Since 2013 I’ve received training on conflict resolution, restorative justice facilitation, and sustained dialog from Richmond’s Alliance for Unitive Justice (2013-2015), the International Institute for Restorative Practice (2016), and the Sustained Dialogue Institute (2016).
As a scholar my early training in poetry has evolved into a interest in counter-storytelling practices and social justice. As an educator I’m especially interested in they ways restorative conferencing increases educational and professional outcomes for people who face serious obstacles in these areas: veterans, people who have been incarcerated, and people who are disproportionately targeted by disciplinary measures in schools and in communities. You can see a great illustration of a reentry and education circle below, held at Restorative Justice for Oakland Youth.
Restorative conferences offer non-violent spaces for people to resolve conflict or come to consensus on difficult issues. Sustained dialogue, by contrast holds a space for a consistent group of individuals to talk through a single challenging topic over a sustained period (in academic circles anywhere from a semester to a year). Sustained dialogue can be an effective way of helping communities open up communication challenges that directly impact them or on issues that come into national focus. Sustained dialogue also focuses on transforming conflict, but unlike much restorative conferencing, sustained dialogue commits a single group to long-term conversation, and does not limit the group to an immediate conflict among its members.