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OpenSpaceTechnology Why we use the circle

A circle is not just a meeting with the chairs rearranged. It is a return to an original form of human community, as well as a leap forward to create a new form of community. Calling the circle is a declaration of readiness to link where we came from, where we are, and where we may go.

About 400,000 years ago, when humans captured the spark of fire and began to carry the embers along from site to site, a new way of being together came into their experience. They began to face each other as they made a circle around the flame. Coming together at dusk, they found shelter for the night and brought the safety of the light with them. The fire warded off predatory animals and allowed them to cook the meat and roast the roots and nuts which were the staples of their diets. With the flame, they could sustain more people, provide more food and extend the offer of safety. Something magic happened then, something dawned in the human mind: our ancestors took a great leap in building community and consciousness through conversation.

It is this leap which circle still offers us: community and consciousness through conversation. To form a circle is the choice to remove oneself from the middle, and to place something else there around which we all can gather. Every circle, from the first campfire to the United Nations, asks for this commitment: to put at the centre the group's highest purpose, and to sit on the rim focused on that purpose. Humans started here- literally facing the fire and tending the needs of the community- and here is where we return-using circle to face the burning questions of our times and tending to their solutions.

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