driving, underage consumption, controlled substance use, disorderly conduct, and other conflicts/crimes that are referred and appropriate for Restorative Justice.  We’ve developed a strong program utilizing community members, storytelling and Restorative Justice Circles.

RJ – Restorative Justice – is vicitm-centered, in a world of process for offenders.  The discipline, sanction, punishment models are very different, however a source of referrals, and an introduction of a harmful incident to a Restorative process.

Case flow from incident to SCVRJP.  SCVRJP has grown to be a trusted and effective option for many.  For others, the program is not utilized, dismissed or misunderstood.  As the Executive Director, I carry a great deal of passion about the work we do.  I am a true believer in Restorative Justice.  I get to make important decisions on a daily basis about responding or reacting.  I train our volunteers and I seek to live the values of RJ and utilize Respect, Responsibility and Relationship as best I can.

Others might be faced with similiar challenges of feeling undervalued, dismissed or misunderstood.  These may root from the intentional or UNintentional actions of others.  They may root from your own perceptions, expereinces or lenses.  Recent tragic events may trigger your need to do more, say more, right the wrong.  For that, I’d like to share a resource I discovered – LINK.  You’ll find some strategic advice, and a poem that I wanted to share:

You can’t be all things to all people.

You can’t do all things at once.

You can’t do all things equally well.

You can’t do all things better than everyone else.

Your humanity is showing just like everyone else’s.

 

So: You have to find out who you are, and be that.

You have to decide what comes first, and do that.

You have to discover your strengths, and use them.

You have to learn not to compete with others,

Because no one else is in the contest of *being you*.

Then:

You will have learned to accept your own uniqueness.

You will have learned to set priorities and make decisions.

You will have learned to live with your limitations.

You will have learned to give yourself the respect that is due.

And you’ll be a most vital mortal.

 

Dare To Believe:

That you are a wonderful, unique person.

That you are a once-in-all-history event.

That it’s more than a right, it’s your duty, to be who you are.

That life is not a problem to solve, but a gift to cherish.

And you’ll be able to stay one up on what used to get you down.

You can’t be all things to all

Circle process, 5 ways to effective processing of grief & trauma.

Circle process joins people together around a common intention or topic.  SCVRJP has developed a specialization in Circles, using the process to address a number of public health issues.  SCVRJP has developed services based on community need, and in 2010, began Restorative Response Circles.  This program evolved to SCVRJP offering Circles as a response to grief, loss and trauma.  These Circles include all of the stages, format and concepts that other Restorative Justice Circles include.  The difference is that instead of a variety of perspectives in the Circle, the group is common to the loss.  These types of Circles might be called Healing Circles, Support Circles, Talking Circles.  Critical Incident Stress Management/Debriefing is done in the shape of a Circle.

5 reasons why Circles are so helpful:

1) Talking – you don’t want something to be so unspeakable, it remains unspoken.  Unspeakable, means that we keep it inside.  Things kept inside fester, and get bigger.  Talking about them, finding ways to share and speak is the beginning.  Circles help create safe space for this.

2)Doing – helplessness, is a feeling that spirals us down.  Helping others, makes us feel good about doing something.  Listening to others is a healing action.  By listening and sharing, you are doing something, to help yourself and help others.

3)Immediate – Early intervention is important to reduce PTSD, informal support is as important as formal (professional services) support.  Informal support that is appropriate, healing, resourceful and supportive is key.  Well intended supports will emerge in times of crisis.  Informal support that is experienced with trauma, grief, loss and some wisdom is the area is a good source to draw upon.

4)Belonging – The experience of trauma, leaves us putting pieces back together.  Basic human needs include making meaning, and belonging.  Circles help us on both of these.  Talking about the topic, sharing our perspectives helps make meaning of them.  Belonging is enhanced when we feel connected to others.  Circles teach us how other are, provide a context for our experience and increase our sense of belonging.

5)Support – Circles create space were we are allowed to speak and therefore are open to listening.  Circle allows people to talk about the impact, but also the aspects that have helped.  This allows people to see that helpful acts can be simple, that it is okay to feel the support and help.  Circles also allow everyone to share their own wisdom, and with the non-judgemental environment, people can hear clearly and be more open to the wisdom of others.

Our brains are wired and we work in connection with others.  The evidence that “cognitive-skills’ are best practices is a popular topic in the field of corrections.  Restorative Justice works with these very dynamics, using how our brains respond to trust and open to new ideas.  Surviving trauma is something we do have experience with, we can relate to loss.  When Circles are held to process where people are, how they are doing, what they are finding helpful, a collective healing sense is felt.  It is almost relief that we have done this difficult thing.

Circles are a strong container, they can hold a lot of emotion.

Circles are healing.

 

 

 

-if you would like to hold a Circle for your group, please contact Kris at SCVRJP 715-425-1100.  Training is available at SCVRJP and we kindly request that skilled and experienced Circle keepers, lead the process when it involves very difficult and/or traumatic events.

Restorative Response – supporting survivors of sudden, tragic loss.

Restorative Response    for those impacted by sudden & suicide death.

Providing support to survivors and their families.

Restorative Response Resources 

Guide for Grieving Families – The guide is a booklet for new survivors, created for use immediately following a tragic event.  Provided to local law enforcement and first responders .

Survivor Outreach – trained local volunteers are available to meet with families on request offering listening, compassion and understanding.  Volunteers provide a connection to someone who has survived a similar experience.  Volunteers provide resources, reassurance and hope.

Monthly Support Group – Offering a safe space for sharing, support and understanding.  For past, future & potential members of the Restorative Response Circle series.

Talking Circles – Provided quarterly in sessions of 6 weeks of Circles.  Survivor outreach volunteers provide space for uninterrupted listening, storytelling and a pathway to healing.

Presentations/workshops/circles – SCVRJP will facilitate Circles or provide training & information on trauma, survivors, healing responses and providing support.

Healing after loss can be assisted by connecting with others.  Restorative Response services are tools to making coping easier.  To make a referral, request services or to join our volunteer outreach program, contact Kris Miner.

 

Upcoming Events

  • Monthly Support Group – July 19, August 16, September 20
  • Restorative Response Circle Series – 6-8 pm
    • October 4 – November 8          April 18 – May 23 2013
    • Restorative Response Volunteer Trainings:  July 31 6-8 pm, August 16 4-6 pm
    • Walk-for-Awareness – July 28 – remembering loved ones
    • Pre-registration requested.  Contact 714-425-1100 or scvrjp@gmail.com for more information.

 

Restorative Response is a program of the St. Croix Valley Restorative Justice Program (SCVRJP).  SCVRJP has been serving victims of traffic fatalities since 2003, when Victim Impact Panels were established for Pierce & St. Croix Counties.  As a volunteer for Dakota County, Minnesota and the Minnesota Department of Corrections, SCVRJP Director Kris Miner facilitates Restorative Justice for homicide and traffic fatalities.  These experiences combined with a community need to support those impacted by suicide led to the Restorative Response program.

In 2010, SCVRJP began hosting Talking Circles for survivors of suicide.  The program evolved to help others from sudden and tragic loss.  The program includes monthly support groups, survivor outreach, training and a guide for grieving families.

SCVRJP is seeking volunteers specifically to the Restorative Response program.  Training will be provided on working with survivors, responding restoratively and with compassion.  Volunteers will be asked to be available for Circles, support group and the individual outreach aspects.  If you have survived the loss of a child or a loved one, due to suicide, homicide or traffic crash, please consider becoming part of the team to help others.  If your loss was more recent, SCVRJP encourages participation in a session or setting up a meeting to see if the services could benefit you or your family.

For additional question, please contact Kris Miner.  Volunteer applications are available on the SCVRJP website www.scvrjp.org.

NY Bus Bully incident, Karen Klien and Restorative Justice.

The bus monitor bullied by middle school boys.  It’s been in the media and ironically, I first heard of the incident in Circle Training.   Karen Klien recently offered that she would like to talk to them to ask they why.  (article)

The natural course of this, has some restorative elements.  The victim didn’t think the apology letters were sincere.  It was the 4th student who did an apology face to face that helped Karen.

Restorative Justice is victim-centered, victim initiated, different from systems, who discipline, punish, sanction.  Repairing the harm becomes the responsibility of systems and repairing the harm is the focus of Restorative Justice efforts.  Systems that engage Restorative Justice can do double the repair work.  Karen said she is “fine” with the school’s response.  My bet is that Restorative Justice would produce results that are more than her feeling fine.

There are limitless options in Restorative Justice, and who knows what a well run Circle or Restorative Justice Conference could have produced.  I do want to compliment those that responded under the scrutiny of international media.  Well done to include community service with senior citizens.

Restorative Justice and system responses usually come to the same type of outcomes.  The difference is that the families of both victim and offender are involved in co-creating the outcomes.  Victims are more satisfied, offenders are more compliant. (Evidence article) In my experiences the families of those that caused harm, are much more on board and understanding of any consequences or sanctions.

In my community some of our local schools will assign Restorative Justice as a condition of returning after expulsion.  I wish we could set it up so we could do Restorative Justice quickly, when in some instances we could.  When we have gotten a referral, when we’ve done “morning after” restorative justice it has worked really well.  I don’t understand why it doesn’t happen more often.

At the same time, I should be cautious of what I wish for.  Our nonprofit only has so much capacity.  In part that is why SCVRJP, teaches others to do Restorative Justice.  Our partnership with our local university is an excellent example.  They recently created a student leadership position “Circlekeeper”.  Clearly they see the value.

When I teach schools about Restorative Justice – I come from a whole school approach.  That Circles, a Restorative Justice process, can be done to change culture, increase safety, reduce harm.  Classroom circles, school wide Circles, Circles to respond to wrong-doing – all based on a very simple model.  It is so effective and the results are long-lasting.  When I haven’t seen a word about Restorative Justice in this incident, I realize how far we have to go in bringing Restorative Justice, aka Restorative Measures, aka Restorative Practices to schools.

I get optimistic about humanity when I see that Restorative elements were alive and happened organically in the incident on the NY bus.  Good things happened, and it resembled restorative work, and it happened because Restorative Justice makes sense, it is grounded in the potential for good to come from bad.  You see the power of the human spirit is designed to heal.  Those boys acted from a place of their edges, not their core.  When they said sorry, and they accepted the sanctions from the school, they are now acting from their core.  What more could we ask for?

I hope the path ahead is smooth for everyone involved.  I hope that we can continue to learn about bully behavior and respond to it in a way that people learn and aren’t punished into becoming worse.