Been quiet here the last couple of weeks but not in my life. Two weeks ago I visited The Shire near Yarmouth, Nova Scotia to teach with Toke Moeller, Sera Thompson and Tim Merry in the Art of Hosting. It was a beautiful time, working on the land, working with people from Yarmouth, Montreal and the eastern US who are doing deeply important work with youth, food and community. And it was great working with my mates.
A couple of pieces have showed up around the web about this training. Here is a post from Brian Hurlburt, a truly generous soul in Yarmouth who hosts web sites for community groups:
The Art of Hosting training is open to leaders, managers, teachers and pioneers from all walks of life who want to see and act from a new perspective on leadership that sets free one another’s creativity and intelligence. Helping those who want to learn to lead without being possessive, to help without taking credit, to let go in order to achieve more for the common good.
This practice may well require a shift in our thinking and ways of doing things, however since having left the Shire I’ve had more meaningful conversations with my family, friends, and associates! The exclamation point is purposely used because I’ve been to these types of things before; you know those leadership getaways where you get all fired up and then when you leave and return to reality your left with an empty useless feeling! This was totally different!
What I learned there, and what I experienced there was real, meaningful, and lasting! Easily applied in the real world and very affective and effective! In fact I find myself having more meaningful conversations without even trying!
No that’s powerful, when a way of doing things becomes a practice that becomes a natural way of doing things and can be applied in meaningful ways in daily life the course / conference becomes one that will benefit anyone who is open to it and makes themselves available to attend.
It was also great to see Rob Paterson there, who has been recently investigating the nature of “trusted space” on his blog and who found something in what we were talking about to animate those spaces. In the Art of Hosting, we use the term “fellowship” to describe our way of working together and we often refer to each other as “mates.” In talking with others, like Peggy Holman, the word “communitas” is another way of describing it, in perhaps a less gendered way. Regardless, this is a deep form of organizational structure and Toke, Tim, Sera, Rob and I along with others explored this deeply at The Shire.
Essentially, as Rob put it:
I am still amazed that I can know someone I have never met so well. I am not alone in going to work, as I did with Johnnie Moore, on a very dangerous piece of work with a person that I had never met before. There is some weird property of the web that enables Mates to notice the connection. Cyn has helped me overcome my fear of using my body and has put me on a path to keep healthy and fit. She lived only a mile away but we met for years online. Chris arrived at the Shire never having met Tim before. I came to the Shire because of Chris’ request knowing that it would be great. I have only met Chris once before. Many of you have similar stories about finding ‘Mates” in the ‘sphere. I find no separation in these relationships. Reputation is critical in this world…Fellowship is when Mates decide to do the world’s great work together. There is great work to be done that requires exceptional courage and often more than a lifetime to accomplish.
I think that is a lovely description, and it certainly validates my experience of working deeply with others, connected over long distances, engaged in the work of making good in the world. You probably have your own example of this type of organizing and working together. You work on a simple but mammoth task together, not tied to timelines or outcomes but simply knowing that one another are behind you. It is the shape of a circle moving outward from it’s centre, the essential shape of the expansion of the universe. We remain connected in our origins and our committment, and even over vast distances, we seem able to sense what the others are doing, and know when help is needed.
So, I’m curious, what is your mammoth task? And who are your mates? How is your fellowship working?
If you would like to explore more of this way of working, and the role that meaningful conversation plays in it, there are two Art of Hosting trainings coming up this fall. Here on Bowen Island, British Columbia, Tenneson Wolf, Brenda Chaddock, Teresa Posakony and me are hosting a gathering September 24-27, and there is still space. Sera Thompson will be hosting a gathering with Toke and Tim in Boulder Colorado.
[tags]Art of Hosting, Toke Moeller, Tim Merry, Sera Thompson, Rob Paterson[/tags}