Archive for Wiser Together

Next Generation Stepping In

On this International Day of the Girl, we share words from an eighteen-year-old girl – about her experiences of participating in circles and World Cafe and her wish to host conversations that truly matter. What a joy it is to witness our next generation of hosts stepping in!

I’m Dorothee, an eighteen year old girl from Belgium. I graduated from a Waldorf High School in June 2017 and I decided to take a gap-year.

Now I’m currently living in a community in Zimbabwe, Kufunda Learning Village. I arrived mid-August and I will stay until mid-December. I’m here as a volunteer teaching in the small Waldorf-inspired Primary School.

Kufunda Learning Village is a rural community where people live and work together, driven by their passions. There is a permaculture garden, they harvest and process food themselves. Besides that, Kufunda is also a learning center and they host workshops and modules, or go out into other communities to host modules. Art of Hosting is not only the core of their hosting activities, it is also deeply present in the way they live. It is not my first time to get in touch with Art of Hosting, Circles or World Cafés but I’ve never been surrounded by so many hosts nor have I been in a place where it is practised in everyday life. I feel it in the little things.

Just some days after I had arrived, I joined the teachers’ 3-day-workshop. How amazed I was the first day, that we did a check-in at the beginning of the day and check-out at the end. Also the following two days we started and ended every time in a circle, sharing how we felt, what questions came… We really took our time for it and I felt that this was NOT AT ALL a waste of time. It was even the opposite, it seemed to be having a real good influence. There was a (stronger) connection between us – people I had never met before – and I loved the ‘whole’ that was created this way. Not just quickly gathering together, listening to the host and then going back to our own lives. No, instead we took time to arrive, to open and to leave, to close.

A little flame had started inside me, my love and awareness for the power and magic of circles, check-ins and check-outs.

By now, almost two months later, this little flame has become a stronger, bigger one. Every meeting we start with a check-in and end with a check-out. No matter how many we are, no matter how much time we have. And I love it. It is so precious and valuable and I feel that taking time for this could be done for whatever meeting or gathering you have. I have experienced it now in Kufunda Village Circle, the weekly gathering where Kufundees sit together and talk about everything that needs to be talked about. Also every meeting amongst the teachers starts and ends with this taking time to talk, but most importantly to listen to each other. With the children in school we also have a weekly circle. And then there’s the bigger Kufunda meetings, like planning sessions. Not only circle, check- in and check-out, but World Cafés are involved! I like this way of thinking and talking together, creating ideas for the future. You’re in a small group, which gives everybody the chance to share his/her voice. When it’s time to change the groups, you see how other people have been thinking and talking about the same question. And there can be such differences! You share what has been said at your table and there’s time to think and talk again. This way, you hear what has been said in all (most of) the other groups. To close the World Café, there’s a big circle and per table there is one presenting what has risen. This overview per table makes sure that everything that has been said, is now also shared in the big group. I’m convinced that this is a very efficient and creative way to plan things when you’re in a big(ger) group. All voices are heard without taking hours and hours.


The flame of hosting meaningful conversations is growing inside me. And I truly believe that it will become a fire one day, able to light the flames in others too.




World Cafe is “Stepping In” on a new level – increasing our capacity to engage most effectively with the challenging issues of our times. Here’s an overview of what we’re envisioning and some of the priorities we’ve identified to start. Please join us and contribute what you can to support this important work.

This blog post is one response to an open invitation to our global community – to step up & express what the gift of the World Cafe means to YOU. We welcome your posts, as well as your comments and shares.

Wiser Together Across the Generations

This video of David Isaacs talking about Toke Møller, co-founder of the Art of Hosting, and the power of working together across generations is one of a series by documentary videographer Martin Rausch. It conveys beautifully the interwoven origin stories of World Café and Art of Hosting.

David’s interview is part of a film Martin is currently working on called The Blindspot – Unleashing the Power of Collective Intelligence.

What’s in a Name, or Label

A "Wiser Together" contribution from guest blogger Tom Beech:

A little while ago, I received an email that caught me up short.  It was from a young, 20’s-something, friend of mine.  He and I are working on a project together and he sent me a copy of a note he had written to another friend of his, a young guy he wanted me to meet.  In this email he said, “I’d like you to meet an elderly man I know…..”

OK. Well, first let’s get some facts on the table.  I’m 74 years old, in pretty good mental and physical health, retired from a long career but still active in my community. I can string several strands of thought together and keep track of most of them without losing my way or boring others. “Elderly,” is not a word I’d use to describe myself.

I don’t think I’ve earned the status of “elder” and when you add a “-ly” on, I get a little defensive.  To be fully honest, I get defensive in the face of judgement and criticism more easily than I should, but that’s another story… I think. I don’t label others or lump them into arbitrary groups.  For example, I don’t refer to someone who’s young and then automatically add on the word, “whippersnapper!” Adding this on wouldn’t be very useful anyway since most young people wouldn’t have a clue about what it means.

So, after taking a few deep breaths, I started to think about what I’ve learned as a result of receiving this email.

First, this brought home the fact that other people don’t see us the way we see ourselves.  I see myself as active, healthy, interested in learning. My wife, Carol and I have been married for more than 45 years and we still find joy, excitement, love and fulfillment in being together. Every once in a while, I get the sense that our kids and others see frailty, lack of competence, lack of energy and lapses of attention that we don’t either feel or experience.

I’ve learned that age doesn’t necessarily bring wisdom.  Some of the wisest people I know are in their 20’s and some of the dumbest are in their 70’s. Truth be told, these folks were dense when they were in their 20’s too.  But age and experience, if we pay attention to what’s happening to us, and if we listen to the people around us, open the possibility of accumulating some wisdom. This of course requires us to be open both to those who think we’re terrific and heap praise on us and those who question our every move and thought, without getting either self-congratulatory or defensive.  And what good is this wisdom?  At the very least, it helps us avoid making the same mistakes repeatedly, and if we’re lucky, someone may actually listen to us once in a while.

I’ve learned that living at a slower pace is not a weakness. It allows me to pay attention, even in moments when it appears that I’m lost in my own thoughts. The fact that others don’t expect me to “keep up” is a blessing because I can savor what I’m experiencing, living with it more fully without feeling guilty. I used to feel that I was expected to keep all of the plates spinning, all of the balls in the air…all of the time.  That was exhausting and sometimes everything crashed at once.  Now doing one thing at a time or listening to one person at a time seems right, even if I have to ask, “What did you say?” often enough to exasperate Carol, who has the patience of Job.

I’ve learned that curiosity and failure are two sides of the same coin, and together, they keep life interesting. Curiosity may have “killed the cat” as the saying goes, but it keeps me alive. I’m learning new skills and exploring new arenas of information every day and one of the prices I pay for this is frequent failure.  I used to worry about failure a lot, mostly because I feared what other people would think.  Sometimes, my failures did affect others and in these cases, trying to avoid them was not just the safest thing to do, it was respectful and thoughtful.  But most of the time, the only person impacted was me. I still care about what people think, but now I realize that most of the time most people are unaware of what I’m doing. They’re busy just trying to get through their own days. If a tree falls in the forest and no one is around to see it….only the tree knows.

The meeting with my friend’s friend went well.  I learned from him and I think he enjoyed meeting me, even if he thought I was “elderly.”


Tom Beech is recently retired from a long career in philanthropy and is now active in his home community of Kalamazoo, Michigan.