From the last few Art of Hosting trainings I have co-hosted there are two things that I am increasingly aware of: what it means to be a practitioner of the Art of Hosting and the value and contribution of stewarding to the field and the learning and growth of all.
People come to Art of Hosting trainings hungry for any number of things: to learn more about the methodologies and practices, to connect into a sense of community, to find refuge from the craziness of the worlds they live and work in, to deepen their own self leadership, to find new ways to be in the world, to discover mates they can work and play with in the world, because they have been part of a process somewhere that has drawn from Art of Hosting and they want to learn more and many more reasons I’m sure. And they go away refreshed, curious, hungry for more and a bit hesitant around how they can bring this back to their life and work.
Two things I am aware of: to really be a practitioner of an Art requires practice and one Art of Hosting training does not a practitioner make.
The Art of Hosting field is incredibly rich and diverse and linked to so many other fields: World Cafe, Circle Practice, Open Space Technology, the Chaordic Field, Theory U, Appreciative Inquiry and more. When we call a three for four day training, the breadth and scope of the days is shaped by the intended purpose and the people who show up – responsive to the collective need of the group, no matter whether it is a public or client offering. There is no such thing as a set agenda. It is a fluid process that the host team and the participants all contribute to. It also means that the host team is having to pick and choose among the vast array of possible offerings that could flow into the training. It is not possible to do them all.
All of these things – the hosting team, the purpose, the participants, the choices made within a training ground – contribute to the look, feel and shape of each training, while some underlying things always remain – paying attention to the field, holding space for co-creation and emergence, recognizing the interplay between the dynamics in the field and the learning needs of the group, between self hosting and collective hosting. No two offerings are ever exactly the same, even if the same hosting team is in place – because the hosting team is also in its own learning individually and collectively and because of the responsiveness to each new training ground.
One Art of Hosting training offers a slice of the Art of Hosting field, even if it is a large slice. Another Art of Hosting training will show different nuances, different strengths, different emphases and be just as relevant and meaningful as a reflection of the field. If we leave an AoH training believing this is the way it is – and the only way – we will have missed something fundamentally important – that a key underlying principle is responsiveness to need, co-creation which influences the flow of any training or practice ground, paying attention to what’s in the space and what’s wanting to happen.
It really does take a number of trainings to have a more fulsome understanding and experience of AoH and what’s possible and really understand how AoH contributes to the shifting shape of the world. We become practitioners when we practice and learn from what we practice. The next post will explore some ways that practice shows up and how to ask for and offer support in the practice and a future post will look at the questions and observations that have been occurring to me about the role and importance of stewarding.