Who organizes a circle in a family?
Someone needs to issue the invitation to gather in circle. (Hey, shall we try something a little different for mom and dad’s anniversary?) There needs to be willingness, either ahead of time or at the gathering, for meeting in this way. And it is helpful if at least two family members share this initial hosting and find ways to make circle inclusive and fun (Choosing a question everyone can answer: finding something meaningful as a talking piece).
What if people don’t want to be so formal as to use a talking piece?
Again, this is part of invitation. If it is clear that the intention is to encourage each voice to be heard, people who want this to happen will self-select to be present. It is helpful to use a talking piece at the beginning of such gatherings (as a check-in, in order to hear each voice) to really set the pattern of careful speaking and listening.
Many church and community groups have by-laws requiring the use of Robert’s Rules of Order. How can a circle work for them?
Robert’s Rules of Order and circle are completely compatible. The format and flow of the meeting and voting can follow Robert’s Rules. Circle can be used effectively within the meeting to gather thoughts on various issues, or can be used at the beginning and ending to check in/check out with each participant.
How can a circle work within the hierarchy of a religious community?
If the clergy or lay leader wants participatory membership, a circle is an ideal form. The person who is “in charge” in any given setting must support and agree to the use of circle or it cannot work. Circles work effectively within the triangle of hierarchy to “round out” the edges of competition and hierarchy and give each person a voice.