What Is A Learning Circle?
A Learning Circle is a small group dialogue designed to encourage people to listen and speak from the heart in a spirit of inquiry. A safe space is created so participants can be trusting, authentic, caring, and open to change. Because the nature of the information we hope will be exchanged between scholars and practitioners, we believe Learning Circles are an appropriate structure for the exchange of knowledge on urban Aboriginal economic development.
Why Use Learning Circles?
Urban Aboriginal community practitioners face considerable challenges to deliver services and products. They work in an environment of unreliable funding, few supportive institutions, and inconsistent policies and programs that lack strategy. In these ways the urban Aboriginal context is a fractured scene. Creating Learning Circles will bring together practitioners of Aboriginal organizations, and begin to build a common perspective on needs and actions. This format will support the exchange of information on what works for urban Aboriginal organizations, how they can be strengthened, and how their relationships to other organizations can be stronger.
The Learning Circle - a traditional form of dialogue among North American Aboriginal people - is a grouping of equals based on the first principle of living systems, the concept that “everything is connected”, or as stated by the Nuu-chah-Nulth First Nations, hishuk ish ts’awalk – “everything is one”. This principle informs the work of seeking to make the whole system visible. Based upon Indigenous sharing circles, our Learning Circles will continue the traditions of promoting deep sharing and listening, of fostering respect, and resolving conflict. This traditional way of sharing and building consensus recognizes that it is fundamentally critical for Indigenous people - youth and women in particular - to speak for themselves in their own communities.