The hallowed chambers of restorative justice were recently graced by Rose Gordon, a beacon of experience and wisdom in the field. With over two decades dedicated to shaping and reshaping the narrative of Restorative Justice (RJ), her presentation aimed to delve into the intricacies of effectively facilitating RJ circles.
Restorative Justice circles, as the audience learned, aren’t just about dialogue. They are a testament to the power of understanding, healing, and collective restitution. And guiding such a process requires a blend of art and science. Gordon, having facilitated RJ circles in a rural community for over 15 years, brought forth a unique perspective on what it takes to ensure that facilitation is not just impartial but also instills trust.
A significant portion of Gordon’s presentation centered around self-awareness. The need for facilitators to be deeply human while retaining a professional stance was highlighted. Drawing from her extensive background in grief counseling and her time spent at interfaith gatherings and drug treatment centers, Gordon emphasized the need for sensitivity, not just towards the grieving and the affected but also towards oneself. The nuances of self-care, especially in a role as demanding as this, were discussed in depth.
Risk-taking, Gordon posited, was an inevitable part of facilitating an RJ Circle. However, the challenge lies in discerning when and how to take these risks to ensure a fair outcome. Guided by her years of training professionals and community members through both traditional and digital means, Gordon walked attendees through real-life scenarios, highlighting moments of calculated risk-taking that can reshape the trajectory of a circle’s outcome.
Another standout feature of Gordon’s discourse was the symbiotic relationship between the facilitator and the participants of the RJ Circle. Caring for the participants, understanding their narratives, and ensuring their voices are heard equitably was an element she stressed repeatedly. But beyond this, Gordon showcased how facilitators could learn and evolve from each circle, constantly refining their approach for future encounters.
What made the session particularly engaging was Gordon’s insistence on interaction. It wasn’t just a presentation; it was a conversation. She eagerly absorbed insights from attendees, musing upon their experiences, and juxtaposing them with her own. This reciprocity transformed her session into a veritable melting pot of experiences and learnings.
Gordon’s rich tapestry of experiences, from her time as the Restorative Justice Coordinator for Taos County juveniles to her international workshops, permeated her presentation. Her special degree in Grief Counseling and Hospice added layers of depth to her approach, reminding attendees of the human side of justice.
In closing, Rose Gordon’s masterclass was not merely a tutorial on facilitating RJ circles; it was a soulful exploration into the world of restorative justice. It was a reminder that justice, at its core, is about healing, understanding, and above all, restoring the faith of those wronged. As attendees left the presentation, they took with them not just Gordon’s lessons but also a piece of her enduring spirit and dedication to the cause of justice.