What is a restorative circle?

Restorative circles are similar to conferences, but may involve many more people and involve a talking piece, allowing the dialogue to be much more free-flowing than a facilitated conference. Circles can be utilized when a person who caused harm is present, or even if not, so that harmed parties or supporters can have the opportunity to speak about a matter causing them harm. Participants sit in a circle and one or two facilitators pose questions to the group and ask for responses for those willing or interested as the talking piece passes around the circle. Any participant may "pass" by handing the talking piece to the next person in the circle. At times, the facilitator may decide to “popcorn” the talking piece, meaning that it can move irregularly from one side of the circle to another, and to any person in any order, so long as it goes to whoever is interested in speaking next. The facilitator is responsible for “setting a tone of respect, hope and support” and facilitating for at least three or four rounds.