Restorative Justice and Talking Circle Training

Restorative Justice and Talking Circle Training At Good Shepherd Gracenter in San Francisco given by Cherly Cutrona, Esq. Executive Director of Good Shepherd Mediation program, Philadelphia, PA, 2/13/16

On Saturday, Feb. 13, 2016, thirteen staff members of Good Shepherd Gracenter participated in a training given by Cheryl Cutrona, from our sister agency, Good Shepherd Mediation in Philadelphia, PA.  Our Opening Ceremony started in a Circle. Cherly introduced us to a heart shaped stone inscribed with the word “peace.” This stone became our “talking piece” and as we passed it around the room; we named, in one word our intention for the day, and explained our connection to Good Shepherd Gracenter. We all brought objects that we contributed to our Centerpiece in our sacred Circle. The colors of purple and blue held our objects accompanied by the Core Values of Mercy, Reconciliation, Zeal and Individual Worth. We held hands, closed our eyes and listened to beautiful music that grounded and bonded us ensuring our united purpose.

For a full day, we learned about the history and utilization of Talking Circles and their effectiveness in Restorative Justice. In the Circle no one is higher, no one lower. In the Circle we all meet as equals; individual, community and society as a whole.  We learned about the responsibilities of the Circle keeper to facilitate a safe space to process very difficult and painful issues.

restorative centerpieceWe came up with hypothetical issues to address and developed centerpieces, talking pieces and rituals to set the stage for this healing work.  Toward the end of the day, we had a smudging ceremony, which is a Native American ritual for healing.  It was a unique experience in which each participant was smudged with a very special sage.  At the end, we closed our training with a final Circle where we again chose one word, which reflected our experiences. We held hands, had a moment of silence and recited the St. Francis of Assisi prayer together; closing and sealing our Circle in our minds, hearts, and spirits.

By Traci Grellinger
Good Shepherd Gracenter of San Francisco
“A woman’s recovery begins with grace…”

Please see more information on the training at the website of Good Shepherd Mediation, in the article, “Circles Training in San Francisco.”