Circles

To make sure that everyone has all the information, which is essential for a non-hierarchical group, and that we know about each other’s needs and feelings, we have regular circles.

Ideally all the current members of the group gather at a place without distraction. Sometimes topics of discussion are collected before in a biketour notebook. For example the group can decide, if they want to cycle a distance in 3 days or in 2 and have a rest day. They can decide to change the route or to leave a project earlier.

Generally a circle could look like this:

0.1 make sure that the starting time of the circle is clear, inform everyone thit it starts
0.2 find a place for the circle where everybody can sit down comfortably and see+hear each other
0.3 make sure everyone who wants to be is there
0.4 make sure everyone understands the language, organise translation if not

1. Introduction
1.1 name+pronoun-round if needed
1.2 explain hand-signs if needed
1.3 emotional/feedback round
1.4 repeat descions from last circle
1.5 collect agenda points
1.6 set time

2. Discussion (following agenda)
use the consensus-prism if you want, each point could be structured more or less like this:
2.1 information-phase (information is shared)
2.2 discussion-phase (opinions about these informations are shared)
2.3 descision-phase (proposals are made and agreed on, if no soloution can be found, back to discussion-phase)
energisers if needed

3. Close the circle
3.1 Summarise the descisions of the circle
3.2 organise next circle, when, facilitators
3.3 feedback round if needed

Often it is also very nice to just share how you are doing at the moment. Therefore a feelings round is a good tool, where everybody, one after another, can freely express themselves. It can help to create a better harmony within the group. It is nice to get an overview of the group’s mood and it encourages people to say when they don’t feel comfortable with something.

There can also be thematic circles for example about gender, opression or hierarchal structures.

Sometimes it can be difficult to get all the participants together for a circle, so it requires some planning ahead to choose a time when people are well rested and not distracted by their surroundings. Naturally people get tired after talking about serious issues for a long time. It is very useful to have set time-limits to not get stuck at some topics which are too hard to resolve at the moment. An attentive and patient facilitator can greatly improve the flow of discussion and make it more efficient.

In the end it is always very satisfying, having made the decisions all together even though it might have taken some time. If circles happen more regularly, they might also become shorter. People learn to talk more efficiently and not so many topics get piled up.

These are the tasks of the facilitator. We figured out that it is better to have 2. All the tasks can for sure also be deligated.

– make the circle happen
– find a suitable place for the circle
– use the meeting-notes-book for minutes and parking-lot
– make an agenda
– structure the discussion
– Follow/enforce hand-signs
– make sure that everyone is involved (language, attendance, who speaks)
– keep time
– listen to the discussion actively, be neutral
– ensure regular summeries

facilitation tools
-consensus prism
– parking lot
– energisers
– hand signlas
– alternative of discussion

ALTERNATIVE WAYS OF DISCUSSION
small goups, talk with person next to you, go-round, talking-stick, world-cafe, delegate to working groups, (flower system for bigger groups)

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