Notes from Shambhala 2008

Hi everyone,

I’ve just recently returned from the Shambhala Institute for Authentic Leadership in Nova Scotia, where Tom Hurley, who is guiding the global evolution of the World Café network, led a module on Leadership in Emergent Networked Systems. I co- hosted, with Claudia Chender, a young leader from the board of Shambhala, an inquiry into future possibilities for the Shambhala Institute in the arena of multi-generational collaboration, a thread we had begun with the first Intergenerational Dialogues at Shambhala in 2004.

What we thought might be a small group of about 20 to explore the multi-generational possibilities became a group of more than 60 of all ages and stage of life. It was an exciting time, once again revealing immense interest in the possibilities that could emerge if we came together across the generations on behalf of accessing collective intelligence and wise action on issues of common concern.

Claudia stepped forward to join Samantha Tan, Ryan Feinstein and others to help both the Shambhala Institute and the World Café become global learning laboratories for true multi-generational collaboration, an effort which we hope to link to our research partnership with the Fielding Institute for Social Innovation.

All in all, was a wonderful time for me personally, as many friends from previous years were there, including Toke Moller and Nissen, who along with Chris Corrigan led a module on the Art of Hosting and Harvesting. I was asked by the Art of Hosting group to come to their module as a guest "storyteller" to share my sense of the "deeper work" of the World Café–seeing the possibilities of conversation as a co-evolutionary force for constructive change, and the powerful ideas that come when we create the conditions for what Finn Voldtofte, a World Café pioneer from Denmark, called the "magic in the middle"–that special state of collective consciousness–what some call "the field" that enables true creativity and innovation to reveal itself.

I was also deeply honored by the wonderful offer of Ravi Tangri to help inaugurate "World Café TV!".  Ravi spent the week filming varied aspects of the World Café so that we can begin to develop short videos (on You Tube, of course!)  of the World Café process, principles, and deeper pattern with the burgeoning
World Café community of practice around the globe.   Ravi and his wife Kathy Jourdain have been doing groundbreaking work integrating Otto Sharmer’s "Theory U Process" with the World Café in their work in transforming the health care system in Nova Scotia. I had the chance to meet with the leaders of this effort at their home the day after the Institute ended.  It was truly heartwarming to see how the World Café is serving these kinds of efforts.

I look forward to continuing to collaborate with Ravi Tangri, Nancy Margulies, Emmett Miller, and others to develop innovative ways to communicate the essence of the World Café and to invite others to play.

If you are interested in learning more about either the multi-generational work, or ways to spread the word about the World Café in your communities please contact us at moc.e1516172654facdl1516172654roweh1516172654t@ofn1516172654i1516172654.

Warm regards to all,



  1. I was interested by a series of conversations that happened around this year’s Summer Program on the topic of intergenerational dialogue. I understand that a key question since the establishment of the Institute has been “how do we make the Institute a place for intergenerational dialogue?” (or “how do we make the program youth-friendly and encourage the participation of young people?”) I would suggest – and my fellow youth participants would likely agree- that these questions are no longer relevant.
    As far as we can tell, the Institute has become a great place for intergenerational dialogue already! Many of us commented that we hardly think about differences in age when we are at the Institute. We are able to speak to people twice our age as if they are in our own peer group. We feel included and accepted and valued for what we bring, and we are aware that we probably teach and inspire as much as we learn and get inspired.
    Given this, perhaps the question for the Institute can shift to “how do we take the example of intergenerational connection that we have at the Institute, and make that the norm in our own communities, workplaces and families?”

  2. Aftab,

    Thanks so much for adding your perspective… it’s great to have your voice here.

    Do you have any further thoughts about how to bring the energy that you all experienced at Shambhala this summer into the rest of our lives?

    What are the conditions that allow that kind of easy collaboration and interaction between generations?