your why

Talking Circles: Different Paths to a Shared Place

Guest Post by Meghan Williams

For four nights a week, Impact Haven is filled with groups of entrepreneurs ready to roll up their sleeves and make 2017 their year, the year they take ideas for social change and bring them to life. Sitting in a tight circle with our notebooks out we start each night off by catching up with everyone while secretly wondering what assignment we are going to get that day. Is it going to be a challenging night? How vulnerable will I have to be? Will I have my “aha!” moment?

But that’s why we are all here, taking on the challenges the Un.Incubator brings to us each week. We’re here to be vulnerable and to dig deep. Some of us are at different stages: too many passions, but no cohesive concept or an innovative business idea that lacks structure. And every single one of us has a different passion with a different outcome in mind. So, how will this work for me as an individual with my own plan? It’s easy. Surround yourself with motivated people, and you will be motivated. Surround yourself with creative people who want to make a difference, and you will be inspired. Surround yourself with entrepreneurs in similar phases, and you will find empathy and support.

Recently, I read Gloria Steinem’s book On the Road and was inspired by her stories about talking circles. As she discussed the impact that witnessing and participating in these circles around the world has had on her life and her community organizing, I kept thinking about all of the sharing and supporting that occurs during Un.Incubator sessions. These sessions are just that, fire-side-like chats full of expressing ourselves freely, guiding each other through solutions, and formulating smart and effective actions.

“some deep part of me was being nourished and transformed right along with the villagers”

I have experienced that same feeling Steinem had when she discovered the significance and necessity of talking circles in moving change forward. If it weren’t for the conversations within the supportive circles the Un.Incubator offers, I would not have developed my idea into realistic action nor would I have had the courage to pursue it like I am doing this year. I started with the Un.Incubator in the fall with no clue which of my passions I wanted to follow. Through the deep self-reflection activities I was able to narrow down my passions to a main idea and the fire started building inside me. It was then through the sharing and discussion of this idea with my peers that I began to visualize a business concept and the fire grew. Now, as I work through the second phase of the Un.Incubator with a new cohort I can begin to believe in this idea and that it will make a difference in the community.

“…nothing can replace being in the same space. […] we discover we’re not alone, we learn from one another, and so we keep going toward shared goals.”

It will be exciting to see where each of my fellow Un.Incubator members will be at the end of the year as well. I can see the fire in every single one of them. And I also see the struggle. But that’s why we form a circle each week and roll up our sleeves. Our ideas couldn’t be more different: from filmmaking, art curating, fair trade, alternate currency, ending human trafficking, to eco traveling. Yet our end result is the same: social change. So, watch out 2017, we’re changing things up a bit. We are motivated. We are inspired. And we have found community.