This Restorative Justice Life

106. The Inherent Spirituality of Restorative Justice w/ Jamie Williams

December 22, 2022 David Ryan Castro-Harris
This Restorative Justice Life
106. The Inherent Spirituality of Restorative Justice w/ Jamie Williams
Show Notes Transcript

Jamie Williams...currently is a Restorative Justice/Practices Consultant, Trainer, Teacher and Circle Keeper. She has been a Community Partner with Minneapolis Public Schools for over 20 years. Her past experience includes Restorative Justice Coordinator of Bayfield School, Liaison for the Red Cliff Band of Lake Superior Chippewa Early Childhood Center, Amicus Radius (juvenile girls Restorative program) Amicus MNCoSA (Circles of Support and Accountability/re-entry services for adult males who have committed sex offenses), Minnesota Department of Corrections VOCARE program, Coordinator for the Seward Neighborhood Restorative Justice Initiative.

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

Jamie (she/her): Thank you for having me. And I find that a very interesting question, and the reason is in January of 2020, before, you know, we had just heard a little bit that there was a virus in China and didn't, you know, our lives were not impacted or interrupted much at all yet.

I was taking a friend to a one of her first chemo appointments very early one morning, about six in the morning. And I woke up and I just felt like, I just feel like there's a book out there I need to be reading right now. Do I need to reread the power of now or you know, I don't know.

And so I went to pick my friend up and she goes, oh, I, I got two, two books in the mail. If you care to check one out. And I was like, oh, I'd love to. Because the other book she had, I had already read and I picked this book up and I went, this is the book I need to read. And the very first chapter asks basically, who are you?

And so it to be asked that now and in January of 2020 to have my life. So up by that book made me realize that everything I had thought was, was not true to that point in my life. And I was 66 that year. So I'm like, wow, that's a long time for your mind not being like, just realizing that everything I thought was true isn't.

And I've been kind of clawing my way. Like, oh, that's, maybe that's even one of the reasons I was hesitant of this, because to say, who are you when that has been my, that has been my question for three years is really kind of weird and intense. But, so I mean, what I would say and what I would say even before I read this book is the who am I?

You know, I, I am a, I am a spirit, I'm a soul. I'm light. And that light is located where my intuition comes from. I'm having a human experience. I've had several and I don't know if people believe that, but I think most of us have. I'm just figuring that out this time. So I just believe that so to say the who am I? Like I can get into what do I do? Where do I live? The who, what, where, when, why, and how. Like I'm not trying to be, oh, you know, contrary with this question, I just think it is really ironic that it is. The question that sort of upset my whole life in January of 2020 is kind of essentially what this author did was say, you know, let's just say we gave our bodies a heck of a lot of anesthesia and stuff.

They could probably take our body away from us if we couldn't visualize it, and we'd still be exactly who we are. Okay? So that's my, my one an, you know, an answer, but you know, I could answer like other things that maybe indicate who I am in, in, in the world now. 

David (he/him): Who are you?

Jamie (she/her): I am a I'm a wife, I'm a mother, I'm a I've been into restorative work. I would say actually my whole life, the definition of it when it became maybe a little more like, oh, somebody made a definition to this way of being you know, it's been almost 25 years. But I feel like when I got into RJ I came home and so I've been home for a long time.

David (he/him): Who are you?

Jamie (she/her): I am realizing that I am somebody who, at this point in my life, lives mostly in the fifth dimension. I, I can jump back into the third and fourth pretty quickly, but I really believe that, you know, when we live in the third dimension, we're just, we just do things to be busy all the time. Busy, busy, busy, busy, busy.

We're always busy. And the fourth, you know, we, we do a lot of things to make changes and I, I think I spent a lot of my life in that trying to make changes. And now I, I work more for my inner guidance. Like what's happening out there doesn't have a whole lot to do with my, my thinking anymore, like outer directed shoulds and woods and coulds.

It don't affect me as much. And so that's part of who I am. I really check in every single day with my intuition, and I ask myself, is that a privilege I have now because of my age? Is that something maybe I should have been doing my whole life? Was I doing it just in a different way? Because I do feel like I've kind of lived my whole life intuitively.

That's real important to me. And right now who I am is trying to be trying to live every day from my inner guidance, and I've been trying to kind of kick my mind to the curve lately. 

David (he/him): So who are you?

Jamie (she/her): I'm a sister.

I have two brothers.

It's so funny that just, it's, that question is really hard for me. Who are you? Because I can say, you know, like what I do, what I've done, but I honestly feel like I've sort of answered who, who I actually am as a spirit being.

David (he/him): Would you like to be asked four more times or would you like to continue through the rest of our conversation?

Jamie (she/her): Yeah, I don't know what I'd, I'm just trying to think here. Like really what I would say, like, I'm trying to think if there's anything else of who am I. I, I can mention, I mean, like, this isn't who I am. None of this stuff I'm saying is who I am. It's just things I've done or things about me. I, I really struggled getting in my education really hard, you know, took me years to get my bachelor's, but I was very inspired with the Circle and RJ and immediately thought, I want my masters in this work.

But there was none in the country at the time. And so St. Mary's University here allowed me to design my own. And that was, that was, I mean, I suppose that's a big part of who I am because I think I was able to do it because it was, I was able to design it and, and, and determine what I wanted to learn and how I wanted to learn it.

And so it, it was easy and, and very fulfilling and. I only actually took two classes. I mean, all my other learning came in other forms, which I also really appreciated. So that's probably a big part of who I am. Formal education as such and some kind of the way that our institutions work don't really work for me very well.

So I was pretty happy to find that opportunity. And actually I went to the Yukon territory that summer having met Harold and Phil Gatsby and was invited to the nearest mountain camp. And you know, that was part of my learning for my degree, which I just thought was so cool. And that's kind of maybe, who am I?

This is part of who I am too. I like I think a lot about could we please be more collaborative in our education? Say, David, you and I wanted to pursue a PhD together, or three or four other people wanna join us in our pursuit. Like we make education. So individual, like the masters I got, I feel like at least two dozen people were a huge part of it.

And so I, I think about the work we do and it's so community and then to even seek an education that was so individual was very, it just didn't kind of fit. You know, I was like, I'd love to be earning this degree with about 10 other people right now, cuz I feel like we need to be in community doing this.

So I don't know. I've learned, I think that's something that I always just kind of try and chip away at is if we could start looking at our education more in terms of, of community achievements. Instead of individual achievements something I think about a lot.

David (he/him): Who are you? 

Jamie (she/her): I'm someone who loves winter and today in Minneapolis it's about 65. The next two days it's gonna be 75. So I'm loving it. I mean, trust me, I was out with my dog. I'm gonna be out all weekend enjoying this sort of last hurrah I think. But I love winter. I love cold. I love below zero. I love to speed skate.

I love, I love it. Partly cuz wherever I go in the winter, nobody's there. I'm alone. I love being alone. I love being with people too, but the thing about winter is we slow down. We shut down, we kind of come into ourselves a little more. And I think if I lived somewhere where it's warm, I'd feel like I was being lazy.

Cause that's just, winter's a great excuse for just going inside and being internal and, and just. Doing a lot of reading and writing to me. So I love that. So I'm, I'm in my season right now. I'm looking forward to the winter. And I love fall too. Love fall, and I've always been, what's that term?

Oppositional defiant disorder. I suppose if somebody gave me a label as a child, that would've been it, because as soon as somebody, like, I think I could hear my mom saying that, I don't know what's wrong with that child. As soon as I ask her not to do something, she does it immediately. Like, I've just sort of always been that way, like, which I think that kind of attitude fits into this work because we question everything, right?

The system that we have to be in and all that. So 

David (he/him): Who are you? 

Jamie (she/her): Who am I?

I love that. I didn't, when you said that I right away thought about my grandma. So I'm a granddaughter, I'm a daughter.

My mom and my grandma's passed on a long time ago, but they're still with me every day. That's a big part of who I am. I keep my ancestors right here with me. 

David (he/him): Who are you?

Jamie (she/her): I am somebody who in this moment is feeling an incredible amount of joy. And connection

and my soul really is me, feels like it's exactly where it's supposed to be right now. And so I'm very, very grateful. So part of who I am right now is just a grateful, a grateful being.

David (he/him): Thank you so much, Jamie. I love that you shared that oppositional defiant, right? You've already broken the form of this podcast already. I'm positive that this is the longest who are you introduction and you know, there's so much in there that you've already shared about, you know, this restorative way of being.

you shared when we first got onto the call that you were feeling a little bit nervous. And you know, we, we talked through that and you shared, you know, it, it's not like a bad nervous, like, you know, when you're doing something important like doing this work.

Like there, there's just this nervous energy that's present for you. I'm curious if there's anything else that you want to check in with to the extent that you want to answer the question. How are you.

Jamie (she/her): Nah, I'm good. I have, there's just, I feel like there's a lot of responsibility in this, in this work. I really with people's lives, you have to be very, you have to be very, just very careful and

go slow. I don't think I have anything else to, yeah. 

David (he/him): And you know, this is behind the scenes for listeners, right? This is being recorded in late October. You know, a little bit of a heat wave coming through Minneapolis. Right now, I'm making the decision that we're gonna air this podcast the week before Christmas, on December 22nd, one for a couple reasons.

One, because it's like right after the winter solstice, like, okay, winter, like, let's honor that for Jamie. Two, I'm imagining that it's gonna be like a, a slower, hopefully a slower time for people. And I already can feel the, the pace and energy of this conversation and like really want to invite people into that through the end of the year.

So thank you for bringing all of that into this space. Today, Jamie you know, as much gravity as there is and re gravity and responsibility there is with doing this work. There is. Often joy and light. And I imagine when you were like first introduced to these frameworks of what we call restorative justice and this way of being, there was a spark for you.

Do you remember a moment like that when this work was first introduced that made you be like, ah, this is it? 

Jamie (she/her): Yeah, I I'll kind of try and be brief. The very first time I actually, you know, read this about this as a formal concept, I was flying home from San Diego and I, I was bored, so I grabbed, it was probably even Northwest Airlines back then, I don't know.

But I grabbed the in-Flight magazine and started perusing it and realized at that moment we were over the Grand Canyon. I'm like, well, I'm not reading though. I just stared out the window at the Grand Canyon. It was just like, oh my God. And then I read this article that Doner wrote. He was a, I think he was a social worker or maybe a psychotherapist in the Duluth, Minnesota area.

And his daughter was home on break and was brutally murdered when she was out rollerblading on a, on a, on a country road. And this guy put out there that he, it was the story of how he wanted to meet those people, those guys, and talk to them and, and the journey that he and his wife and other daughter went through.

And I'll just leave it at that. But I was just reading this going, oh my God, I, I wanna meet this man and this is so, and this is the way, and I was reading it going, this is the way I think it should always be. We should, I mean, it didn't seem odd to me. I guess what I was trying to say, I'm like, why, why wouldn't we wanna meet who did this to our child and deal with it?

You know, I just. Anyway, so that was kind of my first introduction and just as, as, as a concept. But then I I was working at a, at a school and my hours were kind of getting cut and it was getting a little crazy. And so I, I ended up leaving and I got a job at, for a neighborhood group and I was excited about it cause I knew the job was only for two years and I didn't know what I was doing at the time.

So this'll be perfect. I just have this job for two years. I'll be good at, I know some people and, well, this neighborhood wanted a restorative justice program. And I'm like, well that's interesting. And, and they wanted community policing and, and, and more community involvement with kid crime. And I was just so excited to be in that place at that time and I just thought, this is great.

I've been basically, I, no matter on my degrees or my titles, I just considered myself a youth worker. I still do, I'm still a youth worker. That's what I really am in my heart. So anyway, I went to mediation training and family group conferencing training and whatever. And then my boss said, oh, you have to go to this four day circle training.

And I went, I don't have four days to go to a circle training. I'm busy. And, and, and anyway, long story short, again, I decided, I went,

it just completely changed my life. I have never left , I believe. A couple things happened. One, one thing happened like a few months after that we came together for a reunion cuz we all just loved each other so much. And our reunion was the day after the shooting at Columbine High School. And for all of us that set the tone for our coming back together.

And I remember that day saying to myself, I don't know how it's gonna look, how it's gonna shake out or what's, but I'm doing this work the rest of my life in schools, hopefully, or wherever it takes me. But I believed then, and I do now, that if those boys sat in circle every morning and someone looked in their eyes and said, how are you, that that wouldn't have happened?

And I still believe that today. And so that was part of the reason I really got in. The other thing is, okay, I was probably one in my early forties when I went to circle training. I had never talked anywhere in my life really. I had never raised, I had never talked in a class. I'd never really talked in any staff meetings.

I, I just, I, I don't, I, I was never a share or a talker. Most people, there's always someone talking, you know, have to fill space. And at this circle training, when I was invited to speak, that's maybe where my nervousness comes in because I'm like, I don't talk, I don't do this. What I mean, I'm 40 is if I have to talk to you people or, or no, no.

Mm-hmm. Well, that completely because of just being with people the way you, the way it was the absolutely phenomenal connection that I had when I walked in the room that morning, which I'm wondering if I should share or not. It's kind of a story, but it is such a story that that's, I knew I was, I knew I was doing what I was supposed to do for the rest of my life.

When I walked into my very first circle training, there was a very beautiful African American woman in the room and a Circle center set up. And I said, and she looked at me and she said, good morning sister. And I said, good morning sister. And I looked at a picture of a woman in the middle of this circle and I said, who is that?

She said, that's my mom, Ruby Hughes. I'm also, I'm not sharing anything that I don't have permission to share. I want you to know that because I would never share a story or part of someone else's story if I didn't have permission to do that. So and she says that, and, and that just, that was like, no way.

No way, no way, no way. That Ruby was your mother and you are the first circle training for my first circle. Wow. Okay. Five years before that I was moving. Happened to live in the house I grew up in, my husband, my, my daughter was about six or seven and we were moving, we didn't have to hurry up to get out of the house cuz we were gonna fix it up and sell it later.

So, you know, we moved in the morning when I woke up, I realized that we didn't have our shampoo and conditioner. We didn't even bring our toothbrushes so we had to go back. It was only eight blocks. Something really bad had happened. Like there was police cars and yellow police tape. And I'm like, whoa, I wonder what happened.

So we get to our house and I think I'm just gonna switch up the story to make it shorter because what ended up happening was my dad came to visit me. My dad died in 1978, so this was over 20 years after he, he died in that house. When we went back the next day to get our stuff, I smelled my dad. And it ended up to be a day or two of, he just hung out with me.

Can't really describe. It never happened to me before that night, I went back to the house and I sat with him. I said, why are you here? Are you here to apologize? Are you here? Because a lot of powerful people were here today. Are you here because we moved some of your things today. By this time, I found out what that tragedy was.

A man had shot and killed his wife, and then he killed himself.

That could have very easily happened in my house when I was young. And I found out about the family. I found out a little bit about what was going on and I, I got this deep thought that night. I think my dad is helping these two spirits that just left this world so violently, cuz maybe he is gotten some stuff together in the spirit world and he can, he can deal with things now.

He could have easily, he, he, he he, we had an incident in our house involving two guns one night and me and my dad. And obviously I didn't get hurt cuz here I am. I'll just leave it at that. So I was so concerned about this family and also thinking, oh, I hope that people don't think that this just happens in black families because this could have happened in any house.

But then the radius of this block, I found out a lot about her. She was an incredible woman. The next day there was gonna be a march for Peace and Social Justice on Broadway that she started. And the secretary where I worked had been her childhood friend and I found out how amazing woman she was. I found out about her husband.

I found out we had mutual friends. And when I walked in the mor that morning, my first circle training that woman in the middle of the circle was her Ruby. That was the woman who had been

shot the night that my dad came to visit me. And so I had this immediate deep connection to my very first circle trainer. And and as it goes in circle, I don't believe you can be off topic, but every once in a while someone says something and you're like, mm-hmm What? I wonder why they said that.

That's the time I always pay attention. Like usually when someone says something like that, that's the most incredible thing said, and you try and kind of figure it out. And Jess and I looked at each other in that moment, what this guy said. He just said, you know, I went home to South Dakota this weekend.

I was with a bunch of my old friends and I said to this one friend of mine, my God, if you don't forgive your dad for all the stuff he did when he was alcoholic and you were young, you're, you're never really gonna move on in life. And it had nothing to do with what we were talking about. So Jess and I's eyes just lock in that moment.

And when she got the talking piece, she shared her story.

Story. And I, I never in ever, ever, ever would've thought that I would even say a word about my dad in this thing I went to. So I shared my story and I don't know, it just, it, it just, that was just something that was so deep and profound and heavy for me in my life and one of the best experiences I remember feeling so loved and cared for.

And I still do believe now that I think my dad really was helping those two spirits that left in such a violent way and, and had no clue what was really going on. So, I have never in my life been entering a, I can't call it a job, right? Or entering a, a, a field where I felt this absolute, I guess I could use the word calling.

Like every once in a while I think, you know, I think I'm supposed to be here doing this. You know, this feels good. But that was just like, well, this is absolutely where I'm supposed to be and what I'm supposed to do and what I'm supposed to keep on doing. So those things I would say, gave me my spark.

Reading that article and realizing this is possible. Having my, having the introduction to circle and having, just being one of the, my first trainers and and then the Columbine thing the day before our reunion. I just never questioned my path in this life again. Since then.

David (he/him): Where has that led you since

Jamie (she/her): it led me, my friend Chuck, Chuck Robertson senior, who I had been friends with for many years, and he he had his master in counseling psych with the circle as, as his premise. And he was teaching me about the circle for a couple decades. And I'd always like, yeah, yeah, yeah, yeah, yeah, I know. Yeah, yeah, yeah.

Well, after I came back, I called him immediately after, after my circle training and he, and he, he was like, yeah, this is what I been trying to tell you. I said, yeah, but something's going on here. A little more formal that I really need to talk to you about. So Chuck and I. Like, he just didn't have the opportunity to come into that work here in Minneapolis like I did.

And so I had scratched my head and go, what? Something's not right here. Like, he was an older Native American guy who was born into the circle and started part of the Earth Survival School and the Red Schoolhouse. And I'm like, why am I, I'm a green bean. And I, I was trying to understand this and as I was getting into the work, I, you know, Chuck was just fascinated.

And then we'd run into this guy named Oscar in schools and

Chuck and Oscar and I, one night, I, when I introduced those to, it was like they were long lost brothers. I grew up on a plantation. I grew up on a reservation. My nickname was Butch, so was. The three of us just that night kind of formed a work partnership. Within a week or two, those guys came up with the name The Restorative Way, and the three of us had an amazing four to five year run together.

I think before Chuck got really sick. And I don't know, it was just like Chuck would get invited places, Oscar and I never would. Oscar's an older black guy, he'd get in places we never would or that Chuck and I wouldn't, and I'd get invited places those guys wouldn't. And so we just had this, I don't know, like we didn't plan it.

It just was planned for us and had this just amazing partnership and did a lot of work for Minneapolis Public Schools. We did a lot of work in prisons. I found an agency called Amicus and an amazing woman named Luise Wolf Graham, who was in my first circle training. Who ran her organization circle based, like if she even fired people in circle in the most beautiful way, like you would get, I, I feel like a couple people would leave feeling kind of good about themselves, even though they were fired because of the way I was done anyway.

So I think I just had so many beautiful mentors come into my life and opportunities that, that were just so excited and, and part of my, when getting into this work and, and getting invited because we never advertised our work and we never wanted to, and we just wanted to have it be word of mouth in it.

It really did work for us. I think we, this is the thing that I remember that touches me to this day on evaluations that people would. The love and respect that I see and feel between these three human beings has touched me so deeply. I feel like in our trainings, we did guess we were teaching and people were learning things and learning the concept and learning circle, but I didn't understand how important it was for people to see us just loving each other and getting along and working so well.

That touched a lot of people's lives and that was exciting to know, God, just the way we be with each other is really affecting people in a positive way and I don't think you can plan that or you can't say, let's get three people together that really care about each other and do this thing. So people are really impressed by it.

You know, you it just, so that's always something that I've, has really touched me about the work we did, the four of, or the three of us. And then Oscar and I continuing and and Chuck always being with us. In fact, the first training that Chuck or Oscar and I did without Chuck

on the evaluations, many people wrote things like, never leave Chuck out of your training. Thank you for allowing him to teach Chuck. They'd say, we learned just as much from Chuck as we did from you and Oscar. And we, Oscar and I, that night, we were just scratching our heads going, what is going on here?

Really? What are they talking about? But then we experienced it for almost 20 more years. The three of us, even though Chuck was not physically with us anymore, we're doing this work. Chuck told us many times, you guys we're gonna be dazzling the universe together. And, you know, after he died, we're like, well now we can't dazzle the universe together anymore,

But we did, and we still do. So that's kind of an exciting aspect of the work that we did too. You know, like we believed that, that the three of us were supposed to be together as a team and were supposed to be doing this. And it felt guided. So that's, that's a big part of our story. 

David (he/him): I'm deeply enjoying the way that you're responding to these questions.

So I'm gonna ask you two in one and let you go respond with the story that comes to it. You talked about y'all doing a lot of work within school communities and in prisons. Can you share a little bit about what that work was and talk. Yes. Like people can throw around words like love and respect, but like, how did you all, like, you know, we have these values.

How did you put those values into working agreements amongst you as you were collaborating to do this work? 

Jamie (she/her): That is such a great question and I, you know, I'd say it was so seamless. We didn't even do that. Never like, okay, this would be typical for the three of us. We would go plan our, our school thing or our training and we would leave with nothing.

We wouldn't have anything. Check would always tease that. Our agenda on an napkin. Gosh, I don't know how to explain that. Like,

maybe part of it, it was our belief. Like I could just tell you story after we had, we just had fun like, When we worked in schools, and I think that really affected kids too. Like kids would see the three of us and they would just think, I think they'd be like, I wanna, I wanna be friends. Like you guys are, you know I think we had a very deep respect for each other, for our paths, for a lot of the stuff we walked through. It was just kind of the right place at the right time. Chuck had experienced a lot of institutional racism with Minneapolis public schools and wasn't invited a lot. And I kept inviting him, but he did finally come cuz he wanted to meet Oscar.

Cause Oscar used to play for the Minnesota Viking. So, and it, it, it's just really hard to put words to I, I feel like. You know, Chuck, I, I wish I had some of the emails here right now because I'm doing some writing. And Chuck would, Chuck emailed us once and said to us, I have never had colleagues like you guys, I have never had colleagues that I could trust like you.

I have never had colleagues that were more consistent and reliable than you. And I mean, he was saying these things when he was 65. And so I kept thinking, wow, like he's had a very long work life. We, we must be pretty amazing people. . I'm just kidding.

Yeah, you asking me that. And it's kinda like the first time I've really tried to think and put words to the how and why of, of that. Man,

I don't. Oscar has pretty severe dementia right now, but boy, he remembers Chuck. He hasn't forgotten one thing about Chuck. I think it's it's mind thing. It's nothing's wrong in his heart. And in fact, I think because, what's the word? I don't know if it's psychic or whatever, but like Oscar and I just have that connection and so did Chuck like the other day, like I call Oscar and he's like, jw, I'm so glad that's not gone.

And I said, what? And he goes, well, I have my phone in my hand to call you. And so he's still at a point, even though he has very terrible memory loss, that he, he I, we keep talking like that, that has no loss. That's our soul to soil connection. And dementia doesn't affect that. Dementia can't touch that. It can't.

And. There's some kind of connection I had with these guys that you, you just end up having with people in this work and you know it when it's there. I, I believe it's just a very deep spiritual connection. It's like, I know you, like you, you know, you started out like, who are you? Who are you, what? It's like, I would look at Chuck and say, I know you.

And he would say, I know you. And same with Oscar. Like, and I think the knowing is it's deeper than just this life, you know? It's like I know you I guess 

David (he/him): what this podcast is called, this Restorative Justice Life, and many folks who are introduced to this framework come to it from the lens of like alternatives to punishment in school or the criminal legal system.

Right. What you are describing has. Nothing to do with like alternatives to punishment, . Right. Like in, in, in words, as you've shared so far, because we live in a society that maybe you would say is so third or fourth dimensioned focused, how do you communicate or invite people into these heart centered ways of beings in words that they understand and frameworks that they understand

Jamie (she/her): circle? I was just, I could just start laughing about some of the circles. Chuck and I did, I mean, we had kids fighting, like fighting, fighting circles, but, you know, we would just shut the. We're like, we're not in you. You're not gonna get in trouble for this. We're not gonna get you on some suspension list.

We're dealing with this, you guys. And so I think part of it was our reaction. We just laugh. We'd be like, what in the, you know what? But I, I was thinking of this one day when I got there. This kid was just running, running away from some behavior person. And he goes, you better stop chasing me. I could see those people are here now that help me with my psychological problems.

He was this great little kid, you know? And I guess what I think is that, this is what I thought was cool about our circle work. I felt like we could offer teachers and behavior people sort of a reprieve as well as offering them an opportunity for kids to get to know them in a better, deeper way so that they didn't have the, the hierarchical relationship that might have been there or might not.

And so, We what often our work would be that we would just be doing circle in a classroom and we'd offer, the teacher wants to stay. You can stay. If you need a break, you can have a break. Just what we wanna meet your needs. And oftentimes I think because teachers would get the experience of, we don't expect you to be a disciplinarian in here.

You just, you're on, you, you're just a member here. Kids and teachers got to know each other on this deeper level. I mean, it was like, you could just see it and feel it happening. And so they would just be, you know, begin to have way less problems in their classroom. Maybe the background that Chuck and Oscar and I had that, I mean, we were all very good at dealing with behavior like in in, in over 20 years of doing this work.

I have never once asked a child to leave a circle, even in a level four school. I might give them the choice to leave if they want that choice. But I think there's ways of, so, gosh, I'm not get, I know I'm gonna be able to answer this question tomorrow in the best way, David, but I gotta do it now. I know.

So all these things keep coming to me. What, what I also think oh, all these stories, what I, what I think in a, in a lot of schools, they would just know Circle keepers are gonna be here Friday, and teachers would just sign up for a class with us. Okay. So we'd show up at a school and we'd know we have, oh, we're with Miss so and so first hour, then we go here, second hour and your third hour.

And just were, I feel like a lot of our work was just really helping build classroom relationships and help teachers get deeper relationships with their kids, which just trickles into a lot of less behavior problems and less suspensions. I mean, I never paid much attention to those statistics because I knew that's what would happen.

And, and, and it did. I mean, we certainly did circles, you know, around harm and, and if someone was going to be suspended and, you know, reintegrate someone back into a community. But we wanted most of our work to be community building, to be proactive, to be about relationship building so that restorative justice isn't needed because we don't have harm, we're doing okay.

And I would say we really emphasized, emphasized that. I think this is funny too cuz we worked, K12 students would always say, you and Oscar Mary, we'd say you and they'd, yeah, we knew you guys were married. And they'd say, well, were married to different people, or not married. And they'd be like, what?

I honestly think kids felt like if people could get along so well, I, I don't know what they thought. I always thought that was very, very, very, very interesting that they always thought we were, we were married. But I think again, it's cuz we just got along so well and well of course a lot of married people could not say that

in prisons. I think it's just because we love the work we do and every single one of us has had or continued to have such positive things happen in our life because of the circle that I think our mindset was just, this is a gift that we're just gonna keep giving and giving and giving. And I can think of plenty of schools when I think they, they'd see us coming and some of the staff was like, oh no, you guys take no. But eventually they realized that the relationships that we're forming were so deep and incredible and, and that I dunno, I mean our work in schools has gone up and down and up and down depending on funding and, you know, what's going on or the newest buzzword or social emotional learning, whatever.

But I would say the teachers that really would define our work and talk about why it had such a positive effect was just because of the, of the community building and how kids would just innately learn to have such deep respect for each other, given what you talk about in Circle. And I think young people seeing that modeled by adults.

That can have open conflict right in front of each other in the circle and just, I wouldn't even call it conflict because when you got some issue in the circle and you just work it out, is that conflict? I don't know. But there's never been anything that we couldn't work out right in circle. And I can honestly say to check, and Oscar and I never had any issue that we just couldn't plan all talk about nothing ever flared up in our work.

Nothing.

David (he/him): I don't know if this question, the framing of this question, is aligned with the way that you see it. And so answer it in whatever way makes sense for you when you talk about, you know, the newest buzzwords the. P b i s, sel, calm classroom, et cetera, et cetera. You know, you've been doing this work for much of the past two more, more than two decades.

How have you seen the, how have you seen the work change in ways, I'm not gonna label them good and bad in ways that are more restorative or less

Jamie (she/her): Well, there's a lot of money tied to things, testing new initiatives. There's a lot of can I ask the question a different way? Sure. 

David (he/him): Because like the way that I set. Is like gonna be a little bit more critical than I think what I'm asking, what excites you about what you've seen over the last couple decades and what are the challenges that you see us navigating now?

Jamie (she/her): Wow. Maybe just because of a conversation I had earlier today. It's gonna be kind of tough to be totally positive about that. But because what I think what I see happening and is often happening now is that, you know, restorative practitioners are hired in restorative jobs and they've had maybe six months of experience or they've read a book or whatever, and I just get so worried.

I'm like, oh no. Oh no, no, no, no. I, I always, it's, it's, it's very hard. When you're teaching a way of being, this isn't like teaching something a little more specific, like P B I S compliments the work we do. I, I, I just have to say that a lot of those, oh geez,

I guess it's frustrating, but what excites me is the hands on work. Like, I don't, we don't need sel, we don't need P B I S. We don't need all that. And I've been involved with schools where none of that exists, and they are doing far better than any school that ever heard those letters. I, I really do think it's tied into.

White money and power and the industrial complex, it just is. It just, you can't, you can't get away from that. I don't think like I, I, I personally do feel in Minneapolis that SEL completely co-opted restorative practices, it just got kicked to the curb as people just didn't, and I kept trying to tell our superintendent, there's no more pure form of social emotional learning than the circle.

Why? I wish you guys would understand this. So I think what we're trying to do, because we're in crisis and there is a crisis in education that, that we're, we're, people are just searching for, you know, what is it like, what is it? What is it that's gonna really help us? What is it that's gonna kind of fix what's going on in public education?

And I, and I think what's happening is people don't realize it's just we need, it's simple. We need to be sitting down with each other and not, not being involved in all these processes. It's exactly what our country needs to be doing right now is you almost like drop the topics, sit down with each other just as human beings.

I've been trying to get the Minneapolis Public School board in circle for, oh, I don't think they ever will, but if they did, I could tell you that our school wouldn't, our school system would not have the troubles. It does. God, this is so hard to, there's so much control of public education, I believe. By people that

I don't know, that just lack a certain amount of understanding. I believe. I, I see it every time I'm in a school. I'm kind of rambling, Dave. I lost my focus, but I can tell you that I know when I walk into school, I can feel it the minute I walk in. And if the staff is COHEs of and together, it's the kids are.

And if the staff got problems and they, they don't be together in a good way, the kids have problems. That's just the way it is. I know that sounds very simple, but it's true. Yeah. So I'm thinking 

David (he/him): about how being together in a good way, being in right relationship doesn't necessarily require sitting in circle together.

. And as one of the things that I've seen, one of the things that I've heard from people who are wanting to do this work in schools or people who are talking to me about like, oh, can you like help us do this work? I was like, all right, so like, tell me about the things that you're, oh, we do circles.

Great. What do you mean by that? Right. Because the way that I've seen this work, even from the eight going on nine years that I've been doing this work, is like, oh, well we bought Circle Forward and you know, we have a template for , how to like talk to kids about bullying and race and checking in.

And I was like, cool. You can read a script. Yep. But like, how are you together? And when I think about, you know, the quote unquote implementation of restorative justice, restorative practices whichever word listener you, you choose to use. People are talking about programs, they're not talking about ways of being.

And my question for you, Jamie, is in your two decades of doing this work, is there a school community that you've worked with that has successfully implemented restorative 

Jamie (she/her): justice? I probably, in being asked that question, would like to highlight the Alliance School in Milwaukee. Mm-hmm. . Many, many years ago we were doing a training in Milwaukee for public school people, and there were a couple, I think it was mostly school social workers.

But anyway, after the training, a couple of them went, this is not gonna fly in Milwaukee Public schools. Oh, we're gonna have to start our own school. Well, they did. What ended, what ended up happening is the kids got so into circle and basically this school was kids who either got kicked outta Minneapolis or Minneapolis Milwaukee public schools or just were having a lot of troubles, you know, just weren't, you know, weren't really fitting into the traditional public school.

And so what eventually happened is the kids were training the kids. On restorative practices and circle, the kids would call circles during the day and say, whoa, we got a problem here. And they had a circle room. One of the main teachers from that school ended up going to Harvard to get her PhD in education.

Tina, amazing woman. And because of that, there was a connection. The kids went to Harvard to teach the PhD candidates. What circle was and what it meant to them and how it was helping in their school. The circle, if you look at it as a way of being.

So the goal is to be in circle when you're not in circle. So you're not always sitting in circle and you're not always using a talking piece, but you're very aware of the values and that, and that way of being, and you just operate like that. And so to me, that's kind of the goal in a school or that's where the most success lies when people realize, oh, this is more of a way of being, this is not a program.

Well, I can think of another school. I mean, I, I've got, you know, 20 some years of stories, but this is a pretty amazing story.

It was a K eight mm-hmm. that had over 750 suspensions and one year and they wanted some help. And so Chuck was still alive. So this is an old story. So Chuck and Oscar and I went, and this was the first time we were doing a training with Minneapolis. So we hadn't, we didn't know what to expect when we got there.

There was like, you know, 120 teachers and we thought, well, we can't have 120 people in circle. So we obviously needed to break into three groups. And so we each had a group. The teachers were able to have some classroom time, but they were in circle most of the time. They were offered that school year.

What do you need? You want them to mentor you, you want them to come and do circle and you observe it, whatever, basically, whatever help they need, we were able to give them that year as follow through and follow up after that training. They had less than 75 suspensions that year. To me, that's a phenomenal statistic.

They went from over 750 down to under a hundred in one year. And there's a lot of reasons for that. But the main reason I think is because of the way of being. They, they came into, there were the eighth grade boys were begging, we wanted, we, they started a group, the boys who do good. And you could just feel it kind of, I don't know, percolating everywhere in this school.

Like, and we had several staff that were very I don't like hesitant or like this is Nuh no. And who eventually ended up coming on board and it was very beautiful. It was a math teacher that wasn't really into it. And he, he decided, he tried, he did not teach on Fridays. He taught Monday through Thursday and he did circle on Fridays and his relationships got so deep and, and behavior just went to nothing that the kids' test scores went up and they were doing amazing work in math.

So, I mean, there's a lot, a lot, a lot of examples like that. And I suppose it's scary. You're a math teacher and you know, your kids are sliding and there's a test coming up that they need to pass and you think, oh, I'm not gonna teach on Friday and I'm gonna sit in circle. That's a hard, that's a really hard decision to make.

But over the years, I could tell you the teachers that have decided to sort of. Quote, give up some time and actually sit with their kids, end up teaching so much more. I don't know, I maybe it's because of the respect the kids have for them, or it's just a happier, joyous classroom, or but you know, when you get to know each other and, and, and maybe haven't even talked about your values yet in circle you just gotta get to know each other.

You, you don't leave that space until you have trust. Right. You know, you sort of move at the speed of trust and the more trust you have, you know, you can move on. And so I don't think there's anything wrong with sitting with your, sitting and playing with your kids for a week or two before you start.

Yeah. Which is probably why I don't instruct new teachers. But , 

David (he/him): can you logistically talk me us through the time that that school dedicated to this learning?

Jamie (she/her): Yeah. They committed to their staff meetings being in circle, their unit meetings being in circle. They're more How long was the 

David (he/him): initial training 

Jamie (she/her): for? Four days. At the beginning of the school year? Yes. It was like in August. It was like maybe after the training they had just a couple days before kids were coming.

Mm-hmm. and some of them are pretty angry cuz they wanted to be in their classrooms getting 'em ready. I I totally understood that. I get it. I also think that then we eventually got comments that, you know what, that time that I took to slow down and, and spend there prepared me for the year in a way that I didn't realize it would.

And so I think people were very apprehensive at first, and we had some real doubters. But I, I just think it, it works so beautifully. Like this one kindergarten teacher, she'd always take her. I, I'd be in circles, she'd leave she'd, she'd, she'd come back and wanna hear about the list of, you know, all the behavior issues.

I said, we didn't have any, what? I don't have one behavior issue. And so I would just slowly encourage teachers. Maybe if you sat in here, you'd get that experience too, like . I just think, again, because of the enthusiasm of Chuck and Oscar and I, and our willingness to come in and help them in any situation, if anybody doubted.

How awesome or powerful this could be. We just, I guess, changed their mind by, and it was really wonderful to be able to come into classrooms and have teachers just observe and, and get to know their kids in a way that they can't when you're the teacher. And I also found at that school what was interesting, they were afraid to use their first names instead of Ms or Mr.

Or whatever. And Oscar and I always used first names when they're, and those kids just automatically, like when the guy goes, well, I'm Steve. And the kids kind of giggled at first cuz they had never heard him say, I'm Steve, right. After circle, they just call the Mr. So-and-so again, I mean, kids know this is a different time, this is a special time.

I can call you Steve when I'm in circle, but as soon as this circle's over, you're Mr. So-and-So again and you're my teacher. So I think that happened there a lot that they realized what the, the time of circle was, sort of a different time, special time out of the regular day. But then what ends up happening is that special time ends up leaking into your whole day and your whole school, and eventually you just, you got it going on.

And I think in that school too, kids got very, you know, eventually, Teachers got transferred and that that system went away at that school and kids were so frus they would go with people and say, we solve our problems in circle and there's nobody here to do circle anymore, . So the kids were eventually kind of telling the staff, this is what we need to do.

Cause they were new that I've seen that happen at a few schools that end up having such a turnover that the kids are saying, this is how we solve our problems and this is how we be together. Cause I, I never like circle the be viewed as how we solve our problems. It is how we solve our problems. Cuz this is how we be together.

Right. But it is not, it does not exist because that it helps us solve our problems. It exists for us to be in a good way with each other. And if there is harm, oh, then we can sit in circle to repair it. Yeah. 

David (he/him): What is something. That you want people who are doing this work within the context of schools, whether they are a teacher, a school leader even like an RJ coordinator to know.

This can be framed as like a tip for like practical application or it can be like words of encouragement to keep going. 

Jamie (she/her): I'm thinking we, I mean, need to realize too how it's sometimes for people, it's difficult to share from the heart share who we are with students. I was thinking of example. I felt so sorry for this principal that came a training once and after the first day.

I thought he was great and I just appreciated his stories and, and, and then he came up to me and he said, is it okay if I don't come back? And I said, well, yeah, but talk to me like what's, he goes, I can just tell there's absolutely nothing here that would ever, that I would use in my work or at my work.

And I'm like, okay. But I had noticed that day he was very emotional several times when he was about to share. And I think that was just so uncomfortable for him. He was like, I'm like, I'm not doing this. And so that's just something that I think we all need to be aware of that I think if you really wanna do this work and be openhearted and, and you have to understand that you might be sharing things you're uncomfortable with.

I guess in a way it's an opportunity for us all to know ourselves better. And I also know teachers who might identify. You know, I might need someone else to come in and help me do circle because it's hard for me. Like if maybe some incident happened in the classroom that was really heavy or something, they, they might wanna have somebody else with them because they realize that it's not their, so anyway, I think that's something that's important to really keep in mind.

I guess because I've been a youth worker my whole life, I, I always tease teachers or I talk about how you guys need youth worker skills. I swear, instead of doing your student teaching, you need to work at St. Joseph's Home for children for those six months and your teaching will be so much more incredible.

I really think today teachers need youth worker skills. And when I say that, I mean, it's a, it's a sense of play, it's a deep sense of responsibility for this human Let's see. I don't, I, gosh, what are youth worker skills? I just feel like anyone I know has been a youth worker who then comes into teaching.

They are phenomenal. They're phenomenal. Is that because you have relationship building skills? Is it because you've learned oh, the other thing, I think people that I've, I've noticed and it's been kind of exciting. I mean, you can even ask a little first grader, what's your learning style? That has been so fun and we've had teachers go, oh my gosh, why didn't I ever ask my kids that?

It's May. And in September I could have found out, cuz you know, unfortunately that is the nature of teaching these days, is you might have 30 kids in your class, you got 30 different learning styles. What in the heck are you gonna do? You know, but to have kids tell you has been a really amazing thing. I know some RP coordinators aren't actually teaching or aren't in classrooms.

They're, they're sort of doing other things. But I think that's a real important thing for anybody working with kids to have a discussion with that kid you are in relationship with, to find out what their learning style is. That'll make your job a whole lot easier. And it's amazing how a child that young can tell you what it is.

David (he/him): Yeah, for sure. We've, we've talked around all of these ideas and I've heard you because as I shared with you, I was watching a YouTube video of you giving a talk right before we jumped on. You know, you have a framing for like both restorative justice and restorative practices. Can you define each of those?

And like if you want to include a definition or a use for circle in each of these approaches. 

Jamie (she/her): Yeah. Well, I guess to me simply, I mean, restorative justice to me is something that happens if, if there's been harm. Restorative practice is the way of being that you have, hopefully, that you're in most of the time so you don't have harm.

and which is why I deemphasize restorative justice, because I feel like if we really are concentrating on our way of being in our practice, that we might not, hopefully someday we won't need to be talking about that because repairing harm will just be naturally a part of the way we be together.

We don't have to kind of separate it, but I also understand there's a sort of a different lens of looking at R J E as a thing, which I, I can kind of appreciate. One thing, you know, when I first got into this too, I thought this is, this is why I almost got fired from several jobs I've had, like trying to implement restorative justice because people, like, I mean like when I worked on the West Bank here in Minneapolis, I never called the cops for something a kid did.

Cause if we'd never see a kid again, you know, and every once in a while there was a police officer we could work with. And if there was one, let me tell you, we did it. But normally there just, there wasn't one. I think like the first circle training was that I just kept kind of scratching my head going, this is the way I've always, this is why I've, everywhere I've ever worked or been, I've had a problem. Cuz we aren't, we, we don't be like, I felt like I had discovered this, like, this is the way we should always be and, and if there is this way, why aren't we doing this?

Like, why do we have these hierarchical, everything's a hierarchy and

there's problems with hierarchies. So, so to me, restorative practice,

I don't know. I, I don't even, I don't really like those terms anymore. I guess I've done this so long. They've almost lost their meaning. Restorative practice. I know there's a lot of people that don't really gravitate to that word restorative. And to me, like if you haven't had justice in the first place, then restorative justice is a redundant term for you.

And that, that's true for a lot, a lot, a lot, a lot of people. I know. There's a, you know, sort of a move towards transformative justice. I think words are important, but if we really, I think what you're asking me is me to talk about what I really feel is happening with those two phrases or words, so to speak, and well, maybe differently.

David (he/him): How would you define the work that you do or this way of being? What words would you use and how would you quantify it? 

Jamie (she/her): Yeah, let's see. 

David (he/him): Because I agree like the words restorative justice have been thrown around a lot. In some ways they've lost their meaning. Like, I have a way of like trying to like, quote unquote reclaim it or redefine it to be like, you know, A philosophy instead of practices rooted indigenous values of interconnection where we repair harm when it occurs, but proactively build and maintain relationships to prevent future harm.

Right. That's not very succinct that like, I imagine that gets to many of the things that you would wanna say, but like how, I'm just curious, like how you talk about it, how you quantify it.

Jamie (she/her): I don't know if, what I've really become so very aware of in the last several years is, you know, a lot of people are doing very specific work around white supremacy culture and, and having very specific, you know, definitions of what that is or what that can involve. Involve. And I remember, you know, when I just started reading that going, to me, the circle or the circle way of being is an antidote to every single one of those, of those, what do you call 'em, attributes, characteristics, or whatever.

In a way, I feel like this is so big and so hard to under to say, but I think because of our whole system being, I mean, the other day I read this thing, they're saying, white people taught, white people taught white people who taught white people, and here we are today in this mess, , which is a very simplistic way I think of like, I look at these systems as the, the people.

People just weren't at the table. Right? There's, I guess, inclusion, inclusion is big in this work. It's, it's being included. It's, it's not, it's not a mindset or a mindset change. It's really a change. It's a heart set and it's a change of heart. And so that to me is where some of the difficulty at times lies because how do you change somebody's heart?

Like, I don't know. I mean, we all know how you change someone's heart, but we really don't know how you change someone's heart. And

the core to me is, is, is I can't separate this from just the au authenticity of just being a human being. Like there's, there's no separation for me. Like,

I guess what I, I don't know. I think we're all the best humans. We could possibly be when we're in circle and when, if we're that way when we're not in circle. That's pretty amazing. So when you get a bunch of people together in a school or in an organization that all have this, I guess there's hope involved and there's trust involved.

And so much goodness that is so needed right now that, you know, like how can you deny it? I mean, I was in a conversation with someone today who was struggling because this school is supposedly all restorative and they're having some problems. This is a staff and that the leader told them that the restorative practices were for the kids and he was like, wait a minute.

Like, So I imagine this day when we're all, we all be like this, that we're not talking about this, we can't even talk about restorative practices because we're so in it, we can't talk about it. You know what I'm saying right now? Like we're, we're, we're, we're.

To me, it's just the way of being that I'm just waiting for all to crumble until we get be like this, like Minneapolis Public Schools has all these problems right now. We're down 650 positions and all this, and I'm like, let's get our way of being together. We don't have a good way of being, and I'm, and I'm realizing now I don't have a good way of explain of expressing this with words either.

It's just,

I don't wanna get off into the the what are those things in Circle Forward? I don't even remember what the seven core assumptions, because there's a couple of those I do not believe anymore. 

David (he/him): which ones?

Jamie (she/her): The one about the core, the, the true self and everyone is good, wise and powerful. Mm, why not? And, and then everybody has a deep desire to be in good relationship. I, I, I just don't believe those two anymore. Why not? I would say politics is a simple answer. just, I spent too, too many examples in the last couple years of, of, well, I don't, I don't, I don't believe that anymore.

That, go ahead. I was just gonna say, it hasn't changed my, my heart or my hope or my passion for this work. In fact, maybe it's even made me more

David (he/him): so to me, when, when you say that, like, so are there people who are beyond restoration? That's the question. If that's the assumption.

Jamie (she/her): Right? Cause I believe in the basic goodness of humanity. Mm-hmm. . But then to actually make a statement like that, I don't know. 

David (he/him): I'm curious, as you've been doing this work over the last couple decades, what's been an oh shit moment and what have you learned?

Jamie (she/her): From it? Oh, that's a really good question.

I, there's one that keeps, it comes into my head often. It actually did today, so I probably should bring it up. You know, every once in a while there's well, usually the oh shit is around race issues, I would say, or sometimes around other kind of orientation issues of a human usually. Or, or someone's, cuz I, I was thinking of a time we were in circle training and we were on break.

The person that I was working with said, did you re, did you, you know, see how this came up? I'm like, yeah, what do you think we should do about it? So we're kind of planning, you know, and I guess sometimes it's really you need to discern whether you hit something straight on or you just kind of let the circle take care of it. And I would say my, oh shit, moments have been when.

Probably was a little more reactionary instead of responding and should have just sort of maybe given it a little more time. 

David (he/him): Is there an example that you're able to share? 

Jamie (she/her): Let's see. they've always, they've always just been around comments regarding race. Like, I can just like hear 'em or just like, oh, or like people's ignorance or I guess judgment. Maybe that's what it is. Times and circle when I've felt very responsible. I'm the keeper and something really judgemental has come up and to me, The, oh shit comes in when you know you didn't have time to solve something or you know, you're gonna get back to this and that person doesn't come the next day.

Or to me. Those are kind of the, to me, there's not, there almost, there's nothing that you can't ultimately work out, get to a point of at least, I'm not gonna say closure, but at least you know where people can deal with it. But when you have to be done or someone decides they they're done and they don't wanna show up and come back, that makes it, those are the oh shit moments.

To me. I've never had anything I didn't feel like, but usually it's when, oh, we're not gonna be able to, to work this out. That's when I get that issue. Like somebody was at a point where they don't want to come back into circle or they don't want to talk about it. Or when we've sort of lost that, that, that to me is

Otherwise, I'm trying to think of some of those moments where I'm sure I've been saying that to myself, but then you just kind of go, okay, just gotta, gotta just sit with this here for a minute,

and that, oh shit moment might turn into the aha moment because of the way the circle can kind of work with that. So that's probably happened more, more times than not where I've just went, oh, shit. But then I'm saying to myself, I mean, chanting to myself, trust the process, trust the process, trust the process, trust the process.

You know, I trust the process because it does not fail you. And then eventually it's like, well, kinda like a gyroscope. You know how when you're, it's spinning and then it loses its thing and then all of a sudden it writes. I feel like that's like an oh shit moment in circle where you're like, oh no, the gyroscope just took doors.

But you just, you trust the process and you stay true to those values and you stay true to those guidelines. And that, oh shit moment will transform into a aha moment, I would say 99.9% of the time. Yeah. Just stay in it, continue. Stay in it. Stay in it. Yeah. 

David (he/him): This question is hard in a different way. You get to in circle with four people that are alive.

Who are they? What is the question that you ask of the circle? 

Jamie (she/her): So who are the four people? And then what would I ask them? 

David (he/him): What would you, what's the one question you would ask? The circle? Yeah. 

Jamie (she/her): I think because of my age and because of what's going on, it would be all people who passed on and my questions would be

Oh, I, I would want Chuck to be there.

Maybe my Alice, who was a, an amazing circle keep,

and my grandma Joe, oh, maybe Oscar with his mind back . I've always felt like this is where we came from and this is where we go back. So I think that would sort of be my question. Okay guys. I've always said and felt like I came from an amazing circle and I'm going back to an amazing circle. Is that true? I guess that's what I'd wanna know right now. What do you think?

I think, I think the answer would be a big, huge hell yeah. I wish more of you guys would realize that while you're on that planet

David (he/him): Damn. I kind of wanna just leave it there, but there are two more questions that we typically ask. One is, who's the person that I should have on this podcast and homework? You have to help me 

Jamie (she/her): get them on. Who? Oh, someone to be on your podcast? Mm-hmm. . Oh gosh.

You know, who would probably, what, what, who just came to mind was Jess, I mean Jessica, who was the first, who was the person who said Good morning Sister to me? Mm-hmm. Jessica Hughes. Jackson, I believe. I was in touch with her. I could ask her. She when I met her, she was the Affirmative Action director at the University of Minnesota.

She has a law degree and she was so inspired by education that she went back recently to get a degree in Montessori. But she has been into this circle longer than I have. She's been in education and, and done this work. I think she would be an awesome person. Or I don't know if you've had Russell Ballinger.

Mm. He's also, he's his, he has Gordon Parks was Russell's uncle, his mom's brother. And he's, I worked with him at Amicus and he's circle, been a circle keeper for years and he has a pretty amazing story. I also know Gregory Mcm Moore, he started Men of Rafiki at Stillwater Prison here in Minnesota.

That was a pretty cool program. He started there. I think it's still going on. I wish you could interview Oscar. You know, a couple friends of ours interviewed him the other day. I didn't tell him about it cause I knew he'd be too nervous and he did a beautiful job. They were, we were trying to get him to tell a story and he forgot about it.

And I reminded him of another one and he remembered it. And so I interview Oscar all the time. Like whenever I'm, I always do that just to keep his brain. I'm like, Hey, remember when we were in TAs, da da da da. And I'll, and I try and see how much he remembers or whatever, but I think it would be very interesting to interview somebody who's done this work for that many years with the background that he has and, and see what it would be like because he is still, like his spirit and his soul are still so present.

Mm-hmm. . It, it might be be really amazing because if I have a, if I'm struggling or I still have a question about Circle or this work or even my life, I still talk to Oscar about it and he gives me amazing advice. There's something I haven't figured out yet, but the circle brings him back. Maybe we all have an element, like what really is happening to us when we're in circle and I've read that our hearts sync up.

That's one thing. But you know, we don't even know all that's happening to us when we're sitting like that with each other. And Oscar, it's like music to somebody who has Alzheimer's. When he is in circle, it's like I look at him and I go, wow, nothing's wrong with you. So I think about that if we all sat and circled more and more and more and more, maybe less would be wrong with all of us

Just kidding. But I'm sure there's a way a lot of other people I could think of too that would be good for you to, I. Yeah. 

David (he/him): Well thank you for all of those names. I'll be looking forward to some introductory emails or texts. Finally, we close with how can people support you and your work in the ways that you want to be supported?

Jamie (she/her): Oh, what a nice question.

I guess I feel supported. I mean, I don't know, like if, if people, it's nice to talk to people every once in a while. I'm kind of an isolated person, you know, since Covid hit, I don't do, I don't do as much. I don't go as many places. I was, so remember when we were in Chicago and didn't get Covid. I got c v at my 50th high school reunion.

But three days and I was good friend of mine gave me some Chinese herbs and it took care of health problems I've had for years. I haven't felt better. So in some ways I was glad I got it. I also realized I had a fear, huge fear of getting it and thinking I was gonna die. And now that's over, which does tie into this questio you're asking me.

I don't know. Ask me again. I feel like I might. Yeah. How can 

David (he/him): people support you and your work in the ways you wanna be supported? 

Jamie (she/her): That's a hard question for me because asking for support, I guess is hard. I would just say,

I mean, there really isn't a way right now, unless people wanna get ahold of me. I mean, I'm doing some work. I'm encouraged, I love talking to people, and I, and I love hearing about what people are into hearing their stories. If you wanna just send me good positive vibes and energy that I could get my act together to do some writing , that'd be real incredible.

Like if anyone out there has any, can work, any magic that like gets me to sit down and I've been trying to write for so many years. And, and, and or if someone wants to let me know how that can be supported, I'd love to hear that. Yeah, it's a good question to ask David, because I realize I don't ask for support.

David (he/him): So are you comfortable like having your email dropped in the chat, in the show notes for people to get in touch? 

Jamie (she/her): Yeah, if people wanted to get in touch with me I appre I appreciate that. I'm not doing as much in person stuff right now, but I love get, you know, talking to people about what's going on or helping them out.

I love helping people out with, they got some problems or some troubles going on. But I think, I mean, honestly, this is a weird thing to say to support me, but honestly, all of you guys just doing the, keep doing the work you're doing does support. Be in a way. I mean, it's like if you, you think about that thing about put your own oxygen mask on before your kid on the plane, which seems so counterintuitive, but it's like if all you, if people out there are dedicating their, their selves to doing this work, I mean of ultimately, and, and that's is a huge support to me and everybody on the planet.

I mean, I guess that's the way I, I see that is not supporting me personally, but just as a support to me and, and, and life in general. People are, are getting into this, this work because of the relationships and forms and and, and, and I think I would say because the last few circles I did before Covid with high school kids, the most common things said was the circle gives me hope.

The circle has given me hope. I heard that over and over again. And so

that's, that's, that's big, that's huge. That's like hope is really what we need right now. And so just being in this work, we're increasing the hope, the hope load that's around. And I think that's what we should be doing. So. 

David (he/him): Beautiful. Well, Jamie, thank you so much for sharing your stories, your wisdom experiences here on this restorative justice life.

We'll be back with another RJ lifer. Maybe next week, maybe not, because now that I'm thinking about this, this is like winter break. But very soon we will be back with another episode of somebody living this restorative justice life until the end, 

Jamie (she/her): you care. And I, I wanna thank you very much. I really, it's been an honor and a privilege and I'm, I'm yeah, I'm sure there's all a thousand things.

I'll think of that. It would've been great to say. But I just appreciate you taking the time with me today to share what I've been doing for the last couple decades. And so it's really been, just thank you for offering me this amazing experience to be able to share. David. I deeply appreciate it and I can hardly wait to tell Oscar about it.

David (he/him): so great. Absolutely.