My friend wanted to have a birthday around her bucket list item of getting on a mechanical bull. So I helped by making a flyer, and rodeo numbers for party guests. As the day approached, I teased someone I was gonna have “Happy Birthday” on my bloomers, so when I fell off the bull that would show. We had a good laugh about that and somehow the joke that I would be the rodeo clown was born. In 24 hours I had gathered things for an outfit, including a cowboy hat with curly rainbow clown hair!
At a nice place at the Mall of America, I went to the restroom as me, and emerged and Bandi the Rodeo Clown. I got looks, and laughs, kids wanted to take pictures with me.
Someone asked me if I had been a clown before. I guess my skills looked experienced. As I reflected on this silly evening of fun, I recognized the parallels and contributions that being a Restorative Justice practitioner provided me!
Courage to be different. It’s becoming more recognized that we need to address social-emotional learning in schools, and we need to address first-offenses differently. We need to change the way we do business when it comes to changing behavior. My work takes me alongside courts, human services, corrections, and approaching it from a very different model. Asking what people need, where others ask what they deserve sets me apart sometimes. Service providers are moving much closer to Restorative Justice, with trauma-informed work, needs assessment and services that consider how to help instead of just how to punish.
Tenacity. If you watch the video, I try quite a few times. Despite the obvious fact that stockings are way to slippery, I try to make a decent ride. To keep a non-profit going, constant juggling of needs and priorities: board, finances, staff, services, marketing, grants, volunteers. I keep the majority of Circles and maintain a caseload.
Emotional Climate. I accidentally went right off the otherside on my first try to get on that bull, that is where the video starts. I got a lot of laughs, so much so, later I intentionally go right over the top to make everyone laugh. When teaching or training I usually share these two piece of wisdom:
A smile is the first stage of healing.
Laughter is the shortest distance between two people.
I didn’t invent those statements, I’ve just used them so much I don’t remember where I heard or learned them. They have become the way I believe, live and act.
When Restorative Justice becomes part of the fiber of your being, you live the message. Not perfectly, we are human. It seems to me I lived out some of Restorative Justice when I did something for the relationship, and the manner in which I was Bandi. You can see what you think!