(see also círculo de la palabra)
This is an old practice inherited from many traditions. Sitting around the fire, community members share their experiences, points of view, feelings, emotions, dreams listening to each other witout engaing in long discussions. The keywords are talking and listening. The circle is a shape in which all participants are equal, there are no hierarchies. The circle itself plays a very important role as a space holder in which a safe environment is created. This means that participants can talk freely and that whatever they share will be treated with respect and kept within the circle with no judgements.
In many cultures around the world learning takes place through conversations. Some times they involve the whole community while in others they are meant only for men, or for women, or elders, etc. They fire keeps a focus and is considered a source of inspiration and a mean to cleanse the space.
When someone is talking all the participants listen and wait, there is no rush to react, to answer, to disagree. In those cultures, time has a different meaning and it is possible to simply patiently wait until the speaker ends the intervention.
Among many other applications, this method could be useful to enhance community relations, to promote learning through sharing, to explore solutions or alternatives to a particular problem or event or to heal relationships within a group. Even tough a time framework could be set it would be better to have a flwxible schedule.
It is important to remind participants to:
If not used to it, participants should develop a listening culture. Nowadays, with so many gadgets and busy agendas, people tend to be (or pretend to be) in many places at the same time without a deep and honest listening. Invite them to switch off mobiles, to unplug from their agendas and to tune with the circle and the talks that would take place.
It might happen that someone starts talking and keeps doing it for a very long time. If you keep practicing the council circle within a community or a stable group of people, gradually the group itself will develop some rules to control long speeches.
(add your story)
Anecdote circles: http://www.kstoolkit.org/Anecdote+Circles
Wikipedia council circle: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Council_circle
Center for Restorative Justice and Peacemaking: http://www.cehd.umn.edu/ssw/rjp/resources/rj_dialogue_resources/Peacemaking_Healing_Circles/Talking_Circles.pdf
Mini book, the Talking Stick:
Native traditions, listening, women circles, men circles, healing circles
Círculo de la palabra, escucha, círculo de mujeres, círculo de hombres, círculos de sanación
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