For the first part of August, I was home in Colorado visiting my family. It was great to have a chance to soak up some Colorado summer and to visit my loved ones. While I was home, I also got the chance to visit the Rotary Clubs of Fort Collins and Loveland, to thank them in person for their support of my research. It was wonderful to get to reconnect with Rotarians who I have been in so much email contact with and to meet a few new friends! I continue to be amazed by and endlessly grateful to the Rotary community for the work they do.
While in Colorado, I also delivered an Introduction to Restorative Practices in Schools training for Mountain Sage Community School in Fort Collins. I have deep ties to the Mountain Sage community, having been a Waldorf student myself growing up, and I also have a love and admiration for the educational philosophy at the root of their school. It was a privilege to get to share my work in restorative practices and some practical skills for building healthy communities and resolving conflict with the Mountain Sage staff.
Towards the end of August, my colleague Haley and I delivered a two-day Restorative Justice Facilitator Training for Victoria University of Wellington staff. Through these trainings, we are growing the community understanding of what it means to be a Restorative University and are growing our team of facilitators who can take cases. I always love the opportunity to spend two days taking a deep dive into restorative philosophy and skills with a group of learners! We also had a chance to try out a couple new games I had designed for teaching facilitation skills, which was a lot of fun!
You can read the most recent edition of the Peacebuilder Newsletter on the topic of Paradigm Shifts: An Argument for Studying Peace here. My contribution describes how restorative practices can teach students how to handle difficult conversations.
During July, I got to pilot a project I have been trying to get off the ground in the university for over a year. The “Sustained Restorative Dialogue” method is a proactive restorative process to hold difficult conversation about important community issues. The inaugural dialogue explored the issue of sexual harm and harassment on campus. It was a “sustained” dialogue in that it was run over four sessions with the same participants. It was a “restorative” dialogue in that the conversation moved in sequential sessions through the main steps of a restorative analysis – What is happening? What are the impacts? What is needed to make things right? The aim of the dialogue was to explore the broader climate that gives rise to sexual harm in the campus setting and beyond and to explore possible solutions.
This month, I received feedback from the Sustained Restorative Dialogue participants and compiled a report on the project. I am happy to say that the pilot was a great success, and the university is excited to move forward with wider implementation. The report below includes background information, the circle outlines for each session, feedback from participants, recruitment processes, and lessons learned.