Circle Time Storytelling

We’ve shared frameworks for storytelling in the classroom before, but I wanted to pass along this resource developed by Puanani Burgess for facilitating community storytelling. She offers icebreakers, poems, and philosophies to help guide conflict resolution and community building.

Here’s one poem that reminded me of many of the beautiful collaborations that have led to community-designed TPL playgrounds:

A Prayer Approach
By Susan Wright
I honour your gods
I drink at your well
I bring an undefended heart to our meeting place.
I have no cherished outcomes
I will not negotiate by withholding
I am not subject to disappointment.

I love how Burgess explicitly starts community discussions with a this call for an open “undefended” heart and a detachment from “cherished outcomes”, principals we aim for in our participatory design sessions. In “I honour you gods”, I hear a commitment to honoring a community’s own values, In “I drink at your well” I hear an acknowledgment of our interdependence.

As we navigate what it means to connect with our community, we may have opportunities to come together outside in the playground, whether it’s during a lunch break at a garden event or after a community fitness event. Burgess offers 3 beautiful storytelling exercises that can help people get to know each other on a deeper level and feel heard in these isolating times.

  • Tell the story of your name.
  • Tell the story of your community.
  • Tell the story of your gifts.

These stories can be facilitated virtually or in person if you get the chance to “circle up” on a playground field, under a gazebo, or in an outdoor classroom.

Read her whole paper and Principals of Community Building here.

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