Today I was in one of CRJI’s community offices in the Greater Andersonstown area of Belfast. This week I will be shadowing and working with the coordinator there, she is wonderful, very dedicated and passionate about the community work CRJI does. I learned a lot more today about CRJI’s mediation process. One of the first steps is when a client looking to resolve an issue with another party comes to or is referred to CRJI. I was honored to sit in on the initial meeting with the coordinator and a new client this morning.
After the initial meeting in cases like this, the other involved party is contacted and invited to participate in the process, to share their side of the issue and hopefully then the parties will work to resolve it. Whenever possible a direct face-to-face mediation with both parties is held. All participants are encouraged to take accountability for their own actions and for any harm caused. In a successful mediation process participants are able to agree on the key issues that must be resolved and healed and then generate a set of agreements for how each party will work to resolve the issue and move forward.
This is all very rambly… I think the goals and process of such mediations is so important, so empowering and key to a widespread re-visioning of what a “justice system” can be… I want to get it down just right, but I guess what I find most inspiring is intangible and somewhat beyond written expression. Relationships built and repaired with dialogue and communication and empathy are the root system of healing and empowerment, understanding and trust; of this great thing that justice can be. But with this summer and this organization and from this humble office space, the inspiration comes naturally. What really fascinates me is the little steps, the practical things, the careful, thoughtful and realistic motions and adaptations that have propelled CRJI to where they are today. I feel like I’m really getting a full picture of… well I’m not actually sure what yet… or maybe I am just tired and my brain is fried to a little fritter.
Alas, so many more thoughts, so very little time.
It was finally a typical drab gray day, only the second one in the 13 days I’ve been here. Everyone says that Belfast summer is now over, and that we were lucky to get a week of warmth and sunshine at all. Also, the power went out at the office for nearly an hour. Also, I ate Irish bread for the first time at lunch! Also, I learned a whole lot more today that I can’t fit in this post.
It was a super day, I’m really looking forward to tomorrow. In the afternoon I get to attend a Restorative Justice forum at the Youth Justice Agency.