Join us for the three-day Restorative Community Practices: Building Stronger Families, Schools, and Communities conference at the Main Library this October 4-6.
Expanding on last fall’s restorative justice conference, this year’s conference takes a wider look at how restorative practices can be applied within families, schools, and communities. Also new this year: members of the community who have a passion for, and experience in, restorative justice principles have been developing the conference throughout the year alongside library staff.
Attendees can choose to register for one, two, or all three days of this year’s conference.
- Day 1 | Friday, October 4, 6-9 pm. We’ll focus on building restorative practices to strengthen families with children. Learn more and register now »
- Day 2 | Saturday, October 5, 9 am-4:30 pm. We’ll learn how restorative practices can promote a safe learning environment in schools. Learn more and register now »
- Day 3 | Sunday, October 6, 1-6 pm. We’ll focus on the community, including learning about restorative approaches and strategies the library uses as it strives to make the community the center of everything it does. Learn more and register now »
What are restorative practices?
Restorative justice is an approach that focuses on repairing harm. Repair means healing for the people directly involved, and for the community at large. The restorative approach relies on proven techniques of forgiveness and empowerment rather than punishment, says conference organizer Susan Lucci, an advocate and activist who facilitates restorative circle discussions.
Through a restorative process, all parties are included in the dialogue of how an injustice can be healed. Those affected are brought to encounter one another, amends are made, and all parties are reintegrated into the community. The approach can be used in criminal justice settings, but it can also be applied in all kinds of communities and situations, including in schools and families.
The library’s Social Services Specialist Stephen Jackson, who is organizing this year’s conference alongside community members and is a restorative justice practitioner, says restorative practices take a group perspective and rely on bringing empathy to a situation, seeking first to understand, and helping people without doing further harm.
“If one aspect of the community is not healthy, it affects the health of the whole community,” Jackson says. “When one person in the community is hurt, the community is not balanced. It takes the whole community to come together to balance it out.”
Who uses restorative practices?
At this year’s conference, attendees will learn from those who are practicing restorative approaches, especially in Oak Park and the Chicago area.
But restorative justice approaches have been adopted by communities all over the world. For example, the South African Truth and Reconciliation Commission used restorative practices to dismantle the legacy of apartheid. In North America, the Truth and Reconciliation Committee of Canada has worked to respond to the trauma inflicted on First Nations people by the residential school system. In the United States, restorative justice is being applied to school disciplinary systems as well as the criminal justice system.
At the library, our Social Services and Safety team integrates restorative processes into its work. Restorative justice practitioner and Social Services Specialist Stephen Jackson, who is organizing this year’s conference alongside community members, hosts peace circles based on the restorative justice model, and staff help create community and integrate restorative justice across all of our practices.
What can conference attendees expect?
Throughout the three-day conference, attendees will hear from keynote speakers, participate in circle discussions and breakout sessions, and learn strategies to apply restorative principles in their lives and work. Meals and childcare will be available to those who register.