Fresh on the heels of a gathering I co-hosted here on Bowen Island this week, I have begun a year long research project to look at how hosting, facilitating and convening conversations can help shift people, organizations and communities to new levels of awareness, work and changemaking in their worlds.
Posts here that relate to this research project are tagged with “CoHo” which is one of things some of us are calling this initiative. It is a contraction of “Council of Hosts” which is how we gathered and constituted ourselves last week. As a Council – a term that refers more to the method of deliberation among ourselves and not to a formal structure – we identified a key need that caused us to be joined in our work. All of us present at the gathering work with people who are stuck, affected by large scale systemic forces that conspire to constrain them. Not knowing how to work within these constraints is an incredibly disempowering feeling, as is working at one level, on say resource conservation, when you are fully aware of the large scale processes unfolding around you, like climate change, over which we have no control.
In a Council we decided that as a group our purpose was jointly to look at how we can be forces of conscious evolution through hosting. For me, conscious evolution is as simple as having the experience of becoming “bigger” in terms of consciousness of forces and systems and the impact we can have on those forces and systems.
What is interesting is that despite the fact that we are small players working in a big system, and we KNOW that our effect in the world is usually small and local, there is something almost inherent in human nature that convinces us that we can have more impact than it appears. To be sure, this sentiment sometimes becomes arrogance, especially here in North America, but everywhere I have been in this world, among many different people living in wildly different circumstances, I find this pattern of optimism. Whether or not that optimism is productive, or stands a chance at worldchanging is an interesting question, but even more interesting for me is this question: if we are truly products of the global earth system, and we know that we are simply small pieces of a huge and complex living system, where does this impulse, calling or optimism come from?
There seems to be something about being human that allows us to respond to a call that is bigger that the space we occupy in the system of life on earth. I am curious about what this call means and what happens when we respond to it, and also how we come in alignment with the various fields that seem to accelerate change. In short, why does one person think he or she can make a difference, and why does that sometimes actually happen? What needs to come into alignment to make change flow?
Ultimately I am looking for patterns. For me, my inquiry for the work is to look at a number of questions:
- What are the patterns that hold us and what can we learn about those patterns about how things evolve, how changes can flow through systems?
- How do we as hosts help to create the conditions for conscious evolution within systems?
- What are the patterns for doing this work?
In terms of the work of CoHo, this inquiry underpins my existing work, and is definitely my learning edge in terms of my work as a facilitator of process with groups that seek change. I invite you, and we invite you, to join us. I’ll post more information on how to in the coming weeks.