Hungry for a circle or simply Council Curious?

Meet in a circle of adults that’s different every month, shaped by who shows up, and what's present in our lives and in the world.  If you’re a council facilitator, let go of that role and be held by another, different container.  Or co-facilitate (see below) and hone your skills. If you know council in another setting – a school, a family, a business – see it anew as you sit with strangers or acquaintances who don’t know the old story you carry. It’s hard to explain council, right? Bring a loved one and let council unfold without description.

Drop-in Council is held on the second Thursday of the month, in Venice CA.

There is a no-pressure invitation to add currency to the Nicole Willett Memorial Council Financial Aid Fund, which is used to help those of limited means but unlimited dreams to be formally trained in council.

For more details, contact Kate.


october 12, 2019, VENICE, CALIFORNIA

Some people want to attend a council training – to learn how to be a facilitator of circles, start on the path to becoming a Council trainer or simply because they wonder what the fuss is about.

If you know what the fuss is about and are hungry to sit in more, longer, perhaps deeper councils – a council that goes more than one round, a council that doesn’t have to stop because time is up, a circle that honors the emergence of collective wisdom -- consider attending this day. We’ll spend our time exploring different Council forms, activities, openings, and closings, and we’ll deepen or begin new friendships. Sign up just to participate, sign up to facilitate the big circle or smaller circles, add your favorite activities to the agenda, or request council forms or games you’ve heard of and want to experience.

There will be games, walks, breaks and breakouts.

Council trainers attend free of charge. Those who have attended a Council training receive a 20% discount. Financial aid is available for those engaged in social justice work or public education.

 Hours: 10am – 6pm. Please bring a delicious potluck dish to share or a brown bag lunch.

Contact Kate with any questions.

Register here.



Imagine connecting your life – body and emotion, psyche and intuition, planning and principles, imagination and spirituality - to the properties, qualities, personalities and lessons of the four shields of human nature.  The shields correspond to the seasons, the directions and the developmental phases of a human life. We spend time each month in council, looking at how the shields that make up a "medicine wheel" are working us, what we can learn from them about ourselves and others, and how a new, yet very old perspective can be a compass point, a framework that can help make sense of our individual and collective journeys. 

This is a perfect introduction for those feeling a rites of passage program (vision fast) in their future or for those who have been initiated and need a reminder of who they have become. Embarking on this journey with others for a year-long cycle can also be a meaningful adventure for those ready to dive into nature-based personal reflection or simply desiring to take their council practice deeper.

We meet one Wednesday evening each month, with a medicine walk held each season on a Sunday morning. The group opens each summer for new participants and registration is then closed for the year.  There is a suggested donation for the 12-session series and nobody is turned away for lack of funds.  Participants must have participated in at least a level 1 Council training or have experience in an equivalent circle practice. Required reading: Either Bill Plotkin's "Wild Mind" and/or Stephen Foster and Meredith Little's "The Four Shields of Human Nature." (See resources page.)

Registration for the 2019 Wheel has now closed. Contact Kate for more information on joining this adventure in summer 2020. 



Are you council-trained and wondering what to do with it? Do you need practice before offering council in your neighborhood, at your kids' school, with your partner? This may be the time for The Facilitator Path. This offering will accelerate your confidence and skill to generate more circles - for connection, for contemplation, for support, for action, for understanding. Each month, you will be paired with a senior trainer to plan, set up, facilitate, close and debrief the Drop In Council that has convened in Venice for the past two decades on the second Thursday of the month. In a safe environment, and with guidance from the circle, you'll develop the readiness to bring your own circles into being. From time to time, appropriate handouts will be provided. Whether you want to start a book club or a knitting circle, a men's group or a social justice organizing team, build the muscle so that the council training you took isn't gathering dust on a shelf in your mind!

There is a suggested donation for one year of tuition and practice. Nobody is turned away due to lack of funds. Participants must have taken "Council 1: An Introduction to Council" or an equivalent circle practice training. Required reading: Jack Zimmerman and Virginia Coyle's "The Way of Council."  Contact Kate for more details or sign up here.


(On summer hiatus) venice, california

Grief is a natural and innate part of the human experience. Grieving is a skill – like a muscle - that when exercised and integrated into the whole becomes a source of strength and joy. In this way, our capacity to grieve is directly connected to our capacity to embrace a fully-embodied, loving life. This gathering is both for those who are actively grieving some form of loss and for those who are interested in expanding their grieving skills and learning how to better grieve in community. If you see how grief in our culture has become psychologized and pathologized, how some are more comfortable paying a stranger to receive their most intimate sorrows than they are sharing their grief in community, this time is for you.

In this time, we will simply be with grief in community - finding ways and practices to embody our own personal grief and our collective, planetary grief. Joining Kate in this practice is writer, dreamer, producer, artist and Earth activist, Dream Mullick. Dream’s initiation into grief started early, as a highly sensitive child, and continued in 2012-13 with the back-to-back deaths of her father and her husband - birthing an expanded relationship with death, grief and ritual. Contact Kate to be notified about early registration for this offering in the Fall, when we will continue an intimate conversation with grief, together in council, sharing our stories.


MOTHERS DAY WEEKEND, may 9 - 10, 2020, los angeles, CALIFORNIA

No other relationship comes close to the one we share with the woman or women who mothered us, or the daughter or daughters we mothered.  It has the potential to make or break us – often both at the same time. Generational differences separate us; familial similarities connect us. It’s a love that can be one of our greatest comforts, supporting us throughout our lives.

Using council practice as a foundation and through small and large group activities, we'll gain insight into the deeper conversations we long to have as we find ourselves and our familial relationships reflected in the stories of others. Come with your mother or mothers and/or daughter or daughters, or come alone to explore this beautiful, sometimes brutal, always essential dynamic!

Contact Kate to be notified about early registration in 2020.



I am not saying that we should love death, but rather that we should love life so generously, without picking and choosing, that we automatically include it (life’s other half) in our love … It is only because we exclude it that death becomes … foreign to us and, ultimately, our enemy -- RILKE

During this six-month-long council adventure, we will examine assumptions, face fears, consider cultural mores, discover attachments, explore suffering, uncover life’s meaning and ease the burden on those we love by documenting our wishes, revealing our ethics and philosophy on life, and making life-or-death decisions for ourselves. Along the way, we’ll learn how to adopt healthy practices for our families before and after death, and how to be midwives for loved ones facing transition.

Council training is a plus but not a prerequisite. An ever-evolving video/audio/reading resource list is available to registrants and the fee covers some materials and an honorarium for occasional guest speakers.


This program is on summer hiatus. To be notified about early registration in the Fall, please contact Kate.

A highly recommended adjunct to this program are the classes of Sacred Crossings, most especially “Enter the Grave.”


monthly in venice, california and on the l.a. urban fringe

Whether you felt already guided by soul or worried that you had no soul, this might have been the adventure for you. Each month, Soul Dive continued a journey to pay more attention to the voice of the soul as distinct from the clamor of ego or personality, to unearth our greatest gifts through the wisdom, ritual and support of a small but mighty council-based circle. Soul Dive was a collaborative effort between Kate Lipkis and Nicole Willett, her beloved friend, who died tragically on Labor Day, 2018. The above link to Nicki’s program will remain as long as her website is live. We miss your presence, Nic, though you live with us in a million wild and witty ways. We know your soul has chosen a bigger adventure.