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.
A team of seasoned facilitators from the US and Europe will host a new type of gathering exploring how to create spaces that enable collective healing. A first gathering in Florida in August will prototype a process that builds the capacity to work with historic traumas. Emergent in nature, it will weave together various organizational and creative processes that enable groups and communities to access healing shifts, allowing life and love to be restored.
This is a collective inquiry, sensing and exploring the emerging edges of what it means to create collective healing. Insights and learning will be harvested and shared to ripple. And the aspiration is that experiences and connections among participants will spawn a community of practice and new collaborations.
In an article for Huffington Post Otto Scharmer shares valuable experiences and insights that are relevant to any circle of wisdom: “You need to take entrenched stakeholders on a journey where they experience a situation without their usual armor of habitual judgments. You go on this journey in order to practice deep listening to each other, to the whole, and to what is emerging from oneself. It’s these practices of deep listening and stillness that often have the biggest transformative impact. (…) In every process of transformation that I have had the privilege to witness over the past few years, this has always been one of the single most important turning points: activating the intelligence of the heart, not only in the individual, but also in the collective.”
Phill Cass on the importance of the one who hears a call, and calls together a circle or any other initiative:
“I think that the original caller, the one who first articulated the longing, plays a critical role in the actualization of the possibility. They are the original fire starter and need to tend that flame while at the same time letting go into the collective so that the flame has a chance to ignite into something far larger. If they hold it too tight they can squash the flame and any possibility of it becoming something and if they let go to soon the flame may extinguish because it wasn’t tended long enough.”
Just 2 minutes, but enough to offer you a vision of what a circle of wisdom could be: ” …to love each other, to be generous in a way that we have never been, going beyond what we already know, way beyond what we already know. Something is possible…” (Terry Patten)
In this blog entry Tom Atlee aks the question whether it is presumptuous and misleading when he calls his vision of democracy “wise”. His vision is one of political and governance systems accessing the wisdom, power, and participation of the whole community and the whole of life in service of the whole community and the whole of life. He describes the characteristics of a wise person and looks at what those qualities mean in the context of a community or society.
The need for dialogue is growing day by day.
Here you find an extensive list of links concerning the theme of dialogue:
From a dialogue between Margaret Wheatley and Pema Chodrön touching upon themes like uncertainty, compassion and courage. It was written down in 1999, but its content is becoming more relevant by the day. A long but inspiring and encouraging read!
“In fact, a lot of people do know how to be together, but it’s a skill that hasn’t been considered important or given any status in our society. It’s actually been dismissed as insignificant and soft and fuzzy. So courage is what we need, and the source of that courage is recognizing that the questions, doubts and desires that move in me move in everyone else as well.”