By Dee Brooks and Kerry Hartigan
Art of Hosting, Ballina, NSW, Australia
The Core Team Members in Ballina were Michaela, Jason, Kerry, Vanessa, Lynn and Dee. Some of us have been involved in many trainings, some had been to one or two, for others it was their first time to step up to host.
In some instances, stewarding has become a “thing” of power and control and had created unnecessary disturbances and we, as a team, agreed that we wanted to explore how power shows up in AoH trainings and commit to learn from this.
The first step was to name the disturbance; the word “steward”. This happened quite a few trainings before it surfaced as a tension that we could no longer ignore. Some might even say it surfaced because we named it.
Due to a training where stewarding rose as a destructive force from within the core team, the question “what is stewarding?” had been posted on the general AoH listserv to which the broader community responded graciously and positively and encouraged the expansion, exploration and/or removal of the word/term “steward” in an AoH context.
With these previous conversations and current thoughts in mind, we, as a team, wanted to:
- Acknowledge that everyone has something to offer and that we are all both apprentices and stewards of life
- Trust each other and offer a safe space where we could feel open to share our individually extensive practice
- Honour and respect the lineage of what had come before and turn to face the new and let whatever happens, happen to inform and teach us more deeply
- Welcome new practices and encourage practitioners to step up and share their life’s learnings and not hold back in fear/worry of not being “Art of Hosting”
- Start shaping a new way of co-hosting which could continue to evolve through future trainings
- Sense in to emerging innovation in design, training and teaching
- Give back, by sharing our insights, with the broader AoH global community
Core Team Design Day:
We co-created a light agenda and decided that was good enough, for now and agreed to pay attention to and be open to emergence and we began with Michaela hosting a check-in asking, “How are you arriving?”.
During our first check-in, the word “steward” was accidentally and affectionately nicknamed “Stuart” and we let him know he wasn’t invited to this offering. From then on, we were able to identify whenever “Stuart” showed up and ask him, once again, to leave.
Co-Host Discussion – what are our principles of working together:
Dee and Kerry hosted this discussion by offering some background on where this conversation had emerged from, i.e. who becomes AoH Stewards? how do you become one? what is the meaning of the word “steward”? They also shared their experiences of how and where they have seen power show up in the AoH space, Kerry’s thoughts on being a “reluctant apprentice” and their shared desire to more fully explore and live the foundational principles of AoH.
They invited the other Core Team members to share their thoughts, feelings and experiences and then shifted into a group activity to discover the emerging principles of working together.
Principles of Co-Hosting:
We initially brainstormed our ideas individually and then silently added our sticky notes to a flip chart sheet. We then turned our individual thoughts into co-created, themed clusters.
Cluster one: Trust
- Trust our flow; it will come
- Trust and allow each other
- Do not be offended
- Trust that the teachings are within you/us
Cluster two: Embrace
- Just do it
- Participants are we as well
- Give it a try; yes, and…
Cluster three: Centre
- Be centred!
- Just be it!
- Take the time and courage to relax, share, be… what is necessary
- Fun / laughter ☺
Cluster five: Allow
- Don’t ask permission to support each other
- It’s ok to ask for help/support… we are in together
- Be kind: show compassion to yourself and others
- Hold space for each other when we need to step in/up/out
Cluster six: enCourage
- Be authentic
- Be open Be brave
- Be vulnerable
- “Please grant me the power to be me. The courage to speak up and the strength to see me through”
- Bringing ourSelves and giving voice to our stories of practice – we are continuing/enhancing/honouring the lineage
- If it needs to be rushed lets stop!
- Be conscious and mindful of our co-hosting principles
- Practice naming / giving voice
- Know / Teach / Learn
Design by Harvest teach:
Vanessa had offered to host us through this process although, due to the rich, emergent, guiding co-hosting discussion, she felt it wasn’t necessary and the rest of the team agreed. We kept moving on with exploring the design by applying our co-hosting principles.
From Co-Hosting to the Art of Coasting:
We were in flow, it was feeling very ‘cruisy’, we were near the beach, we found ourselves coasting along. We named it.
We designed the upcoming training and prepared all the posters according to our new Art of Coasting Principles.
Each person who had a potential co-design process to offer gave an overview and together we decided on using Dee’s newly named “Chinese Lantern” training design, based on the Breath Pattern (DEC Thinking) and the Kanban Board offered by Vanessa for tasks.
Kerry noticed a pattern emerging from the design work and suggested that we colour code the elements according to what was a:
- Teach and activity
- Teach and process
Once the design was “good enough, for now”, we started the preparation of the posters and used the Kanban Board to move tasks along in a transparent and efficient way. It felt unrushed, there was no stress; we were cruising.
Oddly enough, we don’t remember what happened at check-out or even what the question was and that doesn’t matter now, except we do know that we all felt really satisfied and ready for the participants to arrive the next morning. A few of the team members also expressed their feelings of cathartic healing, as they shed the layers of a particularly difficult past training.
We decided to offer our process, as a transparent way of sharing, to the participants and tied it into a teach on transparency and co-design on the last day of the training.
Post Training Reflection on the Art of Coasting:
What was different now?
- We did not introduce or refer to any of the team as either apprentices, stewards or hosts
- During the gathering, we openly asked for support from the team to fill in any gaps in our teaches/offerings, with an invite to ‘jump in at any time’
- All tasks were shared; no one person held a specific role
- All financial proceeds were divided evenly, based on the assumption that everyone had contributed their energy and all energy is of equal value
Summary and Watershed:
The Art of Coasting provided a place to “hold space” for ourselves and each other for gentle healing and catharsis and also for genuine learning and growth. As a Core Team, we all left this training feeling like we had equally contributed, we had experienced a deep learning together and we were equally valued.
Based on this experience, some of the Core Team members continued the practice of the Art of Coasting in related trainings very soon after and have made the commitment to share our insights with each other.
This was an experiment that we now know is possible, we need more of it and we are committed to continue to grow this practice, over time. Please, join us; you are needed, valued and welcome at the Edge.