A Restorative Journey
“Without inner change, there can be no outer change. Without collective change, no change matters.” Angel Kyodo Williams
I believe that one of the most significant commitments we have made at CSCS in our mission to democratically cultivate a community of engaged learners is our commitment to truly creating a restorative culture. For me, a restorative culture is one in which everyone is welcome and each individual is strengthened and becomes more fully themselves through this connection to a community. A restorative culture also honors that when in community with others, harm will be done. The goal of a restorative process is to ensure that no matter what the intent of the action, the impact will be recognized and that both those who caused the harm and those who were harmed are able to respond to the impact in a manner which strengthens the individuals and the community.
I firmly believe that deeply engaged learning requires risk, and that in order for all of us to take the risks that learning requires, we must create school communities which recognize and support this dynamic tension between the needs and circumstances of the individuals that make up the community and the needs and capacity of the community to heal and strengthen.
This school year has tested this commitment at CSCS. Through several experiences, we have had the opportunity of sitting in the deep messiness of this commitment to cultivating a truly welcoming, truly restorative community. As we wrap up this school year under some extremely challenging local and global conditions, I am reflecting upon this journey toward the creation of a truly restorative culture, and what we have learned and how we have grown:
First and foremost, I have continued to see that we are stronger together and more resilient than any one of us may feel at any given time. There have definitely been times for many of us in our community this year, where we felt alone and defeated. As we close this school year, it is clear to me that we have also gotten stronger and clearer in our commitment to love and connection.
I have a much deeper understanding and appreciation for the fact that there are now and will always be things that are beyond our control. The greater clarity and honesty we can bring to this reality, no matter how painful that may feel in the moment, the more effective we can be in creating solutions that strengthen our community and every individual in it.
Choosing connection and choosing love, even when that means sitting with deep discomfort and uncertainty, is something that is always within our control. When we are able to pause and thoughtfully choose love and connection, we will come through stronger.
We will continue to make mistakes and when we do, we will continue to have opportunities to face them, to choose connection and healing, and to find strength in our community.
Our community is comprised of brave, resilient, passionate, caring beings who each carry with them stories of strength and connection along with stories of pain and separation. When we allow each community member to bring their whole story to our community, there will be times when we share in each other’s pain. When we fully honor the power of community in these times of pain and struggle, we find a collective strength and peace we are unlikely to find on our own.
As I wrap up this school year, I am more committed than ever to continuing on this journey with all of you. I have a deep appreciation for those who have traveled most closely with me on this journey this year. You have taught me so much through your humility, vulnerability, and loving strength. I am a better person and a better leader because of the journey we have shared.
For those who have watched from a distance or seen only glimpses of this journey this year, I hope that the CSCS community has planted some seeds of possibility for you as you travel together with those in your community. The path isn’t clear or easy….it isn’t meant to be. And, the more you practice staying grounded in love and connection, I trust you too will find the power of a truly welcoming, restorative community.
Be well my friends!
“We cannot have a healed society, we cannot have change, we cannot have justice — if we do not reclaim & heal the human spirit.” Rev. Angel Kyodo Williams