Kia ora koutou katoa. (We send greetings to all of you.)

One of the new learning curves for us in Aotearoa, New Zealand, is how to fade out as the Circle Starter when the Community Circle is taking shape: so it can achieve its key kaupapa (purpose) – being connected to a group of people in a way that will support the person to achieve their goals.

This appears to have two elements – one is helping the Circle Owner and the Circle members realise they are ready and able to carry on together without us being actively present. The second is being self-aware and recognising that we have nearly done our job and it’s time for us to begin to fade out. There is a lot of whanaungatanga (building relationships and rapport) that is needed to create important links between the person at the centre and the people in the community or in the family’s networks that might be a good fit based on the focus of the circle. Of course, this means we also become woven into the person’s world and their dreams and there is a lot we enjoy about being part of such a wonderful dynamic: thus, the challenge to begin to step back.

If we have introduced the values of the circle process and given ownership over to the Circle Owner and taken the time it takes to mentor the group in how to be effective, our last phase where we are intentionally fading out actually leaves a very small gap in that group.

When I read this quote at a facilitation training I recognised the truth as it applies to Community Circles:

We still offer light mentoring as background support and make it clear that our role is to revisit when it seems  right to facilitate a review to think together about what’s working and what’s not working and how best to go forward.