This Restorative Justice Life

85. A Restorative Movement in the Making w/ Carl Stauffer

June 30, 2022 David Ryan Castro-Harris Season 2 Episode 21
This Restorative Justice Life
85. A Restorative Movement in the Making w/ Carl Stauffer
Show Notes Transcript

Dr. Carl Stauffer is a senior expert on reconciliation for the U.S. Institute of Peace with 30 years of experience in 37 countries as both a practitioner and academic. His previous work has included:

  • directing the Zehr Institute of Restorative Justice at the Center for Justice & Peacebuilding at Eastern Mennonite University
  • serving 16 years in South Africa as program director of the Africa Peacebuilding Institute and education and training coordinator for the Letsema Conflict Transformation Program.
  • working with multiple transitional justice processes including peace accords, community-police forums, truth and reconciliation commissions, collective trauma recovery, DDR and ex-combatant reintegration, reparations, memorialization and local community development. 

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David (he/him)  
Carl, welcome to this restorative justice life. Who are you?

Carl Stauffer (he/him)  
I am a noble savage. I have that of God in me and that violence within the great Russian poet, Solzhenitsyn said that this way, good and evil is the line between the needles drawn right down the middle of our hearts are Yeah. I'm a child of war born and raised in Vietnam. The youngest son of church workers who stayed in Vietnam throughout the war. Fighting came within a half mile of our home in 1968. We also left three weeks before Saigon was taken over in 1975. I was 10. At the time, deep impressions were left in my spirit in my psyche, from that experience, are you and the brother of John an airline pilot, the brother of rose, a licensed clinical social worker, husband to Carolyn, my lifelong companion of 36 years now. Father of Chris, who's a senior App Designer for GoFundMe, and his lovely spouse, Ilana, my daughter in love, I call her and she is a theatre actor, director, and production manager and model and to my daughter, Grace, Senior Project Manager at Deloitte and her future spouse, Ibrahim, my son in love, who's senior sales at Amazon, and an amazing person from the African continent.

David (he/him)  
Who are you?

Carl Stauffer (he/him)  
I'm a practitioner, educator, and advocate for just peace, and just reconciliation. I often find myself going towards conflict, not a way. That doesn't mean I'm full of courage, sometimes butterflies in my stomach, but I trust the process. And I trust the people, even in the most gravest of conflicts, there are people of goodwill. Who are you? I'm a bumbling ally, to my friends and colleagues of color. And for racial justice. I'm white male, middle aged, and American. I'm surrounded by privilege, but striving to fight for racial equity in the US and across the globe. I'm a person of faith. I believe there's always a story behind the story. I believe that reality isn't just what we see. There's another reality. And something I learned early on is no matter how horrific the violence or no matter how frightening the context of conflict I might be entering in. But I learned early on that there was always signs of the spirit, working for healing for good. And if I could find those places and those people and align myself to I was much better off.

David (he/him)  
And finally, for this segment, who are you?

Carl Stauffer (he/him)  
I'm an artist, a singer, a dancer. worshiper. I love jazz, glass of red wine, a good dose of humor, and riding a motorcycle.

David (he/him)  
Beautiful. Thank you so much, Carl, for being here. We're going to explore all the intersections of who you are and more right after this little break. Carl, again, thank you so much for being here on this restorative justice life. We always like to start by checking in so to the fullest extent that you want to answer the question in this moment. How are you?

Carl Stauffer (he/him)  
I mean, I mean, really incredible place in my life right now. I made a sudden transition out of academia, and I loved academia. I loved the research I was doing I love the writing I was doing I love the students that I had the opportunity to work with for 11 going on 12 years. But I moved to the United States Institute of Peace when I saw that they had created a position for the first time on reconciliation. And when I read that, and This is gonna sound a little cheesy. It felt like it was written for me. I let my wife and children read it. And they said the same. So I went for it. What this place currently brings me is my writing my publishing my practice, and a little closer to policy, and that funny monster of figuring out if our practice and our policy can affect each other. And so this is where I'm at right now. And this feels right. It has all the joys and challenges that I expected it to have. And, and yet I have a strong sense of purpose and feeling like I'm in the right place at the right time. And partly, that is because I was invited to bring my peacebuilding experience, but also my restorative justice experience and my transitional justice experience into the space.

David (he/him)  
Yeah, that might be a really good place to enter this conversation, because there are a lot of words that you said that have very specific meanings that often get conflated peacebuilding is a transitional justice, restorative justice, you said, in your Who are you statements like you're somebody who has been involved or running towards conflict in many times. I'm curious if you could share a little bit about what each of those terms mean for you, and how you got started into doing this work like professionally?

Carl Stauffer (he/him)  
Sure. So let me start with the second question, I entered the field Isay, officially, in 1991, as the executive director of a small nonprofit called victim offender reconciliation program, the Capitol area victim offender reconciliation program in Richmond, Virginia capital of that state. And it was essentially doing restorative justice in its very traditional sense of victim offender encounter, in crimes in the US the misdemeanor crimes did try to divert folks out of the system. So I spent three years doing that work. And that was really my entry into the field, I had been trained as a community mediator at that point and had my imagination had been caught. That was the late 80s. The mediation movement at that time was sort of the the nitty gritty movement of communities taking their conflicts back. It has changed considerably. Now. That's another conversation. But that was fueling me. And so this opportunity in Richmond, grabbed my, my imagination, and I was able to help build that program up for a few years before we moved to South Africa, which will be another chapter. peacebuilding is the framing that has come out of the 1990s, particularly to explain the idea that piece doesn't happen in in a quick once off event, it doesn't happen. You know, suddenly and quickly and macat tied up in a neat bow. It's more like building a structure. And in that building sometimes gets blocked by whether it's sometimes get stopped because we don't have enough money to keep going. And sometimes we build things brick by brick, and we lay the foundation first and we build the brick. So the building process gives us a sense that it's not linear, and that it's something that we all have to get involved with in order to build a container that's necessary to hold peace and to sustain peace and to protect peace from violence. So it's an it's a deeper process with a systems view of peace. Transitional Justice also came about in the early 90s. And it was an umbrella term to try to capture the many different forms of war to peace, or systems and structures approaches that were being applied toward a piece transitions when whole countries were moving out of war or episodes of violence. And so it includes everything from trials to truth commissions to DDR, which is demobilization, disarmament and reintegration of former combatants or fighting or it has to do with memorialization. How do we remember, as a community as a nation, it has to do with indigenous processes of healing, trauma, healing processes, etc. It is a field that I got a lot of experience from starting in South Africa working with the Truth and Reconciliation Commission there If you want me to go to restorative justice now or later, go ahead. Go ahead. Okay. Restorative justice to me is a framework. It's a set of principles and practices. And it's a movement that helps us keep our work ethical. So I think it's a critique of transitional justice, because the transitional justice movement globally, was basically the Western criminal legal system scaled up. Really expensive, not meeting the needs of many people. And Restorative Justice says, Wait, we didn't ask the question, can the criminal legal system, the Western criminal legal system really deliver the justice we want? And if not, then how do we look at alternatives. And so restorative justice becomes a lens in which I critique a lot of this work.

Carl Stauffer (he/him)  
And that's aside from the fact that restorative justice has specific practices, and it's a surface. It's also I think, a framing movement. And we can talk about that some more as we go. And then there's transformative justice in the midst of all of this, because lots of language. And some people get confused with transformative and transitional, not connected. transformative justice, essentially, is a movement that grew out of restorative justice with the critique that restorative justice had too much emphasis on the interpersonal and started at the sort of changing, you know, one relationship at a time. And transform, it just is said we need to change one structure at a time. It's sort of about which comes first, restorative justice sort of said, as we change people structures change, I'm being very simplistic here. Transformative, Justice said, as we change structures, that people will change. Yeah, I don't think they're in opposition. I think they work together, they they're complementary. We just need to stop throwing stones at each other, figure out how to work together.

David (he/him)  
And I think a lot of the times the stones are thrown by people who are just coming into understanding the language recently. Like, oh, you're only doing restorative like, transport, right? Things that I've heard, but by people who didn't understand the growth of the movement and the development of those frameworks, we've given a lot of like, heavy, it's very heavy, and all of this, but you know, a question that I asked folks who come on here is like, even before you knew that word, restorative justice, transitional justice, any of those frameworks, there was something in you that like, hey, I want to do this work. Where did this start for you?

Carl Stauffer (he/him)  
That's a great question. And I'm not gonna go through my whole life story, but I'm gonna go way back to the beginning. That's why I talked about being a child of war. The war had a really strong impression on me, even though I was always safe. And my kids and my, my parents were incredibly strong, and courageous. I can't imagine what they were feeling when we knew that the fighting was all around us, and that we run to the bed. My mom's praying and reading and my dad's listening to the radio to figure out how close the fighting is and and eventually we make our way out of that, after a neighbor girl breaks curfew, and really risks are live to come over and tell us of a way to get out. Through the back of our house we keep I'll get on a scooter and take off. And, you know, I have these impressions. They're sort of trauma impressions, because I was young when I was five or six at the time of empty bullet shells falling on the corrugated tin roof. It's kind of things I remember, you know, getting under the bed now shaking. And for me, it was a bit of an adventure but, and my parents remaining amazingly calm was just an incredible witness on its own. But the one thing I talked about, which was a deep, deep impression is my father went out and took photos right after this. The fighting had come in to sign on in 1968, which was called the Tet Offensive tent. And then now is the Lunar New Year celebration. So it was at a time when the whole the whole city was celebrating and and and so it was perfect time to try to invade from the north. And my father took pictures of the building damage and tanks burned out the stuff we're seeing when we ever we see war. But one of the pictures that he took it really left a deep impression on me as a child was of a did North Vietnamese soldier and they were all black. That was their uniform so you could pick them out. And this may be a trigger warning, but I won't go into much more detail. He was his legs were tied together. And he was being drugged but behind an army cheap through the streets of the city and people were lining up on the sides of the streets, you know sort of observing but some were cheering and cheering and this was all still photograph. You can see them. But I had this deep impression. It wasn't till I was really studying in Conflict Studies in peacebuilding, that I began to contemplate what this meant. And I guess what came to my mind was, this had such a strong pool for me, because it just, to me, it was the epitome of our inhumanity when we celebrate our victory, on the desecration of the enemy dead. And I and so I think inside of me as a child, that was the beginning to say, we have to figure out how to do this differently.

David (he/him)  
In your child's mind, did you have ideas of what that look like?

Carl Stauffer (he/him)  
Don't know that I did. Specifically, I was the I was the youngest child of three and I was sort of the family mediator. I do remember that as a kid, sort of the one that wanted to make make sure everyone was getting along. I was not one of the I wasn't disturbed was I was the one that was always trying to accommodate make sure everyone was happy. So that's something I've had to get over, especially if I have to go into conflict zones. But but that mediator bent that relational bent and was always there, it was really important to me, I think, my parents example of trying to be a different face an upside down narrative, compared to the US military, but in the same location. Now, some said, that's not possible, and they probably tainted their presence, just because of the US military and being the US. In fact, you know, that's certainly an ethical issue. But they were trying to show another face of, of the American people. And so I, I was I was raised in the Mennonite tradition, which is a non violent theology from its roots. So that makes a difference. There was a sense of there was there was always a sense that we had to do things differently, or other Lee not had to, but that was our, our task is to show another way of being that we could, you know, Mennonites take Jesus nonviolence very seriously. Basically, say, we can live on earth like that. Now, it might mean we're martyred. But we can turn the other cheek and all those kinds of things, which is sounds really, really lofty and very idealistic. But when you go into a conflict zone, like a war in, you have to act that out, you have to either live that or you don't live that one of the two. And so they modeled that in a very divided and conflictual context. Yeah, and

David (he/him)  
that is a very, very oppositional view to many people who experience that kind of that kind of trauma. And without putting value judgments on any human responses to, you know, war, violence around them, sort of trying to survive, right? There are effects of, of meeting violence, with violence, meeting cruelty with cruelty. And I think those are some of the things that you you witnessed as a child, and, you know, it takes somebody it takes a certain orientation to say, like, I choose not to be that way, versus this is what the people around me are doing. And I guess this is the way that things are, if I want to survive and move through this world. And, you know, I hear a lot of that being rooted in your faith. And I think that's really beautiful. Your your faith of part of that, I imagine is what led you to AMU Eastern Mennonite University where, you know, so many of the people who have been on these airwaves, so many people who have been learning and growing this, quote, unquote, restorative justice movement have found as a place of deep learning. But you were there very, very early on right before CJP was even a thing. The Center for Justice and Peace Building. What was your early experience at CMU? Like

Carl Stauffer (he/him)  
so I was in college in the 80s. I did my undergraduate there in the early 80s. And I studied social work, and did a little bit of religious theological studies as a minor. So social work was really an entryway into this work and In amu, we probably took it for granted. I had family and generational folks had been connected to me, including my father, uncles, and grandfather and aunts, and so on. But anyway, um, so I'm all steeped in that. But I became a forerunner to it at times too, because of growing up overseas and being exposed to so many other ways of thinking and being. So I was often stranger, in the midst of Mennonite community to, in the sense that I knew enough to be inside, but I also knew enough to, to be outside and poke fun and see where it didn't work. I certainly didn't have a, you know, rosy view of Mennonite community in a way that some people from the outside might. And that's okay. My point is studying Social Work idiom, you was, I remember one of my professors who, I mean, he was already pushing us to think about systems. How do we change systems structures? Dr. Titus Bender, and he had worked in Mississippi during the you know, when the movie The, you know, the burning, you know, let's happen, you know, and so that I was already situated through that social work department to be thinking about these things, but in a very different way, because that was the 80s and proving a very different place. Unfortunately, you're fortunate, I don't know which way you want to look at it. But we weren't we, you know, today's you know, we, we have become much more critical and aware of critical, I'm using that academic term critical awareness of racial injustice. And injustice is written arts and social justice issues.

David (he/him)  
Yeah, I'm, I'm reflective of the words of Fanya Davis, from The Little Book of race and restorative justice. And this isn't a verbatim quote, but talking about how, you know, the, at the genesis of the quote, unquote, modern restorative justice movement 40 years ago from from now, like, there wasn't necessarily that critical race lens, if you will, among people who are intending to do good, right. And, you know, the movement grew in some beautiful ways and in some exclusionary ways. And you know, part of the reason that we're here today is talking about listening to the movement in the the both actually listening and referencing the book that you helped edit and contributed to, but there has been so much growth. I'm curious. As somebody who is been a part of this from not quite, quite, quite the Howard's there, Maori victim.

Carl Stauffer (he/him)  
But he wasn't my professor. So

David (he/him)  
what are some of the moments that you've seen shifts happen over the last 40 years? 3040 years?

Carl Stauffer (he/him)  
Yeah. So when I took that job in Richmond in 1991, you could catch by the name of the victim offender reconciliation program, we were actually calling it for what we call now, victim offender conferencing. And you can imagine how problematic reconciliation was in that setting. I mean, we were it was a very idealistic sort of term that eventually became very problematic, because we certainly weren't requiring people to reconcile and they weren't all reconciling in these processes. And so it moved to victim offender mediation. And we sort of grabbed hold of that mediation model of sort of this is another way to empower the community to take back its buttons and solve its own issues and, and find a new sense of community and liberty and freedom. And then, as I mentioned, the mediation movement, unfortunately, in many parts of the United States, moved deeply into or got co opted into the criminal legal system. So that we're once again seeing lawyers as mediators and lawyers having to sign off on mediation agreements in certain states, which is ludicrous, in my mind. But in any case, that's where that's where things have gone. So when we when we moved, and I'm doing a little bit of a language thing here, when we move to the conferencing idea or the dialogue idea, we opened up a lot more spaces for us to formulate that facilitation in different ways. And I think that was really important for the maturing of the field. But yes, I would say the first few decades 70s and 80s, like when I was College, they're, you know, it was very much linked to the criminal legal system, it was very much a diversionary thing, it was very much a white, middle class, dominant movement. And, you know, it's volunteer movement and who could volunteer, but primarily, you know, those who had some other forms of, of wealth. And so it was, it was just, it was that very much now, I would say Howard's there, who was one of the first white graduates from Morehouse, you know, in 1969, had some of that. And so when his book hit the scene in 1990, called changing lenses. He introduced this idea of a paradigm and it became quite controversial. He was saying restorative justice. In essence, he was saying, it didn't use the movement language. But he was saying restorative justice offers us the possibility of a paradigm shift. That time paradigm was very much looked at as a blueprint, a map, something you sort of replaced one thing with another very, very sort of static sense didn't have the evolutionary sense, it didn't have the same sense of movement, ecosystem, you know, that sort of idea of emergent adaptive systems. And so people ended up being splitting over this paradigm language, saying it was way too idealistic or too hard, it would never happen, we would never change the system. So let's just work with the system and try to complement it. So the paradigm language, but some people understood that paradigm language, and said, we can start to live this out, if we work hard enough, and start making other applications to restorative justice in other sectors and other ways into our lives. And I think that's what led us to this place where we began to talk about as a movement, but the movement idea is relatively new. And by the way, I'm not. There's not that many out there. I mean, the whole field of restorative justice, if you will, the discipline is divided. There's a lot of folks who really want to take this into what they think is the status quo of developing a profession, which would be to standardize it. And to make sure there's all kinds of criteria for being a facilitator and make it a professionalized. I would say, a banal, technical process, which frightens me. And so I, in the last few years in my academia, since sort of really 2015 2014, you begin to see

Carl Stauffer (he/him)  
just breathtaking brush of research and theorizing and then other sectors in society, grabbing hold of restorative justice, its principles and values and making applications creative applications at the margins. And to me, that was the beginning of saying, we've got a potential movement here. And I use the word potential, because it's not some sort of clear movement, you know, in the sense of a critical mass. But it is a movement in the sense that it is being applied, multiplied and replicated all around the world in significant ways. And it is offering a non violent justice that we could pass on to the next generation, which may potentially break the state sanctioned violence of our current criminal legal system.

David (he/him)  
There's so much in there. Grateful for the for the exposition in you know, we've talked with many people on these airwaves, who have been bringing restorative justice into different spaces, primarily, like a lot of the folks who listen and who have been here and talk about restorative justice and education and how, you know, the education system is in so many ways, a feeder system into the criminal legal system. And you know, how are we breaking education paradigms frameworks, to be more relationship driven instead of one? Just the industrial model of schooling, producing workers for you know, capitalist society is valuing relationship and teaching people, human relational skills, as much as we are teaching math, science, reading all those things. That's right. You know, there have been people who have been talking about this work in various other professional settings that had nothing to do with the criminal legal system. And when you talk about like, that professionalization, part of me was like, Who are these people and where do we stop them? Right. And I can do some of them. I know you can. Some of them and like, I very intentionally don't leave them here because why expose people to those ideas? But you know, there there is so much potential for growth and But when you actually made two contributions, written to the book, both like the introduction with Sonia Shah and the epilogue where you're talking about the potential for this to become a movement, there were a number of different things where, you know, we're like you were saying, like we are at to borrow Malcolm Gladwell is framing of a tipping point, right? where this could go any any number of different ways this could petered out. I don't think it's going to I think there are too many of us. But like, one of the things that I am I'm not like angry about but frustrated by is this conflict of when I say restorative justice? I probably don't mean the same thing, as you know, eight other practitioners who are like, very deeply passionate about this work. And so we're not necessarily moving in the same direction, as somebody who is at the who's been doing this work across across a lot of sectors and been in relationship with people who are doing these work in different spaces. How are you? This is assuming that you are, but how are you hopeful that we get into that movement space? Is it together? Or is it in more decentralized way?

Carl Stauffer (he/him)  
I've been in the field long enough to know that it's not gonna we're not going to bring everyone with us. So what's gonna happen in different it's not everyone's going to be on board for sure. I think, well, let me say a little bit about the the tendency to move in the direction of technical professionalization and standardization, I understand that it's safe. It's knowable, it's it's linear. It's, we can say, here's a surface that I'm trained in. And I do, and I help people through this process. And but we have to ask ourselves, just because it's safe, doesn't mean it's, it's healthy, or necessarily. Well, I asked, there's another question behind that. How much of this is about control? Controlling process, controlling relationships, controlling your own professionalism?

Unknown Speaker  
And how much are they in preserving structures as they are?

Carl Stauffer (he/him)  
Yes. And control? Yeah, preserving the status quo as part of that control. And so, when I talk about the movement, it's, it's, it's messy, it's messy. And that's what makes the folks that want to, you know, narrow this knot, broaden the focus makes them really nervous. Because like, how do we know? If good practices going on? How do we monitor how do we, you know, and, and, and we don't movements, by their very nature, have a life of their own. That's what a social movement is, it takes over and no one person can define it, or, or lead it, the best we can do when I talked to my students was so think about the banks of a river, can we can we give some boundaries as this movement, you know, maneuvers its way down, you know, through the valley, and you know, some of the things that are really important and that is that that means it will be decentralized, by nature, it will be localized, and it will be owned, and decision making and ownership and, and redistribution processes of power and social power as well as other kinds of redistribution of resources in our society, will hope will happen in in different locales, and in our job is to network now, it also means that there's not going to be one great leader anymore, which is leader multiplication, this is multiple leaders at multiple levels, doing this work. It also insinuates that you know, there's not going to be static institutions that we can look at big bricks and mortar institutions, but there's going to be a whole set of other kinds of applications that will kind of hold and hold the movement without being easily definable. And and so, all that I'm saying sounds really nebulous, and I can understand why that would make people nervous. So what we have to do is, is, we can't really stop a movement, we have to figure out are we gonna get in and swim in the movement? Or are we going to swim against the movement and you know how tired we get if you swim again? Colonel, you'll soon exhaust yourself.

David (he/him)  
I think one of the arguments that comes up with that nebulous uncertainty is that we are working collectively, against very organized, intentional forces that have very all labeled them conservative in the capitol see right wing conservative, like they have a very clear agenda about how they want the world to be. And almost by any means necessary, they're going to get there. And when our movement is a little bit less organized, and doesn't necessarily play well, with the existing power structures that govern for the purposes of this conversation, US society, that's not safe to your point that's disorganized. You know, one of the things that you talked about in the chapter is like, you know, resisting going for like the quick fix legislation that's going to address like this one piece of the problem, but not like really infuse it with our values and frameworks. Right, what do you say to that critique that fear that worried that concern?

Carl Stauffer (he/him)  
Yeah. There's a lot of traps along the way that we need to be really careful about. Yeah, I just you triggered something. There was some great research done by a colleague of mine in 2013. And she was looking at other major movements within the criminal legal system over the long history in some hundreds of years. So she was looking at major movements, like the parole and probation and parole movement, which was a separate movement of its own, even the penitentiary, going back to the idea of the penitentiary, which was based on this sort of penance. And, and so in what she discovered was was astonishing, almost all of those movements have popular support, they had a very Liberation's sort of language, idealistic sort of language, and they were going to transform the system. And all of them, she looked at three major ones, I can't remember what the third one was, all of them were eventually swallowed by the criminal legal system, as we know it. Right, and sort of added to the extension of the long tentacles of our criminal legal system. So very disappointing. So then she asked, What is going on? What happened? What can we discover in this? And how could we possibly learn when we think about the restorative justice movement, because it was frightening how similar the language was and everything and within about a 10 year period, what the first thing she discovered is within about a 10 year period, all of those movements, were nationally legislative, you know, from the time of their conception of the idea. And so the first word of advice, she said to the to the restorative justice field is Be thankful you haven't been nationally legislated yet? Because then you would have been would have lost the battle a long time ago, and resist that as much as possible. Now, I'm not completely opposed to legislation, and policy change, if it's done well with, you know, with a lot of reflection on the values that we're trying to promote in the process. And Dr. Thalia Gonzales has done some great work on that, on that side of things with her students. But then the other side of it, what she realized is, she said the other thing that was different about restorative justice movement is early on, we brought in the victim survivor, the harmed, and we brought in, even if it was, if it wasn't maybe always so holistically brought in the community. And you said all those other movements, didn't have that foresight, they focused on the offender, and the state, and that relationship, they harmed harm during the state. And so she said, that's another critical thing is our inclusion of bringing other folks into the process as much as possible. And that's only expanded, which is I think, what's helped to drive the movement to when we start thinking about circle process and the different models that we're using. So those are two very interesting signals, red flags for us to think about as we think about the movement. But yeah, it's um, it's unchartered territory. It's. And there's a lot of Yes, as I said, traps along the way. And let me be clear, people who do restorative, a particular restorative justice process, and they do it well, when they're professional, and their heart is there, and they feel the empathy and the compassion, and I've been there, I started there. There's nothing wrong with that. I'm not I'm not saying it's either or I'm saying it's both and we need good service, I always tell my students, I want you to be able to facilitate really good services, services, social services between parties and, and stuff, you should be able to do that skillfully and professionally in an impartial way, all of that good stuff. And I want you to be able to ask the hard questions about a system and be able to know where to push a system where to look at the policies and the procedures and how to ask the hard questions and how to raise the funding and talk to the donors about long term thinking and how to, you know how to get this concept framed in a message that will be sold to school boards, and, and get funding from donors for long periods, longer periods of time. And in think about structures like our joy has done, you know, where there's sitting, professional, full time, restorative justice practitioners and facilitators in the schools, and using it multiple levels across the school preventatively as well as responsively.

David (he/him)  
Yeah, I was gonna ask you, Are there examples that really come to mind for you definitely shout out our joy. And the numerous people who have been on this podcast, RJ and Jodie and others, who have been a part of that work, are there other examples that, you know, provide great, quote unquote, service, but like, are really taking that zoomed out system, community more public facing approach?

Carl Stauffer (he/him)  
Well, I mean, I really appreciate the work of impact justice in the in the, in the Bay Area. Such Sujatha. And her work, she's held the two together, tried to as much as possible. The work of, like I said, common justice in New York doing some really great work. They're trying to hold this together in saying we, we are relationally focused, we're trauma focused. We're healing focused, and we're also accountability focused and justice focused. And we can do both do not have to choose between.

David (he/him)  
Yeah, at different times. I've shared parts of my story of working. One of my one of my first times being paid to do quote unquote, restorative justice work with community, community organizing community engagement around this quote, unquote, restorative justice court in in the Chicago neighborhood that was not at that I think is harm reductive to people who were going through the criminal legal system, but like, the values of restorative justice, we're not in that court. Right? Did people avoid jail and prison time? Absolutely. And that is a positive, but to call something like that restorative justice, like, what is that doing to the movement? And, you know, they're building out another version of that court? Right. And that's, that's wonderful for the people who will avoid prison. What does that mean for our movement? Right, like we we hold those two things? Intention, and I don't know that there's like, a silver bullet, panacea answer to all of that.

Carl Stauffer (he/him)  
Right. No, absolutely. And I think what I'm saying is, I think the movement can go forward while these services are happening, unless there's really intensive legislation that somehow hampers the movement. But we're not seeing that happening too quickly. So as you said, we're really thankful to keep people out of prison. That's, that's, that's the sort of baseline. It should be. But yeah, we're really concerned when we model our restorative justice work after the criminal legal system, we've what the whole point is to try to pull away from that and reframe the possibilities of justice. So for instance, you know, it's it's long past due that we start to say, No, we're not going to set up a program to divert people but they still have a sentence and this doc to do promotion, probation, everything, you know, we need to talk about things that totally divert folks. Not how do we how do we keep them from getting into the system

David (he/him)  
and keep from giving the system more funding? Exactly, exactly.

Carl Stauffer (he/him)  
And that was the third thing sorry, my, my my friend who was doing his research on and I'm having a senior moment because I'm not remembering her name. And when it comes to Now getting back to she, she also said, we have NGO called the the movement to death. I mean, if we're not careful because that was the thing to do set up the NGO, and scramble for all this funding and beg for five or six cases a month from the court. Those days are over, you know, we're we've got to figure out another way to do that, because that consumed our energy, and kept us isolated in our separate projects and programs and, and didn't have the impact of a movement at all.

David (he/him)  
Yeah, there's a paraphrase of Maryam cava, but talking about how, as people, we've outsourced our conflict resolution to the state and our social service, our community, sorry, and out sourced community care work, to social service organizations, and like, what are the things that we can do, again, that like, aren't on its face, restorative or transformative justice, but what are the things that we can do to build those relationships and community to maintain those relationships in a good way that when I think about restorative justice, and my framing of it, like, that's totally inclusive of that building those relationships, you're doing equity and just making sure that people in communities know each other and know, people as resources, not like, Hey, call this number and this caseworker will come in, handle this for you.

Carl Stauffer (he/him)  
And it's countercultural in the US. It's very countercultural, because we've we've we've taken individualism to its height, I, you know, of, to the place where we're such an isolated people, and we really need to understand what it means to build community again, and that's tough, that's gonna, that's why I think this it's actually a movement because starting to cause a whole collectives of people to think about how they relate to each other differently, in order to do different things, and have different results. And it's, um, it's going to be challenging. I've seen restorative justice in other cosmologies other settings, where there's a different worldview where there's a relational or communal worldview, and it's beautiful. It's stunning. Yeah. And it's like, it's, I love Archbishop Desmond Tutu later, who used to say, my humanity is all wrapped up in your humanity.

David (he/him)  
Yeah, I was hoping we would get to make a smooth transition back to some work that you did in South Africa, perfect transition with the TRC. And the work that you were doing there, what were some highlights key learnings just a little bit that you want to share?

Carl Stauffer (he/him)  
Sure. So my, my connection to the TRC was was unexpected. When I first arrived, we arrived in January of 1994. And so that was four months before the all inclusive elections, when Mandela and the ANC were elected into power. It was a really hazardous time, there was a lot of low scale violence, because it was a lot of political power mongering around who's going to be the chief opposition to the ANC, everyone knew the ANC was going to win that a majority, but who was going to be the chief opposition etc. And, and the white government was playing a third, a third party role of spoiling in giving arms to other sides to make the place uncomfortable, and there was a lot of really, really messy stuff. So the first year was totally consumed with sort of the the, the transition passes. 9095, December 95, is when the TRC opened its doors, so to speak, or launched. And it was by South African colleagues who said to me, didn't you do something like victim, offender, whatever, before you came? I was like, Yeah, but that was like misdemeanor crimes. Let's not have that kind of. Yeah. They're like, No, but we need that there's people in in the TRC, the amnesty applicants asking for that to meet their communities where they committed the political violence and or the surviving families. And some of them are asking to meet the officer saying, How can we forgive unless we meet a human being and, and I was like, but they really prevailed and helped to pull together their networks. And we ended up with a with a coalition of about 22 different NGOs, civil societies, religious actors, women, youth, folks who are counseling in counseling and trauma work coming together. And we put a proposal together that we put before the TRC, and basically explained a much more contextualized version of what would this look like, potentially, if we were to take cases from the TRC and handle them, and these are, you know, gross human rights violations, whole different subject matter? And they liked our proposal. And basically, we're saying, we're not going to ask you to do more work. Just give us the referrals will do all the prep, and I can't overemphasize the prep that's involved, hours and hours of prep. separately before you'd ever bring someone together bring groups Yes. And that's what we're, that's what we're most afraid of is that unskilled facilitators and lack of prep will just make this whole process and blah, blah. And while they understood that they mean in the TRC, we were working through one of the subcommittee's called the reparations and rehabilitation subcommittee, the RNR subcommittee, and they were so overwhelmed with their mandate, it was really hard for them to get the sort of efficient or effective referral process to us. So we didn't do as many cases and there were times we were called in way too late. And so I could talk about failures and successes and not enough cases, and a whole bunch of things that there were deep learning. And the TRC was desperate to show that they were doing reconciliation. So they sometimes weren't patient enough without process. So they would throw people together, just run the cameras, and many of those ended in disaster. Unfortunate. But that's what we were, that's what we walked into the minefield locked into I know isn't, it was an incredible experience. And in the process, I got to know the inner workings of the TRC the Truth and Reconciliation Commission and was able to take part of some of the really, in hearings, public hearings and meetings around their work and, you know, help to mobilize when it came time for reparations and the demands of the of the survivor communities. And so it was it was it was a it was a deep learning curve for me really important learning curve. incredible moments of despair when things blew apart in that we weren't part of but we wished we could have have made it less of a of a of a theatrical drama, which is what it ended up being and more of a healing moment. The reparations thing is an interesting story. Many people don't know about the ANC government bulked up at paying reparations, or making reparations because they said, Why are we paying for the sins of the apartheid government which was, which was understandable, except that there was no more part pink of the ANC was now the government and they had all the resources of the state. And so we had to challenge them to take responsibility for for those who had suffered under protein. So then they said, well, we don't have the money.

Carl Stauffer (he/him)  
And so for about a year, there was sort of dilly dallying around in the surviving community survival communities were really, really frustrated. And then we caught wind of a arms agreement with Sweden. Okay, so let me get back up, the reparations package was recommending three to 5 billion rand, that's all it was going to cost. That's a drop in the bucket in, in South Africa's economy. So we caught wind that they spent 30 billion rand buying these touchy helicopters or something high tech hawk helicopters or something. And so that was all the leverage, we needed to make a lot of noise and say, hey, you know, you said you didn't have money. But you can do this, aside, aside from the fact that Mandela promised not to not sell into unstable regions. So there's a whole set of situations. Because there's, there's, there's or Anyway, that's all knows. But I'll leave that up. So we made enough noise that the government, the ANC government, then responded that they made a one off payment to every, you know, designated group, of course, human rights violation victim and there were certain categories. I mean, there was a whole bunch of people that didn't even fall in those categories. Like if you were jailed, but not tortured. It was considered a gross human rights violation, which is, which is awful. If you had your house torn down, and you were forcibly removed, it wasn't considered a Gaussian rights violation. So but that's a whole nother discussion around transitional justice, refine restraints, and in any case, people were given a once off payment, and it went quickly for most of the families. And it was really disappointing. And what resulted was a class action suit taken up by a New York firm that went after major industries, US industries that stayed invested in South Africa, all through apartheid. They didn't honor the sanctions, Kentucky Fried Chicken, Chrysler, Ford, and others, some petroleum companies and so on. So that's the sort of thing that's not restorative. That's the restorative part of the I mean, listen, I understood the surviving families looking for more, more acknowledgement and more relief from from the tremendous loss and trauma that they were experiencing and still are

David (he/him)  
Yeah, I think what comes to mind just off of that last piece of like understanding, I mean, maybe even wanting like a restorative solution. But the people who have caused harm or who are responsible for the harm, or have the power to repair the harm, just not wanting to do that can very easily turn someone off to a restorative process. I think that's justified. And the other thing that you brought up like, you know, unskilled facilitators, not doing enough prep, when I, whenever I talked about, you know, one of the, my biggest mistakes, or like my Oh, shit moment, very young doing this work of I was brought into a school, the first day, the principal's like, great, we've got these students, there is a fight, go talk to them pretty well together. And like, I want to make a good impression. So we got everyone in the room. And that did not go well, just because we had not done that that work. And so like, this work is so precious, that requires so much care. And, you know, one of the things that you mentioned in the chapter to bring it back is like, you know, when we talk about, quote, unquote, scaling this movement, like not to be so careful. Because like, we do want it to grow, we do want, like I using this platform want to amplify justice, right? And, you know, I know that people watching a 36 minute video that I have out on YouTube, like, just that, like that very detailed explainer of what is restorative justice, like has been helpful and transformational for some people just like their way of thinking, that doesn't mean that tomorrow, you get to go and facilitate these processes. In these spaces, like it requires, requires more Butlin, how do we balance that without professionalizing? It? There's, there's, there's so much to think about? Absolutely. I know that. Oh, God, God, no, you go ahead. I was I know that as I build out this organization, because that's what amplify RJ is. The people who are encountering restorative justice work through meet or not learning about restorative justice the way that I did, right, as somebody who had the privilege of having another job, another career as an x ray tech. And, you know, took a side job, as somebody who was working in employment program, helping folks who were out of work, find work, and those who had the hardest time were people who had records in the criminal legal system. And I'm saying this quickly, for people who have heard me tell this story over and over. Sure, sure. And along the way, I found the word restorative justice as like what I thought at the time to be an alternative to the criminal legal system. And then I had the ability to, you know, with my full time, other job, continue my schooling, go to grad school, and sit at the feet of men, many people who have been doing this work for a long time, and being the annoying college grad student, you feel like, Hey, I'm new, I'm in college, can I come learn from you and talking my way into a lot of different places? That's not something that everybody has the privilege to be able to do as we're concerned this word, right? Because it's right. You know, that's just not the way that the word works for most people. And so well, I feel like that education was invaluable. It's not the only way to learn this work, right? If somebody takes this master's and complex transformation, from CJP, with their internships, and you know, the didactic learning, the technical learning, and the life fix experience in the field like that, that's valid and beautiful and wonderful, but so is the people. So as the learning that people have done at the feet of indigenous elders, right, so the learning that the people have done, you know, in their communities as violence interrupters, and ceasefire workers to keep peace. And when we're all talking about this framework of restorative justice, so many times that we can come into tension because like we're not using the exact same language, the exact same words. Frustrating, still beautiful. And I've been recently speaking with a group of black men. And we're talking about, we're using the framework of reso mannequins, my grandmother's hands to work through life and one of the things that we we talked about this last week is like, you know, hope is like hope is beautiful. The words Marian Cava hope is a discipline but hope is heavy. There's not much space for disappointment, anger,

David (he/him)  
sadness along the way in this beautiful world that we're trying to build using In the words of restorative justice, where do you need to find hope?

Carl Stauffer (he/him)  
Hmm? Well, that was just a beautiful segue all by itself. So David, I have to sit there with that segment for just a moment

Carl Stauffer (he/him)  
well, I mean, I, I can't help. Okay, when when you've been in the field, as long as I have not that that's, you know, there's there's nothing sacred about duration of time. It depends what to do with it. But I can't help but have hope. Because what I've done is I have grabbed hold of, not literally, but the people and their stories and their narratives of resilience. And that gives me a tremendous amount of hope. I have people always coming to me with so disparaging about Africa, and I was I lived 16 years in Africa and traveled in 20 different countries, the continent left a huge imprint on my soul, and my psyche, and my spirit. And I'll never, I'll never be able to get that, I'll never be able to ignore that it's there. And it's beautiful. And so and so I can think across the continent, I can see, you know, these sparkling places where I know people doing incredible work day to day, never make the news, they never, you know, their stories aren't written. But I know their stories, and I know what they're going through. And other people do too. And, and, and they're the people that are holding out in my mind, they're the people that show me, the best face of our human being in our human condition, you know, the, the ability to remain resilient, and to hold on and to continue this work against incredible odds are so many people like that, and I could tell story after story. So I hang on to those stories. And I tell those stories, and when I'm feeling discouraged, and there's been plenty of times I've had my Oh shit, why am I even in this field moments, you know, and so I, you know, I tell the story of working with this the Syrian refugees. Right after the Syrian civil war, I was invited to accompany the refugees for about two weeks in Guinea Conakry, which is this the country besides Sierra Leone, where the refugees had fled over the border. And we were doing peacebuilding, generally and so on with a set of select facilitators in the refugee camp. It was actually a combination of peacebuilding content. And then there was other folks who were doing literacy, because there was a high non literacy rate amongst the refugees. And so it was this great combination of the content was peacebuilding and restorative justice and non violence in that. But the casing in the in the whole process is literacy development. In the process of working there, I happened to be there just when the international community, whoever that is determined that, you know, all the fighters and the rebels and the, and the armed groups that were fighting in the Romanian, Sierra Leone, were given blanket amnesty and transitional justice terms, blanket amnesty means as if nothing ever happened. They can they're not going to be held accountable. They don't have to speak the truth. They can't go to trial, there won't be extra special courts or anything, it'll just be see, and we blanket this period. And we asked you to try to go on a dreadful shortcut to restorative justice or reconciliation or any or peace or anything else in many ways. So watch the the community just divide. And of course, one side was really aggressive and angry and said, If they step back in my village, if I see that young people are the boys or the men or the fighters that did that, I'll kill them. And then there was others who just closed down and I saw them fold in and I saw them shaking their head saying what could we do that was the only way we can have peace, we had to greet we didn't like it was have to figure out how to live together. That was apathy. So you have this, this aggression and this apathy, both of which were on unchecked were deeply discouraging and not only discouraging destructive for thinking about how are we going to rebuild, you know, there was a ceasefire, we're talking about rebuilding, they are talking about rebuilding the country and, and you know, history tells us, you know, the country He, if we're told, if it's revenge, you know, it'll just keep the cycle going. And if it's apathy, next generation will pick up the fight. For sure. They'll say they're our grandparents, our parents didn't fight hard enough.

Carl Stauffer (he/him)  
And so neither of those are promising. And there had to be a third way. You know, up to that point, I had never thought of restorative justice. I've been through the TRC. But I'd never really thought of it as a ward of something that could be applied in a ward of peace transition. I went back to my accommodation that night, and I was ticked. And I was like, you know, why am I here? I should just pack up and go home. Where's justice? There's no justice. Basically, it's like, God, where's justice? Was that does. It was really emotionally draining to be with him that that, that that moment, and that night, you know, I had sort of this epiphany, if you will, to say, try, you know, think about restorative justice, went back to the team and the leaders and said, Okay, let's talk me, are you willing to talk about this? And they said, Sure. So we did. And it was this fascinating discussion of starting off with with the refugees, same community folks saying, well, we don't have power. The international community has the legal power, and they have the political power, and they've taken from us. But we kept probing, and that's what I love about restorative justice is it asks different sets of questions. And when it asks different sets of questions, it gets different answers. And so we kept probing, and they started to talk about, well, we have this culture, cultural rituals, cultural practice, we have this religious or spiritual practice, we have these social ways in which we hold people accountable. And also they begin to develop this incredible picture of asset based restorative justice, culturally, spiritually, and socially. And, and they went, they took that and went back to rebuilding their villages saying, hey, these young people must absolutely they weren't all young people, but a lot of them were there was a lot of child soldiers used in the war, unfortunately, and deliberately and against their will drugged and so on. But in any case, they said, they can come back and we can't put them on trial. We can't make them tell the truth. But what we can say is you are our son or brother or father or uncle. And we believe your humanity can be restored. What you did was inhumane, but you are still human. And we will do everything in our cultural, social and spiritual authority to re acclimate you into the human community. And that's what they did. And they had a special court from The Hague, they had the truth commission come in, based on South African blueprint, neither of them reached the local folks who literally at gun point had to do horrendous killing of each other in local villages and stuff like that. And so they started a movement of an indigenous movement called Fembot talk, which in Creole means family talk, started by a good friend of mine, John Cocker is the founder of it. He's the Executive Director of International, this international work now called Fembot. token, they've been going since 2007 2008. They've reached 1000s of people. They don't use the word restorative justice, but it has every element of sort of remorse, forgiveness reparations transaction, using rituals and processes that are understandable to the people on the ground. It's in their cosmology, it's and they've cleansing processes, and then they feast together. And, and it's an incredible process around a bonfire. And you have to, you probably know about this already. So there's a film out on it, and so on, but I make the argument, and I stand by it. And I say to the transitional justice, fraternity. This is transitional justice. This is restorative transitional justice. It's a way of bringing healing and accountability together a community level. And its building justice. It's an incredible movement from the ground up. It's a bottom up justice movement, that saying we'll heal ourselves, and we're the best people to do that. And that was restorative justice, I saw it in action then. And then it was like, Yeah, this is possible in a large collective level. Now there was a lot of values and so on the collectivized mentality and cause worldview that helped sis that process. But if we're serious about our ideals of the Western justice system, when we see those being enacted, no matter what they're called, or how they're done, then we need to take note.

Carl Stauffer (he/him)  
I think Fembot talk gives us an example, of restorative justice at a collectivized level that has been incredibly successful in showing us a way that this can be done without someone from the outside hoisting a blueprint of off some external process. People that don't even understand it, or aren't familiar with it.

David (he/him)  
What that has me thinking about is the US, and this might be like a whole different conversation, because you're talking about responding to harm that happened. Within years, when we're here in the US, we're talking about harm that's happened over centuries, to indigenous people, to stolen African people, and to people of the global majority who continue to be harmed by a systemic

David (he/him)  
by systemic white supremacy. I don't know that there is a restorative process that has happened like that, I mean, because like even thinking back to like, Nazi Germany, and, you know, the work that's still being done, three, four generations now to like, help repair arm like, the US hasn't really even like, begun that process. And that might be a bigger conversation than we have time for today. But you know, what, you know, you say you find hope in these stories. And I immediately want to take it to me, but what about us? Because I'm a selfish person. Sure, you know, what the best for myself, and now, you know, my, my child and other other generations, but, you know, knowing that it works in some places in those in those small spaces, you know, talking about where this work is growing. Yeah. And I can even think about people who come back to me to talk about, like, where this works in their classroom, the conversation that they're able to have with their partner, their families, their parents about like, the harm, or the disconnects, the miscommunications. That's beautiful. And, you know, there's always hope for more. You know, you talked earlier about, you know, you the role that you're in now with the US Institute of Peace seems like a perfect fit of blending in so many aspects of the work that you've done, and you know, who you are. What is that work? What are you excited about in that right now?

Carl Stauffer (he/him)  
Well, I do want to say something to, you know, the concept that you were mentioning sort of historical harms. Yeah. And I'll just make one one important comment didn't say certainly, while Sierra Leone had a 12 year civil war that could be sort of bookended it, it was it long and coming. And all of Africa has to go back to colonization, before it can ever really talk about what's happening now, because there's such deep roots and connections there too. So that needs to be part of the analysis. I guess, what gives me hope in our country here, right now are our, again, small, but burgeoning movements. There are truth telling projects popping up all over. I'm sure you've talked about that with some of your guests, starting with, you know, the twotone project in Ferguson, in after 2014. The so there's been some mapping of those of those truth telling projects and, and, and efforts to support them. And that mapping is really incredible. And it's like a lots of local efforts. And again, I think as a movement, we need to think about other ways to connect. You know, one of the beautiful things was when they did the, they used the social media and, and got people connected in regions all at the same in different time zones, but at the same time, telling their stories of, of of their experiences of violence and harm at the hands of the police, but the other two and you've probably met either had guests on that have talked about them or you certainly know about them. But I'll put a shout out for those who are in this thing maybe for the first time the one is coming to the table, that movement CTT t, where we have folks, you know, the ancestors of those who enslaved and those who were in slavers coming together intentionally, to have conversations across all of these deeply divided issues in finding ways to face the history together, they have a four part process, face the history together and build relationship, jointly do healing work, and then think about an action they can take together as a local community across these divides. So there's been some great work, a lot of it is maybe symbolic, a lot of it is very, very deep personal work that happens, but in but that's something that I'm delighted to watch take off, and there's chapters that keep growing and opening up. And Jody Geddes and Tom Wolfe writes a little book on on the coming to the table process to the other one is Dr. David Anderson hooker, maybe you've had him on here, too. But his little book on transformative community conferencing, where he's been working with narrative and the idea of how to help communities, talk through the narrative of the history and identify the conflict saturated narrative that they've lived by, and figure out how do we begin to work through that conflict saturated narrative, and, and find ways to not re narrate in order to go into some Nala Nana land, but to think about, what are what what assets and resources do we have? And what is our vision for the future? And how do we want to get there? And how do we want to work our relationships out as we go. And so it's a lot of double listening for what people are saying or not saying, it's a lot of listening for the critical in between messages that are being sent and sent as communities come together across these divides in trying to work with things. And so there are many other movements, I'm thinking of the RJ hubs in Chicago, at least five of those where they're opening up a space for young people to just decide what they want to do in that space, how to lead and making them police free zones. And, you know, having community circles where folks are processing the issues of the community. These are all signs of hope for me in this process. And then we've got the legislation with that Representative Barbara Lee, who's put forward the truth and racial healing and transformation legislation.

Carl Stauffer (he/him)  
And, and also the reparations legislation, which of course, is as more controversy surrounding it, but there's gaining interest on rep. Lee's legislation. There's a lot of work that we need to be done to figure out how would a truth telling process look in this country and I and my hat's off to vocal proponents of that, like Dr. Fannia Davis, who are making incredible inroads and challenging and inspiring so many of us in this work, of figuring out, can we bring our warrior selves and our healer selves? Together as she, as she so aptly says above her own walk?

David (he/him)  
Yeah, yeah. Sometimes it's like, sometimes these conversations with my guests are like, more hopeful than I'm willing to be in a moment. Yeah. Yeah.

Carl Stauffer (he/him)  
I understand. Yeah. There's, there's many moments. I mean, I'm, of course I'm talking, I have to talk myself into this hope, sometimes to or certainly many moments, when I was reading the news, or hearing one more Twitter, or whatever, saying and saying, you know, wow. Yeah, what's wrong with us?

David (he/him)  
Yeah, because we can't divorce ourselves from what's happening like we are harmed and contributors to these systems that continue to perpetuate harm. I don't know if you fully got to share. You know, what's exciting you

Carl Stauffer (he/him)  
about Yes, yes. That was the second part of that. Yeah. So some of the projects that I'm involved with, which give me energy. The first thing I was asked to do was do sort of what they call an evidence review, which sounds very academic, but it was sort of a scan of the reconciliation field and trying to help to understand reconciliation, because reconciliation is one of those words, that's just way overused and used for everything and often antidotal and sort of accused of being fluffy and, and just being problematic. And let me just name that, you know, in the English language remains returning to. And, you know, there, we're not returning to good relationships. In many of the historical hearts, we've been never there. So I mean, the same argument happened in Truth Commission in South Africa, I was like, we should call this the Truth and Reconciliation Commission, because we're not really reconciling, we were never consulted. Thank you very much. So this is our challenge. And yet, it's a word that holds also a lot of depth and weight. And so what we're trying to do is, is center that a little bit more, there's a few things that that concerned us about reconciliation and was often left to the very end. If you have a linear view of this conflict thing, and you hope it happens at the end, maybe if people aren't really, you know, big spirited, it might be the cherry on top of the cake. But if it doesn't happen, then it doesn't happen. If it does happen. Well, great. It's because of the this combination of people. We think we can be much more intentional about it, we think we need to think about what are the theories of change that we've named them or not that are driving reconciliation. And in fact, the what we do know from research and peacebuilding is that many of the mediated and negotiated agreements of national level are unraveling. They're crumbling within five years of a supposedly successful agreement. So we're in a real quagmire as a peacebuilding field, right? We're sort of trying to do damage control for you know, and I think the my personal perspective is exactly what we've been talking about restorative justice. We have made mediation and negotiation into the technical, formulaic process that we train diplomats in, they go in with their briefcases and go back down. And what we've forgotten is the ancient path of relationship. Yeah, and reconciliation is that ancient path. And so reconciliation is appropriate in the thick of the conflict. In other words, everywhere I go, even in the midst of, you know, all out war happening, there was always some people seeing the conflict with two eyes, and reaching out and saying, let's try to heal together or reaching across the divide of whatever the conflict Divine is and saying, Come let's dialogue or let's together heal, or let's talk about what's going on, let's, let's work together to rebuild this part of the community. And that's the reconciliation we need to look for, and try to encourage. So that's one of the things we're doing. We're also developing a reconciliation course, which is an online asynchronous course. USIP offers a number of different courses. I'm involved in a number of other areas of projects. And this is in the, in the function of one of the reasons I appreciate my role at USIP. Is it's an accompaniment role. It's a it's a support a supportive role. We have local teams in Colombia, in Afghanistan, in the Philippines who are doing the work on the ground, what we're doing is coming alongside if we're invited, and trying to walk with them, bringing in some case study, comparisons, some training, maybe our capacity, whatever, or just coaching. But we're in a we're in a second place. It's not, you know, it doesn't feel at my age that I shouldn't be in front line seven, maybe never should have been in doing the hands on work, so it feels like an appropriate space of support. And so in that space, there's conversations with some restorative justice work with EX FARC in Colombia, who have apologized and are talking about reintegration back into the community. There's some conversation about there's been a peace agreement with a bunk some more traditional transitional authority in the Philippines in Mindanao. And this is a this was a decadal resistance movement that finally came to a peace agreement with the central government of the Philippines. And now they need to implement their peace agreement so that their people can be and to feel the fruits of that peace. And so they're asking for various partners to come alongside them.

Carl Stauffer (he/him)  
We're, we're in conversation with the conflict in Cameroon, which is there's a there's an armed struggle We're in Cameroon, West Africa right now. And we're working with the diaspora and some folks inside and trying to figure out what is a appropriate role. So these are the kinds of things that give me energy. Last Friday, we had 25 African diplomats who have just been recently stationed in DC in their embassies. And we have them together to look at peacebuilding, and do a simulation around peacebuilding work. And they're also looking at how does how does the government work here, and networking and private and public partnerships and that kind of thing? So that's just a smattering of the kind of work that I'm doing. Yeah, it's

David (he/him)  
I am in some ways, odd, like, you know, this is there's so much work. There's so much to be done. And I want to like start to transition us to close. Sure. When we're thinking about like, you've done all this work across the globe? What has this way of being meant for you, Carl, in your life as a person navigating the relationships, that you're a part of?

Carl Stauffer (he/him)  
That's a great question, because I really don't feel like we can sustain ourselves in this work if we're not doing the inner work. Dr. Brown, that is amazing colleague and friend, who is the restorative justice coordinator for the Richmond public schools. He says, We are the work. For me, it's it touches on so many different parts of who I am back to my faith. To me it restorative justice has been an incredible formative process to how I understand God as in how I think God works with his creation of the Creation us in the Spirit, because I certainly feel like restorative justice feels really, really close to my experience of faith, that I tried to LISTEN to the Spirit, who, who's my sort of accountability. It says, hey, you know, don't do this, or don't say that, and go here and go there. But you know, and that, that's many disciplines of prayer and, and other forms of spiritual discipline. So that's the accountability part. But then I think the love and the ability to walk out, in in being called and sort of feel a call and a purpose, Destiny is all part of that, in my spiritual walk. It's affected my marriage, for sure, I hope. Know, in in the way my, my wife and I process have processed our conflicts and understood, she grew up in the Middle East, I grew up in Asia, very different ways of doing conflict. So when we first met that was, that was an interesting moment. And so we've grown sort of iron sharpening iron and found out what it means to be restorative in in multiple ways, tone and language as well as speech and action. It certainly affected my parenting. In fact, Carol and I have toyed with writing a little bit more about restorative parenting, we're not quite sure that we even use the words initially. But it became really important for us in how we relate to our children. And early on, we have them in circle, we didn't call it that we call it family meetings, but early on during family meetings, where we gave over the leadership of those meetings, we passed it around. And, and almost everything was on the table for discussion. There was a few things obviously age specific, that weren't on the table and i You can't know you have to go to sleep, you have to go to bed at a certain time and you have to eat certain things and stuff like that. But otherwise, there was there was a moment and we often did save that for the family meeting and we had them regularly and it was moments when our kids could say, you know, Dad, you over you overreacted there. And it was they wouldn't use the word harmful problem, but it was harmful. And I had an opportunity then to say I'm sorry. And let's see how we can do this differently. And those relationships remain really strong. To this day, I hope it has affected the way I work and am with people, how I, how my presence and how I sit with people. And in my facilitation, it's helped me to become much more grounded, and more centered, and hopefully less performative.

David (he/him)  
That went, that last one hit me. I was talking earlier today about how in my facilitation, especially when I'm teaching, I knew the stories to tell they're very well resource, right, and I know you on the receiving end are gonna have a very emotional experience with this. And to me, this is just Tuesday. This is what I do, right? And it's, it's, and, you know, I don't know, if we were on air off when we were saying this, but in my day to day work, doing this restorative justice, life, its marketing, its content creation, its

Carl Stauffer (he/him)  
message, messaging, framing your framing,

David (he/him)  
to bring people into the space and like, once I get people into the space, like sometimes I'm exhausted by like, all the other things. And so it's easy to go on to autopilot. But like the ability to be present, even in virtual space, like really does translate in, you know, we have built like, really beautiful relationships of the past two years with people who I have never met in person and will probably never meet. Sure. I guess we can suddenly plug unless they come to the NAC RJ conference in Chicago, right? It's Friday night, coming up. But it is a really good reminder of like the way that you do anything is the way that you do everything. And this plays such a huge part in all of this. In some ways. This has brought us to like a lovely, close, but they're still like the fun questions at the end that everybody answers do you have time?

Carl Stauffer (he/him)  
Sure, absolutely. I just wanted to say one thing, storytelling, it's a gift. And it's a great gift. And so I use storytelling a lot too. And I fully understand what you're saying. I drop it in at different points and know, let it let strings it will push and pull or whatever. But I do think that's the power of storytelling, the storytelling really is to grab us in an embodied way. And have us have that sort of heart and head reaction. And then sometimes stories, which is fun and enjoyable and make us laugh, which is also really healing. But yeah, there is a moment there's a fine line between that and when we're performing. And I and I want to be sensitive to how it is that I'm present. Yeah. In a group. Yeah. Anyway, let's go to the final questions.

David (he/him)  
Yeah, you've and you've I feel like you've answered some of these in the stories that you've already told. So I'm gonna jump to one of my favorite which is you get to sit in circle with four people living or dead. Who are they? And what is the one question you ask the circle

Carl Stauffer (he/him)  
Oh, Wow that's cool huh? That is I'm going through let me tell you what's going on. I mean, I'm just gonna

Carl Stauffer (he/him)  
I'm going through my head and there's all these faces and names and stories going through my head and I'm like this is the cloud of witnesses I'd love to sit in circle with some of them are alive and some of them did pick four pick four I would wow, I would love to sit in circle with so there's there's some people I'd love to get together in a circle. Okay, maroon see Matt's abandoned, but let's see I shadowed him. In South Africa for two years, the first two years I was there in the NGO, I was working in South Africa. He had spent 14 years on Robben Island with Mandela came out went right back to the same work. He was he was part of the Zappo, which is the Azania. And people's organization, which is a political movement that Greta Steve Pecos work. And so he was put in prison because of his political activities in mid 70s, accused of being in a communist ring or something. So the prime of his life was taken from age 26 to 40. But when I met him, and I had the chance to meet him at a conference before I went to South Africa, and he just blew me away, just open and, and sitting in sitting with me, and he didn't have any reason to be that way. And he was just what we call mini Mandela. And I watched him do his work over, you know, I was with him when the the election days happened. And we watched lines of people voting for the first time in their lives. And I watched him negotiate with white police officers who, more than likely probably helped to get him in prison, or at least the stations in the East Grand barrier working or that I saw him mediating in ethnic conflicts in amongst mineworkers in the gold mines. And he knew six languages. I don't know, I don't know how to explain my words, except that he blew me away. And it was a tremendous privilege, and he opened up doors and for me in relationships and networks that I'll never ever be able to repay. And I would love to ask him a lot more questions about you know, what motivated him to just be such an incredible open, gracious, merciful person, restorative, he didn't even use that language, but restorative in so many ways. So we're gonna see would be one, I'd love to see him in conversation with someone like funnier Davis, I'd love to have them in the same room, and circle together. And, and I have the utmost respect for finance. She's a good colleague, and, and friend, but as I mentioned before, this whole her story of bringing theater her way herself and her healer self, in finding that in in her expression of restorative justice in her inspiration. I love being in circle because I've actually been in circle with her before, so maybe that doesn't count. And then I think of think of Catholic Kumar. Kefa was the other person, the very first person I worked with in South Africa. He was the best negotiator I think I've ever watched work, he had helped to negotiate a truce between taxi violence. At the time that was also politicized. They were basically each community was ambushing the taxis, the public taxis when they came out the other community because they were assumed to be full of the enemy. And he had negotiated this agreement where they had a truce and a ceasefire, because they all decided we all need the public transportation system to be safe. Our children need to get to school, and our spouses and family members need to travel safely. And so I watched him work between these divided communities, this would have been the ANC and their armed wing. And the IFP then caught the Freedom Party, which was the chief opposition to the ANC at the time, and their armed wing. And I watched him move and I shadowed him again, at these meetings on a weekly basis called the joint Monitoring

Carl Stauffer (he/him)  
Committee. And I watched him work, do his work so well, that the taxi associations put him under a death threat. Because he was solving problems and they liked to take over routes and ranks because it meant more money, and more profit, almost like a mafia. So with if they had enough gun power, they could take smaller taxi ranks out of business. And I watched his life go under threat and then we were trying to protect him. He refused to get out of the industry altogether because he was too loyal and too committed. And he eventually got lured back to a peace agreement, which he thought was legitimate peace agreement with the taxi associations and the regional, provincial government. But it was a setup and when he drove home after signing the peace agreement, he was run off the road and assassinated The only good that came out of that is we ended up or a whole bunch of smaller taxi associations amalgamated and made one bigger one that that made them a force to contend with, as opposed to, with these other bigger associations, they couldn't quite take them over as easily. But we lost him and he'll have four children behind. And I would love kefla, to be in that circle and talk about what motivated him to put his life on the line. For this restorative work, he was so committed to his people witnessed and and he was from the Zulu Nation, which is often known as the, the warriors, fighters. Traditionally, it's one of those stereotypes of ethnic groups, and he was a peacebuilder, restorative activist in so many ways. Know, three, four, sorry, I'm giving little biographies. But these people are really you know, amazing to me, and they mean a great deal. To me, I think of.

Carl Stauffer (he/him)  
Pastor, a pastor friend, well, actually, he's an elder. His name is Dr. Moulin de Juma. He's in the Congo. And he grew up in war, in Bukovel, in the eastern Congo, 1000 people were killed in his village in one weekend, when he was at boarding school. And he fled to South Africa in 1998. When went through a lot of trauma, healing and work, and then he and I worked together, and he ended up doing his master's in his PhD work in Conflict Studies. And he helped develop peace clubs all over baroody, or parts of Burundi, and Congo, and Zambia, these are clubs that really was promoted peace, but also restorative justice and other issues, in schools and in the community at large. And wherever they were invited, they went into prison systems, too. And Milan is a hero for me on the continent, he's He's stayed on committed to his people. He's in Congo now doing the work. And there's others like him, John copper I mentioned but I'll stop those four and put together a

David (he/him)  
circle. And what is the question you ask that circle one question to kick that circle?

Carl Stauffer (he/him)  
What makes your what makes your spirit soar to do the work that you keep doing over decades and decades of time

David (he/him)  
through reason that this is fun, because now I get to turn that question back to you.

Carl Stauffer (he/him)  
It's, it's a calling I don't know what else to say. And I don't mean that in a get a bit. I get up every morning and in exercise and get excited to go into my day. Not always. But it's a calling. I can't veer from it right now. It's a bit I'm too deep into it to go back. Now. That doesn't sound very hopeful either. But you know what I mean? Deep in it, that it would betray myself and what I've given my life to turn around and try to do something totally different. It would, there's a, there's a purpose in a drawing, a drawing, like a beckoning like a movie. That happens for me. And I take every day to spend a little time meditating and praying and, and just getting my headspace at a place where I can hit the ground and, and still be sensitive enough to not lose track of what I'm supposed to what the most important things I'm supposed to do that day, regardless of how many meetings I have. Yeah,

David (he/him)  
yeah. Thank you. These next couple might be a little bit faster, but we have hope so. No worries. We have hundreds probably right now potentially 1000s and millions later, people listening to this conversation. What's one thing you want them to know? might be an affirmation might be a mantra might be something else.

Carl Stauffer (he/him)  
Something that the pastor of the church that I go to now and it's an interracial church, and he's our senior leader in the whole pastoral team is African American, Chris Johnson. And he says, You were built for this, it tells us that over and over again. And I want to say that to folks, we, you know, we talked about, we laugh and say, Oh, that's idealistic, and in your dreams. But I think we, as humans were built for this. And you might not see it in your generation, but you're built for this in order for the next generations to reap the benefits. So we're built for this work. You know, even the neuroscience is telling us we were built for this work, they're finding out that our agents are actually not inclined to isolate. They're inclined to go towards community and try to make connection. So we were built for this as far away, as the goal seems to be sometimes. And for me, I think a lot of what Mandela said in his 27 years of prison is when he was asked about his commitment to reconciliation. He said, I kept my eyes on, on a horizon of reconciliation. I want to keep our eyes on the horizon of restorative justice.

David (he/him)  
Beautiful. Last two, this one's also fun, because it requires you to do some work for me, who's one person that I should have on this podcast? And you have to help me make that connect?

Carl Stauffer (he/him)  
Sure. Yeah, I don't know. I'll probably name a bunch of folks that you've already had on this. Um, have you heard Dr. David Epstein hooker?

Unknown Speaker  
I have not.

Carl Stauffer (he/him)  
He's great. I highly recommend them. He's got a little book that came out in 2016, called transformative community conferencing, which is not conferencing as we know it traditionally, but it is. And I'd be happy to connect you with him. Dr. Thalia Gonzalez may have had her.

David (he/him)  
I haven't caught her eye. That what's funny, is that, like, there are all these people who you're going to name? And I would be like, Oh, yeah. Oh, yeah. rejected that. And, you know, over this, over the course of 70 episodes, there have been so many different people. And I think one of the beautiful things about the restorative justice world is that many of these people are just an email away. phone call away idea. Right away. But yeah, definitely should, should should reach back out to her.

Carl Stauffer (he/him)  
Both of those, we recommend right off the bat.

David (he/him)  
Beautiful. And then finally, how can how and where can people support you and your work in the way that you want to be supported?

Carl Stauffer (he/him)  
Well, that's a great question, too. I, okay, on a very, very basic level, I love being able to talk about restorative justice and tell the story wherever I can. And so I do try to take platforms and open it up. So happy to do that, whether it's a podcast or a natural event, or an online presentation, or a presentation to a class. I'm, I'm an ambassador for this thing, maybe self appointed, probably. But that's, uh, I'm ready to talk about it and want to talk about it as much as I as I can. And then I guess I would say in the broadest sense of the word, the mission statement of USIP is peace is possible. And then there's a whole bunch more to it. It's possible and practical and blah, blah, blah. But it's sort of cliche, but I think we have lost track of how in ordinate amount of resources we have put into more into conflict and violence as a means to try to change people's behavior or solve problems. And we have yet to even understand just the sliver of those resources being put into the work of peace, and USIP is one of the main and only that I know of dedicated quasi state. Peace focused efforts. And so we want to keep that vision alive. And there's been some folks that don't agree with that, as you can fully imagine, of course

David (he/him)  
course. But I mean, will, will leave links to us IPs, work, your work in the show notes.

Carl Stauffer (he/him)  
And yeah, I mean, this anything you're, you're saying and doing with the Center for Justice and Peace Building, and the folks who are continuing continuing to carry on this air Institute at John Swartz and Dr. Cathy Evans, there the immune, any support that they can get to along the way, it's fantastic,

David (he/him)  
beautiful, we'll make sure that all of that information is down below for people, thank you so much for giving us your stories, and the wisdom and experience that's come with them. It's been a true pleasure. And I can't wait to share this conversation with you know, our audience, there's so much that I picked up. And I know others will, as well. Any other words you wanna leave the people with?

Carl Stauffer (he/him)  
I think I'm finished. But thank you for the vital work that you do. Every really appreciate it, David, and keep, you know, I mentioned in the book that there's, there's these three pillars to social movement, you know, the political opportunity, the resource mobilization, the last is the messaging, and the framing, and you're helping us do that as a field of restorative justice. So thank you.

David (he/him)  
Beautiful. Well, I, I receive that and encourage others to continue to amplify this work and share this with somebody who you think would really benefit from this conversation again, Carl, thank you so much to everyone else listening, take care, and we'll be back with another episode. conversation with someone living this restorative justice Life next week.

Transcribed by https://otter.ai