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Our Values

The mission of Circle Pines is to promote peace, social justice, environmental stewardship and cooperation. The Center aims to demonstrate cooperative alternatives for economic and social issues and to teach cooperation as a way of life.

History of Circle Pines


Circle Pines Founded

Circle Pines Center began in 1882 with the Central States Cooperative League, which met at the Ashland Folk School of Grant, Michigan. The school offered a meeting place for people to attend conferences, retreats, and institutes on economic reform, peace education, and the growing cooperative movement. The summer school program at Ashland drew people from all cooperative sectors, who shared vital information about strengthening their co-ops, building the movement, and creating a better world. Families also went there to play together and to find joy and purpose in cooperative recreation.


Stewart Farm Purchased

After 60 years of use the co-op had outgrown the folk school building, and in 1940 the Stewart Farm was purchased.  A Quaker work camp helped to ready the site that first summer and the next year people were able to gather at their own cooperatively-governed Center. The mission today is what it was then – to show the “superior advantages of cooperation as a way of life.”


Growth Continues

Over the next two decades, Circle Pines flourished as a folk school and family camp.  


Civil Rights and Peace Activism

The turbulence of the 60’s saw many CPC’ers involved in the Civil Rights movement and Vietnam era anti-nuclear peace movements – some as activists, some as observers, some even as veterans – but all were concerned.  

Growing Environmental Interests


The 21st century has seen an acceleration of the ongoing interest of the CPC community in the environment while strengthening links with the movement for natural foods and organic gardening.


All are welcome

Today people of different ideologies and religious beliefs are able to find common ground and work together in a non-judgmental environment where the dignity and worth of each individual is respected and valued. Our Circle Piners are active in many social, educational, and political activities and are still creating the history of the Center.

Our Team

Sasha Ospina

Center Director

Gerardo Reyes

Kitchen Manager


Mike Evans

Public Relations Coordinator

Mike has been a neighbor to Circle Pines for 15 years and has served on the Buttermilk team from year one. In 2011, Mike, who owns a pottery studio with his wife Christyl, gathered a collaborative of local folks to create a backroads tour of art, food, and farms called Arts & Eats.  Mike and Christyl have three goats (including Widget-formally of CPC), any number of chickens, a cow, and a daughter named Jonah. All are humanely raised.

Iris Frerridge

Kitchen Coordinator

Iris, first came to Circle Pines in the spring of 2015 after finding a flyer for CPC at the East Lansing Food Co-op. Iris fell in love with the people on her first visit. Iris and her family live in Haslett, MI, near Lansing. She runs the CPC kitchen as a volunteer for most of our events. Iris is a skilled chef and has a background in both nursing and police work. She enjoys running, dancing, and crocheting.

Isabelle Stamler-Goody

Summer Camp Co-Director

Sonya Ochshorn

Summer Camp Co-Director

Danielle Hoskins-LaJoye

Buttermilk General Coordintaor

Danielle first came to Circle Pines in 2010 as a First Aid Instructor for the Summer Camp staff and fell in love (with CPC). She has continued to offer safety training for staff in the summers and has been an integral part of the Buttermilk planning team since the very beginning. For many years, Danielle has been part of festivals and events throughout Michigan, as an attendee, volunteer, and an organizer. She also spent many years working with the YMCA as an Aquatics/Waterfront Director, and shares with CPC her expertise with risk assessment, licensing, and waterfront operations. Passionate about music, summer camp, and CPC, and with experience and enthusiasm for running events, Danielle has become a valuable resource, as well as a welcoming, smiling face with the Buttermilk Jamboree. She lives locally with her husband Tony, and her son David, raising dairy goats, pigs, turkeys, and chickens. She is currently working on her Masters in the Practice of Teaching in Early Childhood with Western Michigan University. Danielle enjoys kayaking, working with animals, swimming, lifeguarding, watching David play soccer, camping, playing the trombone, and making jewelry.

Circle Pines Center Board of Directors

  • President: Meryl Domina
  • Vice President: Larry Merlau
  • 2nd Vice President: Gary McClelland
  • Treasurer: Judith Transue
  • Co-Secretary: Jack Gordon
  • Co-Secretary: Howard Ehrman
  • Jim Bates
  • Christyl Burnett
  • Robin Connell
  • Derek Freridge
  • Al Heystek
  • Deb Rauens
  • Alternate: Maiya Merrick
  • Alternate: Randy Spray
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