Ask me anything about Restorative Circles
I don't know. I don't try and avoid making mistakes. Without them I wouldn't learn.
Dear Aura, I'm not aware of anyone in Israel using RC.
The best way to discover such things is to join an email group and ask. That is also the best way to find out about upcoming RC learning events.
You can find details on all the groups on the RC webpage www.restorativecircles.org
I hope to learn with you soon!
Whether in a community or organisational context we have found it works well if such decisions are made collaboratively, involving those who are using the restorative system and those within the community with more experience of Circle facilitation. If community members have been using Circles for their own conflicts, and offering co-faclitation with more experienced others, as I would always suggest before offering facilitation for others, then the transition to facilitation is often quite smooth and clear to everyone.
It's true that the thought 'I'm not ready' is quite common!
The distinction that counts in this regard in a Circle is that of power. The 'hat' we take off is that of exercising power over others (punitive or dominating force). This occurs to the extent to which we find a more satisfyingly connecting, healing, transformative form of power - that we hold with others.
Some people have life experience - including professional experience - that can be of great benefit to other participants, especially when it comes to making an Agreement (in which individual and collective Action Plans describe reparative and restorative actions voluntarily given and of common accord). When people share power, this tends to be a valuable contribution, usually when offered in response to a request.
Stepping down from socially validated positions in which using our power over others is encouraged or tolerated can be disorienting for some of us (or for any of us, at times). I find the question of how tricky this is to do depends largely on how tangibly beneficial and secure is the alternative. Restorative Circles are designed to invite a very real and verifiable experience of that alternative. When that invitation gets through I find that people very willingly take of their domineering hats.
Circles happen within the field of communication, which includes but goes far beyond verbal and written language. My declining to respond verbally to a specific question is, in itself, a response - one that I am hoping will be accurately received and lovingly responded to.
It seems from your question that you are aware of that, as you are confident that you received her emotion ("distress") accurately and were impacted by it. If I were offering facilitation in that moment I would turn to the person she was addressing - or whom I guess her "distress" was a response to - and ask what they were 'hearing', what they were receiving, from her (verbal or non-verbal) expression.
I have found that seeding such comprehension between people in pain is a key to their experience of a process that is effectively restorative. While there's a lot more to a restorative practice that understanding each other, I have found it a crucial dynamic of the journey.
Until this phase - which I call 'mutual comprehension', because it also seeks her understanding of those she is responding to - is completed, I have not found that participants wholeheartedly and spontaneously move on to make Action Plans.
There are at least two different moments when such questions can be, in my experience, productively engaged with.
One is when the system is being set up - that is, when the community agreements that set the stage for initiating, having and validating the agreements of Circles are being made. Here you can make a decision about if information is shared, with whom and how. These agreements are then valid in all Circles, relieving the participants in each one of having to look at such things again each time. This allows for consistency and predictability in the process, and contributes to some of the perceived fairness (that things are the same for everyone) that participants are seeking.
The other is when the Agreement is made, (usually) at the end of the Circle. Here all those present seek concrete actions that can be done by them to meet the needs that the Circle dialogue has revealed as being important. The Agreement allows for innovation and a recognition of the many strands that connect those present to each other and to the wider community. The reasons for sharing particular things, and for keeping other things from a wider public, can be looked at within the unique circumstances of each case. This allows for specificity and flexibility in the process, and contributes to some of the perceived fairness (that things are uniquely catered to the specific needs of each case) that participants are seeking.
The best way I know of making contact with people with prior experience is to join one of the Yahoo group email lists and ask this question there.
You can find details on this at www.restorativecircles.org
Hi Linda - it's a system decision if community members can self identify as impacted by an event and thus participate, even if not called by other participants.
And, once participating, then -in their Pre-Circle - it would be a call made by the person(s) offering facilitation to possibly suggest that, due to their available resources, the number of community members present who speak be limited to that which is necessary for everything that needs to be said to be said.
No community member ever gives up their voice, however. They might voluntarily agree to add only to what has already been said that which would otherwise go unspoken.
It sometimes seems to me that there is a function in a certain neighbourhood or social system (a school, family or wider net of social services or cross departmental role, for example) that comes close to, or could be easily adapted, to include a contribution to a restorative system. In Brazil there are whole job categories - conselho tutelar, for example - which seems made to include managing, or at least interacting with, a restorative system. And yet we may not have access to the people in these roles, or they may turn down our offers of dialogue on the subject.
In these cases one might plan for systems in which their possible future participation was easier to integrate than if one was going ahead as if they would never play ball.
So, yes, I can imagine that in this case you could take an informed risk and plan for the possible presence and participation of those who as yet are unmoved to respond to your invitations.
I'm aware of some initial investigations in this sense. Some people are asking how to integrate a restorative system into a Facebook community, for example.
I see several challenges to this, from the more obvious to the more subtle - physical distance reducing the sensory feedback and thus the sense of 'knowing' each other, some of these formats (such as Facebook, for example) having structural power dynamics built in (though everyone can have 'admin' status)....
If we can bully each other, troll each other, fight and hurt...online, then we can also deepen connection, partnership, understanding and nurturing togetherness. If interdependence means one it means the other.
I don't think of restorative justice as a form (or a series of forms). I see it as an outcome.
The forms we call restorative practices are simply rediscovered / recently discovered ways to increase the likelihood of a restorative result.
Like with everything new, we need to try it out in practice.
With new things that are also paradigm shifts, this can be tricky - as it can take quite some persistence (like Edison) before we can actually try the new thing out.
To be precise, he is not 'asking' for a Circle - he is initiating one. There is no permission stage. He is in pain, and he seeks a space in which the conflict can emerge and those involved can be heard, because he sees the damage being done (indirectly, in this case) to him (and perhaps to them too).
He is a 'conflict community' member. He sees not just that he is indirectly impacted by what is being done. He also sees that he is co-resposible - not for what others did, but for the social context in which they acted. So he acts - initiates the restorative process - out of care for all, and shared responsibility for what happens next.
The forms in which people express their responses to the questions are influenced by many factors, including the power dynamics they experience impacting their lives. However they choose to use language the person offering facilitation focuses on the underlying essence of their message. This often includes an emotional content, and a guiding value or principle that their expression seeks to communicate.
When this content is not recieved by the person or people they are addressing to their satisfaction, the ability of the person offering facilitation to 'translate' is based on them having tracked this inner meaning, regardless of the form in which participants are expressing themselves.
The person offering facilitation always and only hears the feelings and meaning within any adressed message, verbal or not.
Yes - this is one of the benefits of Restorative Circles. The 'invisibleness' of the community as a impacted by the act is transformed by the possibility of protagonism in engaging with the conflict constructively.
It took a while to sort out the details, but I'm delighted that registration is now open.
Please follow the links here to sign up for the event that best works for you: bit.ly/CCmailout
Please see the schedule here: bit.ly/CCmailout
Clicking on the links in this mailing will take you to more specific information about each event I'll be attending.
I'm excited about the potential for learning these events promise! Hope to see you there.
Dear Betty - registration for the Rochester, NY events in August is now open.
You can see the full US schedule for that month here: bit.ly/CCmailout
I hope to meet and learn with you then!
Thanks for asking. It's taken a little longer than we expected to get everything in place for the events. We hope to have registration up in a few days. I'll post here - plus Facebook, Yahoo, Twitter, Google+ -when it is.
Empathy could be seen as simply a description of how socialization is ingrained in our being. It's how we experience affectively our continuity with the natural world. So it could be considered a basis of everything we do together.
All social systems, as I understand them, are formed with a contract, a pact. A restorative social system, or community agreement, is no different. It could be said that such an agreement wouldn't occur without empathy. The pact then formalises such a concern with collective well being.
When those sustaining, and subject to, a social system no longer recognise it's validity, it begins to break down. It's creeping weakness is shown in, among other ways, it's increased use of violence to maintain itself. It is only strengthened, or replaced, though by a new pact.
Building a social system, like designing and building a house, takes time. The better it is built, the less obstacles there are to its use.