Circle processes offer a way of bringing people together to understand one another, strengthen bonds, and solve community problems—a necessity in an era of division, polarized politics, and angry debate.
Our ancestors gathered around a fire in a circle, families gather around their kitchen tables in circles, and now we are gathering in circles as communities to solve problems. This peacemaking practice draws on the ancient Native American tradition of a talking piece and combines that with concepts of democracy and inclusivity.
Peacemaking circles are used in neighborhoods to provide support for those harmed by crime and to decide sentences for those who commit crime, in schools to create positive classroom climates and resolve behavior problems, in the workplace to deal with conflict, and in social services to develop more organic support systems for people struggling to get their lives together. The circle process hinges on storytelling. It is an effort bringing astonishing results around the country. Chapters include:
- Circles in Practice
- A Circle Story—Finding a Way to Move Forward after a Workers Strike
- Foundations of Circles
- A Circle Story—Finding Understanding in the Classroom
- Key Elements of Circles
- A Circle Story—Finding Healing from Violent Crime
- Organizing a Talking Circle
- A Circle Story—Finding Respect Across Generations
- Circles in Perspective
- A Circle Story—Finding Connection within Family
A title in The Little Books of Justice and Peacebuilding Series.
About the Author
Kay Pranis served as the restorative justice planner for the Minnesota Department of Corrections for nine years. Since 1998, Pranis has conducted circle trainings in a diverse range of communities—from schools to prisons to workplaces to churches, and from rural towns in Minnesota to Chicago's South Side to Montgomery, Alabama.