Drawing from both restorative and transformative justice theories, Sweet River work acknowledges the root causes of harm and violence: structural inequities, normalized oppression, addictions to retribution, and generational and societal histories of violence and trauma. Our approach is intersectional and culturally responsive. We believe that the most powerful work towards restorative and transformative justice is based in liberation, valuing everyone's core ability to transform, and movements for system accountability.
As a team, Sweet River is committed to imagining new ways of understanding and practicing justice. We believe this requires a creative and holistic approach that centers those individuals and communities most deeply impacted by injustice. This looks like erasing binaries of "victim" and "perpetrator." It means seeing restorative and transformative justice beyond a program, and instead, understanding it as a paradigm shift at many levels - internally, interpersonally, institutionally, and ideologically. It considers a world without prisons as cages and prisons as an economy. It is work that disrupts the school-to-prison pipeline. It is a practice that challenges the insidiousness of intimate violence. It feels like being connected to and in conversation with larger justice movements. It requires acknowledging restorative and transformative justice practices as historically linked to traditions of indigenous communities. And ultimately, it asks us to practice of imagining beyond.
We believe the most powerful work is in integrating strong, concrete practices with the powerfully expansive values of equity and social change. We focus on sharing skills, practices, and strategic plans to build community, address harm, strengthen relationships as well as cultivate a nuanced lens to dissect and deconstruct power and traditional punitive "justice" practices.