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Transformative Justice Has Been a Struggle Lately

by Layel Camargo

[photo of a colorful wool coat collar and clasp and the neck of someone looking sideways.]

I have struggled to my core with making time for Transformative Justice lately. With having a full-time job to unpredictable family dynamics to wanting to have some quiet alone time. I have not made time to support friends in navigating difficult instances in their lives nor making myself available to show up for my community in ways that I’d like. And I’ve begun to wonder whether Transformative Justice is even possible, if we can really respond to instances of violence or even harm, for that matter without calling the police. This week alone, I have attempted to deescalate a confrontation outside of my house, shown up to a vigil down the street from my house because of a shooting that led to a fatality, and had a mini conflict with my upstairs neighbors about doing some weed work while they were on vacation. It has left me feeling like if this is the kind of harm and violence I should be wanting to respond to I don’t even know if I would have time to go work at my job for 8 hours because I would be in community accountability processes for days. 

Does anyone else feel like this? Does anyone else feel like we can’t escape the easy fix feeling that can come from calling 911? Does anyone else feel like the day to day motion is actually more important than supporting our neighbors? 

After such a difficult week I felt it necessary to write about what Transformative Justice actually demands of me. It doesn’t demand that I respond to every incident of harm and violence around me, it doesn’t demand I carve out 5-10 hours a week to organize around alternatives to the police or criminal legal system. It demands that I find small and big ways to practice core values. Values that foster interdependence, compassion and humanity and this week, especially, this week the most I can do is practice that for myself. 

This week Nia Wilson was brutally murdered by a white supremacist, I truly feel and believe that I should be participating in protests, dropping banners, and sharing my enraged feelings with others, even so that felt like the most difficult thing to do. 

How can I demand justice when I myself feel chaos in my own neighborhood? When just a week ago a woman was shot not even a block away from where I live and sleep? So what does Transformative Justice demand of me right now? I think its that I have to stay true to how I can best continue spreading the values that will prepare us to live outside of the prison industrial complex and into a world were we will all have skills to deescalate situations and abolish racism. I must make space for those I care about in whatever way that is but especially for myself to bring healing, liberation and the spirit of possibility in difficult times. Transformative Justice simply asks us to stay aligned with our integrity as much as possible not to be perfect in responding to everything but doing what feels best at the time, whether it be crying, screaming or dropping banners. Although there is plenty going on and I’m sure there is plenty going on with you, I challenge myself and would like to invite you, these next few days to do what is best for yourself and I hope that this extends to whats best for those around us whether it be  housemates, neighborhood or larger community. Transformation and liberation doesn’t happen over night and it doesn’t happen perfectly, we must be gentle and consistent. Here is to mine and ours recommitment to being accountable to those around us. 


EVENT: Transformative Justice Lab – March 4, 2017



March 4th, 2017 from 12pm – 4pm
Organized by the Bay Area Transformative Justice Collective*

This event is being organized in conjunction with the BATJC Transformative Justice and Pods 101 on January 28, 2017 from 1pm-3:30pm. We are encouraging those who would like to attend the Lab and are not familiar with transformative justice (TJ) or “pods” to attend the TJ and Pods Teach-In. The 101 is also a great opportunity to invite people in your pods to learn about TJ.

Join the BATJC for our first Transformative Justice Lab! The TJ Labs are a new part of our work and we are excited to collectively grow them together. We hope it will be a space to allow people to practice and build transformative justice in the Bay Area with the people in their everyday lives.  

What are The BATJC TJ Labs?
The TJ Labs are a place to collectively workshop and practice our skills for transformative justice. The Labs are for people and their pods who are trying to practice TJ in their lives. The Labs will be a self-organized community space where people can come together and work on different parts of transformative justice. All participants are encouraged to self-organize TJ-related groups based on their needs and interests. There will be BATJC folks on-hand to help support different groups, if needed.

Groups that have already been organized and confirmed are listed below and participants are welcome to join them (please note in your registration). Though the BATJC focuses on child sexual abuse, the Labs will be a place to address all forms of violence. Below are some examples of groups and work that will be available:

Response Support Groups: Brainstorm and support TJ responses to current situations of violence, abuse or harm for participants who have specific situations they are facing in their lives. This is both for people who are experiencing harm, as well as for those who would like practice in supporting others in responding to harm. There will be people in the room who have been involved in this work who can help support and we hope this can be a place for new folks to learn. In providing a space to address violence, harm and abuse, we strongly encourage all participants to bring people they trust with them to the Lab.

Case Studies: The BATJC will have different scenarios/case studies on-hand for those who would like to practice thinking through response support. This is a great place to practice response support with folks from your pod.  

Pod Work: The Labs are a good place to meet with your pod and tackle any number of things such as: having conversations with them about transformative justice; doing work around your shared values; talking about accountability; setting up safety plans; working on a case study together (mentioned above).

Pod Building Support: There will be a group specifically designated for those who would like to gain support on how to build their pods.

Accountability Support for People Who Have Harmed: BATJC members will support a group of people who specifically are currently working on being accountable or have been seeking to be accountable for harm they’ve caused. The Labs will help provide a space to process through incidents of harm and/or violence. However we especially ask of people who have harmed to plan to practice self-care before, during and after the labs.

Parents and People Raising Children: For those who would like to meet together to support one another in preventing and/or responding to child sexual abuse as parents and people who are raising children.

Educator and Youth Workers: For educators and youth workers who are interested in transformative justice.


This event is open to the public with a suggested donation of $5 – $40. No one turned away for lack of funds. All funds go directly to support the BATJC.

There will be free food and childcare provided (please see information below).


PLEASE REGISTER HERE FOR THE LAB so that we may plan accordingly and please review the BATJC’s shared values, principles and practices before you attend.

For questions, please contact

WHEN: March 4th, 2017 from 12pm – 4pm

WHERE: The BATJC TJ Lab will take place at Little Pilgrims’ Preschool and Daycare, 3900 35th Ave, Oakland, CA 94619. Please use the entrance on Magee Ave.

PARKING: There is free onsite parking in the parking lot behind the church, accessible from Magee Ave.


From Fruitvale BART station: Take the 54 bus heading toward “Campus Dr & Merritt College”(East). Get off at the California St. stop (past MacArthur BLVD), the Lab will be located less than a block up. The stop for the return bus to Fruitvale Station (54 West) is located across the street on the corner of Arizona St. and 35th Ave.  

From Downtown Oakland: Take BART to 19th Street Oakland (@Thomas L. Berkley Way and Broadway). From there take the NL bus heading toward “Eastmont Transit Center.” Get off at 35th Avenue and MacArthur Blvd, about four blocks from the Lab.

From the MacArthur BART station: Take the 57 bus heading toward “Foothill Square.” Get off at 35th Avenue and MacArthur Blvd, about four blocks from the Lab.

From South Berkeley: Take the 12 bus heading to Lakeshore. Walk to MacArthur Blvd. & Lakeshore Ave. Take the NL bus heading toward “Eastmont Transit Ctr.” Get off at 35th Avenue and MacArthur Blvd, about four blocks from the Lab.


CARPOOL: Please indicate on the registration form if you can offer a ride, or if you need a ride to the Lab. We will coordinate carpooling

FOOD: We would like to make sure to have food and beverages for everyone to enjoy and will be providing a variety of dishes. In order to make sure everyone is well fed and we meet strict dietary needs and food allergies, we would appreciate volunteers who would like to bring a dish, beverages or snacks to share. Please indicate on the registration form if you would like to contribute food, beverages or snacks.

ACCESS: The space for the Lab is wheelchair accessible with gender neutral and wheelchair accessible bathrooms and has access to outside space and picnic tables. Please help us support a fragrance free space, by attending chemical and fragrance free. This will also help support the children who use the daycare space we are in.

CHILD CARE: The BATJC will provide free childcare during the Lab. We actively support the participation of people with children in this work. Because some content may not be appropriate for young children, childcare will be provided in a separate room on site. If you’d like to use this service during the event, please go to the registration form to share some more information with us!

SELF/GROUP CARE: We encourage all attendees to take care of themselves before, during and after this event. Caring for ourselves and others is important in this work and we want to make sure everyone takes some time to think about what they might need. We will be talking about violence/abuse and it may bring up unexpected things for you. Below are some suggestions that may be useful, especially if you think some of the content may be triggering for you:

– Attend the event with a friend and/or support person. Or have at least one person who knows you will be attending this event that you can reach out to if you need support.

– Think about what might be best for you before, during and after this event. Some examples might be: Planning to do things that bring you resilience, joy, reflection or nourishment.  Planning down time or to be around people who support you in taking care of yourself. Bringing a meaningful object with you that will help ground/comfort you during the event  (something you can wear, hold in your hand and/or look at are often helpful).

*The Bay Area Transformative Justice Collective (BATJC) works to build and support transformative justice responses to child sexual abuse. The BATJC orients all of our work, including events, from our shared values, principles and practices.

If you would like to know about future BATJC events, please join our BATJC Community list, a  low-volume list that is only used to announce BATJC events and work. You can also follow our BATJC Page

BATJC Community Report Out, August 23rd in Oakland

Join the Bay Area Transformative Justice Collective (BATJC)* for a
Community Report-Out on Sunday, August 23 from 12pm-2pm

Come hear what we’ve been up to and connect with folks

  • Learn about the BATJC
  • Projects we’ve been working on
  • What’s ahead for 2016

We actively support the participation of people with children in this work. Because content may not be appropriate for children, we will happily provide free childcare upon request on site, in a separate room. Please give us at least a week’s notice if you need childcare.

We will have food for lunch; please email us if you’d like to contribute in any way.

This is a free public event, but please RSVP to so we can plan accordingly.

Where: Qulture Collective
1714 Franklin Street
Oakland, CA 94607

This space is wheelchair accessible (including bathrooms) and is located two blocks from 19th St. BART in downtown Oakland, free street parking available.

For all questions, please email

*The Bay Area Transformative Justice Collective works to build and support transformative justice responses to child sexual abuse in the Bay Area. To learn more about the BATJC, visit our website:

BATJC at Incite! Color of Violence 4 Conference

Hey everybody, we apologize for not being on top of the blog game, but just in case you want to know some of what we’ve been up to, the BATJC presented last month at the conference organized by INCITE! Women of Color Against Violence, called Color of Violence 4 (COV4) Beyond the State: Inciting Transformative Possibilities.  Here’s the workshop we presented:

Building for the Long Haul: Strategy, Structure and Work

Transformative justice and community accountability (TJ/CA) offer compelling visions and possibilities for liberatory responses to violence in our communities and help us to better envision the world we want to build, but how do we build it? What does TJ/CA organizing actually look like not in theory, but in practice; and not just when we are directly responding to violence, but before then? How do we actively do the slow, long-term, day-in and day-out work to prepare? What could a TJ/CA long-term organizing strategy look like, outside of campaigns and non-profits? And how do we build the kind of liberatory (infra)structures, processes and tools we will need to be sustainable? How could we build work that actively reflects and cultivates our values?

The Bay Area Transformative Justice Collective is a local community collective working to build and support TJ/CA responses to child sexual abuse in the Bay Area. For the past four years we have been developing strategies, tools, values, structures and work that can build a strong foundation for generations to come. We continue to engage in the daily work of building the kinds of relationships and structures that could actually support community responses to violence. This workshop will give participants a chance to hear about a local TJ/CA collective and how it has developed its work, strategy, values, tools and structures. By sharing our work and tools, we hope to spark ideas in participants for their own communities and how they can build foundations for their passionate TJ/CA work. There is no one-way to do TJ/CA work and we offer our work with humility and a commitment to interdependence.  Participants will develop a deeper thinking about how to support the work of community-based responses to violence. Specifically, the kinds of tools, strategies, (infra)structure and values that can help us prepare for and prevent violence. We meet so many people who are analysis-wise “on-board” with TJ/CA, but then who don’t know exactly how to start or how to conceive of the work outside of direct interventions to violence. We hope to offer some concrete examples of what that work has looked like for us and why.

**This workshop is ideally for folks who have a basic-good grasp of knowledge about community-responses to violence, even if they haven’t had any experience in it.  Of course, we would welcome everyone who wants to attend. 

Join the BATJC for a community event on August 9th!

Want to know more about the BATJC and meet other great folks committed to transformative justice?
Join the BATJC on August 9th from 12pm-2pm in Oakland for our next BUILD!*  
Connect with good folks over good food and get inspired by local transformative justice work. This is a great chance to learn more about the BATJC’s work to build and support transformative justice responses to child sexual abuse in the Bay Area and find out how you can get involved. Come hangout with us, meet new folks or simply get to know them better, and hear about what we’ve been up to.
We will also be passing the hat to help cover venue costs for our 6 month TJ Study. Any funds (big or small) that you have to give will greatly help us out. And if you’d like to give online, you can donate here, as well as view our wish list for in-kind donations that are always helpful.
*Please RSVP here for the location address and so we know how many people to feed.  BATJC members will be providing food for lunch and of course, you’d like to hep out with food, just let us know.
Contact us with any questions.  Feel free to bring friends and family with you.
PS: If you would like to receive emails about upcoming BATJC events, you can sign-up by emailing us here.

An Interview with Mia Mingus, Oakland Champion of Change, on transformative justice

An Interview with Mia Mingus, Oakland Champion of Change, on transformative justice

Published May 27th, 2013

Oakland activist Mia Mingus is named a Champion of Change by the White House. Oakland Local interviews Mia Mingus about disability rights, ending child sexual abuse, and transformative justice.

Mia Mingus describes herself as a queer physically disabled woman of color transracial/transnational adoptee — an identity that only begins to explain the personal background that informs Mingus’ cross-sectional social change work.

Mingus was adopted from Korea at the age of six months and grew up on St. Croix in the U.S. Virgin Islands, where she was raised by a “strong feminist community” that taught her the foundations of the critical analysis she would carry into her life’s work. She then lived in Atlanta for 13 years, serving as co-Executive Director of SPARK Reproductive Justice NOW, among many other movement-building roles. She moved to the Bay Area two and a half years ago to live out a dream: to create a household with another queer disabled woman of color activist, thereby putting disability justice into practice, building interdependent and loving community, and both expanding and learning the limits of what disability advocacy might look like.

Now, at 32, Mingus is an Oakland-based, nationally-recognized organizer and writer who has traveled the country speaking about myriad frameworks for dismantling oppression, from racial justice to reproductive justice to queer liberation. Her current work centers around disability justice and child sexual abuse, which she addresses as a member of the Bay Area Transformative Justice Collective (BATJC).

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