Teaching Circle as a method of communicating and processing and Circles as Restorative Justice process.

SCVRJP and UWRF have a great relationship.  I am have been fortunate enough to have key staff in Circle Training.  They have taken the process and applied to different groups, enhancing the communication and structure of teams.  UWRF also provided Talking Circles as part of Social Justice programming.  These experiences have proven to be valuable to students.  I know I like facilitating discussions around racism, gender equity, GLBQT rights, especially with fresh young minds.

The photo above was taken when I was facilitating a training for the student leaders of UWRF Destination Trips.  The goal was to give the student leaders another “tool” to process service learning experiences.  It was a training where I really felt like “Johnny Appleseed”.  Each attendee was given a talking piece.  I brought several pieces from my collection, ones I was okay passing on and sharing.  The participants picked a piece, and then shared why they selected the item.  The Circle was able to share how they saw the individual in each piece.

It was fun team building as the leaders exchanged feedback with each other.  Then I suprised the group, by gifting them each the piece they had selected.  I got to imagine Circles happening over Spring Break.  If I remember correctly groups were heading to California, Chicago and the Southern United States.  I know for sure one Circle happened, the group used the Destination Trip t-shirt as the Circle center.  Although the talking piece from the training was forgotten, it was still mentioned and they used something of a similiar color.

Today I am preparing for different type of Circle, instead of processing, reflecting and team-building like the example above, I am preparing for a Victim Empathy Seminar.  This is a Circle session where community members meet with offenders whose victim is not ready for a face to face meeting, but a social worker, probation officer or court official referred the case to SCVRJP.

This type of Circle embodies Restorative Justice.  Our Circle will specifically have an issue to address, I use the 4 stages to do this.  In a communication or processing Circle, its less structured about addressing any harm, or righting a wrong.

My suggestion to Circle-keepers in training – is to find a balance of each.  Find ways to implement a little bit of Circle in meetings or car rides.  My daughter once grabbed a pepper and declared it a talking piece, which brought us some much needed peace.

I love Circles for processing or problem-solving, for increasing communication or repairing the harm.  A new friend referred to this as a “Human Technology”  I loved it!  In the face of all we do, there are things that as humans we can still offer each other as “Technology”.