Harvest — Learnings from Sao Paulo Art of Hosting

You know that feeling of being with a group of people when you start getting more insights and learnings than you ever could if you were alone? The insights feel like rain when it starts to fall from the sky at the beginning of a shower. The clouds open. This is the way I usually feel at Art of Hosting events. Ideas start landing all around me and on me, each drop an idea that refreshes, or even bathes. Some are ideas about what to do with clients and projects that I’m working with. Some are just good aha moments. Some are familiar reminders. I can’t catch them all. But I have learned to note many of them. It is different when we are together. And it is different when the event is over. Attribute it to field, the collective, entanglement or whatever you want to call it. I’ve been often surprised by how clear and unforgettable it is in the moment, yet more elusive when the group disperses.

Such was the case recently, hosting in Sao Roque, near Sao Paulo, Brazil with Tamara Azevedo, Augusto Cuginotti, Marina Minari, Teresa Posakony and 20 participants from in and around Sao Paulo. It was at the best location I think I’ve ever met at. Large circular rooms with ample windows and natural light. Surrounded by trees and next to a small pond. Great, healthy food. This was an AoH that helped me to remember some of the best of the essence of being together. I was filled with the experience. I was filled with ideas.


Some of those ideas are below. In no particular order. Gems that I carry with me from Sao Paulo.

As simple as rice and beans.” (Augusto) — I love the call to the simple. Augusto had a way of speaking this and living it. In our design. In explanations to  participants. These staples in Brazilian diet were a perfect reminder, and invitation, to welcome the simple.

Putting in all of your heart transcends training.” (Tamara) — This was a comment from Tamara when we were exploring choices of design. There is a tendency to get overly hooked on the right design. Give it thought, yes. Welcome insight, yes. I’ve often said that there are 39 great ways to do this, so as to emphasize a freedom and abundance. Tamara spoke the core of why 39 different ways can be great. The heart must be offered. And activated.

As a one year old, I fell down the stairs. Everyone fussed over me. I couldn’t speak, but I remember smiling to help them not to worry. It was my first experience of hosting.” (Tamara) — Just a beautiful expression from a really skilled and grounded host.

There is something that connects us beyond any detail.” (Giovanni) — Giovanni is such a kind man. His smile and disposition are infectious. He is the kind of person that goes to the deeper levels of meaning with ease. I’ve often been drawn to the invisible. The self-organizing. The entanglement. The group composite being. Giovanni seems to go to these places too.

The Art of Hosting is a way to make a window to cut the matrix.” (Giovanni) — Another from this dear man. It made me laugh and smile, being a fan of the Matrix movies.

Half full is full.” (Tamara and others) — This was one of the most significant learnings for me at this event. It came from a small group conversation on being present. We were exploring practices. On a very tangible level, we began to speak about the importance of space. In our calendars, between meetings. Scheduling space. And yet, there is something beyond calendaring in this. Enough space, planned spaciousness, to welcome subtle ways of knowing. Or gut knowing. Or settling, self-organized thoughts. It was something about a different relationship to time that felt very important to me. Much of the western world lives on an overdose of chronos time. Welcoming kairos, and some spaciousness felt, healthy, and freeing.


What if I didn’t take responsibility for the outcome, but rather, just for the process to get together?” (Augusto) — This was another zinger from Augusto. I think I let myself slip over the years into feeling more responsibility for outcomes. It is a trap from an old story. To put focus and fierce commitment into the gathering is again, freeing. It might work. It might not. It will likely surprise. Trust people in the process. Host, when called.

Story telling and witnessing are essential learning strategies.” (Tenneson) — This was one of those raindrops falling on me. We were designing process. A good one for hearing some of the stories that are in the room. I felt I need to touch one of the reasons why that can be so helpful. We are human beings, learning together. Being in our stories helps. It releases. It evolves the story. It clarifies the story. Witnessing is at one level, kind. It too, releases energy to move into new places to explore.

You are the other and the other is you.” (Giovanni) — No matter how spoken, the invitation to see wholeness is useful. It is the new story (or the remembered story) that is changing how we are in the world. I loved it in Portuguese (without the accents from my English keyboard): Voce e o outra; O outra e voce.

There is no need for doubt. There is need for not knowing.” (Augusto) — Zing! I love the distinction. It says something about clarity and commitment of purpose. It says something about welcoming emergence.

I try to never be busy, and always available.” (Augusto) — Again. Zing, zing! A call to not fill our calendars. A call to be open to what is emerging in front of us and that we are in relationship with. Nice.

We are not speaking about not speaking. We are speaking about being in and with silence.” (Augusto) — OK, he was really on a roll. I just love the guy. There is a lot of wisdom in him that reminds me of the Bodhisattva in this video. Purposeful. And, the call to be with silence is for me about listening in different ways. It is about coming into relationship, deliberately, with some of what isn’t so loud in the world. Often overlooked.


Let it go.” — This can go back to so many people. Toke Moeller. Chris Corrigan. It is a commitment to welcoming self-organization to occur. It isn’t about lack of commitment. It is about an attitude of detachment.

How do we protect the radical essence of the work without controlling it?” (Anaterra) — Yup, that is a good one. Ana is the kind of social activist that is so easy to love. She has fire. She has a softness in her. She guardians the edge that is so near the encampment of complacency.

Last gem is a good summary one, one more from Tamara. “At the end, it is human beings learning and playing together. That’s all.

I so loved working and being with these people. With that kind of core, simplicity, it is so easy to be inspired. Thank you team, and friends in and around Sao Paulo.



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