Restorative Circles and the Heart of Justice

My first “live” Restorative Circle happened a few days ago, in Rochester, New York. The circle started with seven people, and it ended with more than 50. It had really started a few weeks before. My partner and I had been hurt by an email that I had received, an email that we perceived as judgmental and prejudiced. The author sat across from us, along with one of her friends.

The Quiet Power and Effectiveness of Restorative Justice

What does restorative justice look like? We hear and read a lot about it, and its popularity is on the rise, but when I ask people to tell me what it means to them I often get vague answers. The truth is that restorative justice is taking forms undreamed of by those that started the movement decades ago. Their basic principles are intact: responsibility, care for all stakeholders, putting those harmed in the center of the process, repair instead of retribution, etc. The manifestations continue to multiply though.

The World as You See it, in 500 Years

Imagine the world you would like to see in a year. Now imagine the world in five years, then 10, 20, 50, 100, and finally 500. Take some time with each increment. This past year I have spent a lot of time trying to create the world I want to live in, and I have met many people with the same desire, though they do not always put it in the same words. I have interacted with advocates of restorative circles, nonviolent communication (NVC), alternatives to violence, and many others interested in peace making.

The Peaceful Power of Restorative Circles

In the early 1990s a young Englishman walked up the steep mountainside that surrounds Rio de Janeiro and into a favela, a slum unlike anything seen in the United States. It was a place ruled by drug gangs and the daily scene of murders and gun fights between the inhabitants and the police. He walked in and began talking to some kids about what was happening in their lives. Nearly 20 years later, the justice and educational systems of Brazil have been altered, and the work he started there has spread around the world. As I write this I am in Champaign-Urbana, Ill., a 12-hour-drive from my home in Kennesaw, Ga.