April 29, 2012
It's ability to handle anything thrown at it! They take us back to a time when no conflict, no heartache, no awkwardness, no crime, no crisis was too big for the community to handle by itself. Restorative Circles asks communities this question, "What if conflict, which conventionally serves to divide and alienate communities, returns to its rightful place as a catalyst for connection, kinshipping and neighborhood-making?" Practically speaking, the process aims to temporarily suspend our roles and power hierarchies just long enough for humans to speak with humans, while only stopping once those involved say, "Okay, I actually feel like you heard me that time." It is not about giving everyone a chance to speak, it is about providing the means for anyone to get viscerally heard. The whole thing is so darned simple, you'd wonder how the heck it magically gets machine gun toting Brazilian youth, angry business owners and elders into the same room and out again smiling (and alive).
Practice, practice practice. I miss my teacher, I miss watching those moments when a community gets some glimmer in its eye like, "The fist fight that brought us all to circle is kind of forcing us for the first time to define our community. And we don't need any police, government, non-profit, authority to do it for us. Let's do it again. Won't someone please get in a fight already!" I want it to catch fire in Colorado.
Howdy, I'm Ben. I love the mischievous redemptive power of Restorative Justice. Seeing Dominic Barter's specific Restorative Circle process though, I was so blown away & shipped off to Brazil to learn the process that inspired this here meet up.
For all who happen to be human, know humans or experience occasional interpersonal conflict with humans.