The Restorative Justice Project celebrated its 10th anniversary in high style before a packed house at Point Lookout Saturday evening, Oct. 17.

Under the title “When We Cry for Justice, What Do We Really Mean?” the Midcoast-based organization presented speakers Tess Gerritsen of Camden, a best-selling novelist; retired Canadian prosecutor and author Rupert Ross; and author and peace activist Michael Patrick MacDonald, with music from Noel Paul Stookey and a vibrant rap from Gifford Campbell.

RJP, whose offices are in Belfast and Damariscotta, seeks fundamental change in the way society responds to crime and wrongdoing in three distinct arenas: schools, courts and the prison system.

RJP Executive Director Larraine Brown said the evening's program was designed to inspire members of the audience and to inform them about the proven potential of restorative practices to bring new approaches and positive change to our community groups and institutions.

Gerritsen kicked off the program with an acknowledgment of the ways in which crime affects everyone in a community, including her own family. The internationally known crime writer, whose books inspired the television series "Rizzoli & Isles,"  had praise for both the concept of restorative justice and the people involved in the process.

Michael Patrick McDonald grew up poor in South Boston during the 1970s and '80s, when gangster Whitey Bulger was terrorizing the neighborhood. In two books, including the bestseller, "All Souls, A Family Story from Southie," MacDonald has described the violence, aimlessness and silence that twisted his childhood yet gave birth to a new calling as an anti-violence and restorative justice activist.

A participant in the peace process in Northern Ireland and a globe-trotting teacher and activist, MacDonald described the violent deaths of four brothers during the “troubles” in Southie and the courage he gained from others, particularly the mothers who were leading the peace effort, who had lost loved ones. The tipping point in his recovery was saying his brothers' names out loud during a public vigil, honoring his love and ending the silence.

Ross, who spent years working in remote Indian villages reachable only by plane, spoke of his gradual acceptance of tribal ways that turned his own beliefs on their head. Real justice is personal and emotional, talked out and considered by all those affected, victims, offenders, family and community members, he said.

He offered numerous stories about his experiences among the tribes and his commitment to restorative justice that began there. His book, "Returning to the Teachings," is a must-read description of a path to justice that is centuries old and as fresh as today.

Stookey, who recently played a concert in Portland with Peter Yarrow, his long-time band-mate, sang a number of songs that were both familiar and spoke to the theme of justice — among them “Blowing in the Wind” and “If I Had a Hammer."

RJP's board and staff were "honored and pleased" by the reception of the almost three hundred people who attended the celebration, the "enthusiasm of the audience, and the wisdom of the presenters," they said in a press release.

The organization expressed appreciation for the "creativity and hard work" of RJP Friends Committee members Kathryn Matlack, Joanne Boynton, Beth Whitman, Molly Mulhern, Kathleen Oliver, Larrain Slaymaker and Al Dickey;  Board Members Juliane Dow, Penny Linn and Dottie Odell; staff members Tim O'Donnell and Denise Pendleton; and Gerry Hill and the Point Lookout staff.

Those who want to join RJP for additional anniversary celebration events are invited to attend theater performances presented in collaboration with Maine Inside Out in Portland  Monday, Nov. 16, at 7 p.m. and in Newcastle Tuesday, Nov. 17, at 6 p.m. In addition, a wine-tasting fundraiser will be held at Good Kettle Thursday, Nov. 19, from 5 to 7 p.m.

For more information about these events or about how to get involved in other Restorative Justice Project activities, go to or call 338-2742.