Restorative Justice, 3 C’s for increasing belonging.

Belonging.  Right there in the middle of Maslow’s hierarchy of Needs, Restorative Justice helps people recognize where it is, rebuild it where it was torn or repair it where it was damaged.  Restorative Justice, experienced from the perspective of victim, offender, community member holds potential to increase belonging.  From bystander, family member, professional Restorative Justice gives us reasons to belong, because we all belong to humanity.

The smallest and the largest harms can be addressed in Restorative Justice, you simply expand the Circle as needed.  More training, mentoring, preparation time for the more serious the offense.  I feel so blessed to work in a range of environments from prevention (after school program circle) to a loss of life (mostly traffic fatalities).  This range of work causes me to clearly identify the core values, principles and tactics of facilitating, implementing and providing Restorative Justice.  I’m going to link you the principles for some elements of those tactics.  Beyond knowing the tactics (principles, philosophies), Restorative Justice requires you to know the art.  The artful skill of working with people hearts.

The art can be summarized with 3 C’s.  Compassion, Connection, Caring.  Bring your most balanced self to a restorative process.  It could be a pre-conference meeting, and Circle preparation meeting, the Restorative Justice conference or Circle itself.  The compassion you bring needs to be from a place of a balanced heart.  In order to reach another’s heart, be familiar with your own.

Connect to others.  Consider connection as a feeling.  I recently read that a sign of a highly empathetic person, is a familiar face.  People assume they met you before because the feeling of connection.  Compassion and empathy are different.  I believe compassion comes first, compassionate people care, compassionate people are strong enough to withhold judgements and empathize with others, versus judgements about another’s behavior, that prevents you from feeling what they might be feeling.

The notion of caring, is another heart skill.  These touchy feely, esoteric concepts are sometimes best described by others.  So clearly put, I have to use what someone said about a police officer.  I was asking someone I trusted for an opinion about working with another.  The feedback I got:  “His ‘give a shit’, ain’t broke”.  I understood what this meant.  People know if you care.  If you stay mindful of others, you genuinely have compassion, connection and caring, I believe your restorative work will be of benefit and provide even more belonging.


Leadership is building what stays beyond you.

I read it somewhere and saved it in my brain.

Real leaders build things that are around after the leader is gone.

The idea is that YOU, aren’t the program.  What you build, create, lead, develop, implement needs to continue going if you are really going to be a leader that makes a difference. 

SCVRJP has been a one woman show for the majority of its existence.  I can’t thank or appreciate the past and current board members enough.  The leadership of people willing to make referrals or volunteer to be in the process or be volunteers for our program.  So no one REALLY does anything alone, and I didn’t do it all alone, I just had something to do with all the others involved in this thing called St. Croix Valley Restorative Justice.

At this very moment in time, I am getting ready to leave my baby home alone for the first time.  I am actually being a little pathetic about letting go, but after 4 hours of work on a holiday, and packing for a trip ahead of me.  I need to leave the office.  I thought doing a blog post was a fitting exit.

I need to get out of my own way.  I need to realize I’m not that big of a deal.  A dear friend passed away a few years ago.  I vividly remember her giving me some advice as I was concerned about leaving a job and my clients behind.  She told me that you can pull your fist out of a bucket of water.  There is a splash and some ripples, but eventually the water goes back to just being in the bucket.  I’m thinking of Mary today and that advice.

I am leaving work for 3 weeks to go stay with my brother.  His wife is in the hospital with Leukemia.  She’s been there 11 days and she will be in for a few more weeks, then in and out again for 5 months of chemo and treatment.  Less than 24 hours after knowing this, I booked my flight.  Posted here about dealing with this.

I have taken people that know me back a little by leaving work for 3 weeks.  Its been a shock to me I am able to do this!  I just knew what I needed to do, and I need to go help my brother.  Instead of focusing on what I am leaving behind here in River Falls, I need to focus on what I will leave behind me in Colorado.

I need to help my brother by helping him cope.  I think I will pack along some restorative skills like listening, compassion, empathy and understanding.  I want to leave him with love, knowing his big sis steps up and will be there.  I want to be a supporter and repairer of harm.  The kids, 7, 4 & 1 will get some special Aunt Kris time we otherwise wouldn’t be able to do.

So I guess what I didn’t know when I started this post, that I know now, is I am not leaving much behind, I am taking it with me.  Restorative Justice goes where I go.  From family to family and heart to heart, I can help bring what I know and do to my life as a person as well as a professional.  What I get to leave behind, is what I have built with others here, in their hearts and it will be just fine when I return.