For video news reports on Restorative Circles, please visit the Press page, and scroll to the end.
A short video on Restorative Circles by the University of Rochester
An Introductory talk on Restorative Circles
Sous-titrée en français
Mit deutschen Untertiteln
Videos exploring the Restorative Circle process
Dedicated spaces for having conflict
It is common for our responses to conflict to be organised around the desire to bring security and healing to those involved, and thus to focus on resolving conflict. This seems obvious only because it is a given for most people that conflict is problematic.
The damage - to lives, to relationships, to the well being of the community - that the violent expression of conflict can inflict may support this view of conflict as something dangerous, that must be controlled.
But the violent expression is not the conflict itself. And it is an ineffective means of expression in part exactly because it seeks to control, to impose, to force.
Restorative Circles take therefore a significantly different, though no less dynamic and engaged, approach. In response to a violent or criminal act, a broken agreement or crisis in trust, a moment of significant change, they ask: what can be learnt here, both in terms of understanding what happened and its context, and in terms of new, life-serving behaviour?
Restorative Circles engage non-adversarily with the complex and often intense reactions to what was done. They seek to create the conditions in which the conflict itself - attempting to express itself through painful choices, and often masked by them - reveals its message. They then seed new action.
One consequence of this is to see conflict not as something that needs to be changed or managed, but as the expression of crucial feedback about personal and communal well being.
The complexity of conflict
In this short clip from an introduction to Restorative Systems, some angles of this sometimes surprising distinction are investigated.
One of the possibilities that Restorative practice opens up is that of responding to some of the complexities accompanying crime and broken agreements which the dominant justice systems are not able to contain.
An aspect of this complexity is the multiplicity of experiences those impacted by painful conflict go through. Many - if not all - of those present in the Circle may experience themselves as victims. Several may consider themselves victims of acts committed by others present.
In the search for more precise descriptions of what distinguishes those gathered in a Circle I coined the terms Author - for those that committed the act in question, Receiver - for those that bore the direct brunt of that act, and Conflict community - for those who deal with the act's indirect impact.
These terms are not mere synonyms for the more common denominations of 'offender', 'victim' and 'supporter', but recognise the potentially multilayered experience of those gathered together, and the way they experience the distribution of harm and responsibility.
They also support us in looking through the over-simplification of fixed labels, with their tendency to reinforce stigmatization and separate people.
In this video I speak to some of these questions, seeking to clarify the way Restorative Circles offer new possibilities to allow the complexities of conflict their place and voice.
Understanding justice as a system
During our time in the Bay Area two days were devoted to introducing Restorative Circles. This was done within the context of conscious choices our communities can make in response to crime, broken agreements and painful conflict. This clip from that conversation focuses on some of the questions and dynamics that we've found it valuable to be aware of.
Please share your thoughts and join the conversation.
What is restored in Restorative Justice?
This clip, recorded at the first North American Facilitator Practice module in Toronto, gets to some of the core relationship issues implicit in the restorative approach to conflict.