Restorative practice (RP) continues to grow at Shalem. Over the past months we have had opportunities to work with congregations from a number of denominations, schools, camps and workplaces. We have facilitated restorative processes for communities working through conflict and we’ve facilitated processes to help communities begin to develop a restorative culture.
Developing a restorative culture, whether in a church, school, camp or workplace, is at the heart of what restorative practice is all about. A restorative approach to life is one in which we are attentive to all the relationships that we have, from the most casual to the most intimate.
A restorative culture allows for support and encouragement as we make sure everybody is clear as to what is expected of them and has what they need to meet those expectations. When things go wrong – when there’s conflict or when harm occurs – we have ways to heal the hurt, repair the harm and move forward, rather than take a punitive, stigmatizing, or blaming approach to conflict.
Recently someone said that we can’t heal all the pain in the world but with respect, humility and courageous truth-telling, we can begin to heal the hurt within our own relationships. Restorative practice offers a way of thinking and being to help those in conflict move forward. But we have to learn how to do this. As a result, providing workshops and training is a big part of the services we offer.
Shalem is continuing to develop our partnerships with FaithCARE (Faith Communities Affirming Restorative Experiences) particularly in offering training to those wishing to become RP facilitators. We also are working with the Center for Workplace Engagement to take restorative practice services into the workplace. Another important partnership Shalem is fostering is with the International Institute for Restorative Practices (IIRP) through which we connect for ongoing training, consultation and sharing stories.
FaithCARE has just completed a 3-day training in Ottawa, facilitated by Bruce Schenk, the director of IIRP Canada, in which twenty-one participants developed skills to facilitate restorative practice conversations and circles. As more people become trained, we hope to develop our networks to provide work opportunities and support for those who wish to use restorative practice skills.
Shalem seeks to continue to develop a restorative culture in our own organization. For example, we continue to use a restorative approach to our staff meetings, which involve the use of a talking piece and a circle format for our conversations. We constantly explore ways we can introduce restorative practice as a way of being in relationship with each other to build a healthy workplace.
We love to share our passion for restorative practice with others. If you have questions or if you wonder how a restorative approach might be helpful to you and any community you’re involved with, don’t hesitate to connect with Anne, our Director of Restorative Practice.