Verde Valley News – Since 2005 Northern Arizona Restorative Justice (NARJ) has been successfully fostering change within our community. An official diversion program for Yavapai County Juvenile Probation in Northern Arizona, their programs with juveniles have an astounding eighty-eight percent success rate. NARJ’s work in local schools has dramatically lowered the suspension rate and improved the overall quality of the school environment which supports better educational outcomes. They have worked personally with families as well as organizations using restorative practices to facilitate better relationships. On Thursday, November 17, NARJ is holding a free evening event How Restorative Practices Help Transform Our environment And Build a Healthy Functional Community at the Sedona Public Library from 6-8pm.
Originating with the Maori in New Zealand, restorative practices are modeled on how indigenous groups promote peacemaking and engage with offenders. The idea is that offenders must be “restored” to their communities through accountability, conversation and making amends. The aim is to create strong communities which work together to support members and hold them to high standards. An inclusionary process where both the victim and the offender are an active part of the solution, Restorative Justice focuses on repairing harm. When victims, offenders and community members meet to decide how to do that, the results are transformational.
“When we think about building strong communities and a strong world around us to to me it begins with our children and how we teach them to interact with each other,” says Former Oak Creek School Principal Nayadin Pesaud “Northern Arizona Restorative Justice helped provide the tools necessary for this fundamental component.”
Nationally educators and schools recognize that relationships and connection are what build safety and are willing to take the time to create this sense of community so that every child can feel supported and regulated in order to better learn. NARJ has an ongoing training programs that offer opportunities within school systems throughout Northern Arizona to train and support local educators and schools in implementing Restorative Practices in schools. The city of Flagstaff has implemented restorative practices in all fifteen schools within their district.
The community is invited to join them at the Sedona Public Library on Thursday, November 17, from 6-8 pm for a lively informative evening which will feature an overview of restorative practices along with short videos discussion and a question and answer session. Light refreshments will be served. It will be facilitated by Executive Director Jeremy Hawkes, Board President Jo Stone and Board Member Paul Friedman.
Executive Director Jeremy Hawkes joined NARJ in January 2022. He comes to NARJ with a passion to use restorative practice throughout the greater community as a process to repair harm and facilitate a healthy, functional and relational community. He comes to this perspective tested by his research and personal experiences. In his youth, Jeremy experienced first hand the impact of a punitive response to disobedience from our justice system. The experience was difficult to navigate, he was faced with unwarranted consequences and it was an immeasurable challenge to recover. He notes “We need to find a more empathetic way to learn and grow from our mistakes. Restorative practice can help develop a healthy functional community.”
Jo Stone, MFT, PhD started working in private practice in 1980 in California and moved her practice to Sedona in 1989. It has always been her goal to help guide individuals, couples and families through challenging life transitions by enriching their communication skills, teaching tools for a positive life view and a general healthy approach to living. This has included running a senior women’s group for four years, counseling families dealing with life threatening illness, working with at-risk teens and their families as well as women in transition. She served on the Board of Make-A-Wish of Northern Arizona for 13 years, Sedona Godmothers for three years, has been a facilitator with Restorative Justice for the last 10 years and joined the board in 2014.
Paul Friedman, Ph.D. moved to Sedona in 2005, after serving for 35 years on the Communication and Human Relations faculty at the University of Kansas. He has been active here in volunteer activities that bring good will and understanding to local residents. Examples include teaching a wide range of classes year-round at the Osher Lifelong Learning Institute (OLLI), coordinating a Sedona Community Mediation program hosted by the Sedona City Manager, leading weekly discussion programs for inmates over two years at the Yavapai County Detention Center in Camp Verde, and being a Restorative Justice facilitator. In 2020 he was named the Spirit of Sedona Collaborator of the Year by the Arizona Community Foundation.
Founded in 2005, Northern Arizona Restorative Justice is a non-profit regional organization that uses successful, established principles offering all key stakeholders an opportunity to repair the harm suffered as a result of an offense. When victims, offenders and community members meet to decide how to do that, the results are transformational and strengthen the social fabric of the community. NARJ has an 88% success rate, higher than both the national and state average. For more information about NARJ please go to www.NARJ.org find them on Facebook or contact Executive Director Jeremy Hawks at 928-202 – 0446.