Research shows that a feeling of community — a sense of belonging — is essential to a person’s sense of well-being. While there are many aspects of life in southern Vermont that engender that sense of community and belonging, I have witnessed how easy it is in our small towns for a small disagreement to have a significant impact on our sense of “place” and our feelings of safety and belonging. And disagreements that don’t get resolved get harder to sort out as time passes. Until now, even if we were willing to seek support in resolving these disagreements, we didn’t always know where to turn, have the resources to pay for support or feel reassured that we would feel heard.
Restorative justice offers an equitable, non-punitive, nonviolent, respectful and creative approach to resolving conflicts, big and small. I am thrilled that we now have free resources for families and community members through the Restorative Community Justice of Southern Vermont that can help us all find a different pathway forward if we get stuck in a conflict or dispute. I am confident that by using and practicing the skills engendered by restorative justice practices, we will find new ways to communicate successfully with each other, thus enhancing the quality of life here in southern Vermont and our feeling of connection to people and place.