This Restorative Justice Life

86. Pedagody of Circles w/ Daniel Rhodes

July 07, 2022 David Ryan Castro-Harris Season 2 Episode 22
This Restorative Justice Life
86. Pedagody of Circles w/ Daniel Rhodes
Show Notes Transcript

Daniel is director of the undergraduate Social Work program at UNC-Greensboro. He received his PhD in Educational Leadership with a graduate certificate in Women and Gender Studies from the UNC-Greensboro in 2008. 

In the Pedagogy of Cirlces, Daniel breaks down tangible ways to bring RJ circles into teaching social work and more!

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David (he/him)  
This restorative justice life is a production of Amplify RJ. Follow us on all social media platforms at Amplify RJ or sign up for our email list to stay up to date on everything we have going on. And to get the most involved, join our free mighty networks community to get connected with others living this restorative justice life all over the world. As far as this podcast goes, make sure you subscribe, leave a rating and review and share with a friend to help us further amplify this work. Enjoy the episode. 

David (he/him)  
Welcome to this restorative justice life. The podcast that explores how the philosophy practices and values of restorative justice apply to our everyday lives. I'm your host, David Ryan Garcia, Castro Harris, all five names for the ancestors, and I'm the founder of amplify RJ on this podcast, I talk with RJ practitioners, circle keepers, and others doing this work about how this way of being has impacted their lives. Daniel, welcome to this restorative justice life. Who are you?

Daniel Rhodes (he/him)  
I am a social worker and an educator.

David (he/him)  
Who are you?

Daniel Rhodes (he/him)  
I am a restorative justice practitioner.

David (he/him)  
Who are you?

Daniel Rhodes (he/him)  
I am a Buddhist and a Quaker.

David (he/him)  
Who are you?

Daniel Rhodes (he/him)  
I'm, I am a hermit somewhat of a monk, which is complicated for some people. I can always get into that later too.

David (he/him)  
Who are you?

Daniel Rhodes (he/him)  
A community builder?

David (he/him)  
Who are you? And this

Daniel Rhodes (he/him)  
And this is the great part of being a community builder. I am a goes with the hermit and introvert.

David (he/him)  
Last time for this. Who are you?

Daniel Rhodes (he/him)  
I am a student I'm a lover of learning. I just love to read and study and learn people and things and ideas and anything else that;s out there. I just try to absorb it all

David (he/him)  
in. Beautiful. Well, we're gonna get to all the intersections of who you are just after this.

Elyse (she/her)  
Hey folks, I'm Elyse, your producer and today we are welcoming Daniel Rhodes to the podcast. Daniel is the director of the undergraduate Social Work program at UNC Greensboro. Daniel is also trained in dialectical behavioral therapy as a form of cognitive behavioral therapy that uses mindfulness to address issues related to trauma, and has been a clinical supervisor and restorative justice practitioner that engages and trains students in communities and peacemaking. As always, thank you for listening and let's get right back into it.

David (he/him)  
Well, Daniel, thank you so much for being here. It's good to reconnect after a long time. We'll talk a little bit about that in a second. But you know, it's always good to check in. So to the extent that you want to answer the question in the moment, how are you?

Daniel Rhodes (he/him)  
I'm doing pretty well. It's it's an end of the semester. So we have about three weeks left, and so it's always overwhelming. I am a director of an undergraduate program with about 400 students. And there are different levels of stress and anxiety among the students coming out of the kind of COVID world and their, you know, students getting ready to go into their senior year students get ready to graduate and I'm kind of the touch person Touchstone person for them that I have to kind of deal with. So I'm hanging in there pretty well. You know, I can't complain, I could, but I can't complain. I'm actually doing pretty well. Thank you. How are you? If

David (he/him)  
sometimes people do sometimes people don't. For those of you who listen to the podcast, a lot of you might recognize that this episode is being aired out of order. So I am three weeks out from being a new father and you can assume all the things that go with that all the beauty, all the gratitude, all the stress, all the exhaustion, but you know right now very, very present. He's eating right now and then hopefully after that he'll be sleeping. So hoping for relative quiet during during this recording. I I'm grateful for your, your presence, and your response going from like, good to like, I'm hanging on. And like, you know, I it it's it's the nature of, you know, these times. Right? But thank you for sharing all those things. I'm, I'm curious. You know, I was gonna ask this later, but you mentioned it in your who are your questions, responses. As a Buddhist and a Quaker? How do you How does your faith impact how you get to that space of being able to hang on be good In the midst of all of this work question,

Daniel Rhodes (he/him)  
I wasn't expecting a question like that you've I don't know how to it's No, I'm just kidding. I think it's really, it's interesting in that I've just recently reconnected with a Quaker group. So you know, I there and from in North Carolina is kind of Quaker central almost go for colleges, here it was on the Underground Railroad, lot of Quakers have worked here. So there's a long history. And Quakers come in two different well, more than two, I don't want to generalize. But there's two main traditions, there's a kind of conservative friends, which is not unprogrammed in the program, which is more like a church setting, I go, of course, to the unprogrammed, because it's silent, there's no minister, it's all kind of consensus based, and we work together make decisions together. And I have reconnected, and it's interesting to reconnect to that community, because they had reached out to me before the pandemic, because they wanted me to come and do a circle process with them, you know, I'd stayed connected with the community somewhat, but was not as active with them because of other things going on in my life, and still connected with members of that would cause you know, a Friends Meeting House and they reached out to me, and it's like, we'd really like for you to come and do a circle process are some internal conflicts. And we want you to do that. And so I met with them and then pandemic hit. And so then over the past year, they reached out to me, because I had written another chapter about in a Quaker book about how Quaker has Quakerism has influence my teaching and restorative justice practice, along with, you know, Mennonites and stuff. And so I said, I really need to reconnect with this group, I miss this group, I need that kind of grounding, of being able to go to a space, initially it was zoom. And then being in the space now we're kind of a hybrid where I go into space and sit in that Quaker meeting house on Sunday for an hour quietly. And I have my own meditative practices in the morning, which I'm very, very protective of, in that when I have meetings, I still carve out like I try as best I can, I try to establish me as I don't have control over all the meetings, but I try to establish the meetings where I have my practices in the morning, which is getting up and rituals and some chanting and, and a little bit of meditating and brewing tea and just sitting quietly. And so those practices have really helped sustain me through a lot of this. So they they've been really, really important to me. And yeah, it's, it's this has been an important process that I've really, and it's been good to reconnect with a faith community. I don't do some define myself as very religious. But it's nice to have reconnected with the faith community that that provide support through these times and stuff. So

David (he/him)  
yeah, I asked that question, but not like the traditional way that we jump into this conversation. But sometimes, when I feel that I asked that question, because people again, who listened so often know, I struggle with, like, the boundaries that quote unquote, self care, requires and lots of people come on here talking about, like, their militant boundaries, their militant dedication to carving out that space. And, you know, I just hope that like, through your, through your answers, some of that finally rubs off on me and like navigating that, as a new parent is, is something that I am having to re navigate, as well. But you know, you you telegraphed some of the things that we're going to get into. We often like to start these conversations asking, you know, you've been doing restorative justice work for a minute now. But probably before you even had the framework for the words, restorative justice, equity. So in your own words, how did this get started for you?

Daniel Rhodes (he/him)  
That's a great point. Two things I want to say some about boundaries is really funny. Because we talked about boundaries, boundaries quite a bit. My first job was in the Camino mental health center, and there was a group called flexible boundaries. I said, that's such an oxymoron. But what a great term, because we have to have boundaries, but they have to be flexible. So I love the idea of flexible boundaries. But yes, yeah, that's a great way to frame because I had and I think this is why I'm, I am so how do I, how I frame it, you know, because I joke about trying to indoctrinate social work students into restorative justice practices. But I think a lot of what I do in the passion that comes with teaching restorative justice is that it wasn't a framework when I was a student. And I remember struggling as a social worker and a community social worker, because I got into social work for very specific reasons. I came from being in the military, you know, I was 18 years old, when in the military, like I grew up in an era of this kind of hegemonic toxic masculinity where you're supposed to go in the military, you're supposed to be a police officer and I'm in the settings like this is not where I'm supposed to be. And came to social work because of these values and ethics, which revolves around social justice. And so I get into the profession and was just struggling in the profession like this is, you know, it has a weird kind of the term that I often use in classes, soft cops has this weird kind of soft cop feel to it. And that social work can be a very oppressive structure. And I've had some very difficult conversations with people who've been in this profession. And that, you know, we're professional, there's, there's different perspectives of this profession. And we're part of a profession in some ways, it reinforces system structural oppression. And, you know, that's not our code of ethics, our Code of Ethics is standing up against social and justices. And so how do we do that? And I've had these really difficult conversations when I referenced that where social workers like how dare you How dare you? You know, I'm like, Yeah, we have to, we have to interrogate that within ourselves. And I don't know exactly, when I stumbled on the idea of restorative justice, I just know that when I was in the profession, I started to try to think differently, then, because I got into this profession. I joke now, because I can i in the 1900s. So it was like, 1994, when I finished my undergraduate degree, and I went on to get my master's. So it's like the, you know, late 90s, early 2000s. But, you know, I also remember, apartheid in South Africa. And I also remember the Truth and Reconciliation process. And I also remember reading and studying about this stuff. But it was on the periphery, because that was such an abstract, broad community base, you know, and I didn't know that you could bring social work down to a level of where I was working with people directly, individually, but I saw it in a broad structure within countries with the truth and reconciliation process. And I don't think it was until the dock when I was in my doctoral program, which was this really kind of quirky, cool program, where I did have a professor who started to teach about the truth and reconciliation process in our courses. And we had, Greensboro had the Truth and Reconciliation process because of the 1979 client massacre. So that, you know, I was starting to get this information from different places. And that's when I started to kind of connect the dots. I was like, that's what I was trying to do in my profession. I just didn't have the language to articulate it. And I wish I had had that language to articulate it. And so then as I moved forward, kind of staying in the profession, really reading and studying a lot of this stuff, then I started develop that language to articulate what I was trying to do and what this profession really needs to be centered and grounded in. And ironically started teaching at Guilford College and start teaching restorative justice. You know, like, wow, I'm now teaching what I wish I could have learned 20 years ago, and you know, really starting to study it and take courses in it and trying to understand how does this look in the community level, at what you what we call in social workers, micro mezzo and macro, you know, looking at duals families and groups, and then large community systems and stuff like that. And so, it was probably when I was in Guilford is right after Guilford, I started going up to Eastern Mennonite and taking courses up there, like I need not only just to, to study this, but I need the framework of how to

Daniel Rhodes (he/him)  
structure it and cobble it into our curriculum. And to get students to understand that we are restorative justice practitioners as social workers, we work with harms and trauma in the community. We can't function unless we are restorative justice practitioners, because we have the potential to reach traumatize communities and individuals. And so that's kind of where that trajectory which I know is not a very clear timeline. But I think that's how a lot of us come to restorative justice. You know, we, I think we have it within us. And going back to the Buddhism thing, you know, in Mahayana, Buddhism, it's this, you have the Buddha inside you, you're trying to bring it out. I think that's how it is in restorative justice. We I think we have it for those who come to this kind of work, we have it inside of us. We just don't know it until we're able to find those spaces where we can articulate it and start to kind of bring it to the surface and it's like, oh, wow, it now makes sense. This is what I've been trying to do all along. So

David (he/him)  
I hope that makes sense. Yeah, definitely. It reminds me of, you know, something that Kay Prentiss talks about where like a teaching is a rekindling of a cheek that we have inside of us. Right. And you know, there's a good, Wise, Powerful core self in in all of us that we need to remember be reminded of And, you know circled practices a great way of doing that's not the only way. Right. But there are so many. Yeah, there are a couple of things in there that I wanted to go back on. And I'm realizing now as you're just sharing, like why I resonated very deeply with your chapter, and I don't think you knew this, but I halfway finished an MSW. Yeah. And the institution that I was at was very micro focused. Many of the people in there, I'm going to name it were white women who are trying to be therapists. And, for me, like the program, that just wasn't it, I went, I did my grad school work in Chicago. And when I thought about Chicago, the birthplace of social work, right, whole house, Jane Addams. A lot of the things that you were talking about, that were more on the macro mezzo level were the things that I was attracting, and that particular program just wasn't it for, for me at the time. And so I didn't finish it, no heart, no hard feelings. Other than like, the $30,000. I still have, yeah, but like, I'm wondering if you can speak a little bit to the evolution of the social work profession to be like, in some ways, like the soft arm of the state,

Daniel Rhodes (he/him)  
I have a lot of, yeah, go for it. You know, and I think it's, I, I'm, I have been in this profession long enough to see a little bit of a transition in many different levels. And there's a book, I think it's called fallen angels. It's about the hyper professionalization of social work. And there's two trajectories in social work. And I think that I have a lot of, I do have a lot of pages, I have a lot of history with it, a lot of ideas. And so I have to be cautious that I don't ramble on for hours about it. But, um, you know, it's, I often say that, and some of us who do this, because I have a clinical license, I'm a licensed clinical social worker, is that, you know, their social work suffers a lot from self esteem issues. You know, we're not a social science in a lot of ways. I would be many who would argue like sociology or psychology, there would be social workers who argue, yes, we are. We're a social science. And I'm like, interestingly, you know, as you've noticed, in the chapter, we have a code of ethics. And we have social values. One of them is the importance of human relationship, of which I have yet to learn how to lecture about and so I think that as social, yeah, you know, as social work faculty and social work professors, you know, we have to understand that we're not traditional academics, we we serve in academic settings, we have to deal with academic stuff. But our primary responsibility is to prepare people to go into the world and work as social workers. And so they're that history of hyper professionalization is this medical model that they adopted of credentialing and licensure, which is important. But it's not the only thing. And I think that that's been my frustration as a person who is a licensed clinical social worker, because I will see, I see that among a lot of students, I see a lot more students are a lot more savvy about what they want to do. So if you were to ask students 20 years ago, about clinical social work, I think most of them were like, what is that? And now I could sit in class with students, like how many of you want to get your clinical license, they all raise their arm, you know, so I know, for a lot of them, they had this projection in their head of, I'm going to get my MSW, I'm gonna get my license, I'm going to open up a private practice. And I think there's some unrealistic expectations on what that looks like. And so I'm having to always try it. That's why I think I'm really grounded in undergraduate education. Because I really, it's, I think it's easy to teach. I don't say easy, that's kind of a really good word. But I think it's a little bit I'm going to use easy because I can't think of another word right now to teach graduate students, you know, because you don't deal with the same cognitive developmental issues that you do with a 2021 year old undergraduate student. And I love working with undergraduate students, because I think that abstractly, they see this in terms of I'm going to be a therapist, I'm like, that's a years of experience, practice. That's not something that happens overnight, you're not going to wake up one morning, here's your LCSW. And you have a, you know, group of clients that are waiting for you. And so I'm trying to pull them back a little bit. And to get them to understand that you're just not working with one person. What distinguishes Social Work from counseling, Ed, is that we have a code of ethics, social justice being one of them. And that is our ethical responsibility to fight those social injustices that marginalized, disenfranchised and oppress other people. That's why you see a lot of Paulo Freire II through that text, and to me, there's nothing that merges fairy into social We're better than restorative justice, you know, because challenging of that kind of banking model of education, but also trying to get them to understand that you have the potential to be the sub oppressor. Because if you continue down this path that you're going down this humanitarian approach of, I just want to help people, you're going to step into communities, and you are going to perpetuate and continue on those systems of oppression that lead people to be clients that need social workers. And some ways you have to dismantle these very systems that need social workers in communities. And so I'm hoping to try to get them to understand that before they get caught, swept up in an MSW program and go get their license and stuff like that. So yeah, there's, I think there's a long history to it. And it's a complex history has a lot to do with this, this notion of professionalization, you know, in this need of being a legitimate profession, but I think we lost the core of who we are who we were, you know, and so you do see this side of radical social work. So there's a group called the social welfare Action Alliance, which is the kind of radical arm of the NHS if they're not a part of the NASW. But the National Association of Social Workers is our, you know, profession, that's our association, you have the social welfare Action Alliance, which is the more radical form. And so I'm very upfront with students and like, I come from a radical lens. And this is what it is, and I am that stereotypical leftist professor, that they post on tick tock or whatever. But that's my ethical responsibility. As a social worker. That's, that's, that's what you're stepping into. And so, you know, that's welcomed social work one on one, and my class is so

David (he/him)  
yeah, I, you brought up Frary. And we're, we're going to anyway, jump ahead. Yeah. But, you know, how do you go about teaching this work in an academic setting? Right? That is based on like, the industrial model of schooling, right? The banking method of schooling? How do you teach this relationship driven? work within inside of an academic institution, where grades, papers, all these things that people expect, when they come into like an academic program? How do you? How do you model that?

Daniel Rhodes (he/him)  
It's, it's not easy. I think it depends on the environment you're in. I love the environment. I am because I'm in an institution that historically was a woman's college, you know, primarily first generation college students. It's in Greensboro. It is the most diverse campus in the UNC system. Greensboro is an immigrant refugee refugee resettlement area. So we have a higher rates of immigrant refugee populations, first generation college students, and

Daniel Rhodes (he/him)  
a pretty vocal and strong LGBTQ community. And that, you know, there is a certain expectation on campus that we are going to be a diverse have, we just had Ben Shapiro, come to our campus this past week, this has been a, you know, really challenging and he came specifically, why would he come to UNC Greensboro? What what, you know, he goes to Berkeley, he goes to other places, he came specifically because we have a pretty strong and vocal LGBTQ community here at UNC Greensboro. And so, you know, he came specifically for to, you know, denigrate transgender populations. And so our students were really upset and were protesting and stuff like that. So I think that it's a little bit easier. I you know, then if I were in some other settings, I, you know, we have, I have colleagues that are very supportive, we now have a department chair who's, you know, we, I've had in the iteration to department chairs, I'm not a tenure track faculty, I'm a contract person, so I can be laid off at any moment. And so I am always navigating that in my head, understanding that in the environment that we're in, but you know, department chairs who've also been very supportive, and this is what we this is our ethical responsibility. And so they will advocate for us. And so, you know, I've got a really good department here is advocating, and there's resistance among students. And the resistance is, and this is Henry drew talks, he wrote a book called fear and resistance in education, because when they're ingrained in this banking model of education, and as you see the chapter, they can walk into my classroom and all the desks are off to the side and they're were set up in a circle and they're like, What is this but I I start to see them slowly kind of integrate this into their own thought process. And there's still this expectation of grading and fairy talks about it. And that you have to balance between you can't have, you can't be authoritarian, but you can't have complete license. Because if I were to just say, Okay, we're going to throw all the test and everything papers out the window, they're not going to show up. So for Frary, you have to balance this notion of authority and license you have to allow, you can't just take people who are used to this oppressive educational system, this bank came out of education, it's like, here, you're out there, we're going to do this. Because it's, it's too unnerving. It creates this cognitive dissonance. So I have to have a sign in sheet for them to sign in, you have to be in class or as an attendance policy, you need to show up. We're trying to build a community here, you part of this community, you have agreed to come in, there's a paper you have to write, you have to demonstrate certain level of understanding of the material, because if you're gonna go into committee, I need to know that you understand these theories, and how do you apply these theories and stuff. So there is a structure to it, I just don't do it in the same structure that we have a test every day, we have our test, every class period is a complex test to try to get them. And it's also fortunate in that I get them as juniors and seniors. So it's not like a heaviness freshman. So they have an understanding that there's a certain level of responsibility, they have to do an educational setting. But I try to get them to think in terms of being reflective practitioners, they've got to reflect on who they are and the work that they do. And part of my responsibility is to help you develop those skills, and I have to work with that discomfort, there's a lot of discomfort with it. And I have to work with that resistance. There's some resistance to it also. And that's I think, where part of that educational process comes in? How are things going to happen? I don't know. I mean, you know, I, I'm part of a group of program directors who generally meet, like once a semester, because we have, I think, 23 undergraduate social programs throughout the state. And so we meet once a semester, and I'm in part of the UNC system. I've had colleagues who have been in other UNC institutions where they will do student events. And they said, well, we don't use the term social justice, because, you know, we, we it says pejorative, it's somehow become a pejorative, you know, and I think that's part of the right wing pundits will use it. And like, well, we don't use the term social justice when we do student events. And I'm like, how it's our code of ethics. It's like the second one. How can you not, you know, hold an event that revolves around social justice and not use the term social justice. So I think there's a part of me, regardless of what happens to our, you know, I will probably lose my job, at some point, I will go on and do something else. You know, I mean, you know, it's like, I want to do this as long as I can. And I will, will, you know, and I, fortunately, I'm not in a system. You know, there's other UNC systems that are really struggling with this, but unfortunately, right at this moment, not in a system, we're dealing with financial issues and stuff like that. But you know, I'm still able to drag those desk out in the hallway, put the students in a circle, and, you know, do the best I can with what I have. So,

David (he/him)  
yeah, I really appreciated the chapter that you shared, like, the importance of creating that environment within the space, because, you know, some people have, you know, and no judgment will just like, hey, let's turn these desks and face each other. You're very intentional about, like, the space that you're curating. Why is that?

Daniel Rhodes (he/him)  
Interesting in the chapter, if you see the chapter online, if you can find it online, there's photos in the chapter

David (he/him)  
with no moving the desks actly. Yeah, this, and that'll be linked for people in the show. Right, right.

Daniel Rhodes (he/him)  
Yeah. And, you know, when I was going back and forth, the editors like, I don't think we could do as like, it's not a big deal. And they did a great job. I went back and read the reread the chapter, they did a really great job of describing the editor who was editing my chapter described it and just a beautiful like, oh, wow, that's really poetic way to describe it. So yes, it's, it's fascinating in that, and I have a couple stories of this, you know, because I had a colleague of mine was teaching graduate students and social work and he wanted me to come in and do a circle process with them. It's like, oh, yeah, I would love to yeah, whatever. So they're in the School of at the School of Education, this new building, School of Education, not all buildings are like this. They have some buildings are new, or the chairs will move around, you know, the color of learning laboratories or whatever. Go in School of Ed. And it's in a classroom. He didn't notice he's been teaching half the semester, and I'm like these desks are bolted to the floor. We can't move them. What a great day. educational opportunity we have right now, let me explain to you the Bank of education, circle, engineered very specifically why these desks cannot be moved. And we had to huddle up in the front and do a circle process with the chairs because we couldn't move the desks in the School of Ed, the same school of ed that I got my PhD from that taught me all these radical crazy things in education. You know, it's so, so ironic. So I, you know, I don't think I think it's, it's work. And there's a part of it that really, I appreciate the fact that it No, it's some of it's frustrating. But I have, I do have to go into class 15 to 20 minutes before class and the desks are heavy. And I have to move them. And it takes me and I'm sweating by the time I'm done. And it's fascinating to see the different classes, how they will kind of buy into this, because I will come in and students will have started to do this before I come in. That's the one I know that they're really starting to get it. And so I think the intentional part is yes, it's a hot tire. I don't want to do it. But I keep falling back on this notion of like, yeah, I could have I could lecture, I could pull up PowerPoints, I could lecture and it just kind of be easier than moving these desks around. And then I have to in class a little bit early, because I have to move them all back. Because that's the social construction of the classroom setting. That's why I posted those pictures. This is the way it's supposed to be that's the right way, not sitting in a circle. That's the uncorrected incorrect way, that's the that's the way you're not supposed to do it, you know, so I have to put everything back in place in the correct configuration and stuff. So I have to include a little bit early, so it cuts into this time of community building. But I think I like I said, the value is the importance of human relationship, I can't lecture about that. I just can't do it i until somebody teaches me how to lecture on it, where students will grasp it. It has to be a community building, relationship building process. And the only way that I know of right now to do that is for them to sit in a circle, we know we may not be doing a circle process, like the traditional circle process, where at the centerpiece and stuff like that, but pretty much every class period, I will start bringing in a talking piece with a check in and a reminder of the community guidelines. We're still honoring the community guidelines, and then have a talking piece go around and have students reflect on how they're doing and sometimes in the class like that. And that's the that's the relationship building part of that. So

David (he/him)  
how do you navigate? You mentioned that it does happen from time to time. And I'm not asking you to name names or anything like that. But like, are there specific incidences of initial resistance to this and how have people been ingratiated into being in that kind of learning environment?

Daniel Rhodes (he/him)  
I think for the most part, students liked the process, I think they get more frustrated in my informal grading. That's where they're more frustrated. So a joke about like, why don't have tests, but then there are classes where I do have quizzes, because, you know, they, it, they it's on a canvas, it's on a online platform, they take the quiz, and they see their grade. And they know throughout the semester, this is my grade, and it seems to decrease the amount of anxiety. I will do that in the fall semester would would students in the spring semester, I'm a little bit more resistant to that. And I will challenge them. When they asked me how to write a reflection paper. I'm like, what are you really asking me? And then I get them to understand it. What they're really asking me is, how do I make an A?

David (he/him)  
Do I get an A exactly, no. And then they kind

Daniel Rhodes (he/him)  
of look at me like, but I actually love the resistance because that's where the dialogue comes in. And the resistance had been as been having them read pedagogy. Of course, I haven't next to me having them read Pedagogy of the Oppressed. And that's part of what I think my next paper I'm gonna work on is trying to the cliffnotes version of this, but it's having students navigate this text, and then getting an argument in class about it. Because I had a student one time argue with me, it was just love. It was fantastic. He was like, you know, I had a friend of mine, I had to sit down with my friend. And she had to sit with me and help me read this and understand this things. And I had these I had to talk to her about this. I was like, That's fascinating. Would you have ever talked to her had a dialogue with her about some of the concepts in this book if I had not assigned it to you? And he just looked at me like you jerk. Because No, he wouldn't have it. It was like this boobs like yes, that's what I'm expecting you do. I'm expecting you to learn that's my fairy says that. You will know this to some degree that it's a little kind of over the top but he says learning is childbirth. For someone that's gonna do that. That's Oh, yeah. But the point he's trying to make is it's not easy. And so, you know, I had students will come in as like, why just will skim a chapter before coming in? I've actually had to read this like, yes, that's, that's our values and ethics is Competence and Integrity, you have to be competent. And so my expectation is that you will spend more than just skimming this. So the resistance has not been the circle process itself. Every now and then you'll get somebody who just doesn't like it. And there's nothing about it. And that's like, yeah, okay, that's, that's fine. And I tell them, you have the right to pass, you know, understanding that this is supposed to be consensus based process, and you're in a classroom setting, you're not being graded on us sharing if you pass, and there will be students who will pass throughout the whole semester. That's their, that's their prerogative, they have the right to do that. And I have had students who will complain like, well, you know, I didn't like sit in the circle, because I didn't have anywhere to put my laptop or something like that. And so I could tell Well, you know, that's, that's fine, because we're trying to get into relationships and stuff. So the complaining more has been on the kind of informal grading process and really trying to get them to understand that learning is not about, you know, you placating me as the professor but how do I learn and grow and be reflected? I have had some interesting situations happened in circle, which I think has been fascinating. Which I could share a couple of them

David (he/him)  
with, with confidentiality in mind, and then think about Yeah, right, I'm thinking about the resistance that I anticipated was, specifically students at the Global majority coming in and talking about, like, the things that they've experienced in front of a mixed audience, or people from other marginalized backgrounds coming in. And I know like, over the course of time you are building relationship, you're not starting off with like, share your deepest, darkest trauma about the hard thing that happened, like you scaffold up to things, but there is like I, I know, in school settings that I've worked in, like students have learned in school that like, if I'm vulnerable, like I will get hurt.

Daniel Rhodes (he/him)  
Yeah, I think once again, I'm very fortunate in that first generation college students, we we have a probably half more than half, or African American, and we have some immigrant refugee populations are in that class. And they come to that setting. And I do have to be cautious with them. Because I'm the, you know, the white male professors sitting in that room, and probably the only white male person in that room. And in some cases, rarely, there's a couple other white males who are in there. Sometimes men and there's more men coming to it. But I think, you know, I'm fortunate that I am sitting in a in a space where I am the minority, and that they are able to, and I think this is what happens, I've been able to sit them up in a circle, because normally, they would just I would, regardless of who's in that classroom, if they're facing me, I'm it. You know, and so when I'm sitting in that circle with them, at first, I'm it. But it slowly transitions away from me being it, it always I'm always it, because I'm the professor, he can't, and I will remind them that like, you know, I know that there's a power differential in here. And that that's what we have to navigate through and that I want us to be as authentic as we can but understand that, you know, and that's why I think I really have them grounded in the guidelines in the beginning. Because the guidelines are really focused on this notion of being able to share what you feel comfortable sharing, respecting others. And so I'm always and I, they kind of want to gloss over the guidelines a little bit in the beginning. And so it kind of reinforced with him was like, you know, if you were to go on and do restorative justice practices and circle practices in communities, most likely you're gonna be working with communities historically, who had been marginalized, who don't have a voice. I know, it's easy to kind of like, agree to the guidelines agreed with guidelines, like go around having agreed to the guidelines, and I kind of set them up a little bit because the confidentiality piece is one of them. I have the guidelines sitting in the middle and these little cards that I've laminated so I can write on them. And there's like November 9, yeah. And so and I could write other guidelines. And the last one is confidentiality, I keep that with me. And so I have them go over the guidelines or talk about the guidelines, why the guidelines are important, why they're important for the setting. And I said, Now we have to have consensus, we have to agree to these guidelines, the talking piece is going to go around and you're going to indicate if you agree the guidelines or if there's something about the guidelines you disagree with or if you think we need to add more to the guidelines. It generally goes around because they're still kind of nab this to get orienting to this. I mean, it's still, you know, they're like, Yeah, I agree to agree to agree to when it comes to B and I get well I just I disagree with the guidelines. I have some issue with the guideline They'll look at me, like you're the press of what's wrong with you, and then pull out the confidentiality cards. Like, the only way that the setting can work is if we honor confidentiality, that is, we have a space where you can't walk outside this classroom and say, I can't believe what someone said in there, you know, because then you have violated the confidentiality within the setting. And so, but it also is, for the first time, I think they're, they're facing each other, and they're starting to see that I'm not the representative of social work, they are too large, you know, they're facing each other. And it's a diverse population of people in there, you know, and it's, otherwise it would just be facing me. And I think that that I'm hoping, I mean, I can't, I can only speculate, but I'm hoping that that starts to kind of sink in like, oh, wait a minute, I'm part of a broader community that is represented more than just this person who's teaching the class at this particular moment. You know, I'm he may be the person responsible for this class. But I'm part of this broader spectrum of social workers who are sitting in this classroom right now. And we're all going to go into community working together. And he's still going to be teaching this class later on, probably at some point.

Daniel Rhodes (he/him)  
So, you know, that is part of my hope, is that I can't teach them about I'm a white guy, how am I going to teach a group of students who are predominately black about race, I can, you know, I can only teach it from my own perspective. But if I can get them to face each other, and to hear their stories from each other, and that's where the story is, slowly start to come out. And I do I think that's a great, because of the first question, I usually start with these a are asked, Why do you want to be a social worker? It's like to help people. I asked him, what brought you to social work? That's generally the first question. And at the very least, what it does is it puts in a position to reflect on why they're sitting in the classroom, right then at that particular moment. And it and I share my story with him, you know, so I said, this is my story. This is what brought me to social work. And it starts to, I think, slowly open up this comfort level, and then the class itself has to kind of gauge I love Kay's always, when, you know, done circle trains, where she always says the circle does this, the circle does that. You know, people have asked her like, Why do you keep calling it the circle, you know, she's like, I have no control over. That's what explains this, I have no control over how this goes. Once the talking piece leaves my hand. That's it. You determine how you want this to go from here. And of course, you know, I'm the circle keeper and all these other things. But it it really is a fascinating process to watch it. And I've yet to have felt like it's been unsuccessful, like, oh, man, I just fell apart, you know, in the class just didn't get it and stuff like that. My experience has been that they slowly start to share their own personal experiences, those who feel comfortable, and those who don't, don't share their personal experiences, and there's no judgment to it. Nobody sits there. Because I've been in classroom settings. Before I did a lot of circles where people would get really frustrated. So other people need to share more. And I'm like, Well, you know, that I understand you want dialogue in here. But people need to share what they feel comfortable sharing. And but I haven't had that pushback in these kinds of settings and stuff. So

David (he/him)  
no, no, it's great. I appreciate it. I think about you know, the need for this to be in like so many more spaces of Social Work Education. Definitely. So I mean, we can just talk about that. How do you hope that this kind of teachings kind of learning grows? How have you seen it? How have you seen this practice grow in your spaces? What are you encouraged about? What are the barriers?

Daniel Rhodes (he/him)  
That's a great, that's a great question. I you know, I think I've been more encouraged than not, I think the barriers, of course, we're always going to be the system we're in, you know, and the policies and guidelines that are handed down and stuff like that. You know, I am encouraged in the fact that I, what I have to work with the students as I try to help them understand, help them understand that, you know, there's that retributive system. And so I really tried to start it off in the beginning, like, you know, we have a retributive justice system, its laws and crimes and punishment and attorneys and judges and police officers. We're not part of that we are on the periphery of that system to some degree, but that's not the system we work in. We work in communities that are traumatized and have been harmed. And so we need to be restorative justice practitioners. I think I mentioned that earlier. And so that's slowly trying to get them ingrained to that understanding. Where I'm optimistic is that it's slowly starting to kind of I move the needle with my colleagues a little bit. The students are great with it. I think for the most part, I mean, there's always going to be some. But, you know, I think that in the beginning, there was this kind of, you know, he's the flaky mindfulness, you know, peace, because I call it peacemaking circles very specific that I call them peacemaking circles, I explained to the students, why I call them peacemaking circles, and that you can call them anything, you know, coming to building circle, whatever. But my hope is that as social workers, we go into communities, and we're peacebuilders and peacemakers. So I'm calling these peacemaking circles. So I'm trying to reinforce some of the language with them. And so my colleagues and it's it's tongue in cheek, you know, we're, we always chide each other pick on each other, you know, is the flaky piece person. And the flaky month was person I'm like, Yeah, but, you know, mindfulness is ubiquitous, and cognitive behavioral therapy, and they all want to be therapists. So why would we not be doing mindfulness in class as a technique, not only for them, because they have to teach it, but because they need it for themselves. And there's a chapter on mindfulness and trauma, I don't know if I'm referencing in that in my chapter or not, we're at the end of the chapter. And I've assigned it to students who says, you know, it's kind of like riding a bicycle, you can try to tell somebody how to do it. But you need to know how to do it or driving a car, you need to know how to do it. And so you know, I started with class period with a moment of mindfulness or reinforced mindfulness throughout the class period. And so you know, my colleagues that kind of joked about it, but by the time they get into some of them, the graduate program, it's it's not unfamiliar to them. And it's, I'm just kind of stunned with the disconnect sometimes with our my colleagues, as professionals who talk about mindfulness and not understand that this is a live practice. You know, it's not a just a technique that you just teach people, you have to do this technique yourself. And I think that that's part of what's happening with the restorative justice piece, because I'm going back up, these are Mennonite, taking a course the summer, summer peacebuilding, student forgiveness and reconciliation and the Strama strategies for trauma awareness and resilience training. And I'm very open in our meetings, I'm doing this, these are graduate level courses, I bring these back and I'm integrating it into our undergraduate curriculum and I want our undergraduate work can be more trauma informed. Because our social work students are going into the communities that are traumatized, and they need to be equipped to deal with trauma. And that's why I'm doing this. And slowly, so we just had a meeting today. And it was like, and I want to come back in the fall. And I want to share with my colleagues what I learned at Eastern Mennonite. And I want us to think about what can we take from this and apply to our graduate program, and we have a doctoral program? And how can we pass on this to our doctoral program, right. So I'm optimistic and and I'm starting to see colleagues who probably historically have been grounded in this type of professional model social work, to understand that this is a broader perspective, and that we do need to utilize these other techniques or tools, or however we want to define them to be really effective in what we do. And that social work, we really do need to be restorative justice practitioners and communities. That's kind of our ethical responsibility. So I think that's part of my optimistic hope is that we're seeing some change and some of the colleagues that I work with. And as I slowly start to work with doctoral, doctoral students, it's once again, my indoctrination, I'm going to dominate the doctoral students, because they're the ones that are gonna go out. It'd be teaching undergraduate students, you know, future undergraduate students after I'm gone and retired or moved on to something else and stuff. Does that answer the question?

David (he/him)  
Yeah. And I think like the thing that I wanted, one of the things I want to pick out from there, it's like, you know, you have to you were talking about it in the framework of mindfulness, but you have to practice it in order to teach it. You have to practice restorative justice, you have to practice living in the circle way you have to practice being a peacemaker in order to teach it right. It's not just like, Oh, hey, I read this chapter in this book about how to set up a circle. Got it? We're good. How I think I'll frame it like this. How are you inviting your colleagues and others like your colleagues that you work with at Greensboro but but others into learning, embodying this? This engaged pedagogy? Yeah, well,

Daniel Rhodes (he/him)  
yeah, that is, that's. So you know, we're coming out of a pandemic. And so one of the things that I think my colleagues have had to see and I've got wonderful colleagues, there's no doubt about that. But one of the things that they've seen over the past year is the trauma our students are experiencing, you know, coming, being a student in the pandemic and that work Gonna have students coming to us who have experienced trauma, you know, because we, once again have a high rate of first generation college students, and we have students who are coming from the very marginalized groups that, you know, we want social workers to go and try to work with and change those systems. And so they're coming in embodying this trauma. And I think that what is starting to click for them as I was I was talking about in our meeting today is like, not only don't want to come back integrated into the curriculum, presented to you, but I also want us to start doing maybe some trauma circles with students outside of the classroom. You know, it's easy, to some degree, to have to teach this to students in the classroom. You know, what are we doing for students outside the classroom, to help them deal with their own trauma and the suffering that they've been experiencing? That's a different, that's a different mindset that we have to take on. And I think that that's what I'm starting to see when I talk about, they're like, Yeah, we really need to do this in my department chairs, like, yeah, we Yeah, this is we've got to figure out how to start doing this with students outside the classroom, because we're going to have students who really come with a lot of pain and trauma and stuff. And so the pandemic has caused a lot of issues. My colleague who's in peace and conflict studies, now we're, we were doing circle process once a month. For our community, we were doing it for community, before the pandemic, and I told him was like, We really need to get back into doing this. And it's interesting in that, we had a handful of people who were coming to it. But to broaden out our goal with what we were doing, I think he named it like circles of pedagogical practice, or something like that, is that we were, I think my attempt was circles of pedagogy. So he called it circles of practice or something, he used some term board. And we were, we'd have a handful of people, and they were coming there. And they're like, Well, we thought this was a training, it's like now that we're doing circles, we're trying to have a community come in where we do circles, we're not really trying to train people. But the thing we're hearing from people is like, we want some kind of training. So like, Okay, well, we'll do that by all means this is not a circle training, and you need to do more than a day was like, well, we'll do it like an eight hour day, we will go over the fundamentals of circles. And but our hope is that you continue to come back to our circle, and you start to indicate I'm going to be the circle keeper this next month, like I want to do that. And that it's not just this, you go through the eight hour training, and now I'm a circle practitioner and go out into the community and do this is that we're trying to get this practice out to the community, and trying to introduce this to the community. And then hopefully, community members will say, I really need to learn how to do this. And these are the different areas I can go to learn how to do this. And that here's some people in the community who've been doing this for a while. And I want to work with them. Because we would tell them like we will work with you, if you want to do something like this, where we can come in and help you kind of get set up, hold on second, get set up. And we can come in and do this process with you and help you get oriented to this process. So part of what we're trying to do is just to educate people and get this knowledge base out there and get people to start reading at the very beginning and to start thinking like, Well, where can I find another training? That's like a three day training? Or how can I do this, where I just practice the skill or I keep coming back to their monthly circle? And say, Well, I want to be a circle keeper this month, and just practice a little bit. And so that's part of what my hope is, as far as getting this out into the community to some degree, and seeing my colleagues kind of support that, which initially, they were just like, yeah, yeah, this is kind of like you but but I think they understood, seeing our students come back, embodying that trauma, that that trauma is in the community, and we've got to come up with ways and practices to deal with the trauma within the community also, and it's part of our responsibility as a community based university, that we are doing these practices within communities.

David (he/him)  
That's beautiful. Like it's not Daniel, the person does not just exist within the realm of like UNC greencoat Bro, School of Social Work. Like there are other ways that like you have embodied this work that's impacted your life. We've talked a lot about the other professional, but what are some of those ways? You know, you kind of just talked about like, into the community, but how has this way of being impacted your personal life?

Daniel Rhodes (he/him)  
Um, that's a that's another great question. Um, you know, that's hard to describe. I I think it's impacted my personal life in that, I don't want to get too flaky. I mean, there's certain levels of meaning that's given me, you know, like, I'm the type of person, there's always this joke like, well, you know, ask a person who they are without asking what they do what their job is. And I'm like, but this is my job. You know, like I said, if I lose the job of the university, I'm still going to be doing this, I may not be teaching this in a classroom setting, but I'm still going to be doing it to some degree. And so it's impacted my life, I think, in that I came to social work, because I needed it's like a calling when I try to talk to students about this idea of the term is escaping me right now. But we you embody and you think about and you reflect on your practice, there's, it's a religious term, I can't get it off my discernment, we just discern, you have to discern this, you know, you've got to really reflect and discern on this, who you are. And so, you know, people ask me, like, how did you go from the military to social work, you know, I'm like, Well, you know, as a teen, and what I was taught about the military, as you're doing something that's greater than you, like, you know, I, so it's not a huge stretch. I may not agree with the system. But the how they connect people to it is because they want to do things that are greater than themselves, be part of something greater than themselves. So that, you know, that's how I got the social works. Like, I can't just sit by and see communities unfold as they have, you know, I've got to do something to help it. And I think part of it's my own background of growing up in the rural south and seeing just how racist and you know how hateful it can be. But that there's also beauty within how people try to change these systems down here, you know, and what people were willing to sacrifice to change these systems, or at least try to, to some degree. And so you know, it, it has impacted me in that as I've come to social work, because I felt this need this calling to be a social worker, restorative justice, has given me that foundation that groundwork of okay, this is how I want it to look like you know, yes, social workers can go in and they can harm communities. And I play this documentary for some of my classes called Don land. I don't know if you're familiar with it. It's about it's an incredible documentary. It's about a truth and reconciliation process up in Maine. It's the first state supported truth and reconciliation process, like we had one here in Greensboro. And it revolved around child welfare, removing First Nations, children from their family, all the way up into the 2000s. Yeah. And it is about the harm that social workers have done in communities, you know, and so I play that students I'm like, if we are not reflecting on the power that we have in communities, we may look like the community that we go into. And that can sometimes give us this assault, this false sense of like, oh, I look like this community. So I there's no way that I will be reinforcing levels of oppression, that's the very sub oppressor. If we're not reflecting on that, then we will be causing more harm and damage and so that it's given me this, this idea of like, Yes, this is how I can be a social worker in the community, and constantly evaluate and reevaluate my own power differential my own power structure, who I am, who I embody, when I walk into vulnerable communities, and that that positionality that I hold when I go into communities, which is very powerful. And I have to be aware of that. So how can I continue to work with communities and not be the white savior, or be the sub oppressor or being the oppressor? You know, and that's really important to me to understand that and to reflect on that on a daily basis. So that's how it's impacted me, it's put me in a position to look at some really uncomfortable biases within myself, that a lot of people who embody what I look like and where I come from, don't want to see and to constantly interrogate that, and to sometimes, and this is, I think, part of where the apology comes from, because sometimes I have to shut up and listen to somebody else.

Daniel Rhodes (he/him)  
And I have, I have my department here is like, I keep coming back to her. She's this wonderful person, because I use this experience with her one time we were sitting together and I said something as she corrected me. And I was remembering how I felt in that particular moment. And if I had not practiced these mindfulness skills, because I talk to her about this and she goes, she's like, I'm so glad you recognize that said You are not corrected me out of a position of frustration, but out of position of love and care. You know, that's like I said something, and you needed to correct me on on my bias. And my first reaction is like, Oh, God, you know, like, that's painful and to be defensive. And I had to catch that, and say, I really appreciate that she cares enough about me, because she could have just let it go. She cares enough about me to say, and that's because we have a really close relationship that she cares enough about me to say, Not that you're wrong, but to gently correct me on that. And it came from a position well, that's what Bill hooks talks about this, in both very talks about you know, that we have to come from this from this position of love. And so, you know, that's, that's what it's given me personally, is this, hopefully, this ability to be shut up sometimes and listen to people? So this is, this is an odd, this is kind of an odd position for me, because I'm talking, talking, talking, you know, trying to

David (he/him)  
say, Yeah, this is a podcast. Yeah, no, and I'm like, the Quaker meeting where we're just having people. Silence. Wait for the, yeah, this,

Daniel Rhodes (he/him)  
this is what you're wanting from me and I, but I, and this is why I like doing circles in class, because I have to shut up, I have to listen to students. And I have to watch that talking piece go around. And I have to be aware and observant. How often and that's a gift. How often is a professor who teaches students have an opportunity to listen to students stories and lived experiences, you know, that hardly ever happens. That's again. And so you know, I talk about trying to indoctrinate students, there's a selfish component to it's a gift to me, that I'm able to sit in a space with a very diverse group of people and listen to their stories and stuff. Right? You know, I have to do it. I could not imagine doing anything else. But doing circles with students.

David (he/him)  
Yeah, yeah, absolutely. I want to transition us into the questions that everyone answers when they come on to this podcast. And we kind of touched on some of these. But I'm curious, in your own words, to find restorative justice.

Daniel Rhodes (he/him)  
I've because I think I have thought about I do have the textbook version, because I have to teach it, you know, and it's unclear. But to me, it is a way of life that we have to engage in, that's going to bring about a certain level of understanding of how we connect with each other as people, it is something that we are need for community building. And it is something that we need, as a group. Not to get too into the textbook, but I think that we have a lot of, of harms that have happened, of course, just based on how this country is structured, that we've never addressed it we've never dealt with. And I think it's damaging from my perspective as a white cisgendered. Male, that we've never dealt with it, it continues to cause harm to me, and it causes harm to the communities that have historically been harmed from it. And the only way that we can start to work towards any type of community building is to engage in restorative justice practices, and that we have to see that there's going to be a different way that we live on this planet that is a lot more peaceful and equitable and just inhumane. That we see people is more than just dollar signs or more than, you know, the, the talking piece. The thing about the chapter is I use the beads. And now I use a bowl. And it I think I don't remember if I had the bowl. I think I had the bowl. I don't know if you remember it. It was a bowl that was broken. I glued it back. Yes, you can see. That's the bowl. That's what I use as a talking piece for the most part, which is very profound. And I try to explain to students like we are a sum total of who we are damaged or not. Most of us are damaged, pretty damaged.

David (he/him)  
Yeah. Can you explain that bowl? I know what it is. Oh, because I've seen it? Yeah.

Daniel Rhodes (he/him)  
So it's a in the story that goes with it is I had a bowl that I bought at TJ Maxx I love because I have the Bolgar and I have students trying to describe the bowl and like it's a bowl, it's a bowl, whatever. And then explain to him as like, you know, it's a bowl that about TJ Maxx. It's just a little bowl has dragonflies on it and I'm clumsy. And I'm also hard on myself. So I broke the bowl, and I got really angry and I pulled the trash can out under the sink and I threw the pieces into the trash can. And I was sitting there looking at it and I was like I think it was more frustrated. Like I get so angry at myself so quickly. You know, it's like I'm so clumsy. I'm so clumsy like yeah, you're clumsy you Get over it, that's just where you are. And so I looked at it and thought about how quickly you are to discard things. And then I remembered the practice of the Kent Suji, which is this Japanese practice where they put broken things easily as pottery back together using gold and lacquer. And it makes a piece of art, you know, and so the gold highlights the cracks in the broken pieces. And so I explain it to students, and it has been a profound talking piece. Because I've worked, I've used it in community circles, also, especially working in, I worked in a men's shelter full of it, using it, talking about how we're damaged, and we put ourselves back together and, you know, we're we evolve into something different, it can be a piece of art, and it has been a profound piece for people. And that they, I think that that probably more than anything else really connects students to that process. Because I think that we want to hide how we're broken. And I'm sitting there using this bowl as a metaphor, and I sit there like I'm broken, that's it. My brokenness is that I will get mad at myself being clumsy and you know, throw things away, and people are easily discarded in society. That's what we do when people were broken, we want to discard them because they serve no purpose anymore. And our role as social workers is that we have to help figure out how to put ourselves back together and you know, help people put themselves back together. And so that's the metaphor, the bowl. And so I think that that's kind of where I come from in relation to I'm trying to remember the question now.

David (he/him)  
Define restorative justice, in your own words. Yeah,

Daniel Rhodes (he/him)  
that's restorative justice. Yeah. Oh, my gosh, that's so bad a trail. So but I think that is what restorative justice is, is that we're looking at a system that's broken, you know, a, a system of justice is broken a system of how we educate people that's broken, a system of how we deal with people who are harmed and traumatize those broken. And we have to figure out how to put it back together. And I think that that's what restorative justice is. And that was how the book evolved was, is it a discipline? Or is that a profession or is a way of living? I think that was kind of the one I came up with the chapter was edited restorative justice, Kasha conference, Eastern, Eastern Mennonite, it was about, is it a profession? Or is it a way of life? And I think it is a way of life. I mean, my concern is, we can codify it, like we did social work, certify it, credential it, license it and then I'm a licensed restorative justice practitioner. And then you're going to follow that kind of same trajectory that social workers followed to the large degree. And so there's some resistance from me, like I've already got a credential, I don't need another one. I've already got a license, I don't need another one. I'll go to these trainings. But I don't need the credentialing. And that this is kind of what it offers us. And that it's a hopeful way of life, and that we start to look at the damage and harm that have happened in communities and how, how do we work at changing that? I don't say fixing and fixing this kind of, you know, I don't know if it's letter Ock, or I'm trying to it was a peace, act of peace, author of peace and peace and conflict studies author and he said that healing is in direct response to harm. And so this is when I talked about Don land, they were talking about the truth and reconciliation process. And the native population said, you know, you, you want to get to reconciliation. We're still in dealing with truth. So we should have just called this truth process. And so I don't know if his letter off, but he, he was saying that healing is indexed in direct response to harm. So when you look at structural racism, slavery, you know, 400 years healing, at a minimum is 400 years. You know, and we don't want to hear that, because that's beyond my capacity to understand 400 years down the road, but how are we going to get that unless we start that process of healing, you know, less as a community, we start that and we have to understand that reconciliation is a privilege that I may not know, the truth and getting to that process is what I is the work that I may have to do. And I have to understand that that's, that's going to happen years down the road that I may not get to see that outcome. You know, I have to do be part of the process. And we always hear about process or that stuff is

David (he/him)  
Yeah. As you've been doing this work over the last, you know, couple of decades, and I think there's a key question. What's been an oh shit moment, as you've been practicing and what did you learn from it?

Daniel Rhodes (he/him)  
I loved your question. Yeah, that was a great question. Um, I there's been many I think that the the The oh shit moment I had in doing circle in class, this was a great one, I think in that I was doing a circle with a class. And I have a tendency I, because what will happen when I'm doing circles is students will look in answer me, I'll have, you know, pose something in the talk people around. So sometimes I will have a tendency to look down. And I try to do that because I'm not trying to ignore them, I'm trying to get them understand that, you know, I'm, if I'm sitting there, they have a tendency just to talk to me, and I want them to talk to the circle. And so I'm sitting there, and there's a person next to me and the talking piece to the person that goes around also in the person next to me starts to say yell, but is pretty assertive with the person across the way. And it was like, Oh, shit. Like, she doesn't have the talking piece. And now she's confronting the person on the other end of the circle. And so I had to stop. And it's one of those moments that you just can't replicate in an educational setting where it was like, okay, I can just shut this down. This is it, we're done. You know, we have, we're not gonna have circling more classes over that's it as like, I can't do that as uncomfortable as I am right now. This is a learning experience. And this is what the circle is about. So when got the talking piece, I brought it back to me. I said, okay, just to remind everyone, we have the guidelines in front of us. Honor the talking piece, you know, I went through the guidelines, again, we've agreed to the guidelines. This is we have a conflict in the circle, this is now a conflict circle. And we are all part of this conflict. And so now, we all need to address the conflict, this has come up because of the circle, or would this come up because of this. And so we use this as an opportunity to process the conflict that came up in this moment. So it was kind of like, I think, and oh, shit moment in the moment, like, oh, wow, this is getting ready to fall apart. And so how I respond to this is really important, and that I need to be mindful and observant of where everybody is, and to bring your right back to the kind of center. And that this is where the kind of tough work of this really happens. You know, this is the kind of you know, that I think that's the kind of oshit moment in the moment where like I could respond to this. I think the oshit moment, that has been frustrating for me, is I forget sometimes that when I do this in communities, this is a completely different story. When I do so you can choose one of the two, I guess, are both when I do this in communities that I need to be very clear with the committee and working with what I'm bringing, and what is going to happen, if that makes sense. Yeah, so

David (he/him)  
people don't think it's some voodoo going on in the PA

Daniel Rhodes (he/him)  
is that and also I think, you know, I have to be cautious not to be authoritarian, but that there is a structure to this. And that my expectation is like, I've learned that I won't go into a community and last, like, if they want me to come in into a circle, I will talk to a group of people first and say, This is what this is going to look like, you need to make sure people are on board with it. If you need me to talk about it beforehand, I will, if you need me to talk about the structure a little bit to give an orientation of it, I will. But you know, I don't want people to feel like I have to come to this. And I also need for you to honor and respect me in that I'm going to carve out a certain amount of time that we're going to do this in. And this is the expectations I have like I don't want surprise, I don't want to step into surprises. I know that surprises will come up. If a conflict comes up. I'm willing to deal with that. And the reason I say this, I had a situation where and this is where I had to remind myself that just because I know a person doesn't mean I have that i i that i can't be clear, I need to be clear with that person. And so I had a person want me to come in and you really well to do a circle process with a community group. And it's like, okay, well, this, you know, just understand that at least an hour and a half. And it was working with different committee members who had different intellectual capacity is the best way to put it. And I said, I really want to focus on working with the people who are staff right now, in the beginning. Because this is this is where most of the issues coming from. And so the residents, you know, I don't want them to be a part of this yet, if you need to work with the residents will do that. But that's a different conversation. Because what you're telling me is, this is what we need to focus on. So I'm going to work with the staff first and if you want me to work with residents, I'll do that. But when I come in, I want to work with staff and then we have an hour and a half. And I started to get some like text like well, there's a conflict Don't bring that up. And I'm like, that's not that's not how this works. And so when I came in. The person was like, Oh, we only have an hour. I was like, Well, no, we already negotiated an hour and a half. And then resonance started to come in to the circle. And I wasn't prepared for that. And it reminded that was the oh shit moment where it's like, regardless of whatever group I'm working with, I need to be very clear what this process is, what the expectations are, what your expectations are, and what my expectations are when we come to this, and that you don't change that before I come in. Because that changes the dynamics of it. And if you have certain things that need to be addressed, and you bring other people in, that's going to create some issues as far as how this thing is structured. Does that make sense? I guess?

David (he/him)  
Yeah. I think it reminds me of I think it was, I'm forgetting which episode, it was. But someone also talked about, you know, somebody running a community circle, and then like inviting someone who's coming like, just like, Oh, what's this? Can I be a part of this? Right? And as much as like, we want to be open, welcoming and inclusive, like, that changes what that circle is then. Right? Yeah.

Daniel Rhodes (he/him)  
Yeah, it's a very much I think that. And I think that's something we have to remind ourselves as restorative justice practitioners, and that, yes, this is a way of life. But there, it is somewhat of a profession. And there are some guidelines that we follow, there is an ethical and moral obligation we have with the community we work with. And that we need to be clear with the committee we work with, I've done circles where the press has walked in. And I'm like, No, you can't just sit and watch this, you are going to be a part of the circle, which is confidentiality, which means you can't report on this, or you have to leave and the you know, the reporter left, it's which is fine. But I think that that's what we have to remind ourselves is that when we step into vulnerable communities, we have to be aware that we bring in a certain amount of weight that comes with that, and we have to make sure that nothing I mean, we can't help people's traumas are going to come up. But we have to make sure that we're clear with what we're coming into. And also clear that we'd have no control over if a conflict comes up, a conflict comes up, I can't stop that. But that's the clarity of it is like, I'm not here to contort this to meet your agenda. You know, I'm I have guidelines for very specific reasons. And that's to hold this space in a certain way, and to ensure that people feel safe, and that they can share. And if I don't honor those within myself and within the community and start to tinker with those things to meet a person's agenda, it's not going to work, it's going to start to dissolve, you know, and that's an ocean moment. For me, as I've done more community work is that I need to be very clear upfront, this is what we're doing. This is how it's going to look. So there's no surprises. There'll be surprises, you know, but this is you know, and, and don't, don't come to me and say, you know, I want you to do this and then kind of like, sidelined me with like, oh, but don't do this part of it. That now sure. Yeah, like that's, that's, there's some insincerity while you're asking me to come there, you know, I want to I want to be authentic with the group I'm working with and stuff so that's that's so there's, there's Oh, shit moment in the moment was like, Oh, shit. This is just getting ready to go down in that class, you know? And then there was a shift moment where I've learned like, this is how I need to work with communities when I'm doing this process and ensuring that people are safe, sir.

David (he/him)  
Yeah. You get the sense circle with for people living or dead. Who are they? What is the one question you asked the circle?

Daniel Rhodes (he/him)  
Oh. Oh, for people living or dead? Oh, man. That's a fantastic question. Emma Goldman. Oh, that would be such a crazy circle.

David (he/him)  
So who's Emma Goldman?

Daniel Rhodes (he/him)  
Emma Goldman was anarchists feminist anarchists in the late 1919, early 20th century. Yeah. And so labor activist and anarchist in was deported because of her being outspoken of World War One. Oh, amazing. Yeah. Imago was amazing. individuals. So I think I would be curious, given the recent things with Hannah Hannah as Hannah Nicole Jones of the 1690s I would love to have her be part of that circle just because of what's happened with the UNC system and just be able to be in circle with her and talk to her about that. So I have to pick one board on this Ah Ah, that's a great question. Who would I pick? I? I think que Sure. somebody to help me with that circle.

David (he/him)  
Sure. And then what is the one question, you ask that circle, okay. Nicole, Hannah Jones, Baird Reston and Emma Goldman.

Daniel Rhodes (he/him)  
I don't even know, it would have to be something to get them to reflect on their own personal lived experiences, I try to think of the course, you know, mine is like, what brought you to social work? I think it would have to be something related to, you know, what brought you to do what you're doing today? You know, and I know that's a broad, that's such a broad question. But I think it would be something where it really wants to hear their personal experiences, what brought them at that particular moment? You know, what was the defining moment that led you on the path to where you are today? Like, what, what for you is that like, Oh, this is what I've got to do. This is where I've got to go. This is where my life this is the trajectory that my life has to go in and stuff. And that's, I know, it's kind of a cop out for question, but

David (he/him)  
Well, well, let's see how you feel about it. When I turn it back to you. Oh, because you know, you've talked about all of these, all of these influences, but like, what, is there a moment that stands out to you? Yes, there

Daniel Rhodes (he/him)  
is. Actually, I think that the first Gulf War was the moment that stood out for me. I was in the Army Reserves, I had been in the military, I was a drill instructor in the Army Reserves. I was trying to complete my associate's degree in criminal justice, and was going through law enforcement training. And the first call for happened and I was getting ready to be activated to train that we were unsure what was going to happen. And it was going to be to train what are called inactive is what it was often called the backdoor draft. And it's inactive reservists who have left the military. So when you sign up for the military, you have an eight year obligation at when I was there. So you may be an army for two, four years. And then you're obligated for the remainder times was called inactive reserves. And my responsibility, if I got activated was to train inactive reservists to go fight in a war. And that was the first time because you know, I've gone into military with this understand, like, oh, I may have to go fight in a war. But that was the first time that it was like, I may actually have to train somebody else to do something that I fundamentally I have an issue with that I've never questioned within myself before. And now I'm faced with this prospect. That was probably the defining moment, that was the existential moment for me where I was like, I can't do this, what I'm doing anymore, I've got to do something else, placed me in this position of reflecting on who I was, who I had become at that point was not who I was, who I am. And how did I get to that point, there was a very engineered structured way. And I write about this in my dissertation, it was a very engineered, structured way to ensure that somebody like me, who's kind of like, lost and barely graduated high school and didn't have no, you know, didn't have like, I don't know what I'm going to do. Oh, here, we'll put you right here. And so it was a very engineered, structured way to put me in this position. And for the first time, I was really faced with that existential point. And that was for me, like, oh, wow, I can't do this. I need to reintroduce myself to the person I was. You know, we joke about the inner child and stuff like that. But I literally had to reintroduce myself to the person that was like 1012 years old. And how that trajectory split, from where it went and where it could have gone, and how I'd had to reorient myself because I don't say, like I, you know, we talked about, like, restorative justice is not something that I came to, it's something I came back to. And so how to reorient myself to the person that I was. And understand that I don't regret the person I had become at that point. You know, I those were important experiences in my life, and I don't know wouldn't necessarily change them. But that was a defining moment for me where I was like, I have to reflect on who I am and what my choices are and where what my choices are going to be from here on out. And so that was the defining moment for me. Yeah, I don't tell many people that that's interesting. I will I will talk about it in class. And so I wish I talked about it more. I will talk about it sometimes. But it's funny because I I will talk about in a very kind of compressed version. I remember a student one time said, I think there's more to that story that you're telling us, right?

David (he/him)  
Yeah. I mean, what it begs for me is like, How long after that moment? Did it take you to like, step out.

Daniel Rhodes (he/him)  
Um, it took a while, it was a very painful process. And I appreciate the pain that I went through. And I had I got into counseling. And this is why I love education. Because I came to UNCG as an undergraduate student, and, you know, it was a quirky, small state liberal arts college at the time. And so this was a completely different world for me, you know, I came from the military here and walking in, and the joke, and they still use it as they call it UNC gay, because historically, that's what it's been, you know, it's been a university that's attracted LGBTQ communities, but it's tracted artists, and you know, and it's moved away from that a little bit. I think it's still hasn't somebody, but it's gotten bigger with graduate programs and stuff like that. But I think it's still kind of there at its core, to some degree. And it was just an amazing experience to step into that environment. And be like, Wow, this is, this is amazing. This is to be in a world that is so unfamiliar to me. And to have students that were a little bit younger, because a little bit older, non traditional students who were really patient with me, as I tried to learn, and grow personally, and get into counseling, and I think that's why I came to community doing community mental health, but also my own personal journey. So it took, I would say it was it took a couple of years. There was a pretty it did, and it did and it was a relatively quick process in a snap and like, yeah, you you're this is not what you're supposed to be, you've really kind of BS yourself for several years, and you held it together, you know, with some duct tape, and stuff, but this is not who you are. So I think there was a little bit of kind of like, wow, you know, like, I've finally figured out, you know, here's the person that not that I knew exactly, but this is the person that I I really need to be, and instead of trying to be acid and pretend to be something I'm not, which I think was in some ways harder to do. But that process was also pretty painful in that you, you reflect on Wow, there's some choices I could have made. And so I needed some counseling to help navigate through that process. And then it was really grateful. You know, and it wasn't just counseling. It was a, you know, the people I was around at the time, and people who were patient and willing to work with me and stuff like that. And so it was a journey. And I think that's what's attracted me to ideas like restorative justice, which is a journey, you know, in process as opposed to outcome and stuff. So,

David (he/him)  
yeah, yeah. Thank you so much. Like, there's a deeper story like that, that students said, and I'm grateful that you shared it here in this space. This one I hope is a little bit shorter. You know, what is one thing, a mantra or affirmation that you want? Everyone listening? The hundreds right now? Maybe 1000s? And millions later? What's one thing that you want everybody to know, walking away from our conversation today?

Daniel Rhodes (he/him)  
Um, oh, gosh, you have such hard questions. I don't be so great at this. I, you know, I, that's a good one. I think that I'm the, the one that I work with the students. And I think the one that I will try to work with people is that we do get caught up in outcomes and productivity, you know, like, I gotta have this. And so what the mantra I tried to reinforce, is the process and the journey, the process and the journey, you know, that's the important part of it. And so I like the language because I joke with students, like, you know, you write your notes on a progress note, because that is to denote it, there's some sort of progress. We don't write it on any regress note, God forbid, if we're to regress. But that's where some of the, you know, inner work, and the growth comes from his our ability to regress to some degree. And so, you know, to get students to understand, because they're so caught up in, this is the end goal, this is what I won't, and a lot of times, they will miss such amazing opportunities that will come in front of them, because they're looking at that one point that's down the road right there. And I think that that what was able to help me when I went through that existential crisis was that I don't know what to do now. This was my life. This is what I had done. My whole life had been mapped out with what I was going to do, there was different areas that could go on and now is completely up ended. And I tried to embrace that And because of that, these amazing opportunities came up before me. And I've done things that I would have never done, I've traveled places that I would have never traveled, I've met people that I would have never met, and experienced things I would never experience. If I had not just stepped back and said, just kind of enjoy this journey, and be in the moment and let the process happen. As opposed to I've got to have this endpoint, I've got to get this license or this degree or this, whatever, completed and done, and stuff. And I joke that, you know, I did my PhD because excuse me not to work full time for about four years, you know, but it's kind of tongue in cheek, but it was it was like, you know, it was a product because I wanted I wanted, I didn't want to be in a traditional education setting where it's like here, you got to do quantitative research, analysis and XYZ and you have X number of articles published, I wanted to be in a space where I sat in the classroom and had a great professors like, this class is not going to get you a job. That's what I needed. And that's, I think that that's, I there's resistance I get from students, sometimes when I try explain it to him, because yes, they want, they need a degree, they want to get the degree because this is what they want to do. And then understand that, but don't get so caught up in, I've got to be done. And this is the end goal. Enjoy that moment. Enjoy that process and allow yourself to make these mistakes, and to stumble, and mess up and get broken and fixed and re broken refix and stuff like that, you know, just try to embrace it for what it is. Cornel West does a great job here, we get a chance to see his the documentary called the examined life. He's talking about democracy. And he's, he's a philosopher, you know, of course, just eloquent philosopher just can describe things I could never he's describing democracy as beautiful, messy, you know, and this is kind of what it is. And, and I think that that's kind of how life is to some degree, it's it's just this messy process. And we want to kind of make it nice and neat. And it's just not going to work like that. And we have to kind of sometimes embrace that messiness, and that you know, those mistakes and allow us to be broken. And oh, there's, there's a piece of me laying over there. Let me go pick it up. I knew it was there somewhere.

David (he/him)  
This one requires a little bit of homework from you, Oh, who's one person that should have on the podcast, and you have to help connect us?

Daniel Rhodes (he/him)  
Have you ever you've interviewed John Powell? Right? I have not. So I'm trying to think of people for you to interview that have worked within some of the circles I've worked in. There's a couple, Val Hanson and John Powell. And so I So you asked for one I get Yeah, stress, and I give you two. Mm. So Val would probably be a little bit more resistant. She's amazing. But she's introverted. Like me. She John is interesting. He he was probably in the circle you're in, I'm trying to remember he was yeah, he was there. And, you know, the circle processes at death row. And I think he's amazing to bring into spaces down here in the south, where you will have some resistance of things like restorative justice and circle process. And he can step in some of those spaces where I can't step into it, because I just I don't think that I could, he could he can bring connections together in ways that I don't think I could do it. And so I think he would be a phenomenal person for you to interview. I can think of a multitude of others that I don't know, we'd love to hear. But I think that's the one that you know, I think val is kind of the quiet restorative justice practitioner, which I think it would be great to hear from her too, and hear her voice. I will reach out to both of them. And then hopefully one of them will respond to you. How's that? Beautiful?

David (he/him)  
Yeah. Love it. And then finally, how can people support you and your work and the ways that you want to be supported?

Daniel Rhodes (he/him)  
Ah, that's, that's a great, another great question. I you know, I've been so fortunate and how people supported me so far. I think that how I would want to be supported is the community groups that I've been working with, to some degree, recognize the value of, of what this is this process. Have them be really creative and how we can extend This into our community to some degree like I can, I can preach it from the, you know, the school steps as a Yunus University professor, I feel like this is what we need to do, you know, there's a certain level of weight that comes with that voice. But there's some community groups that I work with, I think that are in the community and their capacity. I would like for them to this is kind of odd, because I think it's easy to default. With me to be the person comes in like, Oh, yes, I do circle work and stuff like that. But to figure out how to empower that community to be able to go into the broader community and say, This is what we do. We're restorative justice people. And this is we want the community become a restorative justice community. That's a that's a that's a big, that's a really good answer to that. But that's I want to go without some degree. And that the communities I work with kind of understand the importance of how this is needed in the community we work with and how they can help organize communities to come together. You know, if that makes sense, that's a very,

David (he/him)  
this might be the one time the last question that I redirect you, right? This is often more framed as like a call to action to listeners, how can they support the work that you're doing and

Daniel Rhodes (he/him)  
read the chapter? It's hard. It's really hard for somebody like me to say, read the chapter. There will be a quiz. Yeah, there is, you know, think about how to hold spaces where we're, people like me can come in and do circle process and do restorative justice work in the communities. And I guess, have them to start to think about I'm not really answering this very well either have them to start thinking about more of, you know, I think we're so ingrained in this retributive justice system, this the default that we understand, and the how do we separate ourselves, like think about how do I separate myself from it being the default? And when something happens in a community? Where harm is done? How can I think in terms of stepping into this, and say, there's a different way to do this? That focuses more on the healing, then a crime has been committed?

David (he/him)  
No, I mean, it's beautiful. And so I want to replug, the book, Living sorry, listening to the movement, your chapter will be linked in the show notes. But are there any other words that you want to leave the people with?

Daniel Rhodes (he/him)  
I just, I appreciate you doing this. I mean, I, I'm just so honored to be in this space. It is, it is hard for me because I tried to like oh, you know, like, you know, want to want people to have their voice want people to have their voice. And I'm blathering on about myself. But I do appreciate the work that you're doing. And I guess if there's any way to answer in an intangible way of how to support, what I'm doing is to listen to what you're doing, you know, and just share your podcasts with other people. Because I think you have done an amazing, you've got such a wonderful lineup of people that you've interviewed that have such a wealth of knowledge. And I think this one is hard for me to answer that question, because I don't think you know, you just have done something that is so amazing. I was surprised I hadn't heard it before. And so now it's like, it's gonna be required listening for my students. And I think there's no way to support what I'm doing is to support what you're doing.

David (he/him)  
That's the answer that is beautiful, because I think

Daniel Rhodes (he/him)  
they do what you've done. I mean, I could do it in the classroom setting. And I think that we both have our, our way of doing it. And for me, it's in the class. I mean, that's, that's the only way I know to do it is in the class of students. And if I can, you know, have 30 students buy into it. And by the end of the semester, I've done my job, if I can have 10 of them, buy into it, I've done my job, if you want to support me, you know, become a social work student, take my class, and then I'll teach you about restorative justice, we'll learn it together. And then you'll go a social worker, and but I think if they want to do it, the community, listen to what you're doing, you know, read what we're writing and just say, we've got to do it. And we've got to expect our communities to be restored. That's that's what I would hope. And I'm just so honored that you asked me I, I don't think you'll grasp how much this means to me that you've asked me to be here to be a part of this. It's a great deal to me so

David (he/him)  
well, you've you've shared so much of yourself. And I know the wisdom from your stories and experiences will will resonate with folks. So thank you for being here. To everyone else. Thank you for listening. We'll be back with another conversation with someone living this restorative justice Life next week. Until then, take care. Thank you.

Elyse (she/her)  
Thank you Daniel. One thing that I really appreciated about this episode was Daniel thought outside the box well circle rather than To promote circle values in the classroom. One thing he suggested was you can even sit in circle in the classroom because putting the teacher at a higher power level automatically happens whenever you're in a classroom setting. But creating an even playing field, even just physically, by having a circular seating arrangement can help promote those connections. What are some other ways that you can think of to promote restorative justice values in an unconventional way? As always, thank you so much for listening, and I'll talk to you next week.

David (he/him)  
Like what you heard, please subscribe, rate review and share this podcast on whatever platform you're using right now. Or if you're old school, tell a friend. It really helps us further amplify this work. You can also support us by following us on our social platforms, signing up for our email list, signing up for a community gathering, workshop, or course. So many options, links to everything in the show notes or on our website, amplify rj.com Thanks so much for listening. We'll talk to you next week.

Transcribed by https://otter.ai