Happy mid-January y'all! Hope the 20s are treating you well so far. In this blog post we'll be diving into what the CASH Labs series that the Brattleboro Community Justice Center is putting on is all about, where the inspiration behind it is coming from, and how you can get involved.
The Justice Center is looking to change the meaning of CASH into (you guessed it) another acronym: Community, Accountability, Safety, and Harm labs. These words have been picked up from a number of community conversations that folks at the Justice Center have been apart of, attended as an observer, or watched virtually. There seems to be a need for clarity around who we are referring to when we say “the Brattleboro community”, what real, meaningful, and restorative accountability looks like, whose responsibility it is to keep us safe, and how we all can address and repair the systematic harm that is manifesting itself in our day to day lives. Therefore, this lab series is seeking to (1) experiment with how folks relate to the concepts of Community, Accountability, Safety and Harm and (2) to share and practice skills that folks need to prevent, respond to, and heal from instances of interpersonal harm while addressing the harm's systematic roots.
As for the “lab” language being used- the inspiration for this is coming from the work that the Bay Area Transformative Justice Collective (BATJC) is doing with their own series of labs that mean to “practice and build transformative justice in the Bay Area with the people in their everyday lives” (which you can learn more about here). What’s so compelling about the lab language is that it makes the gatherings geared toward exploration and experimentation of these concepts rather than having folks amass a set of skills that are to be deployed at times of conflict. Each lab will allow you to reflect on your current practices around community, accountability, safety, and harm and experiment with ways you can grow and transform in your relationship to each.
The labs also draw a lot of inspiration from INCITE!’s work on Community Accountability, Safe Outside the System’s community based strategies on addressing violence, and the resources provided at Transform Harm.
How can you engage with the lab series?
Thanks for reading- and hope to see you at one of the labs!
Words from local people involved in restorative justice.