The Circle of Peace Movement (TCOPM) grows from an effort by Russel and Sarah Balenger in the Rondo neighborhood of St. Paul, Minnesota, in February 2010. Working to organize a community response to increasing violence, the Balengers gathered affected families to sit, share a meal, and talk with one another.
Through conversation at times tense and emotional, the families committed to meeting four times. At the end, participants asked that the circle continue.
“Every person is given an opportunity to be heard, and every participant has an equal voice in decision making.” – Russel Balenger
The Circle of Peace has met weekly for more than six years. While its attendance and makeup change from week to week, repeat participation is a norm. But the circle has widened to include community members and business owners, officers of the Saint Paul Police Department, students, local church members, parents, residents of Boys Totem Town, and even some international visitors.
TCOPM celebrated its 300th circle in July 2016. It has garnered attention and accolades including Honorable Mention for the 2015 Saint Paul Foundation’s Facing Race Ambassador Award, the 2016 Saint Paul Police Department Chief’s Award, and recognition from the Minnesota Women’s Press and other media.
With the continued support of a growing community, The Circle of Peace Movement reaches out and touches lives in Minnesota and beyond, working to fulfill its mission: To end violence and promote racial healing.