I don’t mean juicy fruit gum, I mean the fruit that you get, because you planted some seeds. A Circle is an amazing event. I LOVE the process. I start it the moment people enter the Restorative Justice Center, “Hi, I’m Kris” with a handshake and a smile. I get people introduced to any volunteers around me. We have a plan for name tags, pre-session survey, sitting in Circle and a video playing while we gather.
I am usually monitoring the seating, getting the community volunteer name tags on seats between the participants, offering a bottle of water. This is how all Circles at St. Croix Valley Restorative Justice get started, this is the planting of the seeds.
We use the four stages of Circle (frequent posts here), always, always, always use values to center our conversation, commit to how we will relate to one another. We have questions to speak about ourselves as people, then we move to the Circle topic or have a speaker share. Reflections and contributions by everyone. Imagine a plant growing on a time delay camera, or a film fast forwarding. Lots happens here-zipppppppp, time goes.
Here we are at the end of the Circle, a powerful story has been shared, people have made public commitments about a change of behavior. It’s the last pass of the talking piece, it’s a final chance to say anything else you need to say to leave in peace.
This is my juicy fruit moment. This is when I feel the Love, created in Circle. This is when the transition from who people were, when they walked in, to who they are now, preparing to leave. Community volunteers reflect that they came to help and feel helped. A young participant thanks the community volunteers, because they “didn’t HAVE to be here”. The storyteller is often acknowledged again. People know deep work has been done. Sometimes, very little is said in this pass because it has all been said before. That’s okay too, because then I know what we needed to speak was said.
What makes that fruit so tasty? For me, it’s having people be more, than they expected they would be. When a person reflects on how much they opened up, and confessed they hadn’t planned to say anything, I smile, and look to the center. The center is the same in all of us. We want to belong, we want to connect. Shaping people around a center and asking them to center themselves to the values creates a pathway to the heart.
These heart connections, connect up and in that strength we find ways to make changes in ourselves. Our attitudes about whatever brought us to Circle (teen driving, underage drinking, property crime, disorderly conduct) changes. It changes because we can see that we have changed and others have changed as a result of the Circle. Change creates change. Once you have awareness, you can’t become “unaware”. That’s the part of the experience that holds that juicy fruit! As a Circle keeper and practitioner, your job is to take that fruit, and hand it off to others, so they plant seeds somewhere else.
Have yourself a piece of Juicy Fruit for the next Circle. According to this blog, Juicy Fruit was the first package to have a Bar Code!