- Written by Laura Mirsky
Strengthening the Spirit of Community, the IIRP World Conference in Detroit, MI, October 24-26, 2018. Sponsors are providing scholarships for Detroit community members, bringing a new level of connection and engagement to the conference.Detroit community groups are gearing up to share the extraordinary work they are doing to help make Detroit a restorative city at
In this series of interviews, our sponsors tell about their work and why they think you should join them at the conference!
First, Alice G. Thompson, CEO of Black Family Development, Inc. (BFDI), explains why BFDI is a Champion Sponsor and is hosting the IIRP World Conference.
What prompted you to sponsor community scholarships to the IIRP World Conference in Detroit?
It's BFDI’s goal to establish in Detroit a restorative practices city, one community at a time. We believe in the spirit of community, and we want to work with communities to strengthen that spirit. That really is our heartbeat. Our neighborhood community circle keepers, our residents, our schools, our police, our organizations, are training in restorative practices. They are coming together to improve relationships, reduce tensions, repair harm and take control of their neighborhoods. We want to expose them to a broader vision of restorative practices, give them new ideas and spark innovations: things they can do in own neighborhood and their city.
Why should people come to Detroit?
To learn, share, pick up new ideas and receive innovations. Folks are doing unique things here that people can borrow. Our community-engagement circles are truly empowering residents. This work is really worth looking at. Our young people are leaders on how to use restorative processes to improve social connection and repair harm. I have not seen anyone as steeped in community-based work with restorative practices as we are here in Detroit.
- Written by John W. Bailie, Ph.D.
It was 2008. The Great Recession was in full swing. An organization that was growing steadily until that point had nearly ground to a halt.
It was very eerie in the office. The rush and crush of a once busy international professional development and coaching business was gone.
The phones were not ringing. The last of our multi-year contracts were coming to an end. Event registrations were low.
We had recently launched a new and innovative graduate program after investing nearly a decade of sweat equity and what little surplus we could pool from our consortium of organizations. After a promising initial growth period following program launch, new student inquiries were way down.
In another corner of our consortium, referrals were plummeting for the private schools and counseling programs we administer for at-risk youth. The rapid and unexpected loss of steady revenue from these programs was, in a word, crippling.
I was nearly ready to grab my sandwich board and become a street corner preacher. Repent! The end is near!
For the first time in our thirty-year history, we were headed toward layoffs. We held a meeting with several hundred staff to discuss the state of the organization and our plans to right the ship.
- Written by Miguel Tello, Director of the Strachan Foundation and IIRP Trustee, with Laura Mirsky
IIRP Latin America is providing processes to help people cope with stress and fear during times of great turmoil in Central America.
Violence boiled over in Nicaragua in April 2018. Citizens protested government social reforms and police responded with extreme brutality. The newspaper La Prensa reports 351 dead, 2,100 injured, 329 imprisoned and 68 tortured.
The country has since become polarized. There have been waves of anarchy: looting, arson and violent conflict, even among families.
AMOS, an NGO that delivers health interventions in Nicaragua (http://www.amoshealth.org), is helping its staff and clients deal with this nightmare.
IIRP Latin America first provided circles training for AMOS in 2009. They took to the process immediately, and it has become part of their organizational culture. They use circles to address conflict in the communities where they work, to make decisions and address staff tensions. During the current upheaval, circles have become a beacon of hope for AMOS's staff and the communities they serve.
- Written by Liz Horvath, IIRP Advancement & Relations Intern
When I attended Buxmont Academy's graduation in June 2018, I didn’t know what to expect. I'd had no interactions with the students. All I knew was that this was a small group of 6th-12th graders who were using restorative practices to learn how to better understand their emotions while achieving academically.
When I arrived at the school, I could immediately tell that this was so much more than a graduation. My limited knowledge didn’t come close to describing what these students had achieved.
The ceremony began with the premiere of “CSF: The Shortical.” This video of a short musical about their school starred the students and featured original songs, dances and dialogue. The community they had created was obvious. They had come together from different places and life experiences and created something to celebrate that. Seeing their pride in this accomplishment was truly inspiring.
- Written by Laura Mirsky
The nonprofit organization, Foresee Research Group, received the 2018 European Forum for Restorative Justice (EFRJ) award for outstanding contributions to the development of restorative justice in Europe. Borbála Fellegi, Ph.D., IIRP Assistant Professor, is the group's Founder and Executive Director.
Edit Törzs, Ph.D., EFRJ Executive Director, praised the group, presenting the award at EFRJ's biannual conference, in Tirana, Albania, in June. She lauded Fellegi as "the driving force behind Foresee and chair of the EFRJ Research Committee for many years."
The Foresee team are researchers and scientists who are also practitioners, trainers and activists. Their work across Hungary and Europe shows "an amazing high level of competence and quality," added Törzs.
- Written by John W. Bailie, Ph.D.
Managing is about overseeing processes, plans and systems. It’s about keeping things, often created by others, running.
Leading is about engaging and becoming immersed in the nuanced and complicated lives of real people. Leading is envisioning, building and sometimes breaking things on purpose. Leadership helps a team manifest ideas and aspirations.
Management and leadership skills are both essential for a healthy organization, but they are not the same thing. In some organizations, the assignment of these tasks is rigid and highly concentrated into specific job roles.
A nuclear power plant has a very high percentage of people whose job it is to manage a finely tuned system of fixed processes and procedures. In other settings these roles are, shall we say, more fluid…
There are a limited number of people in any organization who are explicitly assigned managerial tasks. But the great thing about leadership is – anyone can lead.
Some roles have strong leadership expectations baked into them. However, the most effective organizations expect some amount of leadership from every role – from the part-time intern to the CEO.
- Written by Laura Mirsky
The city of Detroit has been plagued by some of the worst crime and violence in the U.S., along with rampant student expulsion, dropping out and truancy.But thanks to an IIRP project, restorative practices are taking hold in Detroit's neighborhoods, schools and systems. Individuals are becoming active stewards of their community, as elders and young people are learning processes that repair harm and rebuild relationships.
Detroit community members are eager to share their successes and learn from practitioners from around the globe at "Strengthening the Spirit of Community," the IIRP World Conference in Detroit this October.
"They want to celebrate and share the progress they’re making in their city and hear what other places are doing with similar challenges," affirms Alice Thompson, CEO of IIRP partner Black Family Development, Inc. (BFDI), which is hosting the conference.
- Written by IIRP Staff
- A Dynamic Blended Family: When Restorative Practice Marries Family Therapy – Anne Martin, Ph.D., Jennifer Bowen, M.Div., RMFT, RP (powerpoint)
- Becoming a Restorative Community: The Journey of ChildStrive – Mary Cline-Stively, M.A., Rebecca Mauldin, M.P.A. (powerpoint)
- Brighter Futures: A Vision for a Restorative Learning Community in Dublin, Ireland – Emma Wheatley, Karen Mooney (powerpoint, handout)
- Bringing Ontario's Equity and Inclusion Education Strategy to Life – Laura Di Ianni, M.Ed., Mike O’Neill (powerpoint)
- Building a Restorative Toolkit: One Technique at a Time – Sue Jamback, Tyler Radtke (powerpoint)
- Change the Conversation, Change the Culture – Lee Rush (handout, booklet, powerpoint)
- Circling Closer to Ourselves: Mindfulness and Self-Directed Neuroplasticity in Restorative Practices – Jeff Catania (Google Doc links)
- "Cultivating Community" Restorative Practice School Projects: Measuring Our Impact – Danielle Hunter, James Reilly (handout, powerpoint)
- Dynamic CBO/School District Partnerships: Effective Collaboration Transforming Schools to Restorative Communities – Lucille Rivin, Matthew Guldin (powerpoint, handout 1, handout 2, handout 3, handout 4, handout 5, handout 6, handout 7)
- Education as a Community of Care: Walking the Restorative Talk to Build Inclusion – Kelly Krug, Sayema Chowdhury (powerpoint)
- Family Group Conference for Child Welfare and Juvenile Delinquency: A UK Perspective – Shahed Chowdhury, Ph.D. (powerpoint)
- From Victim and Murderer to Allies and Friends Changing the Justice System – Glen Flett, Margot Van Sluytman, M.A.,
- Healing a People: How Restorative Practices Can Help Repair the Harm of the Past – Cordell W. Riley, M.Sc., JP, Hashim Estwick, Lynne Winfield, FCIS (powerpoint)
- Institutional Change for Developing Compassion Integrity – Dave Trejo (powerpoint)
- Leading and Sustaining Restorative Practices in Schools: The Journey of Administrators and Teachers in Toronto – Christina Parker, Ph.D., Fiona Brougham, M.T., Judith Kramer, M.Ed. (powerpoint)
- More Than a Shame: Knowledge Mobilization and Theories of Change – Rick Kelly (handout, powerpoint)
- Motivational Interviewing: A Restorative Practice Approach for Guiding and Sustaining Change – Richard Rutschman, Ed.D. (powerpoint - pdf format)
- No One Listens to Me!: Restorative Parenting Giving Voice to Children and Parents – Albert Felts, M.A., BCE, Angela Isenberg, BCE (powerpoint)
- Organizational Structure for Improving School Culture: Doing Whatever It Takes to Build a Strong Foundation – Janique Cambridge, M.Ed., Shanell George, M.S.Ed. (powerpoint)
- Panel – Indigenous Communities Engaging in Restorative Action to Promote Reconciliation – Bryan Trottier, Donald Nicholls, Gayle Desmeules, Jessica Wolfe, Kirsten Manley-Casimir, Ph.D., Losty Mamianskum (powerpoint)
- Panel – Leading Change Through Restorative Justice Approaches – Bruce Schenk, Cpl. Darren Munroe, Howard Sapers, Jordan Diplock, Kelly Adamson, M.A., CVA, Selena Guildford, Tim Chapman (paper)
- Panel – Taking Restorative Practice into the Workplace: Learnings and Challenges – Anne Martin, Ph.D., Leslie Macleod, LL.B., LL.M. (ADR), Mark Vander Vennen, M.A., M.Ed., R., Scott Milner, Terry O’Connell (powerpoint 1, powerpoint 2, powerpoint 3)
- Peacemakers: Peers Helping Peers to Solve Schoolyard Conflicts – Stephen Young (powerpoint, handout 1, handout 2, handout 3, handout 4)
- Project Blueprint: Increasing Police Referrals to Community-Based Restorative Justice Programs – Cpl. Darren Munroe, Jordan Diplock (paper)
- Realizing the Potential for Restorative Communities in Rural Northwest Alberta – China Sieger (paper)
- Refugee Displacements and the Impact on Community Life – Alia Sheety, Ph.D., Frida Rundell (powerpoint)
- Reorienting Organizations: New Management Ideas Supported by Restorative Practices – Stijn Deprez (powerpoint)
- Restorative Circles: Implementation, Building Community and Practicing Mindfulness – Amanda Cannon, M.Ed., Amanda Ramkarran, M.Ed. (handout, powerpoint)
- Restorative Practices – The Process Works! – Jon McGill (powerpoint, handout)
- Restoring “Explosive” Students: Strategies for Students with Chronically Challenging Behaviors – Shawna Griffin, M.S. Ed.S., Stephen Shepherd, M.A., Ed.S. (powerpoint, handout)
- Restoring the Urban Gang Member: “Keeping the Brain and Body in Mind” – Carlos Alvarez, M.A. (powerpoint - pdf format)
- Social Justice Dialogues in College Residence Halls: Building Relationships and Addressing Impact – Alex Boesch, Magdalena Gracia, Rafael A. Rodriguez (powerpoint)
- Some Challenges in Sustaining Restorative Justice in the Criminal Justice System: Lessons from Northern Ireland – Tim Chapman (powerpoint)
- Sustainable Leadership in Restorative Practices: Making the Changes Stick – Leonard Cheong, Noorzura Amir Noordin (powerpoint 1, paper 1, powerpoint 2, paper 2)
- Sustaining Restorative Practices in Higher Education Through Residential Curricula – Kaleigh Mrowka, Lauren Teresa Mauriello (handout, paper 1, paper 2, paper 3, paper 4)
- System-Wide Change: Building Strategy Networks to Grow Restorative Practices in a School Board Region – Scott Milner (powerpoint)
- The Times They Are A-Changin": Restorative Practice and the Workplace – Anne Martin, Ph.D., Bill Bickle (powerpoint)
- Tools and Successful Practices for Restorative Schools – from Those Who Use Them! – Peggy Hargrave, Saundra Reynolds, Shelley Steele, Stan Baker, Stephen Young (powerpoint)
- We Wear the Mask: Can Restorative Practices Realistically Help Marginalized Communities Heal from Systemic Oppression? – Lori Harris, MRPYC (powerpoint)
- Whose Religion Matters?: Exploring Emotional and Cognitive Responses to Boosting an Interfaith Restorative Community – Alia Sheety, Ph.D., Lisa Ratmansky, M.A., Rasheeda Ahmad, Ed.D. (powerpoint)
- Why Restorative Practices Work in Any Context: The Importance of Explicit Practice – Terry O’Connell (powerpoint)
- Widening the Lens: Sustaining Restorative Practices in Elementary Schools by Making Connections – Cathy Hird, M.S.W. (handout 1, powerpoint, handout 2)
- Workplace Restorations in Conflict Situations – Blaine Donais, LL.B., LL.M. (ADR), RP, Michelle Phaneuf, P.Eng., C.Med. (powerpoint)
- Written by Julia Getty
Restorative concepts and practices are key to helping children with special needs improve their behavior, learning and interactions with others. These include "separating the deed from the doer” and utilizing exploratory questions, explains IIRP Graduate School Lecturer and University of Northampton, U.K., Ph.D. candidate Nicola Preston.
Preston's Ph.D. research is focused on developing restorative concepts as a narrative approach to assessment and diagnosis of ADHD (attention-deficit/hyperactivity disorder) and other social and emotional issues that affect children. The narrative therapy approach separates the individual from the behavior. It allows children to examine their own problematic actions as external attributes — mistakes that can be corrected — rather than integral, unchangeable elements of their personality or identity.
Her experience in both law enforcement and education makes her uniquely qualified to reach some of society’s most at-risk children. When she worked with first-time offenders for the Thames Valley Police in the U.K. in the 1990s, Preston noticed that most of these youth also struggled in school. Their difficulties usually involved communicating their thoughts and feelings to peers and adults. When her department was trained in the principles and theory of restorative practices, she quickly recognized the need to employ them with children. So in 2008, Preston left law enforcement to train as a primary school teacher. Her work centered on four-to-11-year-olds who struggled with social-emotional learning (SEL).
Working with children who are unengaged in learning or falling behind their peers in school, Preston has found that their academic or social needs are often masked by their challenging behavior. Employing restorative practices helps her assess the source of the students' problems. Are there specific learning difficulties? Are environmental factors such as home life, bullying, lack of sleep or poor nutrition responsible?
- Written by John W. Bailie, Ph.D.
Empathy is overrated. I know this is heresy. Before you light your torch and grab your pitchfork, hear me out.
We live in a world suffused with psychological language. Even in fields that are not traditionally considered to be “touchy-feely,” leaders are likely to be expected to know how to increase their team’s emotional intelligence, help employees build emotional self-management skills or increase a sense of belonging and community.
This is good. My “day job” is focused on teaching others these skills. In fact, my institution has helped lead the creation of an emerging social science entirely focused on how to strengthen relationships between individuals as well as social connections within communities.
In part, this mirrors the positive development of the field of psychology as a whole. As we understand more about the mind of the human person and how we relate to each other, we apply those insights to a wider range of settings – such as workplaces. On the other hand…
We have also seen the rise of popular psychology and an entire industry related to self-help and pseudo-scientific ideas about emotion. These ideas are often based on what we wish were true about people, instead of the reality of human relationships. One perfect example is the perceived role of empathy in conflict.
The ability to understand another’s feelings and thoughts from their point of view is a great skill. Honing your ability to do this will help you make more nuanced decisions and relate to others with more skill and sensitivity.
But here’s the problem. Empathy has become a bit of an idol, a panacea, a magical thing that promises to end all conflict and allow leaders and staff to exist on a higher and more sensitive plane of existence.
As I’ve discussed in this blog before, most people seek to avoid conflict. Accordingly, popular pseudo-psychology has encouraged the belief that if we just had more empathy we’d have less conflict. So, we don’t need to do the difficult work of confronting people on their behavior, which is really unpleasant and scary. We just need to start empathizing more! After all, unlike leading conflict, empathizing makes me feel great about myself and is less risky. Problem solved!
I exaggerate, but not by much in the case of some leaders and workplaces.
Empathy is essential to healthy human relationships, but it’s not a cure-all. The presence of empathy does not negate the need for limit-setting and does not necessarily lead to behavior change.
Simply empathizing changes nothing. Behavior change requires pressure, concrete plans, and a willingness to move beyond talking about feelings and into action. Expression of empathy is a good beginning to a conversation, but it’s not an end unto itself.
Empathy is only one good among many in the list of leadership skills and abilities. An over-emphasis on empathy in leadership can lead to a reluctance to cause others discomfort. After all, if you really empathized with others, you wouldn’t want to cause them discomfort, right?
This is a serious problem in many workplaces. As a leader, a big part of your job is to make other people uncomfortable on a regular basis. Being uncomfortable is a natural part of learning and the development of expertise. And as a leader, you should be the teacher-in-chief before you are the empathizer-in-chief. Be an empathetic teacher, not a teaching empath.
Too much reliance on empathy can even lead to rewarding good work with creepy things like this.
Overplaying the importance of empathy can also lead to the erroneous belief among colleagues that they should never be made to experience difficult, negative or uncomfortable feelings.
Here’s an example from my personal life. I once confronted someone I was close to about their pattern of manipulatively using anger, threats and histrionics during conflict. I discussed how scary, difficult and damaging this behavior was for me and others.
The response from that person was, “How can you say these things to me? How do you think it makes me feel when you tell me things like this?” To which my response was, “Well, I assume you feel bad. And that would be appropriate.” We are no longer close. And that’s a good thing.
The most effective leaders are empathetic to those around them in a general way, while also being able and willing to cause discomfort to others as needed. Growth and learning requires some amount of pain and sacrifice.
None of us feels what everyone around us is feeling, nor should we. That would be really exhausting and unhealthy. We understand the feelings of others. We care about the experiences of others. We listen to others. But their feelings are their feelings and our feelings are our own. How to make sense of that information and what you do with it is what matters most when leading conflict.
Visit IIRP President John W. Bailie's blog, Leading Conflict.