This Restorative Justice Life

Celebrating Our 1st Anniversary of TRJL

September 30, 2021 David Ryan Castro-Harris Season 1 Episode 54
This Restorative Justice Life
Celebrating Our 1st Anniversary of TRJL
Show Notes Transcript

This week, we are celebrating one year of This Restorative Justice Life. David Ryan Barcega Castro Harris and Elyse Martin-Smith team up to reflect upon the past year.

6:46 Elyse's reflections
22:26 David's reflections

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David (he/him):

This restorative justice life is a production of amplify RJ. Follow us on all social media platforms at amplify RJ sign up for our email list and check out our website at amplify RJ calm to stay up to date on everything we have going on. Make sure you subscribe to this feed on whatever platform you're listening on right now so you don't miss an episode. Finally, we'd love it if you left us a rating and review. It really helps us literally amplify this work. Thanks for listening. Enjoy the episode. Welcome to this restorative justice life. The podcast that explores how the philosophy practices and values of restorative justice apply to our everyday lives. I'm your host, David Ryan Barcega Castro Harris, all five names for the ancestors, and I'm the founder of amplify RJ. On this podcast I talked with RJ practitioners, circle keepers, and others doing this work about how this way of being has impacted their lives. Welcome to this week's episode of this restorative justice life. It's a really exciting time because this is our anniversary episode. The very first episode of this restorative justice life was published on September 30. And we've done 50 plus I'm not sure exactly how many episodes since then. And so today, Elyse and I are going to reflect on our time and experience hosting and producing this podcast. So we always start our episodes with our Who are you questions? And I don't think that we've done that with you yet. So I'm going to ask those questions. Elyse Martin Smith, who are you?

Elyse (she/her):

I am Elyse Martin Smith. I am the daughter of two wonderful and loving dads and I am also a sister.

David (he/him):

Who are you?

Elyse (she/her):

I am a strong, independent woman. And I identify as Afro-Latina and I have been loving, getting in touch with my roots and my heritage.

David (he/him):

Who are you?

Elyse (she/her):

I am someone who was adopted and in I am always looking to be included in every space and to include others in every space.

David (he/him):

Who are you?

Elyse (she/her):

I am happy. I am happy being I try to bring happiness onto others. And yeah,

David (he/him):

who are you?

Elyse (she/her):

I am love. I love everyone with my whole heart and love keeps me going every day.

David (he/him):

Who are you?

Elyse (she/her):

Who am I? In relation to this podcast? I am your Podcast Producer, Elyse you hear me at the beginning and the ending of every episode. But in that in those scenarios, I am a listener.

David (he/him):

And finally, who are you?

Elyse (she/her):

I am Elyse Martin Smith, and I'm ready to take on the world.

David (he/him):

Amazing, it is so good to, you know, let the listeners know a little bit more about you. I know we're gonna go into a little bit more about you in a bit but you wanted to flip this on me so go ahead.

Elyse (she/her):

David, who are you?

David (he/him):

Well, every week y'all know me as David Ryan Barcega Castro Harris all five names for all of the ancestors both the Filipino ancestors who carry the name Barcega, the Castro's who are my wife's family who carry the name Castro from El Salvador and the Harris's who carry the name that was given to us by people who enslaved us after we were brought here from West Africa.

Elyse (she/her):

Who are you?

David (he/him):

Ooh, I am a learner. Have I learned so much every day, often through my failures?

Elyse (she/her):

Yes, who are you?

David (he/him):

I am someone who tries really hard to balance working hard, and rest. People who have been listening recently know that I've taken this month of September, a little slower. And I've struggled with the guilt of like, Oh, I need to be doing all these things. And you might know that I launched a podcast in the middle of all this, like I have a hard time just like doing nothing and resting and recharging. So I'm someone who struggles with that balance.

Elyse (she/her):

Absolutely. Who are you?

David (he/him):

I am someone who also struggles like to celebrate and so today I think is a step in that direction is just like no, this is this is normal. We've got to acknowledge a year of doing this. So I'm someone who struggles to sell But you know, working on it.

Elyse (she/her):

Yeah, it's it's a wonderful time to celebrate. Who are you?

David (he/him):

I am someone who is who eats a plant based diet. For the most part, I still eat dairy. And if there are eggs and something, I'll probably eat it like if it's baked, especially. But I'm someone who has mostly been eating plants and things that come from the earth, with the exception of mushrooms for almost 4, 5, 6 years now, wow. Yeah, there you go. I am someone who is not afraid of public speaking. But I don't always enjoy it. I much prefer like, one on one conversations than like, speaking to 10s hundreds 1000s of people at one time, I really appreciate one on one connection more than just public speaking and even like group facilitation. I am someone who is really excited about continuing this work of amplifying restorative justice work. It's it's always interesting to answer those questions because like, when I facilitate, I do have like a set of things that I share, to help prompt the facilitation about, like, who I am and why I do this work. And people may have some idea about who I am. And you know, the origins of this work both from like in my background in employment, working in the criminal legal system, schools and all that, but most people don't know all that about you, Elyse. Um, you know, you haven't been doing restorative justice work before you knew the word restorative justice. Right? You got your start in this kind of just a year ago, when you came to a workshop that I was facilitating. How did you end up there? because not a lot of high schoolers end up in workshops around restorative justice geared towards

Elyse (she/her):

adults. Yeah, so actually, I, in high school, I was one of the CO leaders of our racial Alliance committee. And we were having a group discussion among leaders, and our faculty advisor offered to sponsor us to go into a sort of justice training with amplify RJ. And I said, that sounds super interesting. And so I got in touch with him, and he set me up to go to this training to learn more about restorative justice. So then I got to the training, I had a wonderful time, I learned so much about racial and restorative justice. And it was a great introduction to the topic. And I'd never been afraid, I think, to talk with adults, because I think that I love talking with adults and talking with children. And it's important to talk with everyone every age. And so it was nice to represent my age group in that workshop that was geared towards adults, but yeah, so through that workshop, I know that you then got in contact with me after the workshop. And yeah, do you want to take it from there?

David (he/him):

Yeah. So I wasn't facilitating that particular workshop, I was watching back through recording, as I often do, and I realized, like, Oh, this person is a lot younger. And I was like, you know, who is this high schooler that took this kind of initiative? And so yes, like you said, I did reach out. And it was like, Hey, is this interesting to you? Is this something that you want to continue to learn more and more about, and in the conversation kind of evolved from there when you started editing and producing some things around the podcast? Because I do think it's really important to have this multi Gen, multi generational conversation. I think one of my pet peeves another, who are you? That I would say like, I'm not a young person anymore, right? I'm almost 31 I'll be 31 at the end of next month, and sometimes I get put into the role of like, young person was like, actually, like, I'm, like, 13 years removed from high school now. Right? The things that I am experiencing are not the things that young people are experiencing, right? Like I just refinanced my mortgage, right? I'm not thinking about where am I going to college or like, whatever, like my next career steps, who were the people who I'm looking up to, who are the supports that I need to navigate those things. And so, really, having your voice has added so much. I'm curious, you know, either from the workshop or the, you know, 50 plus conversations you've listened to, what are some things you've learned?

Elyse (she/her):

I have learned that restorative justice is absolutely a way of life. I think in my own personal life, restorative justice from what I've heard from everybody has given me the power to name my own emotions, and to be more in tune with myself and my relationships with others. I think that from all of these conversations, I always am learning something new. And I'm always so excited to listen to the next episode of restorative justice and hear all of these restorative justice practitioners from all of their different walks of life. And so yeah, I have learned so much, also about what restorative justice looks like, in schools. I've learned what it looks like in farms, I've learned what it looks like in absolutely everywhere. And because restorative justice is everywhere and belongs everywhere. And so yeah, it has really, I've learned so much from these workshops. And I've even at my school, I did a restorative justice little workshop, inspired by all of these people. So

David (he/him):

yeah, I was just about to ask, how has this been a part of your life, both in school when you were still in high school? And like as a person, right, because it belongs everywhere?

Elyse (she/her):

Exactly. So in school, I, once I learned more about restorative justice, I really wanted to bring that into my school. I think that students should learn what restorative justice is, you shouldn't always have to learn about punitive punishments. And the big thing of restorative justice is all of these practitioners are fighting for restorative justice within their schools. And that's something that I had never even been taught as a student. As a senior in high school, that was the first time that I was really involved and got information about restorative justice. So I took the information that I was given. And I had I hosted a workshop along with my Social Justice Alliance. And we held a workshop that I ran just to introduce the idea of restorative justice, to members of the community. And also I've just been noticing members. We've had past podcast guests, I've been noticing their names everywhere. In our school board meeting, I noticed Tema Oken was in was one of the things that we talked about. And one of her readings was in what we talked about, and Cheryl graves, just the other day, I was at a tutoring training. And we talked about restorative justice and Cheryl graves, they had multiple quotes from her. So it was so excited to see all of these people that I've heard, play out into my life, and also how they've affected me and my life.

David (he/him):

Yeah, I mean, I think one of the beautiful things about this work is, in a lot of ways, this world is small. And so like getting to the OGs, building the relationships with people in the community. Is, is easy, when you've dedicated the time because, you know, we're all kind of 1, 2, 3, maybe degrees separated. There's so many other people that I want to have, I think one of the biggest learnings for me is like there are and I intellectually knew this right? It would be remiss not to shout out NACRJ, the National Association of Community and restorative justice, who partially sponsors this podcast, that's how I pay you, Elyse. But, you know, when they put on their conferences, and you know, their next conference will be in Chicago next year, the first week of july of 2020. To pre register right now, the early bird rates, that's a sufficient commercial for them. Right. But, you know, when those gatherings happen, there are, you know, I think the last one was, like 1500, people showing up from all across the country, working across schools, community organizations, the criminal legal system, like this work is growing, this movement is growing. And the role of amplify RJ really is, I think, to tell those stories, in this last month of, you know, not doing facilitation, I've been working on some other things. But in thinking creatively and strategically, I've really been thinking about how, you know, the legacy of this work. And it's kind of funny to think about legacy being a year and a half into this project of amplify RJ and a year into this podcast with this restorative life, just this restorative justice life specifically, but really thinking about what next steps are the point that you made about schools like it. I really do think a lot about that, because schools are places where most people spend, you know, 12 years of their life and as much as we're thinking about mitigating harm that's happening now. That whether that's in the workplace within the criminal legal system, all those places, schools, as much as we don't like their current construction are going to continue to exist in some way, shape or form. for, you know, the next, you know, who knows how long and so with the 3 million edgy plus educators out there, the 100,000 new educators that come out every year, I really do think a focus on restorative justice work in schools, again, not just as a program for alternatives to discipline and dismantling the school to prison pipeline, although I think that's a byproduct, as well as increased attendance and increased grades, scores, higher engagement, blah, blah, blah, really ingraining these practices within teachers, who will help build the cultures who will help shape young people. I often quote, my Insta friend, Naomi O'Brian, she's readlikearockstarreading on Instagram, if you want to follow her about how, you know, teachers are so important because students learn that how that or how much Black Lives Matter from the people who model it for them, right? And when K to 12, educators being 80% white women, right, like, how are we impacting that? I think that of course, there needs to be more diversity within the ranks of education, right? more teachers of color, more men, even and more women in administrative roles or non binary, folks, right? trans folks represented, we're all within that industry. But really beyond the diversity, how are we making this? So relationship based? How are we teaching educators to be in relationship with each other, as well as with their students. And so that model trickles down to how students are together, right? Because when you have, you know, 5678 910, all the way up through 18 year olds, those are really formative moments of life. And that's going to, you know, shape people for who they're going to be when they are doctors, investment bankers, lawyers, mail carriers, baristas, grocery store, clerks, store managers, all these things like jobs are such a small part of who we are in the scale of like, how we are in relationship moving through the world. You talked about how, you know, in the context of your school, you've brought these practices, how has this impacted your personal life?

Elyse (she/her):

Yes, I think that has been the biggest impact that restorative justice has had on me. I think when I first was introduced to the topic, I, there was so much more that I learned that I ever thought there could be to learn, I think I have grown so much emotionally, by being exposed to restorative justice. restorative justice has taught me the importance of naming my emotions, and the importance of having difficult conversations with people and being able to respectively call out others behavior. I have actually from Vermont. And one of the big things about living in Vermont is that it is a very white state, in the United States. So definitely, there has been a lot of I've, I've been really impacted by the intersection between racial and restorative justice. Because I think that restorative justice has taught me a better way to interact with others and have conversations about race. So it has taught me to be more confident in myself, to be more assertive with myself, and also to always leave space to listen and to listen with an open mind. And so that has helped me tremendously in every facet of my life. And so for that I'm very grateful to restorative justice.

David (he/him):

I'm watching you answer this question. And I imagine there are a handful of scenarios that are like racing through your mind, is there one that you'd be willing to share?

Elyse (she/her):

So yeah, there's actually one example of when I actually got to participate in restorative justice towards the later half of my senior year. With some members of my community, we had a bit of a disagreement regarding race, and I really had thought at that time, there is no way that we are going to find common ground on this issue. But what we're able to do is, there were four of us and we all were able to have individual meetings before our circle, and I was able to put out all of my emotions and I felt heard, I felt listened. To, I felt cared about. And that was really unique. And that's very different than I think any other approach that I could have done to resolve the scenario. And so finally, we entered a restorative justice circle. And we put down our values of what we wanted this circle to look like. And I noticed that I was coming in with some assumptions that we wouldn't make progress, and we wouldn't have growth. And so when I came in there into that space, I realized, in order for things to grow, I need to have the mindset that we are able to grow. And remember that all humans are good, wise and powerful. And so coming into that space, I was able to put my assumptions aside. And I feel like, after going through our restorative justice circle, I came out, feeling very fulfilled, feeling very heard, feeling very listened to, which were all outcomes that I was completely not expecting. And so being able to actually practice a restorative justice circle made me realize that we could restore back to the relationship that we once had, and the community that we once had, if I really put aside, and I really opened myself up to the experience.

David (he/him):

Yeah, I mean, like, this stuff works, right. And there's time and intention. And, like, I think a lot of it is like that time and intention. And of course, they're like, structural practices to make those processes work. But like, when people give this work these practices their time, right, because it's not a quick and easy thing, when they come in with the intentions of listening. And sharing vulnerably. Right. That's, that's how we, that's how we heal. And I think, you know, there's so many applications to this work. But in the next little bit, we are going to focus pretty heavily on education, bringing on some of the OGs of this work, especially those who have written books. So like, and that's just a little bit of a teaser for the next couple episodes that we have coming in October, October. So stay tuned for that.

Elyse (she/her):

And David, I wanted to ask you a couple of questions about your experience, you have been doing this for quite some time now. So I want to ask you, what have been some of your favorite moments?

David (he/him):

Oh, it's it's hard to say because, one, I think one of the initial goals of amplifier j, when I started the Instagram account was to have a podcast at some point. And you know, I did it, I have done it. There are hundreds of you who listen every week, hopefully getting that to, you know, the 1000s and the millions soon, but I really want to make sure that, you know, I continue to follow my curiosity in this work bringing on people that I find exciting, and so like moments that stand out to me, are many because one, it's either me connecting with someone in my life, who's been in my life and then like I just am really excited to share their perspectives with world. It's me getting to connect with someone who I've admired from afar and like got to connect with on an episode or sometimes when we're kind of just starting to get here with some of these, like people who have been referred to me where I don't get to know them. I'm recording an episode this Thursday with someone who's like, you know, a reference from a previous episode. It's like, those things are all exciting. Every episode has something that stands out a couple that stand out. You mentioned the one about like farms. It's not one of our like, most listened to episodes, but I think it's all the way back. Let me scroll back. Episode 12. It was restored to farming with Richard Garcia, from Alma backyard farms. I had heard him on another podcast, talk about his background. And so I like I reached out to him through his organization. And we had a really cool conversation about you know, the ways that they're both restoring the land in South LA by creating an urban farm but also working with people who have been involved with the criminal legal system as the people who are you know, giving back to the community and restoring themselves to that work. That's an episode that really stands out. A moment that stands out. When I was talking with Kay Prentiss. As soon as we finished recording I think I've said it a couple times on the podcast, but that was on January 6, and we had just finished talking about you know, the role of white people healing the divide in this country. Right. And you know, as soon as we finished recording for grants and came into the news, like they're storming the Capitol and I was like, oh, man You know, what have we gotten ourselves into? I really also appreciated, I think one of my greatest aha or learning moments, it was with jazz story. And they were talking about, you know, the four harm categories. In one of those heart categories of harm being like inflammation of trauma, or past trauma. So like something that a person is doing is triggering someone. And like that is a way that people have been harmed beyond like physical or like mental, emotional, or like possession, right? Even though that might not have been their intention, right? Whether it is trauma that a person has experienced, or a trauma that has existed in society or like generationally, thinking about addressing harm that has been inflamed instead of just based off of a person's reaction was a really like clarifying moment for me. But again, so many episodes across so many learnings across all the episodes, in so many more to come of, I'm really excited. I know, you know, you've had you weren't participating actively in all these conversations, is there a moment or a conversation that's really stands out to you.

Elyse (she/her):

There are so many amazing moments, and I can take a great moment from each one and that that's my job. But I just remember, when I first listened to the first episode with Cheryl graves, I really loved hearing how restorative justice can play out in the criminal justice system, and how, and hear a real life example with real emotion and hear what restorative justice can be, and what that can look like. I also really enjoyed the episode with malik Muhammad, because he really explained the power of vulnerability, and how that is really important to always hold yourself accountable. By being vulnerable and being open with yourself. He explained a scenario where he participated in like assumptions that perpetuated our white supremacist culture. But what helped him get out of that was by being honest with himself, and recognizing that what he was doing for perpetuated white supremacy culture.

David (he/him):

And I think, you know, those similar things come up with so many people, in a lot of ways, like, the things that are coming up on the podcast, are often, you know, really similar. And so many people experience them in different ways. And sometimes those words just hit differently with the different stories attached. For sure, so we're gonna get into some of the closing questions, but we're gonna flip them on me and have Elyse, ask them. So go for it.

Elyse (she/her):

David, what's an oh shit moment in this work?

David (he/him):

In this work? I'll answer like for the podcast, specifically, and maybe in this work in general, I think they're like, just like logistical things that as a new podcaster, you don't think about, like, I remember, in the episode with Ashley Ellis, she didn't have headphones. And she, we recorded without headphones. And I was recording the GarageBand on her audio side. And it was there's just echoes all over the place. So that just took so long to record. I've I've adjusted and learned a lot since Episode Three, even when people don't have headphones. But so that's the one that stands out. But I think like in this work in general, the need to take care of myself, and not working too much too hard. Collaborating, asking for help is something that I haven't done a great job at. And I think like for me, scaling back so I can do a couple things well, really well rather than, like, do all of the things is, is really a lesson that doesn't just apply to doing restorative justice work. But it is an important life lesson but you know, still learning.

Elyse (she/her):

Absolutely, always learning. You get to sit in a circle with four other guests. So and who are those guests,

David (he/him):

people who have been on the podcast to limit it to four. I would put Griffin in there because it Griffin is the youngest person other than yourself. He's been on there. So I put Griffin in the circle and I'm trying to think If you the oldest person is probably Kay, I think it's Kay. I would also put Jazz in there. And I would put like Steven Jackson they're they're people who are doing this work in very different places. And I would just be really interested to hear the conversation, they would have the question that I would ask the circle of, How do you what, like, what role do you see for yourself in growing this movement? Because like, you know, the idea of amplifying this work of is, is really what like amplify RJ is all about is all about and just wanting to see other people's perspectives from very different places where they do this work and, you know, look different locations, all the things, different age groups, all Yeah, just the diversity.

Elyse (she/her):

And I know that you sometimes turn the question back on to the guests. So I will do that to you. But where do you see yourself?

David (he/him):

Yeah. People ask me a lot. While I do do a lot of work with educators, both as a consultant as a facilitator, as a professional development leader, and people in the nonprofit world corporate world, like I still do that I'm good at that. I really do want to continue to leverage media, digital platforms. And so I think that there are a lot of ways to continue to do that. One of the questions that I struggle to ask a guest, every time is like, what's one place where you wish people really knew this work. And I think, you know, people often give like really hard concrete, serious examples. I'm thinking about ways that we can make those a little bit more lighthearted, a little bit more imaginative to push those narratives into other places where people who maybe don't even know the word restorative justice, would appreciate those themes. And so maybe it is, you know, a podcast, analyzing TV shows, and where restorative themes show up, or don't, maybe it is creating media narrative media, probably not a TV show to start, but just to continue to have these conversations. And these ideas pushed out. So more people have exposure, as well as, of course, continuing to grow this work within education and all the other places that we can take it.

Elyse (she/her):

Who is a dream guest of yours?

David (he/him):

So I know I've said one of them, Fonia Davis. And like Griffin mentioned her on the first episode. And, you know, we're still working our inroads that another one is Edward Volandra, who is the editor of colorizing, restorative justice, also a contributing author, we've talked to many of the, the writers and contributors, but I would really love to be in conversation with him. Someone outside of the quote unquote, restorative justice world, who I just learned, like even knew the word restorative justice is Jon Stewart, the former host of The Daily Show. And so I would be really interested to have a conversation with him, especially when he thinks about bridging the divide as a white person, but using media to like bring a light hearted spin, but help people to think critically. I don't know if that's a great podcast episode, but it's just a conversation that I would love to have. I heard him mention, like, we need restorative justice as opposed to like canceling people and punitive ways of doing things in an interview he was doing a little bit ago, and so he's someone who would be like, Oh, man, that'd be really dope.

Elyse (she/her):

Definitely. What's one mantra or affirmation that you could offer?

David (he/him):

I think the only thing that comes to mind, because I need it to is something around like, rest. Just rest. I, it's something that I still need to work on. I don't have like, a great, like, pithy, catchy way of saying that, but just like, rest.

Elyse (she/her):

Absolutely. And how and where can people support you and your work

David (he/him):

in the ways that I want to be supported, right?

Elyse (she/her):

The ways you want to be supported?

David (he/him):

I Well, I mean, if you made it this far on the podcast, you probably know all of the ways you listen to this podcast, share this pod. Asked maybe not this episode specifically because this one's like a little bit more like insiders, people who have been part of the community. But the podcast is one way to share. Instagram is primarily where we have all of our social media engagement. I posted the things to Facebook as well. Elyse is starting to build our tic toc. You know, we'll get there. Yeah, so share on social media if you if you have a community or organization that wants to engage in this work holla at your boy, it is something that we're continuing to build out our capacity to do love like I do travel now, I will be traveling. Yeah, I don't know. Continue to amplify this work in your life. Something that came to me in one of our and I'll take this as like my mantra or affirmation, something that came to me in one of the last open spaces that we have, we have community open spaces every month, is that we are restorative justice practitioners, not restorative justice perfectionists. That means we practice there's never going to be a moment where we master and perfectly move through all of our relationships, doing everything right, meeting everybody's needs. But it's the practice and practice means doing the work messing up, reflecting learning from it, and trying again, over and over and over. So yeah, that's my mantra. That's how people can support this work. Is there any way that people can support you and your work, Elyse,

Elyse (she/her):

I would just say thank you so much for listening to this podcast. And I hope you enjoy it just as much as I do. And I'll see you next week.

David (he/him):

Like what you heard, please subscribe, rate, review and share this podcast on whatever platform you're using right now. It really helps us further amplify this work. You can also support us by following us on our social platforms, signing up for our email list, rocking our new merch, joining our Patreon or signing up for a workshop. So many options. Links to everything in the show notes and on our website, amplify rj.com thanks so much for listening. We'll talk to you next week.