Widening Circles

A Work That Reconnects Activity To Experience a Shift In Perspectives


Bringing the cosmic perspective repeatedly into awareness puts your education event into a wider context and can help the reflection about relevance and sustainability of people’s plans and actions.


Participants sit in groups of four, facing each other. The facilitator asks them to bring to mind a global/local issue they feel really concerned about looking at the state of the Earth; a problem that concerns them, allowing a moment of silence.

After the time allowed for thinking, one from each group describes his/her topic taking a few minutes. Invite them to talk about the issue from their own experience and point of view, including their feelings, using the pronoun “I”, and in the present tense. Signal when time is up with a bell, repeat instructions to the second person from each group. Repeat this for the 3rd and 4th person from each group.

After the last person has shared, introduce the second round. In this round they will speak about the same issue, still talking from the first person, mentioning their feelings, but now putting themselves into the shoes of someone else: as from the perspective of a person whose views on the issue are very different, even adversarial, introducing themselves and speaking as this person, including their feelings, using the pronoun “I” and the present tense of verbs.
Follow the same form In the third round, this time inviting people to speak from the viewpoint of a non-human being that may be impacted by how we deal with the issue; including their feelings, using the pronoun “I” and in the present tense. This may be a plant, an animal, a rock, a landscape or an object

The facilitator announces each perspective when the time comes in the exercise, rather than all of them at once, and instead of posting all of them where they can be seen. The perspectives are repeated in the same sequence for each of the following speakers. It is best to allow two-three minutes for each perspective. Signal the time with a verbal cue (“take another moment to finish”) and then with a bell or chime to end that step. Allow for silence between each step and after each person finishes.

At the conclusion, allow time for people to share in their small groups what they felt and learned. If the size of the whole group is large, and time permits, you may wish to invite brief reports from volunteers.


If time allows you may want to include an extra round, inviting people to talk about the same issue, in the voice of a future human whose life will be directly affected by the choices and actions we take now on the issue, including their feelings, using the pronoun “I” and the present tense of verbs.


Use plenary for instructions and break-out rooms for the sharing, making sure people are clear on instructions. Get everyone back for each new round, then put them back again in small groups.

Possible traps

It can be long and complex to lead this activity online with many potential technical faults in between each round.

This may be the first time people experience getting into the skin of someone else as different as a nature elemental or a piece of cake. You may want to finish by asking everyone to stand up, and say out loud a re-confirmation in coming back to their usual identity, maybe turning around 360 degrees.

Additional resources

The Work that Reconnects


Author and teacher, a scholar of Buddhism, systems thinking and deep ecology. The initiator of the Work That Reconnects, a group work designed to foster the desire and ability to take part in the healing of our world.


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Inner Pathways
Innovative approaches in learning for Sustainability
Pandora Association Hungary, Budapest, Sasvár utca 99/c.

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