Stone circles

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"We started in 1995 out of Durham’s Community Youth Cooperative, a space for youth-led nonprofits that was getting off the ground. In the first few years, we learned a great deal about spiritual practice for activists through the First, Second and Third Circles – groups who participated in regular reflection. Early on, stone circles also convened numerous workshops and trainings across the country on the links between spirituality and social justice, usually as part of larger conferences based on activism or community service. By the late 90’s we were spending more time on the road, initiating dialogue, building skills and supporting leaders in their own transformation.

"We recognized that working with individuals was not enough. In 2000 we shifted some of our attention towards training that could impact the broader culture of social change organizations. The organization piloted new forms like the Ripples Training (in partnership with Leigh Morgan and Cara Page) and worked with organizations like North Carolina Public Allies to shift practice over a period of time [case study coming soon].

"The Spiritual Activist was published by PenguinCompass in 2002 and created new opportunities to expand the work through readings and daylong workshops with partner organizations. The range of the constituency broadens considerably, particularly apparent in one trip that includes a keynote at the Global Business Network annual forum immediately followed by a plenary session for 400 Native-American cancer survivors in New Mexico.

"In 2003 stone circles convened its first national leadership gathering at the Rigmor House (just 5 miles away, it would turn out, from The Stone House); it was our first effort to organize and build the field and it brought together allies we continue to work with presently, including the Center for Contemplative Mind in Society, Center for Transformative Change, and Movement Strategy Center.

"Shortly thereafter we created the stone circles Fellowship to support seven national leaders in spiritual activism and foster collaboration between them. These fellows – still some of our closest allies – represent diverse and vital institutions: Kenny Bailey, Design Studio for Social Innovation (Boston, MA), Arrington Chambliss, Episcopal Diocese (Boston, MA), Simon Greer, Jewish Funds for Justice (New York, NY), Albino Garcia, La Plazita Institute (Albuquerque, NM), Scott Pryor (Austin, TX), angel Kyodo williams, Center for Transformative Change (Oakland, CA), and shash yahzi, Spirit in Motion (Oakland, CA).

"In 2005 we piloted retreat-based programming in a social justice context. Our first few “Being Change” retreats were held at the Vallecitos Mountain Refuge in New Mexico. Click here for a short video to learn more about our philosophy around retreats.

"We also convened a second much larger field-building event at the Garrison Institute in Garrison, NY, “Spiritual Activism: Claiming the Poetry and Ideology of a Liberation Spirituality.” The full report on that gathering is here: Garrison Gathering Report-2005.

"Among other outcomes, the event began to define a collective theory of change and planted the initial seeds of the Seasons Fund for Social Transformation.

"Working in a coalition of practitioners from a range of spiritual and cultural traditions, we created a Healing and Spiritual Practice Space at the 2007 United States Social Forum in Atlanta, GA. Over 500 activists participated in workshops, for meditation, yoga, healing arts, and ceremony from many traditions. Here’s the report on that: USSF07 report

"And that same year, we visited a little piece of land in Mebane that was then called “The Human Kindness Foundation”… We moved onto this land in September, 2007." (video documenting this move received funding from the Ford Foundation) [1]


Accessed June 2013: [2]


Accessed June 2013: [3]

The following people are among those who serve as valued sources of counsel for our work:

Deep gratitude to the following community members who serve in an advisory capacity along with board and staff on committees:





“Spiritual Activism: Claiming the Poetry and Ideology of a Liberation Spirituality.” (2005) participants [1]

  • William Aal - Principal Associate, Tools for Change, Seattle WA
  • Daniel “Nane” Alejandrez - Executive Director, Santa Cruz Barrios Unidos, Santa Cruz CA
  • Rachel Bagby - Artist and Composer, Philadelphia PA
  • Kenneth Bailey - Co-founder, Design Studio for Social Intervention, Boston MA
  • Rev. H. Ryûmon Gutiérrez Baldoquín - Soto Zen Priest, Consultant and Trainer, San Francisco CA
  • Terrice Bassler Koga - Director of Education Program Support, Open Society Institute; Ljubljana, Slovenia and Sacramento CA
  • Donna Bivens - Co-Director, Women’s Theological Center, Boston MA
  • Tara Brown - Director, Hidden Leaf Foundation, Occidental CA
  • Bridgette Burge - Consultant, Knightdale NC (event coordinator)
  • Omisade Burney-Scott - Consultant, Ananse Consulting, Durham NC
  • Mirabai Bush - Executive Director, Center for Contemplative Mind in Society, Northampton MA
  • Tom Callanan - Program Officer, Fetzer Foundation, Kalamazoo MI
  • Andre Carothers - Executive Director, Rockwood Leadership Program, Berkeley CA
  • Rev. Arrington Chambliss - Assistant Rector, St. Andrew’s Episcopal Church, Marblehead MA
  • Lisa Charley - Spirit in Motion Fellow, Movement Strategy Center, Oakland CA
  • Stosh Cotler - Training and Leadership Project Director, Jewish Funds for Justice, New York NY (documentation team)
  • Rabbi Rachel Cowan - Director, Institute for Jewish Spirituality,
  • Bryan Donnell - Director of Photography, Los Angeles CA (documentation team)
  • Maia Duerr - Executive Director, Buddhist Peace Fellowship, Berkeley CA
  • Albino Garcia, Jr. - Executive Director, La Plazita Institute, Albuquerque NM
  • Simon Greer - Executive Director, Jewish Funds for Justice, New York NY (stewardship group)
  • Raquel Gutiérrez - Consultant, Tempe AZ (facilitator)
  • Kaliya Hamlin - Co-Founder, Integrative Activism, Berkeley CA
  • Claudia Horwitz - Director, stone circles, Durham NC (stewardship group)
  • Taj James - Director, Movement Strategy Center, Oakland CA
  • Krishna Kaur - Founder, Your Own Greatness Affirmed (Y.O.G.A. Inc.), Los Angeles CA
  • Will Keepin - Executive Director, Satyana Institute, Clinton WA
  • Ian Koebner - Director, Sacred Slam, Holyoke MA
  • Reverent Pacogenkoji Lugovina - Dharma Holder, Zen Peacemaker Order, Bronx NY
  • Ng'ethe Maina - Director of Training and Education, Jobs with Justice NY, New York NY
  • Michele McDonald - Teacher, Insight Meditation Society and Vipassana Hawaii; Barre MA and Honolulu HI
  • Marie Morohoshi - Communications Steward, New Dharma Meditation Center for Urban Peace, Oakland CA (documentation team)
  • Melissa O'Neil - Activist, Tulsa OK (documentation team)
  • Neelam Pathikonda - Organizing Director, Silicon Valley Toxics Coalition, Oakland CA
  • Rob Peagler - Co-founder, Design Studio for Social Intervention, Boston MA (documentation team)
  • john A. powell - Director of Kirwan Institute for the Study of Race and Ethnicity, Ohio State University, Columbus OH
  • Raúl Quiñones-Rosado - Co-Director, Institute for Latino Empowerment, Caguas, Puerto Rico
  • Michael Regan - Consultant and Facilitator, Taos NM (facilitator)
  • María I. Reinat-Pumarejo - Co-Director, Institute for Latino Empowerment, Caguas, Puerto Rico
  • David Rome - Senior Vice President, Planning, Greyston Foundation, Yonkers NY; Senior Vice President of Programs, Garrison Institute, Garrison NY
  • Rose Sackey-Milligan - Social Justice Program Director, Center for Contemplative Mind in Society, Northampton MA (stewardship group)
  • David Sawyer - Consultant and Executive Coach, Context, Portland OR
  • Adam Seligman - Professor of Religion, Boston University, Boston MA
  • Esmeralda Simmons - Founder, Center for Law and Social Justice, Brooklyn NY
  • Rabbi Felicia Sol - Rabbi, B’nai Jesherun Congergation, New York NY
  • Alta Starr - Program Officer, Ford Foundation, New York NY (previously with the New World Foundation)
  • Linda Stout - Executive Director, Spirit in Action, Belchertown MA
  • Cynthia Suarez, Training Director, Northeast Action, Jamaica Plain MA (documentation team)
  • Jacques Jean (J.J.) Tiziou, Photographer, Philadelphia PA (documentation team)
  • Jesse Maceo Vega-Frey, Program Consultant, stone circles, Holyoke MA (stewardship group)
  • Omar Wasow, Executive Director,, Brooklyn NY
  • angel Kyodo williams, Spiritual Director, New Dharma Meditation Center for Urban Peace, Oakland CA (stewardship group)
  • Thomasina Williams, Program Officer, Governance and Civil Society, Ford Foundation, New York NY

Funders [2]

(*indicates current funders (**denotes Funds with the Triangle Community Foundation



Resources and articles

Related Sourcewatch


  1. Stones circle History, organizational web page, accessed June 17, 2013.
  2. Stones circle Board, organizational web page, accessed June 17, 2013.
  3. Stones circle advisors, organizational web page, accessed June 17, 2013.