The Art of Hosting

This extract from my journal was written during the preparation day before our 3rd practitioners’ gathering, in June 2012

As I write, during the hour before lunch in the preparation day, the rest of the hosting team is busy rearranging the space to create beauty for those who will be joining tomorrow. Nature is coming into the room, and we are working to music.

During our preparation day, the members of the hosting team who had been present at the most recent entry-level training (in May) told the story of how different that training had been, and we inquired into what this meant.

We saw that the hosting team had somehow reached a deeper level of maturity, where we were able to show up with authenticity at all moments, able to hold the dissonant voices with serenity from an energy of invitation, with no need to convince.

The mix of participants itself was exemplary of the way this work is beginning to move out from the core to the periphery and beyond: we had external consultants who are supporting the Commission in changing its ways of working, we had staff from the Commission’s external agencies, as well as two very dynamic ladies strategically positioned in the European Parliament. 90% of the participants had already experienced participatory approaches in the context of their own projects and teams.

We also saw the creativity, discipline and attitude of learning in the participants, and the high quality of their practice – even when it was their first time hosting. The opening check-in circle itself bore witness to a level of ambition and recognition of the need for change in how the Commission engages with the outside world. People hosted themselves from the start, and all our many stories from years of practice interwove into a fabric suggesting a very different reality than the one we often assume when we think of life inside the European Commission.

Leaning back to sense why everything seems to happening so smoothly, we saw that what has shifted and deepened is the resonant field that arises in response to this different way of working. (Rupert Sheldrake calls it the morphogenic field). Inquiring into what this field is, the words that came were: Participation, people agency… in fact: Democracy. Participation is found in the first room of democracy, together with deep listening.

Matthieu recalled the words of a technical support colleague who had witnessed our first ever fully on-line hosted process with the Digital Futures project. Someone who had no prior exposure to explicitly participatory ways of working: “I have never seen people work together like this before. Today I’ve seen people prepared to sacrifice anything to ensure that every voice can be heard.

Words that we captured from what we had spoken into the circle evoked the elements of the practice of democracy:

So, it seems that what is emerging from the depths in our midst is a re-membrance to democracy. As the Commission becomes democracy, it can host a new level of democracy in Europe.

Since its inception, the storyline of the European Union has been around building peace. The times of disturbance we are living through tell us that this is no longer enough. A new story for Europe is coalescing around the New Democracy.

The Digital Futures project that some of the core community of practitioners are engaged in is exemplary of this new emergence, seeking as it does to harness modern technology to create a conduit for modern democracy – where individuals truly can participate directly in the governance of the collective space.

A report on our 3rd practitioners' gathering will follow.

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yaay - great!

Thanks Helen! (I will post something from the recent Art of Harvesting soon too!)

Yes - I'm still busy with shaping the big collective harvest.

Here are the pictures, as taken by Simone.

Egads! It seems I still haven't uploaded the report! Shame on me! Here it comes!

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