Archive for the ‘art of harvesting’ Category

Open Leerdag Leven in Transitie

Sunday, November 21st, 2010

This is a blog post – In Dutch – from a few weeks ago, first published on the Dutch blog Levend Vlaanderen.

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Iets schrijven over de Open Leerdag Leven in Transitie staat op mijn lijstje van dingen te doen… maar ik heb geen goed overzicht lijkt me, want er gebeurde zo veel die dag…

veel interessante ideeën…
mensen uit veel verschillende contexten…
veel conversaties die te kort waren en wegens tijdsgebrek moesten stoppen terwijl het net interessant werd…

Ons team van vorige keer was lichtjes gewijzigd. Dirk en Stien voelden niet de passie of hadden niet de energie om de voorbereiding van het hosting proces mee te maken; maar anderzijds vroegen we Rik – wegens zijn interesse in transitie – om aan te haken. Het was duidelijk dat de tijd en energie die we in het voorjaar hadden besteed aan het bouwen van ons gezamenlijke veld nu zijn vruchten afwierp. We kennen mekaars deskundigheden én leerpunten, we weten waar we mekaar moeten aanporren en waar we soms uit de bocht gaan…

AoH Open leerdag transitie voorb

Het ging dus vrij vlot in de voorbereiding, hoewel we pas aan het eind van de zomervakantie op dreef kwamen en het effe duurde voor iedereen een overzicht had van wie en wat in het Vlaamse transitiewereldje. Het was een beetje spannend toen we begonnen met uitnodigen, maar de eerste 8 à 9 mensen waren er vlug. Inschrijvingen bleven binnen druppelen tot de laatste dag. Uiteindelijk zaten we met 34 in de kring.

Het was voor ons duidelijk dat Erik zou openen omdat het zijn passie en zijn verlangen was om al deze mensen samen te brengen. Hij gaf het kader mee van zowel de spelers in het Vlaamse transitieveld als van Art of Hosting, in zijn eigen vertellende stijl. We waren vertrokken!

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Dan een kennismaking: zowel met elkaar als met de vier kwadranten (bouwend op Ken Wilber) die altijd en overal tegelijk aanwezig zijn. ’t Was tof om er op deze manier – letterlijk – in te stappen en nieuwe mensen te leren kennen. Rik en Ivo hadden er hun werk van gemaakt en het nuttige aan het aangename gepaard. Fascinerend ook om te zien dat er een vrij gelijke verdeling van mensen was verspreid over het hele veld; èn heel wat mannen in het van van Ik-Innerlijk! Trouwens dat was ons al opgevallen van in het begin: veel meer mannen dan vrouwen onder de deelnemers; net andersom dan in de vorige Open Leerdag rond Participatie.

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Dan was het tijd om het diepere en ruimere gesprek te openen om te kunnen starten vanuit een gezamenlijke basis. World Café is hiervoor een zeer geschikt instrument. De techniek en de principes zijn helemaal in lijn met de wereldvisie van levende systemen. Het brengt ons – door het wisselen van gesprekspartners doorheen de drie rondes – in een soort van chaos. In ieder geval is voor even het overzicht op het geheel kwijt, maar de minimale structuur die ook de dingen weer samenbrengt, biedt de kans dat er iets wezenlijk nieuws ontstaat. Het chaordische (op de grens tussen chaos en orde) laat ruimte voor een grote diversiteit, brengt ons vaak in een weerstand of een ‘kreukzone’, maar dan kan de emergentie zijn werk doen. Dan kunnen we van een Groots Gemene Deler –die altijd klein is – naar het Kleinst Gemeen Veelvoud – wat dus groter is én alles omvat.

Julie had het allemaal mooi uitgetekend de dag voordien en loodste iedereen hierdoor. Ze benadrukte nogmaals dat dialoog pas lukt als we het gevecht, de discussie achterwege laten, maar denken in “én – én”, diep luisteren en de verschillende draadjes door mekaar weven.

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Dit weven – het weven van een web zonder voorafgaand plan – was een metafoor die we in onze voorbereiding veel hadden gebruikt. Er zijn zo veel mensen op één of andere manier bezig met transitie; wat kan er niet ontstaan als we meer bedacht zijn om de andere velden mee te betrekken in onze projecten? Ergens was dat onze hoop voor deze dag, en zowel het World Café als de Open Space was een aanzet in deze richting. We sturen niet in de richting van het ontstaan van een bepaald soort initiatief, wij willen vooral ruimte en tijd creëren die de

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zelforganisatie kan bevorderen. Ruimte waar passie, verantwoordelijkheid, initiatief en engagement optimaal tot hun recht kunnen komen.

Het leuke vond ik dat het belang van goede vragen werd onderkend. Dat is inderdaad iets waar elke hosting team – van eender welk project of initiatief – veel tijd aan besteed. Het is één van de pijlers van hosting, en ook wat het vaak verschillend maakt van begeleiding (of faciliteren). Hosts zijn geen experten in antwoorden, maar verstaan de kunst om (grote) groepen van mensen door ‘conversations that matter’ in betekenisvolle dialoog te laten evolueren tot het opnemen van initiatief en zinvolle actie. De vraag/vragen waarrond je mensen laat praten, en hoe de vraag is geformuleerd maakt of kraakt zo’n dialoog, omdat het een smal of ruim kader biedt, al of niet beperkende vooronderstellingen aan het licht brengt.

In het oogsten van het proces van het World Café – niet het oogsten van de inhoud dus – was een opmerkelijk moment. In het vuur van zo veel goede ideeën en veel gepraat stelde één tafeltje voor om 1 minuut stilte toe te laten. Wat we prompt deden en velen van ons weer/meer in ons lichaam bracht. Het was voor mij een aanduiding dat we misschien te veel in ons programma wilden stoppen… dat we te weinig het eerste principe van Art of Hosting hadden ingebouwd: Wees aanwezig. Ik moet mezelf er altijd aan herinneren dat voor vele mensen aanwezig zijn in hoofd, lichaam en gevoel niet gewoon of evident is… We hadden gerust enkele korten stukjes hier rond kunnen inlassen… volgende keer beter!

Voor mij was de stilte voelbaar, niet alleen de afwezigheid van praten, maar wel de collectieve aandacht voor de kwaliteit van stilte en rust… Wat als we die kwaliteit zouden kunnen vasthouden als we gesprekken voeren en de dingen kunnen uitspreken die dan opborrelen, ook al hebben we ze nooit eerder zo gedacht of uitgesproken? Rik nam over en bracht ons weer in een cirkel.

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Bijna middag. Tijd voor Open Space. De overkoepelende vraag was: Transitie is bezig, hoe kan ik mee het verschil maken om het in een goede/betere/gewenste richting te sturen? Een oproep weer tot het volgen van je eigen passie en het zelf verantwoordelijkheid nemen daarvoor. En die passie was duidelijk aanwezig! Op vrij korte tijd werden 1à à 12 sessies aangekondigd; en zoals meestal: moeilijk kiezen want zo veel interessants! Wat ik mij nog herinner uit het hoofd:

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– vraag en aanbod samenbrengen
– transitie en scholen
– begeleiden van transitie en geld verdienen
– een sessie buiten die in de gang eindigde
– ikzelf bood een leermoment aan rond Chaordisch Pad
– …….

Broodjes werden vlug verorberd tijdens een half uurtje pauze en meteen ging een eerste

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ronde sessies van start. Een uurtje later de tweede ronde. Intense gesprekken, iemand rustig op zichzelf… iedereen haar/zijn eigen energie volgend… de wet van de twee voeten: leren of bijdragen, anders weg!

Het samenbrengen van de vele sessies is altijd een moeilijke opgave in een kort tijdsbestek. Toch vond ik de korten 1 minuut aankondigingen én de extra tijd voor het gallerijbezoek wel geslaagd. Alleen weer te kort. Ik voelde me als een schooljuf om onze tijdsplanning toch min of meer aan te houden.

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Langzaamaan gingen we uitbollen. Tijdens de voorbereiding hadden we ervoor gekozen op ruim tijd te nemen om terug te kijken op de dag en te kijken naar het grotere geheel. Het grotere verhaal hadden we het genoemd. Eerst even individuele tijd voor persoonlijke reflectie: Wat wordt duidelijk van het grotere verhaal en hoe zal dat je acties beïnvloeden? Delen in groepjes van drie en dan een gezamenlijke oogstronde. Zeer veel, mooie, diepe, inspirerende punten werden verwoord…
… het transitie-concept werkt blijkbaar verbindend (ook al hebben we het niet gedefiniëerd!)
… we zijn blijkbaar – als beweging/stroming – volwassen geworden en hoeven geen gelijke meer te halen of ons te verdedigen.
… de vele perspectieven en experimenten kunnen daardoor naast mekaar bestaan en mekaar bevruchten: de vrucht van diversiteit én het advies: werk nooit alleen!
… de draadjes – het mycelium – tussen de paddestoelen zijn voelbaar
… en iedere paddestoel is zijn eigen klein verhaal
… vanuit goesting!!!
… het geheel is zichtbaar, maar niet overzichtbaar
… proces en inhoud; structuur en cultuur gaan hand in hand
… het ‘is’ geen verhaal, maar het verhaal ontvouwt zich en het pad vormt zich
… wat zou goede voeding zijn voor dit mycelium?

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Goede verhalen zijn een ongemeen sterk middel om dingen los te zetten, ze zijn een bijl om het bevroren meer in onszelf te lijf te gaan. (Franz Kafka)

Tijd om af te ronden…
ieder nog één woord…
met de tonen van Rik op de handpiano…

Het smaakte naar meer en langer.
(nog meer foto’s hier)

Nuggets of learning

Monday, August 2nd, 2010

We had a most wonderful day – the third – in our learning gathering Art of Humans Being. It was juicy, it had song, it had a lot of embodied stuff… I think you can say it had a wholeness and fullness to it and I saw a lot of twinkling eyes and many, many conversations going on.

I want to share the nuggets we shared at the end of the day in the ceremony firecircle, here on the land. There was no fire, but there was the music of the flute that welcomed us; as it had done in the morning. And we all wrote down one specific learning of the day about repatterning and the new story. Here we go: (again read out slowly to let it all sink in!)

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Trust source operating through ourselves – we already have it.
Body and Nature; Simple and Elegant.
Going with the flow, relaxed about outcome.
What are the questions that lead us to feel most alive?
It is not the new story being better than the old on; it is the next story building on the previous one.
The system works. Relax. Let go. Trust.
With trust, love deeply in the old and new story.
Form a new relationship with souls purpose and step into our fullness, naked and courageous.
Separate acting, community acting; it is all the same act.
Living in a new way, a new story.
Let our collective music arise from source.
Strengthening and listening to body wisdom.
Build a nest, let it rest. The rest will build the rest.
Lovingly held and gently hosted spaces; heartfelt wisdom flowing freely.
Magic of the flute.
Deep, deep, deep listening to higher self and purpose.
Experience. Wait. Ask. Listen.
My highest self is participatory.
Dear universe, What do I want to tell you that you don’t already know? You tell me. I’ll try to listen. Hey, thanks.
A little can be a lot.
The new stories are infinite and alluring, filling up with awe, curiosity and exitement. Gratitude for friendship.
I am here now.

The Story of Us

Saturday, July 31st, 2010

Un unseen spark
fertilizes the space
ripening what is
between us…
Who are my mates
and who wants to play?

Who is here
and who wants
to partner
in the story of us?
What is the juice
that drips from your soul?
How do your passions
nourish the world?
If your heart is a spoon
whose holy mouth
do you feed?
What is the story of us?

A covenant with nature
without the illicit affairs
without electricity,
stuff
and things.
Un collaborateur
with my body and yours
us-ing is a verb.
A collective presence
in an unseen field
of purple energy
tucked in a wild canyon
of artful learning
and joyful play.

What is the story of us?
5 hybrids in the parking lot
with “PLU” (people like us)
on the liscence plate.

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Community Conversations
and Servant Leaders
longing to language
something unseen but felt
What is the story of us?

Feet in two worlds
with our heads in the sky
and our shoes in the dirt
of intentional community.
Seeding the moral imagination
in a polarised word
where Self is the Other
and things are not what they seem.
Cosmic identity
in a universe of voices
where boardrooms
and warrooms are
one the same.
What is the story of us?

What does the world need?
What brings us fully alive?
This is our quest;
The Great I Am
And Who You Are
could heal the world.

To be human is possible.
Ditto.
Ditto.
Ditto.
If we just live the shift
In the midst of the crowd.
What could Real Also Be?

The story of us is
the faces we see
the poems we write
its rewilding
and sometimes walking out.
The deep collective inquiry
is the future growing in us.

Here Now.

This is the story of us.

Captured by Ed’veeje, from the sharing in circle – on the second day – around the question: How is our passion, our emergent work the new story of us?

Natural ways of working

Tuesday, June 22nd, 2010

My friend Helen made a nice blogpost on Natural ways of working, a few days ago. She is a natural kind of harvester, both in beautiful words and pictures! Most of the words you can read here, the pictures are on her blog.

“The campfire, so reminiscent of our earliest human roots, is a guide to natural ways that conversation flows among people sitting in a circle. And so, as I listened to people’s stories about their experiences of participatory leadership, I found myself distilling what I heard into some principles that could move us away from the stifling hierarchical paradigm that many of us find so oppressive and towards some easy attitudes that promote effortless thriving.

* Nature’s implicit purpose is to thrive – nature is in the business of creating life from life. It is the manifestation of living wholeness, evolving. Humanity is part of that evolution. Evolution is about awakening – through the higher mammals and us humans, nature is becoming conscious of itself as a living whole. In the workplace, if what we are doing is truly in service of the whole, to allow the whole to thrive, then we will seek ways to achieve our purpose that allow all affected to thrive in the longer term, and to enhance our own and each other’s wellbeing in the short term. Part of the way we can do this as individuals is to freely offer our gifts to each other, in service of each other’s thriving, and to ask others for what we need but cannot provide for ourselves.

* Attend to the invisible realms – a lot of life is invisible to the eye. What goes on under the ground or in the sub-atomic or quantum spaces is just as important as what we can empirically observe. The same is true of what happens in organisations and inside and between people. A lot of life is equally invisible to the mind. One often neglected place of invisible power is silence. Another is what happens in the wake of a good question. Most potent of all, though, is the invisible field that holds communities, conversations, projects – all shared entities, however nebulous or immaterial. The mind cannot grasp this concept in any but the most abstract terms – it is the domain of physical and subtle sensing, and not conducive to rational dissection.

* Flexibly adapt around constraints – nature doesn’t make a big deal about obstacles and constraints. It simply incorporates them or grows around them. If it can be said to have a focus, that focus is thriving and creating more life, not obsessing about restrictions. If we keep a constant eye on our shared purpose, and if that purpose is truly in service of greater wholeness, then the kosmos will tend to meet us half-way in the most unexpected forms, as synchronicity spreads like an algal bloom around us.

* Focus on relationship – the transformative power of simple human contact has been so overlooked in mainstream organisational culture, and yet it remains true that relationship is the soil in which the seed of task is sown. Relationships thrive on simplicity. Too much complexity tends to undermine the trust without which healthy belonging is not possible. Simple practices are often the most effective – things like celebrating birthdays, honouring people’s acts of courage, stepping up to help and support each other in small ways and remembering each other at important or challenging times when we cannot be physically present.

* Nature is participatory – in any ecosystem, all elements participate fully. The only participation required of them is to be fully themselves. The greater the diversity and the greater the interaction between the diverse elements, the stronger and more resilient the system. In human systems, inviting full participation creates ownership, which in turn creates belonging, which creates commitment. As natural beings ourselves, it can help us to remember that our best contribution is simply to show up as ourselves. Having the courage to offer our unique perspective, for the good of the whole, even when we are unsure how it will be received.”

What if…

Wednesday, June 2nd, 2010

“The European Consumer Summit is a multi-stakeholder event organised every year by DG SANCO (Directorate General Health and Consumers). It gathers more than 400 participants in Brussels for 1,5 days. This event was previously organised as a ‘classical conference’: with lots of plenary presentations but not enough opportunities for participants to contribute and network. Not this year…

Our vision for the 2010 Summit was to get real policy output, including deliverables directly from participants and therefore much more interaction. The 2010 theme was “Services: access, fairness and choice” and the 6 workshops had quite different scopes:
• How can we help consumers to choose the right service provider?
• Web 3.0 – Challenges and Opportunities for Consumers in the internet of the future
• Bank Account Fees – How to ensure transparency and choice?
• The Adventure of Car Hire – Enforcement challenges
• The Green Energy challenge
• Going around in circles. How to improve urban sustainable mobility”

Consumer summit ik

This report is written by Carina Törnblom, official in the European Commission. I don’t know the right term for her function – sorry Carina. She has been part of the Art of Participatory Leadership training, offered by some of our Art of Hosting colleagues. Six other colleagues, of which I was one, were asked to host one of these six interactive workshops.

Her report continues:

Designing a successful event

In order to prepare the event, we set up an internal task force and connected this to a team of facilitators, practitioners of the Art of Participatory Leadership from inside and outside the Commission. Some of the workshops had more difficult starting conditions than others, e.g. high potential conflict due to very different opinions between participating stakeholder groups (industry and consumer organisations). Therefore facilitators were challenged to be very flexible and on the other hand to be enough convincing to ensure the interactivity in the workshops.

The outcome

On the D-day, each workshop was asked to address the challenges in the morning, the solutions in the afternoon and prepare 3 findings and 3 things for the Commission to do. This was reported on the second day (half day) in plenary followed by questions and answers session. In the Car Hire workshop industry agreed to involve consumer representatives and representatives of the European Consumer Centres network in the upcoming Alternative Dispute Resolution mechanism. In the Green Energy and Urban Transport workshops there was a call for more studies on consumer behaviour and multi-stakeholder working groups. In the area of Bank Account fees, the Commission will further explore how to improve transparency, including, for example, the idea of an independent on-line comparison tool, as well as financial education. The discussion on the internet of the future highlighted issues to be monitored closely, such as consumer friendly online contracts, privacy and data protection.

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During the day, we could already feel from the buzz in the building that participants were in a great mood and the feedback was very positive. 95% of the participants were satisfied with the interactivity, the opportunity to voice their opinion and the increased understanding of other stakeholders’ position. One of the participants told us spontaneously that in nearly 12 years of being on the consumer circuit, this was by far the best conference he had ever attended.

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In SANCO we are also very satisfied with the output, the willingness of our stakeholders to commit themselves in the suggested directions. This was not only an efficient and effective way of working but it represents what the European project is about: close cooperation and real dialogue.

This success was a truly collaborative effort, thanks also to our colleagues from other services. This was the first time that a more participatory approach was taken by the Commission in such a large conference with external stakeholders. It has not gone unnoticed and has been a real chance for the Commission to be looked at differently. Let’s hope this will inspire others so that it is just a start… What if the Commission would use this approach as a rule and not an exception? Would that not change how the citizens see us?

Harvest day

Friday, November 16th, 2007

In this last day we are coming to the deep harvest. Ravi started right after breakfast with doing interviews with most of us. He prepared with Rowan some questions going from the very broad like What is Art of Hosting? and What is the U-process? to more and more concrete questions about this specific gathering in this special, specific place.

Conscious Kitchen

Another Open Space session that was posted (and also happened) was about the Conscious Kitchen. This is a way to bring the Living Wholeness – what is really at the heart of Axladitsa – into practice, both on a day-to-day level and in consciousness about every aspect of our food, our bodies, the energy it takes, the waste that is involved etc. Purpose in the long run is to become totally self-sufficient with zero waste. Of course, this will take time, but it is good to be aware of the overall goal.

Other sessions were posted in the morning, but because of the video harvest and a neighbor friend that came to cook with us – sharing one of the Greek recipes – they never started. By five we finally could gather for the closing circle. This was also video taped, but I want to give a little reflection here.

We started with the sound of the Tibetan bowl. Then Ravi and Rowan – who had been ‘the witness’ we could talk to, instead talking to the camera – gave some reflections of all the stories and answers they heard during the day. They both shared that they heard the same story through the many voices. Ravi made the link between the three streambeds, which are on the land, and the three – Maria, Sarah and the land – that makes the readiness here!

The interviewees shared the impact it had to voice the learnings before the camera. It challenged and invited us to become clear and conscious about our ideas. “That machine creates clarity!” And the position of Rowan added to that – witnessing our learnings to the next level.

Wisdom from nature

Thursday, November 15th, 2007

Third day of our gathering. We started our circle after breakfast in the Skyspace, the beautiful round shaped structure, build higher up than the house and the kitchen. Maria invited us to pass around an invisible ball of clay and shape it into a form that would tell the others about how we feel right now. It was fun!

We now had ‘a leg’ that grew out of our conversations: the Art of Hosting meaningful places. We really mean ‘places’ and not ‘spaces’, because we want to make clear that it is related to a physical place. Some people now had some clarity, others were confused. Of course, through all these conversations, our individual search for meaning and clarity was also going on.

So we decided to let nature speak to us, to sense into a deeper layer of ourselves and have a walk to the well, sit there for some time quietly, then walk to the highest point on the land and each finding our own spot there. The question we took as our guide on this walk was: What are we sensing that we are not aware of?

the power of the little stream

The first thing that really spoke to me was seeing how the water of the little stream had cut through the waterbed in one night, somewhere in October last year. It revealed the following sentence: “There is big power in the soft that is flowing.”, which repeated itself in my mind for some time. There is big power in the soft that is flowing. Indeed, the soft that is in flow can move a lot! It also reminded me of a poem that ends with the line: “In the end the soft powers will win.” Good to be reminded of that.

Coming to the well, with the poplar tree and the little open space where the little streams come together, we each found our own spot to sit and I started writing:

in the well

“The deep well next to the highest tree on the land, a symbol of connecting Spirit and Matter. Spirit reaching to consciousness, the deep layers of Matter trickling down to Source.

Can we hold the tension of creation? Can we hold the slowness of co-creation? The gentleness of ‘touch’ that is needed everywhere. Touching the food, touching the land, touching each other… can we keep the awareness of all the in-between spaces? Am I aware of the relation between this little insect in front of me and my self? And how we are related with all – all – all round and inside?

Can we love all and everything all the time?”

the poplar tree next to the well

The afternoon we spend on sharing our deep insights and messages from this walk and connecting with nature. It was incredibly deep, moving, inspiring and much more! It made us all aware how we all need this kind of knowing to really see, to sense, to listen, to really ‘know’. We videotaped this sharing and it will probably become available in a few weeks or months from now.

What I remember from it is that there was a sense of the masculine forces getting together, with a readiness to act; and on the other hand the letting go, which speaks more of the feminine quality. Combined together they can create!

Suddenly in this sharing I got the answer to one of the questions that was guiding us: What is the minimal, optimal structure of connecting? The minimal optimal is the natural!

The Art of Hosting meaningful places

Wednesday, November 14th, 2007

The conversation went on…
You will notice how the conversation ‘struggled’, until at a certain time we reached collective clarity on ‘The Art of Hosting Meaningful Spaces’, as a next level or a new branch in the overall Art of Hosting community. Here is most of what was said:

Nora planting...

* I’m holding a lot of resonance from the morning circle. We were touching into this heaviness… I feel called to speak… the strength of meaning is held outside… as if we are supposed to do the AoH in a certain way. Personally I am invited to step into hosting every moment! With real issues!
The AoH training is a doorway, and the Learning Centers is a new way. The community seems to value more the work in the world; but this is also the work! I don’t want to go into the judgment space. I live real emergence here. We are practicing the next level. The locations are inviting the integration. Hosting is huge! It is bigger than ‘hosting meaningful conversations’. If we don’t tend the fire, we are cold. If we don’t tend the food, we are hungry. It is in every moment. Learning Centers are a practice ground to send people to. For me it is a way of living. I want to find, to identify what is really going on here.
And there is something about the questions we each hold; they need to come to the front more.

* Here we have a good “f” product: the Art of Hosting; we have the best people, and the best places in Europe. Let’s start to walk, one step after the other! And yes, we don’t know where we are going!
How much are we really willing to put in? Are we scared?

* Are we feeding the wolf of fear? There is a difference in elder and steward. Who declares who is a steward or not?
A lot of consultants have taken the AoH training. Are they ready to deliver? Why are we crunching about the guru word?

* (To Maria and Sarah) You are now the elders of this place. Don’t look for others who are not here. Don’t wait for support from certain others. Be proud of what you do, and ask help from the ones who wants to offer. That’s the lesson we learned.

* Hierarchy – when it is good – it visualize who is most wise; something we have to pay respect to. Now hierarchy is mostly related with the one who gets the most money… How do we get rid of the burden… I think we need ‘to lift as a flock’… I’m asking for help here.

view left from the front door

* If this land (Axladitsa) is part of the community that we are all part of, then we can look deeper and support this place; as a learning lesson for myself too. If we talk about the not-present world, it doesn’t work. What is the gift here, beyond the AoH community? What are you missing here? What is here and now the significant question?

* The AoH training is not ‘wrong’; everything has its own place. One sentence was very strong for me: life as a metaphor; or life as itself. ‘Flow’ and the other AoH concepts stop to be only tools and metaphors. AoH is now becoming my life and now it has meaning and I can explain it to others. AoH is a tool and a framing for some people; Learning Centers is another doorway equally important. The AoH and my harvesting-gardening becomes integrated. Next year as I will be harvesting olives I will have learned a lot.

* The layers upon layers of AoH… this is a living learning center… it is a pallet that we are learning. AoH is upgrading to the next level; bridging the masculine and the feminine; and it are only the first steps! Keep inviting!

* In the Greek language – the indigenous people – the word ‘hieries’ means the ones who were committed and practice the mystery. The word hierarchy comes from that root. My personal purpose is to bring back the ‘mystery school’. I am a doorway holder. I am a ‘hiera’, I do it with reverence, … I am not “a door”, only a doorway holder. ‘Guru’ is an imported word, so I don’t use it. I do know what an elder is, it is the lineage holder; that watches and makes sure it is passed on.
AoH is only an element of that. I would love to talk about Axladitsa, the practice of receiving. How to you open and receive? Instead of: you ask and it then means you are weak. The underlying issue is: What are we really doing here? How do we do it in a capitalist context and still holding our integrity?
Now I am a guardian, not an elder yet. I will become that. I am a student of the land. I am fierce about protecting its pulse. This land and we are birthing something very important here. The friendship with our neighbor will grow, but we have to wait till the timing is right.
I did great work and have deep friendship with some of who are not here. My path is at a different angle, I had to work with that: to be a host of a place, buffing down my sharp edges.
The root of AoH is very strong. My deep desire is to look deeper into the connections between the learning centers.
Bob Ziegler asks the question: If the Learning Centers are as a mandala, what is the core quality of the different ones? Then we can see the wholeness of it all. Is there a structure that would help and support us all? What is the flow of income of this place?

the skyspace

* There is a song that sings about the different levels of love. The first is an attraction on a physical level. The second level is the sexual relationship. You could have it with different people. The third level is being, is living together. Few people still do it. This is the diamond in Axladitsa. The fourth is surrendering your self to one another. Hosting is about that level, in surrender to the field.

* We are now offering the Art of Hosting meaningful spaces – and not meaningful conversations alone. We will evolve this practice and train people in it etc. It is important that some people stand up as the masters of this. Hosting is like giving love to someone.

* My legs are trembling… we are speaking about the legs now!! The diversification is happening, the next level of the spiral, but still connected to the root.

* It is about hosting meaningful life!

* This is THE meaning! We have to be careful not to close in on the financial issue… money is just one of the energy forms. We really have to focus on making it bigger than one plus one plus one. We are dealing here with big matters.
I am one of two (part of a couple); I/we are asking for help. Let’s meet as much as possible in each other’s places and doing the things together. It brings out the best in people. Instead of talking, let’s do it!

* I’m wondering if the next thing we need to talk about: are there patterns in the learning centers to get it into the tangible… bringing in the patterns of the places.

* It would be really important to hear the story of the different places and what are the needs and the ideas. And just listen for the pattern and the learning’s. Can we sprinkle some water on the spider’s web?

* Isaac Mendelssohn talks about this fourth level: One thing that is specific in this pattern is the practice of offering. And he says: part of being human is the act of offering. Being able to speak where the need is, is making the offering possible.

* We have now seen the shape of the legs. It is good to close this circle, and maybe we come back to it…

Further conversations happened while others were preparing dinner…
later more conversations on the financial issue…
but too much from preconceived ideas…

Start of the gathering

Monday, November 12th, 2007
Platania

Today was the official start of the Art of Hosting on ’growing legs’ for the AoH community. When we just drove back from the farmhouse to our little studios here in a local hotel here in Platania, the local fishing port, we could hardly imagine that this was just one day!

Total strangers shared some of their personal stories and we did all the other stuff that makes a good community: making and eating food together and doing some physical work together. We harvested the olives from the last seven trees. I will never complain any more, or wonder why olive oil is so expensive. If you want to understand make sure you know how they are harvested! For me it was fun to learn a new gardening art: how to use the long sticks with the least effort but with the maximum of result. And fun too to climb in these old trees, to be able to reach the highest branches. I loved it.

hands with talking piece

The check-in of this morning revealed how most of us, eleven participants, are ‘at the bottom of the U’; at a point in life where it is not so clear where to go, or when to move on. We joked about that this is why so many people didn’t make it to join us: they were probably sure about their lives and didn’t need to be here?!

Like in the Art of Hosting on Art of Hosting, in June in Belgium, we used the tarot cards after we returned from the physical work outside, and laid out a certain pattern that could inform us about the deeper meaning of our gathering.

At the center, at the heart, was Eight of Swords, reversed. It tells us about the letting go of any thoughts, realizing that we are not limited by them, as they are not the actual situation. “We don’t have to grow legs, we have to use them!”

it's beautiful fruit

North was Five of Wands, which tells us about: What’s present? What is visible to the world? What we show is the trying out, the creative energy. So maybe it tells about growing up, do something with what we already have?

What comes in our consciousness? The Night of Swords: about the personal level of this community. Showing the world what we stand for (values and principles) and taking action from there. The sword brings the clarity of mind.

What do we need to let go of (past)? Again swords: Seven of Swords: the nightmare of the perfectionist. The person is carrying already five swords, and can’t take the two others that are left. We related it to the many different ideas we had as we were envisioning this gathering and none of them came through. Maybe we have to look at what works and go with that.

Again more swords (Ten) came for the question: What is the near future? It spoke of letting go anything that pins us down. There is something that the world is ready for this resonance; not fighting the system, but show it to the world, because it is now ready. We can come out of the unclarity.

own harvested almonds

Maybe our harvest is being stewards of clarity, and also take the time to gain this clarity; to find the clarity in the practice.

To close our session we took another card as a piece of advice: the Wheel of Fortune reversed. The wheel of fortune is the real change, and it seems to point us in looking where something is stuck, or not aligned.

A last question was how to heal that? Knight of cups: finding your grail, your own passion. Taking action on what we love, guided by the heart.
Tova spoke once about ‘the Heart of Hosting’; and Chris Corrigan spoke in June about ‘the Art of the Open Heart’. Our own passion is so essential; in these days we need to act from there.

Of course conversations didn’t stop when we had dinner together afterwards. Personally I had the sense that we were still not touching the deepest ground. In one way or another we came to speak about it, because nobody was stepping up to do the facilitation for tomorrow. Here are some snippets of different conversations:
– needing more silence
– holding the deep feminine
– the power of giving birth and being pregnant
– not to take on the masculine projections
– using the law of two feet in regular life
– do the grounding of the place in the collective!

Growings legs for emergence?

Sunday, November 11th, 2007
...creating magic

We are in this cosy time after dinner, dishes are done, everybody gathers around the fire place (stove). One more guest – participant arrived just before dinner (Ravi) and two more are on their way, driving through the night (Judith and Lieven).

I had a wonderful day, for me like summer. Most of the people here went to Volos today, the nearby city – one and a half hour drive – to buy a lot of food and stuff, and to receive and send emails. Three of us stayed here; and I worked in the little garden – weeding – and clearing some more space from the brambles to have more place to sew and plant the vegetables. In the afternoon we went with Maria and Sarah’s Greek friend to a place to press the olives. Amasing when you never saw it. We had this time more than 1000 kg of olives; and we came home with 220 liters of olive oil; very nice, clear, green olive oil. Of course it is a totally organic oil, and the guy from the press – who analysed it – was really impressed by the high quality it had.

the local gold

So we had something to toast on! Grilled bread dipped – better say soaked – in the fresh oil, together with some locally brewed … (like Ouzo) as the starter for dinner. The Greek way of living, eating at the big table outside, lots of talking, toasting, some wine; funny if I realize it is November,..

Last part of the evening we looked into the design of our first half day tomorrow. Simple and elegant, diving deeper into the stories which led to this gathering. Asking ourselves what does it mean ‘to grow legs’ for our network of Art of Hosting practitioners? And then there is this funny, amasing, wonderful thing called emergence… How come four people of the original hosting team, and two of the participants couldn’t make it? And why did others showed up, even when it looked different than what was the original plan?

Are we growing legs for emergence?