The Art of Hosting

From the email list February 2013...

Dear friends,

Linda Joy Mitchell, Silas Lusias and I recently hosted a stakeholder workshop in Northern Kenya - Marsabit region - which was kindly organised and funded by Caritas, an Austrian Development Agency. 
I am copying Judith, who was the one inviting us into this work and brilliantly project managed the conference with all its complexities. She has been to an AoH training herself some time ago.
The purpose of this conference was to share knowledge and practices on pastoralist livelihood and discuss new possibilities and alternatives for the future. The aim was to identify feasible new ways of working together and inform a new approach from the Government of Kenya, CARITAS, UN/donor agencies, local NGOs and local pastoralists communities.
Participants were ca. 40 people from all of these groups. We spent 4 days in a beautiful lodge in the national park of Marsabit, surrounded by stunning nature and being visited by buffalos each night. 
We created a safe container, where some of the current ways development is practiced could be questioned by the practitioners themselves, where new ways of relating to the the people that development is 'done to' could be experienced. 
One of the most significant moments of the whole experience - for me personally and for many in the groups according to their feedback - was a half day learning journey we did into a pastoralist community (see harvest). It made me realise the importance of having a shared embodied experience of the 'thing' we talk about and what a difference it makes. It got the group to a deeper level of reflection that was grounded in a shared present experience rather than reflecting on the past. 
It felt like a beautiful coming together of the Art of Hosting and some of the elements of Theory U, which my partner Hendrik and I have been experimenting with for a while. 
Hope you enjoy the reading. If you have any questions or reflections I would be happy to hear them.
Judith, Linda and Silas, please feel free to add your own reflections. 
Much love from Cairo,
P.S. For those of you who don't know what pastoralists are - like me before this work: they are people who live mostly from keeping livestock, like camels, cattle, goats. They are mostly nomadic folks, following water and pasture, but many have started to settle. In Kenya there are many different tribes who live this way.

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