I think it’s important to note that there is no research on “the art of hosting” that we know of but that there is much research out there in the world on what it is that we are working with and trying to evoke. One of the problems, as we are seeing in this thread, is that we don’t have the language or the conceptual frameworks to handle the extreme interiorty of this inquiry. In general, people looking for “research” on collective intelligence, emergence and social fields are looking for objective evidence that if we use participatory methods, things will be better than if we use top-down and mechanistic modes of working. This is such an elusive inquiry, let alone an easy project to undertake.
Of course there are models for looking at the world that balance interior and exterior modes of seeing the world, including Ken Wilber’s integral models and others. But I’d like to invite us to look beyond the Western scientific methodologies for some other clues.
In many traditional indigenous North American cultures, there are well established methodologies for understanding the world and understanding the social context for individual action and collective dynamics. Specifically, some of us in teh Art of Hosting CoP have been learning about Nuu-Chah-Nulth concepts of “tsawalk” which is a view of the world that is as foundational to Nuu-Chah-Nulth science as Cartesian world views are to western science. Tsawalk means “oneness” or “interdependence” and the methodology for understanding this world views is called “oosumich” which is a methodology in teh same way that empiricism is a methodology for Cartersian world views. Oosumich is both an individual and collective practice of accessing and understanding the collective and individual spiritual worlds (or the deep interior worlds, from which all forms derive their basic organizing pattern). It is a way to tap what is often called “source” and is therefore a very useful methodology for understanding design of structures and processes. Oosumich is also an evaluation method, being used both in real time and in reflective learning to gauge the various effects of things against the principle of Tsawalk. If something is understood to be contrary to Tsawalk, it can be said to have “failed” – if that is the right term, although I think there are more nuanced ways of looking at this.
Tsawalk has been written about in a very valuable book called “Tsawalk” a Nuu Chah-Nulth worldview” by Richard Atleo, who is a friend of our work. I sometimes use it in indigenous communities as an alternative to Theory U. Last december we structured an entire workshop on participatory process based on Tsawalk, and the participants were given Atleo’s book as a text. I wrote a little about it here.
At least one of our list members, Pawa Haiyupis, has been in this inquiry with me for several years. I think what it points to is thinking about the valid epistemologies that can help us understand what is happening in collective intelligence. It makes sense to me that we look at models that have been employed for centuries by societies who are collective in nature and whose concepts of the world are less about the split between subject and object and more about exploring the connection between things and their context, and especially the “unseen” dynamics that are at play in social and other fields.
Those of us working in the Art of Hosting community with indigenous communities have had this conversation and are in this inquiry with Navajo, Hawaiian, Anishnaabe, Skwuxw7mesh, Kwa’kwa’kawakw and other indigenous cultures. It doesn’t necessarily help us in putting western science to work, but I think it provides perspectives on ways of knowing that could open the inquiry in ways that are helpful from a foundational and conceptual point of view.
PS: Here is a report from a few years ago about using Tsawalk as the primary view to see systemic breakdowns in the child welfare system in BC.