Just as there are 12 major markings on the face of a clock, I could list 12 different kinds of Circles. In four basic categories those Circles would be community building – peace building – repair building – and celebration. This also creates a full circle!
A very brief explanation on these four categories, followed by a practitioner perspective. All these Circles use the 4 stages and phases I have written about on this blog. You use good Circlekeeping skills and techniques for each of these.
Community Building – Boyes-Watson, authored an article titled “Community is not a place but a relationship: lessons for organizational development”. She explains community not being defined by a place but the perception of personal connectedness. Boyes-Watson – also authored Peacemaking Circles for Urban Youth. Community Building Circles connect us to our community.
The practitioner perspective (PP): create a sense of connection, by using all 4 stages and introduce a deeper discussion on values to address issues. You may even ask for stories about a time people felt connected, or what connection might look like.
Peace Building – Where might conflict rise? Is a situation at risk to become a larger issues? We know the #1 cause of death for people 16-24 is car crashes, so when teen drivers come in, we teach this. Peace Building can be done when you sense an “at-risk” situation. For schools – this would be Tier II of PBIS.
PP: Remember, no such thing as a victimless crime. SCVRJP addresses things like underage consumption and controlled substance use – and we engage individuals from our community ad Circle members, keepers and storytellers. When there is not a clear and present Victim, others take that voice, but also use what I have called Restorative Grace (extending kindess to the least deserving).
Repair Building – Circles around a specific crime or conflict. Repairing relationships for victims and their relationship to the crime, the victim to the offender. The offender to the crime, the offender to the community, the community to the offender and the victim. A spiderweb of relationship connections are repaired in Repair Building Circles.
PP: Prepare people to come together. Prepare people to come together. Prepare people to come together. Prepare yourself. You can address and repair harm – no matter how big or small. Lost pencils in a classroom to lost life. The more serious the more prep work. Ask for support for the more serious, use mentoring and take small movements to the deeper issues.
Celebration Circles – Back to where we started, the last segment of the Circle – setting apart Community from Celebration Circles – is that we are already in Community. Women’s Circles, Serenity Circles, Healing Circles. If we are grounding our work in the teachings of Native people, and drawing from the wisdom they provide, because their world view and practices of Circle resonate with Restorative Justice – then we cannot over look that Circles are present and part of spiritual practice. The attention to who we are mind, body, heart and soul is complete with Celebration Circles.
PP: I don’t do enough of these. This is the follow-up Circle, meeting 90 days later, or meeting to support change. When I have done these, the impact is really powerful. I once learned that a Circle, helped resolve Trichotilomania (I would link to that post, can’t find it at the moment). Schools have lots of opporunity for this and I really encourage the re-enforcing of prosocial behavior and values related to behaving the same, when you are in and out of Circle. Celebration Circles help us remember to do this.
By mastering the skills and techniques in each of the different categories of Circle, it will enhance you as an individual keeper, your agency or school-based program will be stronger. People are unique, our responses to incidents are unique, however deep down we are all the same, connected to humanity and yearning for those connections and the experience of a sense of belonging.