Sken:nen A'Onsonton - To Become Peaceful Again
Sken:nen A'Onsonton - To Become Peaceful Again
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Peacemaking Circles

Peacemaking Circles is a process that brings people together who wish to participate in conflict resolution, support, decision making or provide a space to acknowledge responsibility for ones behavior. Peacemaking circles bring people together in a way that creates an atmosphere of trust. The process brings people together in a way that allows them to see one another as human beings, to talk about what matters to them, and how the impact of a situation has affected their lives.

Although each circle is unique all peacemaking circles generally:

  • are designed by those who use them
  • are guided by a common concern
  • require that  participants act on their personal values
  • include all parties involved with the topic or situation
  • offer everyone an opportunity to participate
  • take a holistic approach, including the emotional, mental, physical and spiritual
  • maintains respect for all who participate
  • encourage exploring solutions beneficial to all participants

Peacemaking Circles provide effective support for groups to stay on course with the values and principles they have established for their circle. The circle process is "simple but not easy," and must be experienced to be fully understood and appreciated.

There are some key structures that help to define the peacemaking circle.

  • Participants are seated in a circle.
  • A talking feather ( or talking piece) is used as a way to ensure respect between speakers and listeners. The talking feather is passed from one person to the next in the circle and only the person holding the feather may speak.
  • Two "facilitators"of the circle have been identified. The facilitator guides the participants and keeps the circle as a safe space. While it is possible to have only one facilitator, a team of two is preferable.
  • Consensus decision making honors the values and principles of peacemaking circles and helps participants to stay grounded in them.

Benefits of Circles

Circles strengthen relationships and build community. As they experience circles, participants begin to develop the physical, mental, emotional and spiritual habits of peacemaking. The circle process helps to shift old patterns in how individuals and communities interact, a shift that over time becomes reflected in interactions outside the circle.

Circles:

  • build relationships
  • foster open dialogue
  • encourage values-based action
  • provide a space to acknowledge
  • responsibility
  • facilitate innovative problem-solving
  • address the deeper causes of conflict
  • empower participants and communities
  • breaks through isolation
  • brings forth healing and transformation

When to Use Peacemaking

Circles may be called for conflict, talking, court-related issues, and family issues. Circles are appropriate in business, family, judicial, social service, and other settings. Circles are effective in any group settings in which there is a desire for:

  • Accountability rather than punishment
  • Individual and collective accountability rather than only individual accountability
  • Building community
  • Individual and collective change and transformation