I’m Sarah Matari, and I’m the Restorative Practices Training & Implementation Manager at RJP. I lead the effort of enhancing our training and implementation strategies in keeping with core restorative principles, sustainability and change management practices. Some projects that I’m currently working on revolve around RSU 13 (Oceanside High School and Oceanside Middle School, in Rockland ME), school training and implementation alignment, comprehensive introductory restorative practices training, reentry training and implementation of restorative practices, as well as Sagadahoc County criminal court diversion and volunteer support.
I came to Restorative Justice Project largely due to my experience with youth in the West Bank of Palestine. I always found restorative justice inspiring, but I found myself gravitating towards this work because I knew I could not live on a planet that denied youth opportunities. I wanted youth to belong to a culture that made them feel like they had potential. I wanted to help create an environment where they felt that they had a place. I pursued alternative dispute resolution and mediation work in law school as a way to encourage warring countries to talk and this led to my pursuing work with the United Nations and international NGOs.
I soon came to the realization that I wanted to work directly with families and youth- not necessarily government and civic bodies. This brought me to family mediation, as I came to understand that the health of parents and their relationships directly affect the health of youth. After learning that youth were not included in family mediation sessions in typical court settings, I sought out restorative practices. In restorative practices, those who are most impacted by an agreement or decision, directly participate in the creation of that agreement or decision. Everyone has a voice. Everyone is heard, respected, honored and held accountable for their actions.
I am passionate in my efforts to continue to find ways to expand the conversation about conflict, or any decision being made, to as many people as practical and possible, so as to create balance in relationships and more sustainable ways forward in life. I am constantly thinking about how to connect with people wherever they are in life, and to hold myself (and everyone) accountable for moving ahead to benefit our society- especially our current and future generations of children. This all may come with revisiting long held institutional goals and ideals, and my personal mission is to do this with anyone interested in ways that feel right for everyone.
I see RJP growing a strong practice of internally doing what we offer to the outside world, whether that be in proactive community building or conflict resolution spaces. I am surrounded by colleagues who step into this work with humility and are fearlessly part of the movement to restore relational practices and redistribute power with and alongside our fellow community members, whether that be marginalized youth, adult residents of incarceration facilities or institutions. I envision that we will continue to be ourselves and support one another, as we explore ways to invite in others to join this global restorative movement that was started by and continues to live in native and indigenous communities.