Inspired by the Restorative Justice Hubs of Chicago (rjhubs.org), and in light of the stated and discernable needs for healing and connection within northern Will County, the Gros Institute hopes to stimulate dialogue and action toward the use of RJ practices to meet some of these needs. We hope to continue to gather with individuals and groups on campus and in local communities, to better understand the need for healing from various oppressive forces, e.g. racism, inequity and division, and to imagine a path forward that fosters storytelling, relationship-building, and proactive efforts to dismantle factors which maintain the knee of oppressive systems on the necks of marginalized peoples.
While there are several effective RJ practices, expanding the use of Peace Circles is our first step in achieving identified aims. Circles were founded by various indigenous peoples to resolve conflict, enhance a sense of connection, and raise up the voices of members of the community. They seek to provide ‘safe space’ to share authentically, listen deeply, and engage relentlessly with others. Circles are egalitarian, values-based, and use a talking piece to ensure that sharing and listening are done in a mindful and intentional way. We believe that growing this practice, as well as deeply listening and investing in meaningful relationship, can help Lewis and its neighbors to imagine communities that are honest about oppressive systems, engaged in the work of dismantling those systems, and imagining more just and equitable ways of being, working, and living together.
As part of our ongoing partnership with Valley View School District, we provide Peace Circle Trainings to staff and administrators in the Romeoville and Bolingbrook areas. These trainings include 3-Day Peace Circle Trainings, 1-Day Peace Circle Refreshers, and 1-Day Administrator Trainings. Our 3-Day Peace Circle Training is also available to local organizations who are interested in restorative justice practices and want to offer Peace Circles. If you are interested in our Peace Circle Training, please contact us via email at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Lewis faculty/staff and community members gather in a Peace Circle during a 3-Day Peace Circle Training
The Centerpiece of a Peace Circle