Community Restoration Circles
Community Restoration Circles build trust and relationships and provide opportunities to gain competency in giving and receiving empathy. A critical element in Community Restoration Circles is the removal of hierarchies of all kinds. The absence of hierarchical structure allows individual participants agency to narrate and represent their own experiences. The situation of Community Restoration Circles within a social justice framework endows them with more power to represent and hold space for the marginalized. In committing to the pursuit of total communitas, Community Restoration Circles perform a reconciliation scenario that imagines crisis resolution as a community-driven process achievable without the imposition of institutional power or other hierarchies.
Community Restoration Circles can be used proactively by groups or units to establish safe environments in which difficult issues can be humanely manifested and addressed. In this role, they function in a similar manner to a family meeting, albeit with a more rigid structure. They can also be used to address conflicts within communities, particularly conflicts that arise from the power differential inherent in academia. Facilitators for Community Restoration Circles are SOM Allies who have received additional training in nonviolent communication and the peacemaking circle process.