Mini-trainings in River Falls Wisconsin

RFSD Restorative Practices and Circle Training

Wednesday, Nov 7 and Friday, Nov. 9 2018

Location: River Falls Public Montessori

Facilitated by Kris Miner Schweigert of Circle Space Services

Restorative discipline and practices provide a foundation for schools looking to move from a punitive discipline model to a restorative model that helps build and strengthen relationships which allows for intrinsic behavioral change. It also approaches discipline from a community based model rather than a hierarchical model. It also addresses the needs of all member affected by behaviors, not just the offender and victim. Talking Circles are the vehicle that this restorative approach uses to involve all members in the community to build and sustain a community of learners.


Peacemaking Circle 101 – Wednesday 4:00 – 8:000 (or 4-8 pm)  (40 participants)

Restorative Practices in schools begins with building community using Peacemaking Circles.  From the Classroom Circles the process can be expanded to be used for conflict resolution, academics and staff development.  This session will provide an overview of Circle process, examples of how to implement circles in the classroom. This session is an overview and a refresher on Restorative Practices and Classroom Circles.

*Light Dinner will be provided


Circle Keeping Fundamentals Friday 8-12 (20 participants)

The role of a Circle keeper appears to be simple since the process is inclusive and gently guided.  However, there are specific concepts, tools and techniques to ensure the process is effective and restorative.  This session will provide participants specific skills, format, technique and instructions on setting up and facilitating Peacemaking Circle process.


Restorative Practices Conflict Resolution Friday 1-4 (20 participants)

Conflict is school settings occurs daily and can have deep impact on the learning community and social climate.  Viewing conflict restoratively and responding in ways that promote accountability & healing (restorative practices) help reduce the negative impact of conflict and reduce future incidents.  In addition to Circles, there are other methods to approach and respond to school conflict. This session will provide options that begin with 1:1 conversations and those that involve using Circle process.

To register:




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.

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 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

Using Restorative Justice Circles to heal from suicide.

In April 2010 the River Falls community held a community forum/panel on suicide.  The panel of presenters included mental health, social services, school and community representatives.  The topic was relevant as our region experienced a high number of suicides.  The program aired on RFC TV, Chn 16.  Near that time SCVRJP was holding a Circle Training.  Circle trainings are two full days, and usually people leave the first day in a positive daze.  We have usually connected in a meaningful way to people who just hours ago were strangers.  It is an experience that leaves you thinking about it, long after it ends.  Day 2 starts with people reporting back on what they thought about the night before.  An idea mentioned was a talking circle around suicide.  I loved it. 

SCVRJP deals with helping heal trauma, usually it is crime, not always.  We help grieving family members by giving them a safe place to tell their story.  Telling your story can have healing effects.  Storytelling can also be very powerful in transforming behavior. 

Stories impact people immediately and both, short and long-term.  This is how we measure if we have impacted change.  The hope is an immediate emotional reaction, followed by short term changes in behavior followed in long-term change in values and principles.  One behavior SCVRJP targets is driving impaired.  If you can have someone change the value system from “It’s okay to do, once in awhile” to “I never, ever drink & drive”, you are transforming individuals and community, increasing public safety and preventing tragic events.

When people share stories and talk about suicide in Restorative Response Circles, there is a deepness.  For those immediately and directly impacted, they share a common loss.  There is a phrase that “healing happens closest to the wound”.  When people who have been wounded by suicide share with each other, they are able to be closer, because they know that wound.  The listeners of story have an automatic empathy because of their own experience.  It is purposeful listening, to understand both yourself, your experiences and the experience of the storyteller.  You really do get to know yourself by getting to know others.

Restorative Justice brings in perspectives and tries to engage victim, offender and community members.  In Restorative Response Circles, we have perspectives from different angles regarding suicide.  We have people share that previous attempts or were hospitalized for their own safety.  This angle brings survivors a little closer to the experience their loved one may have had.  It also gives people a meaningful place to relate these experiences.

I beleive feelings of isolation lead to feelings of suicide.  Restorative Response Circles lift that isolation and go one step further and give people a place for meaningful interactions.  After hearing how a Mother was impacted, the teen pulled up her sleeve, revealed her scars and shared “I am so glad I didn’t suceed, now I know what I would have done to my Mom.”

A school in Ohio is being sued after 4 teens committed suicide (story link).  Our military is seeing high rates of suicide and efforts at preventing this are not successful.  We need to step forward as community members and talk about this, help others and support people in healing.

If you would like more information about Restorative Response Circles or volunteering at SCVRJP please contact the SCVRJP.  (715)425-1100 or