The Art of Hosting

written up by Tenneson Woolf, on his blog.


It was just over a year ago that my colleague, Kathy Lung, and I began convening people in the Salt Lake Valley to learn about participative leadership. We wanted to bring together friends, colleagues and strangers into a more deliberate network. We wanted to begin to create an environment to learn together. We wanted to improve the capacity that people had, ours and those we were meeting, to work on problems and dreams of this local community through the applied use of participative leadership.

Our start was to convene two half-day gatherings, open to anyone who wanted to show up. In total there were sixty of us. We explored together the beginnings of what participative could be, why it mattered to those in the room as a choice of leadership, and what was possible if we worked from a living systems perspective of participation in teams, organizations, and communities.

Our next was to begin to offer a rhythm of periodic half-day Saturday morning workshops (our beginning intention was a six month series with committed registration -- it was difficult to find dates that worked for all, so we shifted to a less formal quarterly format). The first two were on the practice and way of being in Circle. Then on principles for creating healthy and resilient community. Then on Open Space Technology. Our last of the 2010 calendar was on Changing the World Through Play, with visiting friend and guest from Brazil, Edgard Gouveia Jr. of Elos Institute.

During the summer, after our first three morning workshops, my colleagues from the Salt Lake Center for Engaging Community, Jane Holt and Ben Mates, joined with me to begin to create a regular convening of a Community of Practice. We began with the commitment of meeting on the third Thursday evening of each month. We committed to two principles: 1) We would meet in the format of circle (with a welcome / context for the night, a presencing check-in, thinking together, harvesting, and a check-out). 2) We would focus on one project per meeting, invited and called by someone from the group, with focus on the participative leadership part of the project. The spirit of the Practitioners Circles has been that of Open Space sessions, invited from passion and responsibility. Whoever shows up are the right people, to offer help and support the groups learning in the moment.

Since then, we have had seven Practitioners Circles convened and harvested:

Support of Local Artists

Midvale Wellness Project

Working with Planners of a Youth Camp

Forming a SLC HUB

SLCEC Civility Initiative

Kayenta Compassion

Parenting in the Workplace Movement


In this blogpost you find a lot more information on what they learned about Participatory Leadership. Interesting!!!

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