Community Listening Circle

Earlier this month we hosted a “Community Listening Circle” as part of our “Community Shift Series.” It was one of the most transformative events we have hosted for a while.

The power of community circles has long been recognized by First Nations cultures, and recently by author Parker Palmer in his work with “Circles of Trust”:

“If we are willing to embrace the challenge of becoming whole, we cannot embrace it alone—at least, not for long: we need trustworthy relationships to sustain us, tenacious communities of support, to sustain the journey toward an undivided life. Taking an inner journey toward rejoining soul and role requires a rare but real form of community that I call a ‘circle of trust.’”

Whatever the format or motivation, listening circles give people a chance to say what they are thinking and feeling and can help engender mutual understanding and support among people in stressful times.

Our gathering was facilitated by Sukhvinder Vinning and Rev. Samaya Oakley.

Sukhvinder Vinning is a past president of the World Sikh Organization. She is actively involved in a number of social justice issues, including work with Reconciliation Canada.

The Rev. Samaya Oakley currently serves as the Minister for the South Fraser Unitarian Congregation. She is also a co-chair of a task force of the Canadian Unitarian Council’s Truth, Healing and Reconciliation Reflection Guide, a task force that is creating reflection guides for Canadian Unitarian congregations around issues of the Indian Residential School system and its impact.

Both Sukhvinder and Samaya have years of experience in creating safe and sacred listening circles in diverse communities.

Rev. Oakley explains her commitment to supporting community listening circles

“When it comes down to a basic level, as human beings we all have the same worries, joys, and cares about what kind of state we are leaving the planet in for our children, and how we need a healthy, thriving community in which to live. I’m passionate about creating opportunities for people of diverse backgrounds to come together to listen respectfully about what’s on our hearts and minds.”

A number of participants expressed an interest in participating in future community listening circles. What do you think? Is this something we could do more often in Surrey? What role would you like to play to make it happen?

Let us know what you think, and let’s make it happen!

“Thanks so much for organizing the Listening Circle. I wish all neighbourhoods held these circles regularly.

In participating it was strangely comforting to hear others’ concerns: shared worries could mean also shared goals & solutions. We all seem to care deeply about the planet and its inhabitants. If everyone had a habit of meeting like this, we could likely resolve some basic concerns within our own communities.

What struck me most was that, despite the complexity of some of the problems discussed, there are still simple everyday actions we can take in our communities: smile and greet strangers and neighbours in the street. “ – Kate Elliot

“A wonderful forum to share concerns and fears about the humanity which leads to better understanding and respect for each other.” – Musa Ismail

“I think the more we can talk and communicate about what we can do to make the world a better place the better. I think it is healing when people in fear or pain can find others who have same feelings.” – Niovi Patsicakis

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