Wednesday, March 6, 2013

Are you a bandit or a band-aid?

Paul Komarek and Dominic Barter
"Are you a bandit or a band-aid?"

Dominic Barter starts his lectures with this quote from a Brazilian street kid. Barter had walked into a favela, a dead-poor, gang-ridden, poverty-stricken shanty town on the side of a mountain above Rio de Janeiro, and told this kid he wanted to help. The street kid wanted to know if he was going to be exploited again, or given a handout and abandoned. In that kid's experience, it was always one or the other.

Barter refused to take either role. He stayed and invented a new kind of justice process called Restorative Circles. It is a full-body experience sort of process, focused on everyone being heard and everyone working things out. This is a process that is community-embedded. It happens within the system. You don't haul in an outside facilitator or expert to rescue you or solve things for you. Restorative Circles work when everyone "checks their name tags at the door," and addresses each other as people. Practically anyone can learn to run a Restorative Circle process.

Imagine your school, with justice built into its very DNA.

Here's a great TEDx video about conflict and about how Restorative Circles play out.

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