Our ancestors gathered around a fire in a circle, families gather around their kitchen tables in circles, and now we are gathering in circles as communities to solve problems. The practice draws on the ancient Native American tradition of a talking piece and combines that with concepts of democracy and inclusivity.
Peacemaking Circles are used in neighborhoods to provide support for those harmed by crime and to decide sentences for those who commit crime, in schools to create positive classroom climates and resolve behavior problems, in the workplace to deal with conflict, and in social services to develop more organic support systems for people struggling to get their lives together.
The Circle process hinges on storytelling. It is hard work, but it is an effort bringing astonishing results around the country.
Kay Pranis is a trainer and writer on Peacemaking Circles and restorative justice. She served as the Restorative Justice Planner for the Minnesota Department of Corrections from 1994 to 2003. Since 1998, Kay has conducted Circle trainings in a diverse range of communities — from schools to prisons to workplaces to churches, and from rural towns in Minnesota to Chicago’s South Side to Montgomery, Alabama. She has written numerous articles on restorative justice and co-wrote Peacemaking Circles: From Crime to Community. Kay’s intention in her work is to create spaces in which people can be in more loving connection with each other. Kay’s experience as a parent and a community activist form the foundation of her vision for peacemaking and community-building. She is available for Circle trainings and can be reached at [email protected].