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Basic Concepts Shape Our Culture

In this issue of Restorative Works, our annual magazine, you will hear about many important projects and stories from around the world. The unifying theme of this issue is that restorative practices is the science of relationships and community. In addition to organizations and schools, these practices and ideas have the power to transform everyday relationships, give regular people more voice, and increase their ability to impact the civil society issues that matter most. This is not a utopian philosophy. On important and complicated issues such as race relations, education reform, policing and civil engagement, this new social science offers no easy solutions. Yet the stories in this issue offer a glimpse into new ways of engaging with our neighbors — especially those with whom we disagree, who see the world differently, and even those whom we might fear. How we relate to everyone within our communities matters more than we might suspect.

At the IIRP Graduate School, we practice what we teach. Over the past year we have begun reexamining our own organizational community and making our collective expectations and commitments more explicit. Through a variety of experiences, we engaged all our staff in reexamining one of the most foundational keystones of our culture: our Basic Concepts. They express, in the clearest way possible, how everyone in the IIRP consortium of organizations is expected to approach relationships, with each other and with those we serve.

These are high expectations. They apply equally to everyone in the organization from the president, to trustees, to our international affiliates, to our CSF Buxmont demonstration programs, to the newest intern. I hope that you, and everyone we serve, will hold the IIRP accountable to these expectations. I also hope that they can serve as inspiration within your own community.

Everything of great value requires great effort. Restoring community requires that we face tough questions, complicated histories and challenging relationships. It is often hard and uncertain work. The IIRP is here to help you in that work, as we know you are here to support us in this mission.

John W. Bailie, Ph.D.

Our Basic Concepts

  • We believe that people are capable of growing and learning in their work and behavior.
  • We respond to situations WITH people, not TO them, FOR them, or NOT at all.
  • We separate the deed from the doer by affirming the worth of the individual while disapproving of inappropriate behavior.
  • People function best in an environment that encourages free expression of emotion — minimizing the negative, maximizing the positive, but allowing people to say what is really on their minds.
  • We are not expected to have all of the answers. Instead of trying to answer or act without adequate knowledge, we need to ask others for help.
  • We hold each other accountable by giving and receiving feedback respectfully.
  • We act as role models by admitting when we are wrong and being humble.
  • We help people develop competencies rather than providing the answers for them.