Phases of the Moon, the newsletter of the Maine NVC Network
Volume Nine, Issue Five:
A Long Journey to Restorative Circles

Our newsletter appears approximately once a month. Our purpose is to contribute to the NVC learning of people who have taken at least an NVC Level 1 workshop, and help us stay connected as we endeavor to deepen a culture of peace within ourselves, our families and the world. We believe a Level 1 offers so many new ways of thinking that additional support for learning and integration could be helpful.

We endeavor to make each edition informative, connecting, inspiring and fun. Please let us know how the newsletter might contribute to your NVC well-being. Email: newsletter at


A Long Journey to Restorative Circles

by Leah Boyd

Early in June I had the opportunity to travel to Wardenburg, Germany, to attend a four-day training focused on an NVC-connected process called Restorative Circles (RC). The trainer was Duke Duchscherer, a certified NVC trainer with vast experience using the RC process in intense conflict situations around the globe. The authenticity he brought to the work was deeply satisfying for me.

I had been hearing about RC for years and finally the causes and conditions came together to allow me to attend a training!

I experienced the assembled group of 30 participants – from Germany, Poland, Rwanda, South Africa, Netherlands, Switzerland and the US – as sincere, self-responsible, caring, & dedicated. For four days we sat together in a beautiful circle of learning and shared reality. Helping groups navigate conflict is a strong passion of mine. I believe that we are wired for cooperation and contribution and that the answers to our current challenges lie in being able to think creatively together. I’m excited to pass on some of the highlights of what I learned about Restorative Circles.

The RC process was originally designed in the mid-1990’s by CNVC trainer Dominic Barter to support reconciliation in Brazil, where he was living and working. The RC process brings together those who have acted in a way that has caused harm, those who have been directly impacted, and the wider community. RC has been used in contexts ranging from family matters to United Nations efforts.

We began the training by delving into the question, "What is community?" and landed on the answer that community is a structure of belonging. The RC process is focused on the relational aspect of community and the recognition that when this aspect breaks down, some type of restorative practice is important. RC creates space for truth telling, healing, reconciliation & repair.

The RC process is designed to facilitate dialogue, or "flow of meaning", between community members. Listening for meaning is basically listening for feelings & needs, as we are so accustomed to doing in NVC. However, the RC process is designed to be effective with communities whether they have NVC experience or not, hence the use of more common language.

The process begins when someone in the community initiates it. The facilitator meets with those who have acted in a way that has created harm, those who have been directly impacted, and other community members who have been touched in some way. These meetings are separate sessions called "Pre-Circles" where the facilitator hears about the situation, provides empathy, explains how the RC process works and finds out if people are willing to participate.

In the next step the whole group gathers in a circle for dialogue that is organized in a specific way. The circle unfolds in three rounds and in each round participants are invited to speak to a particular question:

  1. How are you right now with regard to what has occurred?
  2. What was the meaning behind whatever you did regarding this occurrence? (In NVC-speak, the needs you were serving in whatever action, or inaction you chose)
  3. What actions are you willing to take going forward?

Participants are guided to speak and listen in a particular way as well. Each time someone wishes to speak, they are invited to choose someone in the circle who will reflect back the meaning they heard. The speaker will be able to correct or add to the person’s reflection until they are satisfied they have been heard completely and accurately.

To the greatest degree possible, the facilitator is careful not to insert themselves into the dialogue. Rather, the facilitator helps the community members develop their own dialogue skills by using just three guiding questions:

  1. (To the speaker) Who would you like to hear you?
  2. (To the listener) What did you hear him/her say?
  3. (To the speaker) Is that what you wanted heard?

Crucial to the effectiveness of a restorative circle process is the strength of the container created by the facilitators. Some of the steps in creating the strong container include:

  1. Meeting with the "sources of power", both official and unofficial
  2. Helping the community create their own restorative system by considering how they handle conflict presently, what’s working & what isn’t, and how they would ideally like to handle conflict. In this way the RC process rests within a larger system the community has in place for managing conflict.
  3. Creating guidelines for the circle process that make sense in the particular context/community/culture you are working with
  4. Choosing the meeting space with care. It’s good to have a space that in some way represents the importance of the process.
  5. Working toward creating conditions where anyone can initiate a circle, not just those with structural power.

When the circumstances are especially high in intensity, such as where there has been recent violence, or where there are power differences, outside pressures, etc., it is best to strengthen the container further by increasing the number of facilitators.

As part of the training, we engaged in rich role-play experiences where we used someone’s active challenge and participated in a restorative circle. We quickly learned how challenging it is in the facilitator role to determine the balance between guiding the process and stepping back to allow the dialogue to unfold in its own way. Duke says it’s a balance of tracking and trusting.

Throughout the training I was impressed by the focus on empowering communities to find their own way rather than setting up the conditions where they will always need an outside facilitator to help them in times of challenge. The process is dynamic, unpredictable and humbling. I feel very inspired to allow this new learning to inform my work.

A heart at peace is foundational.
– Duke Duchscherer

Facilitator Duke Duchscherer is a Certified Trainer with the International Center for Nonviolent Communication and was on the Board of Directors for the MK Gandhi Institute for Nonviolence for eight years. He has facilitated training in Restorative Circles and Nonviolent Communication around the world with a depth and breadth of peoples and communities from small villages at the grassroots to governmental leaders at the United Nations on four continents.

Author Leah Boyd is one of only two certified NVC trainers in Maine. Leah is an accomplished mediator and a proficient group facilitator with a passion for helping groups of people in conflict get unstuck so that their creativity can flourish. Leah lives with her husband, two horses and a border collie in Buckfield, ME. She is also an accomplished gardener and seed saver.

Practice Suggestions

  1. Think of a community you are part of (family, workplace, faith community, club, committee, etc.) and ask yourself the following questions:
    • How is conflict handled in this community?
    • What works and what doesn’t work in how conflict is handled in this community?
    • If you could choose the ideal way to handle conflict in this community, what would it look like?
  2. Think of a time when you experienced reconciliation with someone(s). What were the components of reconciliation that allowed it to be successful? Consider how this awareness informs your approach to conflict going forward.
  3. Role play with practice partner. Choose a low-level conflict and ask you partner to play the role of the other person. You will be person A and your partner will be person B. Proceed as follows:
    • A speaks about how it is for them
    • B reflects the meaning (using a combo of saying back some of the details, making feelings & needs guesses, and/or using street giraffe)
    • A either confirms or corrects the reflection. If corrections have been made, then –
    • B reflects again adding the correction
    • Repeat until A is satisfied that B has understood them as they wanted to be understood
    • Then switch and give B a chance to speak, using the same format.
  4. Learn more about Restorative Circles:

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Upcoming Trainings

Trainings listed here are in the Maine region. If you wish to list an event, please follow our guidelines for submission. Please note that both certified and non-certified trainers, (who are willing to follow certain requirements of the Center for Nonviolent Communication), may be leading the posted trainings. Listing here does not imply endorsement by the Maine NVC Network of the trainer or the event.

Special Opportunity:

begins Sept. 7-9 in Saco, ME.

Online registration and payment HERE. (scroll to bottom of page)
Program details and mail-in registration form HERE. (printable pdf)

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September 17, Portland, ME
Building Connection in Divisive Times

FMI & registration

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Sept. 21-23, Unity
Stop by the Maine NVC Network booth

at MOFGA’s Common Ground Fair

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Oct. 26-28, South Portland
From Conflict to Connection

an NVC Level 1 workshop with Peggy Smith
FMI & registration

* * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * *


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  • Monthly Empathy Circle:
    Belfast, ME
    Second Friday of each month, 10am-1pm
    (formerly first Friday)
    25 Village Rd, Belfast
    You are welcome to come when you can.
    If this is your first time coming, please contact Linda beforehand:
    Phone 207-322-2122
    email: chezcote5 at

  • Authentic Communication Groups
    Falmouth, ME

    with Andrea Ferrante, trainer and coach
    Two groups meet biweekly, one on alternate Wednesdays; the other on alternate Mondays.
    Authentic Communication Groups are coaching groups designed to open you up to an approach to living that offers greater peace, personal empowerment, and conscious connection to that which sustains and enriches life. / FMI

  • See also the Practice Groups page.


Special Announcements

  • Scholarship Fund for the Maine NVC Integration Program! By supporting a scholarship fund for the Maine NVC Integration Program, you will be helping bring together a more diverse group of people to experience this life-changing program, thus helping foster greater compassion and harmony individually and collectively. Please join us in supporting this fund in order to include individuals who otherwise would not be able to attend. Our goal is to raise $21,000. Contribute HERE

  • Maine NVC Network is looking for someone who enjoys Facebook AND NVC to take on responsibility for keeping our FB presence alive and active through interesting postings, and other possibilities. If you are interested in contributing to the community in this way please contact peggy at


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Visit our Facebook page:
Nonviolent Communication, Mindfullness, Empathy and Presence

Maine NVC Network is looking for someone who enjoys Facebook AND NVC to take on responsibility for keeping our FB presence alive and active through interesting postings, and other possibilities. If you are interested in contributing to the community in this way please contact
peggy at


Do you want to receive emails about upcoming NVC trainings and other NVC events in and near Maine?

Join the Maine NVC Network
Yahoo Group

The group is moderated and is only used for announcements of regional workshops and other Maine NVC Network events. Inclusion in list serve announcements does not imply endorsement by the Network.


Paid Announcement

Clarity Services, LLC
Now Accepting Clients

Helping groups of people think together collaboratively and effectively. Free 30 minute initial consultation:
email: leah at


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