2020-03-17 REC XR SC

Restorative Empathy Circle (REC) with XR Santa Cruz


There was a conflict in the Extinction Rebellion Santa Cruz chapter. Edwin was requested to facilitate a restorative empathy circle to create a space where the participants would empathically talk about the conflict and move toward mutual understanding and resolution.  Below is part of the Restorative Empathy Circle process that helps address conflict. See more on the REC process on the Culture of Empathy website.

Pre Circles

The first step is for the facilitator to listen to each participant in the conflict for up to 60 minutes. This gives each person a chance to feel that they have been heard and understood by someone. 

This Supports;

Setting the Intention for the REC: Building a Culture of Empathy

To begin the process the facilitator sets their intention of creating a Culture of Empathy. Not everyone has to agree to the intention. The participants my have other intentions for taking part. This just states the intention of the facilaitor and of the process.

CIRCLE INTENTION: A Restorative Empathy Circle has the intention of creating a Culture of Empathy. This means to nurture mutual listening, understanding, care, trust, support, and a constructive relationship going forward. For each person to be able to fully express themselves and feel heard and understood to their satisfaction. We use mutual empathic listening as the foundational way of nurturing this culture in the circle and beyond.

Sometimes it's helpful to light a candle and have it stay lit during the circle as a symbol and reminder of our intention.

Follow Up

As REC facilitator, I am also a participant in the process like everyone else. I do advocate for a culture of empathy and make suggestions for incorporating the Empathy Circle process in the group going forward.  Ideally, a group would have already been doing the empathy circle practice before the conflict happens. If the XR Chapter, or any organization, had incorporated Empathy Circles beforehand, everyone would have more skill and trust in the process. In that way, when conflicts or issues arise, they would have the tools and skills at hand to address them.  Also, much of the conflict might have been headed off before it happened. 

Pre Circle Recordings

1. Pre Circle 1

Person1  is from the XR Regen Work Group and helped coordinate the REC.

2. Pre Circle 2

Person 2 was the person that called for the Empathy Cricle. She was having conflict with others in XR Santa Cruz. She had taken part in an Empathy Circle before and though the process would be helpful.

3. Pre Circle 3

4. Pre Circle 4

5. Pre Circle 5

6. Pre Circle 6

7.  elected to not have her Pre Circle shared  publically

8.  elected to not take part in a Pre Circle.

The Restorative Empathy Circle

The participants elected to not have the REC recorded. The Circle was 3 hours and participants used the Empathy Circle process with 5 minute speaking turns.


Hi Edwin,

Thank you for reaching out and for hosting the circle. I found it very useful, eye-opening and heart-opening. I appreciate you and look forward to connecting again through XR!!

Morningstar* Megan 

Extinction Rebellion Santa Cruz, CA

Hi Edwin,

I found the Empathy Circle helpful and although I wasn't there at the end as I has a work commitment, it feels as though almost all of the tensions have gone and we are getting on with the business of being XRSC during the coronavirus in positive ways. So my sense is that it definitely helped. May all beings be safe and well.


Concerns About Taking Part in the Process

Concern: I fear being ganged up on in the process. Several people don't like me and I'm afraid the whole group will gang up on me. 

Response: In terms of possibly being ganged up on.

Concern:  There is a person that is mean and they are just trying to get attention and I don't want to take part in the REC because I don't want to give them attention.


Concern:  I'm not going into a circle with someone actively posting about me - it's like going into a circle with an abuser.