Over the last two days, (June 17th and 18th) I participated in a unique adventure that involved students , instructors and the facilitators; looking at the concept of restorative justice. Restorative justice in the community is a philosophy that deals not only with the offender, but with the victim, families and community, to heal, to make reparations and build trust in hopes that the harm that has been done, will heal and bring everyone back into the community as a whole.
The experiences working within the workshop were beyond what I could of imagined. The exercises and games that we played, not only stimulated my thinking and understanding, but I walked away as a healed person too, even though I went in not knowing that I needed healing.
Each participant was not given the details of the exercises because the length of time and nature of the exercises depended on the shock value it carried. Each person had the right to pass or participate without any loss or group pressure whatsoever. The structure of the group made the participation of passing, special because from the onset, each member learned the power of respect and trust with in the circle.
The circle. The primary function of the workshop or method used in the restorative justice healing process, taken from native North American practice, and first developed in a prison in New York, USA is used as a tool of creating this equal state of mind. From within the circle, each is given a chance to speak by the use of a talking stick or token that gives each the right to voice and be heard without being drummed out. This right to pass, primarily is based on passing the talking stick around, then asking for it back when your are ready speak. This adds order and allows those who are not strong speaker’s to be heard and give their equal thoughts and contributions to the circle.
Summed up in the Vision Statement, you come out of the experience with a whole new perspective on restorative justice and community building.
Vision: __To utilize restorative processes and experiential learning to provide the opportunity for participants to explore the topic of justice in a way that promotes community building and connection__.
I’m looking forward to the level 2 workshop.