Restorative justice: A travelogue
Feb 23, 2010
from Ryan Hollon's entry on Dr. Pop Blog:
I was heading to South Africa as part of a restorative justice delegation from the Windy City. Our group brought with it a diverse history of activism, action, and hustling for change.
Some of the delegates were working to transform the disciplinary culture of the public school system, others were community leaders deeply rooted in neighborhood life, several had been working for decades to reform the ways our society responds to domestic violence, and many in the group had dedicated their lives to working with young people to shift power in their communities.
All of us were practitioners of conflict resolution methods like peace circles, and all of us shared a basic belief in the power of groups to come together to address difficult issues, to deal with the conflicting forces in our lives.
And then there were the lessons learned by our group, interpersonal insights that came from the ways we navigated our own tensions and conflicts. As a collection of folks committed to shared goals back in Chicago, our purpose was not just to see new sights but also to deepen our bonds with one another.
We learned about how each other came to the work we do, as well as some of the obstacles and opportunities we have faced along the way. And we learned to face new challenges together.
At key moments throughout the trip we committed ourselves to sitting in circle, and to processing the group dynamics that were unfolding. We offered support, confrontation, and feedback, all in a spirit of genuine concern. Having the courage to speak our truths to one another was, for many of us, one of the most valuable dimensions of the journey. When things grew especially trying, this honesty was the force that kept our universe expanding (and thus kept our balloon from popping).
Honest loving feedback was the energy that propelled our wild ride and, now that we’re all back stateside, it’s this same energy that will keep us moving forward, outward, and beyond.