Common Bond Institute

What’s Brewing in the ETO Conference Community

Daily Conference Blog


The ETO Conference is meant to lead to action planning and practical applications beyond the event.

To help keep participants better informed and up to date throughout each day on what is emerging in this learning community, scribes are assigned to each session to take brief bullet notes of topics, issues, and comments that arise. These notes are collected and posted here each day, as well as posted in hard copy in the area of the Networking Hub, to further inform subsequent dialogues and lead into the action planning stage on Sunday.

We encourage participants to check this information periodically to gain a fuller sense of what is brewing in the conference community, particularly in break-out groups they cannot be part of. In addition, those who can not join us for the conference in person can check-in online to learn what is happening each day.

Action items and plans are also listed along with related resources and existing networks, and a conference Email list is provided separately to all participants, to help maintain contact and encourage individual and collective follow through.

An expanding resource list of Like-Purposed and cooperating initiatives and events is maintained on CBI’s website. In addition to Common Bond Institute’s efforts, participants are encouraged to learn more about these activist opportunities, consider becoming involved with them, and adding their own efforts to them.


Friday, April 13


Plenary Round Table 1:
Friday, April 13   4:30-6:00 pm

Round table with Amanda Roman, Barbara Simonetti, Joan Blades, Pearce Godwin,

Moderator: Steve Olweean

SO: Questions in pamphlet not designed to limit but rather offer a beginning point

AR: Catholic school background K-college (informed by intellectual curiosity) — uncover untapped solution inside us/each of us has a piece of the solution.

  • Care/compassion a through line
  • ID collective strengths

BS: 4 lessons learned — 1) pre-work and understand who you are bringing to the table (what they fear, love, etc.); 2) Once you know who are at the table, find common ground; 3) Get the frame of the question— sometimes scope and scale of question need adjustment; 4) Call diversity out in the room and call it out as a strength

  • Bottom line: relationships, trust, etc.

JB: “Pendulum swing” — huge need to do peace-building

  • Gather insights from Move On and ask how can we make this something everyone can do?
  • Living Room Conversations
  • Dream is to collectively create ecosystem for peace-building

PG: Listen First Project; based in Charlottesville

  • US is facing crisis and people many have different thoughts about reasons and because of whom but most agree there is a crisis
  • “Affective polarization” – disagreement has become deeply personal
  • National Week of Conversation in late April
  • There’s hope: bridge-building conversations

Open conversation in roundtable format:

PG: Some people in Charlottesville say they are tired of conversation and want action (Listen First is one way that can happen)

JB: Since last election US is starting to show more signs of a country falling apart; have to return to heart piece and common ground. And, it’s fun getting to know people.

BS: Help groups have better conversations; people want to have sense of accomplishment when things are over.

AR: Political and public policy: polls are snap shot in time. Thinking globally, acting locally. Come back to one-on-one.

SO: Unprecedented level of direct contact (internet, technology) and that can be a good thing when it comes to moving past screens, interpreters, things that may distract.

Question: So what are some of the how-to’s?

  • “Conscious capitalism” – businesses with a mission and philosophy that business can be a force for good
  • Need examples of how to bridge ground (for example, student protests to encourage university divestment and the larger systemic conversation that can out of that about economic power and how to use it)
  • Synergy and symbiosis with colleagues to be part of something bigger
  • Domestic peace movement

Questions from audience:

  • How to engage others, like at grocery stores in a public context? Coming back to authentic experiences and being genuine
  • About power—how race, class, internet access, etc. all factor into participation “at the table” and what about these voices? Bring as many people to the table as possible. Those who have privilege and power need to ask who is not at the table and how to invite them in
  • Co-founder of Love WI asked about online models for using storytelling to help represent a diversity of experiences. See org.
  • Tips on helping out the process of engagement? Examples include Living Room conversations, and opening up experience
  • Sharon Lerman/Alliance Schools — contact them if you want to participate in library conversations



World Cafe’ and Plenary Processing Session:
Friday, April 13   6:30-8:30 pm

  • Listening more intently to others
  • Fear
  • Socioeconomic disparities
  • Community support resources
  • Engaging family
    • Approaching tension/divide
    • How do I practice what I’m learning here?
  • Culture
    • Systems in decline
    • Isolation
    • Individualism VS. Community
    • Western/Eastern
  • Distrust
  • How did we get to this place?
  • Hopefulness that chaos may lead to resolution
  • Individual contributions to these issues
    • Continual personal growth
  • Communication
    • How experiences have changed over time
    • The importance of discussions like these
    • Awareness
    • The lack of…
  • Creating safe spaces
    • Different definitions/ideas of such
  • Approaching homelessness
    • Tunnel vision
  • Recognition
    • Being in somebody else’s shoes
  • Micro-aggressions
    • Ignorance
    • (In)sensitivity
      • Considering individual experiences/perspectives
      • Are you doing it for them or for yourself?
        • Understanding that somebody may not want to talk about what you think they want to talk about based on appearance
    • Belittling others by offering unnecessary assistance/input
  • Accountability
  • Institutionalized prejudices
  • Gravitation towards people like ourselves
    • Difficulty approaching differences in conversation
  • Damaging relationships
  • Objectifying the other
  • “An enemy is somebody’s whose story we haven’t heard”
  • Unwarranted assumptions
  • Individualism
    • Responsibility to collective
  • Unification
    • Loving others = loving self
    • Respecting others = respecting self
  • Qualifications
    • What can I personally do?
      • There is always something!
  • Art as a way to connect
    • Story
    • Dance
    • Painting
  • Finding commonalities in belief systems below the issue
  • Bridges in language
  • Sustainability
    • Resources
  • Have the “next” conversation
    • Exhausting questions
  • “Winning debates” instead of listening or learning from other arguments
    • Listening/sharing VS. Convincing
  • Opening up to others can lead to greater feelings of love
  • Looking at others for their differences instead of as a “whole” individual
  • What it means to tell the truth and what difference it can make to do so
  • Being in the “middle”
  • Social responsibility
  • Leadership
  • How do we engage and/or integrate opposing/differing views?



Saturday, April 14


Plenary Round Table 2:



Dialogue Break-Out Groups:


Group 1:

I think it’s essential to start with looking for common ground and openness.

When son joined marine corps and I joined the parents of marines group: met people with a lot of different ideas; and also people who didn’t want their kids hurt. I learned a lot.

What was voiced tonight: building trust thru sharing a common experience or walrus —where out of conversation where people cross over and where they don’t: this honoring of the differences and being curious about them.

And becoming aware of the similarities.

Helps people to go deeper and be vulnerable.

The exploration of what is confidentiality is so very important.

One of the Questions: how will you share this in a way that honors confidentiality?

And feels respectful and creates a space of safety.

What you say here, stays here. What you learn here goes out into the world.

A challenge and an opportunity: was describing that I was going to come to this event and that one of the thing that spurred rumors on: 12 years ago the anti-gay marriage amendment went thru

Demonstration here at Edgewood & I went. It was difficult to listen: & was challenged by hearing those bigoted opinions.

At the same time, if you don’t develop a place for difficult dialogue, it won’t happen.

And I have resistance connecting with some of the people on that level, found it to be a problem.

These conversations aren’t always done particularly well.  Speaks to taking action with friends,

Questions about safety?

If there’s intention expressed or agreed upon: when you co-create agreements about what donates safety, how to conduct this, codes of conduct. when it’s been decided collectively.

Then there’s the Question about harm: how we can do harm with our words, how we collectively agree about what’s harmful.

For example, going to have a conversation about a difficult topic:

If we are going to create a safe space: does the person share what they need for safety? That we hear the other?

What are the different ways but also not pointing at any individual person?

Interested in exploring it more.

Feels like she’s sensitive to how to meet another person, based on her own trauma.

It’s pretty personal.

How do You facilitate? How do you create a safe space? talks about facilitation.

Easier to do when you get a group of people together when they decide they want to talk about a difficult issue and want to have conversation.

How you make a space safe depends on what kind of space you’re in: if everyone came with the intention of creating a safe space.

Maybe can find ground rules but that room that you walk into: but it’s a room of individuals with their own experiences: so it’s a place to start but it’s not the totality of what you experience.


Group 2:

What do you do during the day? What brought you here?

* I study and I want to create and have effective dialogue

* Justice is pursuing me

* Trying to be of service to others and build a community of contributions

* Help share the importance of the circle

* Trying to understand the oppressive institutions

* Caring connections amongst a faith community and felt like they needed to be here.

* Deeply respect the work of people and the students/ offer more to the community

* Explore different ways to engage and explore

* Trying to understand the other and fully understand/wants understanding

* Revolutionary

* Spread the word and share that many people have a voice and an opinion

* Personally was drawn in and loves what she does also to listen and to learn

* Spread the word

* Spread the word, listen and then provide advice

* Believes in creating heathy and safe spaces for young people. Pushing them to step into places of power.

* Wants to heal, needs a space to learn

* We only grieve because we love and love never dies it only transcends

* Internal search for peace and understanding

* Listening is the way at love and revolutionizing our society

* Wants to be more open minded and less self-absorbed

* Chance to start all over again

* Listening and understanding

* Wants to change, Wants to create

* Exploring what it means to experience great dialogue

Understanding and finding ways to process the panel/ what touched your heart? How did it make you feel? How can you use whatever occurred during the panel in your life?

* The first panel on violence was powerful. To be able to sit and discuss exactly what was going on in our daily life was refreshing.

* Second panel with the discussion on language and it was overly powerful to realize that we are divided on that basis

* Both panels and those who were on the panels were amazing because those people are very brave

* Understanding how we sit with pain and how we fuel as sense of hope with ourselves and others

* The panels brought them back to their childhood or memories that now make them want to create change

* Panel gave them hope to create safe spaces

* The first panel touched the hearts of many

* Inspiration

* Look more into areas were you disagree with people

* Connection to the purpose of the panel was important but the first panel was what drew me in

* The circle healed … it healed/ self-reflection/self-realization/beautiful journey/helps you touch your inner you.

* Repaired the harm and pain that was so deep

Can anyone lead a circle? If so how?

* Yes and No….but you must be committed, support and drive! It has to come from a group/family effort a circle cannot occur independently. Must be a group effort always and you must be driven you must make a way! It takes a teacher to teach it. Make sure you have folks that know what they are talking about and they they know what they are taking about you must understand and realize that you are entering into a world of people. People make up this circle!

* Anyone can facilitate a circle….the first time you enter into a space like that it turns you off and is very uncomfortable. To be asked to pour out those thoughts and pains is uncomfortable because you have found comfort in your pain. Revealing that allows for you to expand and create.

How do you balance or not allow for a White Savior complex or any savior complex to occur?

* Personally, you must deal and recognize your own hurt and pain

* Students allowed for her to dig deep or find an authentic version of oneself

* Understand ones story and don’t be afraid to change the course of your story

* Sit with oneself and push themselves on how far they want to go when they want to go… you must understand that you cannot save anyone and no ones needs to be saved because they can do it for themselves. Guide them. Put them in a place where they can create and understand their spaces.

* Listening is what keeps the balance

* Working from a place of a human being/ creating various relationships/ lived in various and unique spaces/ we are of a system that is meant to divide us but we don’t have to allow it to divide us.

* Use your power! Be apart of committed.. you cannot come and go as you please.

* Where is your heart? Find where your heart is….be committed….put your heart into what you love

* Once you open your heart you’ll hear the voice that will create change

* Selfless..Hard working..always giving..always & puts her youth in positions to own there power

As you constantly give, how do you give back to yourself?

* Listen to oneself

* Do the work that you want to be doing

* Be present with yourself

* Be aware of how you speak about yourself and others

* Don’t be ashamed.. be conscious about the ways in which you are moving

* Be proud and celebrate the little things

* Don’t give up even when faced with the obstacles of your systems

* Watch..Watch..Watch

* Be truly vulnerable


Group 3:

Self-segregation is an issue.

Issue of trust and what is going to be done with your shared information.

People I want to be in relationships with, I do not want to risk my close relationships with others.

Important to find a foundation

    * Mutual respect to deeply listen and share.

There is a generational gap- strong moral beliefs that are difficult to change.

There is a goal we need to achieve together, it is not about whether you are right or I am right, we must redefine what being a winner is – not a competition.

Finding common ground to start a meaningful progressive conversation with someone is key.

Look at people from the inside and trying not to judge people based on their differences.  Invite people in to talk more. 

Stress is necessary in life to grow.

Being judgmental, prejudice, or sexist etc. is socially constructed.  People are for the most part born all the same and it depends on your environment and upbringing as a child.

We must be aware of and work to overcome tendencies to attach negative assumptions& characteristics to the biological separation we as humans try to naturally do to put each other in categories. This stalls us from growing and listening to the other.


Plenary Round Table 3:



Dialogue Break-Out Groups:


Group 1:

  • How to use restorative circle
    • Communication
    • Using a talking piece
  • “Check-ins”
    • Introductions of self with “emotion”
  • Purpose of circle
    • What do you do during the day, and what brought you here?
      • Community
        • Teaching
        • Learning
        • Communicating!
      • Healing
        • Grief
      • Individual/personal experiences and satisfaction
      • Surviving
      • Love
      • Providing an open environment
        • Listening to others
      • Support
        • Giving AND receiving
      • Authentic places for youth (and everyone) to step forward
      • Redefining values
      • Empowering ourselves
      • Overcoming fear
      • Making sense of life
      • Exploration
      • Being a part of each other’s journeys
      • Family
      • Spirituality
      • Practicing true dialogue
      • Appreciating and applying the ideas shared by others
    • Spreading compassion
  • Terms causing misunderstanding
  • Multi linguistic characteristic of language
  • Language sounds extremely different within different cultures
    • Are there ways to mend cultures when dialect is so different?
  • ESL: When something is important, say it in first language and then translate
    • Do not have as much respect for second language
  • Communication with words is inefficient and accurate
    • Body language
    • May not even be aware: how do you know if you don’t know?
      • You don’t know what you don’t know
    • You can say the same word and not be on the same page
    • Cultural cues misunderstood
      • Differences in appropriate body language cross-culturally
      • Not giving eye contact to authority Maintaining eye contact
    • There are many different cultures & you may think you know something, but the norms & values may differ by culture
      • It would be very difficult for someone to understand the nuances of every culture
      • People of different cultures may react differently to breaking the norms of other cultures
        • Could be an opportunity to engage and educate someone
      • People grow up thinking their culture is right
        • “They should know How can he not know that?”
      • Cultural sensitivity: recognizing where you are and who was there
        • Might have to go out of way to be sensitive in spaces and cultures unlike your own
      • “Ownership” Power dynamic
        • Who owns what?
        • “The land owns us”
        • Acknowledgement of whose land you’re on, who lives there…
        • US: little recognition
          • History starts when immigrants invaded the country
          • Origin: Male, white land owners
            • White still oppressing: we need to create opportunities
          • Not much of a mention of who was there before


Group 2:

Report the thing that’s said always using first.

My understanding; how we create spaces like this: how we have dialogue and listen first.

How do we create more and how do we engage when we do create these types of conversations?

We talked a lot about how everybody is more in their own bubble; for ex, the phone bubble & that it’s hard to step out.

And that’s how our society is set up now.

I don’t think that’s going to change. It’s going to get worse.

I see this as a positive/negative thing.

Two forces that propel society forward a: integration/disintegration.

And then with disintegration, getting to the place where people say “no more.”

The more north, the more west, the more this is exaggerated.

We set ourselves up for this exaggeration in the U.S.

Most communal country I lived in: Columbia.

And we believe that it’s very safe in America, and that there’s very little violence.

But you look at Chicago and it’s very violent.

It doesn’t match the description of America that I was brought up in.

The US has the highest murder rate in any developed country.

We have the most gun deaths.

We have no gun violence in England.

Now they use knives.

It’s more finite:

I think this type of meeting, seeing a lot of different opportunities that I’m seeing now, different people have this: people get the same idea at the same time. So I’m encouraged.

I don’t know how the energy will get behind it.

There are a lot of barriers to slow down & be in conversation with the other – so I’m hopeful but wonder how long it’ll take.

And demographically too, the odds are against you: anything you do, there are many who have been there or done that.

I’m very hopeful.

The materialist, capitalist influence in this country – but the spirit still comes thru, of wanting to come together, of wanting to change.

It may take a long long time but the human spirit will win.

I think it’ll have to be like the US was in in the Great Depression: then we’ll be able to change.

The funny thing: it only requires 3% of the population to stand up for change to cause change:

Being tired of suffering but also learn the ways of peace.

Seen protests-violent/non-violent: but replacing a system with a similar system.

Learning to be agents of peace: in all forms: Why aren’t these things taught in school?

Because of people who have power.

We have to build the immune system of the country before it can get healthy.

With a lot of pain, destruction, growth —> we’ll get there.

But people use the divide and conquer strategy to divide people and to maintain their power – that’s their tactic.

The main problem: that the person in the community feels: which creates justification.

Devolving different lexicon sets:

For example, saying , “No”  That automatically sets up a whole set of thought patterns in response

The way we use language paints a projection of how & what we see about one another: so we can intentionally speak.

Both for how we receive and how we speak/intend.

I like the discussion about trying to listen better.  Because people don’t listen.

When kids were in debate class, the whole goal was to win the debate – and not listen.

I was just talking to a friend of mine. She had some trauma she needed to talk about. At the end of the day she said, maybe I should listen more. I wish she had because I could have injected some good stuff in there. But she needed to get it out, and I love listening.

I listen more than I talk, generally:

I’m a politician – not really: I’ve been elected over and over.

The way the country is now is kind of scary.

So this is a good time to come back to our senses and listen to the other.

We can drop the fear.

Simple things like body language: drop our shoulders, smile, walk a little less stressed out.

Do we interact or not, based on views.

I was monitoring online forums during Bush area: early-ish social networking based out of UK talking about what was happening in the US: there’s a lot of stereotyping, that all individuals in US are like little Bush.

I’ve never heard anyone say, when asked what they want to be when they grow up: no one has ever said “Homeless”.

Or even being a garbage person.

Last yr I graduated from MATC with an assoc. degree, & won the transformation award. So I had to present it this year.

At the college, there’s the trio group: SSS: org for students / disabilities, low-income or first generation (first in family to get a degree): a lot of people don’t know about it, but children who don’t have someone who carries a degree: it’s really hard to stay in school with little or no support.

Your parents don’t know how to support you.

So last night I went back and the Trio org we all met together – it was 50 year old.

The people I was encountering are from everywhere.

I felt fortunate because I was showing them that political perception wasn’t unanimous.

We are creating a narrative too.

I interact a lot with boys/girls club: how about also helping the parents with tutoring so they can help the kids with homework?

A lot of people in that community cannot help their kids with homework – how enabling would it be to help their kids

How great if the parents could also help their kids in school.

They are doing a lot of things in school these days: compassion, not bullying.

If people are just poor, they’re angry, they’re desperate – they’re not typically kind.

There are a lot of resources.

Also Madison literacy network: perhaps they could pair it with tutoring the parents.

The boys/girls club is virtually empty during the day: so I would love to start something during the day: also with parents at odds with what to do during their day: I’d like to have classes so there are all kinds of opportunities available.

When I moved to a small town, having my kids in school, really helped with meeting people.

There are no breaks in Wisconsin for someone who’s disabled.

Think about the panel and those you heard from the last session. Think of one thing that stuck with your heart and how could that impact what you’re doing with your life. So, one thing that impacted you and how that can change your life.

Someone said something about how people invite others to the table but we need to think about sometimes we need to bring the table to them. I work with social justice and we invite people and maybe we need to think outside the box

Same thing kind of, like with the skype yesterday, how if you want a dance you have to pick people up and bring them to the dance, play the right music, and feed them.

My heart was touched and inspired by the man who lived through homelessness and his difficulties and how he is giving to all of us now.

I think it is was crazy that young people are doing so much more

I am just starting to learn about restorative justice circles and I think it would’ve benefited me as a child growing up but even now

I agree, I think it is so important to learn about restorative justice

I think its inspiring to see so many young people engaged that tells me to do something rather than avoid it

Talking to an empty chair because sometimes you can’t talk to someone else about this

Talking about pain and how to fit privilege and pain together

How to figure out ways to have a discussion about privilege and pain and moral frame

Young people have wisdom, motivation, and are our future and when it was said that young people don’t feel listen to, that’s an alarm, that is so important.

I also was impressed with the young people taking their time to be here. It gave me a lot of hope

I live this life every day, I am outspoken, I am in therapy to not be so blunt and I’ve experienced racism. I judge you by you, I think you’re good, no matter if you’re purple, brown or blue. I don’t just want to be that black girl. Growing up as who I am, growing up in the hood, my friends think I’m crazy. I don’t drink, I do a lot of service, I teach Sunday school. I think the perspective of diversity is to just be open. People go oh I don’t like you because you hate us and I don’t like you and that’s not right because you weren’t there and neither was I! people don’t look at the little pictures, they only look at the big picture which is too much

Think about the rest of the time that you’ll be with us today and think of one additional thing that you’d like to get a hold of? And if you can’t think of that thing, what is something you’ve already taken away?

Someone was able to connect with the white supremacists in prison and connect by touching their pain. I want to know how to do that without being told to mine my own business. That’s what I want to learn.

With the sessions we’re engaged in and this process, by the end of the day, I want the ideas to turn into what are the tools needed to make these happen?

The beauty of each person here and what I see

Being able to see how we really can be

The importance of listening

I’d like to be a better listener

How do you build onto the differences we have in this nation?

I’m not sure if I’m ready to touch on my own or others pain, especially working with sexual violence but I want to know my next step in how I can really move forward.

I wanted to create a platform that is safe for everyone and allow engagement, especially with my social activism and grassroots activism. I do a lot with gun violence

I want to know how people release trauma

I want to know how to engage with people outside of my regular circle

I want to write a book and open an abuse shelter strictly for abused women and children.

I would like to learn respectful ways of reaching on beyond my typical circle.



Sunday, April 15


Plenary Processing Session to identify clusters of topics, issues, and actionable items coming out of these 3 days:

  • Ability to grow conversations in community
  • Bringing this type of dialogue to Adler/other schools/institutions—to open communication paths
  • Starting Center for Peaceful Solutions in WI—thoughts about how to make it viable, accessible, doable (flame is re-ignited by being here)
  • Appreciation of connecting w/ people
  • Fun!
  • Bringing dialogue and these types of conversations/circles into work
  • Acceptance of both the world and what is, in conjunction with the desire to act for joyful exploration of change (practical hope)
  • To open a circle in my community o have conversations about death and grieving (death including everyday loss, not just a loved one)
  • exploring all the different things going on
  • to explore listening more to all opinions, not just my own
  • normalization of change: how to maintain my balance when people around get caught up in catastrophic thinking
  • how to share this with others—pass it forward
  • solutions look different for each of us
  • focus both on informing/sharing and at same time protecting oneself in the process—the balance within what we can/need to do for ourselves. (safe space, self-protection)
  • the connections and taking some of these and growing them more out in the world
  • “seat at the table”—wanting to make sure that the table can get to people
  • to learn more about this way of circle work
  • how to get people to the table; how to take this work where it’s needed
  • tapping in to disrupt the circle of violence; communal processing of grief and creating new models for community intervention; and focus on prevention (giving space, honor and support in fully being with and processing grief)
  • the Youth! J to find ways to support what’s happening and their voices, growth, power
  • political realm: shifting the model/approach away from the polarizing trends/influence—finding a different way of talking with each other, in broader ways—groups, media, not just individually focused: larger scale
  • how do you get at the root causes? Instead of continuing to apply band aids
  • opening up to new ways of listening: go to someone’s safe space as an individual to witness, listen, support—going to other’s table
  • expanding what we’ve been doing with circles and continue learning and growing, including with libraries (and in particular: led by young people
  • -incorporating trauma healing within the circle process (creating a safe space that people know to go to—an accessible tool for the community to deal with trauma)
  • gratitude for all the work people are doing now and continuing to learn about what is happening around us: to continue looking to support each other in this process
  • sharing and growing this circle work in order to reach more people and send out the ripple of healing further
  • Carve out time with other humans to engage in this level of stimulation: cognitive, emotional… And to seek this out locally, at home.
  • To pause in the reactive response and instead invite conversation, especially when interacting with folks with other beliefs, interests…
  • To bring the word out, to support people in healing individually and collectively:  the self-realization, and through that, to understand others
  • more community coming together—to find/build support, family
  • I think about, “why do we still have people that feel “other”/not included?” How can we get more people enthused to participate (at the college, for ex)? Personal invitations/personal connection.
  • fostering dialogue across the spaces; who is the “other” & how do we engage, encourage people to show up for the work
  • what types of venues/formats would draw in people of different perspectives?
  • action in the schools: like restorative practices /circles; workshops around ideas of justice
  • Nemo Patel in the Madison Schools: Empty Hands music –can download music and also see his schedule
  • Multico group – high school group who perform at schools & have discussion later (teacher at West who has this class)
  • We Dine Together : 8th graders who realized that the hardest time of time for middle schoolers is lunch: no child dines alone (turned into a suicide and bullying prevention group)
  • cooperative/collaboration on creating cooperative for supporting in broader form: how can we create a different paradigm?
  • how to move forward with the work of restorative practices and circle building, especially led by young people
  • providing a space for young people to have authentic leadership (so staying with myself & my own work & asking the same of my students, as an invitation) -working with others to truly support our young people so they are invited & welcome to participate in the process.


Selected Clusters For Action Planning Break-out Groups:

1.  How do we continue this process to keep connected and working collaboratively together on moving toward positive action?

2.  How do we bring more people to the table?

3.  How do we get into a political consciousness that allows us to create social/political/economic/educational/etc. alternatives to current existing ones that are ineffective and detrimental to society’s health and unity?

4.  How do we create mechanisms for understanding the energy of fear and holding space for trauma release in circle work?



Action Planning Outcomes:


1.  How do we continue this process to keep connected and working together on moving toward positive and transformative action?

  • A conference Email list is provided separately to all participants to encourage them to maintain contact and continue the dialogue.
  • Using a variety of platforms available, create virtual conferencing and dialogue groups to promote grassroots action that allow more to participate and collaborate regardless of location.
  • Create local, inclusive dialogue groups that meet in person regularly
  • Join and support existing initiatives locally, regionally, and nationally.

A number of examples of resources to begin with are posted on the “Like-Purposed Efforts and Events” page of Common Bond Institutes website (and is increasingly being added to) at:
Current samples of particularly the Immediately Upcoming Events are:

– Charlottesville, VA: “Listen First in Charlottesville” – Apr 20-22
– Dallas, TX: “Bridge Summit 2018” – Apr 20-22
“National Week of Conversation”   – Apr 20-28


2.  How do we bring more people to the table?

  • Personally invite others, rather than only issuing generic invitations,
  • Find “bridge” people connected to various circles/communities to help in personally inviting in people.
  • Reach out to, join, and support existing groups/tables, and become a bridge person to invite people.
  • Focus on what makes the space feel inclusive, inviting, safe, and beneficial for others – ask for this input from communities being invited.
  • Use this conference as an opening for dialogue.
  • Create meaningful and feasible opportunities for more face-to-face, genuine engagement and deep dialogue to promote increased mutual understanding, benefit, and collaboration.


3.  How do we promote a social consciousness that allows us to create social/political/economic/educational/etc. alternatives to the current existing one that is ineffective and detrimental to a unified society and a healthy democracy?

To begin with, three areas were identified to work on that limit the ability of individuals and communities to effectively impact on mutual needs and goals:

o  Net Neutrality Issues – to ensure equal access and opportunity for social and political connection, education, information, and resources.

o  Media Issues – to promote a more inclusive, positive, and empowering representation of our society, communal relationships, critical issues, and information necessary for positive social action by an informed citizenry.  

o  Campaign Finance Reform Issues – to decentralize and better share political power for a more inclusive and healthy democracy.


4.  How do we create mechanisms for understanding the energy of fear and holding space for trauma release in circle work to heal negative belief systems and negative images of each other?

A human reality is that trauma, loss, and insecurity are experienced to some degree and on some level by all of us, visible or not. How can we be aware of and sensitive to this experience, and how it effects our perceptions when engaging and communicating with others?

  • Enlist skilled healers experienced in individual and communal healing to help assess and guide this process, model skills, and provide local capacity-building training in various levels of these skills to others in the community.
    • Circle Work is based on indigenous practices, and some of the foundation of that cultural practice can sometimes be missing. How can we be more aware of and honor the historical practices of the Circle Work, and ensure these basic elements to it’s success are understood and present?
    • Sometimes “standing in the fire” of conflict to be fully present and compassionate with others and reach a place of understanding is needed to achieve healing and resolution. How to develop skills in knowing our own capabilities and boundaries for how much we can tolerate “in the fire,” and then be willing to stand there to fully support the process?
    • Recognize the limitations of our own resources/skillset when working in circles and provide resources (Mental Health Providers, Suicide Prevention Hotline, etc.).