We found this description of the “Circle Process” here on the Art of Hosting website.
The circle, or council, is an ancient form of meeting that has gathered human beings into respectful conversation for thousands of years. The circle has served as the foundation for many cultures. What transforms a meeting into a circle is the willingness of people to shift from informal socializing or opinionated discussion into a receptive attitude of thoughtful speaking and deep listening and to embody and practice the structures outlined here.
This handout is a gift from PeerSpirit, Inc. an educational company devoted to building communities of reflection, adventure and purpose. Founded in 1994, PeerSpirit has taught circle process in the US, Canada, Europe and Africa. It is a consortium consisting of Christina Baldwin, Ann Linnea and teaching colleagues with areas of expertise in health care administration, religious/church administration and congregational health, education, nonprofit boards, environmental and community revisioning. See: www.peerspirit.com
THE COMPONENTS OF THE CIRCLE
- Welcome Start-point
- Center and Check-in/Greeting
- Three Principles and Three Practices
- Guardian of Process
- Check-out and Farewell
Intention shapes the circle and determines who will come, how long the circle will meet, and what kinds of outcomes are to be expected. The caller of the circle spends time articulating intention and invitation.
WELCOME OR START-POINT
Once people have gathered, it is helpful for the host, or a volunteer participant, to begin the circle with a gesture that shifts people’s attention from social space to council space. This gesture of welcome may be a moment of silence, reading a poem, or listening to a song–whatever invites centering.
ESTABLISHING THE CENTER
The center of a circle is like the hub of a wheel: all energies pass through it, and it holds the rim together. To help people remember how the hub helps the group, the center of a circle usually holds objects that represent the intention of the circle. Any symbol that fits this purpose or adds beauty will serve: flowers, a bowl or basket, a candle.
Check-in helps people into a frame of mind for council and reminds everyone of their commitment to the expressed intention. It insures that people are truly present. Verbal sharing, especially a brief story, weaves the interpersonal net.
Check-in usually starts with a volunteer and proceeds around the circle. If an individual is not ready to speak, the turn is passed and another opportunity is offered after others have spoken. Sometimes people place individual objects in the center as a way of signifying their presence and relationship to the intention.
Resource Link: www.artofhosting.org/thepractice/coremethods/circlepractise/ (original post, cross-posted on 4/19/13)
Also see our “Talking Circle” listing at www.ncdd.org/rc/item/1561. Circles are also referred to as talking circles, listening circles, wisdom circles, the council process, and other terms.