The circle has been used since antiquity to symbolize human settlement, community, and the coming together of groups of people for the sake of discussion. The circle is an inclusive shape, one that implies fairness and invites participation… it is the shape of a connected community... it is also used to indicate and define “place.”
Join a group: Discuss, disagree, debate, deliberate... Resolve conflict.
Exchange views: Talk, listen, convince, change your mind... Build consensus.
Form a circle: Cooperate, coordinate, collaborate… Work together towards a common vision.
Build community: Implement elements of a vision, meet goals and objectives, do together what is not possible or too difficult to do alone.
Take action. Make positive steps towards a desired future.
This painting is of La Sardana, a dance frequently enjoyed in public spaces throughout Catalunya. Influenced by Ancient Greek line dances, Sardana dancers link hands with raised arms, forming circles that grow larger as more people join in. A spirit of unity is generated as the dancers step in harmony. All are welcome to join.
When the circle becomes too big, it may break into smaller circles or alternatively another ring may form within the larger one, expressing an openness to participation and a democratic process.
A "community" can be created at many scales. Communication and agreement about the steps and the direction of movement, as well as awareness of and responsiveness to others in the circle, are critical to the success of the dance. La Sardana is a symbol of a connected community; a Community Circle.
Traditional Village Well ("Pigathaki")
In many traditional societies, women meet at the well to collect water, the source of life, and discuss community news and express their concerns. In Greek, the word "pigathi" means "water well" and the word "pigathaki" ("little well") means sharing of thoughts in a circle.
Study Circles are discussion groups formed to engage community members in a community conversation regarding issues needing to be discussed and decided.
In some Native American cultures, there is a ritual called, "what is left unsaid" and it is practiced in various ways. In one instance, the group gathers in a circle and uses what is called a "talking feather." Whoever has the feather is the one that states what has been on their mind but hasn't been said. Then, the feather is handed to the next person who adds what has been left unsaid. This is called a "Talking Circle."
Please contact us with any additional ideas regarding the significance and role of the circle in community building, community conversation, and community planning.