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:

  • If there are new people in the round, everybody should introduce themselves. Besides the name, they can mention their preferred gender pronoun, if they have some food allergies or dislikes, what generally they are good at or like to do. People who never had an experience with consensus decision making, get all the hand signs explained.
  • Most the time it is nice to have somebody facilitating the circle and someone writing down what is said and decided. There are also other tasks that can be assigned.
  • Topics are collected
  • for each point, information is shared
  • Topics are discussed
  • Decisions are made

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.

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