Circle is a structured process for organizing effective group communication, relationship building, decision-making, and conflict resolution. The process creates a space apart from our normal ways of being together. The Circle embodies and nurtures a philosophy of relationship and interconnectedness that can guide us in all circumstances-in circle and outside of circle.

Old thing, made new. Native & Indigenous Roots. Peacemaking Circles bring people together as equals to have honest exchanges about difficult issues and painful experiences in an atmosphere of respect and concern for everyone.


Circle is a way of bringing people together in which:

  • Everyone is respected
  • Everyone gets a chance to talk without interruption
  • Participants explain themselves by telling their stories
  • Everyone is equal-no person is more important than anyone else
  • Spiritual and emotional aspects of individual experience are welcome

 Circles are useful when two or more people:

  • Need to make decisions together
  • Have a disagreement
  • Need to address an experience that resulted in harm to someone
  • Want to work together as a team
  • Wish to celebrate
  • Wish to share difficulties
  • Want to learn from each other

 Circle is a container strong enough to hold:

      • Anger
      • Frustration
      • Joy
      • Pain
      • Truth
      • Conflict
      • Diverse world views
      • Intense feelings
      • Silence
      • Contradiction


Community Building

Difference between Circle and other processes:

Circles can be combined with other processes however they have several unique characteristics that distinguish circles from other dialogue or conflict resolution processes.

Commitment to building relationships before discussing the core issues is a very important and intentional strategy of the circle process.

  • Reduces the power of the facilitator and makes them more of a participant on an equal footing with other members of the circle. This naturally shifts power and responsibility to the participants for how the process goes.
  • Use of the talking piece to regulate the dialogue.
  • Circles do not try to direct participants toward a pre-determined outcome.

What is Restorative Justice?

Restorative justice is a philosophy that views harm and crime as violations of people and relationships.  It is a holistic process that addresses the repercussions and obligations created by harm, with a view to putting things as right as possible.  Restorative justice services have their roots in all indigenous cultures.  It is the ancient wisdom of people coming together to address conflict, discuss problems, make decisions, and build stronger community connections.  Restorative justice is best practiced when guided by restorative values and principles and when those most affected are both the focus and the directors.

When compared with our current models of punishment, whether it is in the justice system or discipline in schools, restorative justice requires a paradigm shift in thinking about reactions to harm.  This becomes most apparent when we compare the values and principles of restorative justice to those of the current justice system, which emphasizes punishment and retribution.  As Susan Sharpe states, “Restorative justice is fundamentally different from retributive justice.  It is justice that puts energy into the future, not into what is in the past.  It focuses on what needs to be healed, what needs to be repaid, what needs to be learned in the wake of crime.  It looks at what needs to be strengthened  if such things are not to happen again.

How can you help?

A successful Restorative Justice/Circle Program begins with YOU, the citizens of the community, who know and understand the community’s needs and strengths.  This community-directed program would like you to consider a volunteer partnership to build, support, and sustain it. If interested in becoming a Circle volunteer, please contact Megan Boerboom at or 507-532-4121.

For additional information on Circle, please reach out to Megan Boerboom or see the SWHHS Circle Brochure.