An element of an effective Restorative Justice Circle is engaging each and every person in the power of the Circle. This can be a difficult group process management skill. Lucky for Circlekeepers, the Circle itself brings that. In essence you turn a Circle over to the individuals present. A Restorative Justice Circle is most beneficial when each and every person feels a sense of change.
The keeper sets the tone. The keeper prepares the space, guides the process to values, to the talking piece, to the form and efficiency of listening deeply.
The mutual exchange of transformational energy, is service. Anyone can serve another by having compassion for that person. By sharing how I have learned, grown and become a better person – you might be able to find some insight, some deeper perspective you had before.
Even if you are the only one assigned to be ‘keeping’ the Circle, know that your Circle will be more effective, if you view every person in the Circle as your co-keeper. I say things like “everyone is both teacher and student”. We honor the equal worth of every person, by having that respect and showing it to each person. That plays out into Circles where each person feels and experiences personal growth.
Another element of an effective Restorative Justice Circle is the feeling after. Did you as the keeper feel inspired? Do you have a warm feeling of serving others? It is not about fixing them, because that would mean you thought they were broken. It doesn’t mean feeling you helped them, that would imply a debt.
More perspective on fix, help, serve here and here. So much communication is non-verbal. That is why spending time in Circle Training – really know and understand the concepts and philosophy about Restorative Justice and Circle is so important.
Circle is based on Native American traditions. Restorative Justice Circles are an extension from that cultural world-view. These two sentances are very broad and general. Not all, but most Restorative Justice Circle practitioners that I know, did not grow up from a deep or intate connection to a Indigenous world-view. It takes practice to work from this framework, it takes dedication and constant self-evaluation.
Those I most trust with the process, those I am most connected to have worked very hard on an inclusive world-view. The best keepers I know, have examined their life, wounds, and strengths. From that they have developed a pretty good sense of humor! Please bring your whole self to relationships and you will serve others.