It was 2006 when I met Finn Voldtofte, a Danish man. He was helping to convene a gathering of World Cafe stewards and practitioners. I liked the way that he spoke. It was direct. It was clear. It was simple. 

It was two months later that I got to spend more time with Finn. He was a participant at an Art of Hosting gathering that I was co-convening. He became very ill at that gathering. His presence was strong. Yet, his words were few.

It was a couple of months after the Art of Hosting that I learned that Finn had died. He was a person that I didn’t know well, yet felt very impacted by, from a very short time together.

What I appreciate about the image above is, one, seeing Finn’s name. The folks at The World Cafe are organizing a kind of memorial / honoring for him. \

And then, “field,” because this is the core of what we are working on with all of these participative methodologies and such.

And then, “magic,” because I think this is also at the core. I’d call it “practical magic” I suppose.

Here’s to all of us, from Finn and those before him, to us now, and to those that will come after us, that have the courage and clarity to contribute to these fields of human beings in deep connection and learning together.

Grow the Way We Grow


It starts, this time, with me picking up my friend at the airport. It’s Thursday night. We are going to spend three days together in a kind of friendship, in a process that is mostly about wandering, and in enough of a container that will help cultivate meaning. It’s something I’m really looking forward to. My friend is very clever, smart, and funny. Being with good people is such good. Being with good people in just enough container to hold unplanned wander is exquisitely healthy.

On the surface, these days look like a lot of nothing. Just hanging out, escaped from the traditional rhythms and responsibilities of a day. That’s a perceptual habit though, that is simply wrong. One layer down, there is a “way of being” that includes some deliberate checkin to the day. Coffee. Any dreams? “If that were my dream…,” and then proceeding to follow the cues and symbols that invite free-form sense-making. This goes for about 45 minutes. This layer continues with making some food together. It’s communal. Fun. This layer continues with going for a walk, Friday morning, to know and feel some of the land on which we habitat — my neighborhood. The walk calls out feelings. Silence. Words. Wonders. It’s great. And I’m proud of this little town in which I live.

The field, if you will, contributed to by my friend and me, is getting more rich. It’s a feeling. It’s an energy. It’s rich learning in which the ability to associate and connect ideas is growing more instant. It’s alive. It feels good to be in such animated learning space. Animated sense-making of how the inner world can be listened out into the outer world. With clever, smart, and funny.

The day includes another anchoring adventure. Friday it was kayaking on the lake. Easy paddle with plenty of pause. Seeing fish jump here and there. Seeing snow-capped mountains that will summer-melt into this same lake. This is so different that staying in my albeit comfortable house. It’s so different than structured meeting agenda at the office. This learning is the learning that changes learning. The field, again, is getting more rich. Filled with stories. With questions. With “it might matter and it might not matter.” Filled with a few funny phrases that are now easy to insert without context and that anchor this space of natural friendship — “clusterfuckery” was one of ours.

Saturday’s anchoring adventure was a hike to Stewart Falls, near Sundance. Snow still covers much of the path. The vastness of the experience invites a vastness from within. Oh, to see inner vastness — yah, that’s good stuff. To cultivate in a temporary field with another — one or many — wow! That’s the work I do. With groups. More often, without kayaking and waterfalls, but that’s the feeling and the “product.” The learning that is learning that changes the learning.

Yah, I’m grateful. There’s pattern in this. There’s something tremendously needed in the wander. For me, the framing that continues to clarify in me (as a human in general, and as a facilitator of groups) is that these moments that connect inner world to outer world and now with the longer arc of things — this opens something important in so many of us. It upgrades us, even if just for the moment. With more of a kind of kindness, and a kind of consciousness, and a kind of vitality that I speak as flow with life itself.

It ends, this time, taking my friend back to the airport on Sunday. We’re both grateful. Not needing too many words. Our wander has created really appreciative wonder. We’ve already named a few key threads from the weekend that stand out, the learning that grows the way that we grow. And it’s fun.

Fields of learning matter. Ways of being — simple, that create just enough deliberateness of container — matter. Sometimes found in a simple little weekend with a friend, or a team, or a group of strangers. To grow the way we grow.