We are much more interconnected than we thought. We are discovering this today in the current pandemic as we did 5 years ago during the attacks in Brussels. Both then and now, we are living in a fragile period. We risk losing some of the things that are precious to us. Our loved ones and friends, our ideals of a stable future for ourselves and our children, our trust in a safe and healthy planet.
Who and what have we lost or need to let go of? We reflect on what is still unspoken and unprocessed. What is it like to lose loved ones suddenly or at a distance? How do we grieve or not? How do we stand when life shows its raw side? What can still give us meaning… and what do we choose?
The Circles are a contemporary, creative form of an ancient ritual to celebrate, honour, commemorate, mourn, deepen, meet on a deeper level. The Circle is not a discussion. We share from heart to heart about what really touches us as human beings. Just being present and listening is also fine.
We have the Choice was born out of a civic initiative by Kristin Verellen – who lost her life partner Johan Van Steen in the Maalbeek attacks on 22 March 2016 – and a circle of friends. We have the choice has grown into an organisation with more than 50 volunteer circle counselors. Since the attacks, We have the choice has been guiding Circles, both on location and online, in different contexts at key moments, in collaboration with partner organisations.
The 2nd lockdown demands a lot from students and young people. Everyone’s experience is different. Some students rightly sound the alarm. We invite you to stand still together with other young people and give words to how you experience this period and how you feel. Do you suffer as a result of isolation? Enjoying the peace and quiet? Lying awake about finances? Missing a loved one? Doubts about studies? Having fun online? You can share your story in the Circle and get to know the power of listening and being listened to. Giving attention to each other brings peace and strengthens everyone’s courage. This creates a space to stand up for your own choices. Because although we do not always have control over what we experience, we always have a choice in how we deal with it.
Students and young people from the age of 16 are welcome! A Circle is a moment of connection and offers space to share and listen from heart to heart. A Circle is not a back-and-forth conversation, not a discussion, everyone can speak, but there is no need to speak. Your presence is enough. The online circle lasts an hour and a half, and is guided by circle facilitators of the non profit organization We have the choice.
The online Youth Circles are made possible with the support of high schools, universities and youth welfare organisations: VVS, VUB, KDG, AP, Thomas More, PXL, Tejo, Joker, Cachet, Ideekids and Homaar.
WhenWednesday 2, 16 and 30 December from 8 p.m. to 9.30 pm CET, you can participate in one or more circles. Where Online ThemeHow are you REALLY doing in these corona times? How difficult or easy is it for you now? What do YOU choose? RegistrationFree participation. Registration is required via this eventbrite. You will receive the link for the zoom call by mail.
Responses from Youngsters:Connected * Mildness (for myself & others) * Am so glad I was here! * Support and recognition * Heartwarming * Touching * Gratitude from my heart * We will never walk alone * Our shared humanity * So loving, sincere * Warm goosebumps * It is sometimes so alone in my room, happy to REALLY make contact with others
One minute Eye contact means making real contact with someone else. Without (preliminary) judgements and expectations. Beyond the words. By being in silence with each other in this way, we can experience our shared humanity.
16h30 – 18h: ONLINE Circle Ritual
Registration is required via eventbrite. You will receive the link for the video call by mail. You can login from 16h15 to test the connection. Start Circle at 16h30.
A Circle Ritual gives you the space to stand still, and give voice to what is unprocessed and unspoken. In this way you will find new meaning and resilience to keep standing and to go for authentic choices. We have the choice. Whatever happens to us, we can always choose how we deal with it. A Circle is no ordinary dialogue, it’s about sharing and listening from heart to heart. Anyone can speak, but there is no obligation to speak. Your presence is enough.
IMPORTANT CHANGE: THE RITUAL ON SUNDAY MARCH 22ND WILL TAKE PLACE ONLINE DUE TO CORONA PREVENTION.
Four years after the attacks in Brussels and in the midst of corona prevention actions, we are nurturing trust in each other. We have the Choice and Bond zonder Naam invite you to a special ONLINE ritual of connection.
Sunday 22 March 2020
2 pm – 4 pm ONLINE Eye Gazing Experiment
You can participate via this link: www.human.online
You can easily create an account.
4:30 pm – 6 pm
ONLINE Circle ritual of We have the choice
You can participate via this link: https://zoom.us/j/519436079
You can login online from 16h15 so you can test the connection.
Start Circle at 16h30.
Make sure you have a good wifi connection, preferably via a computer or laptop with camera.
Welcome between 14h and 16h to participate in the ONLINEEye Contact Experiment.
Where is the connection between people?
Look 1 minute into the eyes of a stranger to find out. One minute eye contact means making real contact with someone else. Without (preliminary) judgements and expectations. Beyond the words.
By being in silence with each other in this way, we can experience our shared humanity.
Every year people in more than 300 cities worldwide participate in The Eye Gazing Experiment. Bond Zonder Naam joins this international movement as a statement for the importance of deeper human connection in times of polarization.
Afterwards you can participate in an ONLINE circle ritual from 16h30 to 18h. The Circle offers you a ritual space to find and share words on your personal experience. The circle helps to stand still, connect with others, become conscious about what is important for you, and to find the force to make authentic choices. Whatever happens, we always have the choice to choose love instead of falling into fear and hardening. The Circle is not a usual dialogue, it is about sharing and listening from heart to heart. Everyone can speak, but there is no need to speak. The quality of your presence is enough.
The Circles of the voluntary initiative We have the choice create since the attacks of 2016 spaces for standing still and connecting in various intercultural contexts, to promote a sense of community and to prevent further radicalization and violence.
As part of the ‘Encounters’ project, Kristin Verellen will tell her personal story in the Beersel Library on Thursday 5 March, using photos by Johan Van Steen that were published posthumously, combined with poems by herself. March 22, 2016: a day that many will not soon forget. 31 dead, many wounded and a country in mourning. Kristin lost her partner Johan Van Steen in the attacks and experienced how sitting together in vulnerability and trust after a shocking event leads to new resilience. Tickets (8€ + 1 drink) can be bought in Bib Beersel. More info can be found here.
The exhibition Standing Still / Still Standing runs from 1 October to 31 January at Destelheide and offers a complete experience of photographs by Johan van Steen, poems by Kristin Verellen and testimonies by participants of the Circle Rites. This will be done in conjunction with the work of Brussels youngsters from Centrum West who, in the summer of 2019, under the guidance of artist Katrien Oosterlinck and supported in Circles of We have the choice, started to work creatively on the Circle theme.
Through various approaches, the exhibition Standing Still / Standing Standing allows visitors to experience how pausing at a situation contributes to connection with yourself and others, and ultimately to new resilience. Because no matter what happens to you, you can always choose how you deal with it. We have the choice.
The exhibition will be opened on Thursday 24 October at 7 pm with a musical and poetic animated interview with Kristin Verellen and Katrien Oosterlinck. Sigrid Bousset, director of the Herman Teirlinckhuis and Bryce Bettens, an engaged young talent from Beersel, will provide a lively conversation. Afterwards, you can discover the exhibition during a festive reception, and get a signed book to support the non-profit cause of We have the choice. At 20h30 you will have the opportunity to experience a Circle yourself, guided by We have the choice, in the beautiful setting of the exhibition. Paul J. Simon, a talented musician from the region, puts us in the mood with some of his new songs. Registration is necessary.
On the 7th of June, Kristin Verellen was a guest at the 20 year celebration of Moderator, forum for restorative justice and mediation, in Leuven. She did an interesting ‘blind-date’ double interview on stage with Anniek Gavriilakis of Bond zonder Naam.
Kristin Verellen testified at the international conference for ‘Restorative Practices’ in Kortrijk on Wednesday 15 May. An inspired story that touched many people can be deduced from the high attendance at the circle that took place at the conference in the afternoon. More info about the conference: https://pheedloop.com/belgium2019/site/home/
Our Corporate Circle, which took place on Monday 13 May at Colruyt Group in Halle, was a great success. A full circle of business leaders who could experience a circle of We have the choice and were invited to become ambassadors for our social aim. Silence and connection in the business world that goes faster and faster. The next Corporate Circle is planned for Thursday 28 November.
On 2 May, We have the choice accompanied a circle of first-year students from Odisee, Department of Family Sciences. It was a powerful and moving circle around the theme ‘I have the choice’. In the coming weeks, various circles with young people will be on the programme.
On the occasion of the commemoration of 22 March, BX1 made a beautiful documentary in which the circles of We have the choice are presented in depth. Kristin Verellen and Stien Michiels testify about what the circles have meant in the past three years and how We have the choice has grown into an organisation that is able to connect people from heart to heart in different contexts.
The ritual of commemoration in the circle of birch trees in the Sonian Forest brought us to tears of grief and joy.
Read, listen and watch more here:
Interview Kristin Verellen at De Wereld van Sofie on Radio 1.
Interview Kristin Verellen on BX1.
Opinion piece in De Morgen.
Article in the Nieuwsblad.
Article at Bruzz.
Article in Metrotime.
Article at Pax Christi.