Restorative Justice Powerpoints Idaho Juvenile Justice Association Presentations.

It was a great conference in Idaho.  I really enjoyed seeing and learning how the state’s justice workers are embracing and utilizing Restorative Justice.  I hope the four sessions I offered were helpful.  I got some individual feedback, the sessions didn’t include evaluation forms for me to review.  I spoke to what I thought would be most helpful.  I tried to listen to the audience, asking participants to show me by a fist to five fingers (fist – little, 5 fingers a lot), their experience, amount of faciliating experience, and finally how dedicated they were to working on further implementation of Restorative Justice.

I am sharing the powerpoints here, for those that attended the sessions, and the blog post readers.  Please contact me if you have any questions, best of luck with your programming and I am happy to discuss coming and doing additional training for you!







Teacher: “I didn’t know half those stories”!

The power of a restorative justice circle is amazing.  Simply amazing.

In a Safe Teen Driving Circle, students are facing each other, they contribute values to the center, they share who they thought of to pick their value.  Each voice is heard a few times before our storyteller.

The storyteller is moving, gripping, and often makes us cry.

I look around at the people in Circle with me.  I see a sweatshirt pulled up under both eyes, as a place to catch tears.  I see concerned faces, I see lowered eyes.  The silence of only one person speaking, and the emotional weight in the room is serious.

The Circle participants are given a chance after hearing the story, to ‘reflect’, ‘respond’, ‘react’ to the story.  The space created by the focus on values, and the story makes our circle strong.  So strong students share their own pain.  A family member in a near fatal crash, the death of a parent, the car crash that killed three peers.  Those that don’t have a story, tear up when classmates are tearfully sharing.  Some choke up at the mere mention of how the story made them think about losing a sibling, or inflicting that kind of pain on a family member.  Young people now understand why Mom, is concerned.  The bond in the Circle is strong.

The Circle members are now asked for a public committment.  Every single student offers a specific behavior they will do or not do.  Wear my seatbelt, not drink and drive, not text, follow speed limits.  The specific countermeasures to traffic deaths of our young people are voiced again and again.

The Circle members offer feedback on the Circle itself.  One young man simply stated:  The Circle was the BEST thing EVER.

We close the Circle with a reading, and encouragement to speak to your loved ones, noting that a change of behavior by a change of heart means we “feel” it.  The students leave class quietly, thanking the storyteller as they file past.  The storyteller offers hugs and support to the young people that shared deeply with the Circle.

The teacher, a very connected to her students teacher, approaches me, amazed “I didn’t know half those stories”.  I smile.  Its the power of the Circle.  How lucky we are to know the stories now. 

The storyteller and I read over the evaluations, the young people write out so much.  They express such thanks, gratitude and reinforce that the experience really changed their perspectives.  We have 97% of those that participate saying the speaker made a “great deal” of impact.  Student that made a public committment 98%, the public committment came from the Allstate Foundation research that youth are more likely to do a behavior they tell their peers they will do (vs what they tell parents).

This program saves lives, I don’t doubt it for a minute.  The relationships we create between students, and the value we show students regarding their relationships to family, is worth every second of effort we put into it.

I’ve got to get this book written.

Gripping story of teen drinking and driving . . . another lesson.

The Door County Wisconsin Sheriff’s Department and local coalition produced this video, the story of Karen and Amanda.  It’s real and it hits me because I work with situations like this at SCVRJP.  I help speakers like the ones in this video, share their story.

As you watch this, you will be drawn in, get a tissue.  Also consider the powerful impact if you heard this in person.  In Circle with the very people.  At the end you would get a talking piece, and be offered the chance to make a committment to your peers and the storyteller.

Thank you Door County for producing this, it motivates me to work on finishing the On the Road Together Safe Teen Driving Circles book.


Part 2


Deep Brain Learning book review and applications to Restorative Justice

I snapped this photo last night with my cell phone.  The lights of the Christmas tree blurred out the tabs on the side.  I tabbed 48 places in this book.

This was my Saturday night date, this book, Deep Brain Learning.  I read it in two and a half hours, cover to cover.  I thought it was very, very good.

I was reading it to pick up more information for my upcoming book:  On the Road Together Safe Teen Driving.  (Other blog links about that here.)

I was also reading the book because I love the  Circle of Courage philosophy and approach.  The subtitle of the book interested me Pathways to Potential with Challenging Youth.

I learned some very interesting connections between our brains and restorative justice, when I attended the IIRP breakout session:  The Implications of Neuroscience for Restorative Practices presented by Frida Rundell.  She actually gave us almonds in the session, to demonstrate our amygdala.  I still carry those around, those two almonds, my amygdala.  Dr Rundell, is an instructor at IIRP, and she made clear connections between restorative justice and our brains.

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Deep Brain Learning, gave me a great deal to think about.  I am not sure if I can completely articulate any one concept right now.  I liked several new ideas presented and the one that most struck me was the idea of Consilience.

The wiki definition here.  The authors of Deep Brain Learning share that the wordsmith William Whewell who invented the term Scientist, also invented the term Consilience.  It means knowledge that links research, practice, and deep values.  The authors make a great illustration with four circles that over lap and the center is the truth.  The four circles are Practice, Social Science, Values, Natural Science.

A subsection of the introduction is titled:  Twisting the Truth.  There is a good discussion on evidence-based practice.  I really appreciate the authors directing us to the American Psychological Associations definition of Evidence-based needing to include Scientific Research, Clinical Expertise and Person Characteristics.

Several of the tabs I placed were markers for blog topics.  I plan to link back to this blog post when I mention items from the book.  I do recommend that if you work with youth, you get this book.  It is very interesting and provided you ‘maps’ to working with young people in a way that sustain positive behaviors.  The chapters are titled like that, Chapter Four Trust Maps, Chapter Five Challenge Maps, Chapter 6 Power Maps, 7 Moral Maps.

I definately plan to make sure our work at SCVRJP integrates these nuggets of wisdom.

Why I am writing a book on Safe Teen Driving Circles.

I had to title the blog in present tense.  To say I am doing this.  I am writing a book on Safe Teen Driving Circles.

The number one cause of death for people 16-24 is car crashes.  Depending on the study 40-60% of those crashes involve alcohol.  The other 40-60% involve other factors.  For example distracted driving (by an ipod, cell phone or friend).  Teens made risky driving choices.

This means that parents are losing teens to something preventable and sudden.  Losing a loved one, before the natural order of life adds trauma to the grief.  Preventable and sudden are also common denominators when trauma is involved.  I love my own kid more than anything else.  I’m writing the book for those parents who have lost a child.

I’m also writing the book to teach others about using Circle process.  The use of Circle in Safe Teen Driving Circles is the “topic” selected for the Circle.  I started with Kay Pranis, and Peacemaking Circle approach.  Her tool that indicated how to address problem-solving with relationship building became the four phases of Circle that I use. 

Restorative Justice is typically a response to wrong-doing.  The Safe Teen Driving Circle process is using Circles to prevent, address a problem.  Stories of those tragically impacted share their heart, their experience and the reality they live.  It is the story within the Circle process that is designed to change teen behavior.

I’m writing the book.

Twitter as a restorative community, get in action to make it happen.

I am a twitter-er.  A twitterbee.  Twitter_256x256Right now I am following 600 people and I have almost 400 people following me.  I follow people based on interests in Bikram Yoga, Nonprofit, Restorative Justice and personal growth.   I have few writing and public speaking connections as well.

The thing I like about Twitter – is that you create your community based on who you follow.  I’ve gotten into a routine of reading tweets before bed.  I like to see what is being said, many good quotes, links to stories, websites and resources.  I try to be someone people would want to follow. 

I try to post funny, that’s life, kinds of things.  Of course I am throwing in a link to my own blog or an article on Restorative Justice I’d like to share.

The point is, I’m in action here and I’m making it happen.

  I’ve also been in action with Bikram yoga, the benefits are amazing!  In addition to losing 5 pounds, my waist, arms, face and hips all seem slimmer, the tone is obvious.  I also had really good blood pressure at the doctor.  When I was asked for a few deep breaths, I realized my lung capacity had improved.  This hasn’t been without the hard work.  I didn’t make the 30 day challenge, HOWEVER, I do get to 3-4 classes a week.

At my last two Bikram Yoga classes, there were people sitting out postures.  Maybe I didn’t ever notice this happened.  Maybe by chance I got two classes in a row, where I was near the “sideliners”.  I didn’t understand it in the first class.  Except I recognized one guy from an early class and not very far into the class, he was on his hands and knees and you could just see him battling the heat.  I thought:  “mind over matter buddy”.  The harder you fight the heat, the harder it is.  I learned that in sweat lodge.  You surrender to win.

But sitting out, and not even trying.  I couldn’t believe it.  I took a dose of thankfulness that I am me.  I realize that it’s a gift to be an engaged active person.  You get zero benefit from zero effort.

I was telling my daughter and her friend about these people that don’t even try.  I teased that I was going to say “hey will you get me a drink of water if you aren’t going to do anything”.  They laughed, it was kinda mean.  But the “sideliners” weren’t even trying.  It occured to me, I didn’t need to be annoyed with someone else I needed to focus on me.

Then I find the twitter: 

“The worst thing you write is better than the best thing you didn’t write.”~Sol Saks

from:  RT@WritingSpirit: RT @bridgebldr

(RT means RT, you acknowledge that someone else said this, you re-tweet them)  I realized I’ve been a “sideliner” about my book.  I put it down in Febuary and I’ve not been back to it.  I’m working with a great coach, we’re halfway done and well . . . a blog post of effort.

Twitter is helping me stay real.  Twitter is helping think of things different.  I find that community of relationships restorative.  In a way I am being held accountable by people telling the truth on twitter.

Where in your life are you “sidelining” it?  Let’s tackle those spots head on,  zero benefit in zero effort.

On the Road Together: Safe Teen Driving Circles engaging law enforcement

Written for the upcoming book: On the Road Together: Safe Teen Driving Circles.

At SCVRJP as part of a Driver Improvement Class, which is a diversion course for traffice violation, a Safe Teen Driving Circle is held and a River Falls Police Officer is part of the Circle process.  The only difference between this class and a standard Safe Teen Driving Circle is some time at the beginning discussing the deferred prosecution agreement and the participation of a police officer.  At first I was a little afraid and concerned that the officers would leave thinking I was really weird and that ‘restorative justice’ was fluff.  Thankfully, like most of my fears, that did not happen.

Instead the Officers have provided positive feedback about participating.  It appears they like interacting with the young people, in a different light.  Instead of the “do you know why I stopped you?” introduction.  The youth feel safe in Circle and describe the “who, what, when and where” of the incident that led them to class.  The Circle provides a place conducive to storytelling.  Kids mention things like “My Mom, kept warning me not to speed”.  The Officer also experiences the story told as a member of the Circle.  The storytellers make a lasting impression.  The Officer observes young people listening respectfully, intently and often times it is out of character for the age group.  The other thing that often strikes me is that before the Circle starts there is horse play, teasing, the normal adolescent group behavior.  Then during and after, the young people are adult like in respect attention and feedback.

If it sounds too good to be true, it’s because it is.  I LOVE Circle process for the gift it gives us to role model for others, especially for teens.  This really cool bilateral relationship between the speaker/storyteller and the youth is a miracle to observe.  Storyteller needs listener, listener changed by storyteller.  This is the clencher for the police officer, I don’t think they get to witness “instant” transformation that often.  What happens in Circle is really, really real.  I didn’t expect the uniform to become ‘invisible’ in a positive way.  The improved relationships between teens and officers is very positive for our community and the young people in general.

Thank goodness I didn’t respond to my fears and keep the officer out of the Circle.  Actually I couldn’t have done that, I live by the inclusive value.  When implementing your Safe Teen Driving Program, engage community leaders in participating.  It will pay off in the end.

I want to pick up my childs life, right where they left off. – surviving parents

Parents who have lost a child are my friends.  Not lost, like I don’t know where they are.  Lost as in deceased, suddenly from a car crash, deceased.  I want the future book “On the Road Together: Safe Teen Driving” to be for these parents.  I have an allegiance, a care, a concern for parents who have lost children.  I don’t know how to say this.  I’m usually not speechless or without words.

I’ll start at the beginning.    

 (just so you know, I’ve starred blankly at the screen for 11 minutes).

Wondering exactly where the begining is.  Why my heart is an ocean of compassion for grieving parents.  I’ve known more than my sharing doing this work.  I’ve gotten unafraid to listen.  I’ve heard common threads.  They do not want their child forgotten.  They find grief and silver linings in the smallest and greatest of places.  Their spirits are amazing.  They pick up and live their lives differently, using the tragic events around their childs death to help others.  They go and tell the story, to prevent another family from feeling the same type of pain.  They take over, or take on the child’s legacy if you will.  I have so much loyalty to that.

I don’t know, and I didn’t plan on going here in this blog post.  Yet, I really trust this is the blog post.

My birthmom – she denied having a meeting with me, nearly 14 years ago.  We’ve never spoken, we’ve never exchanged letters.  She gave me up for adoption, returned home, her own Mother had moved.  I guess she went on to get married and have two boys and a girl.  I think the girls name is Jenny.  I found a cousin who tried to fill in the blanks.  Yet, with the half-siblings  I have no idea how old they are.  They know nothing of me.  I have carried this burden my whole life.   I feel like the last few years, I’ve faced it more head on and was able to heal from it.  See I was told, “she loved you so much, she gave you away”.  My 7, 8 year old brain couldn’t really fathom this concept.  My own parents (adoptive) loved me, but they were ‘keeping me’, did they love me less?  It was a twisted tale on ‘love’ for me.  I used to walk the planet with some attitude.  Why have a chip on just one shoulder, when you could have two!  I had two helpings of “can’t get close to me” and “I’ll leave before you leave, let’s date!”.  Eventually, I worked thru this enough to have to touch a place inside of me.  I finally cried and sobbed, thinking if an animal had done this, (give birth and leave) I would be dead.  But I wasn’t born an animal.  I was born me, and I was meant to be here.

Her actions then/now and any future ones, I’m talking my birthmom here – – her actions do not determine my self worth.   I plowed thru self help books, I had to grieve my adoptive Mom’s cancer and death all over again.  See I never processed this adoption issue, and then grief on grief and loss, gets misfiled, it was all because I was unloveable.  Or so I told myself.  See, the script is supposed to be:  Parents love their kids.  I didn’t get that script in my birthmom.  Now I help people whose children died.  I help them love their kids.  When your kid is on the other side, what can you do for them?

You talk about them.  You think about them.  You develop rituals of when you go to the cemetery, when you light a candle.  The restorative justice storytelling process is a place for parents to do something, and something very good for others.  They have my whole heart with them in this venture.  Because it helps me heal.  It helps with the Parents love their kids truth.

And  now my truth is to love parents who love their kids.  If you are a parent and you have lost your kid.  I’m your friend, and I will do all I can to help you tell your story in a way that touches and changes lives.  Yours and others, including mine.  Thank you.

The powerful experience of a ‘safe teen driving’/restorative justice Circle.

I have to be honest. 

This morning I told a friend I wasn’t really looking forward to my days agenda.  She called me at 7:30 AM and we got to visit before my day started.  I explained that I was doing three Safe Teen Driving Circles, two back to back at the high school and one this evening.  These include the storytelling by a Mom, whose daughter decided to drink, drive, text and not wear her seatbelt.  Not exactly the uplifting story of the day.  One quiet honestly filled with grief.  I told my friend that I needed to get someone else trained in doing these Circles.  I didn’t feel as challenged anymore.  She related to being bored playing her guitar and she had a few gigs coming up and needed to practice.  Mastery only happens with a little boredom, we decided. 

I need you to know, I can’t NOT show up for Circle.  Even though I wasn’t at a 10 out of 10 full of excitement, I still did my best.  Doing the Circles in the classroom where we held the very first one ever,  reminded me this is the start of year three.  That’s kinda cool.  I saw sibilings of some of my daughters friends.  These were the ankle biters at basketball games and soccer practice.  They resemebled the little kids I once knew, and now pre-teens, hardly looking old enough to drive.  That energized me.  We had some good Circles today.

One may have been the “best” ever.  I think every girl in the class cried openly.  I am focusing in really effective questions now.  I am able to compare and contrast how it is to have the “public committment” question be right after the story.  I also had our last round, include a reflection on your classmates sharing.

I just re-read the days evaluations.  

“One of the most positive experiences I’ve ever had”

“This experience was truely amazing & touching.  I can’t thank you enough.  What you do is amazing”

“I look up to you two alot.  And I want you to keep telling your story”

“After this experience i will always remember to wear my seatbelt and drive safe”

“I am glad you came and shared your story.  You Rock”

Many comments to continue the program, how much it meant, how real it was.  Forty four different young people in the two Circles and 43 of them indicated they made a “public committment” today.   Plus . . . at the Circle with all the tears, the speaker shared, she gets her strength from the teens.  Its talking to them, hearing them share and be impacted that gives her strength.

The mutally beneficially experience in Restorative Justice is one of my favorite aspects.  Today, I was re-energized.  I cried when some of these brave young people related thru tears of their own, similar experiences.  Tears as they spoke about never wanting their Mom’s to go through what the speaker explained.  The group, the collective experience was amazing today.

This was just what I needed to remind me to get the book going!

Great article explaining Restorative Justice – Marilyn Armour

I met Marilyn while I was taking Mark Umbriet’s week long severe crime and violence training.  That was in 2005.

When I saw her again in 2007, I reinforced how much her presentation on “meaning making” shaped my work.  At the most recent meeting, I asked her to write an essay in the upcoming book “On the Road Together”.

Here is an excellent article and explanation.  It’s from 2005, but I really like the points articulated.