Inspired Learning Spaces — An Orientation to Group Purpose and Facilitation

Harvest from Art of Hosting Conversation, Early 2000s

You know how there are times in your life when you return to what seemed a previous chapter of old stuff, and find in that old chapter, a newness that feels powerfully poignant now? I’m in one of those with the above diagram. I’m in one of those times as I continue to seek a simplicity of framing and invitation for so much of what I do as a facilitator, meeting designer, consultant, and guide. I’m finding this powerful as orientation to invite depth in the groups I work with.

In the early 2000s Toke Moeller and I talked about these. We named some of what it takes to create good learning together. Since then, I’ve given much thought and practice to developing a wider view of inspired learning spaces. What I love about it is that it looks beyond conversational leadership. Often, from the lineage of The Art of Hosting, there is much focus on conversation as a modality. This is important. It is one of the ways that we humans connect with each other. It is a direct challenge to command and control systems that tend to offer more mandates and dictates, more marching orders than invitations to explore.

As important as the conversations are, and the methodologies that support this, I have always felt that there is more that we must attend too. What are the other ways that we find connection with each other? What are other modalities that help a group over time? What is important to help better weave different learning styles or personality types into the room?

For me it is important to name that I’m not looking for a bag of party tricks here. When I use any of the activities in this photo, I’m not looking for ice-breakers that are cute to start a meeting. I’m looking for other modalities that help the people in the room connect more with each other and connect more with the multiple layers of purpose that are present among them.

So, here’s to the framings that any of us offer that can simplify the purpose, yet hold much, much complexity in learning and practice.

Learning For Life

Toke Moeller, From a Recording by Peter Engberg

I so appreciate this recording that features friend and soul brother, Toke Moeller. It’s 20 minutes, recorded in 2018 by Peter Engberg.

Over the years, I’ve come to appreciate exponentially Toke’s commitment to peace, to simplicity, to offering good into the world, be that through doing or through being.

I also appreciate the way Toke talks about his mother and grandmother. I’ve had those people in my life also, that have oriented me to continuous learning, which remains some of the most important grounding that I’ve experienced.



Love Stewarding Us All — Toke Moeller

These words, shared from ten years ago, and again, reshared recently, from someone who has shaped much of my heart in this work of hosting. It’s Toke Moeller. His reflections speak to some of the process of stewarding and being stewarded.

For inspiration. And with gratitude to Toke.


This love is 
indeed stewarding us all 
and all there is 
– I have no doubt in that
To learn how to be stewarding
as I am being stewarded by life
is a gift of great proportion
I hear my heart singing to me
 in this moment 
So much space is there
 in that knowing of the reality of love 
as this life web of love weaves us
 into being alive for a wee while,
to meet others in companionship 
to be healed 
to come back to zero and enter ONE
– to know and to let go into
 a trust in trust
To know truly that this sweet kindness
 is our core 
– one and all
what a gift to be able to offer good work
 from such heart 
in service of this quality
that words can not ever reach
bowing from my center
to your center
I am in happiness
once again.

– toke 2009

A Story and Three Questions

Toke Moeller has been a friend and colleague now for 20+ years. We’ve co-hosted trainings together in North America, Europe, and Africa. We’ve walked rain forest together in Zimbabwe that left all of us massively soaked. We’ve conjured questions together that insist on the human heart being present. We’ve grown — the way that friends and colleagues do — in interesting configuration. An ongoing appreciation that I have in all of this with Toke has been his combo of wise sage / young boy (in the body of a now 70s ish human). I keep learning about how to trust all of that within me.

Toke offered a snippet of story a few months back, some of his relating to his commitment to the Tao.

I confess
that there is
nothing to teach:
no religion, no science
no information which
will lead your mind back to the Tao.

Today I speak in this fashion,
tomorrow in another, but
always the Integral Way
is beyond words and
beyond mind.

Simply be aware
of the oneness
of things.

Now I love these words that point to the simple. They point to a keenness of awareness and presence. They point to a story behind a story behind a story. I would suggest such attentiveness to layered story gives us much broader set of choices for how we be in the first layer stories that so many of us live in — jobs, tasks, teams, accountabilities.

Now I’m the kind of human, and professional, that tends to think in questions. When I hear / read / see a passage like Toke’s above, I can almost immediately see a few questions to engage a group. To create further connection and learning. I see these questions in a way that is akin to Ron Heifetz, Harvard Scholar known often for his work on “adaptive leadership,” who shares — “One can lead with no more than a question.”

My three questions to go with Toke’s Tao:

  1. What is the bigger story (for you, this team, this community, this family)?
  2. What have we forgotten about that bigger story?
  3. What is important now to do / be to reclaim this story?

There is a ton of leadership available in a story and three questions. I’m glad for that. And 20+ year friendships / colleagueships that grow in interesting and surprising configuration.