Category Archives: transformative

Transformative mediation and restorative justice?

ASourcebook recent post by Hofstra’s Institute for the Study of Conflict Transformation caught my attention.  They have recently published a tremendously useful source book entitled Transformative Mediation: A Sourcebook.  I would invite you to investigate the transformative model first put forward by Folger and Bush many years ago.   I believe that what it shares in common with restorative justice is the awareness of and respect for the integrity of the individuals who are in conflict not necessarily due to a problem needing to be solved but a context to be understood.  How often do we go right to the ‘fix it’ model without giving people a chance to tell their stories with respect, without interruption, and taken seriously.  As RJ continues to mature and transform I think it is worth our attention to think about how we move beyond victim-offender mediation and understand that, at root, we are about peacemaking and community.  What do you think?

What place does transformative mediation have in Court-connected programs?

“More than 1000 cases are referred to the Mediation Center of Dutchess County each year from courts and similar agencies. In one recent year, more than 600 cases were business disputes such as landlord/tenant and consumer/merchant issues referred from twelve local courts. More than 180 cases of child custody/ visitation/ support issues between parents or extended family were referred from Family Court; and Supreme Court has referred adult guardianship cases…. Transformative mediation is used in all of these cases. Negotiating the transition to transformative practice in courts came down to explaining what we would do that would meet the courts’ own goals.

“We explained ’empowerment’ as helping people become clear about their situation so that decisions could be made. ‘Recognition’ was explained as understanding the other person’s point of view. We talked about mediation as a ‘conversation’ between parties. ‘Changing interaction’ meant that decisions could be made and next steps could be taken because something had changed between the parties. These explanations were helpful to the courts because these goals were not inconsistent with their own. Transformative values are present — in the work that we do and in the relationships that have been fostered.”

I would urge us all to explore the possibilities of who we are, where we’ve come from and to consider the possibilities of approach crime, conflict and dispute resolution from an integrative framework.  

As always your comments are welcomed!

what are the possibilities of an integrative framework?


Introduction to Restorative Justice and Victim-Offender Mediation

The Restore organization will be offering victim-offender mediation training to the public on Friday, October 1st from 6-10 p.m. and concluding on Saturday, October 2nd from 8:30 to 4:30 p.m.  Training will be held at East Side Lutheran Church, 1300 E 10th Street in Sioux Falls.  The workshop will also include an introduction to restorative justice.  Restorative justice is an approach to harm and conflict which attempts to involve, to the greatest extent possible, those who have a stake in the offense and to collectively identify and address harms, needs, and to collectively identify and address harms, needs, and obligations, in order to heal and put things as right as possible.

Cost is only $95, payable in advance with registration.  Tuition covers the entire two-days of training, all course materials, supplies, and a light lunch on Saturday.  Those who are interested in serving as mediators in the programs offered by Restore are encouraged to also attend the Advanced Mediation Training currently scheduled for December.  Scholarships for both trainings are available.

Training will be facilitated by experienced mediators, and led by Dr. John Gehm, former Professor of Criminal Justice at the University of South Dakota and the Director of Restore. Gehm has been a researcher, mediator and trainer for over 20 years.

The training also draws on the transformative model of conflict resolution. Participants will leave the training with an understanding of “the language of conflict,” approaches to resolving conflict which recognize and empower the participants, and with skills and techniques that will enable them to apply their learning with groups, business, and relationships.  The training is open to the general public, including high school age youth and elders. No prior mediation experience is required, just an interest in learning more about peaceful solutions to conflict and opportunities to apply it.

Pre-registration is required. Registration forms can be downloaded here.  Call the Restore offices 605-338-6020 for more information.

Application for CEU credits for Social Work and Education has been made.

Calling a circle…

What does it mean when we say, “We’re calling a circle?” In the context of restorative practices I take it to mean that we are clearing a space where community can enter.  It may or it may not choose to do so.  But sitting in circle is the best we’ve got to silence the din and distraction of daily life and risk finding out that beneath whatever differences we may have on the surface we are connected deeply by what we have in common.   Authentic community is rare and it is safe.  It is the opposite of that place we mostly inhabit filled with masks, anxiety, invisibility, power and imbalance.   Circles done well open a place for empathy, respect, empowerment, and direct communication for authentic ‘human being.’  Restorative circles are used for sentencing, for reconciliation, for healing, for celebration, for talking and for educating.

A small group of folks are visiting Sioux Falls from Brookings over their Spring Break.  They have visited the prisons, the food ministries and shelters and many other ministries of social justice.  Some of us from Restore talked with them at lunch today about restorative justice and restorative practices.  “How can mere storytelling be so powerful?”

I believe we learn by doing.  Thursday evening we’re going to hold a teaching/learning circle.  What is justice?  What is vengeance? What is reconciliation?  How are we connected to them?  How are we connected through them?

We are inviting all who are interested in learning how circles work, who want to honestly and fearlessly explore a difficult yet personal subject to join us.  Although it is short notice, we decided that it is much better to learn by doing than learn by risking nothing.

Learn with us tomorrow evening from 6:30 pm to 8:30pm at East Side Lutheran Church (located at 1300 E. 10th St—near northeast corner of Cliff and 10th).

There is no charge; we just thought it was a good idea.  And as the wise ones say, whoever comes are the right ones.

John Gehm, Director

Restore, Inc

1300 E. 10th St.

Sioux Falls, SD  57103

605-338-6020

Restore-SD@sio.midco.net

www.Restore-SD.org


Mediator training

Announcement

October mediation training

R E S T O R E, Inc. (formerly “VORP”, the Victim-Offender Reconciliation Program of Southeastern South Dakota) will hold a second “Introduction to Restorative Justice and Victim-Offender Mediation Training on Friday, October 30th from 6-10 p.m. and concluding Saturday, October 31st 8:30 to 4:30 p.m.  Sessions will be held at East Side Lutheran Church, 1300 E. 10th Street in Sioux Falls.

mediation-classroom-colorThe cost is $50 which covers all course materials, supplies and a light lunch at the Saturday session. For those who are selected and who are interested in serving as volunteer mediators in the program for at least six months, $25 may be refunded. Training scholarships are available.

Training will be facilitated by experienced mediators, and led by Dr. John Gehm, former Professor of Criminal Justice at the University of South Dakota and the Director of RESTORE. Gehm has been a researcher, mediator and trainer for over 20 years.

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Grounded in restorative justice, the training draws also from transformative model of conflict resolution refined by Baruch Bush and Joe Folger in The Promise of Mediation in 1994. Participants will leave the training with an understanding of “the language of conflict,” approaches to resolving conflict which recognize and empower all participants, and the skills, techniques and confidence which will enable them to serve as volunteer mediators in the victim-offender mediation program through RESTORE, if desired. The training is open to the general public, including youth and elders. No prior mediation experience is required, just an interest in learning more about peaceful solutions to conflict and opportunities to apply it. 

circleRegistration Form August 2009. Visit our website and fill out a contact form.  Call RESTORE at 605-338-6020.  Or send an e-mail to  restore-sd@sio.midco.net. Participation in both sessions is highly recommended, although not mandatory.  If you have a conflict, please contact the director.