Restorative Justice, Restoring Communities – Editorial

We live in tumultuous times as a society and as a Pagan community. Conflict has caused many divisions, often accompanied with the drawing of lines. These can easily become permanent fractures, solidifying within what might be a unified and joyous community of similar beliefs. Often these conflicts are personal, or begin as personal disputes, or emerge in community settings. Just as often a community gets drawn into them. I participated in a restorative justice circle at Sacred Harvest Festival (SHF), facilitated by Crystal Blanton, and will refer to that experience.

Restorative Justice (RJ) is an idea and method to repair some of the damage these conflicts cause in community. It was developed and used in criminal victim-offender mediations in the 1970’s and has been adapted and applied to a broad range of conflicts, from within our schools to whole societies as in the The Truth and Reconciliation Commission (TRC), a court-like restorative justice body assembled in South Africa after the abolition of apartheid . It can be used in a community setting through ‘restorative group conferencing’ or ‘peace circles’.

In a community setting, first is a required recognition that unresolved conflict causes communities harm. At the SHF restorative circle, of about 30 people, when asked if they felt harm from conflict within Harmony Tribe the past year, no one had any difficulty affirming that personally. RJ puts repairing the harm done to relationships and people over and above the need for assigning blame and dispensing punishment.

From transformingconflict.org

Benefit from the process may take place even without identifying precisely the source of the ‘harm’. Often all parties are not present, or choose not to participate in a community circle. The healing of a community, by simply recognizing, voicing, and acknowledging the individual harm and disruption that has occurred, can then begin to take place. Clear from the SHF RJ circle was a sense that the prevention of conflict and harm was not necessarily within their individual control. Restorative Justice (RJ) still provides a benefit because these conflicts may not have been preventable or controllable (as with say, a death in the community), but conflicts still cause people to grieve, and feel the emotions of loss. Release of that grief allows the community to process and move forward.

Our natural inclination to conflict is avoidance. This can also be expressed as a position of being “Switzerland neutral“, but this avoidance minimizes our own role in resolution, and keeps us from learning many of the lessons of conflict. Crystal:

“No one wants to deal with conflict because it can be uncomfortable, hurtful and destructive. So often people would rather avoid the conflict or act as if it will blow over instead of lovingly engaging in a process of resolution. Any process that brings us closer to conflict can bring about feelings of vulnerability and this is often scary. In reality, we are not able to move beyond the hurt that conflicts creates if we do not take the chance to actively be a part of a solution, with community in mind, that promotes empathetic understanding and empowers each of us to be a part of healing. If we deny ourselves this chance, and try just to be in safe or neutral territory, we deny ourselves to grow through the lessons and adversity that can build a stronger community.”

Crystal Blanton

Key to any RJ process is a trained facilitator. Mediation skills in the case of behavior adversely affecting others is helpful, but in a community setting guiding a group through a restorative circle uses an additional set of skills. At SHF we were treated to experience a master at facilitating this kind of process. Crystal Blanton often facilitates RJ circles within the Oakland, Ca. school district. These can be around such serious issues as assault or gang related deaths inside and outside the school experience.

At SHF, Crystal established a circle of respect, listening, participation, and co-operation from the very beginning. She prepared a list of questions used in the circle to assess and facilitate the discussion around the harm done. Her preparatory workshop made it clear, preventative practices to head off escalating conflicts are vastly preferred. She began saying conflict is always present, a natural process of growth and change, and can not be eliminated. A sense of justice and healing is never complete with the RJ process, it is a process for restoring individuals, groups, and communities onto a path of restoration, recovery from harm, and health.

From Crystal’s preparatory workshop notes:

THE THREE PILLARS OF RESTORATIVE JUSTICE:

Harms and Needs: RJ focused more on the harm that is done to a person or community versus the action itself. While laws focused on the crime, RJ focuses on the harm done to others and what is now needed as a result. In covens and groups it would focus less on the actions of the coven members and more on how said actions impact or harm the community of the coven.

Obligations: This point reinforces that thought that each person has an obligation and responsibility to his or her community. With this obligation comes the responsibility of understanding the harm that is created in a community, how actions effect others, and being accountable to try to correct some of the wrongs that have been created as a result.

Engagement: This point in the pillar refers to the participation of all the “stakeholders”, or effected people, in the decisions that will lead to the outcome and what is required to restore balance to the community.

Below is a summary of what was covered and how the time was spent to give you a better idea of the process, as occurred at Sacred Harvest Festival.

An RJ Circle Log (all participant comments omitted) :

Introduction: Crystal began by declaring the RJ Circles purpose to set the tone;

“… to restore; to restore a sense of safety in a loving and empathetic community. We are not here to blame, or to cast judgment on who was right or wrong. It is a about how we can support our community together and heal the hurt and harm that has been caused by a series of events. “

We started with an inspiring reading. (from “Fierce Conversations” ) and the establishment of a ‘talking piece’ or talking stick. As ‘Circle Keeper, Crystal began with a very controlled circle, limiting responses to short words or phrases from all participating.

10 min. into the RJ Circle: Values: Crystal started with creating a list of values to ask of each participating to move the process forward. She presented a baseline of values, and then passed the stick to add everyone’s contributions to this circles written list of agreed upon values in this RJ circle.

25 min in: Check in : One word to describe your feeling in this moment, offered by each participant.

29 min in; Define ; What community means to you ; a statement, phrase, or word offered by each participant.

39 min in: Elaborate; A role, within this community, that you see is really important to the community, offered by each participant.

49 min. in: The Meat ; I one to three sentences, “What happened in this community?”. All contribute.

Crystal:

“Everything that I have heard, and seen, about what has happened here, has been described here by others.”

69 min. in; Passion ; Crystal; “Who here has a burning desire in their heart or their mind to elaborate upon what has happened in this community, because this circle has been held (in expression) so tightly?” A limited number speak and are listened to, and thanked by the circle.

Photo from: creativeconflictresolution.net

94 min in; Acknowledgement Crystal;

“ There is so much harm. I want a reflection of what we see and what we hear. To acknowledge that we have been experiencing, and what we have not been alone with over this past period.”

She then asked these questions of the circle one at a time:

  • Have you felt harmed by what we have experienced?
  • Does it hurt you to see other community members harmed?
  • Do you feel vulnerable right now?
  • Do you feel accountable for your part in how we got to here?
  • Affirm if you believe you have a part in the solution.

These questions were individually affirmed by the raising of hands.

100 minutes in; Deep breaths.

Crystal:

“ What happens, Where do we go from here? We can not fix everything that has happened. We can not restore relationships without everyone present. We can restore what is here, We have not lost our community… what I have seen is that with time ,work, and a commitment to values, and the mirroring of those to each other, a community can be healed. “

101 minutes in; Solutions: One word or phrase that describes what is needed here, to heal what has been broken. Crystal starts with; “To hold each other lovingly accountable” . All contribute.

Crystal

“ How many people here plan to do what they just said needs to happen? My challenge to each of us is to think of 2-3 of the things said in this last circle (of contributions), and hold yourself lovingly accountable for doing them throughout the year. Make them things that call to you, but, do not pick the easy ones. Community is hard, the reward is great, but it is work. ”

110 minutes in; Collective Agreements ; “In moving forward in the healing and restoration of the safety and trust within this community, what can we agree on as our commitments?” Participants individually contributed specific and accountable ideas, Crystal helped re-frame them and wrote them down. She committed to help re-writing these in a form that can be presented to the HT community for a formal commitment.

135 minutes in; Commitments; Re-reading of assembled list of agreements, preliminary consensus affirming the content of the list is vocalized.

138 minutes in, Appreciation; Crystal;

“ I want to acknowledge you all for having the incredible amount of strength to be here.  The trust in everything, to open yourselves up, and for having the amount of love that it takes to maintain a community through adversity. I love it. It is an example to me of why I am here on this Earth. Not just here, but on this earth. You are my family . “ All contribute.

160 minutes in; Closing; Crystal reading a poem; “To Live in Community”

It is full of sweetness, yet also lived with bitterness.

True happiness is its goal, but sadness is inevitable.

This is the reality of a community.

Having a binary symphony.

One tune is the music of fulfillment, another a harmony of despondency.

Melancholic and blissful moments give meaning of living together.

It is like making a paper rose,

To complete, it needs both feather and thorns.

We should envision not of uniformity, neither of individuality.

Community life is about the mind and the heart living in union with charity.

To truly live in a community means to serve the totality.

This act prepares one’s path, not only terestrially, but for eternity.

Crystal thanks and honors the circle and offers final words of commitment and encouragement.

This RJ circle ends 164 minutes after it began. Another ten minutes were occupied as nearly every individual hugs and thanks each other individual. Crystal warned us an RJ Circle rarely takes less than two hours. During the ‘workshop’ scheduled for 90 minutes, she repeatedly sought permission at each segment to extend the time alloted in order to properly finish the circle. The power and emotion of many people opening up and sharing, with honesty, grace, and wisdom is impossible to communicate without a personal presence. This is the nature of restoration.

.
A well run RJ circle creates an ethos of respect, inclusion, accountability and taking responsibility, commitment to relationships, impartiality, being non-judgmental, collaboration, empowerment and emotional expression. It is not for therapy. A ‘Circle Keeper’ is a skilled and learned role that is essential to a successful outcome;

To support our community together and heal the hurt and harm. To restore.

As Harmony Tribe works with their healing, values, and community commitments; future articles will report on their progress. The solidifying and avoidance of conflicts within our Pagan communities can only serve to harm our empowerment as communities. Please explore this Restorative Justice process for its application within yours. The benefits are great.

Crystal recommended reference books about Restorative Justice Peacebuilding:
Little Book Restorative Justice
The Little Book of Circle Processes : A New/Old Approach to Peacemaking
Peacemaking Circles: From Crime to Community

Nels Linde

Advertisements

20 thoughts on “Restorative Justice, Restoring Communities – Editorial

  1. Dan Lansvick says:

    Combine this with the piece Cara just did in support of Harmony Tribe and Sacred Harvest Festival, and we have a clear vision for the future.

    • Rosemary says:

      I’m all for training, learning and growing. Knowledge is good and skill is better. But I see one problem based on experience with some individuals and training in a similar vein (consensus building) which occured in the past. Simply, like any tool, knowledge and skill can be used to help people come together and work together, but it can also be used as a weapon to divide, control, encourage “victim thinking” or impede forward movement. I’d like to think RJ couldn’t and wouldn’t be used in this way, but to add to Mark’s comment: how can one be sure unless behaviors and motivations behind them change?

      • Mark Slone says:

        Very well put Rosemary! The consensus building workshop was a very good thing to attend.
        This topic of Restorative Justice is interesting, but it is obvious that some that attended this workshop just did not get it. The following PNC “news” or is it a editorial, the “tower”, indicates this individual just did not get it. Either reporting, or writing a “opinion” piece one should get facts correct!! In a community and the notion of a “Restorative Justice” then to speak to a community, facts are an absolute.
        To write that a board of a group, makes a ban of two individuals, is controversial and not include the facts of the actions by the individuals that caused this decision, is serving a injustice to a community. The harassment by one of the individuals in question towards other members of this organization, the board had to make a decision to protect the paid membership of the group. I can present one example of this. At a previous festival, some people volunteered to present a ritual “green tribe, red tribe”, or something like that. The individual that was eventually to be banned, did not like this ritual and went as far as to make a harassing phone call to one of the participants home and spoke harshly to the spouse. This behavior is just not to be justified under any circumstances.
        What is really at issue is that this individual
        is just one of a “elite” group of “pagans in our community. These individuals may have a rabid following of thirty, maybe 50 individuals, tops! But in a metropolitan area that has hundreds of Pagans, to do this type of reporting or should we say lip service is a injustice.
        A true Restorative Justice in this community would be to see this person, apologize to each, one to one, the hurt and harm caused by their actions. But I really doubt that this persons EGO will ever allow this to happened. This person should know that even pagans that dislike them worry about their physical and mental health, because we have eyes and see what is happening.

  2. Mark Slone says:

    There will be no justice in this community, until someone apologizes for what they have done to others. Get my drift?

    • Crystal Blanton says:

      Mark, I really wish I could have met you and you could have been a part of the process. RJ is about restoration, not right and wrong. Without coming to a place of wanting to heal and restore, the process goes no where. It is not justice like you are phrasing it…. it is restorative. It is a way of building empathetic understanding for the different positions within our community. The community doesn’t need to know all the dirty details of any conflict…. a community needs to be able to find community when it needs it. Again, I think it would have been great for many different people to experience the power of this type of circle… it is used in prisons…… it can work in our community too. Blessed Be.

      • Rosemary says:

        Crystal, First I want to say, that while I was not at SHF, I want to thank you for the work you do and for your helping many others on their journeys to healing. I’ve heard of RJ a few years ago at my UU church in working with youth in a small community in Wisconsin and so I’m somewhat familiar with the postive power RJ has for creating compassion, understanding, and positive relationships. However, my reading the link about RJ and what I learned in the past is part of what RJ is about is accountability for one’s actions. In my opinion, I believe that is what Mark and I are insisting on in order for the healing process to take place.
        There are so many thoughts running around in my head at the moment and one is the situation is much, much larger and more complicated than you and even I realize. Two, we have experienced a community where false information runs rampant and those who try to correct it are considered negative or trying to divide the community, in essence villified when all they want is to be heard and for the truth to be out there. My understanding of the process of RJ is to create safe space for those who feel hurt or harmed to be heard and voice what they need for closure/healing. Third, a major part of the community was not informed of or invited to have an opportunity to take part in an RJ circle. In my opinion, many feel either unsafe or completely unwelcome because of the villification. Another feeling, has been since some of us can’t be heard safely, we will try to stop the drama by living our lives to be the best people we can be, keep silent, and create new community and new things while trying to be very vigilant to not repeat the same behaviors that hurt us to others. In essence, in my case, I walked away from a festival that was a spiritual home for 11 years and a few relationships that I had for just as long, to embrace the creation of a new spiritual home and forging relationships based on good faith, compassion and positive actions. Another thought I have, is that in order for restoration and healing to happen, accountability for behaviors and patterns of behavior need to be acknowledged and changed. I’m not talking about blame or right/wrong, but of individuals looking inward at their behavior patterns, why they do them, appologizing to those hurt by them and really working on being aware of those behaviors to change into more positive ones. Example: gossip-we are all human and have all partaken of it, but one can start to become aware of how it hurts others and make choices on not spreading it to others if one has a friend who is venting frustration in order to solve a problem, maybe a choice would be to advise the ventor, go invite the person you’re frustrated with to coffee to talk.
        Anyway, yes, RJ can work in any community. I would like to propose though that part of restoration may be an option that some people may need to walk away for a time or longer because they’ve chosen not to let certain patterns of behavior be in their lives. Appologies and forgiveness does not always look like hugs and best friends forever. For that option, let them be free, let them love you from a distance, let them create other beautiful things in their lives and strive to learn from and create beautiful things in your own as well. I think all can agree we need more beauty and the gods love diversity.

  3. Mark Slone says:

    Rosemary, Thank you, I wish my words could be as eloquent!
    I will admit that I enjoyed reading the warm, fuzzy articles about this years SHF. My impression was good for them, maybe a new path and direction. Then the “tower” article comes along and my knee jerk reaction asks, was this really necessary?
    Crystal comments on the”dirty details”, so I ask why the “tower” article stirred up the past”controversy” decision by the previous HT board. The “tower” article implies that the action of this HT board was made in malice. I did not attend to air “dirty laundry” but to state that for an action, there was a reaction.
    The reaction to the “tower” article, out in the ether, is it hurt others. Reopening wounds and poured salt into them.
    I feel that the “tower” article could have been composed without any unnecessary bringing up the past board. I personally feel that there is still malice towards certain individuals of the past HT board.

    • caraschulz says:

      The article to which you refer, which I am the author of, was written about a local, long-standing festival that had undergone turmoil, common to organizations, during the past year. They were in danger of disbanding, struggled just to get this year’s festival produced, suffered a drop in attendance, and yet came out the other side in a better position due to the help of a professional trained in Restorative Justice. This story simply could not have been told without referencing some of what happened during the past year as background.

      Todd Berntson, former Vice-President of Harmony Tribe and current board member of Summerlands Spirit Festival was contacted to interview for the article. I held the article back for a week hoping he would respond to my interview request as that would have rounded out a few sections of the article and his view was would have given additional insight to a complex situation and the hopeful future Summerlands Spirit Festival experienced in making their vision a reality.

      As for this article, written by Nels, “As Harmony Tribe works with their healing, values, and community commitments; future articles will report on their progress.” There is more to RJ than just one meeting and Crystal Blanton said she will be following up with the community to continue the process. PNC-Minnesota will follow this story as it continues.

      Mark, you frequently speak of a concern that there is malice directed towards certain individuals. I assure you, our role here is not to perpetrate some kind of conspiracy or vendetta. We are here to “share and promote primary-source reporting from within our interconnected communities.” That’s what we do and everyone gets a fair shake.

      I’m extremely proud of the work we do here. We are the flagship of the entire PNC because of the excellent journalistic product we put out on a regular basis. Our stories are widely read across the country and mainstream press outlets have picked up some of our articles. We couldn’t do it, however, if we didn’t live in such a vibrant, active, and open Pagan community. PNC-Minnesota’s success isn’t just a point of pride for the PNC team, but for every person who lives in the Paganistan area. We are only a reflection of the community and the community is beautiful.

  4. crystalblanton says:

    In responses to both Mark and Rosemary, I think that information regarding the practices of RJ are just now being spread and I have had the pleasure of learning through mediums that lasted for years in some of the most incredibly difficult of situations. Learning in the fire give a bit of a different understanding at times.

    There are several different types of circles and activities through RJ and it is not about accountability for one’s actions in the way you refer. It is about individuals being able to be accountable for their own actions, not others holding them accountable in that way. The focus is restoration. As we say in counseling rooms “being right is just the boobie prize”. It doesn’t make things that have happened different. Understanding, empathy, communication and agreements can support a positive move forward for everyone.

    It is essential for everyone to want to restore inorder for this process to work. Not everyone in Paganistan wants that right now. That is ok. Those who wanted to participate could focus on building a foundation to move forward in health…. rebuild the things that are important to one another while also building understanding for this new community. There was a lot of accountability there and unless someone was there there is no way to know that. It was humbling and awesome to watch.

    The dirty details part refers to coming to an understanding as the professional supporting the movement of healing, that the one thing everyone had in common…. EVERYONE…. was a sense of harm. That is what we can focus on, that builds safe practices and hope. People don’t have to be friends, it is ok. That was not our focus nor is it the focus of RJ.

    In direct response to “My understanding of the process of RJ is to create safe space for those who feel hurt or harmed to be heard and voice what they need for closure/healing” I would say that this is not all together the focus of a RJ circle. RJ is going to come from the perspective that all parties have some harm and we cannot fight over who’s harm is more valid than another. It is about the creation of a safe place and hopefully to build on honest communication that serves as a catalyst for each person to find answers and understand.

    And it is ok for people to not participate. This was for those who felt ready and wanted to be a part of this stage of the process. It is but a stage……

    And as Cara put so wonderfully…. I feel that it is a part of the mysteries. Without the experience it is just words on a paper that doesn’t have proper context. I have been honored to be a part of the process and hope to continue to be a part of the continuing phases of any community that is looking to move beyond a spot and to a place of growth and movement. Many blessings.

  5. Melanie Moore says:

    “At a previous festival, some people volunteered to present a ritual “green tribe, red tribe”, or something like that. The individual that was eventually to be banned, did not like this ritual and went as far as to make a harassing phone call to one of the participants home and spoke harshly to the spouse.”

    Hi! I am Melanie Moore, the spouse of Christopher Freybur Moore, co creator of the Red Tribe, Green Tribe ritual. I have had many phone calls with Sacred Harvest Festival planners, from both sides. I would not catagorize any of them as “harsh” or “harassing”.

  6. Jude says:

    This does sound like an interesting process. I wish I could have participated in it but, unfortunately, our schedules and finances did not allow us to attend (any of the festivals this year). I was a member of the SHF Board for a short while and I would make an educated guess that some people felt ‘harmed’ by my actions and I know that my wife and I felt very similar things by other people’s actions. We, obviously, are used to doing things (organizationally) very different than other SHF people. We all have differences so doesn’t one have to talk about those specific differences to understand them and heal?

    My question: Doesn’t this process require that the people that did the harming and the harmed ones both be there so a solution can be found so it won’t happen again? Otherwise you only get one side of the story which allows gossip and speculation to continue. And with out specific details about the problems/issues doesn’t it come down to just saying that we will all be more open to other’s ideas, communicate better, be more sensitive to other’s feelings, don’t criticize harshly, make people feel like they have been listened to and understood even if you don’t agree with them,,,,,?

    Like I said, I wished I could have been there. It probably would have helped me and the ones that I may have hurt. My intent was not to hurt, just to be heard, understood, acknowledged and respected. My background is much different than many of the other board and tribe members and I had hoped to work things out. People can benefit from a different perspective, whether they agreed with it or not. But since we couldn’t make it to the festival anyway it may all be a moot point, except that there may still be some hurt feeelings out there that are associated with me. If so we should talk.

  7. Crystal Blanton says:

    There are several different circle formats and we did not do a full harm circle, instead did more of a community building circle. There are often RJ circles that don’t include other people for various reasons. RJ is not what one would traditionally think of conflict mediation, it is more focused on harm and not on the right or wrong of a situation. That is one of the things I value about RJ the most. It is not about a one sided view of the situation and more about the effect that any situation has on people and how to restore that community to a sense of safety.

    I would have loved to have met you and if I am lucky enough I will be back next year to see everyone. The more communication the better….

  8. caraschulz says:

    Unfortunately this notice needs to be put up again. Please abide by the comments policy. Comments that are personal attacks will not be published. If a person has a history of these kinds of comments, they lose the ability to comment on PNC. Comments that threaten violence towards another person will be turned over to the police.

    We have again had a person attempt to post a comment that threatened violence towards another individual. This is very disappointing and will not be tolerated.

  9. Marlene Freeman says:

    I couldn’t attend the festival this year due to health and finances. I am saddened that I missed so many special moments at the festival. I would have liked to participate in the Restorative Justice Circle at the festival. I understand that the circle is not a ‘magick pill’ that will right all wrongs. It takes time to heal and an ‘open’ attitude to change oneself and offer change to others within the group. Creating a ‘safer’ environment within the tribe will help with honest communications. Addressing the problems as they arise can create a strong council that will be able to deal with situations as they arise rather than avoiding conflict and allowing individuals who desire to wield ‘power over’ others rather than work in harmony with others.
    The Justice card in the Tarot Deck speaks of balance and fairness. If we restore balance and treat others fairly, it begins the process of healing. I think that it would be important at some point in the future of our community that we invite past and present members of Harmony Tribe to gather at scheduled times and begin the path to recovery. This would include all victims/accusers to meet in sessions to tell our truth. It would be obvious as a participant of a circle that I would recognize that although I felt the victim at times, I would also be confronted by others who felt victimized by me. Many have moved away. Some have moved on to do other important service, but for those still interested, it would be a ground-breaking enterprise.
    Yet, I have a question swirling in my brain. What about justice? I remember all the marches and the chant “No Justice, No Peace!” And now I think of all the past members who came away the HT declaring that a few people continually cause the same problems again and again. The people confront the problem at the time, but eventually walk away frustrated. This is a recurring theme in HT and I think that the behaviors of a few must be confronted by the whole. As it is, individuals just keep trying, one at a time to address the problem behaviors and then leave because their voice was silenced by the group. The group must listen to the conflict and resolve the situation as a tribe. From my own experience, I eventually did not feel safe when I felt as if I was on the ‘hot seat’ for bringing up an issue. Manipulations are often covert, happening between meetings on not on center stage during a meeting. Bringing them to the knowledge of the membership is part of the process of reporting that can facilitate addressing the problem.
    I actually stepped down from Ritual Director since I had so many problems which I regarded as interference in my duties.
    The first situation was working with the theme. Since many were uneasy with the theme, I gathered ideas by email and rolled them into in inclusive idea of the theme. This was ignored by the council and instead of the journey and intent of the rituals, three catchy titles were rolled out for a vote. In my experience with a theme, a title is for publication and marketing, but it does not give the basis for the experience that we are creating. My report gave a clear direction. After, the title was voted upon, I needed to recreate the intention and describe the journey for the website. Many hours of work were ignored by the group. In fairness to Harmony Tribe, we were just beginning amidst so much confusion at that time.
    But then, more problems of the same nature loomed before me. These would include members agreeing during a meeting, based on my report that Rangoli would be ‘tabled’ for the year and then a phone call from a member saying that gossip had it that it would be needed to help the success of the festival. I acquiesced and allowed the ritual in a later time slot since the other slots had been filled and all items donated since the budget didn’t have extra funds. On three other occasions, I became aware that others were reaching out for community ritual, rather than discussing with me previous to their decisions.
    I felt that there were many instances that I was trying to do my director work and would feel that there was too much interference from a few. I stated to all involved at the time through phone calls or face to face discussions that there behavior was affecting my performance. At the time I stepped down, I shared my plan which would have only called for one ritual to be finished and expressed my desire to work with them if they wanted my help.
    We had no ‘rules’ for organization or any other committee. Therefore, I was unable to present my ideas for discussion. I was told in connection with organization ideas, that I must present a written product for my ideas to be heard. In my opinion, there is no need for a committee, if we are each going to do our own work and present it for ratification. Committee work is a group of individuals working together, not each bringing their own agenda.
    Now, you may be reading this and think that I am a bitter person, or controlling, or holding on to pain. But, if you were to ask me, I can tell you honestly that I had many positive experiences in Harmony Tribe both this year and over the years. Actually, I still care very much about the tribe and the festival. But this disclosure of my experience is to make an important point.
    I worked as a counselor for many years and also attended many ‘step’ programs. I came from a past of co-dependency and most relished working with the enablers rather than the addicts. There is a point when working with a client who is sticking with a bad relationship that I guide the person to assess the situation and discuss that after all the tries at affecting change, perhaps the best change would be to leave the relationship. There is a phrase that is used in many programs of recovery that states; Insanity is doing the same thing over and over again, expecting different results.
    I do not want speculation that I had problems with many members of the tribe. In truth, I only experienced recurring problems with three members and the rest were amazing and worked well together. My experiences do not reflect on the tribe as a whole. I’ve met and worked with many wonderful people this year and in previous years.

Comments are closed.