New Interns with WCCC - Join Miranda and Kasi as They Learn About Circles

We will have a new blog series for the next several weeks, courtesy of two new WCCC interns, Miranda and Kasi.  Learn about WCCC and restorative justice along with Miranda and Kasi as they intern with board member Samantha Fahey and volunteer on cases in Stillwater.

This week was my first official week as an intern with Washington County Community Circles and it has been an eye opening experience. It wasn't just attending circle on Thursday night, which I will get into later, it was beginning actual research on both restorative justice and circle that has changed my view on a lot of different aspects of the American justice system. There are a lot of ways that we as a society can change it but as an individual, it begins with learning and understanding how exactly I can change the way the justice system “punishes" offenders. Before finding this internship, I did not know what restorative justice was exactly. I had a small inkling as to what it was because of my faculty advisor who is very interested in and is an advocate for restorative justice. The more I research the more I grow in excitement for what my future may look like in regards to reforming the criminal justice system.

Now going back to the circle I attended on Thursday evening, while it may have been what others would call “disappointing,” I call enlightening. The circle that was held wasn't an ‘official’ circle but it was still an experience that I will never forget. We spoke about the shooting that happened in Florida and how that made us feel as not only a person in this country but as a country as a whole. We spoke about compassion as the value this week and each of us that were there spoke of our disappointment and disgust in the fact that school shootings are so normal in this country. We then went on to theorize on reasons why things like this keep happening. While we never came to a full answer we can probably all agree that it has something to do with the lack of guidance and direction from parents toward their children.

Kids are left to their own devices in most cases, never really knowing what is right and what it wrong. But if we can figure out why this keeps occurring and then fix it, maybe our country has a real future. To conclude, I m looking forward to the next 12 weeks as an intern with Washington County Community Circles. See you next week! ~ Kasi

MLK Community Breakfast in Stillwater Next Monday

Looking for a way to celebrate our community and Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.?  One of our volunteers shared the following information on a community breakfast next Monday:

There is an MLK Breakfast to be held at St. Peter’s Church at 7 am on Monday morning, Jan. 15th. It is designed as a community-wide event for everyone and also one that will recognize a couple local folks notable for their work on human rights (a co-sponsor for the Breakfast is the Stillwater Human Rights Commission). There will be a breakfast, then a chance to view the livestream from the Mpls Breakfast with a keynote and then some local celebrating of our own community and people in it doing good work for justice, peace and inclusion.  Tickets for the breakfast are $5 (kids 12 and under are free) and are available through INTERFAITH ACTION.

See this flyer for more information!


Fall Newsletter Now Available: Community is our Buzzword This Season

'Community' is WCCC's Buzzword This Season

Take a few minutes to read our latest newsletter here!

A part of WCCC's mission is, "building a better community."  We continually strive to find creative approaches to build a better community in which we live in.  Be sure to read this issue of Talking Circles to learn how WCCC has taken part in building Washington County's community and learn more about a new, innovative circle that offers another opportunity for you to get involved.

We're also ramping up for Give to the Max Day on Thursday, November 16.  We hope that you will help us maximize our matching donation from our valued partner Ogletree Deakins.  They're back matching your donations dollar-for-dollar up to $500! 

Value of the Day: Service

WCCC hosted a Circle 101 Training this weekend for 9 current and potential volunteers. We are pleased that all trainees are planning to volunteer with our organization following the training (or they already are volunteering)! We are humbled by the strong value our community members have for service - for our organization as well as our clients and community members. 

If you missed the training and would like to attend one in the future,  please email us to get on a waiting list.  We may schedule a training before next spring if there is enough interest to do so.  Thank you all for your service!


"Securing" New Partners

Pardon our pun. We had the pleasure of talking Restorative Justice Circles with the Information Security Services team at Blue Cross Blue Shield MN today.  We were invited in as a spotlight on nonprofits in the community. Lynn Schurrer and Jen Lenander gave an overview of WCCC's work and brainstormed ways for them, or people in their network, can support Circles by volunteering or donating. 

Does your organization provide matches to your donations to nonprofits? Blue Cross Blue Shield MN does! Those corporate matches are an excellent way to maximize the impact of your generous donations. See more about the BCBS program here

Today's Value: Humility

Last night we had over 40 Washington County community members and criminal justice professionals come together to discuss Sex Trafficking in Washington County.  In our community.  Our experts - Imran Ali, Paul Kroshus, Aimee Schroeder, and Kathy Woxland - provided important and compelling information about what our community needs to know about commercial sex exploitation. WCCC is humbled by the community interest and for our speakers to spend their evening educating us on their very important work. Their passion for this difficult work was humbling to see. We are grateful and in awe of the work they do every day.

 We are inspired.

WCCC unveiled a protocol for Accountability Circles, developed with the Washington County Attorney's Office, aimed at building a culture in our communities of respect for all humans, starting with those seeking out commercial sex in Washington County. Contact us to learn more about how to get involved.

Imran Ali kicks off the Sex Trafficking Training on September 7, 2017.

Imran Ali kicks off the Sex Trafficking Training on September 7, 2017.

Summer 2017 Newsletter

Squeezing the last ounces of fun out of this summer...

Fall is ramping up to be a busy season for WCCC. We're getting ready to put away the suntan lotion and to set up our circle chairs.

Be sure to read this issue of Talking Circles for more information on:

  • Some note worthy upcoming events (spoiler alert: Sex Trafficking in Washington County and Circle 101 training).
  • Details about our new and improved website and blog.

If you have questions, please email us at
or call us at (651) 492-4996.

Thank you for helping us build a better community, one circle at a time.

Our Partners: Eckberg Lammers Edition

Today we had a great opportunity to meet with attorneys and staff at Eckberg Lammers to discuss when and how Circles could be beneficial in cases they process as part of their prosecution of misdemeanor cases in Washington County, namely the city of Woodbury.  We look forward to future referrals and conversations about how WCCC can be a resource on the right cases and with the right individuals and families.  Special thanks to Rebecca Christensen, Wendy Murphy, and Tom Weidner for taking time out of their busy schedules to hear what WCCC has been up to recently and commit to partner with us - and Tubman - for the benefit of the Woodbury and Washington County Community!

Sentencing Circles in Law School? This Canadian University Says Yes

A university in Canada is increasing the diversity of their faculty to have more  tenured indigenous professors. The university hopes the new professors will bring their personal experiences and world view to all subjects.  As an example,  they hope to teach more about restorative justice and sentencing circles,  used my First Nations peoples to resolve crime. 

WCCC was founded on principles we learned from the First Nations people in the Yukon. We're very excited to see that sentencing circles continue to be integrated into our traditional systems and institutions internationally.

From Ellie Krug: Forgiveness

Forgiveness is an important and difficult value that we talk about in Circle often when we talk about how clients can repair harm to themselves, those they hurt, and the community.  Ellie Krug - writer, lawyer, human in her own words - wrote recently about forgiveness and creating an inclusive environment in which forgiveness is valued.  We've included an exerpt from her most recent newsletter.  Sign up for Ellie's newsletter here and visit her website here.

Let’s face it: in diverse workplaces, there’s a greater risk for misunderstandings, misstatements (aka micro-aggressions) or hurt feelings between colleagues who themselves are diverse. This is in part because everyone brings to the workplace different perspectives and experiences, some of which may be rooted in historical and personal trauma. It’s inevitable that someone will say or do something that will adversely impact a co-worker; ordinarily this is a problem but when the subject matter of the offending action is tied to one’s identity as a diverse person, things get even more complicated.

From an HR (or even a simple humanist) perspective, it’s important that the offending work colleague apologize for the statement or slight. As important, the team member who’s been offended or slighted needs to forgive the offender. A team member who harbors animosity toward a past offender often is less productive and a potential agent to degrade morale, particularly among other diverse team members.

Here are some quick tips about how to foster forgiveness in a diverse workplace:

  1. Talk about and frequently reinforce that forgiveness is a workplace or organizational value.
  2. Ensure that you, as a workplace leader, practice what you preach by forgiving team members who have offended you.
  3. In the instance of another team member who’s been offended and once an apology has been made, talk about the need for forgiveness; then set the expectation that the offended team member will work toward forgiving the transgressor.
  4. Check-in with the offended team member to determine where they are relative to forgiveness; if they’re finding it difficult to forgive the offender, provide resources on the power of forgiveness. (One such resource is the REACH model created by Everett L. Worthington, which he developed after a horrific crime was committed upon a family member.)
  5. If the offended team member still can’t forgive, get help—bring in a professional/therapist who can add an element of objectivity to the situation.
  6. Conduct workplace training on the power of apologizing and forgiving. Everett Worthington reports that an eight-hour forgiveness workshop can reduce subjects’ depression and anxiety levels as much as several months of psychotherapy would. 

Some of the above points can be found in “The Power of Forgiveness at Work” by Brooke Deterline. 

In short, forgiveness needs to be a key personal value for anyone. It’s not always easy to forgive but doing so allows one the freedom to move on and grow as a person.  

Our Fall Circle 101 Training Dates: October 13-14

We've set our fall Circle 101 Training date early this year so that you can get the dates on your calendar early.  The training will be Friday, October 13 (6 to 9) and Saturday, October 14 (9 to 4).  Dinner Friday, and Breakfast and Lunch Saturday are included - and those meals are a definite highlight of the full training experience.  Find more information on our flyer.

Register now here, and contact us with any questions you may have about the training.


Summer Restorative Practices Trainings

There are some exciting opportunities for Restorative Practices trainings this summer.  


Summer Events for Restorative Practices

Circle Training July 31-August 3, Brooklyn Center

You are invited to learn the Circle process! This Community Circle Training is opened to all interested in transforming their communities and building relationships through the Circle process. While the training is designed for all community members, some emphasis will be placed on implementing Circles in schools. The trainers are Ms. Alice O. Lynch and Dr. Talaya L. Tolefree. The training will be held at Paladin Career and Technical High School  308 Northtown Dr, Blaine, MN 55434  To register, send an email to Ms. Alice O. Lynch at  or call her at 612-387-4774 (day time) or 612-521-5012 (evenings).

Restorative Practices in Schools, August 16-18, St. Paul

St. Paul Public Schools and the St. Paul Federation of Teachers offer a Restorative Practice Institute at Education MN in St. Paul, August 16-18. All levels of learners in restorative practices are welcome. Our stories of restorative practice implementation will be presented though movement, arts integration, social emotional learning, student leadership and trauma informed practices during the morning break- out sessions. The afternoon sessions will provide intensive coaching and practice in foundational circle keeping. Registered here.

Trauma Awareness and Resilience-August 7-11, Minneapolis


Strategies for Trauma Awareness and Resilience – the STAR TrainingMon-Fri August 7-11, 2017 in Minneapolis The 4½ day evidence-based STAR Training integrates neurobiology, psychology, trauma healing & resilience, restorative justice, nonviolent conflict transformation, and broadly defined spirituality setting the stage for authentic reconciliation for individuals and communities. Details and online registration at: www.staraug2017.eventbrite.comFor 2-1 RJ practitioner discount or scholarship assistance, please contact

RJ First Friday Networking June 2

For those of you in the metro,  we wanted to share a great networking opportunity,  hosted by Nancy Riestenberg. Here's the invitation from Nancy:


June will be busting out all over, so that gives us one opportunity to gather with our RJ friends, where ever we can, at a coffee house, café, park or playground Friday, June 2.  I myself will be on the patio of the Dunn Brothers Coffee Shop on Fairview Avenue across from the Roseville Mall from 8:00-9:30


Those of you who have never heard of First RJ Friday can participate by simply standing with another RJ person on the first Friday of the month and say, “Hi!  How are you?”, and then listen.  No agenda or talking piece necessary, and beverages are optional.


I am also including a listing of RP trainings that I am aware of this summer.  Let me know if there are others, and I will add them to the list.  Tell all your friends!


June is bustin' out all over

All over the meadow and the hill!

Buds're bustin' outa bushes

And the rompin' river pushes

Ev'ry little wheel that wheels beside the mill!


…All because it’s June, June, June!

                        R Rodgers


Nancy Riestenberg

Restorative Practices Specialist

School Safety Technical Assistance Center

Another Successful Circle 101 Training

On May 12-13, we held another wonderful Circle 101 Training at La Lake park in Woodbury. Each training is unique,  shaped by the training participants themselves.  We were incredibly fortunate to have a training participant open Circle Saturday with a smudge. Brought back wonderful memories of WCCC Circle Keeper and co-founder Mark LaPointe's openings. We're grateful for the new relationships built and look forward to seeing the training participants in Circle!


Thanks to Circle Keeper Lynn Schurrer for the delicious home-cooked food! 


The Circle is open! 


Many resources to shape our learning.