On a rainy, ugly Saturday Georgia afternoon, Janice Jerome drove 45 minutes to share her passion for peacemaking with me.
Janice burst forth from her truck, offering a welcoming hug. No handshakes for us! She returned to her vehicle to retrieve a book bag filled with a mini-library. She shared with me two books from the series, The Little Books of Justice and Peacebuilding, one by a grandfather of the restorative justice movement, Howard Zehr, the other by Kay Pranis, a noted author, trainer and practitioner in the field, based at the Minnesota Office of Corrections.
Right away, Janice disabused me of the notion that Peacemaking Circles are limited in application to the justice system. She reeled off a list of settings in which the methodology has worked, based on her own experiences. Wherever there is a community facing a challenge, a conflict, a rupture, the method offers the potential of restoration and wholeness, she said. Success depends on the community members, she said, though it seemed clear to my “newbie” eyes that the facilitator brings much to the process.
Janice believes there are individuals who know early in life that they are peacemakers. Their circumstances will vary, but their orientation toward peacemaking is distinctly present.
At some point during her presentation, Janice commented, “You may have noticed that I haven’t said anything about God or Jesus. That’s because God is a given.” I asked, “God is the ground of our being?” and she went right back into her presentation. I took that to be a yes.
Among her mentors, Janice counts Dominic Barter, who pioneered the use of restorative circles in the poverty-stricken favelas of Brazil. [pullquote] [Editor's Update: Dominic Barter, will be sharing the Restorative Circle process during a 5-day learning event in Champaign, IL October 12-16., 2011.][/pullquote]
As we shared a few personal experiences, Janice pointed out the difference between love and understanding. The primary thing is love, she said. Understanding may not come right away. The point is, love is what we have to offer, even before understanding comes.
To reach Janice, email her at: Janice.Jerome@live.com