Name: Caroline Sayre
Hometown: Seattle, WA
Circle Start Date: May 2018
What do you do when you’re not running a Ben Franklin Circle?
Apart from our nice Ben Franklin Circle, I work as an English as a 2nd Language teacher in the Seattle area. I teach adults part-time in libraries, community colleges, and research institutes. Additionally, I co-host a volunteer garbage collective in my neighborhood that also provides an opportunity to interact with and help people living on the streets.
I’m a big-time reader of fiction and nonfiction alike; I like to spend a lot of time outside bike riding, running, cross country skiing, and hiking. My husband and I put on a Prince dance party on the street in front of our house once or twice a year (though I listen to his music far more often than that!)
What attracted you to the Circles?
I am inspired by civic responsibility and creativity, problem-solving through face-to-face conversation, bringing people together, and being part of a group of people dedicated to discussing values and beliefs with an eye toward personal and public (i.e. community) change.
I appreciate putting ourselves in Ben Franklin’s shoes to look back at history. I appreciate the notion of expanding discussion through questions, curiosity, and patience to see what people really think and how we can take our ideas out to the world at large.
I co-host the Circle with Boris Smus. The youngest member of the group, and a new father! As co-host, I’m learning how to facilitate groups of people who may have conflicting ideas or at the very least a variety of thoughts and perspectives. Even though we seem to live in a bubble here in Seattle, it’s impossible that we agree on everything, and as a Circle host, I can draw that out with good intent.
Tell us a little about the composition of your group?
Our group generally includes seven people. At least five had found the group via the NY office. Sometimes people I know from my neighborhood have come to meetings, having heard about the group via my personal emails. The neighborhood library post flyers for us, as does the local supermarket; a couple of people have come as a result of that effort. There are a couple more men than women, and age ranges from the early thirties to mid-sixties. Three people attend from different neighborhoods and two members are retired.
How has hosting a Ben Franklin Circle impacted you?
The Circle has impacted me in a very positive way. I look forward to hosting the meetings, I always feel stimulated and intrigued by other people’s ideas; and by the time the meeting is over, I feel pretty happy. I typically leave with more to think about. I enjoy the people. I probably wouldn’t have met them through any of my other activities. I use the virtues to challenge myself to take on new ways of thinking or to go into the community to try something, like the garbage collective. Hosting has inspired me! And I try to share this feeling with other members and friends in other social circles.
I wanted to co-host for two reasons: I didn’t want to be the main focus and I like working with someone else to create. I enjoy sharing the imagination, purpose, and execution involved in hosting.
Which virtue means the most to you personally and why?
This is hard, but I think the virtue Justice means the most to me. Its primary intent is to suggest that we treat other people and oneself kindly, that we not bring harm to others and that we stand by our commitments to others. Sincerity also means a lot to me: that we speak kindly and honestly, that we find ways to communicate without criticizing, and that we are authentic with good intent in our thoughts and speech. Both ask that we think in terms of the impact we might have on other people and I find that powerful and relevant.
What is the last commitment you made to yourself? How’s it going?
My goal is to pay more attention to what I say and ask, and particularly how. The “hows” of communication often reflect the “whys,” behind the motivation. I want to make sure I speak kindly to myself and others with less reactivity, more responsibility, and better boundaries. I have a feeling this effort will also influence choices I make about how I spend my time.