Harvest — Learnings from Olympia Art of Hosting

P1100767How could we strengthen communities from the inside out?

This is the calling question to convene a group of 35 community network leaders, staff, and partners from across the state of Washington. We convened for three days at Evergreen College in Olympia, WA. It is a beautiful campus. Heavily wooded. As it seems to be in the northwest, three days with mixed bits of sunshine and torrential downpours interspersed.

I loved are calling and hosting team: Laura Porter, Karen Baltz, Steve Byers, Geof Morgan, Kathy Adams, and Paul Horton joining my partner Teresa Posakony and me. Well skilled, thoughtful, playful, and heartful. Together, we worked with participants through a path of exploring and expanding purpose, deepening in to learning that supports that purpose, rolling up our sleeves on projects and learning groups, and leaving with deliberate intentions. Highly participative, of course. I love it when people step forward to pick up some skills, and to touch some of the deeper meaning of convening people together.

Some of the pictures from this event are here.

I also loved noting some key lines, key stories. It is becoming more clear to me that learning is more readily available when in the midst of a well held group process.P1100774 It doesn’t become invisible when the event is over, but I have noticed that it feels easier to notice it when together. Like the TV screen that is powered better by the group energy. Here are some of those for me from this group:

Lovecellence — A made up word from Laura Porter, describing what she sees in the network. And why not. Combining love and excellence. Quite useful really.

There are some things you can from the shoreline. You can only see them when you are in the river. — A theme that was important to me was about seeing the invisible. Some might speak this as seeing what emerges from people interacting together. It requires a quality of patience. There are some things that can only be seen by letting go. No matter how much talking one does, it can’t be seen from the shore.

Do with. Not do to. — It was Geof who spoke this one. I hear this one in most places that are trying to help people. In churches. Community service organizations. It is a model of wellness, an asset based approach that emphasizes creating something together that works, a more sustainable approach. It is not providing for.

Comfort in the chaordic path is like getting comfortable surfing. The first times are really hard. But one you get it, it’s easier. — This was also from Laura. An important learning for any of us welcoming participative process.

If you find it for yourself, that is sharing it. It will come through you. — A participant Ryan shared this one. A quiet and thoughtful man. T0uching the essence of being.

Epigenetics — There is a core assumption in the research this group has supported that experience changes ones genes. Engagement also. It removes some of the debate long held about nurture vs nature.

I remember us. — Another by Laura, offered as final words. I love the depth in this. The familiarity of collective inquiry and sharing stories together as primary modes of learning.

Lots of strengthening of this group. On the inside. On the outside. I’m grateful to be a part of it, strengthening participative leadership models and methods in the work that they are up too.



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