About Restorative Way
The vision for Restorative Way was born in 1999. I was finishing a master’s degree in Religious Studies when the Columbine High School massacre happened. When it was revealed that revenge for bullying might have been a contributing factor, I had to do something. I knew about bullying, retaliation, and violence.
Growing up in the sixties in an Albuquerque neighborhood between two highly active military bases during the Vietnam War, I witnessed firsthand the trauma that families experienced when sons went to war and didn’t come back. It seemed like every other house had a neatly folded American flag in a glass case next to a photo of a handsome young man, a son, a brother, a father in a military uniform.
The grief, powerlessness and desperation of the younger boys in that neighborhood expressed itself through gangs and violent school bullying. Fights, rocks and knives, drug use and alcohol abuse were symptoms of trauma. They were unconscious cries for help.
Right when I entered the doctoral program in communication in 2001, 9/11 happened. As our nation and world watched in horror, like many, I needed answers. Where did this hate begin? How do we confront hate before it’s too late? How do we engage with hate and transform it?
By chance I met Dr. Beverly Title. Beverly had built a nationally recognized bully-proofing program for middle schools. When I told her about my religious studies background in Native American healing practices, she invited me to sit in a restorative justice circle to address an incident of criminal assault. She said “restorative justice comes from the peacemaking practices of the Diné and other Indigenous cultural traditions.”
That circle changed my life. It showed me how the suffering that begets violence can be transformed when people assemble in a circle to discuss what happened, share how they were impacted, identify underlying issues and unmet needs, and collaborate to repair the harm, forgive, and heal.
Over the course of the last nineteen years, I’ve been on a relentless mission to discover and develop methods of interacting that help people move through violence, trauma, and entrenched conflict in a way that activates our better selves. Restoration holds history accountable, but does so constructively to help us become what we’re capable of.
I’ve learned that to be effective in this practice called “restoration,” it requires a deep understanding of the human condition and human suffering. We have to understand human development, behavior, individual and social psychology, trauma, and neuroscience. Restoration is fundamentally about comprehensive personal and social transformation.
To be a restorative practitioner is to be an instrument of peace and reconciliation. We have to step into the middle of conflict with courage, conviction, humility and a non-negotiable commitment to the well-being of others.
What some have said…
The testimonials provided here are not about me. They testify to the effectiveness of the Restorative Way process.
— “Dr. Bledsoe’s approach to conflict resolution is unique in that it not only heals broken relationships (both interpersonal and institutional), but creates an enduring framework to prevent the recurrence of ongoing destructive cycles. In short, Dr. Bledsoe offers those he works with the chance to see conflicts as neither intractable nor inevitable, but rather as opportunities in which we can all see our shared humanity, find workable solutions and grow.” – Matt Walton, Chairman, Fitscript LLC
— “Dr. Bledsoe is the consummate professional. He knows what he is doing and does it extremely well. His insight into the human condition is deep, broad, and profoundly informed by his empathy for all. Will’s love for his fellowman is palpable.” – David Bork, One of World’s Leading Pioneers in Family Business Consulting -since 1968
— “Dr. Bledsoe’s work contributes greatly to the health and vitality of our communities. What an incredible human being.” – Stanley Deetz, Ph.D. Former Director of Peace and Conflict Studies Program, University of Colorado at Boulder.
— “My work in the field of conflict management was greatly influenced by his on-the-ground insights. He is a no-nonsense practitioner and scholar who provides an immediate compass for the rest of us.” – Jeannette Holtham, Founding President of Youth Transformation Center
— “Dr. Bledsoe exemplifies applied communication and conflict resolution scholarship to move our world closer to the ideals of peace and justice. He is a smart, skillful, and passionate professional whose development and delivery of Restorative Communication programming has changed individual lives, and strengthened schools, organizations and communities” – Bryan C. Taylor, Ph.D., Director, Peace and Conflict Studies Program, University of Colorado at Boulder.
— “Dr. Bledsoe researched our culture and our community. He identified what he called our “unrealized relationship assets.” Dr. Bledsoe worked with us for over a year to ensure continuity, consistency and refinement. He took what was best about us as a community and accentuated it.” — Anne Menconi, Waldorf School on the Roaring Fork
— “I am so grateful for how you are bringing the restorative way forth in these times of uncertainty. I find that I am being transformed by this process. Thank you for helping me have the courage and strength of heart to stand up for what is right! The perspective you offered reminded me of who I am and what I am made of. You helped me shift my consciousness from ‘taking the hit’ to ‘making a stand’! Carolyn L., Parent
— “Dr. Bledsoe saw me. I was 22 years old, grasping for identity. He turned my crime into an invitation “What do you stand for?” No one had ever asked me that before” – Ben E.
Will was recently interviewed on the show “Shifting Gears” on KDNK Public radio