“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.”