To bring heart to the courageous work of public engagement through the patterns and practices of Art of Hosting.
To be together better.
These were the two key goals set for 27 faculty and staff from across the University of Minnesota who participated in the first two days of Art of Hosting training last week.
We represented a diverse cross-section of 18 Schools, Offices, Centers and Departments across the University. However, from the moment we walked in the door, our 3 hosts* and 6 apprentice hosts** (individuals trained in Art of Hosting earlier this year who are paying-it-forward) rallied us around those two key goals.
Over the course of the 2 days, we co-created a space in which we could imagine new ways of living out the public engagement portion of the University's mission. We examined paradox and the chaordic path - a framework for grappling with complexity. We experimented with world café, intentional listening, and open space technology as strategies to involve others in examining problems and creating innovative solutions.
- Relationships matter. We spent a great amount of the two days building relationships with each other: sharing symbolic artifacts from our offices and homes, courageously sharing meaningful stories. It struck me that this type of relationship building requires slowing down, but it is the foundation of trust, which is the engine for collective impact.
- Language matters. Talking about facilitation and hosting as a practice instead of an expertise invited us participants to try it out without waiting to feel like experts. Taking about gatherings and conversations instead of conferences and meetings sets the tone for a participatory environment. At the same time, the language used in Art of Hosting won't resonate with every audience. I realized it's important to be intentional about your language, pushing those you are with out of the status quo, but making sure your language choices don't alienate.
- Creativity matters. Drawings and movement were incorporated throughout the two days. Not only did this help me remember the concepts so much better, but it stirred up my creative self that I tend to shush in my professional interactions. Thanks to all the folks at the training from the School of Design who added so much to these conversations!
- Hosting skills matter. One of the conversations that took place during open space technology was "How do we get more students trained in Hosting techniques?" We had a great discussion about where this might be incorporated in curriculum or service learning opportunities and how this might look if it was a stand-alone center/program at the University.
We have two more days of the training Thursday and Friday of next week. I can't wait. After the last two days, we set intentions for ourselves to focus on until the second half of the training. Mine was to build more creativity and nuance into my day-to-day work.
In closing, I have two gifts for you. The first is the questions our trainers asked us to reflect on prior to the training. I encourage you to take a moment and reflect yourself on these potentially transformational questions...or take them to your next staff meeting:
The second gift is a great poem that set the tone for our training:
Not just any talk is conversation
Not any talk raises consciousness
Good conversation has an edge
It opens your eyes to something
It quickens your ears
And good conversation reverberates
It keeps on talking in your mind later in the day;
The next day, you find yourseif still conversing with what was said
The reverberation afterward is the very raising of consciousness
Your mind and heart have been moved
Your are at another level with your reflections.
I believe we need the meaningful conversations that can spark in a carefully hosted space more than ever. Hosting techniques need to be spread, not just among students but among even more faculty and staff. I hope this summer's Art of Hosting training serves as the drop in a lake that ripples out across our University.
Offices/Schools/Centers represented in this summer's University of Minnesota with InCommons Art of Hosting training:
Office of Human Resources (Organizational Effectiveness, Center for Teaching and Learning), Extension (Children, Youth, and Family Consortium, Center for Community Vitality, Humphrey School of Public Affairs (Public and Nonprofit Leadership Center, Center for Integrative Leadership, Urban and Regional Planning), College of Liberal Arts (Community Service-Learning Center, Office of Information Technology), Carlson School of Management, College of Education (Organizational Leadership, Policy, and Development), School of Veterinary Medicine (Center for Animal Health and Food Safety), School of Social Work, Academic Health Center (Center for Spirituality and Healing), Urban Research and Outreach/Engagement Center, College of Design (Design, Housing, and Apparel, Center for Sustainable Building Research, Center for Changing Landscapes), Medical School (Center for Magnetic Resonance Research).
**Also a huge thanks to our 6 wonderful apprentice hosts: Merrie Benasutti, Toby Spanier, Lori Rothstein, Lisa Hinz, Laura LaCroix-Dalluhn, and Jenny Hegland