Archive for Berkana Institute

Day 2: Evening

We co-hosted an informal pre-dinner reception this evening with our friends and colleagues at Berkana Institute and Art of Hosting. The room was bursting with the energy of the conference (Van Jones had just spoken) and the sense of friendship and collaboration.

In lieu of a formal welcome, an impromptu story began to weave between us, amplified by two little hand-held microphones and our deep listening as we heard of World Cafés in Saudi Arabia, China, Japan and Wisconsin, Berkana learning centers in Zambia and Art of Hosting in indigenous British Columbia.

We heard about conversations of hope – in hospitals, in business offices and jails, online and in person – and as the microphone wentaaround and the stories poured out, I experienced an ever-increasing sense of shared purpose weaving between us all at the macro-level. The form in the stories we told were quite different, but the willingness to step into the conversation about things that really matter was the same in all of them.

After the reception, many of us continued the conversation at dinner, weaving the web of relationship ever more strongly and beautifully.

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To continue reading the harvest of the 3rd and last day, click here.

Day 1: Conversation Space

After the first keynote by Debra Meyerson, the conference moved into the morning’s concurrent sessions. This year we had arranged to have a conversation space available throughout the conference that would be hosted during the scheduled morning break-out sessions and afternoon forums.

Several of us from a variety of hosting communities – World Café, Open Space, and Art of Hosting – had gotten together, created a hospitable environment and devised a hosting schedule so that there would always be at least two hosts collaborating during each session. This first session was mine, working with the amazing Nancy White.

I was a bit nervous because this was the first one and would set the
tone. I’d never formally hosted a conversation before and hadn’t had
the chance to huddle with Nancy to get a sense of what we would do,
which I had expected we would. To compound my insecurity, most of the
initial people who gathered came because the other sessions were all

But even from the beginning the hosting team was attracted to play
together no matter whose ‘turn’ it was, so there were several others
there to give me courage and support and it soon became clear that I
knew exactly what to do. The conversation space was launched!


As our small circle grew to over 20 people, and the conversation began
to weave its juicy way around, our experiences from the morning began
to settle and reflect themselves back to us. Through the speaking of
our words and the listening to each other’s words, through the essence
that Nancy sensed in the conversation and translated into visible form,
colors, images, metaphors and phrases for us to see, we began to
integrate the information we had taken in and ground it. We began to
bring it through the cognition of our minds and into the knowing of our
hearts and bodies.

For the continuing blog harvest, of the afternoon session of the 1st day, click here.