Since spending time with Christina Baldwin, Ann Linnea, and 17 other colleagues at Lifebridge Sanctuary in the Catskills at the beginning of this month, I’ve been wondering how circle process can be planted in more settings in our culture. One thing that comes to me is to listen to people’s stories about good conversations, gatherings, and meetings that they’ve experienced to discover the components of circle that were in place even if they didn’t realise it at the time. Then, we can introduce components of circling to them in their language before giving them circle work language.
For example, someone might say, “My boss didn’t interrupt me. She just let me talk for 15 minutes. That felt good.” In PeerSpirit circle language, this would be the practice of attentive listening. When another person tells me, “Everyone just pitched in and did their bit. Tom grabbed chairs, Marcy swept the floor, Amir made sure the windows were locked, and Mai washed the dishes. Nobody needed to be told; they just saw what needed doing and did it.” In this description, I hear the PeerSpirit principles of rotating leadership and shared responsibility. Someone else says, “It was so helpful when the facilitator had us pass the microphone to each other. We knew whose turn it was and we could hear them really clearly.” This is most definitely the use of a talking piece.
What is a memorable spontaneous conversation that you’ve had? What components do you feel made that conversation possible? Please share with us and help us to find circle in the world.