What is a Peacemaking Circle?

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What is a Peacemaking Circle? Peacemaking Circles have been used throughout ancient and modern times as a restorative practice that mediates conflict while promoting individual and collective healing. Based on indigenous customs, Peacemaking Circles provide a safe space for honest dialogue as barriers and stereotypes are broken down.

Young Women Empowered (Y-WE), a partner in DNDA’s Let’s Talk Race Series 2018, hosted a Peacemaking Circle on Wednesday, March 7, that allowed participants to speak their mind and listen for the sake of listening.

To begin the Circle process, sage was burned and spread around the circle in order to clear the air of negative energy. Additionally, an offering table was placed in the middle of the circle that held sacred, symbolic objects such as water, crystals, and a candle to represent fire. The symbolic meaning of the circle shape is relevant, too, as it has neither an end, a beginning nor a hierarchical structure.

The Peacemaking Circle continued as a speaking piece was passed around the circle and each person who held the piece, in this case the red flower, gave a short description of how they were feeling. Throughout this process participants kept a set of Circle guidelines in mind, including confidentiality, no limits on an individual’s speaking time and active listening.

We then took part in a grounding exercise, or a breathing activity, where participants were encouraged to close their eyes and imagine a tree. The leaves of the tree represent each breath we take that nourishes our body, while the trunk represents our deserved presence on this planet. The trunk is our unique individuality and the roots are our source of stability, reaching out and supporting us through life.

The central element to our Circle discussion was trust, as individuals shared personal definitions of trust as well as what qualities are needed in order to give and receive trust. We wrote our definition of trust on one side of the note card and on the reverse side three other members in the circle each wrote down a quality. From qualities like vulnerability, honesty and accountability, the group discussed how these allow us to enhance trust in both our communities and within ourselves.

The Circle wrapped up with community dinner and a reading of Maya Angelou’s poem “Still I Rise,” inspiring the group to remain resilient in building trust and spreading understanding throughout our many communities.

Sometimes, as we go about our day-to-day lives, it’s easy to get lost in the hustle without taking into consideration our emotional well-being, or the emotional well-being of our community for that matter. Peacemaking Circles offer a chance for individuals to immerse themselves into a space of positive energy and mutual understanding while forging new relationships and bonds.

We would like to thank our Sponsor the Seattle Department of Neighborhoods and all of our partners in this work that make building community and sharing stories possible.