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Circle Practice

RJ practitioners from the RJ Student Leaders group can facilitate and/or train your group in the facilitation of circles. Circles promote equity and inclusion, in that each person is invited to speak, while everyone else engages in active listening and listening to understand. In circles, communities check in, and develop shared values and agreements to promote trust, respect, engagement, vulnerability, active listening and more. People tell their stories, hear each others’ stories and talk through the issues in a respectful space. Some circles focus on specific issues, such as trauma and resiliency for survivors, or something happening on campus, or just give people a way to process what’s happening in the world.

Benefits of Circles

Circles build and strengthen communities, and increase compassion and solidarity. They also increase social and emotional learning skills of self-reflection and interpersonal communication that are highly prized in today’s work environments.

Contact us for a circle

It’s easy to contact us to facilitate a circle for your community, or guide you in a circle training. You can email us at rjcenterberkeley@gmail.com or contact us through the intake button on our website, at this link. You can also contact Julie Shackford-Bradley, Coordinator of the RJ Center directly at jsbradley@berkeley.edu.

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There are many types of circles to choose from:

Community-building Circles

With guidance of the circle practitioner, participants collectively identify guidelines and values for communication and relationships, and get to know each other on a deeper level through storytelling and active listening. These circles can be of any length (usually one hour or longer) and can be held at any time. 

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Circles of Support

People with common interests and/or experiences can create support circles where they meet on a regular basis to share accomplishments and challenges, and to forge deeper relationships.

Welcoming/Celebration Circles

Returning from a break, celebrating birthdays, accomplishments, graduations… get together in a circle to appreciate and plan for the future.

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Grief/Healing Circles

In cases of trauma or tragedy, these circles can be called to provide people with a safe space in which to voice their experiences and emotions and to collectively support others as they come to terms with loss and grief. Through the process, people have a chance to imagine and engage paths to healing and repair.

Harm Circles 

When sEmptyCircle2erious harm events occur that involve multiple parties, harm circles may be called to address the events, recognize accountability and adverse effects, and collectively develop a plan for repair and the restoration of community. These circles are designed to draw in anyone who has been effected, giving them the chance to tell their story of the experience and hear others. Typically, a harm circle requires extra preparation–circle practitioners will interview those who harmed and were harmed ahead of time to ensure they are ready to commit themselves to this process.