Community Peacemaking and Talking Circles
Project NIA offers circles of understanding, healing circles (for perpetrators and family, for victim and family, for perpetrator, victim, and community), support circles, agreement circles, and re-entry circles among others.
- To provide community outreach and peacemaking circles training to prepare both youth and adults to begin to use peacemaking circles to address issues involving juvenile crime, to resolve disputes, manage conflicts and build relationships.
- To make Peacemaking Circles available as a diversion option for Rogers Park, Edgewater and Uptown youth involved in the juvenile justice system.
Peacemaking and Talking Circles are a structured process used to bring people together to better understand one another, build and strengthen bonds and solve community problems. Talking circles and peacemaking circles provide a way for people to have conversations and to work through conflict or differences in a safe and productive way. The talking and peacemaking circle process has been and is being used for decision making, problem solving and conflict resolution in schools, neighborhoods, workplace, family and the juvenile and criminal legal systems. Peacemaking circles operate on the basis of a restorative philosophy, values, principles, and guidelines.
Circles are an alternative process of communication, based on traditional discussion and healing practices of aboriginal peoples throughout the world. While circles have been adapted for many communities and have been adapted to serve many purposes, they share essential features:
- Everyone in the circle is equal and has equal opportunity to speak,
- Decisions are made by consensus, and
- Everyone agrees to abide by guidelines established by the group based on shared values, in order to work toward a common goal.
Peacemaking circles have emerged as a process and structure to enhance local community involvement in matters of justice. Typically they consider the needs of victims, perpetrators, families, and communities within a re-integrative context. The connections forged in circles can provide the basis for the partnerships necessary to carry out integrated solutions to the immediate and underlying causes of conflict. Circles can take many forms and can happen at most any place in the justice process.