Exploring the Myth of the Restorative City: A Paradigm Shift or Just Emperor’s New Clothes?

Chris Straker, co-founder of the Hull Centre for Restorative Practice in England, delivered a thought-provoking presentation at RJ World Online on the concept of restorative cities. With his extensive experience and expertise in restorative approaches, Straker offered participants an opportunity to delve into their own understanding and interpretation of what a restorative city means.

The workshop began with Straker using the UK as a backdrop to stimulate dialogue among participants. He emphasized that context is crucial when discussing the concept of a restorative city but also provided some models to guide discussions. The central question posed was whether the idea of a restorative city represents a paradigm shift or merely an illusion akin to “Emperor’s new clothes.”

Straker focused on exploring right relationships – both between professionals themselves and between professionals and families they work with. He stressed that developing these relationships requires explicit dialogue not only around areas of agreement but also areas of difference. By doing so, he argued that restorative processes can be used effectively to deepen relationships at a city-wide level.

Throughout his presentation, Straker drew upon his vast experience working with various agencies involved in youth development, family support, and community building across the UK. He highlighted how he has developed training programs in restorative approaches specifically tailored for strategic leadership roles within organizations. Additionally, he shared insights from his work with cities on implementing strategic initiatives centered around fostering right relationships through explicit understanding of behaviors and language.

As evidence of his expertise in this field, Straker mentioned having contributed two chapters to EFRJ’s recent publication on restorative cities. Moreover, he has been invited as a speaker at national conferences throughout the UK as well as internationally.

The workshop itself encouraged active participation from attendees who were eager to explore their own ideas about what it means for their respective communities to embrace a restorative approach fully. Straker facilitated meaningful discussions, allowing participants to reflect on their best intentions and goals while also considering the methods chosen to achieve them.

In conclusion, Chris Straker’s presentation at RJ World Online provided a valuable platform for participants to critically examine the concept of restorative cities. By challenging commonly held assumptions and encouraging dialogue around areas of agreement and difference, he prompted attendees to consider whether this idea represents a true paradigm shift or just an illusion. Through his extensive experience in the field, Straker demonstrated that restorative processes can indeed be used effectively to deepen relationships at a city-wide level when there is an explicit understanding of behaviors and language.