“If it’s about us, don’t do it without us”
We are learning how to design creative learning spaces—at KaosPilots in Arhus, Denmark. Amazingly, we are introduced to the Art of Hosting, a methodology used by facilitators in processes of change.
Aurimas, a Kaos Pilot from Lithuania and Perin, a consultant from Estonia, are experienced art of hosting practitioners. They share with us the essences of this phenomenon, which brings a new dimension to hospitality.
Perin, What is Art of Hosting?
For me it is the art and practice of hosting conversations that matter. By that, I mean paying attention to the inner quality of all the conversations that I have in my life. These could be any processes or projects too. I somehow add more meaning by thinking and reflecting on the activities I engage in. It is a way of putting more purpose to my life. The deeper the conversation, the more connection…the more shallow the conversation, the more conflict
Conversations comes from the Latin Conversare, meaning to turn things around together…!
Aurimas: I see it as a way of living and working together. It is a kind of methodology combining and connecting many tools that help a group to get through a learning journey. From a group to a community that is able to co-create together. The tools are put together to help the group develop and work together. It is also called the art of participatory leadership—it’s about how you involve everyone so that they collaborate, get involved, and are included. You may have seen examples like World Cafe.
Perin, what are some of the activities you were involved in?
I host change processes and strategy building. My first session had 100 memembers working on a five-year strategy. We first had AOH training for 30 members of the organisation. At the end we developed appraciative enquiry questions … people went into the community of stakeholders and asked questions. We also used a world cafe to bring together the larger community.
I was also invited to host meetings in community, where there was a crisis—they were closing down schools. They decided to engage the wider community. Local people, parents, teachers, students, local council….How can we organise education if these kinds of changes are happening?
Why are these sessions organised?.
There are so many people that are not heard… and have so much to give. It’s about creating circles where people share their stories and in this way they are harvesting the wisdom of the crowd… the fact that people are actually listening to everyone in the circle makes such a huge difference. Oh my God, somebody is interested in my topic!
Aurimas, what does it bring to people?
It’s extremely good if you want to work with diversity because it addresses that human question: How do we understand what is similar among us and how do we work from there?
How do you learn to be a host?
It’s very simpe and very fast You take part in conversations, you learn new tools, you practice while talking and you can simply apply these methods in your own work. So the art of hosting is also transferred very easily. And it’s about discussing questions that matter. In Lithuania we had a three-day event about education…. We had pupils there, teachers, principals, businesses, municipality, …and the conversation dealt with the question: How do we together create the education we all dream about?
It creates understanding and people don’t feel a distance anymore. A 17-year old pupil said: “you know, that guy from the ministry actually cares…
How do you construct the whole event?
First of all, you need a wicked question: an issue people need to talk about. It should be relevant to everyone involved.
You don’t organise a meeting, you plan a harvest.
Day 1 you do different exercises that help to connect: people talk in small groups. What are the challenges in my life? What am I so proud of? They exchange stories. Connections emerge.//People realise they have similar needs and dreams.
You always do a check in… start with “how are you?” and share this with everyone. You check out again when you finish.
You create a talking circle and you have a talking piece. Everyone is heard.
The real work starts when you walk out of the room, and then you should be able to hold it. Can you sustain it? Find a tribe, find mates to do this with you. In order to support change, build capacity, build your team. If five people in your organisation know about art of hosting, it will be so much more effective.
Thank you so much. You guys have been wonderful.
Bastienne and Rene
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