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Frequently Asked Questions

About Parker Palmer
Becoming (or Finding) a Facilitator
Connecting with the Center
Finding Programs Near You
Understanding Courage & Renewal Concepts

If you have other questions, please submit your question here.

About Parker Palmer

How do I contact Parker Palmer?

Use this Contact form.

Can I use quotes from Parker’s books or materials from Courage & Renewal Programs?

Please submit your request here. Let us know as much as possible about how you want to use the content, for what purpose, audience and/or product.

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Becoming (or Finding) a Facilitator

How do I find a facilitator near me?

Find a Facilitator here.

I’ve read all of Parker’s books, but I haven’t been to a retreat. Can I become a facilitator?

Prior experience with Courage & Renewal retreats is the first step in becoming a facilitator. We have found that the more personal experience of this approach that a potential facilitator has, the better. Those interested in becoming facilitators will ideally have attended two or more Courage & Renewal retreats. Read about the process for becoming a Courage & Renewal facilitator.

How do I become a facilitator?

Learn more here about becoming a Courage & Renewal facilitator.

What is the Gateway Retreat and how is it different than other retreats?

The Gateway retreat is for people who wish to become a facilitator and is required as part of the application process. We offer one Gateway retreat each year. Learn more here.

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How can I be involved with the Center?

We invite you to:

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Finding Programs Near You

There’s not a retreat or program offering in my area. Can I request one?

We recommend you contact a Courage & Renewal facilitator in your area to see what’s available. More programs and retreats are being added to our website all the time, so check back.

You can also contact the Center directly with your request and ask about our consulting services to customize a Courage & Renewal experience for your team, school, organization or community group (or any combination of people!).

Do you have programs outside the United States?

Yes. Connect with our Courage & Renewal facilitators outside the United States. On these pages you’ll find the facilitators and their upcoming programs, as well as contact information.

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Understanding Courage & Renewal Concepts

What is a Clearness Committee?

One of the most unique experiences you’ll have at a Courage & Renewal retreat is the Clearness Committee. A two-hour discernment process developed by the Quakers, it is a method that helps us hear our own inner wisdom while drawing on the wisdom of other people.

The Clearness Committee can help you to learn the value of asking open, honest questions, to experience how everyone has an inner teacher, and to see what happens when we commit to the ideas of no fixing, advising, saving or correcting one another. Learn more here.

What is the Circle of Trust approach?

The Circle of Trust® approach is a collection of principles and practices for bringing people together to rediscover and reclaim their wholeness — or as we say in our mission statement, to nurture your personal and professional integrity and the courage to act on it. This intentional approach creates an experience of the life-giving, world-healing power of communities that welcome the soul.

Watch this video as Parker describes a Circle of Trust, and on the same page learn more about the principles and practices of the Circle of Trust approach.

The Center for Courage & Renewal has trademarked the name Circle of Trust® approach. This designation is for use only by Circle of Trust Facilitators who have been prepared by the Center.

What is a Circle of Trust?

A Circle of Trust is the experience of creating a “safe space that welcomes the soul” and the actual physical configuration in which program and retreat participants sit side-by-side and speak into the center of the group. A Circle of Trust is created by careful attention to principles and practices intended to create a process of shared small-group dialog and reflection within a trustworthy community. In other words…

If we are willing to embrace the challenge of becoming whole, we cannot embrace it alone—at least, not for long: we need trustworthy relationships to sustain us, tenacious communities of support, to sustain the journey toward an undivided life. Taking an inner journey toward rejoining soul and role requires a rare but real form of community that I call a “circle of trust.”
—Parker J. Palmer, A Hidden Wholeness (adapted)

What do you mean by “integrity?”

Often when the word integrity is used it simply means honesty or telling the truth. In the context of our work we enlarge the meaning of integrity to include greater congruence between our inner and outer lives – what Parker Palmer calls “living an undivided life.” When we use integrity we also mean “wholeness” — to move towards wholeness we must become more self-aware and accepting of our gifts and strengths as well as our shadows and limits.

“Speak the names of Rosa Parks or Nelson Mandela—or other names known nowhere but within your own grateful heart—and you catch a glimpse of the beauty that arises when people refuse to live divided lives.” — Parker Palmer, A Hidden Wholeness

When I see the phrase “soul and role” I wonder if this is a religious organization.

The Center for Courage & Renewal is a secular nonprofit organization. Our programs draw on many wisdom traditions for understanding our shared humanity. A key principle of the Circle of Trust approach is the idea that everyone has an inner teacher, what many call the soul.

Parker J. Palmer, the Center’s founder, is a world-renowned writer, speaker and activist who focuses on issues in education, community, leadership, spirituality and social change. Parker is a member of the Religious Society of Friends (Quaker). In his book Let Your Life Speak, Parker writes:

“Philosophers haggle about what to call this core of our humanity, but I am no stickler for precision. Thomas Merton calls it true self. Buddhists call it original nature or big self. Quakers call it the inner teacher or the inner light. Hasidic Jews call it a spark of the divine. Humanists call it identity and integrity. In popular parlance, people often call it soul.”

How is Courage to Teach different from Courage to Lead? Or any other “Courage-related” program names for that matter?

In general, Courage to Teach® programs serve educators. Some Courage to Teach retreats are designed for preK-12 teachers, others for teachers in higher ed. and most are a mix, serving educators across the spectrum. Likewise, Courage to Lead® programs are designed for leaders of various types—positional and informal leaders, teacher leaders and school leaders, non-profit & community leaders, clergy and physician leaders. However, no matter the constituency that is named (“Courage to Teach,” “Courage to Lead,” “Courage to Serve”…), these programs and retreats are rooted in the Circle of Trust approach which has a common set of principles & practices. These principles & practices provide a strong foundation and safe container for a process of shared exploration of vocation, life, and authentic leadership.

What do we do in a Circle of Trust?

Led by a facilitator who has been trained by the Center for Courage & Renewal, you will focus on listening to your inner wisdom, to each other, through the use of “third things.” Third things is our name for poetry, music, or art that help prompt reflection both verbally and silently. Often a session will start with the facilitator sharing a third thing aloud and inviting others to respond with what struck them and why. Sharing is always an invitation and never a requirement.

You can read A Hidden Wholeness to learn about the process in depth, and then experience it for yourself in person at a retreat or program near you. Also explore these video stories to hear what people have experienced in a circle of trust.

Are we always in the Circle? Or is there time to be in smaller groups or alone?

There is often time at the end of each session to either write in your journal with personal reflections or break-off into groups of two or three people in order to ask each other open and honest questions about your reflections. Many of the longer retreats leave ample time for activities like reading, exercising, and sharing informal conversations over meals.

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