The Council Ring


The Council Ring is an inviting place for children to gather. A circle is a shape that includes everyone and makes everyone equal. Children organized in a circle can see everyone’s face at the same time. Our Council Ring at PS84 is to encourage friendship, discussions, and peace.

A History of Council Rings

The Council Ring was the signature piece in many gardens designed by Jens Jensen, a mid-western garden Designer in Chicago in the early to mid 1900’s who collaborated with Frank Lloyd Wright and began the Prairie School of Landscape Design. He developed the theory of the Council Ring for many public parks and private estates.

If the Council Ring sounds like a Native American fire circle, it is because Jensen took his inspiration from the spiritual and ceremonial gathering places of the Plains Indians. In history, a circular gathering place around an open fire also goes back to the early tribal rituals of many other cultures.

The council ring was meant to inspire conversation, storytelling, drama, and even traditional singing around the campfire. In Jensen’s words from his book Siftings:

“In this friendly circle around the fire, [a person] becomes himself. Here there is no social caste. All are on the same level, looking each other in the face. A ring speaks of friendship and strength and is one of the great symbols of mankind.”

Here at PS84, we agree with Jensen’s passion for council rings and preserving native plants and habitat in our garden. Our very own garden designer, Paige Keck, believes that children need to interact with the natural world, in order to understand their place in it. She designed this garden for our children, where they can touch and learn, sit with friends in the Council Ring, and interact with the natural world. She chose native plants to enhance their experience, and understand their natural habitat. Jensen said and Paige agrees,

“A garden, to be a work of art, must have the soul of the native landscape in it.”

Do you think that our garden is a work of art? Please let us know in the comments.


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