How to Lead a Circle-Up!
(youth-led conversation circle)
What does a Circle-Up look like and what does it do? Check out this video to get a 1-minute glimpse.
Define the Space: (3 Circle-Up Rules)
[First, get everyone into a circle, facing one another]
[Next, you can welcome people saying something like this]
Hi folks. My name is ____ and I'm going to be facilitating an eco-justice-oriented discussion circle called a "Circle-Up".
"To facilitate" basically means "to make easier," so my role as a facilitator is basically to make this discussion between us easier.
There are 3 simple rules to a Circle-Up discussion that I ask you to follow along with me:
- First: only one person speaks at a time (which means: no interrupting, interjections, or cross-talk, even if what you have to add to what someone is saying is really fantastic. Please wait until it's your turn to speak.)
- Second: Everyone has a chance to speak before you speak again. To make this easier, I'm going to ask that we move the conversation clockwise around the circle, starting with me. When it's your turn to speak, you can feel free to pass, or to ask for more time to think about the question. Your turn to speak is just an opportunity, not an obligation, to speak.
- Lastly: In a Circle-Up you can speak freely, but also remember to keep it respectful; respectful of other people's time, and respectful of our diversity.
- As the facilitator: If in the rare case someone isn't following the rules, goes wildly off-topic, begins to dominate the air time, or loses their civility, I'll step-in and play referee to get us back on track.
- So to sum it all up:
one at a time;
cycle through everyone before it's your turn again;
and be respectful of each other.
Let's do this!
1st Question: (Introductions/ Ice Breakers)
Tell us your name, preferred pronouns, and your favorite (choose one)
ice cream flavor
place to eat
style of music
place to hang out in SLC
place to hang out in nature (waterfalls, forest, lakes, red rock)
If you would like to tell us why that is your favorite, especially if there is a story or
memory behind it, that would be great. But you don’t have to; it is up to you.
I’ll start. (Pass the talking piece to the person next to you after you are done.)
Tell us something about yourself that others might not guess just by looking at you.
I’ll start. (Pass the talking piece to the person next to you after you are done.
If a superpower genie came out of a bottle and said: "I will give you one superpower, and
only one, to make right something that's currently wrong with the world." What
superpower would you wish for, what would you make right, and why? I’ll start. (Pass
the talking piece to the person next to you after you are done.
If you were a guitar string, would the tension in your string be too tight, too loose, just
right? I’ll start. (Pass the talking piece to the person next to you after you are done.
2nd Question: (Bonding Over Shared Experiences & Struggles)
Look over these questions and decide which one you would like to ask Circle Up
participants. Or come up with another alternative!
The New Law: Utah Social Media Regulation Amendments
Here are key provisions of the new law:
Rate them from 1 (worst, most offensive) to 4 (bad but tolerable)
1) Prove your age, 2) Get parental permission, 3) Let parents have full access to posts/activity, 4) No access from 10:30 pm to 6:30 am
Which change would you want to delay the most? If you had to live with one of them, which would you make operational first?
On a scale from 1 (a nothing burger) to 10 (a nightmare): To what extent will this law be minor speedbumps, minor inconveniences, easy to work around, or a major change, presenting far more than speed bumps—try roadblocks and dead ends!!
On a scale from 1 (totally mistaken and I could not disagree more) to 10 (totally correct and I agree 100%), how right or wrong is the Legislature in believing that teen mental health will improve by restricting access to social media?
On a scale from 1 (no harm, not dangerous) to 10 (very harmful, dangerous), how harmful or dangerous is it for Utah lawmakers to assume that there is a healthy way to pull apart and legally restrict your life online from your life in physical space?
Why narrowly focus on the harms of social media if the Utah Legislature is truly interested in improving teen mental health? First, let’s be honest about the benefits of social media and how it can play a lifesaving role for "post-Covid" teens. Second, let’s be honest about the intersection of teen mental health, social health (racist/sexist/anti-trans practices, school violence) and global health (worldwide ecological crises). Is the Utah Legislature playing "whac-a-mole" focusing on the impact of social media on mental health while ignoring the other causes of teen despair?
3rd Question: (Application of Peer Facilitation Skills)
Next steps? Where do we go from here? Look over these ideas and decide which you like best. Or come up with another alternative!
A Meeting Between “Youth Congress” and Utah Legislature:
Invite the lawmakers who sponsored the bill to come to an assembly (or meet at the Capitol) so that they can explain why they enacted the new law restricting access to social media. What problem were they trying to solve? [Note that the Utah Legislature established the SafeUT app in 2016 to reduce acts of self-harm and suicide. The Safe UT app has received over 1,000,000 calls so far.]
Why did they choose this way to solve the problem of declining teen mental health? How much did they consult/collaborate with youth in drafting the bill? Lawmakers need to see that democracy means listening to each other before making major changes!
Working Study Group Composed of Youth and Lawmakers
We teen still deserve the chance to teach them what social media means to us! Let’s put together a working study among youth and lawmakers to reconsider the provisions and when they go into effect. Why make them all effective at the same time? Why not stagger the implementation of provisions so that youth and lawmakers can see how each provision affects the mental health of teens.
Why risk that teens will come up with workarounds in open defiance of the new law?
Why force teens do engage in illegal acts?
Since the new law affects all Utah youth, all 1,000,00 of them, there needs to be an online petition and wiki page to let teens throughout the state sound off. The Legislature needs to delay the implementation of the new law well beyond March 2024,
until such time that youth are heard from.
Collaboration on Something Better to Address the Problem of Youth Mental Health:
Is the Utah Legislature willing to explore other options for achieving the goal of improving youth mental health?
Let youth and lawmakers work together with other allies to come up with a counterproposal to the new bill. For example, is the Legislature willing to increase funding for Social and Emotional Learning, for more advisors and mental health professionals at school?
Plan for Mass Protest
If there is no new working study group and no delay of implementation of the new law, we will reach out to teens all around the state and plan for civil disobedience to show how unjust the new is an how it is wrong to not allow youth to participate democratically. We will plan on something disruptive as soon as the clock strikes 12 am on March 1,