Nearly a year ago, on March 22nd, 2016 Kristin Verellen lost her partner Johan Van Steen when a bomb exploded in the Maelbeek Station in Brussels. In the first nights after the attack she met with friends to hold vigils for him. They sat in circle, holding space and listening to one another. Gradually more and more people joined. They kept meeting, including others that had in some ways been hurt or touched by what had happened. Kristin and a circle team that emerged out of these experiences goes on organizing circles in different places across the country. A first international online circle in English took place 2 days ago.
“Telling and listening to each others stories is very important to regain our strength. It helps to deal with our emotions and to face life with a new awareness and renewed energy.
By organising these Circles we want to give the opportunity to everybody who was involved or feels impacted in some way by the terrorist attacks and other forms of blind violence in Belgium and elsewhere in the world to take a moment to reflect. What impact do these acts of blind violence have on us, on our choices, on our society? And what do we do with our precious life and the time we have left?”
Kristin speaking at a memorial service for the victims in the palace in Brussels: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=CFm9bmg65jI
Circle in the Square is the inspiring story of restorative approaches as implemented throughout Minnesota schools and communities, as told by one of the country’s foremost practitioners, Nancy Riestenberg. “Restorative approaches help to shift the dominant social norms from ‘power over’ to ‘power with,’ talking ‘with’ instead of talking ‘at,’ and ‘we centered’ instead of ‘I centered'” (Riestenberg, 2012, p. xiii). Over the span of her 25 year career with the Minnesota Department of Education, where she is now Violence Prevention Specialist, Riestenberg documented the successes that teachers, counselors, community-based practitioners and administrators have had repairing harm, restoring relationships, teaching lessons,and changing lives.
Tom Atlee in an article that was written a while ago: “I am coming to suspect that it is the fringes that make the difference between collective intelligence and collective wisdom.
Collective intelligence solves problems or resolves conflicts of, by and for a group, an organization, a community or a whole society. It solves those problems and conflicts for the here and now, for people who are interested, aware, and involved.
Collective wisdom, on the other hand, has a bigger challenge. It needs to expand out from the particular problem or conflict, from the here and now, from those interested, aware and involved. It needs to embrace larger contexts, interests, drivers and possibilities. It has to consider the deep needs of people long gone and yet unborn, and to delve into deeper levels of understanding and caring. It ventures into unseen dimensions of life – into background trends, hidden corruptions and connections, psychospiritual influences, scientific microcosms and macrocosms – to realize unexpected consequences, novel resources, and extraordinarily potent answers. Being the Big Picture form of intelligence, wisdom is born out of our capacity to stretch creatively into the unknown and the unacknowledged, into the new angle, the deeper parts of ourselves, the fringe insights and possibilities.”