To close our journey together - which started with ‘connecting’ (day 1) and passed through ‘sensing’ (day 2), and ‘flow’ (day 3) - we are focusing on carrying as the overarching theme of day 4. The word clearly evokes an image of carrying the knowledge we have built and shared into the world out there, but just as well carrying ourselves and each other throughout – in the best spirit of hosting. A challenge here can also be illustrated using the same word: care to remain fully present, and not be carried away with our minds on what is to come after.
The morning started with a morning meta harvest to remember the day before and how it touched us. First, in a big circle with the entire group, a fast popcorn-style remembrance of the activities from day 3. Then we were all invited to stand up, mingle and form groups of 3 or 4 to quickly share with each other “what would you have missed if you were not here yesterday?”. A return to the larger circle allowed for some insights to be shared. Answers that felt representative, and that I myself echo, referred to connections, great fun in last night’s open mic, and the realization that the structure of the day before had allowed for even those present to miss out on some things (due to simultaneous activities we had to choose at times where to be and where not to). The circle ended with a final scream, all at once, of the one word we each felt represented a wish for the entire group. Even though it wasn’t possible to harvest each individual answer, the effect was an energetic start to the day.
What followed was a deeper check-in in circles spread through the multisalen and the outdoors surrounding it. The circles were hosted by volunteers – mostly participants themselves stepping up to experience the role of hosting this methodology first-hand. They prepared the space (including center pieces and talking pieces), hosted the conversation and cared for the participants and the time. Everyone was invited to share their experiences and thoughts around ‘a powerful learning moment’ yet, following the key principles of the circle: speak with intention, listen with attention, and care for the balance/needs of all participants. Some of the thoughts shared that I personally resonated with were around the realization that telling a story to attentive listeners allows one to realize that there is a story to tell; the transformational impact of powerful questions in proposing a topic for discussion; ‘gentle does it’; the beauty of structures that invite deeper conversations than usual; and how questions/answers and experiences can ripple and remain alive inside us long after the moment
Most of our time this day was used to explore Design for Wiser Action. We had the opportunity to work with 14 different real projects – brought in and presented by participants who had mandate and willingness to initiate/implement them back in their local contexts. Projects encompassed multiple different fronts, challenges and opportunities related to art of hosting or like-minded participatory methodology application: from incorporating it in PhD curriculum for programmers to facilitating dialogue with youth about toxic masculinity; from inclusive research on antibiotics use to the transformative potential of certain methodologies for community building in churches; from storytelling within family contexts to the ethics of artificial intelligence. I personally saw courage, passion and vulnerability in all of the callers of the different projects.
There was beauty in asking for help, and much generosity in allowing the rest of us to step up and get practice in collaboratively planning for wiser action. Groups of interested people formed around each project presented. They got to a first round around a template to discuss and write down ideas in post its, tapping into creativity and seeking exploration. In a second round the groups shifted, and new people had the change to listed to the caller, who shared their ideas and new inputs they just got and listened to new comments, in a bit of a cross pollination process. In a third round, the original groups got back together to seek clarity and perhaps phrasing a more structured calling question. To close off, the callers presented to the collective key highlights referring to the calling question that was emerging, what they were grateful for, and perhaps elegant next steps they could already see. A few of the calling questions that emerged were: "How could collaboration across the value chain support each of us in creating thriving businesses?" "How can we all together make (Vibo) to a community where we can all thrive" "How do we graciously prototype and be the new paradigm inside the old?" "How can we create spaces for conversations that matter, which invite joy, meaning (simplicity) and connection (mercy) into community?" "How can we co-create a equal world free from violence?" This entire process was, in my opinion, one of the most valuable of the training, as it allowed us to practice carrying the knowledge to practical applications, and illustrated the potential of tapping into the wisdom in a room (any room) to address complex challenges.
The training ended in a final check-out circle with all participants, which included announcements of practical information, such as how to connect to the wider art of hosting practitioners’ web (www.artofhosting.org), as well as appreciative words on our feelings and the experience. It was possible to see invitations and even formation of subgroups of people interested in continuing certain conversations/ projects: such as those looking to increase embodied practices in AoH, navigating (metaphorically) freelance life, navigating (literally) across the Atlantic, and inserting AoH practices in higher education.
Many many many hugs after, each of us started dispersing to head back to our own lives, in our own particular contexts, hoping to carry forward the learnings and energy after being fueled by these past few days together.