CIRCLE, Inc. Organizational Structure
CIRCLE, Inc. was incorporated on October 12, 1994. As a New York not-for-profit corporation, CIRCLE, Inc. is governed by its Board of Directors, currently consisting of eleven members. The Board of Directors meets every other month to discuss the current activities of CIRCLE, Inc., plan future events and guide the growth and development of CIRCLE, Inc.’s membership, always keeping in mind the original vision of the organization to offer programs promoting a holistic view of self in relationship to community and environment as well as a sustainable future for humankind, all our relations, and Earth.
The Board of Directors elects the Officers to serve CIRCLE, Inc. and handle day-to-day business of the organization. These Officers include the President, Vice President, Treasurer, and Secretary. These Officers attend to the traditional functions generally associated with their office.
In addition, the Board of Directors appointed several committees to manage the affairs of certain activities of CIRCLE, Inc. that required special attention. These permanent committees include the following:
• The Scholarship Committee considers applications for work-scholarship funds to assist CIRCLE, Inc. members attend various activities throughout the year and grants work scholarships based on need as the Committee members determine.
• The Development Committee works to raise funds for CIRCLE, Inc. activities and seeks to develop alternative sources of funding whenever possible.
• The Women’s Council plans the activities of Women’s Circle, determines the calendar of events, and recruits different women to lead programs.
• The Yurt Keeping Committee takes care of the Yurt and attends to the details of keeping the Yurt clean, heating it during the winter for CIRCLE events and stocking the Yurt with wood, candles, and other necessary items.
We maintain an email list to which we send a quarterly newsletter with information on CIRCLE activities.
How CIRCLE Came To Be
The first formal gathering at 8042 Main St. Fishers occurred on the Harmonic Convergence in August of 1987. Heron Wind had attended a Bear Tribe Gathering in June and wanted to create a Medicine Wheel on the property. The dedication of that wheel took place on the Harmonic Convergence with 30 people in attendance. A fire was also lit at dawn to welcome the dawning of this new time.
In fall of 1988 Heron attended a workshop in Massachusetts with Brooke Medicine Eagle where she felt called to form a circle of eight people to practice community and to support her own spiritual growth. Brooke spoke there about how we cannot truly have peace in the world and form loving communities unless we can do that with eight people. If we can do that with eight then we can do it with eight more and so forth, but if we cannot do it with eight then there is no hope for the age of peace and love to truly manifest. Returning from that workshop, Heron called together four men and four women to meet monthly to work on both community and spiritual growth. Out of that group the name CIRCLE, standing for Community of Individuals Revisioning and Celebrating Life on Earth, was born.
In June of 1989, Heron attended a vision quest camp in Montana with Brooke Medicine Eagle. The following August she called together women she thought might be interested in a group to support women’s spiritual growth. While the group of four men and four women was still meeting, the focus seemed to be more social than spiritual and Heron was longing for the community she had found among the women she met in Montana. From the women who attended that first meeting, eight committed to meeting weekly in a closed group. They continued for a year, mostly in talking circle with some drumming and singing, meeting in various homes. At the end of that year, several people dropped out when the others wanted to do more ritual and ceremony.
With only a few women still attending, Heron opened the group to new members and they began meeting on the second and fourth Tuesday of each month around a fire in the 16 foot tipi or in Heron’s house. The focus became song, drumming, ceremony, sacred art, and spiritual discussion. The circle grew to more than eight and Heron considered splitting one group off to form two groups of eight. After several months of trying that arrangement it was clear that it wasn’t working well. At about that time, Heron received clear spiritual guidance that she was not to be concerned about number or who was coming – that was up to spirit – and if she turned away from one woman she was turning away from them all.
As the group grew, Heron attempted to shift planning and responsibility to a core group of women, but each time the next meeting was very low in attendance, including those who said they would help. Turning to spirit again Heron was told to just hold energy for the community that would form for as long as she needed to do so. As the group grew, the small tipi was outgrown and a larger one was ordered. Heron acquired the mother drum, She Calls, and the Solstice and Equinox celebrations began to include men and children. With the coming of age of her partner Paul’s daughter and the daughter of one of the circle women, the first rite of passage celebration for young women took place.
While the women’s circle had grown and the community was forming, Heron began to look for land to support the holistic educational interests of those involved as well as a possible intentional living community. When 350 acres of land was located near Springwater, she quickly formed CIRCLE into a non-profit educational organization incorporated in NY and applied for federal 501c3 status. The original board of directors were Heron, Margaret Lavelle, Carol McCoon, Paula deChelly, and Deb Ashley. They all looked at the land and developed a lease with an option to buy proposal which was sent to the owners. The plans were to put a yurt on the land that already had a small house and three cabins. Not long after the agreement was sent to the owners, someone else bought the land.
Disappointed but knowing that spirit doesn’t always work in straight lines, Heron was looking for other options when Paul suggested that she put a yurt in the lawn until other land could be located. She immediately went to the bank to get a loan and ordered the yurt. In December of 1994 the first official yurt function was the Winter Solstice celebration. Beginning in the Winter of 1994, a quarterly newsletter was published, more frequent workshops were offered, and we began to celebrate the eight Earth holidays, Solstices, Equinoxes, and cross-quarter days of Candlemas, May Day, Lammas, and Halloween. In 1995 the Grandmother Lodge began meeting once a month and in 1996 the Maiden Circle began. A Men’s Circle began about the same time and a Young Braves Circle was offered beginning in 1998. A community Healing Circle began meeting once a month in 1998 as well. The fall of 1999 brought together a group of young maidens (2-5 years) and mothers have begun to meet as well. In the Fall of 2000 Medicine Societies began to form.
Special camps and retreats for the community have also begun. Initially Changing Woman Camps were held starting in 1996 to provide opportunities for women to experience vision questing. In the summer of 1998 was the first Maiden Camp to be followed in 1999 with the Maiden and Teen Camp and the Family Camp. The first Moon Lodge Retreats were held for older girls and their mothers in the Spring of 1999.
The purchase of fifty acres of land in Dansville in April of 2000 provided the opportunity for vision quest camps and workshops as well as camping and day use for members. A women’s and men’s vision quest camps were held there each Summer and Fall. A turtle shaped pavilion, constructed in the summer of 2002, supported theses activities. The land, named Shequaga after the Seneca word for tumbling waters, had a sixty-foot waterfall nearby and a trout stream, a spring fed pond, and lots of wonderful wildlife. There are many wonderful memories from our time in caretaking Shequaga. It became clear in 2012 that we no longer had the person power to maintain the facility and sold it to a group that does a Christian camp for needy children. We left Harvey, the buffalo that hangs in the North of the Turtle, in charge of the next phase of Shequaga's mission.
Contributions from those who attend CIRCLE functions fund the ongoing programs, pay for maintaining the yurt, and other operating expenses..