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Art by Emily Squires
Each newsletter, we include a story, a video, a piece of art, or something that we can share with the Assertive Engagement learning community to stay connected with and nourished by one another.

September 2017

At the end of August, the North Lawndale neighborhood of Chicago launched the Restorative Justice Community Court. Aimed at people who've been charged with a nonviolent crime, the court is using Restorative Justice (a model derived from historic practices by indigenous communities.)

"Now open every Thursday, the court was designed so there'd be no separation between judge, court personnel and defendants-everyone sits around the same table. There are no jail cells where people await judgment, no one arrives in handcuffs, and everyone at the table introduces themselves before proceedings begin. Defendants are given time to ask questions and meet with their lawyers for legal counsel. There is no physical barrier blocking defendants from their family members and loved ones." - from the Chicago Defender.

One young person involved in the pilot shared his experience: "Manny doesn't use the phrase 'restorative justice' when he describes his experience in the pilot, but he appreciated the peace circles. 'We talk about life and what's going on, what you can do to be yourself and make you better,' he said. 'Peace circles teach lessons. I learned not to be cool, don't go off top, think before you move, just like chess.'"

August 2017

Earlier this month ABC's "What Would You Do?" aired an impactful segment featuring two actors portraying a very real situation. In this segment, a sales clerk discriminates against a transgender shopper, and the responses were full of empathy and compassion as several bystanders intervened. Check out the inspiring video here.

We know that effectively showing up to moments like these can take practice. We'll share any local bystander intervention trainings we learn about in future newsletters. And Prevent Connect made a recent Bystander Intervention training available online focused on prevention of sexual and domestic violence.

July 2017

Oregon Humanities launched "This Land" in February as an online multimedia project that collects and connects stories about land, home, belonging, and identity by Oregon's communities of color.

After reading an in-depth piece about the Cully neighborhood and the work of the community to resist gentrification, I came across a powerful video called "The Numbers."

From the description "Over the past two decades, as Portland's urban core has gentrified, thousands of residents - many from communities of color, many living at or below the poverty line - have been displaced to east of 82nd Avenue, an area that locals call 'The Numbers.' In this video, produced by Sika Stanton and Donovan Smith for Oregon Humanities, young people living in The Numbers talk about their hopes and concerns for their community."

In addition to the video, each young adult has a short profile on the Oregon Humanities website sharing their story and their hopes.

June 2017

In honor of Juneteenth and LGBTQ Pride Month, here are a few pieces that bring together the past and present resiliency of Black and LGBTQ communities:

  •  "S.T.A.R." video from "We've Been Around" focuses on the evolution of "LGBTQ Pride" through the Stonewall Riots and the lives of leaders Marsha P. Johnson and Sylvia Rivera. (Note: contains strong language.)

May 2017

One of our AE community members shared a quote that provides hope and inspiration - Kristi B. reads this quote each day at work:

"I can disagree with your opinion, it turns out, but I can't disagree with your experience. And once I have a sense of your experience, you and I are in relationship, acknowledging the complexity in each other's position, listening less guardedly. The difference in our opinions will probably remain intact, but it no longer defines what is possible between us."

- From "Becoming Wise: An Inquiry in to the Mystery and Art of Living" by Krista Tippett

Thanks Kristi B. for sharing this quote!

April 2017

This month in honor of National Poetry Writing Month, we share poems that inspire us to hope. We've included a few below, and for more, check out "10 Adorable Children Reciting Poems."

by Langston Hughes (1902-1967)

Hold fast to dreams

For if dreams die

Life is a broken-winged bird

That cannot fly.

Hold fast to dreams

For when dreams go

Life is a barren field

Frozen with snow.

by Audre Lorde (1934-1992)

It has rained for five days


the world is

a round puddle

of sunless water

where small islands

are only beginning

to cope

a young boy

in my garden

is bailing out water

from his flower patch

when I ask him why

he tells me

young seeds that have not seen sun


and drown easily.

March 2017

This month's Piece of Hope comes from the Kind World podcast which features "stories of the profound effect one act can have in our lives."

U.S. Army Special Forces veteran Joe Serna shares his story of hope after dealing with post-traumatic stress disorder by drinking and being sentenced to a day in jail:

"Standing right there is Judge Lou Olivera with a big smile. And I kind of smiled, too, because he was holding a tray of food. He comes in and he sits on the bed. 'Scoot over.' And I'm like, 'What's up? You bringing me some food now, judge?' He's like, 'No. I'm staying here.' I'm like, 'Staying where?' He says, 'I'm staying in this cell with you.' I say, 'You're gonna stay here in the cell with me the entire time.' He says, 'That's what we're gonna do.'"

Read or listen to the rest of Joe's story.

February 2017

This month's Piece of Hope comes from Jennifer Copeland, a long-time case manager and youth advocate with Metropolitan Family Service. Jennifer shared this inspirational story that reminds us even when we don't see the immediate results of our work, we are planting seeds every day.

"I got an email out of the blue from a girl I worked with many years ago. To quote, this girl wrote, 'If you don't remember me I completely understand but I am writing you this email simply to say thank you. There are very few people that make an impact in someone's life that went through what I did. Over the last 20 years I have thought about everything you did for me and I wanted to say thank you and also to let you know you made a significant difference in one person's life.' I often speak of planting seeds - and this seed grew into a very successful and happy adult."

January 2017

This month, we share art created in an AE training by Emily Squires. Emily works as the Engagement and Education Specialist at SMYRC (Sexual and Gender Minority Youth Resource Center), a program of New Avenues for Youth.  During her time in AE training last year, Emily created several pieces. When I asked her about two of them, here's what she said: "When I think about and talk about equity, it comes back to relationships. Who we have them with, how we build them, nurture them through inevitable conflict and joy. Building and creating trust is necessary to any relationship. So when I imagine a different world or future, the biggest most meta picture always comes down to the most micro steps - building relationships."