In 2008, the inter-university Consortium on Negotiation and Conflict Resolution, with support from the Bureau of Justice Affairs in the United States Department of Justice, set out to design what would become the first comprehensive repository for resources related to restorative justice in the southeastern United States (www.rjclearinghouse.org). The process was quite a learning experience. As we did our best to define what the practice of restorative justice might encompass, we found that our answer changed rapidly depending on where we were looking at the time. "Restorative Justice," as it turns out, is far bigger than we originally imagined.

What is restorative justice? It seems that this depends to some extent on where you are from, geographically speaking. Institutional context can matter a lot, too. Those that operate within the criminal justice system look at things differently than those that operate within schools. Academics tell stories different from those told by practitioners embedded in their local communities. Professional identity skews our thinking as well. Are you an educator? A lawyer? A psychologist?

We quickly realized that telling a coherent story about restorative justice was going to be a community effort. To have any hope of capturing the core narrative of restorative justice, we needed to hear from as many voices as possible, and we needed to establish an ongoing dialogue, because in these dynamic times, the story was certainly going to change. And so we decided to ask you; to rely upon the collective knowledge and experience of the community that had already begun to emerge out of the clearinghouse. What is restorative justice...for you? Please tell us your story. We're listening.