We imagine a world without violence, particularly the violence of institutions that tend to neglect or actively punish individuals according to their access to resources. We aim to build systems that affirm life, creativity, and healing and that differ completely than our punishment-based systems (e.g., prisons). Too often, organizations use punishment when individuals, families, and communities need support and resources. We see a future where every conflict, misunderstanding, abuse, or harm can lead to transformation and growth.
As a group, we are learning, growing, and spreading the ideas of other organizers and communities that came before us. We work alongside organizations focused on restorative and transformative justice principles. We want to build practices, informational resources, trainings, and services that make punishment like prisons become unnecessary.
Restorative Justice: A theory, principles, and practices that focus on restoring what was lost after harm occurs. This approach looks at what unmet needs led to harm and what need comes from the harm. From this understanding, we might realize what repair need to be made. Specific practices might include Circle Keeping and restorative conferencing between the person who harmed and the victim.
Transformative Justice: A theory, principles, and practice that goes beyond restorative justice and looks at the conditions that allowed for the harm to happen in the first place. It is also a political stance and focuses on grassroots community responses. Transformative Justice practitioners, despite using similar practices to Restorative Justice, refuses to work with institutions or the state. Transformative Justice assumes that restoration is not the goal, but transformation instead. This movement is led by mostly queer Black, Indigenous, and People of Color, who come from communities that don’t have resources and have historically been policed and punished rather than supported.
We aim to practice what we preach and develop our own habits of empathy, compassion, and taking accountability personally and within our team. For example, we start each board meeting with sharing an apology experience.
We believe that “justice” is hard. It is even harder when there are large power differences between individuals or people and institutions. Transforming harm should look at the following areas: