Community-wide Restorative Justice

SE Network has incorporated the historical practice of circle peacemaking and restorative justice work to build community, address conflict, and promote healing in Southeast Seattle.

Community-wide Restorative Justice

SE Network has incorporated the historic practice of circle peacemaking into restorative justice. The circle process originated from the Tlingit (Klingit) community in Kake, where the indigenous people and law enforcement institutions failed to see eye to eye. Instead of solving conflict with violence and physicality, circle was a way for everyone to communicate in peace. Some of the main values of circle practices are equality for participants, as well as respect for the participant who has the floor. Through these values of equality and transparency, circle creates a safe space and opens a dialogue to resolve conflict and invite individual reflection.
Core attributes
Circles are intended to promote equity and provide a safe space for all participants, with selected topics being something everyone is comfortable discussing. We begin each circle with a group agreement about acceptable ways to interact, behave, and respond, so expectations are clear and everyone feels safe. Everyone who sits in a circle is equal. There is no leader and there is no facilitator, but there are circle keepers who keeps the circle together and ensures that everyone is heard and following the group agreements. Circle keepers engage the group in dialogue by asking questions relevant to the topic. Often, an open chair is part of a circle, meant to represent those who could not physically be there—including a way to pay homage to ancestors--or to serve as an invitation for others to join.

Circle Programs

Community Healing space
Every Friday evening, SE Network invites South Seattle residents to come together in community. By providing food, activities, and personal connection, SE Network creates safe, positive public spaces in the parking lots at the Safeway stores in Rainier Beach and Genesee—both sites of recent gun violence. Community Circles are an important part of the evening and give participants the opportunity to discuss the trauma the neighborhood has endured, share personal experiences, and process emotions. As a result, individuals and the community itself begin to heal, finding the support and strength, resources and relationships needed to move forward with resolve and optimism.
School-based Restorative justice
In partnership with Rainier Beach High School, SE Network holds Restorative Justice Circles at the school as an alternative form of discipline. Rather than face suspension—which often leads youth into the school-to-prison pipeline—youth participate in circles and have an opportunity to express themselves, resolve conflict, reflect, and heal.
Youth and young adult circles
Regular circle programs for youth and young adults are offered throughout the school year and summer, ensuring that youth always have an opportunity to share experiences, find support and build community. Whether facing difficult challenges or celebrating meaningful accomplishments, coming together in circle promotes empathy, resilience, and connection.
Parent Circles
In partnership with Fatherhood Accountability Movement (FAM), SE Network holds circles for parents, providing a safe space for them to express both the joys and challenges they are facing. As they share experiences, discover resources, and reflect on all that parenthood entails, they establish a network of support with others who understand exactly what they mean.

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