Wednesday, April 18, 2012

P.S. to "A justice system at its best"

From Eastern Mennonite University, 1200 Park Rd, Harrisonburg, VA 22802, USA
Photo by my mommy!
(Click for the whole gallery.)
In my part-time role as Web & Information Systems Coordinator for EMU's Center for Justice and Peacebuilding, hands-down one of my favorite parts of the job is being co-editor of the Peacebuilder Online blog. Over the past few days I've been working with a part-time CJP student in my home state of Iowa, who wrote up an excellent restorative justice story/case study about a vandalism incident in the mid-90s at a synagogue in Des Moines. Here's that:

A justice system at its best by Fred Van Liew

My p.s. has to do with the photographer credited on the piece: my mother, Diane Gumm! On any blog which I post or edit, I always try to use photography or images that I know are honoring copyright. So even though there were a few small images of the synagogue dug up by Google Images, I couldn't determine their copyright, and all the ones I found on Flickr didn't have open copyrights (I always search for Creative Commons-licensed photos).

So I sent my mom an e-mail, asking her if she would be willing to swing by and take photos. She has been an amateur photographer at least as long as I've been alive, so I know she'd get some great shots. (And she's read Howard Zehr's Little Book of Contemplative Photography!) She happened to be running into downtown Des Moines to pick up my nephews from school, which is close by, so she happily agreed.

Rather than just appearing as a strange woman with a camera, though, my mom called the synagogue in advance to see if it would be okay to take some photos. The person she spoke with was very nice and welcomed her to do so. And when mom was on the grounds taking photos of the exterior, she then stuck her head inside and asked if it would be okay to get more from the interior.

Not only do I think it's awesome that my mom helped me do my job, and this story is from my home turf, but the way in which she went about taking photos exhibits values of restorative justice: commitment to community, relationships, and accountability.

To close the loop, I also sent a link to the story above to the office coordinator at Temple B'nai Jeshurun in Des Moines. Maybe it's the same person my mother talked to yesterday. It's my hope that the story can shared with the synagogue community, as I'm sure they remember this traumatic incident from nearly 20 years ago. Maybe it can be a way to remember well, thereby aiding the healing process...

Interior of the beautiful building. (Click for the whole gallery of photos.)

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