We've talked a lot about InCommons on this blog so far this school year. Here's a look back at our profiles of the initiative this year:
- We talked about the first of many Challenges that was conducted this past fall using its online platform
- We reflected on the success of the first University of Minnesota with InCommons gathering, the Connecting Community Leaders Conference, to bring together leaders from across Minnesota in new ways
- Jodi Sandfort, Chair of the Leadership & Management Area at the Humphrey School and one of the creative minds behind InCommons, discussed the need to empower courageous leadership in new ways and her vision for how this initiative can achieve just that
As we talk about all the various parts of InCommons, it may seem rather nebulous and multifaceted. That's because it is! You may have found yourself wondering how all these parts fit together. With this post, let me add one more piece to the puzzle: The Art of Hosting.
Art of Hosting
InCommons is about bringing people across the state of Minnesota together--online and perhaps even more importantly, offline. The Art of Hosting is described on its website as "a pattern and a practice that allows us to meet our humanity in ourselves and in each other--as opposed to trying to be machines when meeting."
Right now, InCommons is in the process of training individuals across Minnesota in the techniques of the Art of Hosting so that they can facilitate gatherings in a new way across the state. Any organization or group of individuals can host an InCommons gathering (or, in our case what we're calling "The University of Minnesota with InCommons"). Individuals trained in Art of Hosting techniques will be prepared to provide their facilitation skills to these sorts of gatherings. The vision is that more and more individuals will continue to be trained. Eventually, the sorts of challenging conversations that are now uncommon will become more common around Minnesota.
One of these freshly trained facilitators who participated in January 2011 is CIL's very own Merrie Benasutti! We've benefitted already at CIL from the valuable concepts she's brought to her work from this experience. In her own words: "The Art of Hosting facilitator training was invaluable. I learned a set of practices and tools for facilitating challenging conversations and creating the safe space necessary for courageous dialogue."
The videos featured in this post come from the January 2011 InCommons Art of Hosting training in which Merrie participated. The next two videos show a couple of the facilitation techniques in action: Proaction Café and Open Space Technology. However, these aren't the only techniques that fall under the Art of Hosting umbrella. Check out their website to learn about other techniques.
Open Space Technology
I realize I may have just complicated things by introducing yet another part of what is a multifaceted and nebulous initiative, but this is what InCommons is about--leaning into complexity. Though an online platform allows for people to reach across various geographies to share resources and start conversations, challenging and courageous dialogue is work that requires people to look at each other face to face and hosts who can create a safe and welcoming space for the magic to happen.
Art of Hosting facilitator trainings are currently by-invitation only. If you're interested in being trained in these techniques, keep reading our blog and watching the CIL site. We'll be sure to keep you informed of any upcoming Art of Hosting opportunities.