This Restorative Justice Life

50. Daniel Malec

September 09, 2021 David Ryan Castro-Harris Season 1 Episode 50
This Restorative Justice Life
50. Daniel Malec
Chapters
This Restorative Justice Life
50. Daniel Malec
Sep 09, 2021 Season 1 Episode 50
David Ryan Castro-Harris

Daniel Malec is Restorative Practices Director at Georgia Conflict Center (GCC) in Athens, Georgia. Daniel has a Master of Arts in Conflict Transformation from the Center for Justice and Peacebuilding at Eastern Mennonite University. He has worked for 20+ years in the areas of youth development, youth violence prevention and intervention, conflict transformation, restorative justice and school administration.  

You will meet Daniel (2:15) and hear about his start in engineering and his time in Managua (9:59). He talks about changing the way we repair harm and see the cycle of violence (18:02) and his other experiences with RJ (24:36). He mentions his experience in CJP (32:32), going deeper into the foster care system (46:02) and his role as assistant principal (55:08). Finally, he examines whiteness (1:11:20) and answers the closing questions (1:18:59).

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Contact, Learn More, Support Daniel:
Website: https://www.gaconflict.org/ 

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Watch clips of the podcast: http://youtube.com/c/amplifyrj 

See all our workshops and courses at http://amplifyrj.com/learn
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Show Notes Transcript

Daniel Malec is Restorative Practices Director at Georgia Conflict Center (GCC) in Athens, Georgia. Daniel has a Master of Arts in Conflict Transformation from the Center for Justice and Peacebuilding at Eastern Mennonite University. He has worked for 20+ years in the areas of youth development, youth violence prevention and intervention, conflict transformation, restorative justice and school administration.  

You will meet Daniel (2:15) and hear about his start in engineering and his time in Managua (9:59). He talks about changing the way we repair harm and see the cycle of violence (18:02) and his other experiences with RJ (24:36). He mentions his experience in CJP (32:32), going deeper into the foster care system (46:02) and his role as assistant principal (55:08). Finally, he examines whiteness (1:11:20) and answers the closing questions (1:18:59).

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

Contact, Learn More, Support Daniel:
Website: https://www.gaconflict.org/ 

Email us at [email protected] to be featured in our anniversary episode!

Watch clips of the podcast: http://youtube.com/c/amplifyrj 

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)  
Daniel, welcome to this restorative justice life. Thank you. Oh, who are you?

Daniel Malec (he/him)  
I am a white cisgender male from this place. I'm from Georgia.

David (he/him)  
Who are you?

Daniel Malec (he/him)  
I am, partner to my life partner to my wife, Alice. 

David (he/him)  
Who are you? 

Daniel Malec (he/him)  
I am a father to two young man, a 16 year old Nico, and 10 year old named Oscar. Who are you? I am a brother. I've got three brothers, one of four boys and son, brother and a son.

David (he/him)  
Who are you?

Daniel Malec (he/him)  
I am like to believe Well, I'm somebody who has committed my life to non violence for about 20 plus years now. And so I've been learning that path for myself. 

David (he/him)  
Who are you? 

Daniel Malec (he/him)  
I'm a practitioner, a learner a seeker of restorative justice.

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

Daniel Malec (he/him)  
I'm a practitioner in Athens. I'm currently the executive director at the Georgia conflict center in Athens, Georgia.

David (he/him)  
Beautiful, thank you so much for being here. We're gonna get to all of those intersections in a moment, but it's always good to start with the check in so to the fullest extent that you want to answer the question. How are you?

Daniel Malec (he/him)  
Yeah, well, I gotta exhale. I think, you know, when you mentioned that earlier, it's just, that's a loaded question these days. I mean, it is August 2021. And it's a complicated world we're living in, and I work in schools. Part A big part of my work and, and I work in schools that are working really hard on protecting each other amidst this pandemic. Folks are, you know, I don't see kids struggling much with wearing masks or taking care of each other. It's mostly the adults in the community. So I feel conflicted. But I'm feel Well, thankfully, healthy, my family is healthy, we have our health, and grateful to be able to work among people day in and day out that are working to build restorative culture and community. So all that to say I'm, I just grateful. Yeah.

David (he/him)  
Well, grateful for your family's health, your health as well. This is the time unlike anything that we've experienced in our lifetimes. Although, you know, I was just listening to something earlier, talking about how, you know, history repeats itself, of course, like the very specifics are different. But we've, we as humans have experienced very similar things. I'm curious, in the last 17, 18 months, how you've managed and I know, at different times, different things have been things to lean on. But how have you managed to maintain balance or find balance to the extent that you've been able to?

Daniel Malec (he/him)  
Yeah, thank you for asking that. I mean, I balance for me often comes with working with my hands as well. And being we we grow Shitake mushrooms on our small piece of land here in Athens and we raise bees, we have a couple of beehives and grow food and mostly greens because we that's something that we can grow and realize that it is kind of the most nutritious thing that we can grow. 

Daniel Malec (he/him)  
So having over the last 17 years, I mean, went 17 months, when the pandemic started, our work in schools pretty much drew to a halt immediately right, and we did not, we have a team of folks that work in schools in Athens and all that stopped for almost two months. And so a lot of my time, shifted to being with my family and my kids and then being outside and working on the land and that that was very nourishing and healing for me, and so I've tried to maintain that, as we transitioned, like a lot of people, oh, after about two months of realizing, Oh, those trainings that we had scheduled for April, we kept pushing them back. And we're like, I don't think that's ever gonna be. 

Daniel Malec (he/him)  
So we, we began to think about how to do our work particular training work online. And we, so we start, I think my first one Virtual Training beginning in July, or June last year, and then kind of just picking up. So a balance of learning new ways of doing work, like in a way that I never imagined, I never imagined I would do restorative justice virtually. But also balancing that with the connection to the earth. And, and really recognizing that I want to be clear in this in the skin that I'm in, because I think that's an important component. also thinking about how we can be part of the solution in our community, my, my, my partner, and I, how can we help folks that aren't able to get food and stuff so we plugged into mutual aid networks and other networks in our community to make sure those most kind of marginalized and those that weren't going to benefit from government checks and whatnot, undocumented folks that we could work together and community to to first make sure folks basic needs were met. So all those were things that kind of kept me going, as we had this space of social distance and disconnection around us.

David (he/him)  
Yeah, there's so much to that, right, both your work as somebody who is doing your work as like your job titles, like executive director of an organization that is trying to bring justice, safety, equity to your communities, and like as a person who is actively participating in that in the skin that you're in, in the communities that you're in, at the intersections of your identity, like those all mean different things. And there's still the need to make sure that you can do this, quote, unquote, sustainably for yourself, right. And so the ways that you plug in to taking being in relationship with Earth being in good relationship with people are all so important. And a tricky balance for everyone. Yeah. In, you know, our unique circumstances, definitely something that I am still struggling with. 

David (he/him)  
You've been doing this work of restorative justice, youth development service for a long time. That's not where you initially started your career. I'm curious, you know, what were the roots of doing this work for you? How did you get started? Even if it was before you knew the word restorative justice, specifically from a background in industrial engineering?

Daniel Malec (he/him)  
Yeah, thank you. Yeah, so I did go to I went to Georgia Tech and in Atlanta, and I started out after that, as a working in management consulting firm, and was doing that work for a few years, and started to pay attention to this. The insides of myself felt like they were shriveling up, in some ways, and was having a real kind of, you know, 23, maybe 22, 23 having kind of a crisis of conscience and and really began a spiritual transformation at that point. And started, you know, as I was traveling to different cities, I was traveling a lot. What stuck out to me was the folks living on the streets, the folks on the margins, and I started paying attention to that more and and my own spiritual transformation took more and more rude.

Daniel Malec (he/him)  
 And I ended up joining an organization called Jesuit volunteers international and moved to Managua, Nicaragua, after being a consultant for about three years moved down there and began to work with drug addicted youth and youth in gangs in a particular neighborhood in Managua called Barrio de Creo. And Barrio de Creo was like many communities or is like many communities in Managua that it it was started in around the 40s and 50s as kind of a squatter community of folks coming in from the countryside. Putting up to In houses very, you know, not much bigger than the room that I'm in here, and then struggling to survive in Managua and around that was established, some people's way of surviving was to sell drugs. You know, others did all kinds of different things. 

Daniel Malec (he/him)  
And so a lot of kids living on the streets, would come to this neighborhood, and buy glue, you know, the shoe glue that's produced. Now I forget the company here in the US that produces it and sells it knowing that kids throughout Latin America are addicted to this stuff, but they would buy that, and then crack cocaine started to be more of a reality. While I was living there, and most of that, as I understood it, most of the crack was from cocaine, that drug running boats would just throw overboard before they would be, you know, encountered by the police. And it would come to the shores make its way to Managua and then, you know, become crack a very good and so I was working with youth as young as 10, up to maybe in their early 20s. So it was that was part of this spiritual transformation. 

Daniel Malec (he/him)  
And you know, at that point, being a young white man, I thought I was going to help somebody. And I realized very quickly that it was about, you know, these these folks, really saving my my life and changing my perspective on the world, the hospitality that they offered to me, not just the US, but everybody in Managua. I mean, as you know, our country has a very conflicted history with a lot of Latin America, but certainly Nicaragua, but I could go anywhere in that country, and be welcomed into people's homes. They knew the history, they knew the reality they live, many of them live through war and violence that was perpetrated by either the US or folks backed by the US, but they were could not be more generous and welcoming. And and many people would give them give their, their bed to me to sleep. And I didn't realize that, but that then I realized, well, where else are they sleeping? 

Daniel Malec (he/him)  
So, you know, I left this consulting world and went down to Nicaragua, to learn a different way. And it was in this work with youth that were in and out of the criminal legal system. They were the expendable youth. I was trying to, you know, while I was there, it was like there's how do we help these young people exit this cycle of violence and their families? You know, I was visiting lots of families who domestic violence and it was like, a constant cycle of violence for them. And so I was trying to explore like, what could be a different way? How do we exit this cycle of violence, and it was in that pursuit that I was introduced to the Center for Justice and peacebuilding and in Virginia, Harrisonburg at Eastern Mennonite University, through some folks that were working down there, in Nicaragua, they told they, so I had to go all the way to Nicaragua, to learn about restorative justice. And, and I still didn't know a lot about it, but then I, you know, by going to apply to go to grad school, to study more about conflict transformation. As soon as I started plugging into the restorative justice work, this was around 2003. I've never, never looked back. It's been, it's been the sweet spot for me. In so many different avenues and ways.

David (he/him)  
Yeah. Do you remember the moment when you learn the words or the context in which you learned the words?

Daniel Malec (he/him)  
You know, I don't know what comes to mind all the time for me. I don't know the moment I learned the words, but what the images that come to mind were me going to pick up youth that I worked with at the jail, you know, they would, they'd get picked up off the street, they be brought to jail. And then a few days later released, and it was this car, you know, we talked about the revolving door. And it was literally a revolving door and especially a white man comes to talk to somebody in jail. It was almost like an open door policy. They almost release them immediately. And so it it. It was in that context that it was like, This is absurd. This is asinine that we are doing this we're investing in these structures and systems and and at Not long after that somebody that was a Mennonite Central Committee volunteer introduced me to restorative justice, but I don't remember exactly how she phrased it. I just remember a light bulb going off for me of like, oh, a lot more, it makes a lot more sense.

David (he/him)  
Yeah. What was it? Uh, so sometimes people talk about an experience and circle or an experience with some other like felt experience? I'm curious. What was the thing that clicked for you?

Daniel Malec (he/him)  
Yeah, I just the idea that these these kids lived a life of harm, right, they were harmed themselves from a very young age, they that was their day to day experience. In order to survive, they would ride the buses and rob folks. And so sometimes I saw them sometimes get shot at by people. So it was a life of harm either perpetrating or being the victim of and so just this idea of a different kind of way of dealing with harm a way that brings people together and works together collaboratively to try to try to make it better. We actually, you know, I don't think just learning about that kind of shifted how we did our work in the neighborhoods, because there were, there were gangs. Throughout the the the neighborhood is about probably 50,000 people lived in this community Barrio de Creo. 

Daniel Malec (he/him)  
And I think there were about five different gangs and our kind of team that worked with youth, were some of the only people that could kind of navigate all those different terrains and areas. And just learning about restorative justice was like, Well, how do we help each of these groups start to see this cycle of violence and start to see how, you know, they have agency like, we don't have to just do it this way. And, and we ended up, you know, starting to mediate between some of those gangs, and it was mixed results while I was there, and that work continued after I was there, but, you know, it just brought us into a more active kind of role of attempting to intervene, to work with the youth to try to seek a different way of living. Because that was one thing I did learn from I've, and I've worked with gangs quite a bit since then, I've never met any youth in a gang that wants to be in the gang. You know, they're, we know that there are lots of needs that they're meeting by that. But every single one I met was looking for a way out. And so you know, restorative justice in the in the practices, even though I wasn't like, trained or anything at that point. But the exploration of them with youth was, was, I feel like a really helpful frame.

David (he/him)  
Yeah, I love the work that CJP does. And no, a lot of folks who who are there and who have gone through those programs, definitely want to highlight for folks in you know, folks listening to this, probably already know this, like, the learning about restorative justice does not necessarily or does not necessitate a graduate degree, right? That's right. It's community. It's people, it's those relationships in the communities that you're in. It's doing things with people not white savior paternalistically coming in and saying, This is what you need here are these resources, right? But how do we share power? Or how do we give you power agency in this situation, so you can meet the needs of yourself, right, the people who are in your community, the people who have been impacted by the harm that you've been a part of? And all that say, like, graduate education can help. I'm curious, as you transition from Nicaragua, back to the states and grad school. What was that experience like for you?

Daniel Malec (he/him)  
It was, it was a so I came back I lived in Nicaragua for three years. I was contemplating never coming back just because it was such an amazing place. But I also recognize that I might need to learn how to impact things in the United States given that that's where a lot of conflict is generally So I did, I came back in 2002. So here we are, as the US just as left Afghanistan, quote, unquote, after almost 20 years back, I, you know, was protesting the initial intervention at the embassy in Managua with all kinds of other people on a weekly basis, way back in 2001, and whatnot. So I came back to us in 2002. And it was quite an environment to come back to was, you know, just the culture shock that, you know, folks coming to the US either for the first time or not having been here in a while experience, and just really surprised about the dialogue and debate that was happening at that time. 

Daniel Malec (he/him)  
So seeking out the Center for Justice and peacebuilding CJP, it was called the conflict transformation program. At that time, what was very much kind of a home for me, like, a way to take care of myself, coming back to the US, and I am so grateful for them as well. And it also agree with you that a graduate degree like I had the opportunity to learn from elders, you know, Chief Florence, heart comes to mind who's a Cheyenne chief in elder, who, you know, lives, restorative justice, and has long before these words were invented. And I just remember him feeling affirmed, I had the opportunity to present at a indigenous sovereignty symposium and I presented on the Cheyenne way, as a restorative way of solving problems and, and doing and kind of their their law system was rooted in, it was an example of this, what we now call restorative justice. 

Daniel Malec (he/him)  
And I just remember him coming and asking me, so do you think we do restorative justice? It was, it was a hard question, because here I am a white man with this frame coming, that's been come out of the US, and he's lived this way for so long. But he's coming to me to ask this, it was a little overwhelming and, and humbling, and hardly Eagle, Lakota, who also has done so much work with this, I've had the opportunity to learn from him and, and then of course, k pranas, so many others. So I guess your your question about what was was that like, it was incredibly refreshing, and nourishing, and, and just a gift. You know, it was really a gift and an opportunity that I am so glad I did not pass up. Because, you know, it was another thing that kind of changed my life and trajectory to do that.

David (he/him)  
Yeah, absolutely. And so from there, right. We just had someone dartium car come through. And she graduated from, quote, unquote, graduated from the program, you know, within the last couple years, and talked about how, you know, the program as it exists now, is experience driven. What did you focus on while you were in the program?

Daniel Malec (he/him)  
Yes, my, my focus was restorative the back then you could have a concentration, I think they call it mine was restorative justice. So you know, being with Howard's there run a regular basis was was a great gift. He was a regular Professor back then. Another amazing gift back in those days was that Fulbright anybody that wanted to come to the US to study conflict, or conflict, transformation, or peacebuilding, were all sent to Eastern Mennonite university to the Center for Justice and peacebuilding. And so our, who I studied with was a cohort of a group of folks from Africa from all over from Nigeria, from Kenya, from the Congo and, and then at the same time, folks from the Middle East, at the same time, people from Southeast Asia at the same time as folks from the Far East, and so it was, like, just the most incredible experience to learn. Because a lot of the learning, of course, happened outside of the classroom, you know, and just gathering with folks and so my focus was restorative justice. But my learning was a lot about culture a lot, a lot about how conflict is perceived and engaged in different cultures. And you know, just just learning from people who come from pretty extreme situations, who then were going back to their country and just doing amazing, amazing work sometimes with their, their lives threatened and whatnot, but going back kind of empowered. And so that was also a big part of my learning.

David (he/him)  
Right? So the framing of the question might be different from what you have experienced, but Darsheel did like a practicum. In Chicago, it was that still a part of your learning in in doing this work? Not just in the classroom, but like on the ground not to make this all about CJP? Like a commercial for CJP? But yeah,

Daniel Malec (he/him)  
yes, I, Howard, Howard Zair connected me to one of my superheroes, bb taves. And she would definitely be She's amazing. But mostly, I just get good feelings when I because she's so fun to be around. But I, I had the opportunity to go and work in Philadelphia, at the Pennsylvania prison society, with Barb she, that's where she was working at the time. And she happened to be in the midst of writing the little book of restorative justice for people in prison. And also she happened to be basically scrapping what she had been writing and re produce this what exists now, while I was working with her, and and so we ended up kind of she ended up and me exploring with her really shifting the focus of that work to looking at experience of trauma. And restorative justice is healing. And you see in that book, that it's really about a journey of healing and a journey of healing and community. 

Daniel Malec (he/him)  
So I, for my practicum, I worked with Barb and I worked in prisons, I worked most extensively at the Muncie women's prison, in Central Pennsylvania and Muncie, like many prisons was built, beautiful facility, beautifully built in the I think, right around the turn of the 20th century, in the early 19 hundred's as a reform school for girls. It was built as a reform school for girls and then so girls that misbehaved or did not fit in in their environments, and over time, it transformed into a minimum security prison, then to a medium security prison. And now today, it's a maximum security prison for women, many and so I was working with lifers there who invited Barb and invited me in because they, this idea of restorative justice was a lifesaver for them. Right? If they're going to have to spend their life in this prison, how do we make this a space of healing, a space of compassion, of making right when wrong is done.

Daniel Malec (he/him)  
 So that's why I was I had the opportunity to work with women, they're still I'm in touch with one of them who, you know, it's been, it's been almost 20 years now. And we're still writing and she was incarcerated the age of 17. And she did not even she was accompanying somebody who I think committed murder, she didn't want it had no part in it, but she's spending her whole life. And that person has gotten out through some, you know, they they, but she's still there. And so that's what that's what my work was was to explore restorative justice with women incarcerated. And then also at that time, there was a play called bodies in motion. And that play was an experience of trauma and the impact of kind of violent crime on people and that play had toured about eight different prisons in Pennsylvania, before I was working with Barb and then so when I went, I went and I conducted focus groups with prisoners about their experience viewing that, that play in there and so just got to do a number of things. In in Pennsylvania, and in the prison prisons, they're learning from absolute masters of this work. And that's no joke. I mean, these people are incredible.

David (he/him)  
I didn't know this about you before, but from what i have i've gleaned from what's available from you on the internet is like this wide experience of doing restorative justice, both within the construct of the criminal legal system as you as you just shared, but you've taken that to so many different places. I'm curious. You know, we can go chronologically if that's easier. But what, you've done this work in schools, you've done this work in community settings, you've done this work with organizations, what came next from CJP? 

Daniel Malec (he/him)  
Oh, my goodness. Yeah. So I very much revolutionary, I still believe I am I just you know, a little more. I don't know how. But at that time, I was connected with some lovely, amazing people. And we had a dream of building something like Highland Folk school. But up in New England, and there, we got invited to explore this vision on a peat 57 acres of land in Connecticut. And we were the three of us. I guess I can Mary Novak and Harold burns and I were the kind of the founding partners of voluntown peace trust, and it was intended to create a space for folks on the margins, doing peace and justice work to be able to come we had a little Conference Center. We called the AJ musty conference center, we had a number of kind of houses where people could stay. One was the Rachel Corrie house named in honor of Rachel Corrie, who was run over by a Caterpillar Tractor as she was defending a Palestinian home in 2003. So Rachel Corrie house with the Ahimsa house.

Daniel Malec (he/him)  
 And so we were inviting folks, almost, it was either free of charge, or for very little money. And we offered facilitation of trainings and workshops, but also just space. So I, we were there. And then we also had like a community supported agriculture. So it was, again, this integration of sustainable action with, you know, social change type stuff. And I was there for three years. with them, and just, you know, great opportunity to there were so many doing that work. There already, obviously, all around kind of London, and in southern Connecticut and Boston, we were connected with folks there. It was, it was a beautiful time and place to be. And then from there, I joined my partner Alice in New York, and worked as a director of restorative justice at a at a school that was entirely for young people transitioning out of the juvenile legal system coming out from being locked up. It was, it was not, I love the idea, the model. You know, in New York, most of the teachers that work, there were teachers that were in the, quote, rubber room, meaning they didn't have a job at any other school.

Daniel Malec (he/him)  
So they're hanging out in the rubber room, and they would employ them at this alternative school. And so it was chaotic. It was lots of opportunities for restorative justice. But really a lot of it should have been around adult harm towards young people. But we didn't get to get there as much. So I did that for a little bit. And then we moved to Washington, DC. And I worked at the Latin American Youth Center for about four years. And so the next place I really at La yc, where I really was able to bring in restorative justice was I worked in group homes for young people in the foster care system. And it was a you know, with restorative justice, like as you do the work. It just the thing that's powerful for me is how it becomes a way of life. Right. 

Daniel Malec (he/him)  
And so I was just talking with one of the youth on Sunday that I'm still connected with that I worked with back then. And he talked about how his experience in foster care was so different when we were together when he lived in the house. And because it was all about building community, it we use the circle to talk, you know, all of our meetings were done in circle. And for me that was just natural at that point. But for him, it was, it was totally different than anything he had experienced. He was more used to people with the power over, you know, consequences. You do this, you're in trouble. And we had a community and in the kids, you know, nobody fought nobody. We we had our ways of solving problems. And so that was an amazing place to experiment with restorative justice. It was a community of six young people. We had two houses, six boys and six girls in the other house. And you know, what a better environment to try out, building community through restorative practices. And then became the community peacebuilding director at at Latin American youth center. 

Daniel Malec (he/him)  
And we hired our first restorative justice facilitator. You may he should be coming on your show at some point, Tarik masarani was he got his start doing restorative justice work, he that's how he says it anyways, working with us at the Latin American youth center. And then we started going into schools and, and offering restorative support. And that's what led me to be the the restorative justice coordinator at El Hanes High School. And then after that, the Assistant Principal of restorative practices at El Hanes in DC, this feels weird, but I guess you are interviewing me, it's it. But it's calling to mind. Again, just what a beautiful opportunity and, and for me, it's opening, opening myself up to the movement of the Spirit. As you know, however, you see that, and really allowing that to put these pieces together, you know, and working at El Haynes was an amazing place that it was a newer High School. 

Daniel Malec (he/him)  
And they were just trying to explore how to solve problems without suspending kids. And so they were looking at it from a very responsive kind of way. And I entered in there with that same kind of mindset of using restorative justice to respond to harm to keep kids in the building, but but solve problems. And the four years that was there, we did, you know, build circle, community building circles and whatnot, but very limited. And so I think our results were limited as well, like, we were not able to shift our frame, to say this is about culture and community, and connection, and really proactively building that. And, you know, I take responsibility for that, because I think that was, that was my role. But when we see restorative justice, just as a way of responding to harm, we're missing, we're missing the richness of the practice. 

Daniel Malec (he/him)  
And as I think it's been taught for generations, and in practice for centuries, because it, it transforms culture, when we use it as a tool for dialogue, a tool for, you know, building community. And, and, and I did learn at at El Hanes that a school environment is an incredible space to forward because you have kind of a contained community that has margins and periphery and families and, and surrounding community and whatnot. But once you teach the tools and prayer, and then you practice, you have something that's strong enough to deal with any challenge, right? And I started to taste that and experience that they're El Hanes, I was at Latin American Youth Center for about four years. 

Daniel Malec (he/him)  
Then I was at El Hanes for about four years building restorative culture, and restorative practices. And, and then we went on a year journey, my family and I we moved in, we sold our house, we quit our jobs, we moved into a van and we traveled around the country for a year. And we call our our boys road Scholars because they were road schooled for that for that year, and then we ended up in Athens. We didn't know where we were going to end up. But we ended up here for a number of reasons. One, my brother is here and his family, my parents aren't far, but also we felt to a real kind of call to come down south, right, where the historical oppression is thick, you still feel it in towns like Athens, the segregation, the inequity, which exists in cities around the country, but it particularly felt palpable here in Athens. And so we wanted to be close to family. And we wanted to be to really dig in and contribute to community healing in a way that we that being closer to where I'm from felt like we could, could do. 

Daniel Malec (he/him)  
So this is where we've been. And when we got here, the school district here was beginning to explore and learn about restorative justice. So it kind of again, was right place at the right time, and I started working, john lash was the executive director at Georgia conflict Center at the time, and he and I met doing restorative justice things years earlier. And he and I just started accompanying the school district on an exploration of what kind of restorative practices would look like, whether, you know, does it make sense to try to do this district wide? Or should we start with some schools and, and the decision was made to kind of, and this was at Tara masoretes guidance, who had been doing a lot of work in DC. for a good long time. He said, Why don't you take an approach where you offer it out, and see who is interested and exploring kind of whole school restorative practices. 

Daniel Malec (he/him)  
And so from, we did that, and we've been working with three schools in particular, and plenty of others, but three schools have been diving deep, really wanting to address inequity in the schools and exploring kind of racial inequity, as well as how do we transform everything we do at our school to be restorative. And so it's, it's been a real gift to be walking alongside these an elementary school and middle school and high school, in Athens in Clark County for the past three years.

Daniel Malec (he/him)  
 And, you know, of course, setbacks with the pandemic. And that really, kind of we were this last year would have been the third year that so the the kids that started in sixth grade, back when we started at at Clark middle. Last year, they were eighth graders, and the times we did have them in the in the building, we realize that restorative practices and circles are, are kind of like riding a bike, you don't lose it. Because when they got back in the building, they just plugged right back in. When there was conflict, it's time to circle up. This is the students not the though, I mean, the adults too but the students, let's circle up, and they had a capacity to solve problems without adults that we hadn't seen with a student. So it was real unfortunate that we didn't get the whole year with that group. But at the same time, we realize that, you know, this is part of the journey.

Daniel Malec (he/him)  
And they're now at a high school that also is working on homeschool restorative practices. So we have experts all among us in these spaces, that our job is to figure out how to tap into their expertise and allow them to lead and guide this work. So that's, that's kind of where we are now. 

David (he/him)  
Yeah, I am realizing a couple things as I continue to grow as the host of the space and as an interviewer. Sometimes I ask questions that are too expansive, right. And as a circle person, like, I don't want to interrupt you. Right? Because you kind of just gave me like the last 20 years, which I think is beautiful. And like there were so many points in there that I wanted to be like, follow up question, follow up question, follow up question. I'm gonna circle back to some of those. 

David (he/him)  
But what stood out to me, as you were sharing the experiences in many of those spaces, specifically in the foster foster care space and within schools as two things, one, the idea of doing things with people and sharing power, instead of mandating things like you were highlighting when we were talking about your experiences in Nicaragua, making sure that the experiences that people are having and the ways that they're going about addressing their problems, they have influence in those things. And you know, of course, proactively having input in building those culture There's those communities as well. 

David (he/him)  
The other thing that stood out to me that I don't think that I've thought about as a particularly restorative way of being before. And maybe it's kind of just a way that people who are drawn to this work tend to be, but this idea of giving up control in your life, right? Of course, like when we're in space, when we're facilitating a space, we are not there to dictate what happens, we're there to create the container, and let the people in the space, do what they do. We give up control in that sense, but what I heard from you, and as you travel from place to places going where opportunities are. And I don't know how much you did that with intention or not. I've tried to, and I was reflecting on my journey, through this work, some of it being pretty strategic, and working out well for me, and then other times, the opportunities, or the doors were open and taking advantage of those. I'm curious, if you if you've thought about that being a restorative practice a restorative way of being or just something that you've embraced as part of your life?

Daniel Malec (he/him)  
It's a good question. I've just learned over the years, like, a lot of the moves we've made, or I've made have been ones where a lot of people around me are like, why would you do that, like, leaving the consulting realm was the first one of like, you, are you? You're good, you got what you need, you got good job, why would you do that? And I realized that when I felt the movement inside that was counter to that. It was like, I got to go with that. Because it especially each time I did that, and found, you know, like nourishment and kind of rightness, I guess in terms of restored, like, I found that it was the right move in terms of my spirit, you know, and so that became I haven't really necessarily considered that from because that began before I was introduced restore practices, but it's definitely been, before I sit down to a circle, I'm definitely going to take a moment of meditation and prayer, I tried to do it in the space that we're going to be in and have that moment to allow, because the energy that happens is so much you know, in those spaces is so much greater than me. And beyond me, I want to tap into that, you know, and and so that very much is part of my restorative kind of framework and how I see the work. But it comes from a you know, just a place of trying to be led by by spirit and in my faith and things like that. I think that's where it originally emerged. And then you know, over time, you just start seeing how that will bring you to a better place than trying to do it yourself.

David (he/him)  
As you say, and it's not that those things are separate, like all of those things are interconnected, the way that you are in one space is the way that you are in, you know, so many others. And so it was just a pattern that I was picking up on, as you were telling their chronology of where you've been. And you kind of highlighted a lesson from each of those spaces that you took. You know, we haven't had a lot of people here in this space. Talk about the the foster care system, right. We've talked about criminal legal system schools, and we're gonna dig into schools a little bit more in a second. But when you think about foster care, it is a system of constant separation. Right. And restorative justice being about connection community and reconnection. Have you seen beyond your time there like, models of this being like restorative justice being proliferated within foster care spaces?

Daniel Malec (he/him)  
You know, not, not enough. I mean, I, when I was there, I, the place that was the home was called The Independent Living set, independent living program, I LP, and I was just so surprised that so much of the foster care system actually creates dependence, right, it doesn't create independence. And so just shifting how we operated, how we made decisions in that space, turning it all upside down, because it to me, restorative justice was so helpful in that and because if we got we don't like I was working with 16 to 18 year old. We don't have time for this depent creating dependency and so but that was that's how a lot of what's done is structured, of course, because it's about meeting needs and, and taking care of folks but not not creating dependent. So I have not encountered a lot of restorative spaces around foster care. It's deeply needed, because I think there's there's a lot of opportunity there for transformation and in changing how we relate to one another within that system.

David (he/him)  
Yeah. And, of course, like this work belongs everywhere, right. But you know, your direct experience with like, the impact of people feeling real senses of belonging, right, even though I don't know what the direct circumstances of that were like, they weren't, I don't imagine that they were there for like, an incredibly long amount of time. Right? Were folks were in and out.

Daniel Malec (he/him)  
Yeah, although they tended to like, like it there. And so, you know, they did have some say about, and so we would, we had, generally would have youth for like, sometimes up to three years. And if they got the chance, they would stay there rather than go to some of the other options that were out there. Because you know, that these young people have been to lots of different spaces, and many of them were destructive. And so, so yeah, the youth that worked with was for years, because we would even stay in touch with them as they moved on to another space, they would come back and do workshops with us and things like that. So, yeah,

David (he/him)  
yeah. And now that I'm thinking about, I'm thinking about a space that I know, in Chicago, which I'm forgetting the name of that does think similar, where, you know, the youth are then employed as, quote unquote, peace ambassadors to do some of this work in communities and schools, as well. And so that that can also be a model for that. But making sure that like, like, and like you how you're talking about in schools, like it's not just about that repair of harm, right. It's one of the things that we're doing proactively to make sure that we're, we have something to restore to we have a foundation and relationships to come back to similar to what you were talking about in prisons

David (he/him)  
sometimes. Yeah, we are repairing that harm process. But like, you know, we're stuck here with these people for a very long time. What is the community that we want to have here? What is like you talked about, like having a space of compassion? Right? How do we make sure that, you know, while we are confined in these spaces, for very long periods of time, unjustly, and we can criticize prisons, all we want, but like there are people who are existing in those spaces, right. 

David (he/him)  
And so what are the ways that we can meet the needs of the folks involved is, is so crucial? I'm curious, you know, you talked about how when you moved into that role of restorative practices, assistant principal, right. A lot of the emphasis was on that response to to harm that was happening, right. And you seen that in other school systems as well. I know you, you talked about, like doing things differently, if you had the chance to spending a lot more time proactively, what would those things have looked like? And I imagine those are some of the things that you're coaching your schools to do now, but what are those things? Yeah,

Daniel Malec (he/him)  
yeah. So starting very much with the adults and creating safe and brave spaces for adults to dialogue about, you know, that they're, they're working day in and day out, working so hard to educate young people. Let's start together to reflect on how's this going for us? You know, how do we feel like we're doing what brings you joy, what brings you pain, so starting to introduce and teach that circle? Teach, these are the circle process with adults first, in doing it consistently with adults, so that they can both benefit from having a space of, you know, a democratic space for dialogue, teaching the principles and values through circle, but then to reflect on their reality because, you know, when you're just doing responsive, it doesn't. It's not going to really transform an environment as much as when you really build it into the fabric of the way we operate. So let's start with the adults. Let's create a space for dialogue. Let's give adults agency in this in this process, that of education that we are doing 

Daniel Malec (he/him)  
And so starting there, and then once the adults, and also having a leadership team within the school that goes deeper into training into learning about restorative justice and, and having, creating that team because they become your champions as well, but also what I love about that model of trade of training, eight to 12, folks within the school really deeply in restorative justice, then you have a ready group of circle keepers, right? They're your circle keepers. And if we're gonna do circles, regularly, we need eight to 12 circle keepers that can just take a flow and they can go with it, they can make it their own. So that's the other beautiful thing of having this group of leadership of champions and that that group should be as representative of your, you know, it should look like your student population as much as possible. You should have special education representation, yes, as well. 

Daniel Malec (he/him)  
And then little by little, let's invite students into that group, let's prepare students to be leaders. So there's, there's that and then how do we, once we're doing it as adults, then we can start to do it regularly with students both in an advisement type space to start with, but also in academic spaces, how do we see circles as a way of, of reclaiming academic time of building democratic decision making in your classroom, all of those kind of, you know, setting norms together agreements. Let's let's start there, before we even explore as a as a way of repairing harm. And and that's, you know, for people that are just learning about restorative practices, that's what I say is like, that's how the culture change happens. Because then when there are problems, it could be an incident of racism inside or outside the community, or it could be, we have the circle that we go back to, and then when there is a situation of harm, we have the circle to go back to, you know, we have these and it really demystifies it destigmatizes. It takes the punitive nature out of hard conversations. Because we know the principles we know it's about a non hierarchical space, where it's a voluntary space, those kind of things. So that's, that's where that's what I would have done differently.

Daniel Malec (he/him)  
Yeah, yeah. And also like, making sure that we are really focused on a positive culture in our building, really, you know, our language, our way of empowering students to take on leadership, because that's the foundation things like Positive Behavior Interventions and Supports, like, how are we building positive environment and community? And, you know, having super, you know, the, the quadrant that we know the word power with is in the top right corner. This this idea of the y axis being about structure and having high expectations? Yeah, we've got to, we've got to believe First of all, that the students that we work with can achieve at really high levels, we have to believe that we have to practice that. And then we have to put the structures in place to make sure people can achieve at that level. So there's, there's periphery around restorative justice that I think needs to be part of it as well. Because it's not a it's not an, It can't do it all itself. It's part of this journey of building community and connection in schools.

David (he/him)  
Yeah, not not a panacea, not a cure all. Definitely not something overnight. That's right. For folks who listen to this podcast, right. What you talked about gets to this idea of the quote that I say the most often by James Baldwin, right. Children have never been very good at listening to their elders, but they've never failed to imitate them. Right? Yes. And so that that piece about starting with adults is so crucial. When I think about that. I'm curious what your response to the pushback of like, but that's gonna take so much time. We don't have time for that. What do you what is your What are those way that you navigate that resistance? 

Daniel Malec (he/him)  
Yeah, um, yeah, I mean, yeah, definitely. We get that. I, you know, I I guess that's where we inviting folks in one, like, how do we make sure that we're offering the technical assistance, you know, because circle is hard. It's different than What we're used to, especially as teachers, this sharing power in my classroom is hard. I don't get it. saying sorry, as an adult to a youth is hard. All these things, like you said, like they're gonna mimic. So how do we be accountable for ourselves and our own behavior? How do we be respectful. So making sure that we have good ways of supporting teachers, and that we, they have the technical assistance that they need, we're collecting data on if we're saying we're doing circles, in all of our spaces, let's make sure we are and let's capture that data. And let's, let's show folks how you be that's other. 

Daniel Malec (he/him)  
So we just did a process evaluation in our schools in Athens, it's on our website, folks are welcome to check that out at gaconflict.org. But one of the things that came out of that is, we have to stop measuring our work in restorative justice, based on the metrics of a punitive system, right. Like, we want to know, have referrals decreased, have ISS noticed as decreased. And they they they damn well better if we're doing restorative justice, right? Of course they should. But is that really? How are we capturing how this culture is transforming? How are we measuring growth? You know, the students that have grown up, they know, their toolbox is full of ways of fighting. But now they've got a toolbox that has other tools of dialogue and problem solving. So how are we measuring that, like, if we're just gonna keep measuring things based on the thing that we know is dysfunctional, and has caused harm for generations, then we're probably not going to see the results. 

Daniel Malec (he/him)  
So helping people imagine other ways of seeing change and measuring the impact on the culture and the climate of your of your classroom and your community. But really, it's it's for me that that question of it takes too long. I where I have gone more is to invest my time and energy and those that are wanting to try this out, because that then those that aren't are going to see the transformation going on over here at that end of the hall. These three teachers are doing it they've they've committed to it as a team. Things are transforming down there. So I might want to plug in. Yeah. And and so I get tired of trying to convince people and more it's teaching and going where the energy is and supporting that. Because that's where the transformation happens.

David (he/him)  
I love that answer. There's something about Yeah, we're doing this because the school to prison pipeline and mass incarceration as a whole has devastated communities, but as much as abolition, right, and I think this is Ruth Wilson Gilmore. I might be wrong. Ruth Wilson Gilmore talking about how abolition is as much about building lifegiving institutions, as 

Daniel Malec (he/him)  
Yes, 

David (he/him)  
it is about dismantling the ones that are causing harm. If that's Miriam Kaba, I'm sorry. But right, like what are the things that we're doing, not just dismantle, but to replace create? Again, I listened to a lot of podcasts, I was listening to something earlier about, you know, diet in our eating habits. And it's so much easier to say like, you know, add healthy foods to your diet, rather than, like, can't eat this can't eat that can't eat that can't eat that can eat. Yeah, I need that. Right, though. You were talking about like the positive things like what are we adding to your toolbox to your classroom practices, to do all of these things to set a vision for, you know, healed community, like a vision around like, no more suspension, like, the easiest way to like decrease suspension rates is Okay, stop suspending kids. And then we're in that box of like, permissive and neglect. But like, if that was really the problem that we were trying to address, like, that's the solution. What we're trying to address is building communities, you know, rooted in equity interest, people feeling a sense of belonging, getting their needs met. And when there's conflict, we navigate that without being punitive.

Daniel Malec (he/him)  
Yes, yeah. And, yeah, so we kind of framed that work as building the new in the shell of the old right. Like, we can't just we can't just blow it up even if we wanted to, or maybe you could, but we're working on building the new and the shell of the old and, and that is it has to be rooted in in liberation. I'll my good friend Chuck Curtis. Who is at a school in DC, he does trainings with us and comes to Athens from time to time. I really appreciate he's very clear that this is not just anti racist, it's not just, it is about liberation, and it's about sovereignty, right. It's about empowering people to become who they are inside underneath, you know. And so, I think that that framework is important, because then you get into the abolitionists teaching, you get into culturally respond, you know, all that stuff is part of it. But we have to, if we have that frame, and we're going in there on a day to day basis, our relationship changes with the the young people we're working with, I think,

David (he/him)  
yeah.

Daniel Malec (he/him)  
 Yeah.

David (he/him)  
Is that something that you come into schools say? Do you come into school saying the words liberation?

Daniel Malec (he/him)  
Probably not at first? I and I also invite people like, cuz I'm very, like, technical. And, you know, I want to teach these things well, and, and the practices and, but the philosophy and the framework is important. And so that's why we do use that like, like the schools that we're working with. We're in year four, definitely. We're in they, they're moving that work forward. They're having study groups around. Oh, I forget. But Tina loves

David (he/him)  
book, we want to do more than just survive.

Daniel Malec (he/him)  
Yes, yeah. They're they're studying that together, you know, they're doing this work themselves, because they know now it's about liberation. And, yeah, we've got to, we've got to change dramatically. And that school, for instance, is everything they do. Now they're passing through a restorative kind of filter. And and they've thrown out two merits. For instance, we don't do two merits, we only do merits, they've thrown out detention, they've thrown out a lot of their systems and structures are now entirely different. They don't have an ISS space, they have a peace room. And they have this other room called behavior and social emotional support. But neither of them are a punitive space that sometimes. So you know, that they're at the point now. And that's why when we started this journey, we said, if you're going to be committed to restorative practices, and doing it whole school, think about a five year trajectory, just to get started, right. And they're there at year four. And they're like, they want everything to go through a restorative filter. Yeah. So it's exciting at this point.

David (he/him)  
Yeah. Both as someone who's been on the admin, like restorative assistant principal side, and as someone who has now been doing this work, of bringing this into different school communities, along with, you know, the people who work with you, in your organization, what would you encourage people who are thinking about like, Oh, my school needs this, like, what are some steps to take or like things that they need to be prepared for to really engage? 

Daniel Malec (he/him)  
Yeah, I would, I would suggest starting small, you know, like, I promote, and I teach whole school, restorative practices implementation, because I think that really, is what will transform culture. But we also teach you start with where you are, right? We were working with six youth in the foster care system. And so can you start in your classroom? Can you start? And can you bring, can you form a bit of a study circle with some others, to explore what this could look like in your space? Start small and then build from there. I think I don't want people to think that if your principal's not on board, then you can't do it. If your school district is going, then you can't do it. Because people will take notice if if you know you're invested in this and you're building in circles into your your day to day lessons. And into the life of your classroom. Things will start to change and people will take notice. So that you know, start with what you have start small and then build community of others that want to explore and go from there. See what happens because it could be exciting what happens?

David (he/him)  
 Absolutely. I think that is a good place to transition into some of the questions that we ask everyone. I'm gonna drop one more in like there's questions that every white person who's been on this podcast has had to answer. As you know, we are where we are in time. And you are a person who is white, who is doing this work. What do you see as your role in this work?

Daniel Malec (he/him)  
Thank you for for asking that. I think part of my role is to never forget my whiteness as I go into spaces to teach, to know that just my presence can be triggering for people to recognize that a lot of people have experienced a lot of harm from people that look like me. And, you know, of course, recognizing that the privileges that have allowed me to explore restorative practices. And so to go into spaces, particularly with youth, you know, that that idea i because I know my presence has triggered that regularly triggers young people, and they they engage with me with caution. So how do I make sure that I am approaching this work with, with humility with a beginner's mind with a desire a curiosity, in the other, a curiosity of what guides them what, and also not shying away from recognizing the impact of racism, the impact of inequitable schools, not mincing words around those things? Not.

Daniel Malec (he/him)  
You know, so so just, you know, why I think restorative justice is not does not just exist to, to dismantle the school to prison pipeline. I think that's an important, important objective of this work. And, yeah, so I just, you know, being somebody who, just recognizing where I come, where I'm located in this pyramid of oppression, and and being committed in every interaction, to work to dismantle that and to own, because, you know, I do have a colonized mind. And so to own, when I make mistakes, and when people call me out that that's to well, not just own it, but to welcome it, invite it, please, please give me that feedback. And help me to be part of the struggle is what I think is important in the skin that I'm in. 

David (he/him)  
Yeah, I think like the layer. And I'm not I I'm asking that question out of curiosity, in no judgement, because I don't have a response for like, what exactly like Daniel should be doing in your space? Thank you for that answer. 

David (he/him)  
I'm curious, like, when you're thinking about Georgia, specifically like this, the state where there are demographics, just like everywhere else in the country, demographics are changing, both like with racial demographics. With that comes political power shifts. You're sitting in this also in the state where, you know, the most infamous anti Asian, hate crime happened earlier this year. So like, you're in this space, as not just a white person as a white man, who is the leader of Oregon as quote unquote, leader of an organization, how have you thought about your role in your larger community of Georgia?

Daniel Malec (he/him)  
Yeah, thank you. I got to be of service. And, you know, our folks of color that are leading the movements here, making sure that they know, anything they need. We're here for them. We, my partner and I were, were marshals at most actions and events and we want to make sure that we are we kind of so when we had the opportunity to go to Standing Rock during the the protests and in the actions there and we made sure that we were in the back peeling potatoes and we we kind of see that as our role not being up front. But we're back. We see our work is peeling potatoes and really actively seeking the leadership of people of color in this work. So for me, I've only actually been executive director since the beginning of this month, I was restorative practices director for three years. And I'm a reluctant executive director, particularly because I'm a white man doing this work. And so my number one intention is to build skills of people of color, so that I'm not in this role for very long. And so that's in Georgia. It's taking leadership and direction very intentionally from people of color. And also making sure that we're building skills of people of color, so that, you know, pretty soon I'm sharing this role, and then I'm out of this role. This is my objective in in who I am and where I am, in this role in Georgia conflict center.

David (he/him)  
 Yeah, thank you. I think, you know, there's not just for those of us who Well, those of us who are in the similar similar to you and I, right, there's some academic, financial and male privilege that we're navigating. And then, you know, you've got whiteness, like, and I still have internalized whiteness that I'm still wrestling with, but it doesn't show on the outside, right? How are we continuing to share power? Give up power, right? Not make this work about us. And the way that we see things is so crucial. So thank you. For those.

Daniel Malec (he/him)  
 Yeah. Thank you. 

David (he/him)  
Now on to the questions that everybody answers. Everybody, everybody answers. We've talked around it a lot. But for you to find restorative justice.

Daniel Malec (he/him)  
restorative justice, I would define as first and foremost a way of being. a movement, I would say, yeah, it's restorative justice is a movement around a way of being that's rooted in principles of inclusion, radical inclusion, I think, even when it's like, there's no way we can do this radical inclusion, democratic process, non hierarchical process, and ways of being that build community and build up people that promote healing and promote making, right, I think, is what the way I see restorative justice. 

David (he/him)  
Yeah, for sure. As you've navigated this world, you might have shared like, a handful of like, broad things. But has there been like an oh shit moment? And what have you learned from it, like something like specific because we talked about, like, you know, responsive approaches, rather than proactive, or we talked about, like, you know, savior ism, but like, Is there a specific incident that comes to mind? 

Daniel Malec (he/him)  
Well, I think the thing that's coming to mind is a real practical, just, just nuts, not moving too quickly, through the process, like, preparation, as we learn when we're training is so important. And sometimes, you know, as I've, you know, been doing this work for, for the time I have, sometimes I'm like, Oh, I got this, I don't necessarily need to check in with everybody before I bring them together. And the times that I have those oh shit moments, is when I didn't do the work to really sit with people hear from them, what's going on, explain the process to them. And and I'm too caught up in my own ego in the work. And so that's when things have gone awry. And it it's been, you know, just a few times, you because the process generally is strong enough, even in those moments, but there's been some times where it's really gone south. And that's because I didn't do the work that you need to do in preparation to bring folks together.

David (he/him)  
Yeah, and I don't know if I've shared that resonating so hard. I don't know if I've shared this story. On the podcast, if I did, it was a very long time ago, but the first school that I was doing this work in on the first day that principals like okay, there are these students who are having conflict and like, you know, we got to get them into the circle, this friend group, blah, blah, blah, all these things, right. It was a he said, she said, yada thing, right. And this friend group, you know, one of the people weren't there. But they really wanted to make sure that this conversation happened today. And because that one person wasn't there that had key information. You know, going through that process and moment like led to more harm. And this work, I think, think I'm going to attribute this to Ana Mercado. Someone who used to be a supervisor of mine shared with me. No, this work is so urgent. We need to slow down. Right?

Daniel Malec (he/him)  
Yeah. Love it. Two words. It's a rush. And you know that, you know, David, that comes from you wanting to move this work forward. You want to show people how this can work. And so they want to get them in the room right now. Okay, let's, let's do it. And it's like, now we need to, we need to slow it down. We got to slow this down. And I, I do want to potentially get them in the room. But we got to follow the process. Yeah. And in that way, you're teaching others to you know, about that level of intentionality of work. But yeah, yeah, you and I, I've been, I've been there as well.

David (he/him)  
This one, you've listened to the podcast, so you might be prepared for you get to sit in circle with four people living or dead? Who are they? And what's the question you ask the circle?

Daniel Malec (he/him)  
Wow, gosh, I have heard you ask this. I'm not prepared for it. But what comes to mind for me is a conversation I had with louder mana Ana Maria Mercia, back in probably the 2000. About we were actually talking about studying scripture. And she was talking about the analogy of mining for gold really being patient, and persistent, and kind of seeking out those veins of gold and following them. And and I think similarly, the roots of justice run deep, they run deep in, in our various traditions. And I'm curious, I guess the question that comes to me first is, what? From your roots of justice from your life, your tradition, from your way of being your mindset, do you think will help us in this day heal and build a better, more just and sustainable world? I mean, I think that, for me, is really the question. And so I would want to invite Ana Maria, to join that she is. You know, I think somebody that's influenced my life just about more than almost anybody in her strength and courage. She was a woman of less than five feet, or is yet with great courage, great strength, and great humility and tenderness of heart. So I would like to invite Donna Maria, 

Daniel Malec (he/him)  
I'd like to invite chief Lawrence Hart, who I've mentioned earlier, just somebody that had really changed my life in a very short time, and has deep roots in restorative justice. You know, he was raised by his grandparents very much in the Cheyenne, traditional way. And as done so much study of traditional chyann justice. And so I'd love to invite chief Lawrence Hart to the circle. Somebody else that comes to mind in terms of I guess, I'm going down this road of who has influenced my life. Also, somebody that I'd like to invite is Jerry Murray, lease gang. Jerry Murray was a is a incredible person, friend, trans activist, and somebody whose life really and way of being taught me so much about intersect intersectional justice and showing up for others. Other movements, other struggles, and I just would feel so enriched by having Jaron Murray be part of this circle. I guess the last person I'm that has come to mind for me is a friend here in Athens who I've gotten to know. She's younger. Her name is Stephanie Flores. And I would invite Stephanie, because I've seen how Stephanie has embraced an embodied restorative mindset, restorative ways of being and is really incorporating it into into her life and work and I think would have so much to offer in terms of where are we going, what do we need to heal? What do we need to build a better and more just and sustainable world? So I would be really moved in honor to sit in circle with with those four folks.

David (he/him)  
I'm curious, you know, we've talked about you've you've done this work in a lot of different spaces and we already determined right, the word this work belongs everywhere, but is there like A moment a place a situation whether it's historical, fictional or in your life, something you've witnessed recently, that you wish people really knew this work

Daniel Malec (he/him)  
in and around the criminal legal system. It's clearly a structure, you know that the movement around defunding, please. And prison abolition, those are also important. And for me, it's about economic conversion, like how do we transition resources to help people solve problems on their own. So in and around the criminal legal system, we're spending so much even if we just look at it, from an economic standpoint, we're spending so much money and resource and we're just creating more and more harm and, and dysfunction and division. So that's, that's where I would like, you know, and we're moving in that direction in Georgia conflict center. But that's, that's my passion and dream is how do we make that happen?

David (he/him)  
Is there like a specific instance that comes to mind?

Daniel Malec (he/him)  
I mean, yeah, yeah, there's, there's, there's one man, he's an African American man, young man, who is sitting in jail right now, he stole the bike out of the garage, and somebody I know, that person wants to sit down and repair this with them, their neighbors, and we can't make it happen. You know, like, in my, I've been doing this work for 20 years, I can't make it happen. And that's it. That is so sad. You know, we could we could solve this in a way that would be so that that's very concrete, everybody wants to do it, the person that's sitting in jail, the folks that had their bike stolen. Everybody wants to do this, and we can't make it happen. Yeah.

David (he/him)  
Yeah. And thank you for sharing that. And I think like, everybody knows that, you know, the criminal legal system needs to change the criminal legal system is where we need this work. But like, it's because of like, stupid reasons were like, they called the police. Because like, something was stolen, someone was arrested. And now that has, like started in some ways, like irreversible process of, you know, more harm, or nobody's needs getting met. Right. Yeah. So thank you. Thank you for Yeah, the real specifics of that. Yeah. What's one thing could be a mantra or affirmation or something else that you want to leave everybody here listening with?

Daniel Malec (he/him)  
I think you already said it. Because we do use that when I got it from john lash here. But clearly it's around the work is the work is too urgent to rush. Take time, our culture tries to rush this North American, Eurocentric culture tries to rush and we've got to slow it down if we really want to see the change that we're seeking. So it's to urge it's rush. Yeah.

David (he/him)  
Beautiful. Two more questions. You kind of already gave me a suggestion, but who's one person I should have on this podcast. And you know,

Daniel Malec (he/him)  
I would say so I would recommend I mean, I, Tarik our chart, Chuck Curtis, Chuck Curtis will rock your world. He's, he's a psychologist as well. So having that lens, he and I shared an office for two years, and it blew my mind every day. So I'd recommend him.

David (he/him)  
Beautiful. I'm looking forward to that connecting email. And then finally, how and where can people support your work in the ways that you want to be supported? Oh, we'd

Daniel Malec (he/him)  
be so grateful. We are working on establishing a restorative justice diversion program right now. And you know, nobody wants to fund the startup, even though there would be so much money saving. So, you know, you could go to ga conflict.org. We'd be grateful for any support any connecting us with funding sources. Yeah, we would we would be really appreciate again, as we're creating this restorative justice diversion program. We're working to train folks from the communities, and we want to pay them to facilitate restorative justice conferences. So that's going to take some money. And so anyway, folks can support we'd be grateful.

David (he/him)  
Beautiful. Well, we'll definitely link all that in the show notes in the description. But thank you, Daniel, so much for being the second white man to grace these airwaves. really appreciative of your time, your stories, your experiences, your wisdom that you've shared to everyone else who's listening. Thank you so much. It's been a pleasure sharing this conversation and we'll be back with another one next week. Thank you David so much. I appreciate it.

Transcribed by https://otter.ai