To create a Restorative Culture means to intentionally develop ways of living and working together in a community based on common agreements and values that support healthy relationships. When relationships take priority in a school, students and staff feel a deeper sense of belonging and commitment. Strong foundations for individual and community success are formed. The term Restorative Practice implies that we make it our practice to relate to others from our core values so that we may become proficient in responding to others in a manner that builds relationships rather than tearing down, destroying, marginalizing or isolating.
Ancient wisdom understood that all things and all beings are connected and that nothing can exist outside of its relationship to the whole. Modern quantum science is confirming this to be true. But we have become a world of broken things—and broken relationships top the list. For several decades, a movement has been growing across the globe to find a way to begin restoring our broken relationships—individually, communally, nationally, and globally. Bringing together the concept of restoration, and the definition of justice this movement has became known as Restorative Justice.
The definitions of justice include the idea of fairness, and genuine respect for people—honoring the inherent worth of all. Social justice is all about respecting the dignity and the rights and opportunities of all people. These conditions exist in relationships—enacted through relationships. Judicial justice is a response to harm or crime. Ultimately this harm is to people and their relationships and community. Life itself is indeed all about relationships. We are all connected. What we do, like a stone dropped in a pond, ripples out, affecting others far beyond our immediate awareness.
Because the emphasis of the restorative paradigm is on building, strengthening and repairing relationships and on the core values we share with one another, it is clear that it reaches beyond crime and the Criminal Justice System where it began. It finds a place in schools, the workplace, communities and families.
Involving people in healthy dialogue allows them to work together at creating strong, cohesive, productive environments. In a restorative culture, conflict and tensions are resolved through processes that include all affected parties focusing on repairing harm and strengthening relationships. Most importantly, creating and maintaining restorative culture in a school or any other organization is proactive—it informs persons at all levels of interaction within the community how they can relate to each other in a manner that supports a thriving organization and naturally leads to less conflict and confrontation.