“Making vent diagrams as a practice helps us recognize and reckon with contradictions and keep imagining and acting from the intersections and overlaps. Venting is an emotional release, an outlet for our anger, frustration, despair — and as a vent enables stale, suffocating air to flow out, it allows new fresh air to cycle in and through.”—E.M. & Rachel, co-creators of Vent Diagrams
From the beginning, On Our Terms has been deeply inspired by Vent Diagrams, an arts project created by artist-activist Rachel Schragis and educator-activist E.M. Eisen-Markowitz (and long-time On Our Terms community member!). Showing the overlap of two ideas that appear to both be true and contradictory, Vent Diagrams have helped the On Our Terms community think through and dig into the difficult, contradictory, tension-filled moments of trying to build restorative justice in schools — which can simultaneously be sites of institutional and interpersonal harm, and sites of growth, connection, and imagination.
Like Vent Diagrams, we believe that restorative culture allows for both an emotional outlet and a breath of fresh air, and they have allowed us to dream bigger by “moving from the overlap” and to work through the tensions we face in this work. We invite you to create your own Vent Diagrams—solo or with others—and to think about what seeming contradictions show up in your school communities, and what possibilities emerge when we embrace the contradictions. (To learn more about Vent Diagrams, check out the project’s website.)
Use our interactive Vent Diagram tool, download the template, or get artsy and make your own, to reflect on the joys, challenges, and paths forward as we strive to build restorative cultures in our schools and our lives.