Prisoners model generosity with bicycles

This article was originally published on Jan. 4, 2018. It has been updated with new artwork.

In this time of giving when many Americans look to support their favorite charitable causes, they frequently choose non-profits that provide toys to children of prisoners. However, this year in Bermuda, five prisoners defied expectations by repairing and restoring bicycles as gifts for children, according to the Royal Gazette.

The five men are serving time at the Westgate Correctional facility, and they’re making the most of their rehabilitation period. They are members of the prison’s “Lifeline” group, which provides inmates the opportunity to give back to their community. Gina Ingham, a volunteer coordinator working on the project, described it as “the perfect example of restorative justice.”

This past December, that work included refurbishing several bikes so that local children could enjoy them as early holiday presents. The project has been active for five years and many are quite pleased with it, from the prison administration, to local educators working with the children, to the prisoners as well.

A special ceremony was held in which the prisoners greeted the new cyclists and witnessed their subsequent expressions of joy. Mr. Roberts, one of the prisoners, said of the ceremony, “I’m a big man and I had to turn away because I had a tear coming . . . That’s the excitement.”

Roberts added, “It uplifts me knowing that I am giving something to somebody who really appreciates it and really loves it.”

The redemptive power of the experience is clear, as he says, “We’re doing this from our hearts, we’re helping children who are coming up and we don’t want them to make the mistakes we’ve made.”

Aside from the presents, the children involved received a valuable lesson in compassion. Those receiving the gifts come to know the men as human beings, capable of love, service, and generosity—far from the stereotypes of prisoners in poplar media. The prisoners themselves had the opportunity to build and express these very virtues through their work refurbishing and gifting the bicycles.

It may be natural to have a reflexive response to the situation: Who lets prisoners visit a school to give bikes to children?! Lisa Lorish, an assistant federal public defender in the Western District of Virginia, treats that concern in her essay, “Once and Always Criminal?” in The Hedgehog Review. She confronts this sensibility, our “unspoken presumptions of America’s criminal justice system [yet not confined to America]: once a criminal, always a criminal. This presumption too often becomes a self-fulfilling prophecy because of the collateral consequences those with criminal convictions face after release from incarceration.”

When children see redemption in real people, it shapes their moral imaginations. For high school English teachers who have the capacity and opportunity to teach it, there are few works that illustrate redemption like Les Miserables.

Barbados teachers learn restorative practices to address student discipline

The island nation of Barbados may soon officially adopt restorative practices as part of its national education model, according to a Canadian social justice group who works to train educators on an alternative approach to student discipline.

Velma Newton, regional director of the Canada-based IMPACT Justice, told Barbados TODAY the group has trained 219 Barbadian educators out of 867 in the Caribbean on restorative practices, which aim to create discussion and conversations and repair relationships when student conflicts arise.

The intervention method, which has also gained momentum in U.S. school districts in recent years, is based on restorative justice practices in the criminal justice system dating back to the 1970s that rely on mediation and reconciliation between offenders and victims, rather than punishments or zero-tolerance policies.

“We have trained over 100 educators in Barbados. We have done principals, deputy principals, guidance counselors, ordinary teachers, education officers, representatives of all groups in the educational system … because we firmly believe that the restorative practices, the principles, if properly applied, can help to curb violence,” Newton told the news site.

Newton said IMPACT Justice is working with Senior Education Officer Patricia Warner and Guidance Counselor Julia Edey to train all educators on restorative practices. The group also hopes to include the principal of the local Erdiston Teachers Training College in those sessions, as well, “because we would like restorative practices to be included in their curriculum so that as class teachers are trained, they would get used to the concepts and how to apply them in schools.”

The intent is to eventually create a regional association to advocate for restorative practices in all schools, Newton said, adding that Minister of Education Santia Bradshaw seemingly supports the effort.

Newton wrote to Bradshaw about including restorative justice in the curriculum, and “her response shows that she is willing to look at restorative practices as something that can be included in the curriculum, not necessarily in secondary schools … (but) certainly we include it as a practice,” Newton told Barbados TODAY.

Researchers at the Institute for Advanced Studies in Culture have noted the significant impact school culture has on students’ character, and why efforts to create a positive learning environment is critical.

Institute founder James Davison Hunter wrote in “The Tragedy of Moral Education in America”:

The form of character is one thing, but the substance of character always takes shape relative to the culture in which it is found.

While IMPACT Justice and other groups focus on restorative practices designed to repair harm stemming from student conflicts, others offer resources for preventing school violence, bullying, suicide and other issues in advance.

The Olweus Bullying Prevention Program, for one, offers a “prevention curriculum,” suggestions for a “peaceful school bus,” “comprehensive suicide awareness,” and other materials to help parents and educators to keep kids safe at school.

The Olweus site features online courses and reports about bullying, readiness assessments and training certifications, as well.

WA revises student discipline rules to focus on keeping kids in school

Washington state’s new school discipline rules will continue to shift schools away from suspensions and expulsions in favor of policies that keep kids in the building for minor offenses.

The Washington Office of Superintendent of Public Instruction recently adopted updated rules for student discipline as part of a broader effort to close opportunity gaps between students of different races.

The new rules, which were crafted through feedback from students, parents, educators and community leaders, will be phased in over the next two years, the Snoqualmie Valley Record reports.

For 2018-19, the state is prohibiting schools from suspending or expelling any student for excessive absences or tardiness, with additional restrictions set for next school year. The new rules encourage schools to use best practices to minimize suspensions and expulsions, particularly in response to behaviors that do not pose a threat to school safety. The rules will also ban the expulsion of students through fourth grade, and require schools to clarify how students can continue their education if they are suspended or expelled for students above grade four.

Snoqualmie Valley School District Assistant Superintendent Jeff Hogan told the news site he supports the changes, which are consistent with his district’s move toward a softer student discipline approach in recent years.

“We started changing our policies to keep students in school and engaged rather than stunt their education over more minor offenses,” Hogan said. “Back in the day if a student skipped school, it was the policy to suspend them. Seems kind of counterproductive, don’t you think?”

The new state rules ensure suspended or expelled students can participate in the general education curriculum to complete their classwork and graduation requirements, though those sent home for more than 10 days will now be required to secure a reengagement plan before returning to school, the Valley Record reports.

At Snoqualmie Valley and other districts, officials plan to rely more on punishments like community service, restitution and in-school suspensions to keep kids learning when they’re out of class.

“Our goals are to give appropriate discipline to students and to shorten suspension and get kids reengaged as quickly as possible for when they are suspended for serious offenses,” Hogan said.

Researchers at the Institute for Advanced Studies in Culture have noted how discipline policies help students do the right thing can be more effective than simply imposing punishment.

Institute founder James Davison Hunter explains in “The Death of Character” that moral autonomy is an individual’s capacity to freely make ethical decision, because “controlled behavior cannot be moral behavior, for it removes the element of discretion and judgement.”

By helping students work through conflicts and behavior issues, through restorative justice practices or counseling that help them freely atone for their behaviors, they gain the moral autonomy to do the right thing, for the right reasons.

The blog Academike takes a deeper look at “Reformative Theory of Punishment,” as well as the concept of restorative justice that’s taking root in both schools and the criminal justice system.

“Crime is a violation of people and relationships. It creates obligations to make things right,” according to the blog. “Justice involves the victim, the offender, and the community in a search for solutions that promote repair, reconciliation and reassurance.”


Alternative thinking about student discipline in schools

Schools across the country, and California as well, are rethinking school discipline in an effort to reduce suspensions for black students, both through restorative justice programs and policy changes focused on keeping unruly students in school.

Supporters of the new approach have pointed to evidence in suspension data in calls on U.S. Education Secretary Betsy DeVos to continue policies designed to reduce the racial discipline gap, while others are outlining nuances in discipline data to understand contributing factors, The 74 Million reports.

“So much of the debate centers on whether schools are being too dismissive or overly punitive, and factors like school structure, which data show correlates to suspension rates, tends to get overlooked,” Tom Loveless, an education policy researcher for the Bookings Institution, told the education site.

Loveless published a report in 2017 on out -of-school suspensions in California schools that examined trends between 2012 and 2015. The study focused on students in schools with more than 50 students, and excluded data from alternative schools, juvenile delinquent facilities and those serving students with disabilities.

According to The 74, Loveless found:

–        Among schools that suspend a disproportionate number of black students, school size tends to correlate with suspension rates. The rates of suspensions for black students went up as school size increased.

–        Suspension rates for black students tend to peak in middle school and then fall in high school.

–        Black students are more likely to be suspended when they attend segregated or “racially isolated” schools than when they attend majority-white or mixed-race schools.

Loveless and other education experts are only starting to understand what the trends mean, but it’s obvious that the structure of schools have an impact on outcomes.

“Loveless’s research suggests there are factors within school districts’ control that impact suspension rates but have little to do with actual discipline policies,” the education site reports. “One factor is school size, particularly middle schools. Loveless noted that school size could be adjusted by reassigning students to different schools or building new ones.”

Another factor that’s less researched is students’ character formation.

James Davison Hunter, founder of the Institute for Advanced Studies in Culture, highlighted the critically important role schools play in shaping the morality and character of students in his book “The Tragedy of Moral Education in America.”

“The components of morality are expressed in a community’s institutions, including its moral rules,” Hunter wrote. “When it functions well, our moral culture binds us, compels us, in ways of which we are not fully aware.”

Schools with a strong moral culture compel students to show kindness and compassion for their classmates, teachers and others, which reduces disciplinary problems.

The Community School for Social Justice and others are working to create that kind of atmosphere with restorative justice practices, such as fairness committees in lieu of suspensions.  However, restorative justice does not the offender off the hook.

“The Fairness Committee of The Community School for Social Justice is a restorative justice model of school discipline. This mode enforces positive conflict resolution, emphasizing on the violation of community norms established by all members of the school community,” according to the school website. “Fairness Committee seeks to encourage dialogue amongst community members in order to come to reach a consensus on appropriate consequences for those violations rather than handing out punishments.”

IN schools shift from punitive to restorative student discipline

A new state law is forcing Indiana schools to adopt a restorative justice approach to student discipline, with the underlying goal of reducing disproportional suspensions and discipline of minority students.

It’s a move aimed at shifting from a punitive system that removes offending students from the classroom to one that encourages kids to work through their issues, and some are welcoming the change.

The Herald-Bulletin Editorial Board in Anderson, Indiana recently published an op-ed highlighting how the new approach has improved learning in Anderson Community Schools, and why it’s optimistic restorative justice can have a positive impact in other districts, as well.

The board wrote:

Over the past decade, many Indiana school have gotten better at dealing with problem students without resorting to suspensions and expulsions.

Anderson Community Schools is an example. Such discipline used to be practically rampant at ACS.

The district reported 8,313 in-school suspensions and 179 expulsions for the 2011-12 school year. In a school system of about 7,000 students, the suspension rate was particularly alarming – more than a suspension per student.

ACS officials made a commitment a few years ago to figure out ways to keep troubled students in the system so that they continue to learn. As a result, suspensions fell to 3,500 and expulsions to 23 during the 2015-16 academic year.

District officials accomplished the feat through new alternative school options, “a redistribution of administrative resources,” and better support programs for students, according to the board.

A new state law will require all Indiana schools to adopt similar, less punitive, strategies for student discipline that reduce suspensions of minority students, limit involvement of local police, and crack down on bullying and cyberbullying. The new law also requires districts to report to the state on the impact of positive discipline in schools.

“With a new school year about to begin, it’s incumbent on all school districts … to give kids a fresh start and to take advantage of resources to help disruptive students continue their education while addressing their behavioral problems,” according to The Herald-Bulletin.

The effectiveness of restorative justice practices in Indiana or elsewhere draws on what scholars refer to as “moral autonomy.”

James Davison Hunter, founder of the Institute for Advanced Studies in Culture, wrote in the “The Death of Character” that moral autonomy is an individual’s capacity to freely make ethical decisions, because “controlled behavior cannot be moral behavior, for it removes the element of discretion and judgement.”

Restorative justice aims to give students the moral autonomy to do the right thing, rather than simply punish them for doing the wrong thing.

The blog Academike – “a platform to publish legal research papers” – offers a deeper look at the “Reformative Theory of Punishment” that’s becoming increasingly popular in both schools and criminal justice systems across the country.


Restorative justice approach reduces fights at Canadian Catholic school by 74 percent

St. Benedict Catholic Secondary School in Cambridge, Ontario, Canada switched from automatic suspensions for students who fight to a restorative justice approach that requires them to work with a mediator and take responsibility for their actions.

The school began the shift late in the 2016-17 school year, and officially implemented the restorative justice discipline approach in 2017-18. The change led to a 74 percent drop in “conflicts of a physical nature” compared to the previous year, while also reducing suspensions by 44 percent, CBC reports.

“It’s learning how to be in relationship with somebody,” said Shelley Schanzenbacher, restorative justice practitioner at Community Justice Initiatives Waterloo Region.

“Sometimes what happens is those situations begin to escalate, because they never get put to bed,” she told Craig Norris, host of CBC Radio’s “The Morning Edition.”

Principal Dan Witt noted mediation is not something students can choose over being suspended.

“It’s not a negotiation piece,” he said. “You don’t want the mediation to be a coercive strategy.”

Students sit with a mediator to talk one-on-one about fights or other incidents, as well as issues leading up to the conflict and how it impacted them.  Students involved then get together with the mediator to devise a resolution.

“It gives voice to each party and it gives an opportunity for each person to hear about, how did that feel when you said those things to me,” Schanzenbacher said.

Effective restorative justice practices draws on what scholars call “moral autonomy.” Institute for Advanced Studies in Culture founder James Davison Hunter writes in “The Death of Character” that moral autonomy is an individual’s capacity to freely make ethical decisions, because “controlled behavior cannot be moral behavior for it removes the element of discretion and judgment.”

Schanzenbacher said that even though it might seem like students are being let off easy, mediation actually is a very difficult process. It requires students to face those they’ve harmed, listen to them, express an apology and repair the damage caused. It’s a process that students must undertake freely, unlike a forced suspension.

The data suggests the approach is working well with St. Benedict students, and Schanzenbacher contends administrators are recognizing the benefits.

“They’re starting to shift their perspective,” she said, “and culture shift is hard.”

Schanzenbacher is hopeful the success so far at St. Benedict will help inspire other area Catholic schools to consider restorative justice, as well, though she acknowledges that a systemic shift won’t come easy.

“There’s a lot of hard work ahead,” Schanzenbacher said, “this isn’t going to happen overnight.”

Duke Law offers more details about restorative approaches taking root in an increasing number of schools in the report “Instead of Suspension: Alternative Strategies for Effective School Discipline.”

The report “is not only educational and informative, but also can serve as a starting point for action or as a source of guidance for policy change.”

Teachers organization wants state’s school safety focus on restorative justice, not increased security

Kevin Hickerson, president of the Fairfax Education Association in Virginia is urging state lawmakers to focus on restorative justice, rather than additional security measures, to keep students safe in schools.

The high school special education teacher recalled in a recent column for The Virginian-Pilot how he identified a troubled student at his school years ago, and how officials “challenged him to aspire to more than just becoming another statistic.”

“It was a genuine rescue operation, and I’m delighted to say that I ran into Travis recently,” Hickerson wrote. “He’s now a college student who will also be a college graduate soon, and it wouldn’t have been possible without the right support system.”

Virginia’s House Select Committee on School Safety is working to recommend ways schools can increase safety in the wake of the Parkland, Florida school shooting, and Hickerson believes the lessons he learned from his former student’s experience are important.

Hickerson wrote:

The best solutions won’t be found by just further locking down our school buildings and adding more resource officers; that will mostly further a bunker-like environment and mentality. Instead, we must address the underlying causes of violent episodes in our schools — bullying, trauma experienced by students outside of school, the shortage of support professionals in schools, discrimination and other factors. …

Schools work best for everyone — and the chances of violence in them are greatly reduced — when relationships between staff and students, and among students themselves, are built on respect and collaboration. Restorative justice discipline policies and the teaching of conflict resolution are important factors in creating this kind of positive school climate.

The Fairfax Education Association president also called for discussions to focus on “common-sense ways to reduce” the impact of guns in schools.

Hickerson’s perspective aligns with union policies that typically advocate for increased manpower and spending in schools, while others argue schools could use existing resources more efficiently to produce better outcomes.

Regardless, the influence of adults on students, as illustrated by Hickerson’s experience and countless others, can be profound. Researchers with the Institute for Advanced Studies in Culture examined character education programs in a wide variety of schools, and summarized the findings in “The Content of Their Character.”

“What these case studies (in high schools across the U.S.) … consistently show is the importance of informal articulation of a moral culture through the example of teachers and other adults in the school community,” wrote editors James Davison Hunter and Ryan S. Olson.

Educators can encourage students to follow their example through lessons like “The Virtue of Friendliness and Civility” from the Jubilee Centre for Character and Virtues.

A focus on helping students develop virtues like friendliness and civility not only supports the kind of school culture that draws troubles students in, rather than cast them out, it provides a means for students to disagree respectfully without resorting to violence.

“Those who have strengthened this virtue make particularly sociable and personable companions,” according to the lesson. “When called to oppose or criticize others, this is done with flair and gentleness. They are able to be open-minded and tolerant of others, but can challenge in non-confrontational or non-aggressive ways when words and deeds are morally unacceptable.”


Sacramento school district changes approach to discipline

The Sacramento City Unified School District (SCUSD) is changing how it approaches student discipline, joining a growing number of districts adopting a “restorative justice” approach aimed at reducing too many suspensions of black and Hispanic students.

Alex Barrios, spokesman for the California district, told the News Review officials are focusing on keeping misbehaving students in school by directing them to mediated talking sessions or other counseling, rather than sending them home or isolating them with in-school suspension.  One of the most perverse outcomes of suspensions is that students who are suspended miss valuable instruction time in the classroom which undermines their ability to achieve successful results on course examinations.

Barrios said the new approach is intended to “ensure that our system is more focused on helping students understand how their actions impact others and holding them accountable for those actions, rather than punishing them.”

The idea is to confront student discipline issues through talking sessions designed to better understand the life circumstances, such as poverty or trauma, that may contribute to bad behavior. The Sacramento district created an Equity Office and launched a SPARK program – social emotional learning, positive relationships, analysis of data, restorative practices, and kindness – to train teachers in restorative justice techniques. Restorative justice, although not a punishment, does not let wrongdoers off the hook.

The new approach is energizing some teachers, while others are concerned about a lack of support for educators to implement the restorative justice measures.

“I’ve been in SCUSD for 20 years, and it’s the same speech,” one participant in the district’s 2016 SPARK conference told the News Review. “I understand there is implicit bias. I want to help my students, but the conversation never goes beyond that fact that implicit bias exists. What specific things can my school do to include and support all of our students? The first step is being aware that there is a problem, but then what? The workshops never get past the first step.”

  1. Luke Wood, an education professor at San Diego State University, outlined the discipline problems in Sacramento in a new study titled “The Capitol of Suspensions: Examining the Racial Exclusion of Black Males in Sacramento County,” which reveals the capital city district has suspended more black boys than any other district in the state, including larger districts like Los Angeles.

Wood believes restorative justice programs work well for students involved from an early age, but not as well for students who came up through traditional disciplinary programs. To help with the transition, Wood suggests schools install video cameras in classrooms to help teachers perfect their restorative justice techniques.

“Teachers need game film, and they need to be able to have an understanding of what they’re doing better,” he said. “This doesn’t mean they’re bad people. But good people can still do harmful things.”

James Davison Hunter, founder of the Institute for Advanced Studies in Culture, identifies the importance of cultivating a shared vision of morality to instill strong character virtues in students when he writes in “The Tragedy of Moral Education in America”:

(The) components of morality are expressed in a community’s institutions, including its moral rules. It is a shared understanding of the world by which a community knows what is right and wrong, what is normal and abnormal, what is possible and not possible, how to distinguish the good person from the bad. When it functions well, our moral culture binds us, compels us, obliges us, in ways of which we are not fully aware.

Moving away from punitive systems of discipline is hard work culturally. It takes time to reshape the assumptions of teachers and students alike, and failure to lead that cultural transformation will produce frustration. The State of Illinois offers a guide to implementing restorative justice. For school systems that are going to take the long road to restorative practices, it is worth investigating the time and energy to do it well.

Budget challenges influence Oakland, CA’s restorative justice program

Some educators in the Oakland, California school district are concerned about how the district’s budget could impact a restorative justice program credited with lowering student suspension and expulsion rates.

Since 2006, the Oakland Unified School District’s restorative justice program “has grown to almost every middle and high school in the district, along with a few elementary schools,” but officials and teachers involved “are worried that the most recent district budget cuts will hurt the program, curtailing years of hard work,” according to East Bay Express.

OUSD cut $9 million from last year’s budget and is slated to cut another $10 million for 2018-19, but what exactly the cuts will mean for students is unclear. David Yusem, the district’s restorative justice coordinator, said he laid off seven people out of 35 on his staff, but plans to hire some of them back once the budget specifics are determined.

“We’re still in that space of waiting for the money to land,” he told the news site.

East Bay Express reports:

The Oakland program is built on a three-tier system: community-building circles … which encourage respect and healthy relationships; the restorative process, which involves students who have harmed each other in order to repair their relationship and hold them accountable; and circles to support students who are re-entering the school system after suspension, expulsion, or incarceration.

Yusem contends the new approach is transforming the district’s approach to student discipline, which in the past resulted in a disproportionately high percentage of black and Latino students sent home for misbehavior.

“The initiative itself is definitely part of the culture of our school district,” he said. “It’s absolutely vital.”

Since 2010, OUSD’s restorative justice program has steadily grown from a small pilot project at Cole Middle School in 2007 to a districtwide program on a “shoestring” budget comprised of city and state funds and foundation grants in 2010, to a massive $2.5 million program that employs dozens of facilitators in more than 20 elementary, middle, and high schools.

Yusem is concerned some schools may lose on-site facilitators through the district’s budget cuts, and that would ultimately make the program less effective.

In “The Tragedy of Moral Education in America,” Institute for Advanced Studies in Culture founder James Davison Hunter, points to the importance of schools in helping students develop morality and character.

“The components of morality are express in a community’s institutions, including its moral rules,” Hunter wrote. “When it functions well, our moral culture binds us, compels us, in ways of which we are not fully aware.”

LEAPS, a leading social and emotional learning program for students in K-12 schools, offers several free lesson plans specifically designed to help teachers address important mental health and development issues – many of the same issues addressed through restorative justice work.

The free lesson plans, released in June, address issues like recognizing and avoiding problems, applying emotional management skills, being aware of other people, understanding your community, and living with diversity, as well as several other topics.


Hundreds of MN educators attend state-sponsored ‘restorative practices training’

Hundreds of educators across Minnesota received “Restorative Practices Training” through the state’s Department of Education this summer as part of a shift toward a more thoughtful discipline approach in schools.

About 650 educators in total – teachers, social workers, counselors and administrators – attended classes over two weeks in June to learn how to respond to conflicts in schools and better help students work through their problems, KSTP reports.

Nancy Riestenberg, a restorative practices specialist with the Minnesota Department of Education, contends “adults are always teaching kids social skills and so we should be intentional about how we do that.”

In school districts across the country, officials are using “restorative justice” practices as the primary tool for reducing a disproportionately high percentage of minority students who are suspended from school – an effort that was strongly supported by the Obama administration.

In Minnesota, trainings were held in Cloquet, Bemidji and Crystal for the first time in June, though districts including St. Paul and others have already implemented restorative justice programs with mixed success, however.

Hopkins West Junior High Assistant Principal Matthew Johnson likened the “restorative practices” training to “learning a new way of building relationships with students.”

He contends an emphasis on dialogue and making things right with the restorative approach gives students a foundation to address problems throughout their lives.

“It gives students the opportunity to have voice within a circle, to hear each other. So when those tough times come, when conflict does happen, they’ll have the skills,” he said. “They’ll have learned the skills to listen and then to speak their truth.”

Perpich Arts High School Assistant Principal Christopheraaron Deanes said restorative practices encourage kids “to hear your heart instead of hearing your words.”

“Because words don’t always give you the emotion,” Deanes said.

Riestenberg told KSTP Minnesota’s restorative practices are based on tribal traditions that date back generations, blended with methods “restorative justice” councils use to improve inmate behavior in Carlton County prisons.

James Davison Hunter, founder of the Institute of Advanced Studies in Culture, notes in “The Tragedy of Moral Education in America”:

The components of morality are expressed in a community’s institutions, including its moral rules … When it functions well, our moral culture binds us, compels us, in ways of which we are not fully aware.

The Centre for Justice & Reconciliation offers a six part tutorial about restorative justice that covers the values, programs, and conceptual issues involved as well as the benefits and implementation of the approach.

“Restorative justice is a theory of justice that emphasizes repairing the harm caused by criminal behavior,” according to the Centre, a program of Prison Fellowship International. “It is best accomplished through cooperative processes that include all stakeholders. This can lead to transformation of people, relationships and communities.”