Tag Archives: Belonging

I feel more accountable when I am trusted, how Restorative Justice builds trust.

At a recent staff meeting, I asked everyone for blogging permission.  Which was actually kind of a funny question, I’ve never been asked that.  The girls had a few questions, asked for examples.  I usually ask for permission on specific statements, or experiences.  I was asking them for ‘carte blanche’ permission.  We discussed the important part of the blog, is the lesson it contains, and by not being descriptive of the players, keeping that in the background and the lesson in the foreground, was my approach.  I did point out that a blog that said ‘coworker’ could mean the three of them.

We continued our discussion with a few examples.  I offered them read it first rights, like I used to do with an old boyfriend.  Who once had me change ‘alcohol’ to ‘beer’.  The staff declined the need to read things first, and put their trust in me.  I said if I felt like I might step on toes, I would run it by them.  I was trusted.  I was really, really trusted to use our office interactions where they could promote lessons and learnings about restorative justice.  I felt proud, honored, connected, respected and that made me feel even more accountable to do what I said.  I thought of this later, and I realized how that kind of trust comes so easily in Restorative Justice sessions.

Juvenile cases, with parents attending, or adult cases, volunteers/community members in the room, really seem to put faith in those that are required to attend, the x-offenders.  The trust of strangers seems to mean a lot to the participants.  Parents seem to be cross-contaminated, with hope for their child.

Our restorative justice sessions also seem to use gratitude.  I love theWoodbury  Bikram Yoga studio model:

You are always safe in gratitude.

I’ve been using that in conversations lately, and using it on myself.  Safety feels good, it feels like belonging.  I am in gratitude for my coworkers trust.  I am also really impressed with this feeling of being trusted, and as it will help me be better, wiser, more aware and appreciative of the gift of trust, I hope others that are trusted, specifically those that come through our restorative justice program, that they feel this trust.

Restorative justice work has put me in front of a few “empathy-impaired” individuals (none my coworkers!).  Childhood issues, like neglect and being exposed to trauma cause some empathy impairement.  These people are the bite before bit types.  The mantra of the empathy impaired: If I am stolen from it means I get to steal.  I myself was faced with this recently, someone took the parking spot I had been waiting for.  As I was angry, off my center, I thought how I would just go burn the next person.  Now I caught myself, and I remembered who I want to be.  Empathy-impaired people can’t easily get back to that center.  I believe restorative justice can help, as people show those centers of empathy to others.  Being empathetic takes a little trust. 

As we trust and support people that have done harm, we help them.  We trust them because they need to feel a belonging and a connection to not hurt other people.  Coworkers trusting a boss that blogs, made me feel connected. 

Is there somewhere you could extend trust?  Is there someone trusting you, that you could be safe in that gratitude?

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Filed under Belonging, Blogging, Conferencing, non-profit management, Practitioner Skills, Relationships, Restorative Justice

You plant a seed, you tend to the seedling, you nuture the plant, you get the fruit.

Wow, am I ever engergized by the simplist of things!  The places that make me feel like I belong, and I am part of a community.

I logged on to Circlespace blog, and found YEAH after months I FINALLY have a new “busiest day”.  A busiest day is a record that the good folks here at WordPress have built in.  It means the number of page views in 24 hours.  I have been waiting to break 243 since sometime in November.  On Thursday I hit 268 and now a new date appears on my stat “Busiest Day”.

This makes me particularly happy because ‘Competition’ is one of my strenghts.  A StrengthsFinder 2.0 result for me.  I love StrenghtsFinder!  UWRF has been using StrenghtsFinder, and its become part of everyday conversation to speak about strenghts.  I recently purchased books for my newest employee and intern.  My plan, for the new team, is for us to understand each others strenghts.  The book also gives you tips for working with others who have a particular strength.  That’s the plug for strenghts finder, but the point is that I got a bite of fruit, by getting a new busiest day.

You plant a seed, you tend to the seedling, you nuture the plant, you get the fruit. – Kris Miner

Its all about relationships!  The relationship between me, and my blog was feeling strained.  I’ve been really busy and haven’t been writing as consistently.

Just yesterday a blog benefit.  A  researcher from Japan found me via this blog.  A visit to the US to help Japanese researchers implement Restorative Jusitce in Japanese society.  Very cool, I hope it works to meet.  I found that a fruit of the blog.

Excited about the ‘busiest’ day, and I check the comments section.  I find that another blog: The World of Blogs, has made a summary of what other bloggers are saying about blogging.  They linked to a blog post of mine from June 2009, I’m Narcissistic, I’m a Blogger.  I went back and read that blog.

It was interesting to look back to June 2009 and have a book mark about who I was at that moment in time.  I had forgotten that time just wandering around the internet makes me very happy.  I had also forgotten some of the passion I held for blogging, and I express it in that particular post.  It occurs to me, as this other blog has featured me, I’m more ‘real’ as a blogger.

It also struck me that, something I wrote in June, is now in a February 26, 2010 blog.  It makes blogging this ‘bigger’ piece of who I am.  It gives even deeper meaning to the who and why I blog.  This nutures my sense of belonging, and I think its very important to tend to our own belonging.

I am preparing for a retreat, and in reading over the materials, the renewal of our selves and the recall of our committments is mentioned.  I immediatly grabbed a blank journal to start around this.  My committments are to life, generosity and spirituality.  I saw this alive in the post from last June.  I let everyone know I was narcissistic, way to live life, outloud!  I’m generous in my lesssons of life, by sharing and writing about them.

Today, I really got to see the fruit of my work, and I needed it.  Needed a little refreshing.  Our relationships, our connects are the meaning of life. 

Where’s your fruit?  Regardless of who we are we plant seeds.  Look a loved one in the eyes, smile at the bank teller.  Take a moment to appreciate your fruit, plant a seed or tend a seedling.

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Filed under Belonging, Blogging, Full Circle Experiences, Kris Miner, personal growth

Why Restorative Justice helps us with ‘belonging’.

maslowMaslow’s Hierchy of needs, from changing minds.org.  There’s belonging right in the middle.  First we have the basic needs, food, shelter and clothing.  Then freedom from danger, and in the middle, BELONGING.

How many incidences of crime or harm do you think DON’T impact the bottom two,  safety and basic needs?  Sleep disturbance is a common impact of being victimized.  Or even being close to a situation.  A business in River Falls was held up at gunpoint, the store clerk was threatened and traumatized by the incident, obviously.  The store owner, not even present at the time, was unable to sleep until the perp was found.  (Print edition River Falls Journal Nov 12).

Consider the two needs above belonging, esteem and self-actualization.  Those are also impacted by crime and conflict.  So I find it an interesting, that the middle link between the upper and lower needs, belonging.

Mother Theresa quote . . .”we have forgotten that we belong to each other“.

Consider this, the restorative justice process follows Maslow’s Hierchy, we bring people together for interactions.  We pre-conference, or prepare those coming to the process.  I know I accomodate my meeting times around food, sleep needs, work schedules and those basic concerns for people.

We certainly focus on safety, preparing people to come and assuring that safety both physical and emotional is planned for, addressed and all preparations for a smooth process are in place.

When Restorative Justice is used as community building, vs addressing harm or conflict, the needs are still met by Restorative Justice.

I think belonging for everyone evolves when the individuals in Circle, travel from Point A to Point B.  Point A being when we are strangers in a sense and then Point B is when we have cleared the space between us.

We started a new Circle program called CSI-Circles.  Controlled Substance Intervention – responding to those who have gotten citations/tickets for marijuana possession or parapernalia charges.  We use Restorative Justice Circle process with booklets from the Change Company.  Our community members in the Circle include people in recovery, with significant life experiences impacted by addiction and previous drug use.  We focus on restorative values and the talking circle is the vehicle for impacting people.

The response by participants has really touched me.  One young person shared a traumatic story about an incident of threats and abuse by a parent.  We all silently absorbed that story, because it was Circle.  Later the “taking action” stage, was full of comments about what people would be taking from the Circle.  Hope, understanding, awareness, faith – things you would want young people who got caught with a pipe or pot to feel.  At least what I think is good to take away, I have thought long about what they were getting from courts before SCVRJP offered this session.

The final question round, is usually a reflection on the Circle itself, and I used that at the CSI.  That was really great feedback.  The attendees were really suprised by what they thought it was going to be and what it was.  Several comments on how effective it was, and how much more it should be applied.

I think all the positive-ness came from distributing the sense of belonging.  We gave it to each other, we reintegrated everyone back in the community.  The Circle safety created a candid space for everyone to talk about their crime, their lives and their future.  It was a real gift to have our CSI program be so well recieved.


Filed under Belonging, Circle Keeping, Circle Process, Circle Stages, Full Circle Experiences, offenders, Practitioner Skills, Relationships, Responses from participants, Restorative Justice, SCVRJP, Volunteers

Developing belonging as a life skill and a restorative justice skill.

Lets put value on ‘belonging’.

Look at all the books on LOVE.  The efforts at PEACE.  Not to minimize the importance of either of these but what if we learned to make people feel like they BELONG.

What about embracing our own selves, and our own place in our community.

How do we nuture our own belonging.  How do we cultivate the belogning of those around us?

I’ve had my mind occupied with a number of things recently.  Our upcoming fundraiser and several cases.  I’ve found a solace in “spacing out”.  I noticed that driving into work I would stay right behind a car.  Usually I speed past those driving the speed limit.  The third time I found myself doing this, I decided this was a “blogg-able” moment.  I started to self-analyze.  What was the comfort here?  Why was I willing to be car two, instead of speeding ahead to get to my destination?

I decided it was belonging.  Letting someone else be first held safety for me.  I just had to follow.  My task was to keep from tailgaiting.  This slight focus led me to use other parts of my brain for mulling over my life.  I reflected on the protected feeling, and I realized that as well, is an aspect of belonging.

By focusing on belonging – who we are connected to, how we are connected to them, we remember our responsibilities.  I love the Mother Theresa quote about ‘belonging’, and I didn’t like the person who was distant from that concept, I posted on that here.

East Side Arts Council Program

East Side Arts Council Program

A recent discussion included the question of “boundaries” in Restorative Justice.  How do we hold victims close to our hearts and then go work with offenders.  My feedback was that this is a particular skill, and requires focus and being fully present for the person you are with.

It also requires viewing crime/conflict by placing the issue in the center, and detaching the behavior from the person.  I think it also requires us to ‘BELONG” to the problem.  To take some ownership in the crime/conflict and lend our skills to helping with restoration.

As our class watched “Meeting a Killer“, I was thinking about the volunteer facilitator I had in our class as a guest.  We don’t go unchanged as facilitators, and I saw Ellen Halbert, acknowledge the personal impact in the film.  If you haven’t viewed this powerful story that shows the impact of RJ Conferencing you should watch it.

Think about ‘belonging’ and the wonderful concepts of attachment parenting.   I find those concepts consistent with restorative justice.  Taking care of each other increases our sense of committment, our sense of belonging.

I think that belonging is part of community.






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Filed under Belonging, Practitioner Skills, Relationships, Restorative Justice

How related are belonging and structure? Restoratively, maybe one in the same?

I was speaking with Linda Baker, author and Restorative Justice/College Campus advocate.  I was sharing about Restorative Justice Circle process and she mentioned that sounded appropriate for young people with Asperger’s.  I talked about the talking piece going around, the four stages, collectively established guidelines.  She mentioned that anxiety would go do and performance would increase.  This made sense to me, even for my own self – and as far as I know, I don’t have Asperger’s.

This made such great sense I began to repeat it outloud.  Then I got feedback the structure is important of students learning English.  The more structure and predicitible the safer.  Reduced anxiety, increased performance.

Circles are a bit of a paradox – although structured in how we communicate (one at a time, with the talking piece).  There is also tremendous freedom to be yourself.  This way of order allows things to flow.  There is a creative direction no one person controls.  Really neat things happen.  Circles have structure.

Belonging, what do you think of when you think of belonging?  I think we should cultivate this in ourselves more.  I think when we look for evidence of something we find it.  I think belonging – is like attachment – and I like the attachment theories.  When we create structure (restorative structure, inclusive structure) we create a space for EVERYONE to belong.

As far as I can remember, I have only had 2 youth that weren’t able to identify a value.  That makes the incident about 2 in 5,000 people in Circle.  I’ve given out prompts or suggestions, but these 2 boys refused to think they had a connection to anyone.  The most recent wrote down “nothing” because he had “nothing” to say about it.  I offered him another plate and indicated we were about to share what we put on the plates, in case he wanted to change his.  It’s funny, I could see my volunteers look scared that he was so cold, closed and resistent.  I just routed us to my right, since he was the first person to my left.

He stayed with “nothing” despite every other person in circle identifying values of: respect, faith, trust, honesty, patience, smart.  I know this because I save the paperplates.  : ) DSCN4268

When we got to the stage in Circle, to commit to the values, I rephased his value of “nothing” to mean that we could be “accepting”.  See consensus is about the room to allow everyone.  The young man didn’t have an objection to that, the rest of the Circle did not speak out against it.  We routed the talking piece for a committment to these values for this Circle and everyone, accepted.

I gave him a space to belong, within the structure of our process.  So I just wonder if restoratively belonging and structure could be the same.

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Filed under Belonging, Circle Keeping, Circle Process, Circle Stages, offenders

Restorative Justice gives you more information about yourself.

At a recent Circle session  – a Victim Empathy Seminar.  I kept the Circle and attending were four young male ‘offenders’, three Moms, three community members.

A Victim Empathy Seminar is a SCVRJP service where juveniles and a parent or guardian attend with community members.  The orginal intent was to have a surrogate vicitm present.  This hasn’t always worked, and most everyone attending has been the victim of something so we discuss and process that.

There is so much “value added” during Circle process.  Social skills are practiced, the safe enviornment to have difficult conversation simply runs parrellel to the really great direct goals of accountability and healing.

A specific moment in yesterday’s Circle captured this for me.  We were on the ‘building relationship’ round.  The tone was set and the Circle members were starting to feel more comfortable in what was happening.  The question of the round was “tell a story about a time, you or someone else was lost”.  A Mom had the talking piece, and she started to share about being in Las Vegas when her son (sitting next to her) was 3.  He’s almost 18 now.  The young man was leaning forward hands folded together, elbow resting mid-thigh with his head down.  When Mom said this, his head popped up, he quietly said “I was in Vegas?, Cool”.  He then sat back and gave his Mother, full eye contact and attention. 

Yes, he briefly spoke without the talking piece.  But he went immediately into a listening mode.  Mom didn’t respond or converse, she nodded and continued her story.  I saw a connection made for the young man.  He got information about himself he didn’t know.  My mind wandered to my daughters bedtime routine from ages 6-12, she would ask “tell me a story about when I was a baby”.  She would love to hear about silly things we did.  It could be when we played in a mud puddle or her falling off of a slide.  Maybe the time she set up her mini-play castles and Ants in the Pants game.  She gave each Castle a piece of cheese, is she snnaped the ant and if it went in, she “captured their cheese”.

These are family stories.  These stories are what tie us together.  We belong where are stories are.  I believe belonging is what keeps us from hurting people.  You don’t harm your own.  Stories give us common experiences and these experiences designate us from strangers.  The more you learn about your self, the more you get the chance to think about ‘self-realization’.  That is where the internal cogs of change are.  We as human beings change from the inside out.  That’s my belief.  That’s where restorative justice goes . . . to the inside, to the heart.

ANE_Book_Cover_OBC_LGI picked up A New Earth – Eckhart Tolle .  I wasn’t very far into it and I flagged something to blog about.  He mentions that you cannot “force” someone to be good, you have to direct them to the good already inside of them.  Then they can focus on that and ‘be good’. 

I related that to Restorative Justice.  When you do a bad behavior – you can get labeled as “bad person”.  By those around you and by yourself.

Later in Circle – a Mom related feeling much better and realizing she wasn’t the only Mom with a son having trouble.  Most of the Circle laughed in the manner she shared this “relief”.  She talked about knowing she wasn’t a “bad Mom”.  Our society does far too much judging on good/bad – right/wrong.

Relationships hurt us and relationships heal us.  Take what you know about yourself and view it from the perspective of healing.

Ask someone to tell you a story about yourself.  Really listen to that persons description.  Find information about yourself.

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Filed under Belonging, Relationships, Responses from participants, Restorative Justice, storytelling

We become a part of everyone we interact with.

Three of us were walking on campus, chatting away.  A street lamp was on my side of the sidewalk.  I was going to quickly cut around it.  I stopped, said “oh you can’t split the pole”.  I went on to explain I learned that from some girls I had in Circle. 

I said I honor my African-American Sisters, by keeping that superstition, (for lack of a better word).  I can’t remember why they said you can’t split, but it was important to them.  So I stopped splitting when I walk in groups.  I guess it’s like not going under a ladder.  Hey if you are reading this and know more, will you let me know.

So back to my two walking partners, after I darted back around the street lamp, so we all passed the same side.  One of the guys said, “that validates my theory: 

 “we become a part of everyone we meet.  A little piece of each person stays with us.”

Cool beans, for me.  I agreed.

I don’t put food on the floor anymore.  Someone told me that was a religious or cultural value.  Our food is such a gift, we should not dishonor it with being placed on the floor.  Cool, I dig that.  It helps me remember who planted the potatoes for my french fries.  I have had to quiet my judgemental mind.  I see someone put food on the floor . . . I think it, don’t say anything.

A recent conversation with someone working in my building.  She works for an architect, we chat in passing.  She asked me what I had going on for the day.  “Oh, I’m helping a victim and an offender talk, she was drunk, he was on his motorcycle, she left him there”.  I didn’t get far into explaining this and the look of shock on her face. 

I forgot I was talking outside of my usual network.  I started to minimize the task.  She complimented me, thanked me for doing this work.  I shruggeed her off, “oh I love it, its no big deal”.  She point blank and deeply asked “how do you not take those things home with you”.

The moment on campus flashed back to me.  The colleague that said : we become a part of everyone we meet.

I went on to explain that there is so much hope in doing this work. 

I found myself thinking about this later.  I decided it was even more important to help people find their own humanity, to discover their own spiritual response to crime and conflict.  To leave a part of me with them.  Then I had a shift in my friends comment.

We don’t become a part of everyone we meet, we already are.

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Filed under Belonging, Community, Practitioner Skills, Relationships