This Restorative Justice Life

55. Policy and Education in Restorative Justice w/ Nancy Riestenberg

October 07, 2021 David Ryan Castro-Harris Season 2 Episode 1
This Restorative Justice Life
55. Policy and Education in Restorative Justice w/ Nancy Riestenberg
Show Notes Transcript

Nancy Riestenberg has thirty years of experience in the fields of violence prevention education, child sexual abuse prevention and restorative measures in schools.  She has worked with school districts in Minnesota and 20 other states, from Cass Lake-Bena to the Chicago Public Schools, and speaks nationally on restorative measures at conferences and through trainings, and through the Minnesota Department of Education.

You will meet Nancy (1:45), learn how she got started in this work (6:19), her journey as an educator (16:10) and her transition into restorative justice (24:44). She shares her experience in the Minnesota Department of Education and her involvement in policy work (41:45). She talks about relationship building (55:40) and the importance of equity (1:00:44). Finally, she answers the closing questions (1:22:22).

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

Nancy Riestenberg  
So my name is Nancy Riestenburg and I am the daughter of babe and Bob Riestenburg and I am the great great, great grandfather, granddaughter of Fred Moore, who got some land he bought some land from the railroad, who got the land from the US government who took the land from the Dakota and the Ojibwe people. And so I'm the descendant of a settler.

David (he/him)  
Who are you?

Nancy Riestenberg  
Um, I am a partner to Bob and mother to jonelle and Catherine and walker to my dog Burton. And happy member of a neighborhood in South Minneapolis. 

David (he/him)  
Who are you?

Nancy Riestenberg  
I'm a German Catholic farm girl who grew up and went to the city, because she wanted to know what people did in offices.

David (he/him)  
Who are you?

Nancy Riestenberg  
Um, I'm a speech, theater, an English teacher. Um, that was my undergraduate degree. And I taught for a couple of years and one of my finer teaching moments was standing on my desk in wrapped in a white sheet because I was doing a presentation on the Greek origins of theater. 

David (he/him)  
Who are you? 

Nancy Riestenberg  
I'm a restorative practices student. I have been learning about the subtle ways of the circle process. The profoundness of repairing harm the ways in which what I thought the ways in which I have learned to be in this world can be oppressive to other people, as a white person. ways that are really subtle, and sometimes quite obvious.

David (he/him)  
Who are you?

Nancy Riestenberg  
Hmm. Well, I am. I'm a consultant. I do talk to people around the country. And I do that primarily because it teaches me what other people are doing around the country in regards to restorative practices. Everything, anytime anybody thinks that I have something to tell them, I would just say that I get back twice as much from anything that I give to because of what I have been given.

David (he/him)  
Finally, for now, who are you?

Nancy Riestenberg  
I'm a gardener. I'm a cook. I like to make little quilts to give to people as circle centerpieces. And, and I'm going to be making knit a little sock toy for my neighbor who is going to have a baby in a couple of days.

David (he/him)  
Beautiful. Thank you so much for being here. Nancy, it's always good to check it in. And I know we did it a little bit off air, but to the fullest extent of the questions that you want to answer for everyone listening here. How are you today?

Nancy Riestenberg  
You know, today is a pretty good day. It Mondays are always a little discombobulating because I forget that there are time schedules need to be attended to but for the most part, it's a good day. And I'm really grateful to have the opportunity to talk with you and to meet you. It's great.

David (he/him)  
That feels so good. You're someone for those who have been studying restorative justice for a while or any amount of time and looking at books that are publishes works that have been published specifically around this work with young people. Your name is one that often comes up. And so I'm equally if not more excited to be having this conversation. Aside from that, in the midst of summer it is, you know, one of those times where I'm so transparency when this airs, I will be off the grid pretty close to you, hopefully, in Yellowstone National Park, which is going to be a much needed break from from all of this, but it's been a really busy, exciting time sharing this with folks but also looking forward to taking breaks.

David (he/him)  
 You know, you've been at this work for a long time. And this isn't the question that I told you that we We're gonna answer start with, but you as you've been at this word for a long time, what has sustained you and kept you going? 30 something years? In the process?

Nancy Riestenberg  
Oh my gosh, I haven't added it up for a while. Um, you know, the thing that has sustained me is I guess there are two things. One is that I believe in the basic principles of restorative justice, I was raised Catholic, and the idea of seeking forgiveness was as a really profound component of my understanding of that faith. But there was precious little, precious few details given about how you go about doing that. How do you read? How do you repair relationships? How do you? How do you fix things on this plane? And then the other thing that has definitely sustained me is the community, the people that I meet the heart that they share, the fact that there can be a pretty quick connection that is not just based on knowledge, but really based on the hard work that is part of restorative practices. And I like to, I like to talk and I have learned to listen. So those are, those are really sustaining things for me. 

David (he/him)  
Yeah, I definitely hear that part about community. And we're going to get into some of the communities that you've been a part of. But as we shared, you've been doing this work for 30, whatever the number is, years, maybe even before you knew the words restorative justice restorative practices, how did this journey get started for you?

Nancy Riestenberg  
Hmm. Well, there's there's a concrete date. And that is 1994, when I was hired to work at the Department of Education, that was the same year that Kay Prentis, so little couple months earlier, was hired to be the restorative justice planner at the Department of Corrections in Minnesota. And it wasn't too long after that, where I had the opportunity to hear her and some of the people that she brought in to talk about restorative justice. 

Nancy Riestenberg  
I would say that before that, as I said, there's there was always this notion in my mind that we needed to, even when I was a little kid, take into account everything that was going on around any incident of harm, kids would get into trouble in school. And I knew their lives in a way that maybe the teacher didn't, because I went to a small, a two room schoolhouse, and I knew that all the boys who came in, had gotten up in the morning, probably about six o'clock to do chores, before they even came to school. And that their behavior, maybe was due to the stresses that happened in the community in the neighborhood. And then never, it seemed to me that they were always the ones who got into trouble. And that didn't make a lot of sense to me. And it seemed to me that there was something missing in the way in which my teacher handled those situations. 

Nancy Riestenberg  
And so I always wanted kindness, I guess, is the easiest thing to say I wanted kindness in the way in which people responded, and understanding in the way in which people responded to kids, and not just a quick kind of punishment, that was humiliating. And that was the other thing that was really difficult for me, I was very sensitive to still am to people being embarrassed or ashamed. And, and I and I, I just didn't think that that was the a good way to treat any person. And so when I learned about restorative justice, I felt like, Oh, my heavens here is a way of answering that question. Not that we get away, get, get we're ever able to eliminate embarrassment or shame those are, you know, they're useful for us as human beings. But the way in which we handle it could be much more humane. 

Nancy Riestenberg  
And the other thing that was really significant to me, before I knew the phrase is restorative justice. I I started my work after I left teaching after a couple of years, and I worked for a theatre company that had plays on social issues, child sexual abuse prevention, education, Domestic Violence Prevention, education, HIV AIDS prevention, education. And all of that pointed that prevention education really pointed to helping teach small people social emotional learning skills, and being able to identify their feelings, you knowing how to resolve conflicts in a way that use words rather than, you know, hitting someone being able to problem solve and to think things through being able to calm yourself down or settle yourself. And so we were encouraging people to teach that in schools as a means of preventing these really horrible social ills.

Nancy Riestenberg  
And yet, our schools were not equipped to practice them themselves. So it doesn't make any sense to teach your child how to read and then never expect them to read, you know, not use that in any other way. And the same thing was the case if you're going to teach social skills to kids, and you're not expecting them to use them in the most difficult situations, what's the point? How do they practice? And how do they get coached in real time. 

Nancy Riestenberg  
And so when I learned about restorative practices is like, well yipee, here is the way that we can be congruent from the beginning to the end. We teach kids social skills, we teach adults social skills, and we expect everyone to use them. Even in the most difficult of situations, even when somebody has been mean to someone else, even when somebody has hurt someone else, or stolen something from someone else. We can use these skills in a way that solve problems, rather than shame, blame, and humiliate or exclude for that matter. And so on a theoretical level, it was like, Oh, this is this, here it is, this is this is the answer. And this just sort of completes the whole circle of education, around around social skills. And the other thing that connected to that really was that if you're going to teach anybody anything, you have to be in relationship with them. Sure. You know, you can't teach somebody through intimidation, they'll learn something, but it's probably not Pythagorean Theorem. They're gonna learn something else, right? But they're not going to learn very well. What it is that the concepts or the ideas or, or the theories that you're wanting people to learn. But if you have a relationship with them, and you build up a sense of trust, then oh, my gosh, you know, students will do anything for people that they trust, practically, they will, they will work hard, they will learn, and they will learn in a way that will help them retain what it is that they learn. And so, okay, so if we're supposed to be an educational institution, and we're supposed to be about learning, we have to be about relationship. And if we're going to be about relationship, we have to be able to have the abilities to repair relationships, as well as build them. Otherwise, we're not going to be able to fulfill our role. We're not going to be able to teach anybody anything.

David (he/him)  
Yeah, there's, there's so much in there that I want to dive into one thing quickly, Bernay Brown talks about the difference between shame and guilt. Do you differentiate between these of those races?

Nancy Riestenberg  
Yeah, she knows more than I do. But yes, I can on a on a pretty simple level, you know, guilt is I did something wrong. And shame is I am wrong. You know, there's,

David (he/him)  
And you're saying like, shame is like a helpful tool, like, did you want to

Nancy Riestenberg  
want to expand on that? Yeah, my understanding of that is that shame is something that we are born with, that we we, it's part of being a human being. And, and it helps us to stay in relationship with people, it is an alert to the fact that things are not going well with someone. So I say something, and it feels like it fell wrong. On the ears of the person that I was talking to, I get a feeling. I personally get that feeling all the time. And so I have to go back and go, you know, I just want to check in with you. Was this okay, did I miss something was I misunderstanding? And so shame does help us stay in connection in relationship with each other. The challenge is that cultures around the world have interpreted those natural feelings and in a variety of ways, and have come up with a variety of ways, I think, to help us manage it. And so what, how the Maori may deal with shame is Probably really different from white majority culture does machine in the United States.

David (he/him)  
Gotcha, though, thank you for clarifying. As much as like, words are important, like, as long as we have like a mutual understanding of what words mean, in the conversation, move forward, I wanted to connect to things right You are a part of how you describe yourself is an educator, someone who has worked with young people, when you were a young person, you identified how people working in education, adults, were treating people unfairly weren't building relationships weren't getting to know the other young people in your class and treating them with the respect, the honor, the dignity that they deserve, given the circumstances. They weren't building relationships. If that was your model, what led you to want to be an educator?

Nancy Riestenberg  
Well, it was, you know, it's, it's interesting about human beings. Human beings are not just one thing, you know, they're good, they're bad, they're indifferent. They're brilliant, they're fallible, they're all sorts of things. And the very person who pointed out to me in my own mind that you don't want to humiliate people was also the person who taught me how to read. And, and I loved school. And she was, in many respects, a really gifted teacher. And so I wanted to be a teacher. And I think that I had a facility for it. I like to talk. I like I like figuring out like a lot of educators, you know, you like to know something deeply and then explain it to other people, whether they want to hear it or not, right. 

Nancy Riestenberg  
You just really are, you know, you're just really happy to be able to explain things, because oh, my gosh, I got a new metaphor for that one. And how would you like this one? Does that make more sense to you? So I, so yeah, I think it came from both both impulses, to want things to be better. And to want to be an educator came from the same place. And and I guess, perhaps it's genetic, I don't know, my grandmother was a teacher, my aunt was a teacher, when I was a little girl. I think I, we maybe was in first grade, I would go over to visit, my grandmother and my aunt, they live together on Sundays, and my aunt would allow me to correct the spelling tests. So she'd give me the red pencil. And she'd give me the key. And I, she gave me all these papers. And I would get to put the checkmark next to the ones that were wrong. And I got to write down the percentage, you know, and so if it was 100%, I got to do that with a little swing at the bottom to sort of, you know, cheer everybody up. And that was so cool.

David (he/him)  
As as a child of a teacher myself, right? When you put the 100 I was like, you put two dots in the zeros and like a smiley face underneath it. So I feel that I didn't take that path. Long term. But I'm curious, you know, you had models of, in many ways, a punitive shaming, very rules driven, objective driven education system. And you described in more words than this, but you know, people you can't teach people content, like they don't care how much you know, until they know how much you care. Where did that shift for you in your journey towards education in working with young people?

Nancy Riestenberg  
You know, I think that's a that's been a lifelong journey. I didn't, there were a lot of things I didn't know, when I first started teaching. I didn't know what kind of I didn't know how to use my personality, and my ability to connect with kids in a conscious way, I just knew that I could connect with people. Right, but I didn't think about it. Nobody asked me to think about it, about what were the elements that I would use that would help me be connected to students. And, and so that's been something that I have been learning. And and I've been learning who you know, where I can do it better. I have for the last for most of my career, except for about, huh, well, somewhere between about 12, 13 years. I work primarily with adults. And, and it but it's the same right because it's the same, the relationship between the teacher and the student is the same and helping people make connections with each other and establish relationships with each other so that their amygdala will be calm down and they can connect to their prefrontal cortex, frontal cortex is part of the job of a teacher. And so over the over the years, I think I have learned what my strengths are. And what, where I can make things more strength strong, more congruent. Because when I went through teaching, it was, I was preparing to be a high school teacher, and they really just expected you to know content. And people didn't talk about, about classroom management, or classroom engagement. Or were anything you were just, you know, if you were lucky enough to have a big enough personality to command the room, then you could maybe start teaching and figure out from there. And if you weren't, it was hard. It was really hard.

David (he/him)  
Yeah, I imagine people are picking up some of those things in the midst of our interaction from you know, you sharing at the very beginning, you standing on a table. And there's some other things. I'm curious which of those things you feel are inherent to you? And what are the things that like you've developed a skills along the way?

Nancy Riestenberg  
I think that what I'm good at as a teacher is, I can come up with a variety of ways of explaining something. I believe in what I'm talking about. And I think that that's really important. When you're trying to to engage somebody. I have learned to be more explicit about the fact that I, I always liked what I did. I learned I've learned to be more explicit about being clear that I like the people that I'm around. It's a it's a subtle thing. But one of the things that I heard about most recently was, could a teacher show that on their countenance, and in their eyes, in particular, show that they're happy to see kids as they walk into the classroom. And that was not something that I ever consciously thought about. I was glad to see my students, because I had an audience. I was glad to see them because they were funny. I was glad to see them for a whole host of reasons, but I didn't think about consciously deciding to be glad to see them. And yeah, I it was dynamic. And I liked the dynamism of it. It was there's a there's a level of improvisation that you have to have when you teach. And I liked that quite a bit. It's a performance. I like performing. But the way that if I were to go back into the classroom now as a, you know, doing a sophomore English class, I would, I would do it entirely differently.

David (he/him)  
Yeah. I mean, I think about how you're sharing, you know, content is one thing. But what are the relationships? How are you building those? that's what that's what we're here to talk about, right? When writing about restorative justice, we're not thinking about classroom management, we're thinking about how are we treating each other? How are we in good relationship? How are we in right relationship? How are we building those relationships proactively? And so when there is harm, we can more easily navigate those and come back into alignment. I'm curious what the inflection or the transition to like, okay, restorative justice in the Department of Education from classroom was like,

Nancy Riestenberg  
You mean going? Going to the Department of Ed? Well, so I had intermediary years. So I taught for a couple of years in Minnesota, in high schools, and then I worked for a couple of years for the Guthrie Theater, in their educational program. And so that's where I sort of transitioned really to working primarily with adults. And then I got a job with the illusion theatre. And they, as I said, had social plays. And so those plays, oftentimes, were paired with trainings, or workshops, and I learned how to conduct those workshops. And they were almost always with adults. We also did a lot of performing for high school students, and elementary school students, large quantities of them, you know, 300 kids, 500 kids, 1000 kids in an auditorium. And I learned that was where I learned to really explicitly be able to handle difficult responses and reactions, maybe in appropriate answers to questions that I might ask, in a way that was as caring and as kind as possible. 

Nancy Riestenberg  
And that was a tall order, and I had an excellent teacher named Cordelia Anderson, a mentor, a friend of mine, because we were talking about issues having to do with sexuality. And as you can imagine, that's kind of exciting for young people. And so. So there was that process. And then, and then I went from working at this small nonprofit, to working at the Department of Education, and which is a large state agency. And what a small nonprofit does is very different from what a state agency does, we're responsible, first and foremost for the people's money, and to be sure that the money is used in the way that the legislature or the representatives of the people want it to be used. And, and we are responsible for providing support to all of the schools in the state. And so it was a very different it's, you know, it's not a classroom. It's a very different kind of entity. It has political components to it, right? There are lots of people's opinions about how education is supposed to be. And, and yet, it is also something education has a body of research that helps to support it, you know, what, what have we learned that works best for, for students and for staff. And so figuring out how to support the schools as much as possible, as was really, really significant. 

Nancy Riestenberg  
When I came to the Department of Education, I had the good fortune of having a supervisor, who very much before I ever learned about the social control window, very much believed that we needed to work with our schools, that we needed to be in partnership with them, that we needed to ask them what they needed. We needed to not assume that we as people who worked at the Department of Education knew how to do things.

David (he/him)  
And that really quick interjection, folks, I imagine most people know what we're talking about when we're talking about the social discipline window or social window of control, or, as it's been phrased in multiple different ways, but boxes of doing things with two, four, or ignoring problems with people. Right. You know, we talked about it with Dorothy Vaandering. We talked about it with Mohammed on previous episodes of this podcast. So if you want to dive deeper into those continue,

Nancy Riestenberg  
yeah, right. Right. But so so Carol Thomas was, you know that that was what she believed was important. She came from a community organization, and, and she believed that the most significant thing we could do is be as much as we possibly could work with our schools and our community organizations that we engaged with. And so that was my introduction to state government that you work with. And, and that has just been really, really helpful. really helpful. Yeah.

David (he/him)  
And so you were doing this work bringing ideas around, I guess, how would you frame the language that you were using in 1994, to work with schools and teachers to do this work to get better outcomes for students? Like were you using explicit words around restorative justice?

Nancy Riestenberg  
Oh, no, no, those words didn't happen until 1996. Right, so I can describe better the practices. So as I said, a state agency is responsible for managing the money, right. And we, my team got a significant amount of money from the federal government and also from the state to do violence prevention education. Okay. Yeah. And so what we, what, what we did was we would ask, when people applied for money, we would ask members of the community to review the grants. If there was a grant that was supposed to go to a school and was supposed to be applied to students, we would make sure that we had young people on the review team. And so that's a simple example of the importance of doing with and when when we had the opportunity to ask people what they needed, how we could improve our work. That was another example of doing with you tell us how we make this application better. So that that's better than the words that I used. 

Nancy Riestenberg  
But then in 1996, we had the opportunity to explain restorative practices to schools, we started justice to schools. And so a document was written and titled restorative measures respecting everyone's ability to resolve problems. And again, the the width was was very much part of that where we went around to different schools that were, were behaving in a restorative way. According to this new frame that we had this new language, and it wasn't as though there weren't people who were not doing this before those phrases, they certainly were. But we got examples from them to help illustrate the ideas that we were presenting, one that sticks out for me is an ALC, Oh, she was just really adamant about the fact that you just don't send kids away. And you, you work with them, and you help them figure out how they can be in the classroom in a better way. Another example was a safe and drug free schools program where if you if you you were supposed to be, you know, drug free, and to be able to be a mentor, and a student, slipped, and was seen smoking a cigarette. Instead of kicking this student out of the program, they talked with a student and said, well, you need to go talk to the parents of the child that you've been the mentor of, and figure out whether or not you can continue this relationship. And so that was an example of people recognizing that people make mistakes, and that you can fix them and helping them figure out how they could fix them.

David (he/him)  
Yeah. And then when we came to zero tolerance policies, a couple years later, how were you navigating those very conflicting ideologies about? Yeah,

Nancy Riestenberg  
well, you know, that is an interesting question. Um, the thing that I always leaned on, in regards to zero tolerance policies was something that one of the lawyers at the Department of Education pointed out to me and the law. I think that that came out of line 1990, 90, 91, 92, something like that saving drug free schools, something or other. And it said that it was initially that a student shall be expelled from school for a school year, if they bring a gun to school. And a gun is a weapon that expels a projectile using an explosion. So this wasn't about knives, and it wasn't about nunchucks. And it wasn't about anything else. It was just about guns. And there was a line in there that said, at the discretion of the school board. So this was not, it was never written so that it absolutely had to be because this local control, the federal government knows that it's best to always leave decisions about education up to the schools, the states in the school boards. And so I would always say that, you know, yeah, you have to do that. But it's at the discretion, that's at the discretion. And one of the things that we knew was that, so there were these policies, but there were other things that people could do if they decided to, because there was that discretion. And everybody always had discretion. It was either formal or informal. And so if you continue to say, there's another way of doing this, there's another way of doing this. There's another way of doing this, perhaps some people will do it. Yeah.

David (he/him)  
And I think that really gets to the title of one of the things that you've written like Circle in the Square, I've often said that like, I don't believe restorative justice belongs at school, dot dot dot institutionally, right? These circle ways of being don't align to the policies and practices written? And what can you do to tend to the relationships, right? From your framing? How do we bring these circle practices, these circles ways of being into these boxes, that are schools that have these very rigid? These are the things that you have to do? These are the way that you have to be and of course, for those listening, we will link the book in the show notes. But how have you? How have you seen people struggle with that and navigate those ideas of zero tolerance? Or like, Hey, this is what's written versus this is what the relationship requires. Right?

Nancy Riestenberg  
Right. So there are two things come to my mind. One is going back to first principles, and constantly challenging people to be able to adhere to what sometimes is referred to as the three pillars of restorative justice Howard Zehr where he talks about harmony needs, obligations and engagement. So you identify the harm and what the needs are as the result of the harm. And then there's the question of who has obligations to meet those needs. And the challenge very much in a school, as well as in general society is that There, it's always more than I would say, then just I bonk you on the head, and you have needs and I have needs. Because if this happened in the lunchroom, if this happened in the locker room, and there was no supervision, if this happened, because nobody noticed that I was, you know, distressed when I came to school, that there were no 

David (he/him)  
Or you've been harassing me everyday for the last...

Nancy Riestenberg  
 Yes, all of those sorts of things. This school has obligations, society has obligations. And so that that is the that is the challenge to help people recognize and think beyond this 33is we want people to think beyond restorative justice as being something that is only a response to harm, that it is actually about a whole mindset. We also want people to recognize that when you are talking about harm, you have to think broadly about the question of obligations. And, and I would suggest that a school almost always has obligations that they have to meet in order to address the harm that has happened. 

Nancy Riestenberg  
The other thing is that, yeah, one of the things that was really curious to me, just an amazing, aha, when I learned about restorative justice, and I'm learning about it from the Department of Corrections, is that everything in a school seemed to mirror, run in parallel track to the criminal justice system. So if the criminal justice system came up with straight three strikes, and you're out, schools came up with three strikes in your out if the criminal justice system came up with a zero tolerance about X, Y, and Z schools did the same thing. And as a result, the disproportionality numbers in in the criminal justice system in Minnesota mirrors the criminal the the disproportionality and suspensions and expulsions in the schools in Minnesota, it's amazing. And even though we're talking about way different things, there's a big difference between trying to ensure safety and a community and trying to teach small children. I don't care if they're six foot five, if you're 15, you're a kid, even if you're 17 year kid, even if you're 20, you know, to a certain extent. 

Nancy Riestenberg  
So anyway. So what we have in schools are policies that have their own version of red lines, if you will. And those policies need to be taken apart, and they need to be cleaned up. In some instances, they need to be put outside, so the mold will disappear in the sunlight. And so the other big lift, if you will, for making a school, a restorative school is to do that policy work. And, and it is a challenge. Because in order for a school to revamp their policy, they probably really need to engage in a three or four year effort, where they talk to everybody. And they constantly are questioning things. And then it's a question of continuous review, continuous review. They're supposed to review their policy every year anyway. But it needs to be done with an equity lens, it needs to be done with an eye towards best practices in regards to child development. The question needs to be asked if this is this is in the criminal justice system, is my opinion. Do you think it belongs in a school? Does that really make sense to have something that sounds like it comes from the criminal justice system as a policy in a school? And and I guess the other thing that is always the challenge in any practice, is whether or not your data supports the work that you're doing. And if your purpose is to be educating children, and if you know that the evidence shows that the best way for that to happen is for a child to be present in the school. Um, then that raises questions about practices that would keep a child out of the school

David (he/him)  
or a classroom for or a classes crowd. Right,

Nancy Riestenberg  
right. All of the all of that sort of thing, right? Absolutely. If you're if you're keeping somebody from direct instruction,

David (he/him)  
then I guess that's why they're being like, and in good relationship. Right. I think a lot about how, you know, you said this is a three to four year process to overhaul policies. And when people hear that, that is like, Oh my gosh, where do we begin? What do you say to people who are overwhelmed by that? 

David (he/him)  
Hey friends, quick interruption. restorative justice work, as we know is all about relationships. Part of that is the relationship with ourselves. Part of that is our relationship with people interpersonally. And part of that is the relationships that we have with the institutions and organizations that were a part of. Since we originally recorded this episode, some things have changed in the Department of Education in Minnesota. And so before we released episode, Nancy, you wanted to make sure that the things that we're sharing were as updated as possible. So we re recorded this portion of the podcast to make sure that you had the most up to date information. So we're going to drop this re recorded part of the interview in here. And I'll let you know when we're back to the original recording.

Nancy Riestenberg  
Where do we begin in trying to, in trying to change policies so that the policy is more restorative, I think the process of policy review is something that happens as, as schools are trying to implement restorative practices. I think that the need to change policy will be exposed, as Dean's and administrators, principals are trying to become more restorative. And they will see that there are parts of policy that are not useful, that maybe restrict their ability to be more flexible to respond to harm, as opposed to thinking about discipline as control. And, and, you know, so there's not a, there's not a quick fix for it, there's not a one size fits all, kind of policy model policy that can be handed over to a school district. Each school districts policy should be written in concert or in harmony, or with collaboration with the community, with community partners, with family members, definitely with students, absolutely, with, with the staff, absolutely. where people are talking to each other. And, and I think the time that it takes to make those changes might be longer than people would expect. Because once you make one change that might expose something else. 

Nancy Riestenberg  
So it's so it just takes me back to the fact that policy needs to be continuously reviewed, to ensure that it is supporting the school in the way that the school and the members of the community need to be supported. And I guess I would say that it is helpful to know the history of discipline policy in the United States, that might make some of the challenges within policies more evident. So for instance, a lot of the policies are around exclusion in assimilation, that we wanted people to be a certain way. And so we wrote policies that reinforced certain norms. And, and, and there are also some aspects of policy that definitely tried to exclude certain people. 

Nancy Riestenberg  
I think one of the things that might not be obvious, on the face of it, when you think of not having disrespect, disorderly conduct, or the three DS always forget the 3rd D. If you if you're you know, of course, you would want to be in a school where people were not disrespectful and that they were not disorderly and that people were paying attention. But those are such subjective terms. What is disorderly for you might not be disorderly for me, what is disruptive for you might be just a good joke and an opportunity for liberty for me. And so that's one of the places where we see in discipline policy, a kind of, maybe unthinking exclusion of certain kinds of kids in and it seems to be, particularly African American students, Black and Brown students at large, Indigenous students and students with disabilities, and that those terms are applied to those people, to those students. And it is used as a means of sending them out of the classroom and and sometimes having them suspended. 

Nancy Riestenberg  
So knowing that we as a country as we were building our educational system that we started with some of those notions and that you can still see them if you look hard enough within the school. That helps you to decide what it is that you want to use and what it is that you don't want to use. We have a large proportion of schools in the United States that still allow corporal punishment. There's no evidence that that is useful in an educational setting. But it is something that a lot of a lot of schools are still allowed on the books, at least to do. And so those policy needs to be reviewed on a continuous basis to be sure that it reinforces the first goal of education and the values of the community.

David (he/him)  
Yeah, well, one, I think that 3rd D is defiant, right?

Nancy Riestenberg  
Yes. Thank you. Yeah, definitely. Yeah,

David (he/him)  
there's that is like, needs and values, right is a lot of what this work is about. And those things are ever evolving, ever changing, as different people come in out of communities as different as we go through different periods of time, that that's never static. We need to constantly view that those things. I'm curious, what are some of the changes? Because you've been doing this work for for a minute, right? When you've moved from, hey, we made this policy change. Actually, this policy change no longer serves us in our community? Can you tell us a story of a time where you've had to make a shift from your shift?

Nancy Riestenberg  
A shift from my shift? Well, that's interesting. I guess. From my vantage point, I naively thought there were lots of nativities that I had at the beginning, that if you just said in the policy that the principal could use restorative response, in lieu of all of the other responses that were available to to him or her, that that would be enough that that would that would suffice. And so then instead of suspending someone that the principal could, could refer the student to a repair of harm process? Well, what happens with that is that you get another form of disproportionality. Maybe you're only referring white students to a restorative process because you trust them, right? Or your own implicit bias thinks that they could do it. Or maybe you don't understand restorative principles very well. Or maybe you're referring all of the Black and Brown students to restorative process, but you're not referring anybody else. So just putting that in policy, yes, you can do a restart a response, I realize is, is not enough. 

Nancy Riestenberg  
And so that's one really glaring example, understanding more the interplay of educational law, that schools need to follow the policy, the policies that the school board makes, the actual practices of people in the offices, those are all, they're interconnected, and yet they can sometimes operate separately from each other. And trying to figure out how you can make everything meshed together is, you know, it requires effort. And, and I think that people are in a better place now, to be more thoughtful about how they are using their policy and what kind of changes need to be made to it in order to be restorative. 

Nancy Riestenberg  
Because there are more people who understand more deeply what it means when we say restorative, they have a better understanding that you need to be re, you're you're restoring a relationship. You're not restoring a rule. And and in order to be able to restore a relationship, you have to have a relationship in the first place. Yeah, so I just spent time with some administrators in a school district. And they were very, they very much understood that that you needed to have relationships before you could do repair of harm work, even though they wanted to do repair, they want to do repair of harm right now because they're, you know, the point of pain is that they are disproportionately suspending Black and Brown students and they don't want to do that. 

Nancy Riestenberg  
But, it's it's more the response has to be more sophisticated and deeper than just putting in a practice. The practice is only going to work if it if the people have the right mindset behind it. And if it has the support around it, it doesn't work for one person to be the restorative person to the school when everyone else is still more wasn't happy with the status quo of punishment for not following rules. So it's hard, I think, until you get to that level of basic understanding and some experience with what it feels like when you do repair of harm, and what it feels like when you are trying to build authentic relationships with people, people who look like you and people who don't look like you that then then what is a barrier for you to be able to operate in a more authentically restorative way becomes clearer. And, and it also becomes clear what kind of need you have. 

Nancy Riestenberg  
So there was a dean who said, I mean, I would say that he always operated in a restorative way, which people do, whether you give them the label or not that, you know, the word doesn't impose, impart magic. But whenever a student was sent down to him, he would always go and talk to the to the teacher, to the point that he knew that some teachers wouldn't send students down to him, because they didn't want to be talked to. They didn't want him to come and talk to them. But he wanted to know, what was the deal? What happened? What was their part in it? You know, how could they make it better? How could How could relationships be be fixed? That's what he wanted to do? Well, that would be a lot easier if that Dean worked in a building, where that was the norm, that all of the Dean's did that, that all of the principals did that, that the staff worked together to get to know each other. So they could, you know, have questions like that. 

Nancy Riestenberg  
And when I first started doing restorative practices, this is just a little side thing. I would teach circle, and we would do a basic value circle. and the value that came up a lot, a lot A lot was respect, respect, respect, respect, respect, everybody wanted respect. And of course, that has so many meanings to different people, you know, the story behind respect is always very interesting. More recently, perhaps because of COVID. And the upheaval of this last year, and the racial reckoning and concerns about climate change, and the political upheaval, because of all of those things, making life very unsteady, and people having to respond very quickly to do things differently. The word that has been coming up more often, in circles that I have been doing is grace, and compassion, but particularly grace, because it wasn't one that I heard very often. But we want to give each other grace because we're all human Well, well, that's a support, that would be really helpful for policy change. That's a support that would be really helpful for being able to do repair of harm with, with with integrity.

David (he/him)  
Yeah, a couple things stood out to me one, you know, relationship, relationship relationship, like, all of this work is about, a lot of times I think we discount the relationship folks have with themselves, right? When we think about, hey, it's hard for me to be restorative with somebody else, if I am not restorative with myself, right? If I don't have that right way of being with myself, if I'm too hard on myself, if I don't have grace for myself, like you were talking about, that's super important. But, you know, in order to, like you were saying, in order to have something to restore to, right, you have to have done that work, of both, you know, between staff and students, between adults in the building. I think a lot of times we don't think about like, relationships with outside stakeholders, be they parents, caregivers, and other organizations. How have you seen that piece? Done? Well, to the extent that, you know, it can be done, given the constraints we have with time. And the different communities that were a part of,

Nancy Riestenberg  
I can give you a I dream of answers your example of a real thing. One of the things that I dream of is that meetings with external stakeholders and meetings, particularly with family members, be done in the spirit of circle if not actually in circle that they'd be welcomed in, regardless of what the deal was, whether their child, you know, damaged a bunch of lockers and got into a big fight or their child just won some award for being the best swimmer. That when they come into the school, they are welcomed and people are happy to see them and they're offered a cup of coffee. And you know, they come into a space that that has flowers on the table or something, something That PTA meetings and PTO meetings and any other kind of parent teacher meeting is, knows that the people who run those know that part of their job is to get the parents to know each other. Because that ensures safety amongst the children, particularly when the children go to a school that is not geographically bound. 

Nancy Riestenberg  
Um, you know, I grew up in a farm in a rural community, and my parents knew where everybody lived. And we and everybody, the parents saw each other. And we knew that if you did something wrong, somebody would call somebody else. So there was that whole, it takes a village kind of notion. And when I had my own children, and I knew that there were people coming students that were coming from all over the city, I was like, Well, how in the world? Am I going to be able to keep track? You know, when they say that, Jamal is, you know, really good at math, I have no context for Jamal because I don't know his parents. And so my dream is that and maybe this does happen that any kind of meeting of parents, there is a good amount of time spent on people being able to say who their kids are, and who they are as people. So that. So we know that an example of a place that was doing this well, I think was an elementary school in, I think it's in St. Paul. 

Nancy Riestenberg  
So one of the things that I do for the Department of Education is I put on trainings around restorative practices. Throughout the year, primarily in June, there's a big bunch of trainings that we have, and, and I'm always searching for good trainers, and and how to support trainers. And I also have shorter sessions that are sometimes offered like two hour sessions. And I was looking for, I was looking for a trainer. And I asked a principal in a school and I said, Is there anybody in your school that you would recommend? And she recommended a parent? Um, I had never, you know, that was that was a couple of years ago. And it was like, Oh, well, wow. So tell me more about this parent. Well, this parent was a very active parent. She was mom, she, you know, she had a job, but she made working with the school, one of the priorities in her life, and she had learned circle and was doing struggle with parents and doing circle with staff and doing circle with kids. And, and she knew the process, and she was a really, you know, she was a good teacher. And so that was an example of obviously, something was going right amongst the, in the relationship between the parents and the family members in that school in the school, that, that they could say, yeah, you you want bow, she's, you know, she's your person. And, and I think she would be great with this other with this teacher, and you know, it would be fine. 

Nancy Riestenberg  
So there's a dream. And and there's, and there's the there's an actuality, how they got to that point, I don't know the details of how they got to that point of what the steps were that the school did to help the staff or help the family members learn the process, and to engage them when she was a volunteer. So I'm sure she's she she saw a lot of circle in the classroom and then became started keeping circle in the classroom. I kind of think that that was the way that it went.

David (he/him)  
Yeah, for sure. And I think it's, you know, those opportunities for exposure, right? Whether wherever they exist within the context or your school, whether that is the PTO PTA, local school Council, even within like the parent staff meetings, right? How are people on staff embodying these values, right? meeting these needs, and inviting people in to have opportunities to learn, right? Like we so many times, we just learned by absorbing what's being modeled. And so that's really key. 

David (he/him)  
And now back to the original recording.

Nancy Riestenberg  
I'm going to revise my policy. And I'm going to start by establishing relationships with people.

David (he/him)  
Oh, yeah, I think people, situations that you're imagining and in other situations that I've talked about, how in the last year there have been so many institutions, not just schools, but let's talk about schools, who have been thinking about like, what do we need to do to revamp our policies to be explicitly less anti black, right? In general, like more equitable, but like it's because of anti blackness and anti violence that like, this last year has been a quote unquote, racial reckoning and we can look at data that says Like, what really changed it attitude really changed beyond like a two week Period digressing from that. Thinking about policy change without having people do the relational work? isn't what's going to get us there. You've seen this work evolve a lot over the last, you know, 25, 20 ish years, right? How have you seen things change over the last calendar year,

Nancy Riestenberg  
over the last calendar year,

David (he/him)  
in the midst of a pandemic, in the midst of this quote, unquote, racial reckoning,

Nancy Riestenberg  
I can only speak for myself and my experience within the Department of Education. I can tell you, there's a little I have some perception about what's happening in schools. I think. And I think that for myself, there has been more and more, I've engaged in much more learning. I've engaged in many more conversations explicitly about race and about privilege and about whiteness, I have learned the importance of affinity circles that became really, really clear this year, that it was important for people to be able to meet with with people had a shared identity, around around being black around being Asian, LGBTQ AI, around being white, and wanting to do this work in a different way. And being an ally. That's been something that I wouldn't have thought of before. In such an explicit way. I learned that from my, from my community, I think that there was there has been more attention within the agency, perhaps a bit more urgency. I don't know, the motivations of all of the different decisions that that were made, but I just, you know, I just see more explicit conversation. And I, and it's, it is even more clear, that if one is going to be restorative, 

Nancy Riestenberg  
you know, just let me just go back to that question of policy and relationship. Yes, you have to have relationships in order to change policy. But even before you change the policy, you need to explore with the people who are going to implement the policy, whether or not they have the mindset, and perhaps some of the skills to be able to do the new policy. So going back to that, that, what I what I remember, I think I read or maybe heard someone say about eyes, and seeing the students who come into your classroom, a child wants any human being wants to be liked, wants to feel as though somebody is happy to see them. And so even before you open up your mouth, when a child comes in, and they're black, or they're Brown, where they have a disability, or, or, or they're not, they're not like you in whatever way that might be, can you still look at them, like you're happy, they're there, that you're glad that they that they're alive, that they've come into your room. That's a, that's a it's not a nuance.

Nancy Riestenberg  
 It's a conscious thinking. That, you know, you have to, you have to work and think about to be sure that you can be welcoming to everyone. Like it is always Thanksgiving in my classroom, it is always Thanksgiving in my in my building, I am happy for people to come in, maybe that's not the right thing, not the right holiday to pick but I might want to always it is always a not a party, but a dinner, in my, in my classroom, I am happy for you to come to my table and eat this food. You know, if you if you can't start there, and be and be glad for the wonder of all of the children who come in to the building. policy changes is is useful because it writes it down. But being able to pull it off is you're still going to be hard.

David (he/him)  
So I guess the question then is what do you do with those people who can't get into that mindset?

Nancy Riestenberg  
What do you do with those people? People know that is a very interesting question for restorative practices practitioner. I guess that one continues to try to be in relationship with people.

David (he/him)  
Well, so and just to like, be clear and specific to you and people who are listening, what do we do with adults who come into buildings with the assumption that I am not going to welcome all students, either consciously or unconsciously? However, they show up into my classroom? What do you do with someone who holds attitude? I'm here to teach my content, punch the clock?

Nancy Riestenberg  
Well, I guess, I guess, David, the question I would ask is whether or not they're in a school that has done any professional development around restorative practices, and whether or not that person has ever been invited to a circle. It's not 100%. But even an hour of people in small groups of six or seven, talking about who their family was, and what their values are, and why they are a teacher has been insightful to them, about what they discovered about themselves and what they discovered about their colleagues. And, and that, that can lead to further exploration and further questions. That's that if if, if I were, I have to trust individuals to make choices that are best for them. And if people are continually being invited to circle, my would have to think that after a while, if they really didn't like it, they'd find another job. Or they would be influenced by what has happened. One or the other.

David (he/him)  
I'm thinking about how one it's not overnight change for a 30 something year old teacher who's been taught one way to shift the way that they are overnight. I also think a lot about how the way that we present this work the way that we teach this work as people who are practitioners, trainers, consultants, right? It I know, the the educated crowd is like, what are my takeaways? What are my like, things that I can apply immediately, right? But like, how are we framing? This is like, what is the experience that you're gonna have? And how is that experience going to influence you in the way that you continue to do in relationship with people? I don't know. It's tough to have people ask for like, Hey, we want XYZ training in this hour and achieve these objectives was like, but how are we in relationship with each other? What is how are we going to like build in that time to provide that experience where people can feel? Why are we with the need for this? Do we need to do this? I don't know that this is 100%. accurate, right. 

David (he/him)  
But Minnesota, more than many other places in the country, right?  is a very predominantly white state. Right? And demographics are changing, demographics are shifting. But it's not necessarily that the case that students who are of the global majority, not the Minnesota majority, but of the global majority, aren't going to have teachers who share life experiences with a more at a minimum, like a racial identity. So how are we making them the more aware like and I think like this is a question that is like, too big too far for like the conversation right here. But I think a big part of that is providing experiences for teachers, adults, to feel that sense of welcome belonging, and then want to replicate that with everyone. You're going to need to learn skills and history and practices to do those things. Because those are counter to so much of what dominant culture educational programming has been over the last, however many years. But without having that experience of feeling that sense of belonging in knowing the steps that it takes to create that. And again, not that it's a linear process. It's really tough to ask somebody to do

Nancy Riestenberg  
you ended that as a as a statement. What it makes me think, is that a couple of things are true about Minnesota, and one is that we have some of the worst numbers in regards to disproportionality for kids, for students of color for black students, for students in particular. And, and they have the lowest graduation rates. Perhaps in the United States, they're improving a bit, but there's still that challenge. And and the majority of educators in Minnesota, probably around 90 some percent are white, and the kindergarten and first grade classes now our majority students have color. And, and that, of course, is the trend going forward. And so that just provides a an enormous amount of importance, the importance of doing equity work, side by side with restorative practices and did not think that they're in, really in any way separate. 

Nancy Riestenberg  
Because in order to have that welcoming glance, you need to do some of your own work as an individual, I need to stop and think well, who would I have a hard time smiling at when they come in and welcoming to my table? And what's that all about? And why would I be that way? And who can give me support to, to to help me see every child, every student, every adult? You know, and that conversation, when we go back to the policy, it's all tied together? Can I see the the white supremacy policy, that the elements in the policy that that support, the support the dominant culture, everything about insubordination, disrespect, and disorderly conduct? To me speaks of laws like spitting on the sidewalk, they're subjective, and you can apply them as you want to whoever you want, and they are disproportionately applied to kids of color. And so what's, let's let we have to know that we have to recognize that in order to be able to decide we're going to change that policy, but more importantly, we have to know that and recognize that in order to be able to change our own personal behavior, if that makes sense.

David (he/him)  
Yeah, it definitely does. I'm curious, what is a way, you know, you didn't always have this lens of like, racial equity and restorative justice go hand in hand it are inseparable. What's the way that you've reframed that for yourself, as a practitioner of this work in the last couple of years, 

Nancy Riestenberg  
oh, I had a naive notion that if you just brought a whole bunch of people together, and they had the opportunity to talk to each other, that there that that would create a sense of connection and harmony, and, and respect. And, and so I didn't have to be explicit about it. That was that was a really naive notion based on my own privilege. And, and also based on the fact that people weren't, weren't not in a position, or they didn't feel like they could trust me enough to tell me that. And, and so having people who, who are willing to be more explicit, and say, you know, to, to point out, omission and commission, you know, what I do and what I don't do, and how that speaks volumes, in part because of who I am, as a white woman, middle class, and the age that I am, and also as a representative of the Department of Education, that, that, in the last three or four years is really been a journey. And, and, and I've, you know, it's something that I would be be dealing with all of my life, really, because you just don't change the system that we're in just like that, in our own behaviors in relationship to it. 

Nancy Riestenberg  
So one example, I think, it had to do with discipline data. And for a number of years, I led almost every workshop with presentation about the disproportionality. And there were a couple of years where I stopped doing it. And I'm not really exactly sure why I think it had to do with me not getting the updated numbers. So I just, you know, I knew I didn't have the most current numbers, and so I I didn't use them, and then it became a bit of a habit. And someone pointed out to me that No, no, you have to say what the reality is here in Minnesota. You can't You can't avoid that. And, and of course, he was absolutely right. And it didn't matter that I did it for a couple of years, is the fact that I wasn't doing it. That made that that was significant. Right. That's, that's an example. A small example. Yeah.

David (he/him)  
I'm curious zoom out from school, in this work in education, this podcast is called this restorative justice life. Not necessarily or although it can be tied to like racial equity and in racial justice in the intersection of what we call restorative justice practices. How is this way of being impacted the way that you see the world?

Nancy Riestenberg  
One of the things, I have a dog, and I walk the dog a lot, and I want to be the friendliest dog walker on the block, regardless of who I encounter, particularly when I see young people, I remember a long time ago 30 years ago, I was doing a training with some high school students. And they talked about how when they went into the mall, people looked at them with suspicion, they were white kids in a white community. And I thought, Oh, my word. Why, because they're teenagers. Right? And so that's, I, I'm more a more thoughtful about that. I'm also people might not notice it so much. But I'm trying to step back and encourage other voices to speak. And when to when I want to refer people to other other folks, not me, I don't want to be as visible I want to coordinate. But but there are such excellent practitioners who can explain much better than I can. What restorative practices are about now. And, and they are people of color. And there are people with with, as I said, with practice with their own lived experience with it in the classroom, in the schools in the districts. And I think it's, it's important for them to be highlighted. 

Nancy Riestenberg  
I try to listen more closely to the community, and figure out ways to give what it is that they need. So one of the things that we did this last year was that we offered affinity circles in the training that we do in June. Because that was something that people said that they needed, they needed to be in a space where it was easier. And people could be honest. And so those are some of the things that come to my mind right now. I also, I'm not sure that that my writing is more important anymore. I would prefer to encourage other voices and other people to write in if I if I do, I want to do it in partnership with a person of color. Because it's that just is that just it just feels better to me.

David (he/him)  
Yeah. Being where you are having so much time and experience and knowledge. And also recognizing the need for other. How have you like, logistically navigated some of those things, because for me, I see you as someone who has done a lot in in all of this, right? And I'm someone who, I'm 30 years old, I'm not that young. Right? There are lots of people who are younger than me who are experiencing things a lot closer to school age, right. I would be remiss if I wasn't shouting out Elyse, who is the producer of this podcast, who also gets to add like her voice and reflections into like, you know, the conversation that we're having right now for the people, the second person who appeared on this podcast, Griffin Castillo. He's a college freshman now but just come out of high school. And I'm thinking a lot about what does it look like even to have that kind of mindset as a 30 year old? Right? I'm 12 years removed from like education like that. Yeah, how have you thought those things through?

Nancy Riestenberg  
One of the ways that I have at my disposal is to work with the community to figure out who would be trainers for the trainings that the Department of Education offers. We had 50 adult trainers in June and five student trainers. And so that was a that was another milestone for me kind of a little bit embarrassing that is taken that long to be able to figure out how to get young people to provide training at June in the June training, but but but at any rate, we were able to do that. People asked me will you do this? Will you do that? Will you do the other thing and go Why don't you talk to us? Why don't you go to you I would recommend somebody else. I don't travel anymore, as always a good excuse, you know, and encouraging people to talk to other people. It is a Yeah, it's a it's a delicate balance between having had enough experience to be able to have something to share. And in your age, I guess I don't know. Does that make sense? Yeah.

David (he/him)  
Yeah.

Nancy Riestenberg  
I mean, and when you're when you're 65 years old, somebody was 30 is like, yeah, you're young, whatever.

David (he/him)  
like, part of that is my baggage of like being brought into spaces like, oh, you're the youth voice? And like, am I, I'm just like, half your age. So there are ways that I am thinking about it. But I was just curious, as someone who has been doing this for much longer, not to say anything about the time, but like the experience of elevating those other voices and what that look like for you. We're getting down to the time where I want to start asking the questions that everyone answers, we've talked around it a lot, but define restorative justice.

Nancy Riestenberg  
Now, this is a sort of thing where I'd like to, you know, quick, go to my website. Today, restorative justice, for me, is an individual journey of relationships. And everything that it takes to be able to be in good relationship or right relationship with with other people. That's what restorative justice is.

David (he/him)  
Yeah. As you've gone on this journey, as an individual, what has been like an oh shit moment? And what did you learn from it?

Nancy Riestenberg  
Yeah, when I saw that question, I thought, oh, what am I gonna say to that one? That's really interesting. You know, for me, those have been always times when my myopia as a white woman has really been really obvious. And a simple example, was pointed out to me by a group of administrators who were men of color, that, as I told stories in the morning session of a day long session that I was doing, I only identified kids of color. I didn't identify white kids. I just said the kids. And they said, well, what's up with that? What you just assuming that we're going to know, and why would you say they were African American, when you didn't say that they were white. And so that was a, that was a an interesting point, I had another example of that, where somebody pointed that out the way in which I talked about a student who was Ojibwe. And, and she took me aside at a break and said, You know, I have these problems with this. The the benefit of restorative practices is that if I can stay settled in and focused on myself, I can stand up then afterwards and apologize. and point out what I learned, and try to in that way, make a kind of amends for what I've done. 

David (he/him)  
I think about that that piece a lot. I'm obviously not a white woman, right. But I think about the ways that the intersections of my identity as a sis man play out in, in these different dynamics where, and like with relative financial privilege, and all of these things, right? When those things go unnamed, that barrier is still there. And then is on people who are on the other side of that, who are marginalized, who are oppressed, to have to like tiptoe around like how I'm going to navigate it. Or, to know whether or not there, it's okay for them to like, call something out because of the way that I'm invoking hetero patriarchal expectations onto them, where if I'm naming those things upfront, and be like, this is who I am, and this is what I'm working on to be better, but I'm not going to get it right 100% of the time, and in this space, we want everybody to be respected and celebrated for who they are. And it's something that I even as a facilitator doing in this space that does that, like I need to know. And I would very much appreciate that, that call in the pen notification. so helpful. And you know, one of my colleagues who's a woman of color to talk talk to me, but talk that through with me, while you're so, so thankful for for that lesson, and many others. Neither of us are perfect. But that was a great answer to that question. This one is maybe tougher, but in a different way, you get to sit in circle with more people living or dead. Who are they? And what is the question you ask the circle?

Nancy Riestenberg  
You know, I'm going to set aside my relatives. And I'm gonna go with some historical people. I think it's Pope Gregory, who wrote that. The thing about discovery that set up the ability of the European countries to feel as though they have the document of discovery is that what is called

David (he/him)  
diversas. Oh, might be talking about something different. Doom diversas, is this idea that Portugal it was okay for Portugal to go and enslave West Africans. And that was by Pope Nicholas the fifth? The Doctrine of Discovery.

Nancy Riestenberg  
Okay, so Pope Nicholas, that'll be good. I think the guy who wrote the Doctrine of Discovery, I think he was a Gregory was he or

David (he/him)  
Pope Alexander? Oh, Pope Alexander. people bought the papal bull. inter cartera. Yeah, that sounds right. Yeah.

Nancy Riestenberg  
Him. Those two guys. Ferdinand and Isabella. So that's for

David (he/him)  
me. What's the question you would ask the circle?

Nancy Riestenberg  
What were you thinking? What were you thinking?

David (he/him)  
I feel like the answer is like, I want to increase my Kingdom's wealth.

Nancy Riestenberg  
I want to keep asking that question. You know, just like you kept asking, Who are you? Who are you? Who are you? Or maybe it would be Who are you? Who are you? Who are you? Because before you can know what people were thinking and whether or not they're answering the question where they kind of honesty is like, where are you? Where are you? Where are you?

David (he/him)  
I love that. So many times people like do bring in their relatives and people who have inspired them. Rarely, I don't know if ever people brought in the perpetuators of great global harm to invite them into questioning what they did. Thank you for that. And this might be the answer to the question. I've asked this in many different ways. And I get very different responses. What's one place or situation that you've witnessed recently that you wish people really knew this work? And that like, like, specific situation so like, I think what is appropriate like to like question like Ferdinand and Isabella about what you were you thinking when you were sending people to explore the world and conquer that like that fits within this box? But something much more recent.

Nancy Riestenberg  
Okay, I would have appreciated if off to the side at any of the times that people felt it is important to challenge the city challenge police departments be in front of precincts be in places where people have been killed. If, if there were a couple of spaces where people could sit together in circles. In addition, it's not it's not either or. It's both. And because we need, we need advocates, we need people who who are clear and they challenge, and they speak truth to power. But we, we also need to have a space where people can have a little respite and be able to sit down and talk to each other. In a way that is slows everything down. I have no idea how we make something like that happen. But it's something that I often imagined. Even even if there was a place where a person could sit across from somebody that they're frustrated with and played checkers just for 10 minutes, and then get up and go back to your corners.

David (he/him)  
Thank you for that. That's, that's something that we definitely need. What's one thing, mantra reformation, you want everyone listening to this podcast to know

David (he/him)  
Yeah, of course. Two more questions. You've got to help me out with this part. Who's one person I should have on this podcast?

Nancy Riestenberg  
Becky mccammon. And Kurt root him?

David (he/him)  
I don't know either of those people.

Nancy Riestenberg  
Yeah. Becky mccammon. Was the restorative practices lead district lead for the St. Paul public schools. She's just left to start her own company. restoratively. Yours. You can look it up. And Kurt rochem is here is a was an RP lead in St. Paul and is now in the district. Bob is really thoughtful people. Becky is a Korean adoptee American as Kurt. And they have been engaged deeply and profoundly from the beginning. And even before the beginning of the restorative journey in St. Paul, which is about now going into their sixth year officially. But it's been longer than that.

David (he/him)  
Beautiful. Thank you. Are those? And the last thing I know you said, No, don't come to me. But where can people support you in your work in the ways that you want to be supported.

Nancy Riestenberg  
Um, I'm one of the ways that people can support my work in the ways that I want it to be supported, is in their positions of power, or responsibility or connection, to look to the people who have the lived experience with restorative practices and circle to not be to not have degrees and positions be the first thing that they look for. One of the one of the one of the things that I know is that the diversity in the staff in schools in Minnesota lie with the behavior deans and the cultural liaisons and the educational aides. And that is where the the knowledge is about being restorative in a really small our way. And, and I would I would really encourage people to elevate to elevate those those those people in our schools and give them the give them honor and respect

David (he/him)  
perfect Well, thank you so much, Nancy, for being here for sharing your wisdom, your experiences your stories with us. I was there anything else that you want to leave the folks with?

Nancy Riestenberg  
No, I really appreciate the opportunity to do this. David, it's been very fun to talk to you.

David (he/him)  
Well, thank you so much to everyone who's listening. We'll be back next week with another episode diving into what it means to live this restorative justice life. Until then, take care

Transcribed by https://otter.ai