Citywide Roundtable on Restorative Approaches
On February 10th, 2023 from 9:00 AM – 4:30 PM in Long Island City, Queens, Restorative Justice Initiative (RJI) and the Roundtable Leadership Council hosted the 5th Citywide Roundtable on Restorative Approaches, in collaboration with the Center for Creative Conflict Resolution at OATH; the New York City Commission on Human Rights; Project Hajra; Sakhi for South Asian Women; MoMA PS1; Malikah; Queens Community Justice Center, and Community Capacity Development. The day marked the first Citywide Roundtable held in-person since January 2020, and the first Citywide Roundtable held in Queens. The well-known cultural institution, MoMA PS1, served as host and Cosponsor.
Citywide Roundtables are day-long, participatory events incorporating ceremony, dialogue, Circle-practice, food, performance, and community. Our goal is to build and strengthen networks of restorative practice across the five boroughs while developing a shared vision for a restorative city; a locale committed to non-punitive responses to harm predicated on authentic relationships, care, and communities working together for social justice.
Since 2019 these convenings have served as the only space where New Yorkers committed to restorative approaches—working across sectors and across the five boroughs—can meet “in Circle” to contemplate ways to move towards collective action. These Roundtables are modeled after a quarterly citywide restorative justice meeting that has been taking place in Chicago for more than fifteen years. The February 2023 Citywide Roundtable zeroed in on our relationship to land, belonging, and restoration.
The day’s programming began with a land acknowledgment and blessing offered by George Stonefish, a Lenape elder, including an overview of the history of his people and their way of engaging in prayer. After that, participants seated in circles of 12 or fewer, participated in facilitated discussions that allowed for equity of voice and a sense of belonging.
More than 30 circle keepers facilitated 16 dialogue circles during morning and afternoon sessions. After a delicious lunch provided by the Street Vendor Project, we were treated to a performance from the Murray Hill Academy Roaring Steppers, who follow an African-American tradition wherein dancers use their whole bodies as an instrument to make percussive sounds.
Following the performance, L. Antonia Coding moderated an intergenerational dialogue with Kristine and Montgomery Hill, members of the Tuscarora Nation. The panelists spoke about Black and indigenous perspectives of belonging in the face of ongoing traumas since the “First Harm” of colonization and dispossession in North America.
Okai Musik, a local musician, collaborated with Home and Abroad, an Afro Diasporic drumming ensemble, and closed out the day with high-energy and joy.
Relive the day with our gallery below!
Photos by Neha Gautam.