Category Archives: Kris Miner

Doing Restorative Justice with the core concept of WITH.

From IIRP:

people are happier . . . and more likely to make positive changes when those in authority do things with them, rather than to them or for them . . .

I have been so fortunate.  To get to do Restorative Justice as a full-time job, provides so many opportunities.  I’m the executive director, and I provide a great deal of direct service.  I’ve been in prisons, classrooms, churches, community centers, people’s homes, coffee shops, parking lots and had thousands of conversations about repairing harm, restoring connections and building community.  If the ask is to do a Circle, my answer is always yes.  I do Restorative Justice Victim-Offender Dialogue, Restorative Justice Circles, offer trainings and workshops.  From the seemingly silly to the most serious of offenses, I’ve been offering and facilitating Restorative Justice full-time for 8 years now.

I over commit stretch myself thin, and work long hours.  That has forced me to grow in areas and at the same time, taught me how to get this work done effectively and efficiently.  I lead with my heart.  You have to, if you’re doing Restorative Justice work, you have to use your heart when connecting with people working WITH them for Restorative Justice.

The quote above uses the phrase “when those in authority” the first thing I do is to erase any authority, I try to approach people human to human, heart to heart.  This means being accepting, understanding, compassionate.  The very language used can contribute greatly to equal dignity and worth. WITH as a human being, is much for effective that WITH as my job.

Imagine you love hot fudge sundae’s, and your hungry at the moment.  What if someone tells you, you will be forced to eat one. Probably doesn’t feel very good, despite the fact you like sundae’s and one would taste good.  I overheard this “the talking piece forces you to listen”.  I would say, Circle provides the opportunity to listen without interruption.  Very few like to be forced to do anything.  The speaker meant well in explaining Circle like this, the mark was missed in explaining how to listen with another.

I try not to use words that imply power over or authority.  I don’t use the word “rules” and I even avoid “guidelines”, I really explain the behavior that works best.  I “invite”, “offer”, “provide”, working to align with the core inner part of individuals.

Staying with curiosity is also a great place to be with, to explore and expand people preparing to come together in Restorative Justice dialogue.  A very angry approach is sometimes the starting point, the victim might want and demand the offender do or be a certain way.  This can be tricky, the facilitator has no control over this.  Some victims see what they have already decided to see, or what they experienced in the court process.  It takes listening and exploring to prepare.  For example when a victim wants a topic in the dialogue that moves more towards blaming, shaming and is less about healing, a facilitators best move is to go with the victim.  This means respectful questions and inquiry to find the need the victim is trying to respond to.  Finding the inner need, and exploring ways it can be met, in the dialogue, by the victim is preparation work WITH a victim.  This exploring and curiosity can also bring pathways in the brain about how it might be when the dialogue happens, what might happen.

A survivor recently realized, that if she saw remorse, she would probably hug the other person and share “this is something we will all have to get through, together”.  I almost choked up hearing this, she almost cried saying it.  That statement was the best “WITH” a facilitator could hope for between and victim and offender.

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Filed under Kris Miner, Practitioner Skills, Responses from participants, Restorative Justice

Restorative Justice work as art and being. Three experiences one blog post.

An artist in the show, invited me to the reception.  Twice, so I knew it was important, and relationships are built by going out of our way.  Since I like art, it wasn’t THAT out of the way, so I attended.  Since I know the artist in a totally different context, I didn’t really connect “drawing from life” or the postcard, to what I was going to see.

Voila_Capture1018The gallery was set up with the center space showing the chair the model might sit in.  It became clear from the drawings, the models were nude.  Wow.  I took in the art, appreciated reading the artist statements.  I had just been to a deep meeting and discussion with someone preparing to meet with a surviving family member, in a multiple death traffic fatality incident.  The nakedness of the art, the beauty, reminded me of how we have to get emotionally bare when it comes to Restorative Justice dialogue.  As a facilitator when emotions are high, and grief over the death of a loved is present, you also become bare.  Your own heart is present and you (facilitator) are in it alongside those requesting and agreeing to dialogue.

Later I posted on Facebook, the echoes of this earlier conversation.  It really stayed with me, mostly the bravery of the young person, dealing with very adult issues.  The pre-session preparation was more intense, as we are getting closer to the actual face to face meeting.  The compliment shared was really great to hear as well.  The voiced confidence in SCVRJP and me, confirmed and supported the energy I was feeling about readiness for the dialogue to happen.

photo    This morning a comment on the Facebook post, struck a strong note with me.  Cameron Communicationz, “everything worth doing is an art”.  YES!  I always taught my daughter to know that art was never finished, if you “messed up” just keep coloring or drawing to work that in.  She might not remember that.  I was trying to counter my perfectionism rubbing off on her, but that’s another blog post.  In facilitating a severe crime case, such tender care is needed in exploring the needs of the victims.  Preparing parties to sit face to face after damage and harm, especially when a loved one has died, requires zero attention to your own perfectionism.  All ego of the facilitator needs to be removed, and working towards emotional safety and preparation is the art.

Restorative Justice as art.  That means co-creating with those around you.  That fits well, I teach that a Circle keepers job is to engage everyone as keepers in the Circle.  As I viewed the art in the gallery, there was no way the drawings could have emerged without the live figure (nude model).  Imagine the vulnerability to disrobe and be drawn . . . to me that feels incredibly powerful, a risk taken and completed.  As I looked at the art gallery drawings, I could see myself in some of the drawings.  We connect to art, and I believe we connect to each other in Restorative Justice.  Reflections of ourselves in others.

The link between art and Restorative Justice got me thinking about the similarities.  Using different methods, improving over time, finding yourself in the art you create.  Learning what others interpret or see in your creations.

I got emotionally overwhelmed at the art gallery.  I felt like crying.  I was moved by the courage I felt in the drawings and the honesty expressed.  I enjoyed visiting with the person that invited me.  It was a real lesson, on people being more that you might know.  The restorative justice meeting, the gallery reception, the Facebook comment. Three randomly disconnected things, all now connected in this blog post.  And isn’t that what life and Restorative Justice is all about . . . connections.

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Filed under Belonging, Circle Keeping, Conferencing, Full Circle Experiences, Kris Miner, Peace, personal growth, Practitioner Skills, Relationships, SCVRJP, Social Media

Blame or Harm? How a surrogate community is helping heal harm.

St. Croix Valley Restorative Justice Program has been serving two counties since 2001.  The area of expertise includes Restorative Justice Circles and working with severe crime.  This stems from a history of Restorative Justice that began in 1998, when I was initially trained in the process.  I facilitate Restorative Justice for serious cases (where there have been fatalities) both locally and for 3 neighboring Counties.  This has brought intersection between the SCVRJP community and those that impacted and those responsible for harm, living in neighboring Counties or outside or specific service area.

Youth from other communities (not those directly served by SCVRJP), often with parents, their own restorative justice provider or juvenile justice professional attend local SCVRJP sessions.  This structure sets up our local community to be the surrogate community for these guests.  Restorative Justice operates from the principles that those harmed (victims), those that caused the harm (offenders) and community are important and necessary to determine how to repair harm.  The power of Restorative Justice Circle process is grounded in the inner good of each person, the focus on relationship values and the respect demonstrated by facing each and taking turns telling our truths.

Most generally we agree we should help young people learn from mistakes.  This can take place as accountability and consequences (juvenile justice system).  Our communities include support systems for behaviors that break the law and put others at risk.  Restorative Justice also operates from a premise that community has a responsibility to teach young people.  One of my mentors says “wisdom that is not shared is lost”.  Circles provide us space to share wisdom.

In my experience, we can be proud of how SCVRJP/Restorative Justice has treated young people that made poor choices.  Young people need recovery as well as accountability after poor choices.  They need affirmed the difference between being a bad person and making a bad decision.  Young people need help off their stomachs and on to their feet.  When you fall down, it’s easier to brush yourself off and move on in a good way, when you have support.  There are opportunities to share wisdom, and wisdom is best heard when it is offered without judgement.

Community Mentors are the volunteers at SCVRJP that participate in Circle to address harm, offer experiences, support and wisdom.  A guest participant experienced the support and immediately wanted to share her story.  The support changed her perspective; the response has helped her and has been powerful to witness by her professional support and family.  It is a powerful transformation from a hometown that denied her job applications, continued to blame her and has left her and her feeling shame and isolation.

Restorative Justice Circles can be shaped around any harm.  My harm is your harm, and your harm is our harm.  That’s a cheesy sentence, but I know when we join together we can heal.  Blame separates and hurts, leaving us isolated in pain.  Sharing harm is not easy, however it is a step in the process of healing.

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Filed under Circle Process, Community, Kris Miner, Restorative Justice, SCVRJP

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

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Filed under Belonging, Community, Kris Miner, Meeting Goals, non-profit management, personal growth, Practitioner Skills, Relationships, Restorative Justice, RJ Resources, Volunteers

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.

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Filed under Circle Process, Circle Stages, Kris Miner, personal growth, Practitioner Skills, Relationships

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.

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Filed under Circle Process, Circle Stages, Kris Miner, Peace, personal growth, Practitioner Skills, Responses from participants

Training for Restorative Justice Facilitation – Fall 2012 St. Croix Valley Restorative Justice Program

One of the revenue generating activities for SCVRJP is consultation income.  This includes payments made to trainings held on site at SCVRJP and for contracted trainings, where I travel off site and train for another agency.  This blog post will feature some trainings that are available on-site, and would be available as contract opportunities.  The session offerings have evolved over the last few years as I have trained and learned what is helpful to others for implementation.  Each session can be focused to school or community settings.

I recently did two victim-offender-dialogue cases in two days.  Both involved a death, one happened 25 years ago and the other just under 2 years.  One case took months of preparation, the other just a week!  With every case, you meet the individual needs, each case is unique.  There was much to learn and gain, as these two sessions came together to be held back to back.  Combined with the expereinces of preparing people for conferences and circles, I decided to offer the Art & Science training opportunities.  These will cover in-depth preparation meetings, and the key elements for facilitating a session.

Restorative Justice the Art & Science

August 2 & 3 – River Falls, WI or October 3 & 4* – West St. Paul, MN

  • Day 1: Preparing Victims & Offenders for Restorative Process
    • Restorative Justice/Restorative Practices –theory into practice.
  • Day 2: Restorative Conferences & Restorative Circles
    • Skills and facilitation of Restorative Process.

*co-sponsored by Dakota County Community Corrections & Hastings Restorative Justice Council – no charge, MRSC members can register at a reduced rate.

Circle Keeper Training    October 5 & 6  River Falls, WI

Participants will learn:

  • Restorative Justice Philosophy and Practices
  • Core Circle Elements
  • Circle Stages
  • Role of a Circle Keeper
  • Circle Applications for PBIS stages
  • Dealing with Un-circle-like behavior

Restorative Justice Victim Impact Panels

October 12  River Falls, WI

Participants will learn:

  • Operating a successful VIP program
  • Working with storytellers & speakers – survivors & offenders

SCVRJP has been providing VIP’s since 2003, and reaches over 500 individuals a year.  This service meets the Driver Safety Plan requirements and supports survivors of impaired driving crashes.

Click here for: Training Flyer, you can pre-register by contacting me at 715-425-1100 or scvrjp@gmail.com.

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Filed under Circle Keeping, Circle Process, Conferencing, Kris Miner, Practitioner Skills, Restorative Justice, Restorative Justice in Schools, RJ Resources, SCVRJP, Teaching RJ

Effective, even alone, co-keep a Restorative Justice Circle.

An element of an effective Restorative Justice Circle is engaging each and every person in the power of the Circle.  This can be a difficult group process management skill.  Lucky for Circlekeepers, the Circle itself brings that.  In essence you turn a Circle over to the individuals present.  A Restorative Justice Circle is most beneficial when each and every person feels a sense of change.

The keeper sets the tone.  The keeper prepares the space, guides the process to values, to the talking piece, to the form and efficiency of listening deeply.

The mutual exchange of transformational energy, is service.  Anyone can serve another by having compassion for that person.  By sharing how I have learned, grown and become a better person – you might be able to find some insight, some deeper perspective you had before.

Even if you are the only one assigned to be ‘keeping’ the Circle, know that your Circle will be more effective, if you view every person in the Circle as your co-keeper.  I say things like “everyone is both teacher and student”.  We honor the equal worth of every person, by having that respect and showing it to each person.  That plays out into Circles where each person feels and experiences personal growth.

Another element of an effective Restorative Justice Circle is the feeling after.  Did you as the keeper feel inspired?  Do you have a warm feeling of serving others?  It is not about fixing them, because that would mean you thought they were broken.  It doesn’t mean feeling you helped them, that would imply a debt.

More perspective on fix, help, serve here and here.  So much communication is non-verbal.  That is why spending time in Circle Training – really know and understand the concepts and philosophy about Restorative Justice and Circle is so important.

Circle is based on Native American traditions.  Restorative Justice Circles are an extension from that cultural world-view.  These two sentances are very broad and general.  Not all, but most Restorative Justice Circle practitioners that I know, did not grow up from a deep or intate connection to a Indigenous world-view.  It takes practice to work from this framework, it takes dedication and constant self-evaluation.

Those I most trust with the process, those I am most connected to have worked very hard on an inclusive world-view.  The best keepers I know, have examined their life, wounds, and strengths.  From that they have developed a pretty good sense of humor!  Please bring your whole self to relationships and you will serve others.

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Filed under Belonging, Circle Keeping, Circle Stages, Kris Miner, personal growth, Practitioner Skills, Relationships, Restorative Justice, Teaching RJ, Tip of the Week

Facilitating Restorative Justice loss of life, embraces the essence of the loved one.

Please note, this blog topic, facilitating Restorative Justice in a situation of a fatality, is not intended to promote practitioners stepping beyond their own skill set and training.  Mark Umbriet’s week-long course, a masters in counseling and additional trainings in grief, trauma and restorative justice contributed.  Serious crime and violence cases should be done in pairs, with support and in-depth training.

“I wish he would have been my Dad”

This statement was so powerful because it was spoken by the young man who was driving the car that caused the death of the “Dad”  he mentions.

“She would have done this for any one of us”

The speaker referring to “she” is talking about a relative killed in a traffic crash.  What she would have done, meet with the driver of the car and offer her forgiveness.

There is grief after loss.  When that loss is sudden, preventable and outside of the natural life cycle, that loss has trauma.  People respond individually to loss and trauma.  Crime victims in fatalities also have “crime trauma” – having to internalize that another human being intentionally or not, caused the death.  There are those who have to deal with various levels of intention by the offending party.

Some decide that Restorative Justice should be part of their journey. It is both humbling and an honor to serve on these cases and in these situations.  I say serve because a helper or fixer is a different relationships.  (article by Remen)

The relationship of a Restorative Justice practitioner is delicate in a loss of life case.  You become familiar with the essence of the loved one lost.  I believe our essence is what lingers in others.  If we are loved by another, that means we live forever in their hearts.  (I saw that on Facebook, so it MUST be true).  The circumstances around someone’s death should not be the final definition of who that person was and how they should be remembered.

Two very important things are necessary for healing.  Those are hope and courage.  Courage to face another day and hope it will and can get better.  Those same two values, hope and courage are so alive in a Restorative Justice conference around a fatality and loss of life.  What is amazing to bear witness to is the transformation for each party after the session.

I literally see people shed pounds of emotional weight.  The careful, careful preparation, and the space to let others do their work is a balancing act.  It is not mine to do.  My place is to guide the process, set up safety, find road blocks, share my map, discover the most pressing needs so those can be addressed respectfully.

If you are called to do the work of a serious crime and conflict case, start with good conferencing experience.  I also recommend Circle Training as a way to understand the essence of Restorative Justice.  This is not easy work, and it would require that you feel that call and connect to values for a healing experience.  See this blog post: The will to live is the will to heal for more on that.

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Filed under Community, Conferencing, Full Circle Experiences, Kris Miner, offenders, personal growth, Practitioner Skills, Restorative Justice, Tip of the Week, Victims

Restorative Justice Circles, meeting the social brain needs, developing humanity.

For an example outside of this blog and SCVRJP, check out this presentation:  on DMC, from OJJDP, https://www.nttac.org/index.cfm?event=webinarJuvenileJustice   The slides and information on Circles start on PPT slide 44 (ppt here).

What is described in this program, is very much like the programming used at SCVRJP.  I have several blogs trying to describe it, today I want to recognized something I see as very much like the Circles I associate with being Restorative Justice Circle.  Each element contains certain responsibilities and when these responsibilities are honored and the work done, is by Circle, then great outcomes can happen.

Key Elements of a Circle

  • Circle keeper

  • Ground rules

  • Values

  • Decision by consensus

  • Talking piece

  • Centerpiece

  • Opening/closing

The Restorative Justice outcomes can happen in other styles and “expressions” of Restorative Justice.  From a simple conversation, to a formal Circle.  I really feel like SCVRJP has developed an effective, effective means for not only reaching outcomes, but touching humanity in our Circle participants that really changes for the long-term.  My area is not other types of Restorative Justice process, my area is a Restorative Justice Circle, as learned from many teachers

A power point from the National Association of Social Workers was recently forwarded to me.  A great presentation I didn’t hear directly, by Johnathan Jordan, mindfully change.  Some pieces immediately resonated and I can see how Restorative Justice Circle process promotes and leverages brain based change!

Our brains need social safety – this is established around students learning in schools and offenders making change.  So what do our social brains need most?  A SCARF, scarf stands for (From Slide 14, of the NASW power point):

Status – how we compare to others, competition, avoidance of being “wrong” or responsibility for being at fault
Certainty – clarity, opposite of confusion, risk free
Autonomy – ability to make decisions, sense of control
Relatedness – fitting in safely, belonging to a group
Fairness – how we are treated compared to others

How a Restorative Justice Circle promotes each of these:

Status – Power is equalized in Circle, the set up, the format, the allowing each person equal access to the talking piece and the manner that a true Keeper of Circle brings, promotes equal status.  The non-judgement you promote in Circle, also eliminates a fear of judgement.  I convey in Circle, each person is a student and each person is a teacher.  It feels good to be needed, and it feels validating to know your “lived experience” can be used as wisdom for others.
Certainty – Circles have a clear structure and process.  After explaining how the talking piece will work, I explain the great freedom this will allow us.  This structure and certainty of the process is reinforced when we use a consensus process at the very beginning and agree to use the values in the center, the paper plates as our guidelines.  (This practice is slightly different from the model Gwen/Alice/Kay teach).  You promote certainty by role modeling the process.  Don’t blurt, because as keeper of community rep, you just role modeled that you don’t have to follow the guidelines, and that means you have stepped out of your equality status.
Autonomy – There is complete autonomy for each and every person in Circle.  You decide how you will be in Circle, you have the option to pass.  You promote inclusion and invitation as the keeper.  This allows freedom for people.  The first few stages, where you are doing the “silly before the serious” allows people to express themselves.  They realize they are free to be themselves, and then magically they open up to a place of being someone who wants to learn and even change.
Relatedness – It is amazing and the power of Circle immediately shows us we are all connected, more alike than different.  Using the process lights up the brains and hearts of all participants.  The final stage of Circle, where you reflect on the experience ties this all together.
Fairness – Circles are so fair, because of the equality.  Circle promote the fairness because of the equal opportunity for the talking piece.  You can speak your voice and mind, and maybe you don’t feel it was “fair” that you got arrested, but once that is voiced, we can move on in Circle to the choices made, and what could be made in the future.
I really encourage you to learn Circle by being in Circle, to embrace all the key elements and to leverage your influence on humanity by providing your community with real Restorative Justice Circles.

Full pdf article on SCARF

The Neuroscience of Better Negotiations PPT from NASW (©2012 National Association of Social Workers. All Rights Reserved)

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Filed under Circle Keeping, Circle Process, Circle Stages, Community, Full Circle Experiences, Kris Miner, Practitioner Skills, Restorative Justice, SCVRJP, Talking Piece, Teaching RJ