Another paradox of human nature, we constantly change, and can’t see ourselves as different.

I make sure we get evaluation forms to all of our customers.  SCVRJP, the non-profit has a variety of customers.  The obvious ones, the clients we serve.  There are also customers that are our volunteers.  You see volunteers, like customers, pick their product.  I want to know if our volunteers are feeling satisfied.  I want the restorative justice non-profit I run, to be the first choice in volunteering!  So I need to ask how we are doing.  I also need to offer them something really awesome: HOPE.  Hope that people change.  Sometimes we forget that we are always changing and that others are capable of change. 

At SCVRJP we tap a very unique customer market of volunteers.  We bring in the ex-offender, the drug court participant, the person living in a half-way house, the parent of a court declared ‘delinquent’.  We tap into the life experience of these people.  We tell stories, and the best stories are triumph over tragedy.  Where people make GREAT change.

This blog post, says its human nature to not be able to see ourselves differently than we are right now.  The context is about blogging and how we manage ourselves on-line.  That made sense to me, that we don’t think we will be different.

I recently watched a TED video, and learned that people can only see them selves one level from where they are at.  Interesting.

A circle of those court ordered to attend, and community members.  It went really well!  People opened up and shared, including some tears so I know we got to the heart.  We had a full Circle of experience in the room.  Those who are experimenting with an illegal behavior to those that have done it for years, dealt with major consequences and now don’t do that illegal behavior.

When I hold these types of Circles, we don’t judge.  We provide information about the social, emotional, legal, biological consequences.  Everyone weighs in with stories, examples and comments.  For the beginning user to learn about a chronic user getting a foot twitch that took 2 years of sobriety before leaving, was a real life example.

I put people in front of each other in Circle.  I make safe space for everyone.  We need other people to let us know we can be different that what we are.  One person wrote on the evaluation form:  I wish there were programs like this when I was young, I might not have turned out as bad as I have.  That was sad, as the self-view of “I’m bad” is in there.  But the HOPE, that this program will change someone is also in there.  Its also clear that this person sees that he might have been on a different path, I hope that opens up for him to see he can stay on a different path now.

Another powerful aspect in the Restorative Justice mix, is that I heard an attendee say that she wanted to be like one of the volunteers.  She looked up to the volunteer, she saw the volunteer as courageous, strong, empowered.  That was cool and I think it impacted the volunteer to see herself differently.  Just 18 months ago, the volunteer was not a person to be a role model.  However, this person changed herself.  Support of a criminal justice system, including drug court helped transform this person.  Now restorative justice gives a place for the volunteer to express her story.  The story is triumph over tragedy.

The energy of positive change was contagious.

No wonder the evaluation forms show 20 people rated the program excellent.  (3 good, 1 fair and 0 poor).