How it Began
The scene: San Francisco in the 1990s, at the beginning of the tech boom. In this hotbed of alternative community and new discoveries, two separate groups began a journey that would lead to the discovery of Authentic Relating and Circling practices.
Decker Cunov was living with a group of friends. As conflicts began to arise in the group, he began initiating conversations about what was actually happening – relating in the moment about perspectives, truths, and feelings. This conversation of authenticity and empathy became the Soul2Soul community, and then combined with mens’ work that he, Bryan Bayer, and others were doing to evolve Authentic Relating and his form of Circling. Decker co-founded the Integral Center with Robert MacNaughton in 2011, which has been a hub for the Authentic Man Program, Alethia circling immersions, and T3 circling trainings since. More on the Integral Center’s history
Guy Sengstock went to Burning Man, and in the midst of a group conflict one night, he began to “see the Matrix” beyond the interrelationships of his friends. Guy started discovering, and co-discovering, the essential nature of the people with him – what must be true about each for them to be the person they were. He, Jerry Candelaria, and other facilitators began holding the Arete Experience, the first circling immersions, in the late 1990s. Guy and Alexis Shepperd later refined the practice into a teachable modality and began training facilitators in 2006. They now lead the Art of Circling training and circling immersions. More Guy history here
There’s more to that story, but suffice it to say that over time, groups in San Francisco, Boulder, Amsterdam, Texas and more all formed their own training companies, and gradually, Authentic and Circling communities started popping up around the globe. In recent years, two more companies have begun offering Authentic Relating and Circling as a teachable practice.
Sean Wilkinson and John Thompson owned a professional tennis academy. They taught their students in a revolutionary way: working on the kids’ relationship with themselves and their families, as much as their tennis technique. It was a small step from there to circling. When John and Sean discovered the practice, they did it nonstop with each other for years, eventually evolving a form of the practice that has been sweeping Europe and now North America. They now teach circling immersions and SAS circling trainings around the world. More on Circling Europe’s history here
Authentic Revolution began in 2012, as a community organization and then business founded by Sara Ness, a college student in Austin, Texas. The company was formed in 2014 in order to spread Authentic Relating as a community-based movement, training facilitators and holding events for groups of every kind in order to bring social technology to the mainstream. Authentic Revolution now teaches Authentic Leadership and Facilitation Trainings (ALFTs) and other programs across North America. More on the history here
I discovered Authentic Relating in the summer of 2012, through a friend in Houston, with whom I began leading Games Nights for the ecstatic dance community there. Returning to college in Austin that fall, I brought Authentic Relating Games to the college housing coops where I lived, in an attempt to remedy some of the interpersonal issues that they faced.
AR quickly became popular, both in the coops, and the other communities I was a part of (acro-yoga, ecstatic dance, and whatever else I happened to bump into). Soon, we outgrew the coops and had to find a new location – renting a room at the community center Casa de Luz. Our community quickly grew to become the largest and most vibrant AR community in the world! And I started training facilitators to spread this to new areas.
Today, we have become a force of Authentic Revolution, with our own space, hundreds of trained facilitators, and teachers in every field, from social work to schools. We are waking up to ourselves through the force of human connection. Will you join us?
What else is the community doing?
There’s other Authentic events – like retreats, leadership trainings, and Circling – happening often. They’re super fun, they build community, and they grow your relational skill set. Come play with us!