Summary ꙳ Objectives

▹ Any team leader knows that the key in establishing an engaged and committed group is to start with: 

  • clearly communicating its mission and vision,
  • establishing together with the group the collective set of expectations,
  • discussing the why and the how, the tools, and the rules of engagement of that particular group or organization.

Concretely, this means that the first session of your nature circle should be about defining a solid foundation and framework for your circle. Doing so empowers the group and its members.

Starting this way every circle is not necessary. However, every so often, it is important to check with the group that the mission is still fitting the expectations of the group and that the tools and the running of the group are satisfactory to all its members.

If it is, then great: you’re a happy family. If it isn’t, it’s totally normal: things in Life are dynamic –change over time– and this just means that it is advised to adjust/adapt to new expectations. It can also simply mean that it is time to dissolve the circle or maybe to split it into a few more focused circles.

Here we’re listing key topics to address in your first circle. Adjust accordingly, and enjoy! ツ

We recommend that you pair your group discussion with an exercise that cultivates cooperation and trust among the members of your newly formed circle, such as the Becoming Nature Aware –How to Start activity, the No Purpose Stroll & Fox Walking or the more involved Nature Awakening lesson.

ⓘ Intro to EwA Nature Circles

Type » Activity

Level » Foundation

When? » Anytime

Where? » Anywhere

Time » 1/2 hr–1hr

Themes & Skills

Leadership ⋆ Cooperation ⋆ Trust ⋆ Systems Thinking



Talking stone ⋆ Name tags ⋆ EwA Nat-circle documentation (e.g., Essentials, Rules & Tools) to facilitate the group foundation discussions.


"An understanding of the natural world and what's in it is a source of not only a great curiosity but great fulfillment." Sir David Attenborough

A key to having a successful first circle is to be ready. This is true both for the moderator of the circle and for any participant of the circle. So, make sure that you've read both the EwA Nat-Circles Essentials and the Rules & Tools, before attending your session. And if you are the designated circle moderator, remember to send the Circles' documentation to your party, giving your friends enough reading time.

Session Introduction

Welcome everybody. Everybody sits comfortably... If the circle participants do not know each other, have name badges ready to distribute.

Introduce the circle, explain what it is about, and its overall objectives (you will go into further details later on in the course of the circle).

This is the magnificent Mwirima, whom we had the privilege to meet in the Wild in 2012

Ice Breaker » Name game

You can have people introduce themselves formally. Or you can make it more fun or engaging, and perform a variable name game for instance.

What's that? Here is an example: Have everyone introducing him/herself as their favorite animal/plant/insect –whichever they want to introduce themselves as but relating to a species… Using an adjective in their introduction, and then have them say why they chose that species, or tell a personal (or not) story relating to that species.

Gather people around and give them the instructions and an example using your own name as an example. Ask if there are any questions. And then have the next person introducing her/himself.

People should be given the possibility to 'pass' if they can’t think of an answer right away. Just make sure to get back to them at the end to see if they have an answer.

Everyone introduces him/herself as their favorite animal/plant/insect. Examples:

  • “Hello! I am a fearless and protective Mountain Gorilla silverback”
  • “Hello! I am the lively Mundi Lundi, the rescued blind Icelandic puffin”
  • “Hello! I am a redwood, the tallest tree in the word”...

Group’s Rules / Talking stone

To help you, and give you a base for discussion you can go over the EwA Essentials and Rules & Tools with your Circle fellows.

Then, with the group, move toward establishing your own circle's mission and goals, set of expectations, rules of engagement, how often you wish to meet, etc. Have someone gathering notes, so they these notes give birth to a succinct group guide to all in your group (and for future participants).

People underestimate the value of establishing a firm foundation and are often disappointed when a group crumbles and fall apart because there was no supporting backbone to the whole thing in the first place.

After years of working with various groups, it became apparent that more than often we all forget efficient rules of communication. We get carried away, we forget to listen to one another, we take over a conversation and end up overpowering those who are shyer than we. Often it is unintentional. There is a reason why there are countless books and special interest groups focusing just on that aspect: It is simply not 'humanly' easy...

But we found a little trick along the way: the Talking stone. We started to use what is ultimately just a visual and a tactile external reminder that we're better together when we listen to one another. The fact that it is external (as opposed to a rule that we have to hold in our mind) is what makes it special because it allows us to not have to juggle with 2 tasks at once in our brain: participating in a discussion while having to remember the rules of good communication in heated or over-exciting situations. Check how a talking stone functions, it's simple and very helpful...


ⓘ EwA Nat-Circles Rules & Tools

Naturalist Notes

At EwA, we rarely miss a circle since we started our own local circles' program. These circles allow us to meet great people, to replenish our curiosity, refocus our mind and recenter our efforts. They never fail to bring a profound peace and a great joy. If you are around, join us (check our Events Calendar for the next one).


▹  EwA Nature Circles References

▹  About Leadership... An excellent book to help understand how successful teams are formed is a fable ( The Five Dysfunctions of a Team: A Leadership Fable by Lencioni, P.)

In the context of the book, the story happens in your good old corporate team... Wait! don't ignore the reference just because it happens in the Industry: teams are teams! And that you build a corporate organization or a Nature focused group, it actually relies on similar principles, because ultimately it is just about human dynamics.

What we liked about this fable is that it is simple and unambiguous, and painlessly deliver some hard truths that apply generally very well. Essentially a group that is not founded on shared trust; a group that fears conflicts, lacks commitment, avoids accountability, and that doesn't pay attention to results is destined to fail or to be very short-lived. This again applies to any kind of group.

As for us, we like to build communities, Nature-focused families, so we like the idea of building a group that is flexible, nimble, respectful, caring and very long-lived because we believe that is only through a sustained commitment that we will make a difference over time.  In short, we build to last... 

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