Connecting with the community, nonprofit networking promotes mission & vision.

St. Croix Valley Restorative Justice Program, SCVRJP began from an idea, just 12 and a half years ago and now services and programs have reached nearly 2,000 in just the first half of 2012.  Many dedicated board members, staff, volunteers, supporters and partners have helped develop and create the nonprofit that “promotes peace & belonging utilizing restorative justice principles & practices” (the mission of SCVRJP).

The nature of Restorative Justice is involve the community in repairing harm.  What Restorative Justice views as harm, is often times often labeled by a particular crime or violation of school code.  Harm, is anything that violates the integrity of another person.  Many times that can extend beyond what laws offer for protection.  If harm doesn’t have the criminal or legal definition, then those systems can’t engage as they might with situations that meet criminal and legal definitions.  SCVRJP focuses on our mission and addresses peace & belonging from building community to responding to crime and harm.

Our work with schools has been developed over time.  Our services are offered  and accepted as schools find value in the process of Circles and the use of Restorative Measures.

The mission of peace & belonging was demonstrated as SCVRJP was busy, helping teachers that will be using Circles as part of an advisory program.  Demonstrations and trainings included student mentors (upper classmen) to have role models in the freshman advisory groups.  It was easy to train on this topic, since SCVRJP engages community mentors in Circles.  Volunteers that support the philosophy, role model the process and provide input to repair the harm.  The feedback from these Circles was positive, that students and staff were able to see each other in a different light.  Confidence was built about using the Circle process and each Circle no matter the topic improves and builds your connections to community.  SCVRJP hosted 7 Circles in one afternoon!

When the harm in our community, the harm of suicide became a concern and a public forum (2010) was held, SCVRJP responded with Circles to support those impacted.  This has evolved into an entire program of services called Restorative Response.  Now SCVRJP is and can be present for any group requesting a Circle after being impacted by sudden, tragic loss – often times in situations of homicide, suicide, traffic fatality, drug overdose.  SCVRJP also offers monthly support group, Restorative Response Circles (6 week sessions) and informal support through a volunteer, match by the bereavement relationship (parent to parent, spouse to spouse).  This program also includes a Grieving Families Guide, which developed after a state trooper listened, and created a resource.  An SCVRJP volunteer, brought that resource to SCVRJP and asked, “can we do this”?  The Guide was distributed on May 31, 2012, and the resource is available to area law enforcement, medical responders, hospitals, grief support groups and is intended to be delivered within the first 48 hours of an un-natural death.  For more details or to obtain copies contact SCVRJP at SCVRJP@gmail.com.  For those outside our service area, the resource can be purchased at a minimal cost to cover printing.

SCVRJP connects with community issues, and attends as many requests as possible.  The O’Connell Funeral Home and St. Bridgets Church hosted a Grief speaker, Richard Obershaw, author of Cry until you Laugh.  SCVRJP hosted a information table, shared resources and connected with community members.  The presentation included the importance of storytelling and sharing grief, the same methods the Restorative Response program provides.  Nonprofit networking includes being present for those that are sharing your message and collaborating with partners to build on strengths and connections.  These connections can them promote your mission and others relate our message.

I was saying thanks for the opportunity, and I had to ask who suggested SCVRJP as a resource.  I was informed the suggestion came from several different places, “your marketing is working well”.  I smiled knowing that the best marketing is a service delivered well.  If peace & belonging our experienced people say good things.  It is each “good thing” that builds on another.  SCVRJP is conducting Circles around some very painful topics, and with some very tender audiences.  The responses are very positive, without our history and background, those doors would not have opened and those invitations not made.  We owe those that have paved the way, as much as we owe those willing to openly express their grief, trauma, resilience and reflections on harmful incidents.  That is community pulling together and that is what promotes the mission of peace & belonging.

 

 

 

Restorative Justice Trainings – at half price and double the quality!

St. Croix Valley Restorative Justice Program offers training as part of the services available.  Our mission to build and sustain a culture of peace & belonging, extends far behind our immediate geographic area.  Since training is a service, the intention, quality and outcomes are measured and monitored by the Board of Directors.  At SCVRJP, we commit to excellence and best practice.

SCVRJP trainings have been developed over time, with consideration to adult learning styles, specific audiences and evaluation feedback.  SCVRJP began to offer trainings in 2005, and have contracted with education, human services and justice providers.  SCVRJP draws upon the experiences of providing Restorative Justice services in a range of environments and situations.  Our services are offered for schools, community, campus, and court referrals.  SCVRJP engages community members, and is on track to have volunteer support at nearly 4,000 hours for 2012.

For the remainder of 2012, training sessions will be offered at 1/2 price.  This means $500 a day, instead of $1,000, plus travel.  Trainings booked in 2012, and held in 2013 will receive this discounted price.  This applies to the 2 day Art & Science training and the 2 day Circle Training.  SCVRJP is available for keynote conference sessions and workshops.

Any questions related to training can be directed to Kris Miner, 715-425-1100 or scvrjp@gmail.com. A flyer, on an upcoming Art & Science training session:  RJ Art Oct 2012.

Feedback from a Restorative Response participant. Circles for sharing the impact of sudden death.

Reprinted here, from a Letter to the Editor in the River Falls Journal.

This group and what it does made me feel whole again

Support from St Croix Restorative Justice and the Walk for Awareness following the sudden death of a loved one is something that you never imagine could be a part of your life at any age.

By: Mary Petersen, Hudson

Support from St Croix Restorative Justice and the Walk for Awareness following the sudden death of a loved one is something that you never imagine could be a part of your life at any age.

But when a death like that happens, it’s something that makes you feel like you will never be whole again. You are alone and cannot face life without your loved one.

When approached about participating in the Restorative Justice circle, I was apprehensive, wondering how I could share my most intimate thoughts and feelings and no one could know what I am going through.

On the first night we talked about the circle and why we were there.

As we started to hear each other’s stories I remember thinking, wow, I have those feelings and these people are hurting just like me, their stories are very similar to mine. I could see and feel hope from the others that I could continue my life.

It was not going to be an easy transition, but I would be able to move forward without forgetting my husband.

The night came that I would have to tell my story. As I started talking, I remember looking into the eyes of my facilitator, Keith, and the other members of the circle.

There was compassion and understanding that gave me a sense of calm. As I drove home I felt surprisingly good.

The tears that were still coming down my face were not out of sadness but a sense of relief — relief that I was not carrying this alone and there were people willing to share, listen and support me.

The staff and volunteers give of their time, experience and hearts.

Please support the Walk for Awareness and St. Croix Restorative Justice.

The work to move life forward when others have passed, the power of healing.

A recent Facebook status:

The journey from survivor to thrivor takes courage.  I followed her into the coffee shop and saw the tattoo with names of the deceased across her back.  Three relatives died in that traffic crash 4 years ago, after 9 months of meetings and prep work, she will soon be meeting the driver of the other vehicle involved.  It is powerful work, what some do to heal.

Restorative Justice is grounded in 3’s – Victim/Offender/Community.  Howard Zehr’s 3 pillars: Harms & Needs, Obligations, Engagement.  (Four Words!).  The SCVRJP logo has 3 swirls, with the 4th the white background, the 4 colors of the Lakota Medicine Wheel.

I believe we have a 4th in those we address and engage in Restorative Justice.  Victim-Offender-Community and Collective.  Four sections of the Circle.  Four stages of Circle process, 4 words in the 3 pillars of Restorative Justice.

“Collective”  is bigger and broader than community.  When I think of engaging “community” in Restorative Justice I am asking my law enforcement officers, school staff, citizens, bystanders and others connected to the specific incident.  When we do preventative work, our audience becomes the community.  For example a Teen Driving Circle in a Drivers education classroom, creates a community listening to an offender or victim.  Collective is those impacted further and beyond the immediate community.  Teens go home and tell parents about the powerful story heard. I remember when my daughter was in high school, she was a football cheerleader so I attended football games. After the Restorative Justice work at the school, several parents came to me with questions because their children talked about the Restorative Justice experience.

The ripple of Restorative Justice work goes far and wide, I believe it has impact on the universal human collective.  By addressing Mental, Physical, Emotional and Spiritual aspects Restorative Justice must reach beyond, and that ‘Spiritual’ aspect would be the collective.  When you do loss of life work, you speak about the survivors views on the after life.  You talk about what the deceased would want the living to be doing.  Deceased are usually viewed as spirits or angels, you accept what that survivor defines – and usually the view from heaven, that higher perspective is a spiritual one.  In a spiritual view of things, values always emerge.  Love, forgiveness, compassion, etc, etc. by creating the energy of these things, Restorative Justice impacts the collective.

The collective impact, when people heal from tragedy can be felt.  The two women that will be doing a Victim-Offender dialogue, are exploring what speaking together might look like.  The offender has been speaking about her experience of distracted driving.  The consequences and the lesson is being shared with others to prevent a similar harm.  If/when these two begin to speak together, they will not only have the story of the crash, they will have the story of their journey of Restorative Justice.

I often say, “when we share accessing our own inner strength and wisdom, we help others do the same”.  To access your inner strength and wisdom.  Restorative Justice is the process and the venue for people to access and put this strength and wisdom to use.  Some people need the connection to the other person most connected to the incident.  That is why some victims request Restorative Justice in loss of life incidents.

Can you imagine the courage it would take to meet with the person driving the car that caused a crash that killed 3 of your relatives?  Most people initially hearing the thought of loved ones killed, think about revenge or retaliation.  Those two “R”‘s are phases people go through and some stay there.  Others move to the “r” of restoration, and that is where healing and moving life forward happens.

I’ve had the unique opportunity to accompany a number of people, seeking Restorative Justice after loss of life.  Each person leaves me changed.  Each case influences the next, because I have a broader, deeper understanding of the pain and suffering from losing a loved one suddenly.  Each person is unique and they are treated as such and with the utmost respect.  It keeps me humble and grounded to recognize and realize this work is not just for the victim, the offender and the community.  This work is for the collective.  Mankind can do better and be better when we seek to heal with each other.