What does Kris Miner consider to be a Circle . . .

Blogging is great, I really encourage you to try it.  You get to share your own story and perspective.  You type like you are talking to someone.  You get to speak from the heart, really.

If you want to type up a blog post, please do.  Email me your post and I will add it in.  Hopefully you’ll have a link to Restorative Justice and/or Circles  : ).  This is a personal/professional blog so other than inappropriate content, the invitation is open.  You can send it right in an email or as a word document, I will cut/paste and post.  🙂

I have to share what I think a Restorative Justice Circle is.  Yesterday I was being interviewed, and was asked “which RJ process do you most often employ?”  My answer was a Circle, and the follow up question was “do you use a talking piece”.  Let me clarify that I REALLY enjoyed the interview.  Taking time to talk to students/researchers is beneficial – (remember all relationships are bilateral).  It gives me a chance to process openly, practice explanations and generally contribute to the field.  I enjoyed the interview, the interviewer, the follow up question reminded me, that “Circles” are very loosely defined.

I have embraced Circles, and practice them so much, I have to be reminded that they aren’t the same to everyone.  I used to have a harder time accepting that.  I’m embarrassed to say, it used to make me a little mad.  People would mention Circle experiences and I would be delighted and upon further discussion, learn that it meant they sat around in a circle.  My Grandma was part of a Church Circle, it was a social women’s club. 

What I mean when I say a Circle:  1.) Values  2.)  Talking Piece 3.) Diversity 4.) Four Stages

1.) Relationship Values – – we take time to identify what works in relationships and we commit to these in our Circle.

2.) Talking Piece – we agree to respect each voice individually, to speak and listen from the heart.  Years after reading Kay Pranis’s Book – Peacemaking Circles, a student approached me after class, to comment on the 14 pages dedicated to the Talking Piece.  He reminded me that my use of the talking pieces, was natural and a part of my Circles, and yet in teaching Intro to Restorative Justice for college credit, holding the class in Circle, I had forgotten to ‘preach’ this element.

3.) Diversity – I believe this to mean the inclusive piece of RJ – victims/offenders/community members.  I try to balance the process.  I love inter generational groups, and people from opposite sides of an incident.  There is so much to be gained from others in Circle.  Especially with those who opinions begin so differently from our own.

4.) Circle Stages – just as the season’s pass in four, the sections of the Medicine Wheel, and the four directions, four phases in Circle.  I use the energy of each stage to move the next.  One cannot come before the other, and equal time should be spent in each.  Sometimes you learn that when I group meets again and again, the first few Circles were really just at the ‘getting acquianted’ stage.

I usually tease . . . “don’t ask me the question, because the answer will be:  a Circle”.  I really, really find this process to be aligned with who I am.  Circles answer my calling.  Circles give me purpose.  I feel most connected to the core of who I am and why I am when I am doing something relevant to Circles. 

So . . . given that, remind me to do a post on the limits of a Circle – – just so I stay in balance!

Peace – Kris