A number of books have been published recently that illustrate the many moods and nuanced meanings that the word “circle” carries. For example, The Circle Way, by Baldwin, Linnea, and Wheatley, says modern group processes that are open to collaboration or to flattening the hierarchy are based in some way on circle practices. As organizations of all kinds move increasingly toward shared and rotating leadership, they are calling on the circle model to form sustainable teams and adopt circle-driven group processes such as World Café, Open Space, and Art of Hosting. Meetings in the round have become the preferred tool for moving individual commitment into group action. This book lays out the structure of circle conversation, based on the original work of the co-authors who have studied and standardized the essential elements that constitute circle practice. It takes readers through a circle visual (the Components of Circle) and presents both structure and story so that readers understand how these elements come into play and how they interrelate and interact.
Here is a critic’s write up of another book, Calling the Circle. It has become one of the key resources for the rapidly-growing “circle” movement. 50,000 years ago, women and men gathered around campfires to decide the key issues in their lives. Today, groups everywhere are discovering a new form of this ancient ritual for communication, mutual support, teamwork, and social change. Christina Baldwin offers this powerful new tool to everyone who longs for a community based on honesty, equality, and spiritual integrity. In this simple, profound practice, participants sit in a circle, pass a talking piece from person to person, and speak and listen from the heart. Christina Baldwin gives detailed instructions and suggestions for getting started, setting goals, and solving disagreements safely and respectfully. She also offers inspiring examples of circles in action: a women’s spirituality group, a father and son in crisis, a PTA group that averts a school strike and a work project team that accesses a new level of creativity and caring.