Basic structure of meetings
Group size: 5-8 people (Start with 9-10; Some people always drop off)
Regular meeting components (>3 per month, 120-150 minutes each)
— 20-25 min: Silent meditation/somatic practices/Chanting (to attune to each other)
— 30-35 min: Check-ins with wholehearted listening without interruption
— 60-90 min: Discuss (or prepare for) “Third pillar” strategic actions or scheduled sharing circles on our relationship with money/reparations, race/religion, gender/patriarchy and class system.
Each group should also have transparent structure/format for
— Decision-making (Consensus, majority, veto?)
— Information flow (how many emails? From whom?)
— Learning through feedback (How to celebrate each other and reaffirm some behaviors while redirecting harmful habits among group members)
— Conflict transformation (How can conflict deepen our relationships)
— Flow of money (if any)
— Grief/rage work for processing trauma (with outside help)
— Action strategy (with outside help as needed: what is the theory of change, who will you pressure to take action, how does it scale up, do you have marketing and social media help?)
Who should be in your group?
It helps to find people who can meet in person at a later date even if you have plan to meet online at the moment (because of pandemic): Connection, friendship, belonging and ability to show up for each other are very important. Group members need to be able to trust each other. Please put the word out in your friend/activist circle and try to find 8-10 people who like the idea of integrating inner transformation/healing with activism. Interview each other. Over time, the group size will thin down to 6-8 people which is an ideal number to meet regularly with. In addition to finding local people/neighbors, it helps to find people who share a worldview and like to take similar actions or who have the same theory of change. For example, joining 350.org or Sunrise Movement is one kind of action (perhaps everyone wants to work on divest-invest). Deciding that the group will work on electing an progressive government that will then deal with climate crisis and racial violence is another. Please also see if you like the Yet to be named network zine below. What doesn’t help is this: Two people believe in working for elections but other two believe in grassroots work of blocking pipelines and other three want to work on spreading veganism. We want to take actions together and help each other stay on our growth edge of inner and outer work. See resources below.
— Slide deck on “Composting trauma/grief is important for composting climate crisis and racial violence“. This explains the need to address the depth of trauma that exists in our communities. We all have to deal with as we plan our actions.
— Here is the core article “Three pillars of sanity” in which I describe what I envision as three main components of such practice circles.
— Here is article that describes nature of relationships between people in a practice circle: “Island of sanity friendships“
— “One unified movement” explains how we are part of the bigger whole and our work and our intentions matter regardless of what we choose to focus on.
— Complete handbook of Yet to be named network will be released in first week of October 2020
Over time, it will be important to start a group of facilitators of such practice groups to keep each other supported by using a framework of social permaculture. The practice circle facilitators have to work at keeping the circles non-hierarchical and horizontal such that the role of facilitators is to keep the energy moving and container safe/wise but not become a teacher/leader so that everyone can step into their power more and more fully. This requires humility, confidence and trust in the group.
(These guidelines are based of years of experimenting with practice circle models in Boulder and draft handbook of YTBN network. The initial format was guided by Kalyana Mitta model)