Re: Sharing Circles
From: Cheryl Charis-Graves (
Date: Tue, 12 May 1998 23:57:22 -0500
I have found the following book useful for the "circle process": Calling the
Circle, by Christina Baldwin.

Rob Sandelin wrote:

> Sharing circles are simply a tool, and like any tool, its use can be modified
> to meet your needs, at least to some extent. I would encourage you to hold
> guiding sharing circles and include newcomers and visitors. Make the topics
> interesting (in a guiding sharing, the guide suggests the topic) stuff like, I
> want Liberty Village to be a place where ________, or my favorite relative, a
> story from my childhood - topics where people share their histories, their
> hopes and dreams. This is very bonding stuff, this sharing, and very few
> opportunities arise in most peoples lives to share this in an intimate
> setting. I was a visitor at a fancy retreat center in Hawaii once, and people
> paid $2,000 each to spend the weekend having sharing circles!
> I would advise to keep sharing circles for dealing with feelings about
> community issues somewhat closed to committed members to encourage safety. How
> you define committed members is up to you. I have not much experience with
> Sharing Circles in forming communities. I stole the notion from already
> existing communities, thus the dichotomy of whose in and whose not is much
> clearer.  The idea works both ways, people may not open up with first timers
> watching for fear of scaring them away, and if they do, they in fact may scare
> new people away.
> You can open them up if you wish but pay attention to how people react. It
> would be a good idea to start with them closed for the first few times just to
> have a sense of what they are like before opening them up, so you have
> something to compare to.
> But. as always, feel free to ignore me and experiment. Each group gets its own
> mileage out of these tools.
> Rob Sandelin
> ----------
> From:   cohousing-l [at] on behalf of Paul Kilduff
> Sent:   Tuesday, May 12, 1998 11:11 PM
> Subject:        Sharing Circles
> from Paul Kilduff, Liberty Village, Libertytown MD, moving in, we hope,
> Nov, 1998.
> We are using guidelines for sharing circles taken from an article by Rob
> Sandelin in CoHousing Journal, Winter, 1994.  We just did our first one
> last week.  Most wonderful experience.
> One thing I am wondering about is "Rob's recommendation" number 1, "No
> strangers; members only."
> For one thing, I found the process so powerful that it seems hard to
> believe that strangers could screw it up.  For another, I wondered when
> people got to be non-strangers: when they pay their $6,000?  Seems kind
> of a strange standard, but it's the definition we're using.  I also
> wonder, looking at it from another angle, how people can become
> non-strangers if they're not allowed to participate in the sharing
> circle -- kind of a chicken-egg thing.  How do you define strangers and
> members, and how does a stranger become a member without participating
> in the circle?
> I would have sent this just to Rob, but I thought I'd also like to get
> others' reactions.
> Thank you,
> Paul
> .

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