“Power concedes nothing without a demand.” – Frederick Douglas

On Friday, October 19th Neighbors in Action had the pleasure of hosting two site visits from Middle School 839 and South Brooklyn High School. Youth Specialist, Rahson Johnson, and Youth and Community clinician, Gerina Davis, were the hosts and facilitators for these groups.

The middle school consisted of fourteen youth and their teacher Mr. Arun. The group was interested in having a discussion on community analysis and explored these questions: What is community? What does it look and feel like? What are factors that can influence community? How do we restore our communities from the factors that has taken from it?

The group conversation flowed to discussions about how experiences and situations had impacted students’ families and communities personally. The youth were engaged throughout and showed trust and vulnerability in the circle. Towards the end, staff led the group in a conversation about about restorative practices to bring health to their communities. Youth brainstormed a list which included unique ideas such as finding commonality among the conflicting parties (ie. Sports teams, artwork, hobbies etc.; peer mediation that includes consequences for harm caused; and having accountability discussions amongst peers.

The high school circle was unique as it was an intergenerational and diverse group of people in the circle. In addition to the high school youth, there were two school leaders, two CCI researchers, and the NIA facilitators all coming to the discussion with their knowledge and experience. In this conversation, policy was discussed in the context of American society and mainly in schools. The discussion ended with a brainstorm of what restorative policy in schools could look like to best serve the young people in those institutions.

The presence of Middle School 839 and South Brooklyn High School was refreshing, engaging and insightful. They showed great promise as community leaders and we hope to continue future collaborations with both schools.