This Restorative Justice Life

47. Intentionality, Community, and Restorative Justice w/ Darsheel Kaur

August 19, 2021 David Ryan Castro-Harris Season 1 Episode 47
This Restorative Justice Life
47. Intentionality, Community, and Restorative Justice w/ Darsheel Kaur
Chapters
This Restorative Justice Life
47. Intentionality, Community, and Restorative Justice w/ Darsheel Kaur
Aug 19, 2021 Season 1 Episode 47
David Ryan Castro-Harris

As a cultural worker, Darsheel Kaur (she/they) draws upon her ancestral roots from Punjab, South Asia, spiritual roots in Sikhi, and her practice as a peacemaking circle keeper to guide us towards our innate healing and creative capacities.

You will meet Darsheel (0:55), hear how she creates community in a circle (3:38), and her experience in broadening the lens of racial and restorative justice (19:43). She discusses her personal experience in this work (37:25) and creating a culture within a community (44:03). Finally, she answers the closing questions (51:52).

Make sure to subscribe, rate, review, and share!

Contact, Learn More, Support Darsheel
Website: https://www.darsheelkaur.com/
Social: https://www.instagram.com/darsheelkaur/ 

Join our community open space discussing Restorative Back to School Approaches at http://tiny.cc/ARJopenspace
Sign up for our Restorative Justice in the Math Classroom Workshop:
https://www.eventbrite.com/e/166109958357

See all our workshops and courses at http://amplifyrj.com/learn
Future Ancestor Collective (Community Gatherings): http://tiny.cc/ARJcommunity
Rep Amplify RJ Gear at http://amplifyrj.threadless.com 

You can connect with Amplify RJ:
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Reading list: http://amplifyrj.com/reading-list

Show Notes Transcript

As a cultural worker, Darsheel Kaur (she/they) draws upon her ancestral roots from Punjab, South Asia, spiritual roots in Sikhi, and her practice as a peacemaking circle keeper to guide us towards our innate healing and creative capacities.

You will meet Darsheel (0:55), hear how she creates community in a circle (3:38), and her experience in broadening the lens of racial and restorative justice (19:43). She discusses her personal experience in this work (37:25) and creating a culture within a community (44:03). Finally, she answers the closing questions (51:52).

Make sure to subscribe, rate, review, and share!

Contact, Learn More, Support Darsheel
Website: https://www.darsheelkaur.com/
Social: https://www.instagram.com/darsheelkaur/ 

Join our community open space discussing Restorative Back to School Approaches at http://tiny.cc/ARJopenspace
Sign up for our Restorative Justice in the Math Classroom Workshop:
https://www.eventbrite.com/e/166109958357

See all our workshops and courses at http://amplifyrj.com/learn
Future Ancestor Collective (Community Gatherings): http://tiny.cc/ARJcommunity
Rep Amplify RJ Gear at http://amplifyrj.threadless.com 

You can connect with Amplify RJ:
Email list: http://tiny.cc/ARJemail
Instagram: http://instagram.com/amplify.rj
LinkedIn: http://linkedin.com/in/restorative-justice
Facebook: http://facebook.com/amplifyrj
Twitter: http://twitter.com/amplifyrj
Website: http://amplifyrj.com
Reading list: http://amplifyrj.com/reading-list

David (he/him)  
Darsheel Welcome to this restorative justice life. Who are you?

Darsheel Kaur (she/they)  
I am a spiritual journey living a human experience.

David (he/him)  
Who are you?

Darsheel Kaur (she/they)  
I am grounding flow, vision and transformation.

David (he/him)  
Who are you? 

Darsheel Kaur (she/they)  
I am a child of a Divine Mother spirit.

David (he/him)  
Who are you?

Darsheel Kaur (she/they)  
I am Daughter of Simran Kaur and Darshan Singh, granddaughter of Mohinder, Kaur and vasanth Kaur and sister and Auntie with extended blood and chosen families around the globe.

David (he/him)  
Who are you?

Darsheel Kaur (she/they)  
I am a warrior of love and a lover of culture.

David (he/him)  
Who are you?

Darsheel Kaur (she/they)  
I am a believer in the truth of abundance.

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

Darsheel Kaur (she/they)  
I am a descendant of spiritual warriors, artists, farmers, educators, nurturers and medicine people.

David (he/him)  
Well, thank you so much. We're gonna get to talk about so many of those things over the next few moments we have together but it's always good to start with checking in so to the fullest extent that you want to share, how are you?

Darsheel Kaur (she/they)  
I'm well, I'm Well, today feels like a nice exhale day. I spent the last week in the hospital with my parents. My dad had a surgery. And by all accounts, it was successful. And so I'm happy to be home again and grateful for the outcome. 

David (he/him)  
Yeah, that's, well, grateful for that, and well wishes in recovery. I'm curious in the in the bigger scope of things, we're in this crazy ass time. That is unlike any other. And I know that we can say that about any moment that we're alive and that history repeats. But how have you been taking care of yourself in the last, I'll say a year and a half. But you can talk about more recently.

Darsheel Kaur (she/they)  
Yeah, man, like, it's just this time has showed me how necessary like self care is gone to a whole nother level. In terms of my need, really to give myself space. I see myself as somebody who hosts often, and I'm learning what it means to host myself and really give myself space to move at my own pace. And, you know, be in silence be alone, be in reflection. Be by the water, be in journey and adventure. And, and just not know how really important those things are to me. And really like, yeah, just just reconnecting with what's the most important to me. 

David (he/him)  
Yeah, absolutely. I'm thinking about that. Hosting yourself. piece. You know, we talk about restorative justice is about relationships, the first relationship you have is the relationship with yourself in that that piece of it is so important. You know, you and I we haven't connected for for a couple years, I reached out a little bit ago, thinking that we were gonna have one version of this conversation routed around your public work, but you were just sharing with me like how much this last year or so has been about that the internal work of so I'm really excited to dive into all of that as well as unpacking the journey that brought you to there because transparency like I'm finding myself in this moment, where it's like, what does it mean to take a break? And like, I'm not taking a longer term sabbatical year, but like, you know, the month of September is going to be much slower for me than the last couple of years have been and so all that to say, I'm sure you've been doing restorative justice work for a minute you went to school, all of that, but you've probably been doing this before you even knew the word so how did this journey get started for you?

Darsheel Kaur (she/they)  
man that's, yeah, I think I I've started bringing people together in my home as a daughter or as an immigrant myself from a family of immigrants. Culturally, you know, I've, I've connected with different groups of people like I've kind of never just been grounded In one community or in one space, but I've had multiple people in different groups who I've connected with in different ways. And then, as soon as I got my own apartment, when I turned 18, I started hosting people.

Darsheel Kaur (she/they)  
 And not long after that, like I started throwing larger parties. But even at that time, when I was having parties, it wasn't just about alcohol, or, you know, anything like that. I mean, it was more so like attention to the detail, like, I would think about the foods that I was providing and making sure that I was actually nourishing people, I would have like little games around, I'll put little questions on the tables, so that people would be able to have support and connecting with others who they don't know, I would go out of my way to connect certain people with one another, and maybe give them interesting connection points to start the conversation. So I, in my early 20s, my teens, like something inside of me had a sense of bringing people together and like kind of cross cultural connections and relationships or connecting across differences or perceived differences.

Darsheel Kaur (she/they)  
 And then, you know, when I went to college, after about three years of college, I went to Ohio State University for a semester. And that was right when the occupy movement started. And is so interesting, like I, I give so much like thanks and praise to my younger self, I was about 21. At that time, because something in me felt like I was a facilitator to where I was facilitating meetings for our occupy assembly, like local Student Assembly, and I was hosting my own events, bringing together all these different student groups, and training facilitators for these events. And I had never been trained in any type of group facilitation process. It was just something that wasn't me. 

Darsheel Kaur (she/they)  
And it was a years later, you know, you mentioned I went, you know, to school, for a restorative justice. I got the language maybe a couple years later after, after the occupy movement. And I just saw it as a way to interrupt the school to prison pipeline. I didn't know too much more about it. But then I went to a conference and I was I realized the potential was way bigger than I understood. So when I went to school, that's when I was introduced to the circle process. And I've been, I've been doing circles since then. 

David (he/him)  
Yeah, yeah, absolutely. I'm curious. We're gonna get into those nuances. But I'm want to go back to like what you first said about hosting? What were the examples of hosting that you thought that you were supposed to model after? Right? Because, you know, just for some people hosting is just about like, Alright, here's some food, here's the space, do your thing here, the drink tray, do your thing. But you were a lot more intentional with that. What were the models that you were looking at with that? Because not everybody has that? 

Darsheel Kaur (she/they)  
Yeah, you know, honestly, you know, my mom, she hosts but she is more focused on like, the food and like cooking the food. And, you know, putting so much love into the food, like Indian food takes hours and hours to cook. And it's an all day affair. And then making sure everybody has food they eat. But my mom typically wouldn't be present as much in the social environment, you know, she would mainly be in the kitchen or what? walking back and forth between the kitchen and where people were sitting. So I really don't know, where I got the ideas around little games and little questions and the little activities and stuff that I would put there. It's probably from, you know, then a need that I perceived within myself like growing up once again, as an immigrant and I was about four years old when I started engaging. When we first moved to this country, I started having to engage cross culturally like that, and felt like an outsider and I didn't have any type of like pathway laid out for me to express who I was and get to know other people for who they were in an authentic way. So just I think After years and years of those experiences growing up, by the time I got to my teens and 20s, I just had a deeper sense of what was needed to like truly build authentic community and to not assume, like shared culture and shared understandings between people. 

David (he/him)  
Yeah, so much of doing this work for many people who we've had here. And many people in general, right, you do the thing that you feel that you needed, right. And it fills a need for so many other people, I'm curious if that translated to the space where you were called into facilitation, during occupy and following that.

Darsheel Kaur (she/they)  
Definitely, it definitely was the, um, the first meeting that I facilitated, I remember putting some kind of game or icebreaker and that wasn't in the norm of the of the meetings at that time, like I added a bunch of random little things, and it caught on. And that's what I just kind of kept facilitating from then. But my attention to like the interpersonal, and like, what the experiences of, of the people who are participating in whatever space that I'm trying to curate, or hold for people or host to use that term? That's just something that yeah, it shows up in everything. And everything that I do. 

David (he/him)  
Yeah, I'm thinking about a training that I was facilitating just two days ago, where in our quote, unquote, role plays, I kind of cringe to that word, because like, we're never really role playing. But when someone was practicing their facilitation of a restorative conversation, right, they're leading with like, Alright, what are the agreements that we need to make in order to make the space safe? And like, I think that's a really important step, but their partner in in that role play with like, you know, in their debrief, like, it would have been so much easier to get into this, if you had started with, like, you know, how are you? How are you feeling? What are the things within, not just like, this is what we're doing here? And how can we have a good time, but like, between you and me, within the relationship, the interpersonal dynamics, just like you were talking, what are the things that we can do to put us at ease, right? know that, you know, we're both humans, having experience that is really important, and arguably difficult, depending on the situation that you're facing. But it's so important to make sure that there is that human connection and games can be such a wonderful part of that. Are there a game or two that you like? wouldn't mind describing that would translate well to an audio medium, I realized remain limited here. 

Darsheel Kaur (she/they)  
Um, well, I, at the time, when I was like hosting parties, I had the Would you rather game? So you know, it's just little cards? I have little Would you rather, you know, would you rather have hands on your forehead or, you know, feet coming out your belly, you know, just really like silly. Would you rather cards. So yeah, that was the original typo of game, I guess that I would use in those types of spaces. Now, I don't do as many games now. And I'm more so because now I've gotten more into like wellness type of work like Mind, Body spirit. So it's more like I'm tending to our relationship with ourselves while we're in the space together. And really making sure people have the opportunity to tap in with themselves. 

Darsheel Kaur (she/they)  
So I really enjoyed doing like a 10 minute write, free write or brain dump, where we all can just like write and we're being vulnerable and authentic in space with one another. But we still have a lot of choice in terms of what is shared and what's not. So I can write and be totally free flowing and you're sitting right next to me, but you're not reading what's on my paper, but I'm able to kind of open up and go through whatever release or or energetic transformation that you know, that brings up for me. And then I can choose from there, you know, what I want to share in the in the check in? 

David (he/him)  
Yeah, and both work, right. People who are coming to a space for wellness and healing are a lot more likely to be able to jump into a 10 minute free right then people at a party, right or people at an organizing meeting, right? Where the question like, would you rather have teeth for toes or toes for teeth like is just like a Hey, like, let's lighten the mood. Let's This is the human experience that we're having together. Right. Both work. I really appreciate the the spectrum, different ways that in the multitude of ways that we can different definitely do this. 

Darsheel Kaur (she/they)  
Yeah, it's usually like based on what the purpose of his of the gathering, and then you know, I can go from there. Actually, when I was in Chicago at circles and ciphers, they have a freestyle circle. And one icebreaker that I learned from the freestyle circle was the, you know, Miss Mary Mack, Miss Mary, Mack, Mack, Mack all dressed in black, we would write that down, and we would go around in the circle, and everyone would say, one line. And so I've done that in groups where everyone says a line, and we just keep going, until the group naturally develops a rhythm and starts to, you know, snap along or add their own sounds or beats to it as a way to kind of open up that creative flow without the pressure of freestyling.

David (he/him)  
 Yeah, I know, there are a lot of people who listen to this, and are often looking like, you know, what are the what is the exact toolkit? And so much, it's two practices, how do we build relationships in the community? How do we break ice, and I think like, a directory of those games and activities exist somewhere, but it really is like what is most appropriate in like fitting for your community? And it looks like trying a bunch of different things, but also asking folks, so many others, you talked about, you know, going from Ohio State, to really formally learning the words restorative justice, in deciding to pursue it as a way to interrupt the school to prison pipeline, you know, further on learning, it's so much more, can you describe a little bit more that journey? 

Darsheel Kaur (she/they)  
Yeah, so um, I had just, so I went to OSU for about six months, just as like an interim. And then I moved back to Dayton to complete my undergraduate at Wright State University. And while I was completing that year, I started, you know, getting more involved with efforts in the, in the broader Dayton community. And one of the things was educational injustice and interrupting the school to prison pipeline. And restorative justice was named as like an alternative. And that's all I really knew about it.

Darsheel Kaur (she/they)  
And then, about a year later, john Crawford was murdered at Walmart, down the street, from Wright State, and by the police. And this was about a week before Mike Brown was killed in Ferguson. And so during that time, like, I got really active, you know, in this fight for justice for john Crawford. And, along with a group of comrades of mine, mainly whom I met in Columbus, actually, in the occupy movement. And for about three, four months, we were doing like intense, like direct action, organizing and community meetings and everything. And I remember towards when we started getting really close to the court date, the grand jury process and everything, just really thinking like, what is justice? Like? What are we really fighting for?

Darsheel Kaur (she/they)  
You know, we had certain demands like for the officers to be fired, and for the trainings to be changed for the ways that officers are trained for active shooter situations. And in Ohio, as well as the person who called 911 actually told some lies about john, which is what ended up getting him killed. And so for that man to be held accountable as well. So we had these demands, but part of me knew deep down that that wasn't going to fully satisfy us, even if they didn't meet all three of those demands. And so I started questioning, you know, what, what are we really wanting here? What are we really fighting for? So many people were mobilized during that time around this concept of justice. And so a new justice was something powerful enough to move. Lots of people from different backgrounds, different ages, people traveled across the country to be here.

Darsheel Kaur (she/they)  
We had 86 people marched 11 and a half miles for a pilgrimage during the time of the grand jury. So that's when I started asking that question, what is justice? And I had remembered that I had heard of this thing called restorative justice. But I didn't really know much about it. So I decided to go to a conference about restorative justice. And it was in Vermont. And that's when I started seeing like the international implications, because there were some people from the continent of Africa, like from different countries around there who were using the principles of restorative justice for their whole country. So what they call transitional justice when they're transitioning from war to force post war, how do victims get reparations? How do you know root causes of the of the war get transformed in the new structure that they're building as a country. So that was like, really expanded my understanding. And then I got to meet Fonny Davis who had a session, and she spent the bulk of her session talking about racial justice within the restorative justice movement, and how, you know, just , just following like some restorative justice principles doesn't necessarily equate to racial justice, and that there needs to be like an intentional awareness and focus on racial justice within the restorative justice movement. And so that's, that's what really hooked me after coming off of a lot of really intense work around racial justice.

Darsheel Kaur (she/they)  
So from there, I started looking up programs, and I found the the only Master's in restorative justice at that time, which was at the Center for Justice and Peace voting at Eastern Mennonite University in Virginia. And so I applied and I got in, and I actually met Howard Zair, who, uh, who is, you know, seen as one of the prominent voices around restorative justice. And I told him that I was there to study restorative justice with the intersection of racial justice, because I didn't want to perpetuate white supremacy within the work, whatever future work or studies that I was going to do. And he gave me the thumbs up, and he said, yeah, we need that. So please, come and, do that.

Darsheel Kaur (she/they)  
So I started my Master's in conflict transformation with focuses on restorative justice, and psycho social trauma and resilience. And, and that, that program was just really amazing in a lot of ways, because there were, I had classmates from all around the world. And so anything that we were learning about, we could experience and understand it in different contexts through our classmates. And then, it's a school for practitioners. So instead of a thesis paper, you know, you go to a practicum. And that's, you know, when I had the opportunity to be with circles and ciphers, in Chicago, when and then that's when that's when we met. And, and that experience, you know, was really incredible as well, because the community I was working with mirrored the community that I was going to be coming back home to, and a lot of ways. And so that experience really helped me, especially the youth leaders over of circles, and cypraea, has helped me see that circles can be used not only to direct, to deal with conflict in direct ways, but also just to, you know, build trust, build relationships, for creative expression, using hip hop and using culture in a creative way. And so it's not just like this old, stagnant structure, but it's something that we co create together, like you mentioned earlier, based on who is in the circle and the culture of the people of the space of the land.

Darsheel Kaur (she/they)  
So yeah, that kind of really shaped me seeing restorative justice restorative practices circles as a creative process, an emergent process versus, you know, something that was really stagnant and cookie cutter. 

David (he/him)  
Yeah, yeah. I was gonna ask, you know, if you were to distill like, you know, your nine months in Chicago, into a couple takeaways, like would that be what you just share?

Darsheel Kaur (she/they)  
Yeah, well, first it was six months. But yeah, I would say that was like, the biggest one is, you know that circles can be creative. And especially with the freestyle circle that I experienced there.

Darsheel Kaur (she/they)  
And I got to see, I just got to see what it looks like when you've really are like, given the space and the support and the resources to create their own space, it's like to create what they need, and how these things I had been studying and learning about just came alive, you know, through the youth. Oftentimes, like, you know, I can be in rooms with adults who are talking about these things that are good for you, supposedly, but you never see you actually getting to take ownership and leadership in that work. It's like, stuff that we're doing to youth. And so as someone who thinks about that, about you working with youth and what is needed, I love to see the ways that, you know, the US that circles and ciphers in particular, were, were really uplifted and supported. And they had a lot of agency to make it their own, and make it relevant to them. 

David (he/him)  
Yeah, circles and ciphers is one of many community restorative justice hubs in Chicago, and they all operate independently, but do come together around certain principles. And we've talked to people, I think, precious blood ministry of reconciliation is the only other representation that we've had here on this podcast. But, you know, these ideas of radical hospitality, accompaniment, in like, you know, what you're talking about with, like, being youth driven, young people driven, are so important, right? Where there are many other organizations who were trying to do this work were like, there are just certain objectives. And you know, there are, quote, unquote, best practices to follow that don't necessarily align to being responsive to the people that you're with. And, you know, it's so important to make sure that those questions are being asked to the participants. Right. And, you know, that's being actually considered and implemented. And I know, we're talking about it directly within the context of youth space, but in so many other organizing spaces, right, where there are programs set up for the benefit of people, right. And the people are consulted in how they want to be, quote, unquote, helped, right? This power with, or like, really just giving power to folks, that sharing a power is really what drives this work well, and helps people get what they need.

Darsheel Kaur (she/they)  
Yeah, yeah. And I love that you said, like, accompanying, because that's definitely something else that I experienced there at circles and ciphers was, you know, okay, we're doing circles. And, you know, this is something that the youth who we're working with, they understand they get it and make sense of them, they want it, you know, they desire it, and they need to get their basic needs met, you know, so the organization was able to provide stipends, but, you know, a stipend is a hard to compare with a full time job amount that you would get, you know, amount of money that you would get and so it just it helped keep me grounded, keep my feet grounded to like the day to day realities of the of the people that I was working with the youth that I was working with the community that I was working with, and that you know, this work is so important. 

Darsheel Kaur (she/they)  
And I guess it's kind of like from a materialist point of view, you know, people don't just get involved with social movements or social justice or envisioning the world that we want to see. Just because it sounds pretty, you know, like, it's because people are moved based on their lived realities. And just because somebody is doing work that can sound sexy, you know, or can sound progressive or, you know, on the university plane. That doesn't mean that that changes what their day to day lived realities and material realities are. That's something that I knew from organizing work, that even doing organizing work, community organizing, and being able to get paid to do go vote registrations are whatever, whatever type of organizing work, and being able to get paid to do it, like a lot of my comrades, we're still experiencing a lot of the same traumas in their daily lives, you know, insecurities with housing, and food and violence and intimidation from police and all kinds of conditions that just made daily life a struggle, even though they were in this kind of elevated position of being seen as a community leader and organizer, or somebody who's like, trying to progress the community forward.

Darsheel Kaur (she/they)  
So yeah, I appreciate that, in all of my experiences, with with this type of work, that I've been able to stay grounded in been in places and been with organizations and communities that are grounded to reality, the realities that people are facing in the day, in their day to day lives and balancing tending to the reality, as well as envisioning the world that we want to see, and, and trying to, you know, make shifts and show up differently as we can. In the midst of recognizing, you know, this larger context that we're in.

David (he/him)  
It's almost in like, every single relationship that we participate in every system that we engage in, like, what are the ways that the relationship is honored? Right? How do you thinking about like your position in a relationship, like, make sure that the other people, whether ,I don't know that I'm articulating this incredibly clearly, whether the people in the relationship or within like, traditionally have more power or less power? and the like, how are you making sure that people are still getting their needs met? I think it's complicated when you think about the resources that people have, even with, irrespective of power, and like the needs that they have, like this idea of, oh, man, this is not this probably isn't very clear at all. This idea of like, equity, people getting what they need, and that doesn't necessarily look like the same thing for all people. But you find those things out through relationships, and then figure out how to meet those needs. 

Darsheel Kaur (she/they)  
Yes, yes, exactly. Thank you. He said, he said, and that's the power of you know, of relationships is that you can have these structures, or you can have these plans, like how things are supposed to go, and organizations are like, oh, we're just gonna do circles and, and we're gonna bring restorative practices in. And a lot of times, that's seen as like a fix all, you know, like, oh, we're just gonna do this, and then everything's gonna be all right. And, and what it does is it allows us to be in deeper relationship with each other, and to exist more into the complexities of everyone's day to day life. It's not just something that wipes away all the complexity and makes everything easier, but it actually uplifts the complexity even more. But it allows us to lean a little bit more into interdependence. And like, think about, like how we can support each other even more and how we are impacted by one another. Naturally, you know, whether we're being intentional about that impact or not. So how can we be a little bit more intentional and aware of the ways that we impact one another, and are impacted by one another? 

David (he/him)  
Yeah, you've taken that, having graduated from CJP, having left Chicago, back home, to Dayton, Ohio. And you've done a number of different things in community. They're trying to build this ethos, this ethic of, yes, restorative justice, but in some ways, like you haven't really been using those words to organize people around this ethic. How have you been doing that? 

Darsheel Kaur (she/they)  
Yeah. So I, you know, I started where I felt like I had influencing. So when I first moved back to Dayton, I joined an AmeriCorps program and where I kind of developed an after school program, primarily focused on immigrant and refugee students at a local high school, but it was also it was open to everybody. And in that I used some practices. You know, I used circles I use some of the concepts and understandings I had around trauma and resilience and conflict. And But yeah, I didn't use that language. It just really got to know that you through who they were, and then saw how I could kind of weave in some of these practices in a way that felt relevant, and met them where they were at. And then I did that for about a year. And I decided I wanted to get my own place. So I could really build a space, you know, like just the realize the importance of a physical space and building culture, and maintaining culture over a period of time. So my focus at that point became actually getting a physical space, which is the space that I'm in now, which is called the heart The House of healing arts. And so we've got the house at the beginning of 2019. So we're in year three now.

Darsheel Kaur (she/they)  
Yeah, it's, it's like a co living, co working intention, intentional community. So at first, it was just like, how can I really bring these principles and these practices home? To, in my living in my daily life? How am I practicing interdependence, just myself, before I go out here and talk to all these people about these wonderful theories and concepts, like how I'm actually living it out. And I realized, like, I needed to actually live with my friends or live with people who I care about to get that next level of interaction and to workshop, you know, what does it mean? What does interdependent living mean? communal living. And so, so yeah, that's, that's really what, this has all been an experiment. 

David (he/him)  
And what were the first conversations you had with like, the people you wanted to invite into that kind of living space? Because intentional community, intentional, communal living, it's cheaper, but it's not easy

Darsheel Kaur (she/they)  
 Yeah. And, you know, I will say, I probably could have done a better job, like really mapping and laying out what it was going to be and getting clear, you know, agreements from everybody. But I being the fluid of person that I am, I, I had conversations around, you know, everyone I talked to was an artist. And we all were wanting to do some form of like public work, you know, so my roommate right now, and this photographer, he's been here with me since the beginning. And then the other two people who were here in that first cohort, were poets, and, among other artists forms. And so we all had some desire to like host and we liked bringing, you know, my photographer friend has a, has a photo studio, you know, like, there's some need for space to do our work. And then there's also a need to be practical about our living expenses. So, and then the third piece of that was just healing, right, so that we, we can support each other. 

Darsheel Kaur (she/they)  
And, you know, we, in our organizing community in Ohio, we at that point, had last one of our comrades to suicide. And at this point, we've lost another one as well. And all of the people who I talked to No, no those people, and so to, to understand that we need each other, and that, like, we can't keep operating, as usual. But we need to do something different than we are doing currently. That wasn't a hard sell. Yeah, it was just like, you know, how can, can we, if we live together, we can save money, we can support each other in our work better. We're all already on our own healing journey. So we can share that with one another and be a little bit more intentional and aware and how we ask for receive support from one another. And that was kind of the idea then on the on the other side, which I was excited about. I don't know if anyone else really was but it's an opportunity to learn about real estate, not real estate in the buying and selling of houses but real estate in the like, okay, we're in a house. So you know, if the air conditioning goes out, or any of like the literal type of repairs that need to be had, that Oh, landlord would typically take care of. This is an opportunity for us to practice like actually living in a house and learning some of those basic things. Before we one day, you know, have and build our own families. And may, you know have some of these type of responsibilities in the future. 

David (he/him)  
Yeah. As someone who's a home owner, yes, yes. Oh, you know, adulting is hard. The struggle is real.

David (he/him)  
You know, before this, you and I were talking a little bit about how you really wanted this to be a space where like, you could practice in everyday life, right, this restorative justice life to say the name of the podcast and the podcast, right? Why this approach in why not searching for professional roles, quote, unquote, doing this? 

Darsheel Kaur (she/they)  
Yeah. Well, first of all, I mean, in in Dayton, there really isn't any, like organizations that have centered restorative justice. And so there's not an infrastructure for professional work in this field. Unfortunately, I have been able to do some trainings and workshops, but I understood that it was a cultural shift that was needed through that was one of my biggest takeaways like, from my time at CJP, not just with the academic program, but just getting more connected into the restorative justice community of practitioners around the country, and just going to conferences and things like that, and just really tapping into the movement of restorative justice. I'm a culturally oriented person, like I mentioned at the beginning, I'm a lover of culture. And so I think about culture. And I was like, yeah, this is, I can see how in, in other places where restorative practices have been brought in, but the culture shift didn't happen. And it could, it actually caused more problems, and more division in the community. And not only that, but now some people have like a bad taste in their mouth when they think about restorative justice. 

Darsheel Kaur (she/they)  
And so I knew that I wouldn't be operating with full integrity, if I just came in, and I started training people in some sort of practices when I knew the culture and the consciousness wasn't there. So I kind of took that on, you know, this is, this is my hometown. The place that I've spent the most time in, in my life, even as an immigrant. And this was the place that I had in mind when I went to grad school. So Dayton was the my case study for most of my projects and the work that I did in school. So I knew I had to be I had to honor where we're at here. And not try and just bring some outside model and toss it on top just to make myself feel good.

David (he/him)  
 That totally makes sense. And I'm thinking about, you know, a lot of when I look at the stats of this podcast, a lot of people are listening from Chicago, Southern California, the bay, Pacific Northwest, New York, right. And there are very many people who aren't in those spaces either, where their quote unquote hotbeds of restorative, just I know, many people are working in education. And so there's a little bit more of a bend towards that in education spaces. But I don't think that people necessarily have to start their own intentional work and living situations, co Ops, to practice this, but like, you, you found a way to like help shift the culture within, you know, your sphere of influence. And that's all any of us can do.

David (he/him)  
 I'm curious what you're and knowing that you're still on sabbatical, figuring this out. I'm curious if you have a long term vision for Heart of hope, specifically. Wait, no, sorry, House of healing, specifically, and for restorative being?

Darsheel Kaur (she/they)  
Yeah, you know, I'm, the heart is like the house of healing arts. It, I have been carrying a vision. And part of this sabbatical is we kind of like, I guess, releasing it. And so that's really hard as someone who sees myself as a visionary, but at its core, it's a place where people can come and do three things, what we call ground center, align, grounding, and something bigger than us. Which would be it could be the community, it could be spiritually, it could be this house, you know. And then centering within ourselves of understanding who we are within that. And then from that place we can align with one another. So it's like finding the I within the we. And that has happened in in all the different forms that we've existed together as an intentional community at the heart since the beginning. And, and I think that it will continue to do that. To me, that's the essence so that no matter what the details look like that, that is a very important piece of what the heart means to me.

Darsheel Kaur (she/they)  
But in general, I mean, my vision is just a bunch of circles like that. We're just doing circles, I want circles in my life, I miss being in circles and ciphers, and having three circles a week of creative expression, circle, you know, a freestyle Circle. Circle for queer people of color, queer women of color, a community circle of all ages, age groups, and, you know, creative writing the guy they're checking in and sharing my rose and my thorn just really being in that deep community with one another and with constant intentional expression, in between just like day to day life with one another. So yeah, my vision is just more more circles and more of a, of a consciousness like in the schools in criminal legal system and families and, you know, as a, as an abolitionist strategy, to like, really co create culture and take ownership and determination over the, the world that we want to see where we don't just hide our problems away, or try and throw, you know, throw them away into cages, but we actually work through them and utilize conflict as a way to tap into transformation, which to me is, you know, change is God. And so the more we can tap into change and be intentional, with the flow of change, the better, the more aligned, we will be, you know, spiritually with the earth and spirit.

David (he/him)  
Was that Octavia Butler? Or is that Sikhism that I'm not familiar with?

Darsheel Kaur (she/they)  
 Um, well, Angela Davis has a quote about us, you know, taking society's problems and and locking them up in cages.

David (he/him)  
 Sorry, I meant like that. That changes God the gods were. 

Darsheel Kaur (she/they)  
Yeah, I don't. 

David (he/him)  
God has changed. Now. 

Darsheel Kaur (she/they)  
Sounds like Octavia Butler. Yeah. Yeah. I'm, I'm sure like my Sikh worldview like is woven through everything that I say. But yeah, I think that quote in particular, yes, Octavia Butler. 

Darsheel Kaur (she/they)  
Gotcha, gotcha. No, that's, that's perfect.

David (he/him)  
I want to transition to the questions that I asked everyone. We've talked around it a lot. But for you to find restorative justice.

Darsheel Kaur (she/they)  
restorative justice, is another way of dealing with conflict or harm that sees that maintains, like the interdependence and the dignity of everybody involved. And so it's not just ever between two people. But if there's a conflict or a harm or a crime, it's a reflection of the community. It's a reflection of the environment. And so how, how can we bring everybody together? To heal together?

David (he/him)  
Yeah. Beautiful. As you've been doing this work, what has been like an oh shit moment? And what did you learn from it?

Darsheel Kaur (she/they)  
You know, it's constantly like, theory versus reality. You know, so conflicts will occur, and people will call me, you know, I've had even had, like, commissioners call me, I have people in the community call me and they're like, here's this situation that is happening. How would it be handled in a, you know, restorative way? How could it be? And, you know, theoretically, I can map out this how this beautiful process could go down. And, but then the reality is, is another thing it's like, Okay, well, we don't have the time. We don't have the resources. We don't have the buy in. We don't have enough restorative practitioners, to even hold that type of a space, the person who caused harm is not in a place of self accountability. So like all of these different things are not in place. And so it's like, well, very sounds nice, but here we are. And it, it's not an easy, it's not easy to see, like how to get from point A to point B, how to get from reality to like, where where we would need to be for this restorative process to take place. So that yeah, that's kind of like the oh shit moment, for me that happens regularly is the layers and levels of nuance to every single conflict. And there's so much more to take in then than what meets the eye.

Darsheel Kaur (she/they)  
Oftentimes, we think this is what the conflict is like, Oh, this person, you know, and this person, and they said this, and they said that, it's like, well, there's all this stuff that really plays into this situation. So it's not really as clear as it may seem, and it would take a lot more intention, effort, time, care, to work through all of that. 

David (he/him)  
Yeah, for sure. The limit to theory to practice are always intention. Always intention.

David (he/him)  
You get to sit circle with four people living or dead. Who are they? And what's the question that you ask the circle? 

Darsheel Kaur (she/they)  
Hmm. My grandmother? probably Fonia. And there's a Sikh warrior who was named Tomao boggle. So she would be there. And Harriet Tubman.

David (he/him)  
And what's the question you asked the circle?

Darsheel Kaur (she/they)  
What's one piece of wisdom that was passed down to you or that you received that has helped you throughout your life?

David (he/him)  
What's one piece of wisdom that's been passed down to you that helped you move through your life?

Darsheel Kaur (she/they)  
My father would tell me that always speak my message. And so in the context, that, you know, he shared it, like, I doing media stuff and being interviewed by reporters. And he's like, you know, people may ask you questions, but you don't have to answer their questions. You just say what your message is. I think you just keep repeating your message. And whenever you have the opportunity to share your message, you take it.

Unknown Speaker  
So just really helped me. Oh, that it's like, yeah, I have a message at all times.

David (he/him)  
I guess what do you feel that message is?

Darsheel Kaur (she/they)  
My message is that abundance is real. And change is possible. You know, another world is possible healings possible like this just so much. Yeah, I mean, anything that we can imagine is possible.

David (he/him)  
You know, one of the questions I asked in this piece is like, what's one mantra affirmation? You want everybody listening to know, but I had a feeling like, that might be it? Is it something different?

Darsheel Kaur (she/they)  
Let's go with that. Let's go with that. 

David (he/him)  
Beautiful. Um, you know, we talked about the need for this work, you know, indating circles everywhere in schools and families. Everywhere. What is the situation that you've witnessed recently, that you were like,

Darsheel Kaur (she/they)  
oh,

David (he/him)  
and it can be within the context of your life. It could be something you've observed in media could be something that like you were watching on a TV show and like, if they had a circle right now.

David (he/him)  
Yeah, 

Darsheel Kaur (she/they)  
um, I will say that, um, we one of the team heart team members, Jared grant, he he recently ran for Commissioner of Dayton and he didn't make it past the primary but I would have loved to see or be in a part of a circle with all the candidates.

Darsheel Kaur (she/they)  
I would love to see circles become more part of politics to where politicians, community leaders are invited to, and engaged in, you know, vulnerability and bringing their personal truths into a space together.

Darsheel Kaur (she/they)  
Jared just walked in with a dog. But yeah, I would just love to see circles becoming a part of politics while so that people could really be themselves instead of feeling like they have to portray this image. And this almost like celebrity ism that comes with running for office. 

David (he/him)  
For sure. Two more questions. With this one, you have to help me get this person, but he's one person that I should have on this podcast. 

Darsheel Kaur (she/they)  
Have you met you? Have you had Jody yet?

David (he/him)  
I haven't. No.

Darsheel Kaur (she/they)  
 Okay. And then, um, I would say Sharif, from circles and ciphers. He's one of the youth leaders. 

David (he/him)  
All right, Jodi and Sharif, hook it up, hook it up. Perfect. And then finally, you know, I was gonna direct people to your website, but I don't know that that's the right move. How and where can people support you and your work in the ways that you want to be supported right now? 

Darsheel Kaur (she/they)  
Yeah, um,I would say, I mean, you could join the email list on the website, I will use it eventually. So that would be one way which reducetheirshieldsKaur.com And then my Instagram. So to follow like my journeys on my sabbatical, I plan on using my Instagram, which is just at darsheel kaur 

David (he/him)  
links in the description already. Perfect. Any other things that you want to leave our listeners with?

Darsheel Kaur (she/they)  
 I would just say like, the answers are, are always already inside of us. Like we already have everything that we need. It's just really tapping into really tapping into that.

David (he/him)  
Well, thank you so much. Again, it's one wonderful to reconnect two, awesome to hear your story, but three, like inspiring to see you take this pause. And knowing that I need to do that for myself coming up really soon. And really be intentional with that time, not just play 2k when it comes out, because you know, it's being released in September. So thank you so much for all of that, to everyone else who's listening. Take care, and we'll be back with another episode next week.

Transcribed by https://otter.ai