Parents, you MATTER. Take initiative. Be involved. Work collaboratively. Embrace your community. You have a place.
Through this work it has become quite clear to me the unique challenges faced by today’s youth, including those unique to this region of the state. Social media, socioeconomic disparity, social divisiveness, educational prejudice, a punitive justice system, and a lack of resources are all impacting our children, and rarely in a healthy way. I have 1 and 3 year old sons and I dream of them growing up in a society/community that focuses on healing as its primary guiding principle. My studies in the Master of Arts in Restorative Justice program at Vermont Law School have opened my eyes further to the indigenous roots of these practices. At the heart of these teachings is the concept of healing.
In one of my readings, the director of the Navajo Peacemaking Program stated, “Our main focus is to help the Navajo people not to depend on the court system and not to depend on the police to always resolve their problems. These are your problems, you should be able to fix it yourself. These children belong to you. These relatives belong to you. You should be able to fix it yourself.” (1). The hope for me is that one day the practice of Restorative Justice will be unnecessary. I say this with an understanding of where we are today, and how far we have still have to go. Ultimately my hope is that healing language, and the associated vocabulary, will become the norm in conversations and interactions among community members. That these healing practices might become ingrained in our everyday lives, and that my kids as well as everyone else’s will have a new understanding of empathy, community, conflict, relationships, and justice that will lead to positive outcomes for all, not just a few. My goal is to work every day to make this a reality for all people and all communities. As I often say, If it takes 100 years or more, it will absolutely be worth it!
-By Gabe Smith, RJP Mentor Extraordinaire
Improv Night with the re entry chaps and our super dedicated mentors was AMAZING! Everyone came with open hearts and minds and were on fire 🔥with their improvisational acting skills! "Thank you" to the Midcoast Regional Reentry Center, Belfast Creative Coalition, The Playhouse Children's Theater Co., and RJPs re entry coordinator, Louise! A fabulous night with a special community!
A month later, back by popular demand, Improv Night #2 took place! "Thanks" to Mark and The Belfast Maskers for providing a creative space and for participating (Mark!)! It was great, as always, to get our reentry guys together with our mentors and RJP staff. We may have all shown up exhausted from cold, busy Mondays but we left feeling energized and happy! Our super dedicated mentor, Emily, said it best- "move a muscle, change a thought."
In restorative practice, the centerpiece represents the center of the community, reminds us of our collective nature, and provides a place for participants to rest their eyes. Like the talking piece, centerpieces are even more meaningful when they represent something of value.