Council in Community
People today use the word community to mean so many different things from intentional communities, to an everyday “ordinary” town or village, to a community making up an organization, a place, or a race, to the community of all our relations. Given these wide definitions, it is best to say council as a practice has been shared and expressed in each and every kind of community since the 80’s and long before then in a mixture of ancient circle ways. Communities we have served include schools and universities, service and social profit organizations, local towns and villages, intentional communities, prisons and halfway houses, hospitals and healing centers, networks and eco-villages, spiritual and religious communities, and even yes, some businesses and/or corporations who became more like communities after time with council.
This practice grew out of an ever-changing community of leaders and volunteers, a learning community at the Ojai Foundation of participants and teachers from different cultures, interactions and inspirations with indigenous peoples. Council was and is found throughout the Earth-cherishing traditions and organically became essential to those who were committed to the relationship and stewardship of the TOF land in the early 80’s. To stay with love and care on this ridge-top called by geomancers the “back of the dragon,” council became the primary way of connection and communication. This is important to name as it is not some technique imported from some other culture but more something that grew thru a shared vision, shared time and shared stewardship of place. Today, it is still the core practice offered there amongst a next generation of staff and stewards, inspired by the continuity of a TOF Elders Council that still shows up in different ways to ensure the continuation of TOF.
Yet council as a way is not limited to one place or one land or one peoples. Its roots are found world round and within each person. It is a common and simple way adapted to the place and peoples to become what serves life. “Council in community” is almost the very definition of what council is all about. Council is part of inspiring, living and working as community. It is in council where we can learn to see thru the eyes of another as well as practice how to tell the truth with compassion, how to say the good things as well as the hard things to those with whom we live.
There can be many uses and intentions of council within a community that include deepening and even healing of relations, visioning and decision – making . Governance thru council is an art in and of itself and can be used in a hierarchical structure to ensure all voices as heard as well as in a consensus way. Learning the practice and having agreements around its use is key to sustainable systems while living the spirit of council in a community is key to an awakened and connected life.
The practice of council has been carried and offered in many places around the world by the TOF elders council over all of these years as well as by an extended community of over 75 trainers and many more facilitators within the USA, Europe, Africa, the Pacific, the Middle East, Central and South America and Australia. It is offered primarily thru courses as well as learned thru the embodiment of many individuals touched by their experience. We have been bearing witness to ever increasing weaving of communities sharing their knowledge and ways ie. networks and alliances like Global Eco Village, Youth Passageways and Beyond Boundaries are but a few examples. Today there are many who long for community in our busy high-tech world as well as in our most remote isolated places…the call for circle, the call for experience of and “training” in this practice grows as we return to some of the very basics of restoring relations with all peoples and all of life. It is best to look in all of the sections on this site – and discover the old and new communities of council, to find it still alive with First Nation peoples , to find it with each of our ancestors, as well as in schools, in prison, in business and in families. Councils are being created, called and practiced in communities that are place based as well as those that form for short periods of time on the internet. As our ability to connect speeds up over great distances, our longing for a saner, more heart centered world leads many to reach out.