Restorative Justice Circles – the real deal can be done at all health levels.

Public Health levels include promotion, prevention and treatment – primary, secondary, tertiary levels. Restorative Justice Circles work at these levels as well, re-affirm (primary) relationships, rebuild (secondary) relationships and repair (tertiary) relationships, an outcome for every level.

Restorative Justice Circles, can be used at each level and when promoting a culture change, as in a school, they need to be used at all levels.

Once the skills of keeping a “real deal”, Restorative Justice Circle are gained, exploring and finding ways to utilize Circles will be easily obtained and those Circles will be successful.

Each training I do, builds upon earlier training sessions. After 6 years of training,in our community, SCVRJP has successfully implemented Circles. We used to talk as a board of wanting to “embed the philosophy”. The University of Wisconsin, River Falls, has a student position – where the PEACE – PEER EMPOWERMENT & COMMUNITY EDUCATION program, has a Circle-keeper!

This is a monumental and awesome thing! I am feeling proud of the work of SCVRJP and the partnership with the UWRF campus. So I want to promote using Circles effectively!

I mention the “real deal” in my blog title.

Simply using a talking piece, is not a Restorative Justice Circle. Link here for Covey’s definition of a Talking Piece. Restorative Justice Circles, as brought from the Yukon, to the US, based in first nations/indigenous work include: Ceremony (Open/Close), Guidelines (Values), Talking Piece, Consensus, Storytelling, Keeper and the 4 stages of Circle.

There are other Circles – great stuff from the West Coast, Christina Baldwin, PeerSpirit Circles. That style returns the talking piece to the Center, and includes a monitor that would ring a chime or bell to keep on topic. Those two elements are different than a Restorative Justice Circle.

Restorative Circle – work has 3 stages, Restorative Justice Circles, 4 stages. I am not sure if a talking piece is used in the Restorative Circle format. From what I have read the emphasis is on the process, and with Restorative Jusitce Circles, the values and stages are key.

Restorative Justice Circles, the Circles at SCVRJP always include diverse participants, meaning people with different perspectives. Some label needed, a person harmed, a person who caused harm and community perspective. The diversity allows for the exploration and perspectives to come from different places. Solutions to repair the harm can then come from different perspectives.

Keepers in Restorative Justice Circles have to become skilled at neutral language, engaging audiences from different perspectives. I think a way to not being judged is to not be judgemental. I was co-presenting and sharing the stage with another Circle keeper. My co-presenter said “I’m not touchy-feely”, I was smiling because just before that she had been explaining how you move back to easier questions if people start to pass. I call that monitoring the emotional climate of the Circle. It doesn’t matter, if you are touchy-feely or not, what matters is that you have a skill in keeping. Keeping is about safety, and making it safe for people to trust, open up and share. Keeping is also getting people to be safe in silence, in the silence to listen.

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