by Leslie Lanes
"How might your life have been different if there had been a place for you? A place for you to go…a place of women, to help you learn the ways of woman…a place where you were nurtured from an ancient flow sustaining you and steadying you as you sought to become yourself?"
~Judith Duerk; Circle of Stones
Inspired by a sentiment such as this, a small circle of women in the Ashland, Oregon community developed a Mentoring program into which girls 11-14 years old were invited to join Girl's Circles starting in the Fall of 2006. As the years went on and men wanted in on the action, the program expanded to provide circles for boys as well and now 12 years later, several mentor trainings occur each year for men and women to learn what it means to mentor youth ages 10-21 in circle.
There is a premise that with a small but deliberate shift in perspective, a person can move into the mode of listening deeply, asking questions and guiding a young person into their own realizations as opposed to the well-worn methods of fixing, advising and telling from one's own place of judgment and assumption. These cultural patterns are deep for all of us and many people still find their lives plagued with childhood issues.
"How can I be a mentor for young people when I still find myself with judgments and beliefs that trigger my own wounds?"
We propose that with the intention and desire to notice these patterns, the ability to manage them in a different way arises. Having the passion to offer your presence in a circle or one-on-one relationship is a blessing in spite of what patterns one still may have.
A sense of relief has come to mentors when realizing that they need not have the answers to the many situations that are brought by the youth. This is not about having all the answers. It is about being there to listen, finding value in their own developing sense of self and guiding them when there is some appropriate course to take. The Mentor serves as a role model who offers encouragement and witness to what the youth brings. The mentor asks interesting questions that can stimulate thinking in an individual or develop conversation within the circle.
The Mentors are not alone as they sit in the circle with 6-9 youth or if they are spending time with an individual young person. In the circle, each Mentor has a partner that works with them. This partnership is the primary relationship that influences the young people. Working together in a flow, and respecting and listening to each other demonstrates a way of Being for the youth. Our Program Director is always in the background, available for reflection and conversation with the Mentors about challenges that may be going on in the circle, whether among the youth or within themselves. Mentor circles are held once a month for all Mentors where priceless experiences are shared among the Mentors. And surrounding the Mentors are even more women and men holding the intention of the Rose Circle. We are gifted with extensive resources and it's a wonderful thing to offer our attention in the direction of the youth in our community.
The experience of many people right now is one of overwhelm as attention is increasingly paid to the needs of a world in break down and chaos. What a perfect time to teach girls and boys to create a circle space together that models in outer form the inner spaciousness where true essence resides. And then to learn how to make choices from that place of 'flow' instead of from a place of cultural and peer pressure.
The adults who have been creating this opportunity have done so in the spirit of this 'flow' and so the integrity of the container is flushed with this kind of energy and we feel the process will continue in this way.
The Rose Circle ( in it's 12th year will soon be re-named Rogue Valley Mentoring) is grateful for the all of the work that The Millionth Circle Initiative has done to promote and nurture the concept and practice of circles. Inspired by the work of circles and the transformation in consciousness that results, the younger generation can now benefit directly.