near Diest Belgium
Over the past two days I really discovered in myself the essence of the Art of Hosting. There has been a commitment here to searching for another level of the Art of Hosting as a practice, a community of people and as a teaching offering. Some of these conversations have felt more or less important to me but, if it is one think I have discovered for myself, it is that the Art of Hosting is actually the Art of the Open Heart, and in this deeper conception of the practices, I have discovered what it means to truly become a defender of the territory of the open heart, in service of the emergence which flows from open heartedness.
Our second day began with us returning to the pattern that we saw the day before, with the tarot cards. We were invited to spend a solid amount of time actually finding ourselves physically within each of the five stations of the Celtic cross pattern. Our host at Heerlijckyt, Lieven, led us through a process of creating a constellation, a process which is alive here in Belgium. This process resulted in us finding ourselves in relation to a small group of other people who were themselves in relation to the whole pattern. After twenty minutes of finding our place, we entered into conversations with those around us around the questions of why we were in the places we chose, what we have to offer from the whole and what we have need of from the whole.
I found myself in a group of five mates who were very close to the centre space, which represented the present. We were also oriented a little towards the side of what is not visible in the pattern, the pain that is in the community. From here we identified the need for a place of pure practice and a longing for mateship to support us in our work of facing the pain and helping healing. It’s difficult to talk about this exercise without getting into the detail of all of the relationships between the constellations of people in the room, but that was the essence.
Following that process, we entered into Open Space. I attended three sessions in Open Space, all dealing with different inquiries about what the Art of Hosting could become.
The first session was called by Monica Nissen and looked at the role of the Art of Hosting in facilitating long term social change. We looked at the work that is happening in Columbus, in the health care system in Wiltshire, UK and in our work with VIATT on Vancouver Island. We looked at the patterns of what happens as a calling group notices the deep need in a place, and comes together to embody the call by committing to hold the presence that is required to allow self-organization to take over at the level of projects, structure or action. We talked a great deal about the role of harvesting in this conversation as well, as it is good harvest and meaning making that allows a group to see how things are changing and to continue to keep the calling group in deep commitment to one another.
In the second open space session I attended, called by Toke, we looked what the Art of Hosting might be if we were a dojo, a place of training in martial arts. Many of us who work with the patterns of the Art of Hosting (it is really only a pattern and not a thing itself) feel the need to train in some core capacities that we can also teach to others. In fact it is these core capacities that lie at the essence of the Art of Hosting. To me, it is these five things that we really teach.
The five things are generosity, teaching, learning, friendship and courage. These five core capacities lie at the centre of our practice and there is a sense that the Art of Hosting is a dojo where we come and train these capacities in services of life and emergence in organizations and communities. I returned personally to these five capacities on day three.
The final open space session was one I convened on the Art of Governance. This has been a question that for me that is really important, arising out of conversation we had in April in Columbus Ohio where we deeply investigated the fifth organizational paradigm that transcends the combination of circle, hierarchy, bureaucracy and network that are present in the world right now. Thinking about what governance means in this context is very important, and I have a real need for learning on this topic as it is core to our work on Vancouver Island, where we are building community circles as a formal part of the work of implementing VIATT.
In this session, we began by noticing a very simple pattern about the art of governance. Toke spoke clearly that the art of governance was based on the three legs of leadership, structure and decision making. These areas are completely connected. Without attending to leadership and structure, decision making becomes superficial and pettiness enters it. Good leadership and decision making contribute to accountable and effective structure. Good structure and decision making demands refined and skillful leadership. When these three pillars are attended to, it is possible to go very deep into the art of governance. For me, what is clearly an edge is finding good decision making models especially for decisions that are “legal” as opposed to “social.” This is an edge.
Tom Hurley suggested we close this session by imagining that each person in the circle was a member of the community circles we are forming on Vancouver Island. From that place, people imagined what they would need from us at VIATT. I got some very practical and useful information from that exercise and will use that exercise with VIATT to presence our future when I am next with the organization.
At the conclusion of the open space, we returned to our meeting room to reoccupy the pattern and harvest the experience of our day in relation to the constellations that formed in the morning. That exercise concluded with a question about the pain and fear that lay in the shadow of our work and that is where we began day three.