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Circle Process Dialogue

Circle Process is an intentional space designed to help bring our best self into a dialog, aiming to give voice to every participant, reveal connections and differences and engage participants in all their dimensions – emotional, physical, mental and spiritual.  The Circle structure slows down our usual pace of dialog to ensure that it is both respectful and reflective.

The goals of a circle process are:

  • Experience being heard by all parties
  • Communicate with clarity and respect
  • Take responsibility for harm caused
  • Contribute to holding all accountable
  • Restore and repair relationships
  • Build a positive future with stronger community bonds

A talking piece is used to manage the dialog so that each participant has a chance to speak and without fear of interruption.  The talking piece is passed from person to person around the Circle; only the person holding the talking has the floor to speak. 

The slower pace of Circle allows us to be more in touch with our inner thoughts and feelings and gives us time to express those more fully than we often can.  When you have the talking piece, you are invited to notice what is most meaningful to you and speak to it.  In a Circle we share what things look like or feel like to us, not to persuade, but to offer our unique perspective to the topic or situation. Circles are designed to be respectful but not to suppress difficult emotions or differences.  The Circle seeks the deep truth held by the participants even when that is very uncomfortable.  Every participant has responsibility for supporting and nurturing an atmosphere of respect when the dialog is difficult or tense.  Leadership is a shared responsibility in Circle (Kay Pranis, 2013).

Circle Process training with Advoz and Kay Pranis at Elizabethtown College in 2016.

Who could benefit from the Circle Process? 

  • Congregations – leadership teams, classes, small groups
  • Churches and Businesses – workplace staff and volunteers 
  • Government – leadership teams, agencies and departments
  • Schools – leadership teams, faculty and staff teams, classes, student groups
  • Community – neighborhood, coalitions and others
  • Any other group willing to sit down to speak, listen and take one step in a difficult conversation.

How Does Our Organization Organize a Circle Process?

Step 1: Contact Advoz, Lancaster’s community mediation and restorative justice organization at 717-397-2404. Ask to speak to Chris Fitz or email chris@advoz.org.

Step 2: You will be asked a series of questions about your organization’s motivations and needs for a circle process. This initial consultation is free.

Step 3: A preparatory meeting is often needed and scheduled with the major parties to be involved. The pre-circle meeting(s) allows us to understand of the specific needs of your people.

Step 4: Set a date with your team and Advoz for the Circle Process. You will need a large enough space to conduct a circle of 5-25 people with appropriate physical distancing.  If an in-person Circle Process is not feasible, a virtual circle process can be arranged.

Step 5: Attend and experience the Circle Process with your group to move forward in your understanding of racism and how to address it together.

Step 6: Follow-up with Advoz staff, processing evaluations and discerning additional needs for your group to engage in deeper dialogue this or other difficult issues.

What does it involve?

A Circle Process often requires a pre-circle meeting with leadership and key participants. Advoz requests pre-circle meetings is charged hourly and usually last one hour. This can be conducted in-person or via video conference.

The Circle Process itself generally requires two facilitators and is also charged hourly. A typical Circle Process will require 2-3 hours, online or in person, but this varies depending on the group size, intention, prior conflicts/harm experienced and other variables.

SCHEDULED YOUR CIRCLE TODAY!

Contact Chris Fitz at 717-397-2404 or email chris@advoz.org.