Thank you for your dedication and passion, Art 🧡 It is an honor to serve with you. - RJP Maine
"I became a father around the time I learned of restorative justice and RJP Maine- and began volunteering. I must admit having kids made me think differently about the ways our societal systems might impact future generations. My whole life growing up in Georgia and South Carolina I was told by many that, "life just ain't fair." When I caused harm as a teenager and faced the "judicial process" it appeared this ideology was the accepted truth. I have never accepted this, and my hope is that the restorative work we do today with RJP Maine and elsewhere will lead to a more healthy, connected, and fair world for all."- Gabe Smith
Thank you for your dedication and passion, Gabe 🧡 It is an honor to serve with you. - RJP Maine
“For me, being an RJP Maine Volunteer has been challenging, engaging and meaningful. Participating in Restorative Circles puts a premium on my practice of being truly present to each individual in the room, to listen keenly and withhold judgment, and especially to trust in the process itself. It is so gratifying to be a part of a community that supports individuals who’ve made mistakes in coming to terms with their transgressions and making amends with those whom they have hurt or offended. I have great hopes for the difference we can make through our sustained and caring efforts.“- Ruth Appleyard
Thank you for your dedication and passion, Ruth 🧡 It is an honor to serve with you. - RJP Maine
By Jenna Golub
In an effort to restoratively contribute something to our community during this isolating moment in time, RJPMaine thought virtual community building across our four county area would be a good place to start. We invited folks from each demographic of the communities we serve into the planning process; Reentry (former MCRRC residents & staff), schools (teachers, admin & youth), and our court diversion program (youth & mentors). It was also decided, as a way of making the most of our time together and encourage a bigger conversation, that the virtual pilot team would create a circle script that could serve a diverse group as a way to help maintain community conversations. Before long, the virtual pilot team was formed!
The individuals we asked to take part in this pilot team were not only representative of each demographic that RJPMaine serves, but they are individuals who have demonstrated dedication to restorative practices and have had training and experience in community building circles. RJPMaine only asked for a willingness to commit to being part of a planning process which hoped to move swiftly.
Along with RJPMaine's Louise, Jenna and Sarah Matari, invited community members virtually “showed up” via Zoom for the first pilot planning circle on Monday, March 23rd. In planning for the circle script, Sarah, Louise and Jenna asked participants what they’re doing to make life seem normal and how they’re socializing with others in these times of physical distancing. We also asked what felt important to talk about right now given the current climate. These are a few of the things that came up for our participants during the virtual circle:
-Supporting youth during this time
-Positive stories, Share ways to stay present and hopeful
-Information, i.e. Safe activities people can still do
-How to help others creatively
-How to deal with this transition, process, finding balance
-How to care for oneself and the community at the same time
-Ways we carry on: Netflix, puzzles, Spring
(We would like to ask you, the reader, how could you support your community (or even members of your family and close friends) in talking about these topics?)
With an understanding of what our diverse group of virtual community volunteers wished to discuss, over the next week, RJPMaine's Karin, Jenna and Louise, worked to finalize the script that the community participants helped create. The script was then piloted with the same group of individuals during our second virtual circle on Monday, March 31st. Below are excerpts from the script we collectively created:
What’s going on for you right now?
Round 1: Personal Needs
What do you need?
Round 2: Tapping into Resilience
What is a strength you have these days? What can you offer to those around you?
Round 3: Tapping into a Broader Perspective
Tell a story about life going on around you?
What are you taking away from this circle?
With this information, over the next week, Karin, Jenna and Louise, worked to finalize the script. The script was then piloted with the same group of individuals during our second virtual circle on Monday, March 31st. Below are the different veins of inspiration we shared with one another in closing this circle:
Edward Sharpe and the Magnetic Zeros' album Here
Nils Lofgren's song "Wonderland"
Video & Audio
"Some Good News" Network -- John Krasinski's youtube video and interview with Steve Carell
Fantastic Fungus -- inspiring documentary
Anne with an E -- tv show about Anne of Green Gables on Netflix
The Character Strong Podcast
The Google Teacher Podcast
Getting outside at Solar Noon- show as much skin as possible, and soak up the sun!
Teachers going on parade for their students
Readings or Quotes
Ross Gay's poems and essays http://www.rossgay.net/poems-essays
As intended, RJPMaine will be emailing the script to each of our institutional partners in the hopes that they may find comfort in connecting through circle during this time. To our trained circle keepers, we share this script as a way to create spaces for people in their own communities to connect.
For those of you who are looking forward to healthier times and are interested in restorative practices, RJPMaine would like to share that we'll be offering 'Foundations in Restorative Practices' this fall at the UMaine Hutchinson Center in Belfast. Please click on the following link for dates and course specifics; hutchinsoncenter.umaine.edu/foundations-restorative-practices/.
In closing, RJPMaine would like to thank those who volunteered their time, their space, their hearts and their minds to this virtual community building project. Sarah, Louise, Jenna and Karin are filled with gratitude and are actively brainstorming what comes next. We sincerely hope there's more virtual circles to come and more stories to share 🧡
Over the last three and a half years, Megan has been working with RJPMaine to implement Restorative Justice practices into Long Creek Youth Development Center. Megan, along with Margaret Micolichek and the Long Creek team, created a restorative curriculum for the youth to participate in and to be able to unpack the impact of their actions leading them to Long Creek. Megan and the team have trained both youth and staff in restorative practices creating a more restorative climate and culture that teaches and supports youth decision-making and creates accountability for their actions. Now, the Staff are more apt to use a restorative conversation and/or intervention to prevent a youth receiving an incident report or further involvement in the justice system. Youth and staff have also become adept at holding circles on their units that build relationships, responds to harm and celebrates youth successes.
As Megan and the team continue their work with Long Creek, it has become clear that a permanent staff presence within the facility would allow for further culture change and restorative sustainability. The facility as well as the state of Maine saw the importance of this work and created the position of Restorative Justice Coordinator, a role which Megan recently wholeheartedly accepted! Megan plans to move forward in her new role by deepening restorative justice culture and climate by expanding Long Creek's current practices within the center, and with the State’s goal of reducing youth incarceration to only the highest risk, Megan will be collaborating more with community partners. Working with youth is Megan's absolute passion and she is grateful to be able to continue on this journey with the experience she has gained from her time with the Restorative Justice Project Maine. Megan's RJPMaine colleagues are excited about her new role with the State of Maine, and are grateful for her commitment to the youth of Maine.
Megan, RJPMaine thanks you for your service and passion and we wish you the very best 🧡