About Restorative Integration
We offer compassion-and-connection-centered learning, coaching and consulting in Restorative Integration as well as a robust online community platform to support your journey toward greater Power-and-Equity Consciousness.
What is Power-and-Equity Consciousness (PEC)?
Power-and-Equity Consciousness (PEC) is a term that was developed by Restorative Integration Founder, Dr. Amanda Aguilera in conversation with her colleague, Regina Smith, to refer to the state of awareness of social power dynamics, including those in interpersonal power differentials as well as collective and systemic power, that influence equity in relationship where there is a status power differential. As your PEC develops, you are more capable of seeing power dynamics as they occur, inequities that show up in those power dynamics, and deciphering your responsibilities and vulnerabilities within those dynamics.
Though it is not linear in its development, PEC is developed first through Personal Power (which helps to mediate all other types of power), then is developed through interpersonal relationships with the hard work of harm & repair, and finally through collective power we begin to develop the highest level of PEC from the perspective of systems thinking. Our curriculum follows this progression which takes the shape of a spiral – where our understanding of each dimension of power continues to develop as our PEC develops.
What is Restorative Integration and how is related to Restorative Justice?
Restorative Justice is one type of Restorative Practice that is used when harm has occurred in relationship. Restorative Practices are often displayed in a pyramid to show that pro-active, relationship-building practices are the foundation of any healthy relationship or community. And inevitably, as humans, we will have different needs, beliefs and expectations that will create conflict between us.
With a strong foundation through relationship building, it becomes easier to engage in regular communication (giving and receiving feedback, impact statements) which should be the bulk of energy and effort toward relationship tending. As conflict arises, we tend to those differences as immediately as possible through restorative conversations. This is required for the basic maintenance of relationships. When we fail to provide this maintenance to relationships, they may fall into deeper conflict where harm to self/other can result. When this happens, we use one of the many reparative restorative processes developed in restorative justice that helps us come back into right relationship with one another through identifying harms and creating agreements for repair.
With Restorative Integration, we realize that a greater foundation is necessary for building relationships and community. We understand that we cannot build true community (welcoming diverse social locations and points of view) without an understanding of social power dynamics from an anti-oppression lens, that is, without PEC. This social justice foundation is critical for the success of restorative practices as, without the understanding of power dynamics, we will only perpetuate systems of oppression and continue to cause harm while we are trying to mitigate or address harm.
Supporting the social justice framework, we understand the necessity of awareness – composed of mindfulness and compassion. Without mindfulness it would be easy to engage in restorative practices in a way that may limit others’ participation, not differentiate between intention and impact or become a guised manifestation of a traditional approach to “justice” that may ultimately inhibit rather than promote equity.
And, finally, the ultimate ground for this work is compassion. Compassion is the necessary vehicle that carries mindful awareness into restorative practices. Without compassion for self and other, we can easily become trapped in shame or locked in a battle of us vs. them or good vs. bad. When conflict inevitably arises and we become aware of the frequency with which intention and impact do not match, we have the opportunity to allow the ground of compassion to support our work towards building inclusive community. This creates the potential for a conflict positive culture. Wherever there are two or more human beings gathered, difference and conflict exist whether it is expressed, suppressed or twisted into conformity. We understand that difference and conflict are natural and necessary parts of the human experience so we seek to be courageous, competent, capable and committed in our approach to working with both.
A Restorative Approach to Conflict
In the simplest terms, conflict has the potential to either promote productivity or to stifle it; to increase oppression or champion equity; to alienate others or to deepen relationships. The difference in outcome lies in the approach to conflict.
When conflict is ignored or avoided or when there is a reactive approach to difference in relationship, harm, disengagement and disempowerment are likely to follow. However, if there is a willingness to be uncomfortable, to engage and welcome difference and the skills to engage in conflict in generative ways, the results are tremendous. Increased trust, engagement, collaboration, and equity often result from conflict positive environments.
In order to move from a reactive and avoidant relationship with conflict to a more proactive, empowering one, there needs to be support and skills in place to take a “Restorative First Approach.” This approach includes:
active responsibility –we choose to actively take responsibility when we cause negative impacts (regardless of intention) instead of waiting to be held accountable (passive responsibility).
conflict positivity – we recognize that conflict is the presence of differing needs, beliefs and expectations and when we show up authentically and value diversity, then conflict is inevitable. Therefore, we prepare ourselves with the skills to engage in healthy conflict.
awareness of power – since power dynamics are operating all the time in relationship, we commit to understanding and being aware of power, power differentials and power dynamics.
contemplative foundation – awareness (with both mindfulness and compassion) is the necessary ground for the engagement in healthy conflict.