Special to Iredell Free News

In an effort to provide an environment where young people can express their thoughts and feelings about the events happening in our world today, Piedmont Mediation is offering a series of Listening Circles for individuals ages 18 to 30.

Listening Circles provide participants with a structured, constructive and peaceful way to listen and share honestly their opinions and emotions.

“This is an opportunity to say what you are thinking and feeling, and can help you find understanding and support in stressful times,” explained Terri Masiello, director of Piedmont Mediation.

The four-week series will explore core topics::

♦ Week 1: Systemic Racial Injustice — Tuesday, June 30, from 6 to 7:30 p.m.
♦ Week 2: Judicial Reform & Fair Treatment — Tuesday, July 7, from 6 to 7:30 p.m.
♦ Week 3: The Pandemic and the Economy — Tuesday, July 14, from 6 to 7:30 p.m.
♦ Week 4: Economic Oppression — Tuesday, July 21, from 6 to 7:30 p.m.

The weekly conversations will be held via Zoom.

Masiello describes the format as “simple.” Each person in the circle has one to three minutes to say whatever is on their mind about the topic.

“When one person is speaking, the others in the group pay attention but don’t comment. The circle is over after every person has had a chance to speak,” she explained.

What is said in the circle will be documented and shared with the community, but the identity of the participants will be kept anonymous.

“When upsetting events happen in the world, they arouse strong feelings in many of us—sadness, anger, fear, confusion, worry. We tend to carry these feelings around with us and often do not know what to do with them,” said Masiello.

“In a culture where conversation is often considered a competitive sport, where the loudest and the strongest overpower the soft-spoken, the safety of the Listening Circle enables those hesitant to speak to express themselves, and for the wisdom of the group to evolve as all are heard and understood. The Listening Circle symbolizes a sacred space created where all who come, come to listen and respect the views of all others in the circle,” she continued.

Piedmont Mediation offers a variety of court and group mediation programs, oversees the teen court program and hosts many community building workshops. In addition, it serves as the region’s restorative justice center, working with young people to develop positive responses when dealing with stressful situations.

Learn More/Registration

For more information or to register for a Listening Circle, email tjc28687@gmail.com and include your name, age, and town of residence. Please select one of the four topics on a date that best suits your schedule. You will be invited to participate via Zoom. There are limited spaces in each circle.

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