Sunday, October 12, 2014

OP-ED: Even Practice Doesn’t Make Perfect — And That’s OK

On the long drive over I talked with another friend and mentor, Tod Kington, of the Shawnee Conflict Center
in southern Illinois. Restorative Circles include a pre-circle for
facilitators, one that asks what is blocking us from seeing the humanity
of all involved, including the facilitator, and that invites the
facilitator to seek support for carrying out her role.

I expressed my worry and uncertainty. I didn’t know what I was
getting into. I didn’t know many of the people. The authorities might
question my credibility. We had no “real” system in place. He listened
to it all and offered suggestions on how to approach the situation. The
takeaway that I carried through the day was his reminder to stay
connected to my intention and simply do my best.

“John, you are going in there carrying an understanding of what a
restorative response can look like. They are in another system and might
not recognize it. You are listening to the voices of those without
power, and you can speak up and ask questions in a way that can help
bring their needs to everyone’s attention.”

I kept that in the front of my mind throughout the long day. While
talking to the victim, family members, friends, prosecutors, attorneys,
police officers, the man who committed the crime and others I would be
overcome with fear and the realization that I didn’t have all the
answers. The current system is very powerful and presumes a lot of
inherent certainty about what should happen. I was bringing the total
opposite of that.

And it worked, or rather we all worked it out together. Every party
in the somewhat chaotic day was willing to listen to others, to consider
alternatives and to pay attention to the needs of the human beings
involved. No one trumpeted the requirements of the system, or said, “We
just can’t do that.” At the end of the day there was more mutual
understanding and a response to the harm that met at least some of the
needs of all involved. Together we slid the response in a restorative
direction and had a significant impact on what happens next.

 OP-ED: Even Practice Doesn’t Make Perfect — And That’s OK

Thursday, August 7, 2014

Moving the Race Conversation Forward is a report by Race Forward: The Center for Racial Justice Innovation that aims to reshape and reform the way we talk about race and racism in our country. The paper includes content analysis of mainstream media (finding two-thirds of race-focused media coverage fails to consider systemic racism), analysis of seven harmful racial discourse practices, and case studies of successful interventions to counteract these trends.

The accompanying video, produced by Jay Smooth, expands in an accessible way on the report's analysis of media's failure to consider systemic racism. Smooth is the founder of New York's longest running hip-hop radio show, WBAI's Underground Railroad, and Race Forward Video & Multimedia Producer.

The Shawnee Conflict Center's first Restorative Practices Leadership Camp.

CMS Leadership Academy from Angela Aguayo on Vimeo.

 Check out the amazing work of these young people from the Carbondale Middle School Leadership Camp! The Camps restorative intention was personal empowerment through identity and storytelling using media, introducing and engaging students in local resources and talents and the Circle as our main vehicle for Dialogue and community building. It’s our local response to the disparities of poverty and the school to prison pipe line. We had an amazing team! Great vision and change are beginning to happen in Carbondale Illinois.