Autor Thema: Post von Dominic Barter (GfK-Trainer, Rio de Janeiro)  (Gelesen 6471 mal)

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Post von Dominic Barter (GfK-Trainer, Rio de Janeiro)
« am: 17. April 2008, 21:39:21 »

This is Dominic Barter, writing to you from Rio de Janeiro, Brazil. I am delighted to be able to tell you a bit about my work before this upcoming workshop that I will be facilitating Tuesday and Wednesday, July 12 and 13, in the Bay Area.

I have had the privilege of working with restorative practices for many years now and I hope to be able to share with you briefly some of what I have learned, and the important contribution Nonviolent Communication plays in developing such practices.

For the last four years, and especially since the end of 2004, I have been working as a consultant in Restorative Justice for the Brazilian Ministry of Justice, which, with the support of UNESCO and the United Nations Development Programme, has invested in the first pilot projects in the country. My task has been to develop effective models of response to youth crime and its consequences, deliver training programs for practitioners of these models and supervise their implementation together with judges from the youth justice system and administrators from the school system.

Part of our work begins by connecting different care and justice workers, most of whom have never previously collaborated, to form a network of response. We bring together different municipal service organizations, these groups and the prison system, justice workers and education professionals, different police forces as well as all the above groups and community members from the shantytowns and other marginalized populations. This has often involved overcoming suspicion and historical pain dating back as far as the end of the military dictatorship, 20 years ago.

Our principal tool is a model of community restorative conferencing, which brings together crime victims, young perpetrators, and members of the communities of which they are part. These community members might be family members, friends or colleagues, justice or social services or education workers, neighbors, witnesses – anyone indirectly affected by the conflict. Whatever their relationship to the event, and despite any professional involvement they might have with others present, they come to the Restorative Circle in a personal capacity.

We like to say: No police officers, no parents, no adolescents, and no victims.... In short, no labels can enter the Circle. Only human beings can enter the Circle – voluntarily, in a personal capacity, and with the express intention of taking responsibility for their part in what happened and in co-creating what will happen next.

We use the word Circle to describe these meetings not merely in reference to the way the chairs are arranged. The Circle is a place where power is shared. With no social roles giving people authority over one another, a very different process of dialogue can occur. Words get back their meaning. Meaning is communicated at face value. Dialogue is revealed as a transformative process.

Last week, I was in the south of Brazil introducing schools to RJ. We have introduced this work into 40 schools since 2005 and word is starting to get round. Some of the principals and teachers I worked with are under death threats from ex-pupils, which has helped focus their attention on how comprehensive the changes need to be in their response to conflict in and around the school. I also worked with police, prison workers, court workers, and social workers – all developing projects with the same key dynamics. I'd like to share with you one of the Circles I witnessed while I was there.

In a room in the youth court building, with a court worker trained in our process, sat a 16 year old young man, his grandmother, his father and the father's girlfriend, a military policeman, his wife, his son from a previous relationship, a youth prison worker and a fellow court worker in training. The atmosphere was tense and superficially polite. These people had come together in response to the following incident.

A few weeks previously a couple of 16 year olds saw a lone man reversing his car out of a tight parking spot and decided then and there to “flash kidnap” him. Surprising him at gunpoint, they frisked him for arms, put him in the back seat, and began driving to the nearest cash point, where they planned to have him take out as much money as the ATM would give him and then leave with his car and belongings. However, they failed to find the small gun he had hidden on his body, or to realize that he was an off-duty military policeman. In the resulting confusion one young man escaped. The other – now in the Circle – was shot three times in the leg and had begun an 18-month sentence in youth prison.

After the court worker welcomed everybody and reminded them of the specific process they agreed to use for this meeting, the Circle began in earnest. Conflict of whatever nature can be seen to become damaging to our well being only when those involved begin to lose the capacity to hear each other. Since a breakdown in respectful communication is part of what brought us to the point of needing such a meeting, the proceedings focused initially on the ability of each participant to hear and understand the other. We call this phase of the process Mutual Comprehension. It serves to connect everyone present to the experience the others are having. Often the people sitting down together are seeing each other for the first time since the day of the crime. They may have affected each other's lives in profound and unwelcome ways. A sense of shared humanity may feel very far off. Mutual Comprehension connects them again and sets us up for investigating the incident itself.

Think of it this way: however informative, inspiring or useful this text may be for you it would be of no practical benefit without the necessary Internet and electricity connections that allows it to reach you. Those connections need to be made before you can “hear” me. My message depends on them to reach you. Reestablishing such connections between Circle participants is thus our first step.

The policeman spoke of his thoughts since the day he was kidnapped, how his daily life has changed, how he worked years to buy his car – without stealing from others, how a feeling of paranoia has affected his family, and how he has been ostracized by his peers for not “doing the normal thing” and shooting both of the adolescents dead on the spot.

The young man spoke of recovering for weeks in hospital, of wishing he was dead when he sat on the cell floor, of missing his recently deceased mother, of being locked up, of studying in prison, and of being separated from his family.

The adolescent's father, then his grandmother, then the policeman's son, and then his stepmother – in turn, each member of the community present spoke about the time since that day.

This first phase of dialogue only ended when each person present had been heard and had demonstrated to them the sense their words had made to those they spoke to. "You are like a mirror to me,” the adolescent said when asked if the policeman had heard him accurately. For many, this was the first time in a long a while that they could trust they had been listened to without a diagnostic or investigative focus.

Once these connections had been established, and everyone was on the same page, the court worker invited them all to turn their attention to what each of them was seeking when they acted as they did at the time of the crime. We call this phase Self-responsibility. It makes it possible for all to hear the “back story,” the flipside of what each person was trying to do. If Mutual Comprehension humanizes those in the Circle at the time they are gathered, Self-responsibility backdates this to the scene of the conflict, and diminishes the extent to which those involved hold “enemy images” of each other that preclude them from demonstrating concern for each other's well being.

It is in this phase that we seek to answer the question almost all victims of crime eventually wish to ask: “Why? Why did you do this? Why then? Why that? Why me?!”

It is also in this phase that a natural process of mourning occurs, the expression of often deep regret for the harm caused and the damage done. Far more than a mere apology, this is essential healing for all. Victims need to hear that perpetrators recognize that they also lose when they attack. They need to hear this registered in learning. They need to have the scars they carry seen and acknowledged, so that they can move on.

Many perpetrators and community members also see themselves as victims. In this phase the sense of victimhood, as an experience of powerlessness – as having your well being held in another's hand – often diminishes. The process helps us see that, while each of us is 100% responsible for what we did, we are also responsible for our continued well-being, or lack thereof.

The policeman spoke in graphic detail of sitting in the back of the car, deciding who to shoot in the head first. He described this as a way of protecting himself, of valuing his property, of doing his civic duty. Then he described how the adolescent had turned his head, and something about his face reminded him of his son. He had thought then of his parents, of families losing loved ones, and decided instead to scare and arrest them. All those hearing him speak heard not just what had happened and how he had experienced it, but the meaning behind his actions, and their intention.

The young man spoke of his life at the time of the crime, of the moment of deciding to commit the kidnapping, what he and his colleague hoped to do with the money, his thoughts about the police, his panic at discovering his victim was armed and a military policeman. At one point, speaking of his life since his mother's death, he was interrupted by a community member, offering to explain his actions as the result of the emotional confusion and pain he had been through. He was quick to reply that this was a profound loss, and he was beginning to see, as the dialogue of the Circle unfolded, that it would not serve him to believe that one caused the other. His mother was not responsible for his actions that day, he was.

Community members spoke of the meaning behind their actions when they heard of the event. Some of the many different consequences of what happened were revealed.

As before, each person is heard by others. An important part of this phase is collecting the needs unmet by the crime. They will be important when, in the third and final phase of the Circle, all collaborate in devising specific actions that each can take to contribute to each other's well being by meeting these unmet needs.
Amongst the many action plans made in the final agreement of this Circle was the father taking his son on a journey to the coast (once he's released), the grandmother visiting the prison to share stories of her daughter with the son, a talk to be given by the policeman to the inmates in the youth prison, a talk to be given to his colleagues by the adolescent, a record of the Circle agreement to be shared with the sentencing judge for consideration at the time of parole, study achievement levels for the adolescent while in prison, and support in finding a school on release.

These actions seek to repair harm, restore dignity, security, and justice and to reintegrate all into their respective communities. In this process, Nonviolent Communication (“NVC”) played a key role. If Restorative Practices are a new path, NVC is a new way of walking.

NVC guides us in sharing power with others to create outcomes that benefit all. It focuses our attention on the universal human values that motivate our actions, supporting us in dialoguing with the “universal language” that results.

The court workers in this Circle receive ongoing training in NVC skills, which allow them to align their practice with the principles recognized as central to RJ. As an ethical basis for facilitating changes in challenging contexts NVC is unparalleled, and increasingly recognized within the RJ community – as well as by teachers, mediators, social activists and many others – as being a key skill in the creation of more life-serving social systems.

I hope that this brief example of the work we are developing has been able to open a small window between us and initiate a dialogue that can deepen during my upcoming visit to the United States. Sharing this work and accompanying others as they use it is a powerful way for me to meet my need to contribute to a world where communities enjoy peace, security, and the satisfaction of taking self-caring action.

During the workshop, I will illustrate the Circle process and show how we have applied it in different ways in each of the projects in Brazil. We’ll define some of the key elements and study video footage of the process in action. Then we’ll try it out live, setting up Circles and working through a challenging conflict. You will begin to be able to distinguish the principles (which are the same from context to context) from the practice (which is always situation specific).

Um grande abraço!
Dominic Barter
Rio de Janeiro, Brazil
April 2007
Unsere neuen oder erneuerten Beziehungen sind durchweg in Augenhöhe