A full Circle experience. Ten years, the 10th Circle and a tender heart.

  • Posted on April 8, 2011 at 5:36 pm

St. Croix Valley Restorative Justice Program is celebrating 10 years of Restorative Justice services.  Founded in 2001, the agency mission to promote a culture of peace and belonging utilizing restorative justice programs and principles is strong.

A community need around suicide was identified with a Prevention Forum in April of 2010.  SCVRJPresponded by hosting 3 Restorative Response Circles, providing survivors of suicide a place to take a healing step.  A storytelling step.  Restorative Justice talking circles provided each individual with uninterrupted sharing time.  The Circle is structured to utilize relationship values like honesty, trust, respect.  These values are developed by the individuals in the Circle.  Links to Restorative Response and Talking Circles. 

SCVRJP has developed a deep skill for Restorative Justice Circle process.  Utilized in programs addressing crime, conflict, underage drinking, controlled substance use and teen driving, volunteer community members are skilled in the process of Circle.  Using the process to provide people an avenue for healing around suicide was a natural evolution.  Broadening the mission to bring peace and belonging to suicide survivors was a simple step.

Having the executive director (me) step away from the keeping of these Circles was, well, a lesson in letting go.  I have been assured the process of Circle is “robust”.  Words from Circle expert, author and the woman who literally wrote the book, Kay Pranis.  Kay and I met for a coaching day last month.  She helped me realize to expand the capacity of our agency, I would need to pass on some of the facilitation role.

The 10th Restorative Response Circle, was not facilitated by me.  The Circle was kept (facilitated) by one of our founding board members.  I was teased for treating this as a child I sending off to school for the first time.  I offered my information, knowledge and tips for keeping.   This person was trained in Circle back in 2006, and held plenty of experiences both in life and in restorative justice circle.  I coached anyway. 

As the Circle was assembling, I was teased, for acting like a new Mom, leaving all sorts of details for the babysitter.  I saw everyone into the room.  The individuals seated in Circle as I closed the door were ready and prepared.  I left and felt my heart was on the outside of my body, just for a second. 

As people, we are capable of sharing in a manner that heals.  Circles provide that avenue.  Given the right elements, people hold compassionate space for each other.  There is great reward and value being the person that helps others with the process.  My role simply changed and my heart was tender for a moment.  Then I realized how much I needed the time now available to me.

SCVRJP is celebrating 10 years, and needs your support in continuing our mission.  More on a 10x10x10 campaign.

Please note that Restorative Justice Circles provide an informal or social support process.  Formal supports like individual therapy, grief and group counseling are recommended to address the trauma of suicide.  Both formal and informal supports are helpful to people grieving.  Neither replaces the other. 

If you are feeling desperate, alone or hopeless, please  call the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline at 1-800-273-TALK (8255), a free, 24-hour hotline available to anyone in suicidal crisis or emotional distress. Your call will be routed to the nearest crisis center to you. 

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