The Practice of Community
By Silas Rose
This is the second practice of Connecting During Covid: 3 practices to fill your love bucket during a pandemic. You can learn more and sign up on the course overview page.
Week 2 practice and homework
We instinctually want to be a part of a tribe, which in the modern world could be a social club, religious congregation, sports team or workplace.
Almost overnight the Covid 19 restrictions eliminated many of the ways we normally find community with others.
The practice of community is intended to inspire new connections with others, even during a lockdown. There are likely many people on the periphery of your life that you could invite in a little closer through conversation.
The secret to creating community (or any new relationship) is a willingness to be vulnerable and open with others. To create the safety to open up we need a container, an intentional structure with common goals and agreements to guide the interaction.
Circle dialogue is a model of community building that has been used for thousands of years by indigenous peoples around the world.
This week’s practice asks you to step into a facilitation role and bring people together to host a Circle dialogue .
How to host a circle dialogue
1. Choose a theme or topic to gather around..
2. Invite two people in your family, social or professional networks to participate in a circle dialogue. Ask them to each invite one person. Keep the gathering intimate, between 5–7 people max.
3. Establish a time and place to meet that is free from distractions and safe. It is better to meet in person, but gathering online through Zoom or FaceTime will also work. A typical circle will last 45 minutes to an hour.
4. At the beginning of the circle establish agreements to create a safe container where participants feel they can be vulnerable and open to sharing.
Typical agreements might include:
- No cross talking when someone is speaking
- Speaking and listening with an open heart
- Refraining from judgements or offering advice
- Being concise and allowing others to speak
5. Ask people in your circle what agreements they would like to include before beginning.
6. Start the dialog with a check-in, inviting people to share what is up for them.
7. Use a speaking object like a rock, stick, feather or other ceremonial item. The speaking object gives permission to whoever is holding it to share freely without being interrupted.
8. After the check-in, introduce the topic for discussion. Participants are free to share thoughts and experiences openly as long as they are holding the speaking object.
9. Allow 10 minutes before the end to complete the circle with another check-in where people can offer feedback about their experience.
- Begin and end on time
- Resist the temptation to console participants or offer advice when strong emotions arise. Trust that the circle is strong enough to feel the intensity and hold it. You can always follow up with a participant after the circle is done.
- Refer back to the agreements if someone is being disruptive or dominating the conversation.
During the week
- Select a topic for your circle dialogue.
- Invite two people to the circle. Ask them to each invite one other participant.
- Select a time and place to host the discussion.
You don’t need to host the meeting this week, but set a date sometime in the near future. You might only gather once, but an hour of Circle dialogue can result in a connection that can last a lifetime.
The next module of Connecting During Covid will explore more ways of reaching out that can reignite passion and create meaningful new connections.