Ben Franklin Circles begin as monthly meetings with a discussion of one of Franklin’s 13 virtues. But groups don’t have to end just because you get to the end of Franklin’s list. What’s next?
At this point, you’ve established a monthly practice of meeting, listening to and connecting with others, exploring personal growth and reflection, and setting commitments. While ending your group is one option, you also have many options for continuing. For Franklin, and some of our Hosts, having a Circle is a life-long practice.
Here are some suggestions and considerations to consider:
Renew your commitment.
Many of your group members initially committed to a year-long group. Invite them to renew their commitment with each year that passes. This keeps participants engaged and creates the opportunity to invite new members for future rounds.
Repeat the original thirteen virtues.
There is value in going over the same virtues again and again. Each time you focus on a particular virtue is an opportunity to observe how far you’ve come with your understanding of that virtue and the level at which you incorporate it into your daily life. You’ll see this in yourself as well as in your fellow group members. Repeating the virtues can deepen your practice of them.
Choose some new virtues.
We polled Circle Hosts about which virtues they would like to explore in their groups. The full list is here. We’re offering this as a guide. You can also choose your own virtues and/or invite your group members to contribute their ideas as well.
The discussion formula stays the same:
- Introduce the new virtue with a working definition or a quote
- Discuss the virtue
- End the meeting with a commitment to practice that virtue for a month
Go beyond a discussion of virtues.
Franklin’s group (The Junto) met for over forty years. They are credited with establishing the first lending library, the volunteer fire department and more. But, they spent four years together before they took action on community initiatives. These things take time. They established shared values and worked together to address mutual concerns in their community. In addition to the discussion of virtues, Franklin’s group had a list of questions they discussed in their weekly meetings.
If your group wants to move beyond discussing virtues, you can choose to meet and explore some of Franklin’s questions. Here’s a sample in Franklin’s words:
- Have you met with any thing in the author you last read, remarkable, or suitable to be communicated to the Junto? particularly in history, morality, poetry, physics, travels, mechanic arts, or other parts of knowledge? (aka Have you read any good books lately?)
- What new story have you lately heard agreeable for telling in conversation? (aka Do you have any interesting news to share?)
- Do you know of any fellow citizen, who has lately done a worthy action, deserving praise and imitation? or who has committed an error proper for us to be warned against and avoid? (aka Who is doing good work in the community?)
- What happy effects of temperance? of prudence? of moderation? or of any other virtue? (aka How is your virtues practice going?)
- Do you think of anything at present, in which the Junto may be serviceable to mankind? to their country, to their friends, or to themselves? (aka How can we help the community? Our group?)
Some housekeeping questions to ask your group if you are continuing:
- How can we share hosting duties? Would anyone want to take turns moderating? Handle scheduling?
- Do we want to invite new members? Should we each invite a new person to the group?
- What other things might we want to incorporate into the group? Books, articles, short videos? Would any members be interested in taking turns to select that material?
In conclusion, there’s no one correct way to continue on. The important elements are a committed group, regular meetings, and open discussion. And we want to learn from you too. Please share your ideas and experiences with us at firstname.lastname@example.org.