Join us for the first live taping of This Restorative Justice Life, featuring ideas and discussions from the 2022 NACRJ Conference.
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Ashley Shinice Ellis is the co-founder of "The B.R.E.A.T.H.E. Collective" a is a collective of black and brown womyn and girls committed to developing sacred connections and curating sacred space that allow us to Balance, Restore, Empower, Affirm, Transform, Heal, & Embody.
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David (he/him): Welcome to this restorative justice life live.
[00:00:09] Beautiful. Beautiful. Thank you so much for being here. My name is David Ryan barcega Castro Harris, all five names for all of the ancestors. I'm the founder of amplify RJ, and we're so excited to be here with you at the NACRJ conference in Chicago. I'm here in person for like the second time ever with our producer.
[00:00:31] Elyse, Elyse, how are you?
[00:00:33] Elyse (she/her): I am good. How are you?
[00:00:35] David (he/him): Oh man, I've been telling people and we're gonna talk about this later with Ashley, our special guest, but we're, I've been trying to find the rest in restorative justice. It has been a struggle. This weekend is energizing and exhausting at the same time.
[00:00:53] But I'm so glad to be in this space. We always start our podcast though, with the, you know, who are you? So Elyse, I, I don't think we're gonna do all seven. Let's do five. Who are you?
[00:01:04] Elyse (she/her): I am Elyse Martin Smith. I am an Afro-Latina cisgender woman. And that informs a lot of my identity and my experience throughout this world.
[00:01:16] David (he/him): Who are you?
[00:01:17] Elyse (she/her): I am a sibling. I am a daughter. I am a friend. I am all of the above. I'm also a musician and that's a really important outlet for me. I think the arts are an incredibly important part of expression and I really resonate with that.
[00:01:37] David (he/him): Who are you?
[00:01:39] Elyse (she/her): I am a learner. I'm in school. I go to Harvard and I remember last time, if you ever watched the past episode, I don't think I even said it in the episode because I want people to know me first before they know my school. I feel like I'm at a place now where I'm able to still put me first and still show me first. And I think I've changed my view on that a little bit since last time.
[00:02:01] David (he/him): Who are you?
[00:02:03] Elyse (she/her): I am growing. I am 18 years old, almost 19, almost 19. But I also, I'm a learner, but I'm also a teacher in a lot of ways. And I think I learn best when I am in a teaching space when I can both speak and listen. And so I'm really happy to be here.
[00:02:22] David (he/him): And finally, for now, who are you?
[00:02:24] Elyse (she/her): I am the producer of this restorative justice life.
[00:02:28] Hi folks. I'm Elyse, your producer as you hear. I am hoping to have a lot of fun today.
[00:02:35] David (he/him): Beautiful. Well, thank you so much, Elyse, for being here. Sometimes people turn that back around to me. We're not gonna do that yet. What we're going to do is give y'all the opportunity to participate in this with each other.
[00:02:45] This who are you framing it, something that you might have done in circle before we like to do it in trainings with amplify RJ, because as much as amplify RJ does work within organizations that support people in their job or in schools that support people with teachers or we don't really do a ton of work within the criminal legal system.
[00:03:04] But when people think about restorative justice as a profession, it leaves out so many of the aspects that at least just shared of who you are in this work is a way of being that's the philosophy behind this podcast about how this work impacts people's professional and personal lives. We want to invite you to partake in that. Who are you activity? Five questions. No follow up questions.
[00:03:26] And it's hard not to I, I heard some of, y'all say it's hard not to follow up and jump in, Hey, that's so interesting. Like let me learn a little bit more. I feel that all the time as I'm interviewing people, I think doing the podcast for me is another way of practicing circle while not actually in circle where like you are listening deeply.
[00:03:44] I always come in with a set of questions that I want to ask people, but many episodes go in vastly different directions. Just like circles and the process is so, so beautiful. I wanna share for those of you who don't know, and for those of you who are listening later, who haven't known about how this got started amplify RJ is the manifestation of a lot of my restorative justice work.
[00:04:11] And when I got my start doing this work in Chicago with community justice, for youth Institute Lawndale, Christian legal center alternatives and just so many community partners. So many people here that I'm so excited to see. I found so many times in spaces that like, This work is needed here and here and here and here.
[00:04:29] And we're only talking about it in this context, this context, this context when I moved back to California, so transitioning out of a job, doing restorative justice in schools here in Chicago back to California I was at a loss for how to continue to do this work. And what ended up happening was me starting an Instagram account called amplify RJ.
[00:04:49] And at the time it was just about like, Hey, let me share this work. Like what this work really is to people who don't know right in these Instagram streets, because when you Google restorative justice or look at the news on restorative justice, you'll find a lot of things about court cases or diversion programs.
[00:05:07] But we know that it's so much more than that. In the session later this afternoon, where I'm gonna talk about restorative justice, dismantling white supremacy culture all of. We're we'll share a little bit about restorative adjustability, really thinking about the way that these values, these indigenous values of interconnection things that I learned from indigenous folks here.
[00:05:26] Toma Ramirez, specifically values of inlet Kesh. And then I am another you. You are another me right in, in my end and folks that I've learned from at restorative justice conferences in the, in the past have brought all these ancestral ways into being in. So when we. having that idea of interconnection at the center of our being, of course, we're gonna want to repair, right?
[00:05:48] Of course, we're going to want to fix things. Of course, we're not gonna like cut off our own arm to like solve a problem. No, we're gonna figure out how to repair things within the context of our communities and the way that the world is now is very, very disconnected. So it's equally as important if not more important to do that proactive relationship building work.
[00:06:07] And so when amplifier J the Instagram account started, right, it's not just enough to put out this information. It's important to like continue to build the community and. Like, Instagram's not a great platform for that. You, you put out things into the world and people consume them. Podcasts aren't necessarily the best for creating community, but at least you get to have a dialogue back and forth to someone.
[00:06:28] And the beauty of our restorative justice community is that it's actually pretty small. And within this room within this conference you have access to so much knowledge. And what I realized is that as somebody who had the bandwidth that had the time to continue to share these ideas, share these ways of being with people who have been doing this work forever episode one with Cheryl Graves my mentor, who can't be here today because she's still recovering from COVID, but she's here in Chicago and hopefully, maybe tomorrow they'll, she'll be feeling a little bit better.
[00:06:59] But sharing stories is how this work gets done and sharing stories that. Connect with different people in different ways are often not really well done on Instagram slides or in TikTok reels. And so these long form conversations have been really helpful. But it does take a lot of work.
[00:07:16] Both setting up guests recording, editing the postproduction. I've been, I started off doing it all by myself. And then in what was it? November of ?
[00:07:27] Elyse (she/her): Yeah, it was in the middle of the pandemic. I went to one of the virtual conference well, virtual events that Amplify RJ had. I really enjoyed it.
[00:07:35] And then David reached out to me and was like, I don't usually see people. That's young come to our events. What brought you here? And we had a really great conversation and eventually I started doing some work around the podcast and eventually started producing it. So,
[00:07:49] David (he/him): and it's been such a blessing to have one somebody help like lighten the load.
[00:07:53] But for those who haven't listened to the podcast before Elise introduces guests, but also shares her reflections at the end. And what was important for me is, you know, I'm a youngish person I'm 31 years old. Sometimes when I'm in these restorative justice spaces, maybe not in this room but in some of the other restorative justice spaces, like I still get pegged as like, oh, the voice of the youth.
[00:08:12] I'm like not so much. I mean, like I may look, I may look like I might still be in high school, but no, I'm a. Married father homeowner grown, grown person. Who's doing this work and having a Elyse's voice in there has been so helpful. Both just workload wise, but just bringing fresh perspective.
[00:08:32] What have been some of the key learnings or really exciting things that you've experienced. Doing this work.
[00:08:39] Elyse (she/her): Ooh, well, I really enjoy being able to listen to the podcast. I get to also listen to it a little bit before everyone else. So I feel kind I feel kind of fancy with that. But I just love getting to hear people from a variety of different experiences.
[00:08:53] We have had educators. We have had people within the criminal legal system. We have had restorative farming. Like there are so many different types of episodes and also as a young person myself deciding what career I want, what I wanna be in my life. It's really nice to know that there's this work going on in every facet of life as, as it should be.
[00:09:15] And so that has been, I feel like my biggest takeaway is. Restorative justice is a way of life and it is in every aspect of life and being able to take that also to people I know and encourage them to seek this work and their life has been really impactful for me. .
[00:09:33] David (he/him): You first got, we first got connected when you were a senior in high school and there were some restorative justice ish practices happening.
[00:09:40] You're like, you don't see our faces for those of you who are listening later, but like, like the ish, the hand gestures, right. It wasn't quite there. And, you know, restorative justice practices are growing in schools. Shout out to all the people who are doing that work, but you know, you've now since transitioned into college.
[00:09:59] How have you seen this work play out on the campus? Or not formally or informally?
[00:10:06] Elyse (she/her): well, it is so needed. It is so needed on campus. It was also needed in high school. I was able to participate in a, a much needed restorative justice circle in high school. And that was a really important experience for me.
[00:10:21] I remember going into it thinking there's no way, there's no way that that we're ever gonna connect. It's my senior year, it's been half virtual, like, should I even put in the effort to give my energy into someone who has not like who, where our relationship might not be able to make it out of this. By actually putting myself in that situation, I was able to repair the relationship in a way that I never thought I could.
[00:10:49] And so I would love to see that on campus in college. And I think that I'm pushing for that change. I, there are some other people who are pushing for that change, but a lot of people don't know this work. A lot of people have never heard the term restorative justice. And especially as we're kind of like we're adults, we're learning how to be in this world as adults.
[00:11:11] And we like to be our own authority figures. So then it's hard cuz we don't necessarily have those connections to elders, to leadership anymore. And although that is a great thing, we also do want to connect with the people who have been doing this work for a really long time. So I hope to bring that to the college campus.
[00:11:30] One of the things that we do as Amplify RJ restorative justice and part of my job as the podcast producer is I create short little videos. I will say my attention span as well as a lot of my colleagues has gotten very short. An hour and a half long podcast. I love listening to it. I'm not gonna lie I do listen to it on two times speed. But even so I try to make the short form content to hopefully create more of an intergenerational link. And I feel like that is how I see my role within this work is creating that intergenerational connection because that's what we need. We need more young people who know this work.
[00:12:06] And we also want to connect as well with elders who have been doing this through their entire lives.
[00:12:13] David (he/him): And it is so needed. The world is moving towards it already is so content driven. People's attention spans are shorter. People's attention is always on their phone. So Instagram, TikTok, YouTube, wherever we can put this work amplify.
[00:12:27] RJ is still growing. Literally amplifying this work, but using digital media digital spaces, not to teach people everything there is to know about restorative justice. You have to do that within the context of community, but really planting the seeds and letting them grow is so important. So thank you, Elyse so much.
[00:12:43] Speaking of the next generation, yesterday at the conference, one of the speakers, Eddie Glaude was giving a keynote and two young people were middle school student said, Hey, we have a podcast. We would love to have you say a few words. And so we brought those young people here, Sydney and Aziza.
[00:13:06] Welcome to this restorative justice lie. Sydney. Who are you?
[00:13:10] Sydney: I'm a student at Edinburg middle school. And I'm part of the restorative justice team there.
[00:13:15] David (he/him): Who are you?
[00:13:16] Sydney: I am a poet and I had performed at the, or Toal Fest in Oakland and I won first place.
[00:13:23] David (he/him): Who are you?
[00:13:24] Sydney: I am an ex gymnast. I wasn't really anything special, but I can't do a couple things. .
[00:13:31] David (he/him): Who are you?
[00:13:31] Sydney: I am a girl and a sister to a very annoying older brother. .
[00:13:40] David (he/him): Who are you?
[00:13:41] Sydney: I am the daughter to my parents and also my grandmother's granddaughter and my uncle's niece.
[00:13:49] David (he/him): Beautiful. Beautiful. And now Aziza, who are you?
[00:13:52] Aziza: I am Aziza. I am a peer RJ leader at Edinbrough middle school.
[00:13:58] David (he/him): Who are you?
[00:13:59] Aziza: I am a basketball player and a track runner.
[00:14:05] David (he/him): Who are you?
[00:14:06] Aziza: I am bilingual in one language sort of, and then I speak some Mandarin. .
[00:14:13] David (he/him): Who are you?
[00:14:16] Aziza: Like a surfer and a sailor.
[00:14:19] David (he/him): Beautiful. Thank you all for sharing so much of that. And restorative justice, doesn't just apply to your work at schools, right? It applies to all the roles that you play in the world, but. we haven't met before, like 20 minutes ago. So I'm curious for y'all from each of your perspectives what was your introduction to restorative justice and why was it important for you to become a part of this work?
[00:14:39] Sydney: I actually was introduced to it by my friend from school. She had just like mentioned, I was like, oh, that sounds really cool. And she was like, oh yeah, they're growing to Chicago this year. So, you know, that's a perk. I was like, yeah, that's a really good perk. I should try and do it, when I very first heard about it, it was just to come here, but I realized that was actually really cool to learn about all the things that we did learn about
[00:15:04] David (he/him): I love the honesty. I love the honesty. Shout out to your, to your school teachers for making that an attractive option. But I imagine that's what got you in what has made you stay? What has made you invested in continuing to do this work?
[00:15:18] Sydney: I liked being able to do community building circles for the sixth graders of our school.
[00:15:23] So that was always really fun. We did them a lot and it was just like a way to practice because we actually went to a middle school conference that same year. And we did a circle about bias. I guess I could tell you about that.
[00:15:36] Aziza: Yeah, I guess what made me stay is it was just really cool and figured out I really liked planning and like just leading circles. And it was also like really good to like sort of strengthen my relationship with the friends I already had in there and make a lot of new friends in like the RJ class, cuz like you would be working with them and planning and just, you gotta see an entire new side of them, but it was also like really cool.
[00:16:01] And it was a great opportunity.
[00:16:03] David (he/him): Yeah. It sounds like you learned a lot and grew a lot through these new experiences. Did you wanna tell us a little bit about that bias circle?
[00:16:10] Sydney: Yeah, I did a via circle with some of my other friends and it wasn't, it, it, it was okay. We. It was at the middle school conference where like all the schools around the bay area, shout out to people from the bay area, by the way came to a college and we like hosted circles for some other middle school students.
[00:16:28] And it was good. It's just that our circle had like six people in it and most of the people were from our school. So we didn't actually get to see a lot of new people, but it went okay. You know, it was, it could have been better, but we learned from it. What did you learn? We learned how to work a projector and we learned that we need to be more put together cuz our group was always arguing over what to do.
[00:16:50] So we learned how to get over our argument and work together better.
[00:16:54] David (he/him): I love that. Right. Because as we're doing restorative justice work, right, like it is. Our, our goal to like have predetermined outcomes. Right. And so when we're doing this work we are learning and adapting to whatever the conditions are and right.
[00:17:10] So while you might not have the, the successful outcome of like the bias circle as it was planned, right. The relationships that you built off of that experience with your people like asking questions, like, Hey, what happened here? What was the impact of this and how do we, you know, make better decisions moving forward?
[00:17:25] How do we communicate better moving forward is a beautiful restorative process. Thank you for sharing that as said, did you wanna talk about the social media circle?
[00:17:31] Aziza: From the sounds of it, I think ours went a little bit better at the middle school conference. I had another group and we actually got in and we did the circle here.
[00:17:40] But that was with, that was a lot different. Yeah. But we did it at the middle school conference and I think it went pretty good. It was mostly like. Sort of being mostly led by this one girl that was in our last group and she like wrote the entire document and stuff, but I feel like I contributed more this time.
[00:18:00] And I think both of the times it went pretty good.
[00:18:02] David (he/him): This work takes preparation.
[00:18:03] This work takes practice. We're restorative justice practitioners, not perfectionists. We're constantly growing in this work. The reason that I really wanted to talk to y'all today though, is because as I shared we had an amazing speaker yesterday, Eddie loud, give a keynote presentation and I heard y'all say like, Hey, we have a podcast.
[00:18:21] Can we get you on? And I love the initiative. I love fellow podcasters. So tell us the name of your podcast and what it's about and where people can find it.
[00:18:30] Sydney: Okay. So our podcast is called the art of RJ cyber circle. Ooh. And it's gonna be on Spotify. We're trying to launch it today. So it's just, we're gonna be interviewing a lot of people on it.
[00:18:43] Today we had our teacher gave us the idea to just take a microphone around the whole conference, building and interview, whoever we can just like random people be like, Hey, what do you do? And why are you here? So I just I'm like the manager of the podcast. So I assigned everybody to go do that.
[00:18:57] So they're doing that right now. and it's cyber circles where we talk to people about what they do, how they do RJ in their everyday life and how they influence other people with it. And we're just, and we're also gonna be interviewing a lot of students at our school.
[00:19:11] Or trying to, and that's pretty much it. Yeah. Why a
[00:19:14] David (he/him): podcast?
[00:19:15] Sydney: Cuz it's like a different way to connect with people. If like you don't have to be in person to be able to talk about things like important stuff with people you can do from any platform, especially now with all the, with all the technology we have.
[00:19:29] And so it's just another way to get ourselves out there and promote
[00:19:34] Ashley Ellis (she/her): RJ
[00:19:35] David (he/him): right now. For those of you who aren't with us live, we're recording on USB mics, plugged into apple computers running this through garage band, but you can start podcasts in lots of different ways as fancy as XL, large into pre amps into a whole recording thing.
[00:19:51] Or I've seen y'all running around the conference with your voice memo app and like. That is still some pretty good sound quality, and you can really put together a beautiful podcast experience. I know this is like very early in the podcast journey for you, but what are some really important things that you've learned along the way or, or something you've learned along the way
[00:20:10] Sydney: I've learned what to use and what not to use?
[00:20:13] We tell the people we've tried a couple of different things to use. At first we tried audacity and we thought that would be like the one, because it was automatically into the teacher's computers. We were working with our school computers, and those are really limited because we had to use our school accounts on there.
[00:20:28] And we can't even like use YouTube or anything on those computers. We can only do schoolwork. So we had to really figure out how are we gonna do this? And then we tried to use sprinkler, which. Some other fancier way to do it, but then we had to like subscribe and I didn't think we wanted pay a hundred dollars a month to do a podcast.
[00:20:47] So now we're using anchor and it's connected to Spotify and it's a lot simpler and a lot more straightforward. So I think that's gonna be what
[00:20:54] David (he/him): for us. Yeah. And there are lots of different ways to do it. Like for Amplifi RJ, we use buzz sprout to, we use garage band to edit. We use buzz sprout to host and buzz sprout, puts it out to all the different podcast platforms.
[00:21:09] I think we pay $18 a month for that hosting, but there is so much to learn about doing this work in media, doing this work in. Do continuing to put restorative justice work out there. What do you hope people take away from your podcast? I
[00:21:23] Sydney: hope they take away that even like kids, our age can do something really cool and influential to the community and we can earn the respect that adults have.
[00:21:34] Aziza: I kind of wanna become like famous . But I feel like that's the long shot just like that we can get heard even at our age and like that our voices are like, just as strong if like people do hear it. So, yeah.
[00:21:47] David (he/him): Yeah, absolutely. Hey, we're gonna do everything that we can amplify RJ to amplify your work.
[00:21:54] Let's give Aziza and Sydney a big round of applause and thank you for being here. Thank.
[00:22:07] As much as we are having. Engaging conversations in moments and within the context of circle things in circle stay in circle, right? We're creating a circle like atmosphere when we're, when I'm doing an interview. But sometimes there are things that are gonna live on the internet forever.
[00:22:23] that people don't necessarily want out there, there have been moments where it's like, I'm gonna stop you. I'm gonna ask you to reframe that just because it. Come across this way. And you know there have been moments where people have asked us to on the backside, like take things down or rerecord elements.
[00:22:42] And for me, it's just really important that we're making sure that the relationship is honored above all of the content. And so I don't know how much of that's going to get, get used, but for those of you who are seeing this behind the scenes Elise has, has gotten some like pretty interesting insights into like the things that go on behind the scenes.
[00:22:58] Any, like. Funny editing moments that have stood out to you?
[00:23:02] Elyse (she/her): I remember in one of our recent episodes, actually I remember Mia Mingus, amazing episode, definitely worth a listen, but I remember there's one specific moment where where she said you can cut this out. And it was like, it was very loud and very FA and very fun. So yeah, it, it's all, it's all part of the process.
[00:23:20] And sometimes I've had to go in and you can even through bus sprout. You can actually, re-upload an episode or re-upload a re-recorded section. If someone later on in life decided. Hey, I don't want that out in the world. That's always something that we wanna consider. And there are a lot of platforms that will let you do that.
[00:23:38] The other thing we do is also transcription. And so that's another thing that if someone wants to change something we can also change the transcript and just change little things like that to make people more comfortable. And then also a transcript. If anyone is interested in podcasting, that's a really important accessibility piece.
[00:23:57] And we really honor that within Amplifi RJ. And so if you are interested in, in starting a podcast, definitely looking into transcription some of the the different platforms that I've used include Otter oter AI, you can use that for free for like a certain amount of minutes.
[00:24:13] And then there's also a platform called script that I've used where you can both edit and like over dub audio. And you can do that at the same time as transcription. And so those things, that one is a little bit more expensive. You have less time that you can use it. But both are really good platforms.
[00:24:31] And even if you're just going to a meeting it's sometimes helpful to like hook in order and you can have them, you can have the notes afterwards. And for me editing, and this is more of like an editor's note kind of thing. But as I go through an edit one thing that's really helpful is having that transcript because one thing that we do is we post the quotes on our Instagram account or we post important video clips.
[00:24:53] And it's so much easier to find that if you have a transcript to follow along. So not only is it helping on an accessibility standpoint, it's also helping me as an editor and hopefully helping you as a listener and consumer of these product.
[00:25:07] David (he/him): Yeah. Like, like there's so many things that I never thought about when I was like, I'm gonna just like hit record and this thing will be out in the world.
[00:25:15] But it is a. Rewarding journey, especially those of you who have come up to us over the course of the last couple days sharing the impact that this has had, the people that you've shared it with. All these stories, all these different perspectives really need to be out there.
[00:25:27] So please, please continue to share every download counts, every share counts of we're further amplifying this work. I wanna bring on one last, very special guest. They have been a previous podcast episode guest, I think episode three or four. Ashley Ellis, my long time friend comrade mentor in this work, let's give Ashley a big this restorative justice life.
[00:26:04] Ashley. Hey, welcome to this restorative justice life. Welcome. Welcome back. you know, the, who are yous are always evolving, so let's get reacquainted. Who are you? Ooh.
[00:26:17] Ashley Ellis (she/her): Okay. I just did this and I just feel like it's even harder now. I am Ashley, SICE say Ellis daughter of Lizzy, may Jenkins and Bailey George Ellis, senior granddaughter of Bessy, Beatrice and hat, Madea Ellis daughter of Chicago, granddaughter of Selma, Alabama and Jackson, Mississippi.
[00:26:41] Who are you? I am a sister, a wife and partner to Kisha. I am a friend a. Like universal cousin, I'm everybody, cousin and sister . I am a dreamer, a peacemaker, a peacekeeper, a storyteller a visionary. I am
[00:27:11] I am somebody who's recovering stories that were never told and carrying them forward.
[00:27:18] David (he/him): Who are you?
[00:27:20] Ashley Ellis (she/her): I am the founder of, and co-founder of the brief, collective and brief circles. I am a non-traditional teacher. I am a facilitator of change and transformation. I am a seer Seeing people beyond what's in front of me in community.
[00:27:40] I am. Yeah. I, I am loving action facts.
[00:27:47] David (he/him): Who are you?
[00:27:48] Ashley Ellis (she/her): I'm a little hood a little educated. I'm a little gospel. I am I'm laughter I'm a good time. I am the full embodiment of myself and I bring that into every space that I am in. Yeah. Yeah. I'm gonna go with that. Yeah,
[00:28:08] David (he/him): that is so be, and I know you to be all of those things and more and more we are all multitudes and , you know, I have been eternally grateful for your support, your mentorship, your encouragement, and just being a friend and a comrade in this work. I spoke a little bit earlier about, you know, trying to find the rest in restorative justice and you and I have had many conversations around this idea of who keeps the keepers.
[00:28:38] That's right. And I know we're both going through different, but very similar seasons of exhaustion and burnout, this work, how are you finding support? How are you finding rest and restorative justice? Who's keeping you
[00:28:52] Ooh, C to be kept back. I just play. So how I got tired last year and I went on sabbatical, like I had reached a point who keeps the keeper really came out of.
[00:29:05] This question that I had as a practitioner, after circles, after holding space holding people's stuff and helping other people, holding the family yourself, and trying to navigate life is like, at the end of the day, when you go home and plop down, it is like, who checks in with you? You know what I mean?
[00:29:28] And it's not like folks are unintended, like intentionally not checking in. People got their own stuff, but it was this question of like, we are front, we are like frontline workers. And like, how do we have this community of care who checks in with us? And for me and my partner, like the most constant person was my wife, my partner, you know?
[00:29:50] But I also understood that, you know, she can't keep me more than I keep myself. Hmm. And so I had to make a DEC, I had to begin to make decisions about how I was holding and taking care of myself, how I was choosing and giving myself the permission to say no, or to stop because I was encouraging other folks, right.
[00:30:12] Like I was like, SIS, put it down, like say, nah, like stop apologizing. And like, I go into the next room and I'm like, mm, okay. I don't really wanna do that, but okay. I can figure that out. Right. And I'm like, no, I have to embody the thing that I'm sharing. And so, you know, it got to a point where like, I ain't have no choice.
[00:30:31] My body didn't give me a choice, but to say, no, I had to give myself the permission to stop because I couldn't go forward. You know? I was trying to launch like this The retreat or the initiative around who keeps the keeper in the middle of my exhaustion. Right. Because I was like, who, if I'm this tied, I know I ain't the only one.
[00:30:51] Ashley Ellis (she/her): So let's just create a community, you know, for sisters that's tied and let's figure it out, you know? But I realized that like, that's still, it's still some work in that right. To hold space, to gather folks. And I'm like, I wanna do it, but I have to go, I have to get well, right. I can't pour from this empty cup and shout out to Veronica because, you know for years I followed her work and was very inspired by who heals the healer, you know, and the work that she was doing with ancestors, you know?
[00:31:21] And so I don't want that to go unnoticed. But I, I used to have this question of like, am I a healer? Like, am I. I think that I'm a con like maybe I'm a conduit of healing. I think that I am I create and curate space for healing to occur for people to be facilitators of their own healing, but I didn't necessarily consider myself a healer, but I was a keeper.
[00:31:44] I was a holder. And we was doing some of the same work, but I was like, specifically for people in this field, I was like, we're missing this, this, this piece of care. We don't have accompaniment on a journey, especially it's like people of color as a black woman doing this work. We weren't looking around and seeing a lot of us, you know?
[00:32:04] And so it's like, who do, who like SSW? Who do I run to when I need love? Like, that's how I was in the, in the, in the community. It's like, who do I turn to? And it was just like, go home. So it's like take a nap. and I'm like, it gotta be more than that.
[00:32:20] David (he/him): There's so much in that that's resonating with me both as.
[00:32:25] Somebody who is doing this work. Like we are both entrepreneurs, solo entrepreneurs, like doing this work on our own outside of institutional support for the most part, right? As somebody who is a partner, somebody who is energized by a lot of this work, somebody who sees the very, very urgent need mm-hmm to respond to trauma in our communities.
[00:32:49] And like, it's very, very hard to say no. And sometimes you have to. I get frustrated this work, like we're all in July of 2022 right now. Exhausted from the constant barrage of like mass shootings that are continuing to happen across our country here in Illinois Highland park, there was this last shooting in during the 4th of July Uvalde, Texas Buffalo, like it, it continues to happen in like holding space, just for people yeah.
[00:33:20] To be is something that's so needed. In addition to like the acute things that are happening within communities that you're a part of and work environments and somebody needs to do that. People need that space every time that I do it, people are like, thank you so much. People have said, like, you've saved a life tonight.
[00:33:36] Some people have said like wild things that like, we need more of this. And. I can't give more. Right. I can't give more, I need to sleep. I need to take care of my son. I need to spend time with my wife. I need to like be me. And, you know, to your point of like, who, like, you've gotta keep yourself as much as like you are relying on community, because like, I do have people who check in on me.
[00:33:59] Yeah. But like the first relationship that you have is the relationship
[00:34:02] with yourself. Yeah. Because if you don't have it with yourself, then you're not even aware of the need to rest and to slow down, you just pushing, pushing, pushing. And it wasn't until I was able to name those things. Like other people could see it.
[00:34:22] Ashley Ellis (she/her): But I also think that I have. I have a gift. I'm a Gemini, right? Like, so like, I don't know what that means. , I'm a, so when I say that, like, I'm, I'm very like airy in my personality. So that means that like, I can walk into a room exhausted. And when I step into the room, I turn on. Right. And so people won't experience me as exhausted.
[00:34:49] Right. I'm so used to tuning into other people's frequencies and making sure that everybody's around me is okay. And so my natural is to put myself away and to, to not let people know that, because one I'm like, I don't know if they can hold that for me. Or like, you know, sometimes you give somebody something you are like, well, let me, I'm gonna test this out real quick and be like, you know, Ooh, I'm tired.
[00:35:14] And then the response is like, Ooh, I'm exhausted too. And they become about them. You like, nevermind. Like I , nevermind. I'll just keep it to myself. . But I think when I became more aware and gave myself the permission to name, like I'm tired, I'm exhausted. Then I think that opened up the door and called in, you know, the ability for me to also receive the support that I needed.
[00:35:39] Cuz I didn't know how to ask for it. Right. It wasn't until I came off sabbatical where I was like, oh, I can't do nothing else. Like I'm not doing anything else by myself. Right. Like I was holding, you know, trainings back to back. I have 25 people, 30 people, 40 people here by myself. And then I'm trying to figure out like, why I'm so tired.
[00:36:03] I ain't have nobody to do it with me. I ain't ask nobody cuz I didn't know how. And so like when I just became aware and I start loving myself, I start giving myself the permission to rest. I also start giving myself the permission to receive the help that I needed to ask for the help. Right. And people start showing up.
[00:36:20] That was always there too. Right. Some of folks was always there, but I couldn't see it because I was wrapped up in just trying to do it myself, you know, and trying to push through the exhaustion and the tiredness, because that's also generational. You know, we see our mothers push through like tired what's that.
[00:36:40] And like, I think that we are trying to do me and Disha always talk about this, you know, trying to break cycles that our mothers passed down because of their own survival and it wasn't bad. Right. But it's like, we don't have to do that. We don't have to live like that and they don't have to live like that either anymore.
[00:37:00] Right. And so, as we are learning and unlearning, we also are having the privilege of reaching back to our mothers and saying, girls slow down rest. You know what I mean? And so in our living, we become models for. The people around us, right? Like it's people who are like, as an entrepreneur, people saw me take a sabbatical.
[00:37:28] They like, first of all, I ain't know, you can take a sabbatical this young or in this profession. And I didn't know, you could do that as an entrepreneur. And I'm like, I had to figure that shit out. Like, but for them, they was like, that becomes a possibility for me. Now, rest in this way, a radical type of rest is possible.
[00:37:51] And to know, and for me, it was trusting that the community was going to keep moving. Right. They weren't gonna forget about. but people like you like other practitioners, my friend, Tyler, Bruce, my sister, like other people were consistently carrying the work. And I had to remind myself that like, I want the only one carrying it in this lane.
[00:38:12] Right. It wasn't about me. And so as I tap out, people was tapping in. People kept moving, you know? And when I tap back in, I give people, people the permission to be like, I's your turn, SIS, tap out. You know? And I think that that is, that is community, you know, when we are able to see each other, but we have to be vulnerable enough to name that and say it like I'm tired and know that it doesn't have to be a consequence or a punishment that comes with it or a loss we could just name, like, I need the rest.
[00:38:40] I need the chill and let it be okay.
[00:38:44] David (he/him): And you know, people who are working alongside us in this work will always understand that. Right. Yeah. And it's still scary as fuck to like, yeah, no, it is. Put yourself out there as both like, as a show of vulnerability and like, oh, I'm letting people down.
[00:39:01] Ashley Ellis (she/her): Yeah.
[00:39:02] Constantly. And your livelihood. Yeah. Yeah. Like for some of us as entrepreneurs, like I'm still trying to learn how to be an entre for me to be an entrepreneur means that I have to also operate kind of business, like in something that is not structured to be a business. And so it is like, how do I, and a first generation like business owner, like, you know, not like non-profit stuff, like how do, how am I, how am I supposed to do this?
[00:39:37] Right. I don't even know how to pay myself out sometimes. Right. I'm just like, you know, you get a check, you be like that, do that, go right into the account or. Do I go to the IRS or to the IRS? Right. You scrolling on Instagram looking for that meme that said like 30%, 30%, 20% 10. And you like, let me say that to my favorites.
[00:39:55] Cause that's how I'm supposed to break this down because that's how I learn. Right. But I think like our livelihood is connected to this. And so sometimes when I'm tired, I, I have to make a decision about whether or not I stop or keep going, because that may mean my income for the month. Right. That may mean, you know, my income for the week or something like that, you know?
[00:40:22] And so it does get scary in that way. And like we community. I don't know if I'm in deep community in that way yet where I'm calling up the next keep. And I'm like, yo, let me hold 500 for the week. Like, , you know, I'm tired this week, you know, like, I don't think we figured out that, that, that kind of care model yet.
[00:40:42] And so yeah, it can be scary cuz I'm like, you know, if I stop that means income stops. And I aint out here trying to, you know, like just sell products and create more stuff. That's gonna make me more tired that I gotta keep maintaining and stay on Instagram to sell life. I just wanna do the work, have the time I don't even wanna share.
[00:41:02] I just wanna show up and do the work. Do the work that my soul loves and not just the shit that I, I feel like, you know, well, I do do that. So yeah, I can say yes to that's a new opportunity, but like just do the work that my soul requires that it loves without the fear of like. Loss or without the fear of my livelihood being at stake or without the fear of without the fear of
[00:41:28] being erased. If I'm not doing enough, because that feels like a thing too, you know? Yeah. So those are the, yeah, it is.
[00:41:40] David (he/him): You said you are a dreamer mm-hmm, , you're a visionary as much as you want to share. What is the dream for the near future?
[00:41:48] Ashley Ellis (she/her): The dream for the near future? I don't know if this is near or if it's far, but it's definitely in the future.
[00:41:57] We want to have we want to create a space And to have land for people particularly who are on the front lines as healers and keepers and holders of space and change to be able to show up and find respite to be in community. Cuz when I went on like sabbatical, I was like, yo, where are like black owned retreat spaces?
[00:42:24] Right? Like the, the space is owned and operated by us for us. But the food is cooked by us. You know what I mean? And so it'll be a place where, you know, you can show up and there is somebody who will keep the keeper who will heal the healer where brief cafe by Kandi, there is food provided that heals your spirit and soul and there is land that you can connect to.
[00:42:48] And so in my biggest dream and in my biggest vision , it is a space for community to come heal to rest, to restore. And it is a space where we also create opportunities for people to like deepen in their practice in a way that is sustainable and like learn ways that are to do this in sustainable, to be on the front lines, you know to create a community care model, but there's a place where we can come and you know, that you can show up and you can have that.
[00:43:23] And the people there for that,
[00:43:25] David (he/him): how can people support you that vision, that dream and the ways that you wanna be supported?
[00:43:31] Ashley Ellis (she/her): You can visit our website. So the brief collective dot. Link in the show. Notes, show, note notes. And also our Instagram, the brief on the underscore collective. But seriously, if I'm, if I'm I'm, this is hard for me sometimes, because again, I said, we need to learn how to ask, right.
[00:43:52] We need support now. Right? Part of us being sustainable and me trying not to be tired is like, we need support now. So like if there are people who are listening and you are really great at things like administratively because that's the other thing I'm tired because I am keeping, I'm facilitating space.
[00:44:15] I'm in charge of billing, invoicing. the structure, like all of these things. And so We need some support, right? Administratively also with like social media it's not my spiritual gift and so if it's yours and you hear me out there we need that. We need people who collectively want to buy land and know about land purchasing and financing. It is a place where it did not get passed down to us. My mother went back and bought the home that I grew up in. They had turned into a crack house. My mama won a lottery, went back, bought the house from a man and refurbished it.
[00:45:01] But I don't think that, you know what I mean? She didn't have, like, my mom ain't have no credit card. She believed in, you go buy everything in cash if you got it. Right. Like, but my dad was the opposite. So we didn't have like, financially. Literate people who were successful and homeowners. And, and so when we talk about breaking this generational curse and not being exhausted, that also comes with folks, you know, teaching us and us being humble enough to learn.
[00:45:30] Right. And so if they're a finance folks out there who wanna get involved and help us accounts, we need that too. I'm really putting it out there. So if y'all got, if y'all got any skills that you think can help, we don't have it. Just call me, text me, beat me if you wanna reach me. Okay. if you wanna,
[00:45:49] David (he/him): Beautiful. Ashley, thank you so much. Let's give Ashley a big this restorative justice life. Thank you.
[00:45:58] Ashley Ellis (she/her): Thank you. Thank you.
[00:46:03] David (he/him): Now for those of you who listen to the podcast, you'll notice that we didn't ask anybody the questions that everybody answers when they come on, there are a handful of them, but we're going to allow you all to engage in conversation with each other. So the first question that we want to put out to y'all, and we're gonna ask you to share in pairs or in triads.
[00:46:23] And then if anybody's feeling brave to come on and share on Mike, what has been an oh shit moment in doing this work? And what have you learned from it?
[00:46:34] Pedro (he/him): my name is Pedro Alejandro Maga and my O shit moment is learning how I'm presenting myself in the space and, you know, getting rid of that illusion of, of control, cuz it is an illusion.
[00:46:47] You know, I plan out the way the, the circle's gonna go and you know, this is the topic, this is what we're gonna address. It's gonna be the discussion rounds. And then we get in there and it's like, nah, it's not about me. It's about the community, you know? And I've had a, it's been a very humbling experience throughout.
[00:47:01] Like, you know, not just seven years cuz we, you know, I think we all do this under different capacities building community, but just that's the old shit for me. It's like, nah, just fall back, shut up. You know, let the, let the people speak and just be a part of that and be intentionally present, you know?
[00:47:17] So that's my old shit moment.
[00:47:19] David (he/him): Thank you so much.
[00:47:24] We're gonna do one more of the questions that everybody answers. If you could say one thing to everybody listening to this podcast right now, a mantra, an affirmation maybe something else. What is that?
[00:47:37] Justin (he/him): My name is Justin. He, him pronouns definitely wanna share a mantra that has helped me ground myself, and also the way I work with youth. You are not the problem. The problem is the problem. It's a way to, that helps me. Reenvision separating the person from the problem.
[00:47:57] Mistakes do not have to define you. Do not have to stay with you for life. We're all human. And so I think that's been a really important teaching. And now mantra when I work with youth and seeing them further humanness value worth, as we talked earlier, some focus on
[00:48:14] here. So thank you.
[00:48:15] David (he/him): Thank you so much.
[00:48:17] New Subscriber: New subscriber to the podcast and my feeds are deep. So, you know, I haven't gotten it in my list yet. But I'm very interested. I know I've already starred that episode on circles and capitalism. So I'm very interested in your thoughts around restorative justice and economic justice and the intersections of those check
[00:48:35] David (he/him): starting with the easy ones! Amplify RJ and all of our work and all of this work that we participate in.
[00:48:43] And I'm assuming everybody in this room is from north America, probably the United States. We live in a capitalistic society and that's something that I struggle with a lot as an entrepreneur, a solo entrepreneur, where it's like this relational work has to become transactional in order for me to pay my mortgage, pay my loans, pay my bills, support my family.
[00:49:04] And I, I hosted a limited series podcast called diversity inclusion, revolution, or reform. And one of the things that I kept coming back to is like, when people are doing DEI work, are we talking about sharing power or are we talking about like more compassionate over Lordship? Right. And when we are, when I as a business owner am going about my work and as I, as a business owner, interact with the clients, right.
[00:49:30] Customers. I try to put the relationship as forward as possible, where we can both get our needs met when we're thinking about like restorative agreements right. Putting out, like, what is it that we need to feel valued and safe and respected in this space, both as an employer employee between like me and Elyse or between me and DeMointe.
[00:49:50] Like we don't always do a great job about that. We were talking last night about like our gaps in communication over the last couple months, but we're, it's definitely not perfect, but like putting the relationship first as much as possible is, is the way that I navigate it. But I'm also like a very small business making things happen, like person to person, most of the time when we scale up, I'm not quite sure how this works.
[00:50:15] So that's an answer non-answer to your question, but thank you, Mike, for for asking.
[00:50:20] Elyse (she/her): I mean, I just wanted to, I guess, like expand a little bit upon that too, about the link between capitalism and circle and restorative justice is especially in schools thinking about who has the DEI counselor position.
[00:50:33] And although there are definitely some issues like with that structure in the, in, in the first place, but who has those resources who are like getting restorative justice, even as a conversation in schools. So that's why I think we also need to think about leveraging those relationships and finding places in need.
[00:50:54] It's really great that we also are like sourcing people from the podcast. Sign up right there, if you're interested or, you know, someone who might be interested in the podcast definitely reach out to us. But at the same time we're also reaching people who are able to attend the, this conference. And we need to be doing more than that.
[00:51:10] We need to be reaching further than that. Partially, you know, what we do with amplify RJ is try to put it on platforms that are easily accessible. But we can always be doing more. And so that is part of our mission as well, is reaching out. It's finding those relationships, using them and reaching out to people, creating new relationships.
[00:51:32] David (he/him): And then like I just tag on that and the rest, like we can always be doing more is how you end up like burnt the fuck out. And like, I'm just thinking even now, like, oh, this would be so great to release on Saturday at the end of the conference. That's not gonna happen. I'm not gonna make a lease or myself stay up till two in the morning, like editing this right now.
[00:51:51] Like this can come out at the end of July, nobody caress beyond like me. Who's like, oh, this was that great idea that I had that like energy around the things that happen. And you know, it can wait, it can wait. And so like capitalism also tells us that, that it can't wait. And like, we, we do have time. We do have time.
[00:52:11] Elyse (she/her): It's about the depth of the relationships too. We're not trying to make shallow connections. That's not what we're here for. We're here for deep and meaningful connections and those take time . And those take space.
[00:52:24] New Subscriber: My question. So Ashley said while talking that they wanted to do the work that their soul loves. And so I wanna ask you to like the kind of counter to the question about capitalism of free of capitalism. What is the work
[00:52:41] Justin (he/him): that your soul loves?
[00:52:44] Elyse (she/her): Wow. I, I love that question. And I think I'm still trying to figure out what my soul loves and being able to feed what my soul loves.
[00:52:53] Because I think I know inside, but I mean, also at the same time, you know, I'm a student, I often think within capitalistic white supremacist frameworks. And so trying to push myself beyond that and see what do I really love? And I also have in a lot of ways, the privilege to be able to step out of those frameworks for even a small period of time.
[00:53:14] But. I continued to try to do that, challenge myself to do that. And my spaces, I love music. I love theater. And I would love to tap into those spaces even more as a means to create as a means to share my voice as a means to create with other people. So that is a really special space for me.
[00:53:34] David (he/him): Presently the work that I am most energized by is being a father. I mean, I've been doing it for three and a half months. And it is exhausting frustrating, very annoying at at times. Right. And most of that is because like, there's other shit that I have to do where I can't be present. Like if I could just like spend time with my boy, like out on our benig like this Filipino floor, like in our front yard, like all day, every day, like I would do that.
[00:54:03] So that. The that's the, the work, it like, it doesn't feel like work, cuz like it is, it is my heart. It's my responsibility. It's That that's, what's energizing me the most right now. And like, of course, like all the creative things with amplifier J I wouldn't be doing this otherwise, but yeah, being a father is really where that's at.
[00:54:20] So thank you so much, Stephanie, for asking that question. Thank you all so much for being here. This restorative justice life is a production of amplify. RJ. Follow us at amplify RJ on all social platforms, subscribe on all the social all, all podcast platforms, rate, review, all of the things. If you're old school, tell a friend, it really helps us further amplify the work.
[00:54:44] We'll be back with another episode of somebody living this restorative justice life next week until then take care.