A Movement is a Garden

Dec 6, 2022 | In Their Own Words

The following is an excerpt written by RJI Board Member Kathleen Pequeño. Read the full essay on their website.

In my experience and my vision of powerful movements, they’re messy, rambunctious, beautiful gardens. There are direct service organizations, advocacy groups, the lawyers, the media makers and storytellers, the policy nerds, the direct action folks, the guerrilla theater geeks. For decades I’ve done many of those things, but I keep coming back to work with intermediaries—organizations that specifically exist to support the work of other organizations.

I’ve been blessed and lucky to work with great intermediaries over the years—including Seeding Justice (formerly McKenzie River Gathering), Partnership for Safety and Justice, the CAPACES network, Spirit in Action, and I currently work at North Star Fund. My focus has generally been storytelling, technology and other elements of comms but I’ve supported all sorts of organizations with phases of their growth. Sometimes I’ve asked myself why I am so drawn to intermediaries. I think it’s because at heart, I’m a gardener.

An intermediary, when it’s done well, is a fancy word for gardener. We help organizations to grow by providing what organizations and their leaders need: structure, trust and money.

I like creating the environment where organizations can do their thing, put themselves first while also sharing what they have. I’m especially proud to be part of Restorative Justice Initiative (RJI), a community of New Yorkers who are here to support all the many forms of restorative practice in New York City.

Within RJI’s community, many of us seem to have a particular restorative practice we want to grow (I personally am obsessed with surrogate dialogue, which has transformed my own healing in response to my brother’s murder). But at RJI, we are committed to sustaining an ecosystem for many types of restorative practices in NYC to spread. This means supporting dozens of organizations and hundreds of local restorative justice leaders.

We want all the different forms of restorative practice for all New Yorkers:

  • Healing circles
  • Direct dialogue among harmed parties
  • Surrogate dialogues
  • Transformative justice
  • Student-driven restorative approaches
  • Alternative dispute resolution
  • Redirection programs
  • Trauma-informed practices
  • Political education
  • Intimate partner violence interventions
  • Healing justice
  • And more…

RJI and the people in it want it all. We want the big, messy garden. Much as a garden needs sun and soil and water to grow, movements need structure, relationships and money. RJI is building a rambunctious community of restorative practice in New York City, and eventually, I hope the world. If you haven’t made a gift to RJI lately, donate today. Help this beautiful movement grow.