Tag Archives: restorative justice

NEWS: RESTORE Director Elected to National Board

Mesa, Arizona, 04/11/2011 — Frustrated neighbors, feuding families, and others caught in stressful situations have a new advocate in their quest to finally put their conflicts to rest.  John Gehm, Director of Restore, Inc. has recently been elected to the Board of Directors of the National Association for Community Mediation.  In this new capacity, John Gehm will serve as a national advocate for increased awareness, accessibility, and utilization of constructive community mediation and other conflict-assistance services.

Community mediation helps those in difficult conflicts directly engage the other side and work through the situation using a trained, impartial mediator.  From noisy neighbors to family fall-outs, interpersonal spats to embattled public policy divisions, community mediation works to move individuals and entire communities from conflict to concord.  In fact, over 400 community mediation programs throughout the country assist countless individuals each year in overcoming seemingly impossible problems to discover their own customized resolutions to earlier discord.

Through Gehm’s new role, programs everywhere will benefit from his extensive background and local experience helping our own community better engage its conflicts.  He will work to equip and enhance these services in other communities, as he shares this national platform and wisdom through his continued service to our own area residents.

For additional information, please contact: Justin R. Corbett, Executive Director of the National Association for Community Mediation (NAFCM), at (602) 633-4213 or admin@nafcm.org.

Additional information about NAFCM: In communities around the globe, programs and volunteers share their expertise to help others constructively engage, transform, and resolve conflict.  NAFCM supports these peacemakers by aggregating their wisdom, amplifying their voice, and advancing their critical work.  An active advocate for constructive conflict-assistive services, NAFCM support the over 400 community mediation programs across the U.S. and many others internationally.  For more information, including an interactive map of local programs and resources to help you move beyond conflict, please visit www.nafcm.org.

 Justin R. Corbett
National Association for Community Mediation
(602) 633-4213

finding the right words again…

This piece comes courtesy of Cherise Hairston director of the Dayton, Ohio Mediation Center and was sent to members of the National Association for Community Mediation.  It’s worth a read.  Where are there places in our corner of the world to address issues of in-civility, dis-respect, and failure of desire–to communicate as human beings.  We need to remind ourselves that civil discourse sometimes needs a booster shot but the vaccine is available at no charge.

Dearest NAFCM Members,

If you did not have the opportunity to watch/hear President Obama deliver a memorial speech in Tucson last night for the victims of the Tucson, AZ victims, consider “googling” the speech on the internet or catching it on YouTube.

Regardless of one’s political affiliation or feelings about President Obama, this is a beautiful speech that speaks directly to our work as conflict resolution professionals:

The loss of these wonderful people should make every one of us strive to be better in our private lives-to be better friends and neighbors, co-workers and parents. And if, as has been discussed in recent days, their deaths help usher in more civility in our public discourse, let’s remember that it is not because a simple lack of civility caused this tragedy, but rather because only a more civil and honest public discourse can help us face up to our challenges as a nation, in a way that would make them proud. It should be because we want to live up to the example of public servants like John Roll and Gabby Giffords, who knew first and foremost that we are all Americans, and that we can question each other’s ideas without questioning each other’s love of country, and that our task, working together, is to constantly widen the circle of our concern so that we bequeath the American dream to future generations.” (emphasis mine)

I do not want to come off as “opportunistic” in the midst of this tragedy. However, I do see this as an opportunity as a field to work harder at spreading this message of civility in how we treat one another despite our differences. As a field, we hold deeply the belief that if parties to a conflict are supported in constructive ways (i.e., the use of conflict resolution processes, the use of third-party intervenors) that we can manage our most bitter conflicts, in ways that are peaceful and non-violent. We can agree to disagree while not seeking to decimate the character of the people we are in conflict with, or to even strike out and kill one another because we disagree with each other.

This message of managing conflicts and disagreements by peaceful means has been our field’s message. While we have always had a challenge of bringing forth this message to the public, we now face even greater challenges in bringing forth our message of constructive conflict resolution to the world because we, as a people, are constantly being exposed to so many  images of violence and destructive discourse between people. We especially see this almost daily on the news in the images of poisonous political discourse between politicians and pundits, between people of diverse political backgrounds on “both sides of the isle”.

These images of poisonous political discourse are everywhere and invade the public consciousness and promote the message that we can talk nasty to one another, make threats to harm or kill someone because of differing beliefs and values, and be disrespectful to one another failing to recognize that we all have the right to be treated with dignity and to not have our humanity stripped away from us because of our differences, or have our character assassinated because of what we believe.

“But at a time when our discourse has become so sharply polarized—at a time when we are far too eager to lay the blame for all that ails the world at the feet of those who think differently than we do—it’s important for us to pause for a moment and make sure that we are talking with each other in a way that heals, not a way that wounds”

This is the challenge we face as a field in delivering our message of the importance of civil discourse between one another, despite our differences. We face the challenge of the ever increasing tolerance for violence and character assassination when we disagree with one another on fundamental issues of values and beliefs.  Many of our  political leaders, at all levels of government,  fail to realize that they have powerful influence and can set the tone on how we interact with one another. Unfortunately, many times they have failed to do so reinforcing destructive ways of interacting with one another.

From Obama’s speech:

we can question each other’s ideas without questioning each other’s love of country, and that our task, working together, is to constantly widen the circle of our concern so that we bequeath the American generation to future generations.

I believe we can be better. Those who died here, those who saved lives here—they help me believe. We may not be able to stop evil in the world, but I know that how we treat one another is entirely up to us. I believe that for all our imperfections, we are full of decency and goodness, and that the forces that divide us are not as strong as those that unite us.”

President Obama has issued a call to all Americans (and the world) to be better. His words encourage me to be reflective and always remember that “the way” is always to tap into my  inherent capacities for “decency and goodness”. We all have this inherent capacity for decency and goodness.

The Conflict Resolution field in general, and Community Mediation in particular, must answer this call. We must find ways to unite our message with President Obama’s message and strengthen our efforts to bring the message of the importance of conflict resolution skills and constructive and non-violent processes for managing our conflicts and differences in constructive, civil, and non-violent ways.

“We recognize our own morality, and are reminded that in the fleeting time we have on this earth, what matters is not wealth, or status, or power, or fame—but rather, how well we have loved, and what small part we have played in bettering the lives of others.”

May peace and love always be with each of you as you endeavor to do this important work of providing conflict resolution skills and processes to our fellow community members and to the peoples of the world.

Cherise D. Hairston

Dayton Mediation Center

A challenge


I’m listening this morning to the slew of financial statistics–housing starts, unemployment rate, bank closings, those without health care, bankruptcies, houses in foreclosure….

It seems to me that restorative justice needs to come up with an index of its own:  one that marks the measure of social justice.  Are we moving closer or further away from our goal of less reliance on prisons, improving social relationships in our communities, looking at how well or how poorly alternatives to incarceration are funded?  What is the ratio between expenditures on prisons vs. what we spend on schools?  What is the ratio of crime to poverty?  Number of dispute resolution programs to police officers?

If we were able to construct such an index, what measures would we want to include?  What ratios would make sense?  Could we measure it over time?  Might we use it to show our policy makers where we might redirect our capital–from economic to social?  There is the well-known Misery Index that has been around for a long while.  Perhaps it’s time to develop a Justice Index.  Then again, the two might be related.

What variables should we include?  Some initial thoughts:  ratio of prison spending to education… percentage of gated communities compared to low-income housing … incarceration rates v. those without healthcare … social distance … social capital …  As a sociologist, this makes me think.  Things are not static. This gives me hope.  We need something by which to measure our progress. Whereas people may not understand abstractions or theories, they do understand numbers.  With 14,000 people a day losing health care coverage, just under 500 folks are now on their own in the time it took to write these words.  But then again, who’s keeping score…?

Mediator training


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.


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.

Advanced training update

Dates and times are reserved for Advanced Mediation Training. It will be held in the same room upstairs in East Side Lutheran Church. Tuesday evening, October 6th and Monday evening, October 12th both from training6-10. You can go to either one. You don’t have to go to both. If you attended the Introductory Training on August 14-15, you do not need to pay any additional fees.

You must have attended the Intro training to be eligible for the advanced. Early notice is required so I can plan the evening. Let me know your availability, especially if you will be coming.

Advanced mediation training is required if you have decided to pursue mediation as a volunteer with Restore.

There will be another Introduction to Victim-Offender Mediation Training and Restorative Justice workshop coming up on Friday, October 30 from 6-10 and concluding Saturday, October 31 from 8:30 to 4:30. The cost for this will be $50. Please let friends know if you think they are interested. Following that Intro training in late October, there will be another opportunity to participate in a future Advanced Mediation Training.

Last but not least, if you have already attended an Intro training and want to attend again, there is no charge. Call me or email me if you have questions. Please keep checking the website for details and updates.

Training news

imageBecause of the interest in the training workshop series:  Introduction to Victim-Offender Mediation & Restorative Justice, this program will be again be offered by Restore on a quarterly basis to individuals, groups, organizations as well as to the public.  No prior mediation experience is required.  If your organization or workplace wishes to discuss the possibility of specialized or customized training, please contact John Gehm, at Restore.

Designed in two parts, training takes place on Fridays from 6-10 p.m. and concludes on Saturday from 8:30 a.m. to 4:30 p.m. Training will normally be held at East Side Lutheran Church, 1300 E. 10th Street in Sioux Falls.  The cost is $50 which covers all course materials, supplies, and a light lunch on Saturday.  Training scholarships are available. For those who are interested in becoming mediators for the program, an advanced mediation training seminar is required, at no additional cost.

Pre-registration is required. Visit the website for registration forms and further details and to be placed on the mailing list for additional information.  Or call the Restore offices at 605-338-6020.  E-mail at Restore-SD@sio.midco.net.


October 30th and 31st


January 22nd 23rd

April 30th and May 1st

August 19th and 20th