Interested in guiding your classroom through a restorative circle process? Not sure where to begin? While no two circle discussions are alike, here are some common guidelines that we have found helpful in facilitating a restorative group process. Facilitators typically model these five behaviors themselves and often choose to share them with the group prior to beginning.
1) Speak from the heart: Speak not only with your head and ideas, but with your feelings. Share what is true for you based on your own experiences. When we speak from the heart we are aiming for eloquence, for choosing words that accurately communicate what we hold to be important.
2) Listen from the heart: Try to listen without judgement; let go of stories that make it hard to hear each other. An open heart makes an open mind. Even if you disagree with what someone says, take it in before you react or respond.
3) Speak Spontaneously. Wait until your turn to speak before you decide what you are going to say. Trust that the right words--or the right silence--will come to you when needed.
4) Without feeling rushed, say just enough: Keep in mind the limits of time and making room for everyone to speak. This intention is also called “lean expression.” It is related to “speak from the heart” because we often find that when we speak carefully we can express ourselves with fewer words than we would normally use, and that when we do our words often have more impact.
5) Welcome and expect different and contradictory points of view: Circles welcome and accept all points of view. We speak primarily into the center of the circle, where our diverse perspectives simmer together, and from where there often emerges a shared understanding or sense of purpose.
Circles are a powerful way of building strong community and "making things right" within in our relationships. Want to know more about how restorative circles might benefit your classroom or school?
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Or, feel free to contact us directly if you'd like to discuss your situation one-on-one. We'd be happy to help you assess if restorative process circles are right for you. We won't try to sell you on restorative council unless we truly believe it is a great option for you!
Yesterday the Red Shouldered Hawk baby could be heard from my house, at least 1/4 mile from its nest in Cooper's Grove. It's getting very vigorous! I have in my bookshelf Life Histories of North America Birds of Prey by Arthur Cleveland Bent. The book is based on observations from the late 1800's and early 1900's. It is compiled from the reports of many dedicated observers, and the manuscript was finished in 1936. Thus, it is an interesting historical document that reveals much about past environments and attitudes of humans toward birds.
The section on the Nesting Habits of Red-Shouldered Hawks includes this passage:
I would like to see those old groves. I read recently that the precipitous demise of the passenger pigeon from sky-obscuring flocks requiring days to pass to complete extinction was brought about mostly by the destruction of the great Eastern hardwood forests.
The book from which the passage above is taken has many accounts of people shooting birds of all varieties, including this interesting story about shooting a swallow-tailed kite:
I think there were many more birds in general back then, so perhaps shooting them in order to admire them more closely did not seem in that context quite as insane as it does today.
I took a walk along the Joe Rodata trail with my friend Lindsey. Lindsey is an avid naturalist and tracker. We had a great time talking about the medicine wheel and many other topics. She is very tuned in to birds and pointed out the small sounds of the Spotted Towhee in the blackberry hedges, and the song of the Swainson's Thrush. "It harmonizes with itself," she pointed out. Listen here.
The St. John's Wort is in full flower along the trail with several very large patches. This one is mixed in with Teazel, a thistle with medicinal properties that is being used by Lyme patients.
A few other recent observations: Many small birds and mammals. Close call on the road last night with three separate fawns, one in Petaluma on I street and a pair on Robert's Road. A baby owl on Sonoma Mountain Road that flew away as the car approached. Lots of spiders in the house during the heat (a few in the bathtub every morning), and the orb weavers are really going at it in the garden. The cats are shedding hair by the handful. Several times when driving between Santa Rosa and Sebastopol recently I've seen a group of three White Herons flying in the vicinity of Highway 12 and Stony Point Road; yesterday I saw them over Oliver's Market. I wonder if in days gone by they might have been flying in large flocks. They are incredibly beautiful to watch. Michele and I saw one fly over Terra Firma Farm (in Petaluma) last night at dusk. We were there for a campfire talk given by Sal Gencarelle, a very fine teacher with deep knowledge of Lakota medicine ways. Michele and I were sitting facing a barn; a few minutes after the heron flew by a large owl came out the barn followed about 30 seconds later by another one. Their loud voices kept us company as Sal talked, along with several other night birds and some yipping that may have been foxes.
I should mention here that I was in Cooper's Grove on Saturday facilitating a Medicine Walk. The mosquitoes are already in decline. I heard one of the Red Shoulder Hawk babies still in the nest; I looked below the nest to see if the other one had fallen to its death like its sibling did two weeks ago, but I didn't see it. The Kites on the West edge of the Grove were very vocal, with two babies and the parents making a wider variety of vocalizations than I had heard before. They have a very sharp whistle followed by a cough.
This doe and her fawn hang out by the house. She's heavy with milk. The fawn has grown a lot but still has spots. There are two yearlings hanging around also, just off camera. The doe chases them away when they get too close. The face she's making is her menacing face as she runs toward one of them. They clear out expeditiously, running a short ways into the tall grass. The grass is tall enough that they pretty much disappear as soon as they are 8 or 10 There they bide their time and then try again about 10 minutes later.
The fawn keeps trying to nurse, but at least while I was watching mom was not allowing it. I think it's possible that the two yearlings are hers from last year, and they smell her milk and are trying to get to it. I say this because I was watching one of them approach her and it looked like it definitely had an agenda. It's the one that has what appears to be a cyst a bit larger than a golf ball hanging from its chest.
I noticed on my morning patrol of the Grove that the little ones in the Red Shouldered Hawk nest were very noisy, much more so than usual. And sounding pretty grown up also. It seems like it's been a couple of months since they hatched; I didn't record the exact date I first heard them as tiny birds screaming for food. I've been wondering when I'll start seeing them around the neighborhood as juveniles.
I had previously been unable to see the exact place where the nest is, so I took the time today to carefully circumambulate around the source of the sound, looking up frequently. I visited some places in the grove I had not yet seen...I'm always amazed at how I can find new places after four years of tending the place. Finally, after several distractions (very cute tiny deer tracks) I spotted the nest. I estimate it's about 120 feet above the ground. I decided to go the base of the tree and look on the ground, figuring I could observe what the ground under a hawk's nest looks like, and perhaps on future wanderings I would see something similar that would tip me off to other nests.
My friend Stephanie Seibel encountered a fox on her driveway and wrote a beautiful poem about it. Visit her Fil Rouge website for the story and the poem.
An excerpt from the story:
"In the nakedness of the moment that followed, the space between us disappeared. We were nothing. Shrinking away from each other, we were of the same kin."
NOTE: This post should not be read as a recommendation to use poison oak for healing. It is purely speculative. Poison oak is a dangerously toxic plant...stay away!
For the first time in 40 years I've had a serious, full-body case of poison oak. I got it while on a weekend retreat with my men's group, the Raven Moon clan of initiates. The most painful part was on the palm of my hands where the skin was too thick to allow the blisters to open up. The rash stayed subsurface and burned intensely.
At the height of the ordeal I was laying awake in bed at night meditating. This gave me a chance to just be present with the rash and the effects of the amazingly potent oil, urishiol, that creates the rash. It came to me that in some way this ordeal might be medicine, that the reason I got poison oak now is that it was facilitating some kind of healing or transformation. I thought of the many stories I have read where people learned of their medicine and how to use it by undergoing an ordeal, typically much more serious than the one I was suffering.
So, I decided to not make up my mind but to be open to the possibility that poison oak had a positive message for me. Perhaps it is supporting my initiation process.
The rash has been gone for about two weeks now, and I'm feeling fine...but the skin on my palms is still shedding. Perhaps when this part is finished poison oak will have done its job of supporting some transformative process.
It's certainly a more appealing story than thinking of poison oak as merely treacherous. Some medicine is costly, some healing is demanding, and the gifts of spirit come often in forms we do not anticipate.
Amos Clifford, Guide and Restorative Council Mentor; trainer in restorative justice, restorative dialogue with nature, and circle-keeping and the way of council; mentor.