Monday, July 11, 2011

Talking Circle

Origins closed on Saturday. It was a beautiful event, led by Bruce Sinclair, from Canada - who has been present throughout the Festival and clearly enjoying himself! We began with a smudging ceremony - burning sage and bathing in its smoke - which we had to do out in the car park because of the smoke alarms. Probably the first ever smudging ceremony to happen in a car park in Bethnal Green, I would think. As Bruce took the smoke around the circle, Robert Greygrass sang a song - and there were responses in Maori and Aboriginal prayers too.

Then there was the talking circle. It's an incredibly simple idea, which is followed in the tribal councils of North America, and which has a lot to teach us about real democracy. You all sit in a circle, and pass around the talking stick - or eagle feather. Whoever is holding the stick speaks. You can say as much or as little as you want - or just pass it on - and whoever is speaking is not interrupted but is listened to with respect. It's definitely the best approach to "Evaluation" I've ever experienced. It's totally equal, it's very open, and it lets the emotional into the public space.

I won't tell you what was said. Just that it was very moving, and that this Festival has clearly touched people far more deeply than I ever dared to imagine.

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