The Art of Hosting

This is again a conversation copied from the Art of Hosting emaillist, but too good to let it disappear into cyberspace...



Last night, sitting by a fire on a cold spring evening in the hills of Victoria, Australia, I had a look at a link a friend sent to a TED talk by Michael Pawlyn about using Nature's genius as a guide in architecture and design.

Not only is it stunning to see what creativity Nature’s elegant design can provoke in us, but many parts of his presentation raised questions for me:

  • What does Nature have to say to us about the design and holding of conversation as a living practice?
  • How can we elegantly intervene at the boundaries to create positive change?
  • Where can we move beyond sustainability to regeneration?
  • If we saw our community as an eco-system, what would we notice about its health and vulnerability and what would we do as a result?
Okay, fires always make me thoughtful.  Thinking of you all...

Mary Alice

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Thanks for this MA.
I've been aware of these reflections lately also. 
Remembering a core question that Meg Wheatley asked when writing Leadership and the New Science in the early 90s. "If we could learn more about how life organizes itself, how would that change the way we organize human endeavor?"
Remembering from Toke a few years back, this poetry: "We are nature. Nature is us."
And watching a Charles Eisenstein presentation recently, hearing his reframe of the golden rule to "What we do to others, we do to ourselves."
And in watching Avatar again last night with my kids, the interconnectedness of all life, the memories of Eywa that are available to all of the  Omaticaya people. 
The wholeness field continues to arrive, doesn't it. To become available in this time of great shift and evolution.
Worth a breath or two at least.
Thank you, Tennyson and Mary Alice.
>From my perspective, community organizing to address inequalities that are borne of unilateral (power over) also set in motion the competitive and unsustainable motivation for the “other” to organize a greater “power” over.  The clamor for dominance, control, power-over are unsustainable and destructive to “all” humanity and the entire ecosystem.  
Conversely, relationship-centered, equity-motivated (shared power among) organizing holds the potential for natural, sustainable, whole (shalom-making) ecosystems to emerge.  
Shalom to all,

It feels like you are describing the difference between a cancer cell (and how we end up treating it as part of an allopathic practice) and a healthy symbiotic system in the body (a holistic perspective). Worth thinking of what belief and values our actions reflect.

I’m thinking of all the stories I’ve heard all over the world about parts of the body arguing who is most important. ;-)

Mary Alice

Two things align for me in what you’ve said. I remember learning a bit about the ecosystem in the Amazon and how bird species were specialised for each part of the tree. Some lived only in the canopy, some around the trunk of the tree, some at the foot and each had adapted beautifully, sharing the space together. In New Zealand, which is so full of bird life, Maori warriors looked to the actions of each bird and adapted the warrior stance of each. The fantail bobs and weaves, always presenting his fan of a tail — this is the movement of challenge. The pukeko or swamp hen, is ideally adapted to tread lightly over swampy ground, and so on. All of our ancestors looked to nature — as above, so below.

Since first being invited into the stewarding field for Art of Hosting, I’ve been pondering that word and what it means. Last year the question “what if stewarding went viral?” began to follow me around. I began to ask myself what would happen if stewarding were seen as an essential human capacity. What if everyone knew they were stewarding something on behalf of the whole, whether it was a child, a piece of land, a song, a dance move, an idea, a way of being, a practice…? What if we inherently knew every group, every nation, every region was embodying something on our behalf (what if Greece were stewarding our wild nature, for example, and Europe decided to embody the spirit of peace and be a force for good in the world? What if New Zealand shared what it knows about collective community and invitation)?

My sense is that there would be less ownership and more contribution. Less judgement and more curiosity. Less solutioning and more inquiry. Less wishing to make others like us and more interest in seeing how diversity can contribute to the whole. Less trying to make people fit the system and more seeing how the system emerges from the gifts we are holding. We might be more like nature, where everything plays its part, nothing is wasted and everything has intrinsic value.

It seems to be an inquiry worth having. Actually, if anyone wants to step into this inquiry with me, please let me know!

A bow to the inner deep nature of us all!

Mary Alice
Dearest Mary Alice, dearest Tenneson,

I'm right there with you! It is no less than the literal truth that we are each stewarding an essential and unique part of the kosmos. Without each of our unique selves, the whole is not complete. I have discovered that living from my essence (something I'm still learning how to do) gives me a magical key - to unlock the essence of each person and thing that I meet. When it is my essence that looks out through my eyes (instead of my conditioned judgemental cracked record of an ego) I see beyond the conditioned layers of the other, into the resonant soul's light of their essence. Relating from that to that has become my most rigorous, challenging and exhilarating life practice.

I also notice that from that space, everything is easy, everything is play. And every tiniest part of nature is intimately related to me, plants, insects, birds and animals, rocks, water, weather and trees. It is astonishing how clearly they communicate, when I allow them, also, to be infused with essence.

So yes, Mary Alice, I'm with you in this inquiry.



Dear all,


thank you so much for sharing your wisdom, experiences and discoveries. I fully agree with you, Ria, when you say that you see beyond the conditional layer of the other. I feel that this is something that I am practicing right now, too. It brings with it an enhanced connection, as much to people as to animals, plants and stones, and sometimes it can be challenging to hold that connection, because it is very intimate. It requires you to be good with yourself, to allow yourself to really see and love, while at the same time letting go and not wanting to use or abuse the life force, that you meet in the other being. You rather want to let it grow, in its own pace. You actually just want to meet it and say hello.


What consequences does this hold for our way of living in this world? Apparently we have a lot of power, as a human species, we have demonstrated over the past. We did not use our power in the most sensitive ways (to use an understatement for extremely destructive). But we can also learn and we can open up to a new way of relating, many people are doing so already.

What kind of growth processes does each person need, in order to return to this connection? How can we unlock this capacity again, which I believe everybody has? Obvious answers are different educational systems that put more emphasis on contact with nature, agriculture that lets plants grow by their natural rhythm, well, every part of society can be restructured in a more life-affirming way.


I also wonder: what are challenges on this way of awakening?

What are the inner boundaries, and what helps in removing them?


With love,



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