Council history is a rich weave of many threads and lineages.
That history is still being woven…

Clava Cairns, Inverness, Scotland

Many ask us about the roots of council and we first and foremost acknowledge our ancestors who gathered around the first fires sharing stories. The spirit of council is found everywhere in nature, land and sea, in the stone circles of earth-cherishing traditions, in the ancient ruins of Greece, in the governance and circle-of-life teachings of First Nation peoples. If we stop and listen long enough we can feel it in our very own bones. We encourage each person to search and discover their roots, their ancestors, their own authentic voice and call to council. At the same time we honor those indigenous peoples who have carried the circle ways throughout their histories, even through genocide and oppression, over so many years . We share in the grief; we ask for forgiveness for the past; we work to be part of the healing and reconciliation as we remember our common ground. We  explore the roots and seeds of councils in our own families, ancestors, and land. We encourage and join others to do so in their lands and cultures. Stories are arising more and more as time goes on: Ho’o pono pono practices of the Hawaiians, the sacredness of all life, a worldview within indigenous earth-cherishing traditions, the First Nation peoples teaching us, asking us to respect the circle of all our relations. When will “we”, western civilization truly listen? We, council carriers, are simply doing our part to re-learn, to remember, to invite and create anew council as a practice, as one essential way towards the human species evolving  on our planet.

As we acknowledge the spirit of council throughout ancient traditions, we also celebrate the circle ever emerging in modern culture, through the civil rights movement, the women’s and men’s movements, the ways to be heard during protest actions on our streets. The import of listening to all voices continues in high demand. Council was and is a gift offered to us by the elders of many cultures; It has grown through sitting in nature, sitting with the children, as well as adults and elders, races, cultures, and creeds. It is up to all of us to share it in as many re-generative, respectful ways as we can.

“The Way of Council” is really “a” way of council that  emerged through the Ojai Foundation, offered originally in its simplest form by Joan Halifax. Subsequently the practice was  primarily carried and developed as an offering by Jack Zimmerman and Gigi Coyle, and  contributed to by other TOF elders Marlow Hotchkiss, Leon Berg, Joe Provisor and Lola Rae Long, along with many children, the land itself, and every event, program, and ceremony at Ojai during the formative years. The Way of Council and its growth as a practice, emerged through council itself, as well as years of sitting and working with First Nation Peoples, spiritual teachers, healers and visionaries from different cultures, whom we were blessed to know. As a practice, it is a path, with specific intentions, guidelines, and  different forms of circle practice. New forms of spirals and webs have emerged in recent years. These ways of witnessing and deep listening arose from  asking, “What serves?” We adapted what is often known as the “talking stick or staff,” to also be a “listening piece” for all who are holding it.

Who are we : Being with cultural sensitivity , appropriation and some history

The Great Circle of Life

When trying to understand often sensitive and nuanced issues of what’s culturally appropriate here in our “melting pot” American society, we  find it helpful to make a distinction between human nature and cultural expressions.  Between what is archetypal and universal, found everywhere around the world, and what is unique and distinctive to a specific culture.  Think of the archetype as the “what,” or content, and culture as the “how,” or form and style of expression.

Take council for example.  All cultures deal with the archetypal situations of people sitting in circles, story-telling as a means of cultural transmission,  group or collective decision-making, and  communal prayer.  Even more important seems to be tracking the call to listening to each other and places wherein all voices and gifts are valued …These are harder and fewer to find throughout history, especially regarding women, gay or trans gender, youth and children.  How a people does so reveals the values and style of their culture.  Such cultural identities need to be honored.

Many of the Colonialists who established the first European settlements on this continent were, in fact, political refugees and republicans, seeking alternatives to a sometimes brutal monarchy and openly exploring new forms that were more democratic and egalitarian.  In the late 1700s, Ben Franklin and Thomas Jefferson were especially impressed by the native examples of self-governance they encountered.  When they gathered in back rooms to plan the American revolution and to establish a new democratic republic, they had a printed copy of the Constitution of the League of the Iroquois in front of them.  Moreover, they invited Iroquois chiefs as representatives and consultants, to participate in some of their meetings for drafting a new constitution for the fledgling republic.  The Iroquois literally and generously offered key suggestions and traditions to these radical white revolutionaries for consideration.  Among these were various forms of council, as something to be both known and honored .

In the early days at the Ojai Foundation, many elders and teachers came to the Land.  First Nation Peoples from many lands and cultures, in a shared exploration of peaceful regenerative cultures.  TOF’s  founder, Joan Halifax, invited many to sit in circle together, some together cross-culturally for the first time. She, as well as Jack and Gigi, were not new to circles and yet together, we all deepened with the teachings from many traditions around the circle of life. We learned of our common roots and celebrated our differences, practicing old and new ways of listening to each other and to the whole.

The spirit of council is fortunately everywhere. We are not looking to usurp  others’ traditions.  We do share our “metis” (mixed-blood) lineage, and respect traditions as we encounter them. Every time we share council, we look to honor those who have gone before and how we each came to the practice. We honor the gifts and teachings we received from elders, from the children, from nature, from the land itself, and from ceremony.  We honor them by taking them to heart, by making them our own, and by passing them on as we were taught – in the spirit of give-away with which they were received. We seek, through our work and through the ways of council, to be part of the healing, the grieving for our own nation’s genocide, and to live with respect and in support of those who came before, those here now and those who will come.  We encourage all who enter the practice of  council to know their roots, their ancestors, their people, their work, and to find their unique way in this practice, in the great council of life.

The above was compiled from comments collected at the TOF Elders Council 2015

“I remember sitting in circle out in the woods when I was a child, talking with everything around me. I remember bringing special objects to first grade and passing one around for all to hold in “show and tell.” I remember how only then did my peers listen with the ears and heart of my grandmother. I remember praying with tobacco as a teenager, because the plant told me to use it in prayer to turn into my fear of cancer. I remember fasting in the wilderness and thinking that the connection and sense of belonging we long for as human beings is quite similar, what we learn in a relational world with nature tends toward common ground, similar feelings arise, similar healings emerge, and council ways are available to all of us if we open and listen.

Talking with everything

My discovery over the past 40 years has been a coming together of both ancient and new ways, whether sitting within a co-existence project in Israel or with a family exploring reconciliation. The spirit and intention of council always holds steady, healing, communicating, learning, leading through the wisdom of the whole, growing in trust with the sacredness of all life.

I remember having the sense of “coming home” during my first council in the wilderness. It was as if my very beingness knew the practice and honored the devout listening that council inspires.

I remember many councils, over the years, with native people, who were so grateful to participate in council at the Foundation.  It is a forever memory, familiar, sometimes forgotten, recreated, and remembered.  I wonder how far back we would have to go to ask permission?  Who could claim originating or owning listening and speaking in a circle? We honor and are grateful to our teachers, and acknowledge the lineages and the teachings within the process itself.  At some point, you become it and it is part of you, belongs to you.

~ Gigi Coyle

Around the Council Fire

Sitting in close, intimate circles, gathered around a warm fire, telling stories and sharing what’s on one’s mind or in one’s heart has been a core practice of human culture since the dawn of time.  Fortunately for us, “council” in its many names and forms, has survived through many ages and cultures.  It has reawakened more compassionate, less hierarchical ways of teaching, learning, healing, and governing.  Some forms of council continue, of course, as living traditions in many First Nation communities, on the mainland and in the traditional Hawaiian culture, as well as within other indigenous cultures around the world. We have learned and continue to learn from those who came before, from each other, and from our own roots and the natural world. We enter council with respect for our many teachers, gathering around the “children’s fire,” and listening for the call of new insights. We add our voice, contributing to council taking on new incarnations in classrooms and boardrooms, support groups and social justice initiatives, relationship intensives, men’s and women’s circles, spiritual centers and university programs, here and abroad, in most every country and community we visit. A common refrain we hear again and again when introducing the “practice” to those who have invited us – “Council feels like coming home.”

A bit of the story is helpful in understanding the way of council as it has emerged for us over the years.

In 1979, the seeds of contemporary council found fertile soil in the Upper Ojai Valley in Southern California. Dr. Joan Halifax, anthropologist and protégé of mythologist Joseph Campbell, was invited to lead a non-profit organization—known as Human Dimensions Institute/West—to explore living spiritual traditions and to study the interface between science and spirituality. (For the history of The Ojai Foundation itself, see: www.ojaifoundation.org)

Situated on 40 acres of land, stewarded since 1927 by the Happy Valley Foundation (in service to a vision  of theosophist Annie Besant of a new peaceful world culture), Joan renamed the non-profit organization, The Ojai Foundation (TOF).  Ojai Foundation is a unique use of the word foundation; many have come to understand it in the spirit of gifts to be shared, both an old and a new kind of philanthropy. Ojai, a Chumash word (meaning “moon”) is a name we use in honor of the local indigenous people and their earlier experience of what was foundational to sustainable human communities. Over the years The Ojai Foundation has come to refer to both the work and the land -– a chaparral-covered ridge where beneath a majestic, 600 year-old Coastal Live Oak at its center (the Teaching Tree), Dr. Halifax convened an extraordinary and varied faculty of native elders, cutting-edge scientists, spiritual teachers, and cultural activists.

Inspired by work in the civil rights movement, trained by Quakers in non-violence and simple, heartfelt expression, and empowered by teachings with spiritual elders, Joan drew teachers and students into forms known variously as circles of trust, talking-stick circles, and council.  With TOF hosting many seminal teachers of our time, the way of council continued to be re-discovered in varying traditions and disciplines, as well as introduced anew in others.  Council was described by Zen masters as “deep listening;” it is what physician Rachel Naomi Remen calls “generous listening;” what the Quakers call “Devout Listening;” and is akin to Indaba – “deep talk” in South Africa. The council practice of listening and speaking from the heart became a core ingredient of TOF events and retreats.

TOF was one of the first institutions in North America to explore an ongoing dialogue/council between Tibetan and Native American spiritual leaders at the request of elders from both lineages. Several of the first retreats in America by noted peace-activist, poet, and Vietnamese Buddhist master, Thich Nhat Hanh, were held at the Foundation for children, artists, environmental leaders, and Vietnam War vets.   Likewise, Men’s Gatherings with poet Robert Bly and mythologist Michael Meade, and women’s gatherings and conferences with teachers such as Riane Eisler and Joanna Macy, turned to council often, as a way to bring teachers and students together in learning circles.  In addition, conferences on emergent topics—such as chaos theory, hospice work, ethno-botany, psycho-immunology, dream research and mind-body studies—were cross-fertilizing aspects of the Foundation’s programming during the 1980s and 90s.  With an intention to strengthen awareness of our interconnectedness, and witness the complementary nature of wisdom, council served as a container for circles to honor differences, find common ground and open to a “bigger story”.

Jack Zimmerman and Gigi Coyle, educators and community visionaries, collaborated with Joan in these early years, bringing their own threads of living and working in circle in different venues and cultures. They championed council as an essential way of governance at TOF, as well as further developing the practice for sharing in a variety of settings. Over a decade of working with and weaving many traditions, the Foundation evolved into a sanctuary for “council”, the name that historically has embraced a peacemaking intention.  Council encourages participants to communicate in ways that lead to a heightened sense of shared purpose.  Council became a time, place and practice for healing, as well as a pathway for creating and sustaining community – a  sense of connection with all of life. By fostering attentive listening and authentic spontaneous expression, the practice builds trust and nurtures relationships among participants, offering an alternative to the power dynamics that can arise from inequities of status, race, economic stature, and other hierarchical structures.  In the circle, everyone shares in the responsibility for guiding the process; thus the emerging group spirit, and the practice itself, becomes the primary facilitating force, with servant leaders, in supporting roles.

As it unfolded at the Foundation, the practice wove together threads of old-age circle practices and contemporary group dynamics, in an inclusive experience of council.  In 1996 Jack and Gigi’s work led to the writing of their book, The Way of Council (2nd Ed. 2009), which has since been translated into Hebrew and German, with possible Arabic, Italian, Greek and Spanish translations in the offing.  As The Ojai Foundation’s staff, volunteers and Board of Directors increasingly realized the benefits of meeting in council, trainers began working with other communities, organizations and schools introducing council as a means of governance, deepening the process of learning, of healing conflicts and differences, and of co-visioning.  For many, council became a way of life and a personal spiritual practice.

Council Kiva at the Ojai Foundation

Council Kiva at the Ojai Foundation

Over the years Jack, together with Paul Cummins, Rachel Kessler, Joe Provisor, Tom Nolan, Maureen Murdock, Ruthann Saphier, Lana Brody and many others, focused on bringing council into public and private schools and successfully introduced programs throughout Southern California and beyond. In 1996, the Palms Middle School Council Program received the Los Angeles Human Relations Commission annual award for excellence in education—the first program, rather than an individual, to be so recognized.  Jack and his wife, Jaquelyn McCandless, also expanded and deepened the practice specifically for couples. This intimate relationship work continues today in various new forms.  In parallel, Jack, Gigi, Marlow Hotchkiss, plus other colleagues, carried council into for-profit companies and social-profit foundations across this country and internationally as well.  With guides at the School of Lost Borders, Gigi gave special attention to grounding the practice of council within rites-of-passage programs.  She initiated month-long and week-long immersion council courses, such as the Nature of Council, that take place in wilderness settings, rekindling the root of council in the natural world, remembering the import of listening to all voices not only the human ones. As the circles grew and spread, participants began to understand the call to living council in our everyday lives.

In addition to the three levels of formal Council trainings that Jack and Gigi pioneered, the principles and processes of council found their way into the core of all subsequent TOF programming, from Joan’s early cross-cultural pilgrimages to current ropes courses, youth rites-of-passage, adult retreats, and couples and relationship workshops. By the turn of the millennium, the practice had been shared with many teachers and facilitators who then wanted to carry it further into their own communities.  Ojai trainers developed specialized courses for therapists, guidance counselors, experiential educators, service agencies, social justice organizations and spiritual centers. To support this new growth, the Center for Council Training (CCT) was established in 1998, with the specific focus of training trainers to carry the work into schools and out into the mainstream.  As well, and in response to requests coming from friends and professional colleagues in Europe and Israel, council programs expanded beyond the US.  Thanks especially to the seeding of council abroad by Gigi, Jack and senior trainers Leon Berg and Marlow Hotchkiss, council was introduced and the practice developed in collaboration with communities in the Middle East, Europe, Canada, Australia and Africa.

With increasing demand for programs in a variety of arenas, most significantly for schools, both in the classroom and with parent/teacher communities, CCT divided into two primary initiatives: the Council in Schools Program and the Center for Council Practice. This individuation process began under the stewardship of “The Circle of Nine,” a diverse group of volunteer council trainers who met over the course of three years to listen to the needs and dreams of carriers of council and midwife CCT’s evolution. Expanded materials and additional guidelines were developed in support of this process and a Mentoring Council was established to help trainers through a certification process. The Nine was facilitated by Jared Seide, who eventually became the Director of the Center for Council Practice.

In 2013, Jared as the Director of CCP initiated a process which, in June 2014, led to a spin off from TOF… Center for Council, emerged to be newly-housed under the fiscal sponsorship of Community Partners in Los Angeles. New initiatives continue to be developed, in collaboration with community-based organizations and faith-based groups, focusing on social justice issues, community-wellness and addressing reintegration of formerly incarcerated men and women, helping to assure the health and diversity of our urban communities. Today, Center for Council provides training, coaching, and support, along with council-based programming to individuals, organizations and communities.

Council House at the Ojai Foundation

The Trainers Mentoring Circle is an independent volunteer group consonant with the Ojai Foundation’s commitment to council and has been organized to set standards and oversee the path to becoming a council trainer in the ‘Ojai Foundation, Way of Council’ lineage. The TMC oversees certification and training of trainers throughout the US, with similar groups in Europe and Israel overseeing trainers on the path in those locations. Currently there are approximately 40 certified council trainers working in programs throughout the US and Canada, along with a growing circle of trainers now empowered by our international teams and their own networks to be the leaders in their respective countries.  Center for Council intends to collaborate with a number of growing international networks, such as Ma’agal Hakshava in Israel, the European Council Network, and Council teams in Africa and elsewhere.

We look forward to the practice of speaking and listening from the heart continuing to emerge in contemporary culture. We support the expansion of ever widening circles in myriad forms, with deep gratitude and respect for those who came before and for those enduring traditional cultures that continue today sitting together in circles for all of us and for the Earth.

It must be said in closing, although a number of individuals are listed above, there were many more that continue to make this work what it is. We add just a few key names from the earliest days: Elizabeth Cogburn, Robert Ott, Lola Rae Long, Larry Bramble, Leslie Roberts, Doug Adrianson, Peggy O’Brien, Win Phelps, David Jessup, Amber McIntyre, Jill Townsend, Ronit Weintraub—and we’ll stop there with a plea for forgiveness for not listing the hundreds more who have contributed to this never ending story.

We end in gratitude for the many partnerships forged over time, and of course for the children.

Prepared by The Ojai Foundation Elder Council (Jack Zimmerman, Gigi Coyle, Marlow Hotchkiss, Leon Berg, Joe Provisor and Lola Rae Long).

Increasingly when those of us deeply rooted in the TOF tradition of council are called to other lands we meet those who carry the spirit of council.  Alan Slifka, a long time supporter of this way, was inspired after witnessing citizen diplomacy work in the USSR to focus on coexistence in Israel. He created the Abraham Fund with that purpose and invited Gigi Coyle to visit their many projects in the 90’s. What she experienced there convinced her and others to heed the call and follow up offering the practice there to peacemakers and  educators , supported by Alan and a few others in the start up years.  Alan continued to support the council work in Israel, playing a central role in the creation of the Amuta, Ma’agal Hakshavah.

First Arab and Jewish Training

When Council Trainers Leon Berg and Susanna Knittel first went to Israel in 2001, their vision was to bring council to both Arabs and Jews through schools and coexistence groups. This effort took a leap into manifestation when Ronit Weintraub–now Ronit Rinat Peleg–returned to her native country in 2002 with a passionate commitment to “bring council to the children of Israel.” She and Leon created the Amuta (non-profit), Ma’agal Hakshava (Listening Circles) in 2003. The story that has unfolded since then is a tribute to the power of council and the dedicated efforts of many people both in Israel and the U.S. Annual extended stays on Leon Berg’s part and, more recently, shorter visits by Joe Provisor and Gigi Coyle have significantly supported a variety of  trainings, including those in education and the Nature of Council. In 2004 Jack Zimmerman and Jaquelyn McCandless began a sequence of visits to Israel to support the Amuta, offer their relationship work, council trainings, women”s empowerment circles and later, a new coexistence initiative. Jack has been working intensively with the Amuta”s Leadership Council for several years as it has matured and grown. In the early years the formation of Ma’agal Hakshava was strongly supported by Ya’el Mey Ora and Ela Merom together with Peled Zahor, Tal Even, Itaf Awad, Shay and Galit Hanin. Those who played a central leadership role after Jack and Leon stepped back include Ronit Rinat Peleg, Galit and Shay Hanien, Aura Hammer, Itaf Awad, Nurit Avrahami, Yaeli Arma-Oren, Noa Maayan, Yasmin Talmon and Ilana Flax. The expanded leadership group included educators, members of the healing professions, community leaders and professionals who extended the work of council in Israel. Starting in 2007 Galit and then Aura, Itaf, Shay, Yasmin, Yaeli Arame-Oren, Nurit Avrahami, Noah Maayan,Sharon Adam, Eran and Nurit Halevi  joined Ronit as certified trainers. All of these experienced council trainers were confirmed in Israel in ceremonies co-created with Gigi and Jack in the tradition of the Ojai lineage. In addition to these trainers there are at the moment 19 Ojai/Maagal Hakshava accredited council facilitators in Israel as well, with more on the way, and many, many more who have received training in the various courses given by the Amuta, other council-based organizations or privately by the trainers.

The original vision has flowered in a way that has brought council into schools, colleges, women’s empowerment groups, municipal governments, coexistence organizations, places of business, families and primary relationships. The Amuta Ma’agal Hakshava is linked with TOF as a major ”pod” in our growing worldwide network of council practitioners. Galit and Shay have initiated a full-time council based organization called “Tovanot” (“Center for Council Insights”) training facilitators and bringing council to businesses.kibbutzim, schools and more. They, along with Ronit Rinat Peleg and Moti Peleg teach the Flesh and Spirit practices in Israel as well. Itaf Awad works with women’s advisors, educators and has brought council to Palestine, as well as initiating the translation of The Way of Council into Arabic, together with Leon Berg and Jack Zimmerman. Eran and Nurit Halevi created their own school of council, Mercaz Uriel, and have done trainings for many years that offer a path to council that is parallel to the amuta. Nurit Avrahami trains teachers through the Ort school network “Holistic Program” as well as other long term educational and social programs. Noa Maayan has been voluntarily running the Amuta for a number of years as well as offering council in various organizations with whom she is involved. Sharon Adam who  brought council to the school where she taught, formed the council-oriented Adamshalem Center and also created, together with educator Cochava Shneider,  Connectinghearts- training cards for empathic listening.Yasmin Talmon as well as Aura Hammer offer council trainings and circles in various organizations, and have mentored trainers in training over the years.

The members of the Amuta have worked closely with ECM and Ojai Foundation over the years, and appreciate the connection and the partnership, mutual support and learning.

The work in Israel has been supported by many individuals and foundations. In additon to he Alan B Slifka Foundation, these include the TIDES Foundation (Ron and Tova Claman) and the Nathan Cummings Foundation.

Council at International Peace Initiatives Kenya

Birthplace of Humanity….  Most likely, Africa was the first place ‘council’ emerged as a way of life, of bonding and story telling, circling around a warm fire with friends and loved ones.  The South African concept ‘Ubuntu’—meaning I am because we are—carries this sense of soulful connectedness, of ‘thinking like a circle.’  Gathering in circles, it seems, is embedded in our genes, in the roots of culture and in language itself.  While much of modern civilization abandoned these ways, indigenous folks everywhere continue to gather in circles as they have from the beginning of time.   And nowadays, worldwide, people of all cultures and continents are once again feeling a deep need to ‘circle up.’

By invitation, Council facilitators and leaders, trained in the Ojai way, are now helping to re-seed these practices in several African regions, especially where colonialism and wars played havoc with nurturing traditions and resilient ways of life.  In every case there have been cross-cultural challenges and learning, a rediscovery of local roots of council, and follow-up visits to deepen the practice.

South Africa

While on the Ojai Foundation staff and faculty, Jesse Jessup and Amber McIntyre visited South Africa three times and offered an Introduction to Council (2002), three Wilderness quests, and a Flesh and Spirit program, all with council at the core.

In November 2004, the Center for Council offered a $500 grant to support them in an Introduction to Council Training in Cape Town by offering scholarships. The training was full, and with a waiting list.

After moving to South Africa in July 2005, Jesse and Amber were invited to offer council in a number of venues including Tsiba in Cape Town, the Buddhist Retreat Centre in Ixopo, Kuthumba Nature retreat in Plettenburg Bay, Phakalane near Cape Town, and more regularly at Bodhi Khaya Retreat near Hermanus, which they helped create and where they lived for a while.  In 2015, Amber offered a ‘refresher’ at Bodhi Khaya, where she returns yearly to follow up.

Mali

The Mali Clinical Team

The context for the introduction of council to Mali was a medical research program to test the efficacy of Low Dose Naltrexone to prevent people who were HIV positive from developing AIDS.  The research program, led by Jaquelyn McCandless and Jack Zimmerman, started in 2006. AIDS was spreading in Mali primarily because of the cultural denial of its existence and the lack of communication between men and women.  We instituted a council circle for each sub-group which met monthly for the duration of the program.  Many of these circles continued beyond the nine months because of the remarkable openings that took place between the genders, particularly for couples that were both HIV positive.

To implement the program we needed to train a group of local council leaders. In May 2007 Jesse Jessup and Amber McIntyre led the first council training.  It was an extremely challenging training for reasons of language and cultural patterns but Jesse and Amber persisted and council in Mali had begun.

The following year (2008), Jaquelyn and Jack followed up this initial effort with a second training. We continued refining the council leaders’ skills in subsequent years as the groups continued to meet.  The resulting opening of communication between men and women had a profound effect on those involved and we trust that ripples from these councils continue to support the opening of communication in Bamako.

Kenya

We first came to Kenya in 2012 with a small team of Beyond Boundaries (BB) volunteers (Marlow Hotchkiss, Gigi Coyle, Win Phelps, Siri Gunnarson and Sam DeBoskey), an intergenerational response team, bearing witness and offering ourselves and community-building skills in service at various ‘watering holes’ – acupuncture points among communities around the world that are living into a new way of earth stewardship in a global village ‘beyond boundaries.’

Dr. Karambu Ringera, founder of International Peace Initiatives (IPI) in Meru, Kenya, first met Marlow when attending a Nature of Council training in Findhorn, Scotland. She was excited to introduce council to her community, to share natural building techniques, and in the process to build a BB ‘peace hut’ – a round, earthen council house, dedicated to listening, sharing, and coming together in prayer. These two-and-a-half months were a time of learning for everyone, a new way of cross-cultural exchange, and a true collaboration. Witnessing the people and place, we asked ourselves about our roles as outsiders. When is it right to visit, to offer, intervene, to learn?  What serves healing, health and wholeness?

Following that first BB project with IPI, Sam and Siri visited a young community leader, Philip Munyasia, with OTEPIC (Organic Technology Extension and Promotion of Initiatives Center) in Kitale. The following year, 2013, Siri returned to OTEPIC, joined by BB teammate Alexis Slutsky,  to build another Peace Hut with the community there, and to follow up with the seeds of council planted the previous year. After OTEPIC, they returned again to IPI to facilitate follow-on trainings for the staff and community, and to support them as they bring council into the daily life of their organization.

When BB first offered council to the large, diverse IPI staff, some joyfully took to the practice while others were skeptical.  In spite of lingering resistance, the on-going community has been in circle together every week and integrating council into their daily lives.

Rwanda

Council was seeded in Rwanda in 2011, through the work of Bernie Glassman and Zen Peacemakers. There have been three Bearing Witness Retreats, with Council as a core practice element, in the last years. In addition, Fleet Maul and other Council Carriers offered a two-day introductory training.  From these first groups, two women brought council back to their communities and continue to use the practice in ongoing reconciliation circles.

In 2014, Jared Seide and Siri Gunnarson traveled to Rwanda to offer a week-long council training for a consortium of Rwandan NGOs, in preparation for a coming Bearing Witness Retreat.  Following this visit a new NGO was formed: the “Rwanda Center for Council.”  Since then Jared and Center for Council have continued to support the council network in Rwanda, focusing on the work with prisons.

Reflections from Rwanda Council Training Participants:  

“When we change ourselves, we change the people around us, the community.”

“I feel that this training has helped me understand myself and the way I can heal, and to have better ways to help others with their own healing.”

“Council teaches ‘peace from the heart’ and points to a way that people can live together in a more unified and loving society.”

(for more information, see: http://zenpeacemakers.org/2014/01/council-training-in-kigali-rwanda/).

2016 REPORT  by Kate Lipkis

Gigi Coyle sat in numerous circles when working with appropriate technology institute in Indonesia during the early 1970’s. She was inspired by the closing ceremonies to month-long trainings that the Indonesians led, during which they asked for people gathered in a circle to come to the center with gratitudes, poetry, song and blessings. Visitors and guest trainers often come and sing back the song that is already somewhere in the ancient and modern culture. So it was in Bali, in 2015, when the seeds of council from those witnessed ceremonies were further nurtured in Northwest Bali National Park. A small group gathered for a training led by Bali resident and trainer-in-training, Sierra Silverstone and Australian-born veteran trainer, Kate Lipkis. At that training were two other Australians who would become part of the ebb and flow of council seeding in the Pacific region.

When working and traveling in Australia, Gigi had continued to find circle in the land and its people. Sitting in the outback with aboriginal women in a story time after hunting for witchetty grubs inspired the sharing of councils with women, and with olders learning to be elders, in a small seaside village.

A Taste of Council

Meanwhile, after years of numerous Aussies coming to the USA for trainings, Kate – a longtime California resident — was holding a deep desire to seed the practice in her homeland. Linking with Lynn Jones, one of those Pacific-crossing Aussies, Kate offered a Taste of Council on Stradbroke Island in 2012. After a gestation period of several years, and with the intent of creating a mutually supportive council community in Australia, the first official training – An Introduction to Council — was held in Melbourne in November 2015. Thirteen participants attended, including members of three families and an elementary teacher connected with one of these families. It was offered at the home of Tina Christensen, one of the participants from the Bali training, which had been marketed to Australians. Lynn Jones flew down from Straddie to  intern on the training.

Tina has since sustained a regular council practice and another participant, Morgan Williams, has done the same in Daylesford, outside Melbourne, along with making the trek to The Ojai Foundation to visit the heart and home of council. In April 2016, most of those trained returned for a council clinic, to investigate what had been happening as they facilitated circles in their communities.

In November 2016, Adam Rumack and Jared Seide offered a level one training with the Centre for Me in Byron Bay.  The centre is an offshoot of Illuman, which offers men’s rites of passage in the Catholic tradition, and is inspired by the work of Richard Rhor.  Jared and Adam have worked with the US-based organization since 2012 to implement council across their branches in the US and abroad. Jared is director of the Center for Council in Los Angeles and Adam is co-director of The Ojai Foundation.

Two more level one trainings are planned for Byron Bay and Melbourne in 2017, offered by Adam and Miriam Tassone, another Aussie, who co-directs The Ojai Foundation with Adam and has extensive experience working to facilitate organizational change.

Can Council 2 be far behind?

For more information, contact Kate Lipkis at kate@lipkis.com

ECN 2012

Many of us here in North America have European roots, so the call back to Europe has always felt right. Council is to be found there and most everywhere in the bones of the land and the people. Over the past 25 years, a few of us senior trainers, have responded to invitations to bring the practice of council to Europe, as we have grown it and been grown by it, through The Ojai Foundation and beyond.

Our intention in doing such was to awaken the memory, the listening, the circle way of thinking and living – to seed and share the practice of council in different peoples and regions.  In doing so, the path was to follow the energy and interest expressed, to support people who wanted to become trainers and develop a community of carriers not dependent on North Americans coming and giving workshops.

This has come true!

Below is a year-by-year summary of what we know and remember.

As is the truth with any social change, we can’t point to one person or one event that caused so much to happen.  Although I have been the “point person” for this international work as a council carrier, volunteer tracker, coordinator and reporter for over 20 years, my joy has been to lure and call others in, primarily my long-time partner in many such trainings, Marlow Hotchkiss.  As well, my primary partner Win Phelps who is a guide and council carrier supported me throughout in this work and contributed to many trips. Once we had completed enough introductory trainings, Jesse Jessup and Amber McIntyre followed to seed the couples-work, and Joe Provisor to seed council-in-schools. Leon Berg found his way there as well through an invitation to Italy and Germany, as did European trainer Susanna Knittel working in Poland and Switzerland. And then trainers from Israel/Palestine (see Magal Hakshava and Uriel Center Training)  were invited to the second ECN gathering and continued coming to the European Network Gathering every year. They now offer trainings there, along with nine confirmed Europeans, including Pippa Bondi and Rob Dreaming from the UK, Gesa Heiten, Holger Heiten, Tina Kansy and Sylvia Koch-Weser from Germany, Katrin Lüth from Austria, Yvan Rytz from Switzerland and Han Delissen from the Netherlands.

Councils throughout Europe

Countries now with carriers include Austria, England, Wales, Greece, Germany, Czech Republic, Switzerland, Italy, Poland, Belgium, France, Hungary, the Netherlands, Portugal, Slovakia, Norway, Sweden and Denmark.

The circle continues to widen, as does the practice itself. In addition to the Trainer’s Path, a Facilitator’s Path is unfolding. We feel blessed to be part of this council community and to share and learn from and with you and all our relations. „

Gigi Coyle

(History written and collected by Andrea Widegreen, Gesa Heiten, Holger Heiten, Anna Wohlesser and Gigi Coyle )

October 2004, Gigi facilitated a Council during the Gathering of the International Visionquest Guides Gathering in South Africa  – this is seen as one of the many steps of beginning of the European Council Network in Europe. During that Gathering, Gesa and Holger Heiten invite Gigi to come to the newly founded the Eschwege Institute.

January 2006 and 2007, Gigi  comes for  workshops and trainings at Eschwege as well as pre-gathering workshop of the German speaking Vision Quest Guides Network Gathering in Bavaria (Ökologisches Tagungshaus Linden), invited by Haiko Nitschke.

January 2008, invited and organized by Gigi, Holger and Gesa Heiten, Marlow Hotchkiss comes to Europe, and offers workshops at the Eschwege Institute and in Vlierhof, Germany/Netherlands with Han Delissen and is present at the German speaking Vision Quest Guides Network Gathering in Bavaria.

One day approx. 12 Carriers of Council gather in the Upper Room (the Attic Meeting) of the Ökologisches Tagungszentrum Linden and said: YES WE WANT a European Council Network, independently from the Vision Quest Guides Network (among others with Xenia Richards, Susan Belz, Michael Eggarter, Gesa und Holger Heiten, Ulrich Imrich, Eva Attenberger, Christine Hofner, Silke Iacone, Reinhard Bielefeld). The idea to organize a Gardening Meeting to prepare the soil for the European Council Network came up.

April 2008 in Heiligenberg, Germany; the “Garden meeting” at Heiligenberg at Erika und Ulrich Imrich’s place – takes place. 15 Carriers of Council from Austria and Germany prepare the soil for the European Council Network. Meeting without the US Elders.

June 2008 in Eschwege Institute, Germany. Gigi together with Win Phelps offers the first  Mentoring workshop at the Eschwege Institut, for all who attended the Council workshops before. 23 participants from Austria, Germany, Switzerland, Ireland and the USA gather and the idea for a European Council Network emerges towards the end. A Team was created Reinhard Bielefeld, Rupert Weis and Sylke Iacone have been among them to organize the first steps. Holger who had organized this meeting so far, stepped back from organizing and handed over the address-list, to make it independent from the Eschwege Institut giving it into the hands of that team.

February/March 2009 ; 1st ECN, Ostermiething, Austria ; 11 Carriers of Council from Austria, Germany and Switzerland. It was decided to have a Website, a Keeper of Addresses and speak about a Financial Structure. Marlow and Gigi begin to serve as elders and one if not both together agree to attend future gatherings.

November 2009 ; 2nd ECN , Eschwege Institute, Germany ; 19 Carriers of Council from Austria, Germany, Israel, Palestine and the USA . Emergence of a vision, a purpose, a Circle of 5 and a financial structure. Members of the Circle of 5: Ronit Weintraub, Gesa Heiten, Reinhard Bielefeld, Kai Krüger, Anne Moseler

During the year: Translation of “The Way of Council” Book into German by Werner Pilz.

November 2010; 3rd ECN, Weggis, Switzerland; 15-20 Carriers of Council. Topics included the Facilitators/Trainers Path, how to be with money/funding, defining the tasks of a group to carry the netwrok thru the year, a Circle of 5, exploring further what an ECN Gathering is, creation of the ECN Decision Making Process. All important decisions for the Network will be taken together at the yearly Gathering. Skype Witnessing was initiated. Members of the Circle of 5: Ronit Weintraub, Gesa Heiten, Reinhard Bielefeld, Han Delissen, Tina Kansy

November 2011; 4th ECN, Wassergspreng, Austria ; 53 Carriers of Council. The Circle of 5 becomes a Spiral of 5 and therefore more open and in contact with the Network. The decision to establish a Foundation of the European Council Network is made. The first European Council Trainers are confirmed by a circle of their peers, plus Gigi Coyle and Marlow Hotchkiss as Elder Trainers: Katrin Lüth, Gesa Heiten, Holger Heiten, Han Delissen and Pippa Bondy. Members of the Spiral of 5 are nominated and self-selected: Han Delissen, Tina Kansy, Yvan Rytz, Rob Dreaming, Patrizia Nessmann. During the year: Confirmation of Anna Bianchi (UK), Penny McLellan (UK), Steve Oynett (UK – deceased) as Facilitators by Pippa Bondy.

November 2012; 5th ECN,

 

Council in the Netherlands

Bennekom, the Netherlands; 35 Carriers of Council. Yvan Rytz and Sylvia Koch-Weser are confirmed as European Council Trainers. The Foundation of the European Council Network is presented. It is based in the Netherlands and chaired by Gesa Heiten, Katrin Lüth and Han Delissen. Members of the Spiral of 5 self-selected: Han Delissen, Tina Kansy, Yvan Rytz, Rob Dreaming, Katja Rück/Patrizia Nessmann (part-time)

November 2013; 6th ECN, Athens, Greece; 42 Carriers of Council from 11 countries: Austria, Belgium, France, Greece, Germany, Holland, Israel, Sweden, Switzerland, UK, and US. Decision to fund one meeting for the Spiral of 5 up to 2000 Euros per year. Presentation of the European Council Network Foundation. Presentation of the Facilitator’s/Trainer’s path. Presentation of the purpose of the ECN (process started in Switzerland 2010). Rob Dreaming is confirmed as a European Council Trainer. Members of the Spiral of 5 self-selected: Tina Kansy, Yvan Rytz, Rob Dreaming, Linda Elias, Anna Wohlesser

November 2014; 7th ECN, Umbria, Italy;  45 Carriers of Council. Establishing of Working groups (Newsletter, Website, Facilitator’s Path, Regional Hubs, Finance, Network Structures, Media). Decision to try out for one year to handle financial matters in a Call and Response Mode. Members of the Spiral of 7: Linda Elias, Anna self-selected: Wohlesser, Michael Schmitt, Mafalda Morganti, Daniela Birschel and with Rowan Hotchkiss, Andrea Widegreen (part-time).  Marlow’s partner Leslie Roberts, joins him as Elder Trainers for this cycle. During the year: Confirmation of Heike Talea-Esch (Germany) as a Facilitator by Gesa Heiten.

November 2015; 8th ECN, Hejnice, Czechia; 65 Carriers of Council and 7 children from 15 different countries. Decision to keep the Call and Response Mode for financial matters within the ECN (Asking for “just enough“). Members of the Spiral of 5 self-selected: Linda Elias, Michael Schmitt, Mafalda Morganti, Jaroslava Vatay and Frederic Pjie. During the year: Confirmation of João Correia (Portugal), Thomas Anemos (Greece) as Facilitators by Rob Dreaming. Translation of “The Way of Council” Book into Czech.

November 2016; 9th ECN, Dobogoko, Hungary ; 48 participants and 5 children from 14 different countries. A process was engaged throughout the gathering to revisit the network structures. The decision was made to try for one year a structure based on the working groups  (Media, Finance, ECN Gathering, Trainers) and have a heartkeeper circle. Tina Kansy is confirmed as a European Council Trainer.

To ask when council practice first began in Europe, I hope, will remain a living question for all to continue to research, since the spirit of council has been in the land and hearts of its people since time immemorial. Part of the love of council is its discovery, again and again, in our bones, in our childhood, in the stories and dreams of each of our ancestors. And then there is the nature of council or council in nature, the mysterious stones which lie in unexplainable circles, the grasses that grow in circular patterns and the fish that swim around us in spirals.  What is this age-old, simplest of mysteries, the magic that happens when we sit in a circle, listening to all our relations, human and otherwise? What is the way, the root of this practice, that leads so many to feeling more connected and whole?

For the roots of council we ask that you look within yourself and the cultures around you.  For the lineage of council practice, a circle way with its own special forms, we offer some of what our story has been at the Ojai Foundation. Council has grown also, like individual blades of grass, sprouting from spending time on the land, time with children, time with elders and each other. From Founder Joan Halifax’s early days of calling us all together in a circle, and the circles Jack and I called time and time again, seeking guidance for a deeper listening and learning, a practice, a way of council arose.

On the back of that wild dragon that is the Ojai Foundation ridge top, those of us who came and stayed as stewards, as well as those of who came and went for over 40 years now, all had to learn how to be with the different seasons, different voices, different ceremonies, different cultures and races who came to visit, to teach, to offer their prayers and ceremonies for peaceful co-existence. It was the land itself, and this circle way, that both physically and metaphysically became our ground-of-being, our home and eventually our giveaway.

It has been said “all roads lead to one; we are one people, all with red blood, we are different yet the same, we are all human souls in bodies.“

This sense of oneness, however, is lost on many, given the wounds, the wars, the genocide, misunderstanding, misuse, imbalance and injustice in our world. It is one thing to speak the words and another to experience it in our hearts, in the center of our being. Council is one gateway, one place, wherein such empathy, such compassion, can be tasted, and perhaps embraced.

In Ojai, gathering in circles and together setting intentions, we listened and remembered a way of truly hearing and seeing each other; through council practice, we slowly re-learned to honor and respect our differences. In this way of intending, leanness, confidentiality, spontaneity, speaking and listening from the heart, we more often than not were able to return to an experience of our one human heart.

As many wise ones also say, nothing is truly ours unless we give it away. . . and even then nothing is ours alone. And so it was with a genuine feeling of cultivating gifts to be given away, that Jack Zimmerman and I began sharing council practice more widely in the mid 80’s. We developed trainings and opportunities to be guides, council facilitators, and even trainers of this very simple yet quite profound practice.

In the following years, when not at The Ojai Foundation, I was making journeys to the USSR as part of a citizen-diplomacy initiative.  Sitting in council circles with people of great heart that I met there, I confirmed—as I had throughout my international travel—the universality of us all, beyond our extraordinary difference.  I remember some KGB agents joining our full-moon circle in Kiev, perhaps on orders, but nonetheless fully present and engaged.  Stopping over, on every trip, in Great Britain and Germany, homes of my ancestors, I wondered again about the call of my people to come to the US and beyond.  And then to my surprise I found myself called back to Europe, almost every year for the past 10, learning more of my roots through a land and people there.

The first invitation to actually offer a training came in the early 90’s through founders of the Reiki Alliance in Holland. After that, invitations came to train people in Germany and then other doorways opened. It seems important to acknowledge Haiko Nitschke as one who lured me time and time again to the International Gathering of Wilderness Guides, who were then forming a network. It seems essential to acknowledge Gesa and Holger Heiten who lured me into calling a council in another such network meeting in South Africa where many were touched by the magic of this way. This is truly where the practice of council first took hold amongst some key members. Other invitations continued to come and I soon lured one of my primary partners in the US, Marlow Hotchkiss. At the Wilderness Guides Network meeting in 2004, he and others dreamed into the longing and possibility of a council network. I continued the next year to offer a training at Eschwege, joined by my husband and partner Win, at the end of which the first commitments were made to form the ECN network. Marlow came again the following year and very quickly became part of the emerging council family that was growing in Germany. We came as a duo, a team, as co-trainers, sometimes together, sometimes alternating years due to travel costs and commitments, and a desire to have apprentice co-leaders. Marlow later came with his partner Leslie, back and forth, each year for over many now, with the intention to seed council throughout Europe.  Our focus was on supporting Europeans to become trainers so we could step back and they could step forward and truly make it their own. And so they have.

As well, around this same time, Pippa Bondi was training in the US and bringing her magic back to her homeland of Wales. Also Leon Berg and Susanna Knittel were invited to Italy and Susanna shared the practice with others in Poland and Switzerland, while Leon and Caroline Willer started a group in Rosenheim, Germany.  Over the years we were able to pass the baton to what has grown into a strong body of eight trainers and a growing network of council carriers and facilitators.  Gatherings for those on the Path and those interested in becoming trainers, began in 2005.   The European Council Network (ECN) grew out of late night meetings at the wilderness guide trainings, and impromptu meetings at Eschwege in response to the longings for community so many of us share.  A community of shared practice has grown in Europe, inspired by a similar movement in the US. It has had its own guidance and leaders, and now Marlow and I with our partners Leslie and Win, as well as Joe Provisor (working to seed and support council in schools), have found a home at last in being mentors and “elders in training.”  These trainings continue for us all as a part of this long-distance village; one of the best options we know for healing a disconnected world. The practice is carried, the Path of Trainer and Facilitator is offered and Europe is now growing in parallel with the work in both the USA and the Middle East. Countries now with carriers include Austria, England, Wales, Greece, Germany, Czech Republic, Switzerland, Italy, Poland, Belgium, France, Hungary and Scotland.

I should mention that when I was initially asked for my mailing list for the first gathering, I mistakenly, and serendipitously, included council people from Israel and Palestine.  How perfect it was that they came bringing their experience and stories, their history and hearts, helping to catalyzing the healing still needed between peoples, land and nations.  And now some of them offer trainings in Europe as well as attend network meetings….the boundaries between all of us peoples and nations a bit less dominated by historical trauma.

The ECN reaches beyond many national borders into the hearts of people and places, as many travel to a Gathering – a  pilgrimage made to a different country each year.   And as the story began, so it goes on — the longings for seeing and being seen, the longings for truth, speaking the unspeakable, naming the wounds, finding and celebrating the connections and the home at the heart of the whole.  Now with enough people trained, the circles have their own ways of unfolding into the beauty of a shared practice today across many borders.

In the ECN History you will find a small “timeline” for those who are curious, knowing that one source or date for such a field-effect is almost impossible to track.  And yet we do so, knowing that learning our lineage, honoring it, and the many who have come before, is part of what we modern people seemingly need to learn.  Such maps and charts are not about egos or fame, nor assigning responsibility or blame.  We remember and tell the story time and again, so that the tree can continue to receive water through all of its roots, and so that the practice and its many branches can keep growing, and that eventually these roots in this ground will awaken us to the much larger web underneath it all. Please feel free to add your piece to the puzzle to help that tree continue to live on.

In this way, may our wounds of separation from the Whole be healed.

In gratitude,
Gigi (with Marlow)

Examples of places, organizations & communities where council has been offered, the practice remembered, seeded, adapted and/or embedded

Aboriginal Cultures throughout the world

Community-Based /Service Organizations/Social Profits

  • The Actor’s Gang
  • A New Way of Life
  • Anti-Recidivism Coalition
  • Community Coalition
  • Dignity and Power Now
  • El Centro Cultural de Mexico
  • Extraordinary Families
  • Vermont Adult Learning
  • Manitou Project
  • Heart of LA (HOLA)
  • Homeboy Industries
  • Inner Fire (Residential Healing Community)
  • LA Conservation Corps
  • MEND (Meeting Each Need with Dignity)
  • Para Los Ninos
  • Altadena/Pasadena Council for Reconciliation
  • Peace Over Violence
  • P.S. ARTS
  • SAY San Diego
  • TKF (Tariq Khamisa Foundation)
  • TreePeople
  • youTHink/Zimmer Children’s Museum
  • Wolf Connection
  • LA Gay & Lesbian Center/Lifeworks
  • Mixteco/Indigena Community Organizing Project
  • WINTER (Women in Non-Traditional Employment Roles)
  • SAJE (Strategic Action for a Just Economy)
  • Youth Mentoring Connection
  • Contra-Tiempo
  • San Gabriel Conservation Corps
  • Flintridge Center/Sustainable Pasadena Project
  • Public Works/Learning Works
  • Ventura County Social Justice Collaborative/One Step a la Vez
  • Homeboy Industries
  • Continuum Movement
  • MOSTE (Motivating our Students Through Experience)
  • Windhorse Integrative Mental Health
  • Heartwood Institute
  • Omega Institute
  • Eschwege Institute (Germany)
  • Passage Ways
  • Rites of Passage Journeys
  • Shaping New Worlds
  • Las Palomas de Taos
  • Esalen Institute
  • International Peace Initiatives IPI (Kenya)
  • Organic Technology Ext & Promotion of Initiatives Centre OTEPIC (Kenya)
  • St. Joseph’s Hospital
  • Kigali Genocide Memorial (Rwanda)
  • Wilderness Reflections
  • Amity Foundation
  • A Place Called Home
  • Tree People
  • Stepping Stones

Schools:

  • Naropa Institute
  • University of the West (University Chaplaincy Program)
  • Valley Oak Charter
  • Leelanau School
  • Waldorf Schools
  • Highland Hall
  • Pacifica Graduate Institute
  • Goddard College
  • Chico State University
  • Clark University
  • English Language Institute (Dominican Republic)
  • Marlboro College
  • Sonoma Academy
  • School for International Training (SIT Graduate Institute)
  • Butte College
  • Expedition Education Institute
  • Chewonki Foundation
  • Ventura College
  • School of all Relations (Greece)
  • Hotchkiss
  • Stevenson
  • 66th Street ES
  • Ambassador School for Global Education
  • Ambassador School for Global Leadership
  • Anacapa Middle School
  • Antonio Maria Lugo Academy
  • Archer School for Girls
  • ArTES High School
  • Aspire Firestone AcademyAustin Jewish Academy
  • Black Pine Circle School
  • Brawerman Elementary School
  • Brentwood Academy
  • Brightstar Secondary Charter Academy
  • California State University, Los Angeles
  • Campbell Hall
  • Camino Nuevo Burlington Charter
  • Camino Nuevo Sandra Cisneros Charter
  • Camino Nuevo Temple Charter High School
  • Carlson Home Hospital School
  • Canyon Charter Elementary
  • Cedars-Sinai Hospital Share and Care Program
  • Centennial High School
  • Crossroads School
  • Earhart High School
  • Early College Academy for Leaders & Scholars
  • Fenton Leadership Academy
  • Gardner Street Elementary
  • Georgia Avenue School (BC, Canada)
  • Goethe International Charter
  • Grand View Boulevard Elementary
  • Harvard-Westlake
  • Hollywood Media Arts Academy
  • iLEAD Charter
  • International Studies Learning Center
  • Ivanhoe Elementary
  • Jack London High and Community Day School
  • Katherine Michels School
  • Larchmont Charter Elementary
  • Larchmont Charter Middle School
  • Liechty Middle School
  • Los Angeles Academy of Arts and Enterprise
  • Los Angeles High School for the Arts
  • Luther Burbank Middle School
  • Malibu High School
  • Malibu Middle School
  • Manzanita School
  • Mar Vista Elementary
  • Mark Twain Middle School
  • Marlton School for the Deaf and Hard of Hearing
  • Milken Community School
  • Montessori of Ojai Elementary
  • Muse Academy
  • New Roads School
  • New Village High School
  • Ocean Charter Elementary & Middle School
  • Open Magnet Charter
  • Pacific Coast School (BC, Canada)
  • Palms Middle School
  • Palisades High School
  • Para Los Ninos
  • Pressman Academy
  • Revere Middle School
  • Rise Kohyang Middle School
  • Roosevelt Park Community School
  • San Diego Jewish Academy
  • Shalhevet High School
  • Social Justice Humanitas Academy
  • Studio School High
  • Stella Academy Middle School
  • Topanga Elementary
  • Valiente College Prep Charter Academy
  • Valor Academy High School
  • Valor Academy Middle School
  • Van Nuys High School
  • Vista Charter Middle School
  • Vista Charter Heritage Middle School
  • Walgrove Elementary
  • Webster Middle School
  • West Randall Elementary
  • Westchester Enriched Sciences Magnet High
  • Westwood Elementary
  • Wilshire Park Elementary
  • Wonderland Elementary

Prisons:

  • Wasco State Prison
  • Kern Valley State Prison
  • Pleasant Valley State Prison
  • Substance Abuse Treatment Facility
  • Avenal State Prison (two yards)
  • Calipatria State Prison
  • RJ Donovan State Prison
  • Lancaster State Prison
  • California City Correctional Facility
  • Correctional Institution for Men
  • Ironwood State Prison
  • Salinas Valley State Prison (two yards)
  • Pelican Bay State Prison
  • California Correctional Institute
  • High Desert State Prison
  • California Men’s Colony
  • Corcoran State Prison
  • Deuel Vocational Institution
  • Valley State Prison-Chowchilla
  • California Health Care Facility
  • Mule Creek State Prison

Businesses:

  • Xerox, Inc.
  • Motorola, Inc.
  • Therma, LLC
  • Bradley, Inc.
  • Moore, Inc.
  • Patagonia, Inc.
  • Lund Cadillac Dealership

Networks:

  • Threshold Foundation
  • Transition Towns
  • Bioneers
  • Wilderness Guides Council (US)
  • Wilderness Guides Network (EU)
  • European Council Network (EU)
  • Beyond Boundaries

Communities:

  • Rosewind
  • Valley Oaks Village
  • OUR Ecovillage (B.C. Canada)
  • Leben im Gemeinshaft (Austria)
  • Sirius Community
  • Cambium (Austria)
  • Sonnamoar-Hof (Germany)
  • Meinhard (Germany)
  • Findhorn Foundation (Scotland)

Governmental Entities:

  • Los Angeles Unified School District
  • Ventura Unified School District
  • Las Vegas City Council
  • Valley Oaks Village
  • Austrian Parliament (Austria)

Faith-Based Organizations:

  • Los Angeles Zen Center
  • Spirit Rock
  • Vipassana Santa Cruz
  • Pace e Bene
  • Illuman
  • Zen Center of Los Angeles
  • Zen Life and Meditation Center
  • Rinzai-Ji Temple
  • Upaya Zen Center
  • Plum Village (France)

 Nature-Placed Organizations, Communities, Alliances  and Networks

  • School of All Relations (Greece)
  • Eschwege Institute (Germany)
  • School of Lost Borders
  • Wilderness Guides Council
  • Weaving Earth
  • Beyond Boundaries
  • The Ojai Foundation
  • Nature Forest Therapy
  • Ancient Healing Ways (UK)
  • Council of All Beings