Lots of businesses name themselves after their founders. Others go for something flashier in an attempt to make their organization more memorable.
And hey, we’re cool with that.
But when we were selecting the name for our business, we knew nothing could be more important than our unique Circle approach. With every ounce of our being, we believe in it. When you contact us for more information, you’ll see we live by it.
Unfamiliar with our Circle method? No problem. We’ve broken down the basic questions below.
What are circles?
Since ancient times, people have been sitting in Circle to discuss difficult and emotional issues. They’ve also come together in Circle to reflect and celebrate various occasions and individuals.
Through the many uses of Circle, one common thread is recognized: community. Through the recognition and participation in Circle, your community can deepen its level of trust and understanding. Circles can be used in situations ranging from decision-making following criminal behavior to appreciation-showing when a community member is moving on.
In all its manifestations, the Circle process gets to the heart of two questions:
How are we going to be with each other?
How can we be with each other in a good way?
Circles create a safe environment where people who don’t normally voice their thoughts begin to speak, and people who normally monopolize the conversation begin to listen. In Circle, everyone’s voice is important to the process. Job title, expertise, education and age have no bearing on who gets to speak and who is invited to listen. While it can take time to build enough trust and safety to create a Circle where everyone feels their voice is equal, our experience has shown us that authentic dialogue nearly always occurs when it’s framed properly. When honest communication is facilitated in Circle, harmful insulation of top-level managers is avoided, and all feel empowered to make valuable contributions.
How are they used?
While no two Circles are the same, we’ve developed several genres of human-focused Circles which most of our clients find useful over the course of our involvement.
We use Circle to…
To build community–
The purpose of a Community-Building Circle is to create bonds and build relationships among a group of people who have a shared interest. Community-Building Circles support effective collective action and mutual responsibility.
To resolve conflict –
A Conflict Circle brings together disputing parties to resolve their differences. Resolution takes shape through a consensus agreement.
To celebrate and honor–
Celebration Circles bring together a group of people to recognize an individual or a group and to share joy and a sense of accomplishment.
To talk –
In a Talking Circle, participants explore a particular issue or topic from many different perspectives. Talking Circles do not attempt to reach consensus on an issue. All voices are respectfully heard, and a range of perspectives are offered in order to stimulate reflections.
To understand –
A Circle of Understanding focuses on contemplating on some aspect of a conflict or difficult situation. A Circle of Understanding does not usually seek to reach a consensus. Its purpose is to develop a more complete picture of the context or reason for a particular event or behavior.
To heal –
The purpose of a Healing Circle is to share the pain of a person or group who has experienced trauma or loss. A plan for support beyond the Circle may emerge from the Healing Circle, but is not required.
To sentence –
A Sentencing Circle is a community-directed process, in partnership with the criminal justice system, for involving all those affected by an offense in deciding an appropriate sentencing plan which addresses the concerns of all participants.
To support –
A Support Circle brings together key people to support a person through a particular difficulty or major change in life. Support Circles often meet regularly over a period of time. By consensus, Support Circles may develop agreements or plans, but sometimes they do not intend to make decisions.
What can I expect?
If you’ve already participated in our Circles, you’ll remember each of the following features. If you haven’t, browse this list to have a better idea of what to expect in your first Circle meeting.
- Establishment of keepers: A Circle “keeper” is someone who has participated in Circle before or has been trained in the Circle process. A Circle may have more than one keeper, depending on its size. Keepers are responsible for guiding participants and creating and maintaining Circle as a sacred and safe place.
- Development of a clear purpose: The purpose and vision behind holding Circle is important. Circles can be held for many different reasons. Some Circles will be a one-time Circle in order to show appreciation for a departing co-worker. Other Circles may go on throughout a year for community-building purposes.
- Structured time frame: Circles cannot be held in a hurry or in a way that creates frustration and anxiety for people with busy schedules. It is very important to set distinct time limits to the Circle process and to honor the process by starting on time and ending on time.
- Use of a talking piece: A talking piece is used to encourage respect between participants and to denote whose turn it is to speak (and just as important, whose turn it is to listen). The talking piece is passed from person to person. If someone decides they have nothing to say, they simply pass. They have still participated by passing the talking piece.
- Creation of guidelines: It is important for Circle participants to agree on Guidelines or Ways to Be. Guidelines are created by the Circle participants and implemented through consensus. Guidelines are a grounding tool in the Circle process.
- An intentional beginning and end: Circle is a sacred space, and the time you spend in Circle is a way of honoring each other. It is important to open Circle in a positive way, often by a poem, quote or meditation. This marks the meeting as a special and sacred time set apart from “business as usual.” It is also crucial to close Circle in a good way, honoring and acknowledging the process and the participants who were present.