Council Session


Join with fellow Bioneers in council, to explore this question: “How do we respond now, in these times, with our continued prayer and action to engage in the healing of ourselves, our relations with others and this Earth?” The circles offered will be identity-based and/or multicultural, multigenerational — all identities welcome — sessions to ask questions, listen deeply, share story, bear witness to changing times, and weave the world anew. Join for one day, or, ideally, join the same group each day in an arc of inquiry. On the fourth day, all participants will meet in one large circle, with the hosts centered, offering community witness, insights and highlights from the circles.

Bioneers 2020 will feature a variety of circle ways, including Talking Circles and the practice of council. The heart of these practices – listening, learning, living and thinking like a circle – are needed now, more than ever in our nation and around the world.

We envision these circles as spaces where people can gather for deep listening and emergent wisdom. Each circle will provide an opportunity to sit with others and share perspectives arising through this time of so much change and challenge. Our intent in centering identities is not to create separation, but instead to invoke wholeness and healing, through respecting the pluralism of experiences that coexist. Group sizes will vary as will circle forms, all with shared intention to speak and listen from the heart, one at a time. Bearing witness is essential in this practice and many may choose not to speak, instead offering their presence as participation. We will provide a space for being present with what is invoked in this time, and exploring our commitments to weave the fabric of the future. 

Sessions will be co-hosted by experienced circle holders, traditional peoples and practitioners, including Ilarion Merculieff, Aleut traditional messenger; Sharon Shay Sloan, co-director of The Ojai Foundation; and Gigi Coyle of Beyond Boundaries.

Ilarion Merculieff
Sharon Shay Sloan
Gigi Coyle

“Circle is both an ancient way and a modern practice whose roots are found within the natural world, within diverse cultures, and in contemporary organizations. Circles have been called, inspired and informed by many cultures over time, with the aim of healing, learning, growing and transforming. Many people have forgotten how to listen, speak and co-create across divergent experiences. It seems no accident that circle practices have emerged, been remembered and reclaimed over and over again on different continents amongst different cultures and are reemerging as essential in modern times. From families to communities to schools to restorative justice to workplaces, circle practices are helping reshape how we relate to each other, in both new and old ways. 

As pressures increase on all life systems, including human communities, we need to shift our consciousness to negotiate an unknown future. The collective wisdom found in circle is key to this process. By removing the social barriers that keep us separate, circle both honors our differences and elicits the kind of listening that brings instant recognition that we are all, in fact, related.”

~ Gigi Coyle, Ilarion Merculieff & Sharon Shay Sloan


How do we respond now, in these times, with our continued prayer and action to engage in the healing of ourselves, our relations with others and this Earth?

  • Indigenous 
  • BIPOC and Mixed Race 
  • LGBTQ+ and Gender Non-Binary 
  • Women and Female-Identified 
  • Men and Male-Identified 
  • White and White-Passing
  • All Identities Welcome 
  • All Identities Welcome, with Intergenerational emphasis on Youth & Elders

Guides for our Council/Talking Circle Sessions

Indigenous: Jeannette Armstrong, Marlowe Sam, Paloma Flores

BIPOC and Mixed Race: Brendan Clarke, Luis Rodriguez, Ladybird Morgan

LGBTQ+ and Gender Non-Binary: Kristin Rothballer, Shlomo Pesach

Women and Female-Identified: Anita Sanchez, Pat McCabe, Samara Gaev

Men and Male-Identified: Jerry Tello, Will Scott

White and White-Passing: Dave Hage, Libby Roderick, Justine Epstein

All Identities Welcome: Ilarion Merculieff, Sharon Shay Sloan, China Soriano 

All Identities Welcome, with Intergenerational emphasis on Youth & Elders: Gigi Coyle, Orland Bishop, Tokata (Future) Iron Eyes

Council Guides

Jeannette Armstrong
Associate Professor
UBC Okanagan
Orland Bishop
Founder and Director
ShadeTree Multicultural Foundation
Brendan Clarke
The Ojai Foundation
Gigi Coyle
Beyond Boudaries
Paloma Flores

San Francisco Unified School District’s Indian Education Program
Samara Gaev
Founder and Artistic Director
Truthworker Theatre Company
Dave Hage
Weaving Earth Center for Relational Education
Ladybird Morgan
Co-Founder and Executive Director
The Humane Prison Hospice Project
Libby Roderick
Difficult Dialogues Initiative
Kristin Rothballer
Senior Fellow
Center for Whole Communities
Will Scott
Co-Founder and Facilitator
Weaving Earth Center for Relational Education
Sharon Shay Sloan
Ojai Foundation

Jerry Tello
Director of Training and Technical Assistance
National Compadres Network

Bioneers 2020 Conference - Beyond the Great Unraveling: Weaving the World Anew
Bioneers 2020 Conference - Beyond the Great Unraveling: Weaving the World Anew