A Restorative Circle (RC) is a community process designed to hold space for those in conflict. It brings together the three parties in a conflict – those who acted, those directly impacted, and the wider community – within an intentional systemic context, to dialogue as equals. Participants invite each other and attend voluntarily. The dialogue process used is shared openly with all participants, and facilitated by a community member. The process ends when actions have been found that bring mutual benefit and nurture the inherent integrity of all those involved in the conflict.
Restorative Circles are facilitated in 3 stages, and are designed to identify the key factors in the conflict, reach agreements on next steps, and evaluate the results. As Circles form, they invite shared power, mutual understanding, self-responsibility and effective action within the community.
Restorative Circles offer a form of conflict resolution, but the practice also offers a consciousness – and a large part of integrating this work into our community involves a cultural shift around how we perceive conflict and how we can find co-creative, empowered ways of restoring harmony and trust amongst us.
Restorative Circles are a specific restorative practice whose development began with the work of Dominic Barter in the favelas in Rio de Janeiro in the mid 1990s and continues with a growing community both in Brazil and internationally. See more about Dominic's work here.
Participating in a Circle
The RC process is voluntary and open to all. It’s simply a tool that can support us in responding to conflict, for those who choose to use it.
Anyone can initiate a Circle – whether you’re upset by an incident or issue, or you upset someone else, or you’re not directly involved but feel concerned, you can call a Circle.
Anyone can be named to be invited to a Circle. And if someone isn’t named, but is moved to participate, he/she can contact the Facilitator and request to be included.