The Power of Circles

People have been gathering together in circles to foster dialogue and change since the dawn of humanity. Authors Ann Linnea and Christina Baldwin give us five good reasons why circles are so effective in fostering honest and authentic communications within a group:

1. When we change the chairs we change the world. A circle by its very nature places people into positions of equal standing (or sitting). Physically repositioning a group into a circle impacts the mental positions of the participants who feel liberated from the restrictions that hierarchy, status, and prescribed roles usually places on them.

2. More than a shape, circle is a social infrastructure for collaborative conversation.
Social infrastructure releases the fullness of participation because every person understands how to contribute to the conversation. We place something that symbolizes common purpose in the center space, articulate agreements of respectful interaction, and lean into the dialogue.

3. Meeting in circle is a sort of a contained treasure hunt. The wisdom we need is in the room, and the only way to truly gather it, think about it, and make decisions based on it, is to hear every voice. Who has the question? Who has the answer? Who knows the next piece? What creative idea will be heard from an unexpected source?

4. Leadership roles are embedded in the rim putting a leader in every chair.
Someone volunteers to be “host”—to help the group hold focus, and to design patterns for contributing. Someone else volunteers to be “guardian”—to observe shifting group need, and to signal a pause so that people can take a breath, refocus, and proceed with clarity. Host and guardian work together to serve group purpose, sometimes for one topic or agenda item, sometimes for a whole meeting—these leadership positions rotate, responsibility is shared, and the group seeks to live its wholeness.

5. A Circle transforms group efficiency and cohesiveness through relationship. People who know each other work better together; they solve problems, address issues, trust each other’s good intent, get through hard times, and acknowledge their interdependence on each member of the team.

Ideas, thoughts, or reactions?


FDA Approved, But...

The FDA is not as tough on impurities as you'd think. We always assume that the FDA has the highest standards for the cleanliness of our foods, which is why it would surprise many people to know that the FDA standards allow for some pretty gross impurities. Here are five FDA-mandated "acceptable" levels of impurities in our food:

1. Canned tomatoes:
Two or less maggots or ten or less fly eggs per 500 grams (a regular size can holds about 700-800 grams).

2. Macaroni and noodle products: "An average of 225 or less insect fragments or less per 225 grams in six or more subsamples." Yep, that means each single gram can contain a little piece of an insect.

3. Canned mushrooms: As long as only 10% or less of the mushrooms in any container are decomposed, it's FDA-certified!

4. Wheat: Nine milligrams or less of rat feces in a kilogram (2.2 lbs.) of wheat. Yes, rat feces.

5. Chocolate: Three or less rodent hairs or 90 or less insect fragments in a 100-gram sample (or 1 1/2 rodent hairs or less and 45 insect fragments or less per average candy bar).


Five Things You Didn't Know About Latinos and Hispanics

Louis Nevaer has written extensively about Hispanic and Latino culture and business. Despite the widespread Latino presence in the U.S., many remain unaware of some crucial facts about them. Here is Louis's list of the five things you didn't know about Hispanics and Latinos:

1. Hispanics are the Nation’s Youth. More than a third of all Hispanics and Latinos in the United States are under the age of 18.

2. Hispanics are the fastest-growing segment of the labor market.
Since they are almost a decade younger than the general population, Hispanics and Latinos are disproportionately represented in the nation’s workforce.

3. Spanish is now a dominant presence in the United States. In 2009 the U.S. replaced Spain as the second-largest Spanish speaking nation in the world: only Mexico has more Spanish speakers.

4. Hispanics and Latin American immigrants account for almost all the population growth in the US.
Because Hispanics and Latinos have higher fertility rates, they account for almost the entire native-born population growth. (Non-Hispanic whites’ fertility rates are below the natural replacement levels; African-Americans are just at the natural replacement level.) When immigration is taken into account, again, Latin Americans represent a disporportionate percentage of all immigrants to the US.

5. More than 34 million Mexican citizens can make a legal claim of one kind to emigrate to the US. The tangled flows of temporary immigration, military service in the US armed forces, and cross-border family relations means that about a third of all Mexicans have a legal claim to settle in the US. That so few choose to do so reflects the distinct cultural values that separate Hispanics from the Anglo-Protestant culture of mainstream American society.

Any other observations, reactions, or comments? Chime in below.