Art of Hosting Values — “A Statement of Important Things”

Recently Jerry Nagel, friend and colleague, offered a statement of values and principles embedded in an Art of Hosting worldview. These were what he discovered through many interviews with practitioners. Jerry was writing his PhD dissertation, for which I got to be a reader and reflective partner.

One of the things I love about Jerry is that he is committed to seeing a meta level. That takes discipline. Worldview has always been at the root of it for me. It’s always felt a bit silly to me to get too serious about the surface of behaviors absent awareness of world view. Jerry is one who gets that.

As posted, Jerry name values as “statements of importance.” His principles connoted a “kind of action.” I’ve included just the values below because, well, I want to hold them spaciously. They are statements (in red) that deserve more than a speed date. With each, I’ve included a few of my reflections.


  • Being curious is essential and being curious means being willing to step into a place of not knowing. Yup, there it is. Being curious. “Be present, be curious” has been a kind of mantra for me over the last ten years. It doesn’t always mean not knowing, but it does mean a kind of relationship with not knowing. A relationship to be familiar with.
  • Diverse perspectives open up new possibilities. All the voices from all local forms of life are welcome and invited into the conversation without fear. This one is worth unpacking too. I wonder sometimes if many of us just fear diversity. Or fear the letting go that is required to explore another person’s certainty. Or resist inclusion because it is inconvenient. I do, sometimes. Or I know that feeling in me. There is a rather high cost to these barriers, isn’t there. Absence of sustainability is high on that list.
  • We create and hold space for a multiple of local realities to be in dialogue with each other in different but equal relationship. It’s not every day that we get to do this. Nor perhaps need too. But there are some days when this is an absolute must. I’ve heard Jerry say it a number of times, that “the practice is the work.” Creating and holding this kind of space is a practice for a lifetime!
  • As practitioners we work toward the common good. We are committed to making the world as a whole a better place. It’s an inspiring value, isn’t it. The world as better place. I would add that this common good occurs simultaneously to the world inside of us, and, to the world outside of us. Movement and attention within each feeds the other.
  • We believe in human goodness. We work to support personal aspirations. I relate to this one from my early work with The Berkana Institute in the 1990s. We stated it slightly different — we “rely” on human goodness. Count on it. There are people everywhere in the world that want good and want to offer good. This reality sometimes is obscured by tragedy, pain, injustice.
  • We work in the place of emergence without preconceived notions of what must happen, instead allowing what wants to come forth to emerge. We trust in the not knowing. We trust in the generative field of co-creation. Yup. I count on three anchors this way. Emergence. Self-organization. Life, and organizations, as living systems.
  • Participation by all is central to the work. It may not be by all. But the movement to more inclusion and an interruption of the mindset that is isolation feels very needed. Very central.
  • We take time to be aware of our own prejudices and habits and take time to reflect on our (re)actions as part of our ongoing learning as hosts. This takes courage, doesn’t it. And friendship. I’m reminded of yesterday’s post, inspired by Tuesday Ryan Hart, Relationship is the Resolution. Her and another colleague made their learning public.
  • We practice generosity. We share what we know and invite others into the field of co-learning. I’m grateful to know some people who really embody this. Chris Corrigan comes to mind. Many in the Art of Hosting practitioners group. I continue to learn about what this means.

Indeed, a few important things. Thanks Jerry.

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