4th Annual Citywide Roundtable on Restorative Approaches
The Restorative Justice Initiative (RJI) and The Center for Creative Conflict Resolution at the Office of Administrative Trials and Hearings (OATH) have been teaming up with various community and government groups since January 2019 to convene New Yorkers from all walks of life to sit in Circle and share their hopes and concerns about the future of New York City.
On April 1, 2021 we hosted our fourth Citywide Roundtable event – our first virtual citywide event – Imagining a City Transformed by Racial Justice, Accountability, and Healing. This Roundtable attracted a total of 259 attendees from the five boroughs within New York City.
The goal of this convening was to bring diverse groups of New Yorkers together in community-building Circles to envision a restorative city, using the lens of racial justice to reimagine harm and relationships. At the Roundtable participants explored the concepts of transformation, accountability, and healing in restorative justice.
This event was emceed by Antonia Codling and Terrence Winston who are both active members on the roundtable leadership council. This event was illuminated by DJ DelaCeiba who brought energy and music to the virtual platform during breaks and transitions.
The morning session of this event opened with a land acknowledgement, facilitated by George Stonefish, a Lenape elder and activist who used prayer to highlight core values including community and gratitude.
The morning portion included a storytelling group on accountability, facilitated by Vivianne Guevara who serves on the roundtable planning committee. The participants in this group, which included Daralee Vázquez-García, Laurent Rapaport, and Deja shared examples candidly of what accountability means through intentional language of consequences versus punishment, healing, and communal support.
This forty-five minute storytelling group transitioned into morning circles in which all roundtable attendees experienced participating in a restorative circle around the topic of accountability. Some of the core questions in these circles invited participants to describe what accountability means and offered opportunities to share ways of preventing harm in the future through personal reflection.
The afternoon session of this event mirrored the structure of the morning, which included a second storytelling group around the topic of healing. This storytelling group was moderated by Sethu Nair, who serves as senior conflict resolution specialist at the Center for Creative Conflict Resolution, and included Melissa Centeno, Ashley Ellis, and Erwin Thomas a.k.a. Awo Fasanmi Obaniyi Fayemi. These three storytellers discussed healing relationally from a lens of connection and encouraging spaces that foster shared narratives.
This storytelling group transitioned into afternoon circles focused on healing from personal harms and identifying healing from an equity and community lens. Some of the core questions in these circles invited participants to conceptualize and imagine healing as a foundational and intentional experience in everyday relational encounters.
Gems From The Chat
- No accountability without support
- The difference between “I’m sorry, if” and “I’m sorry that” is huge.
- This is challenging but I’m breathing through it
- We are walking in the discomfort together
- Thank you for fighting through your trauma and surviving
- We must all give ourselves loving grace and compassion no matter our circumstances
- Those who have the most trauma have the most medicine
- Healing is a practice of UNlearning
- Internal actions are not only supposed to have internal outcomes. They resonate out into community
- Circle spaces… allow us to tap back into the WE and then allow us to live the US out, whether in silence or dance or joy or tears.