Harvest

Day I

Sunday, August 7, 2022

Flow

  • Welcome & framing: Why Statenberg, why now, why homecoming?
  • Why am I here – sharing images & stories in the circle
  • Mapping our field – Where are we from? What do we know about AoH? What do we hope for?
  • About our venue & the flow of our days
  • Signing up on the matrix

what happened today

A report from Mary Alice

During our time at our Homecoming Gathering in Statenberg, Slovenia, we’ve been blessed by a circle of almost 60 humans from all over the place, a wide variety of viewpoints and practices and wonderful weather. Ahh, Summer in beautiful SLOVEnia!

On Sunday, we welcomed the group and spent most of our time together checking in and getting to know each other. Some of us are long-term AOH practitioners, some of us have just touched the practice and are coming back in for a landing, and some people in our group really don’t know anything about it. They come from the fields of narrative or other practices, and they’ve somehow found themselves here. We even had one woman who had googled “castles and coffees“ and decided to join us for the afternoon. You just can never tell who might show up in the group!

Dirk Stockman’s video of Day 1

Meta-harvesting poetry, day 1: 

(phrases uttered by participants and collated by Idan Cohen)

Relaxing into the unknown
repeating a question to deepen it:
what needs to die?
Step back – and see what appears.
(can I think about it?)
We’ve not yet started to work
something (is) craving to be reborn
yet just arriving.
Power of place -slow or fast burning
“What makes it important to do the things we do
In the way we do them?”
She laughs – rainbows are the wonder of lightning
and thunder. Darkness and light come
together. The complexity calling to be held. To give back.
“I need playgrounds to experiment – and to bring
It to the world. ” adopting the innovation.
What little piece of Aoh can plug a hole?
Political, the gathering of a tribe,
And where are those who did not come?
And what does this say about the field?
An interesting start, intriguing
Relaxing, jumping back
At home. Much more is coming –
(a) well known surprise, one of a kind.

Day II

Monday, August 8, 2022

Flow

  • Welcome & framing: Sensing the field
  • Meta harvest & Check in
  • Trio storysharing
  • STORYTELLER: Take us to a moment that was a significant learning in your hosting practice in the past years. What shifted as a result?
  • HARVESTER: Name the significant learning and its aspects. (make a narrative point, not a bullet point)
  • WITNESS: Anchor the storyteller. Feel into the shifts in the storyteller and reflect them back,
  • Harvesting in three rounds, including a walk & talk in pairs
  • Collective Story Harvest + sensemaking café
  • Singing on the lawn

what happened today

A report from Mary Alice

On Monday we spent a full day almost in storytelling. We started off the morning in trios sharing stories of significant learning experiences with each other and harvesting out some of our key essences. You can see some of them on the cards in the pictures. There was a very strong theme of self hosting and finding your own ground before you can thrive and host others well, especially in turbulent times.

Out of the stories we found our five stories that went into Collective Story Harvest in the afternoon. They were an interesting mixture from the first AOH experience and the opening of the new world that it made, the importance of finding in knowing your roots, the road to hosting mastery through trial under fire, to the story of the practice field in the European Commission.

After the stories were complete each person listening to a similar harvesting arc sat together. The hosts, the Storytellers and the witnesses sat together. And we distilled what we have learned through these stories.

We studied connection, the edge of practice/what is hosting now?, shadow & light, shifts & transformations, taking care of self.

At the end of the day, I’m sitting on the steps leading up to the main room and our bedrooms, and I’m hearing the sound of singing and guitars here in the courtyard. It is the song “Hotel California“. There are bright stars and an almost full moon shining above. It feels like home.

Dirk Stockman’s video of Day 2

Day III

Tuesday, August 9, 2022

Flow

  • Welcome & framing: Exploring & deepening
  • Meta harvest & Check in
  • Three 90 minute rounds of Open Space
  • Creative harvest
  • Dancing with a local accordion player

what happened today

A report from Mary Alice

Day three in our AoH Homecoming gathering in Slovenia and we spent it in Open Space.

There were 23 topics on offer all the way from “hosting myself” and silent relaxation to” fun and games” and the story of Statenberg Manor. We had multiple sessions on trauma in different forms as well as hosting our inner conversations and how can we make peace with our ancestry?

We explored the concept of Warm Data, the food rescue work that’s being done out there, and how we can learn from online spaces. There were multiple sessions asking about our wider field of practice including one with a question “How can we deepen our collaboration as an AOH community?“

There were many conversations that were deep and very rich and continued to weave themselves past their session times. But it was a wonderful thing when an accordion player arrived and people started to dance on the lawn. We had learned to dance the day before and we practiced it again with much joy and lots of jumping around. I’m always glad to be reminded about my body which I don’t often think about so much!

The question “How do we stay true to the essence of Art of Hosting and stay in practice together?” has been with me for some time. It is important we continue to meet and exchange — our practice has relationship at its heart. Nothing matches meeting in person and having enough time together to experience, exchange, learn about and fall in love with others.

We’ve been talking about a regular cycle of meeting every 6 months in Europe. What do you think?

Dirk Stockman’s video of Day 3

Day IV

Wednesday, August 10, 2022

Flow

  • Welcome & framing: Digesting & exploring
  • Meta harvest & Check in
  • Traveling out to experience Slovenia
  • Sharing our experiences/what’s been cooking in trios
  • Local people come to share Slovenian culture
  • The circle reconvenes: What needs to be spoken now?

what happened today

A report from Mary Alice

The day began on a serious note, although we have planned for inspiration outside the Manor. Life is continuing to ask us to be in practice. We have a choice about how to respond. We can always host.

Our Slovenian mates who work in youth focused activities had a death in their network and so two of our circle left to go to the funeral today. It was beautiful to be able to gift them a poem to help their journey and receiving it yesterday was very moving for me.

MAY I BE


If life is what you make it
And each one has their way
Then let me use compassion
In everything I say

Let me act as if my being
Has important work to do
And every moment meaning
Until the day is through

Let me cherish those here with me
Both near and far away
Appreciate their giftings
And wise words that they say

May I be graceful in my holding
And in my letting go
Active in my learning
And what I need to know

May I be open to the whispers
That speak to me of flow
Aware of all my edges
And where I’m called to grow

May I attend to where the deepening
Quietly calls my name
Remembering life is precious
And only just a game

May I follow my true calling
And what is mine to do
And let it flow on gently
When my time is through

When you look for me and wonder
Just where I’ve gone to next
Remember I’ll be striving
To ever be my best

Imagine me beside you
Should the shades of doubt attack
And hear my quiet whisper
“Mate, I’ve got your back!”

By the time I’m making my daily report, the singers are packing up. It’s almost midnight and the stars are out. I’m thinking right now about what it takes to respond to life with open arms and deep hosting.

Today we left our courtyard in the castle and moved out into the land. People had different experiences they could choose from, including going to a monastery, visiting a permaculture site to make a seed bombs, take a walk around the land surrounding this place, or the one I chose, which was going to the sacred Mountain with a woman who is quite connected to the energies there.

The only photo I took was us walking into the forest, but it’s full of old Celtic sites – at least 60 or more of them over this mountain and its surroundings. This was suppressed during the time of the Inquisition and it’s only been being researched and shared in the past 20 years. Our guide indicated to us that this mountain is focused on love and specifically and especially loving yourself. We greeted each other and the energies of the place, meditated as a group, and then had time as individuals.

It was a space of deep peace and quiet around us after much intense conversation. And it was beautiful to be there in our little circle of 16, feeling like a small community of cells in the midst of the wider forest.

People sharing about their experiences today was quite beautiful, and later in the afternoon the local people came demonstrating linen making, art, woodwork, and wool work. I could tell our community is coming together ever more closely in how many people had something to say during Village News. We ended the day with singing.

Dirk Stockman’s video of Day 4

Day V

Thursday, August 11, 2022

Flow

  • Welcome & framing: What now?
  • Meta harvest & Check in
  • Two spacious rounds of Open Space, including a 30 minute harvesting period
  • Gallery walk
  • Open community call on Zoom
  • Fire ritual

what happened today

A report from Mary Alice

Here’s my report back from day five at Statenberg. Our day hosts Ian Andersen and An van An Van Damme introduced us once again to the practice of being in community. An read out a really beautiful poem by Starhawk to remind us what community can feel like. I found myself musing about what community means – the easiest way to think about in fact are the two words that make it up, “ common“ and “unity.” It implies we have some things that we do together or care for together.

I remember colleagues in Denmark saying that every community needs a commons and every commons needs a community. In earlier times our children were our commons. The purpose of community was to raise good human beings.

But what is community about now? Obviously cities exist because they are an easy way to distribute things. But what other reasons could we have? What has happened to our rites of passage and ways of helping each other to understand the various roles needed in community and how we can play them? Where are the people who ask us — as the word in kanji means in Japanese — to be the best of ourselves? (Literally “the place where I am most myself”)

There are times when Art of Hosting functions as a community, but often it is a network of networks. And therefore people may wonder about the structure or how we host things together. It is quite obvious to me that while we love the whole concept of co-creation and self organizing system, somebody has to host it if anything is going to get done. And most often where we are lacking is in people who host the whole.

We spent the day once again in Open Space. This time we only had two sessions of 90 minutes plus a 30 minute harvesting time. It was purposely created to be spacious so that people could do all the things that seem to happen in the “in between time.” It’s interesting that Open Space was created as a giant coffee break, but even it has it’s in between times!

Then there was a gallery walk in the courtyard on the grass for people to really dig into all of the conversations that happened and find out what others have been up to.

This evening we also had a call to the wider community and it was really neat to see other people turn up to find out what we’ve been up to and allow us to share a window into our experience. There were 10 of us sitting around a very small table in our main living room under the big painted ceiling, and at least another 15 people online asking questions and offering their sensing into some of the topics we raised. A big thank you to Marjeta Novak for keeping the focus on a potential call and co-hosting!

Our fire in the evening – which started out as a full moon ritual of release and bringing in – ended up as a corn roasting opportunity and a chance for people to really hang out together. I’m reminded how much we need ritual spaces in order to mark significant moments and to give ourselves time to digest, percolate, and commit to what’s rising inside of us. It’s simply doesn’t feel the same when you sit at home and do something like this as when you can be together witness each other at holding each other.

One of the things we committed to exploring are regular scheduled meetings every six months in Europe. We talked about having a summer gathering like we just did with Open Space and spacious enough for people to really sink in and make good connections and think deeply. And a winter gathering which would be shorter – maybe 2 to 3 days – where we could have a chance to share some of the practical applications of hosting, help each other on projects, and brainstorm together. Like a Designing for Wiser Action in place. Eighteen have signed up to start thinking on this.

Dirk Stockman’s video of Day 5

In the evening of this day around 10 people from our circle participated in an open call for anyone wanting to hear about the Gathering. Call report from Marjeta Novak:

This one-hour hybrid call with the people at AoH Homecoming at Statenberg in Slovenia gives me hope for the future: it took us less than 24 hours to organise it, we adapted the flow because of unexpected local challenges (light & bandwidth), and yet connected meaningfully, exploring what ways of staying connected (to each other & the AoH essence) would make our hearts sing.

One of the (many) gems for me was hearing an inspiring story from Colombia, where one of the ministers in the new government is a person who brought AoH to the country years ago. Wow!!!

The red thread was the deep need to nurture community connections — these connections create friendships and courage to tackle bigger hosting challenges together.

Given the short prep time, we were practicing emergence (literally and metaphorically). Yet this was a prototype showing the power and potential to expand in-person gathering with hybrid parts, making them more accessible, abundant, and aspirational.

A big thank you to all who joined at such short notice.

I personally love hybrids — the challenge, and the possibility they evoke. It takes some good friendships to host them well.

Meta-harvesting poetry, day 5:

(phrases uttered by participants and collated by Idan Cohen)


WHAT NOW?
the art of invitation – we are creating an experience
which builds understanding and action.
(so) do you (I) have the passion
(or) passionate partners?
“Don’t take them to a training –
Take them to a practical process”.
Emergence is fueled by love – insight into action.
Sometimes the change you’re calling for
has already happened. Putting the practice into work.
Start small to go far. Community supporting itself. “Today
may we act as our heart calls.” Light and heart
make lighthearted. A river overflowing its banks’-
let’s see what we can build on. The power of the sword
to open a space for freedom. The force
of friendship. Catastrophic beauty –
convergent collaboration. We got it –
they got it! Coming home is constant motion. (and)
it’s again the connections. The old art
of being human with each other in the garden.
The real work happening – between the words.
Accepting diverse rhythms
and my own. The body keeps the score.
Courageous choices – letting go
“Today is the best day of my life!”
(so) take the thread again. In-between. Unexpectedly
Lovely. The battle of the cat and the peacock. Backroom hosting.
Where words resist holding wisdom is unfolding,
(in) effortless effort. Relief after the storm.
A new day. In more than one aspect.
May I be of service
with all my love.

Day VI

Friday, August 12, 2022

Flow

  • Welcome & framing: Convergence & harvest
  • Using the Breath Pattern as a map for how to meet the moment
  • Meta harvest & Check in – choral storytelling
  • Gallery walk of the overall harvest in pairs, then a 30 min Open Space for Action session for completing
  • What we learned – using the Fourfold Practice as a frame
  • Who we’ve been together – a “spiderwebbing” of relationships
  • Who we could be together – creating the future story of Art of Hosting
  • Final check out – speaking what needs to be said

what happened today

A report from Mary Alice

The last day is all about what I call “landing the plane.“ It’s a time to remember where we came from, what we have been working with and digesting during our time together, and to give us a hopeful glimpse into our potential future.

It was wonderful to be able to land deeply at the end of our time together in our significant practice patterns – the Fourfold Practice and the Breath Pattern – some of the gifts that come to the world through the Art of Hosting community. It’s good to remind ourselves how simple and powerful these things are and how important it is to have a foundation ground to your practice. What you DO is many times less important than who you BE.

I opened with the Breath Pattern and how it is really a story in physical form. I reminded them when we know the geography of where we are we know exactly how to meet the moment.

We took a gallery walk of our complete harvest in pairs and then invited everyone to take part in a “open space for action” half hour to finalize off their meetings, ideas, and signing up for other peoples groups and conversations.

Then we shared what we have learned in the teams we signed up for, and the conversations we had, and the “in between” spaces where we challenged each other in thinking through things. We shared our learnings with each other to enrich our field and are learning.

Next we ask people to surface the relationships that happened between us. We did what I called “spider webbing.“ That’s where, following a prompt, you go and put your hand on the shoulder of whomever that prompt refers to, sometimes linking to more than one person.

We asked people who was the one who made you laugh? Who is the one you learned the most from? Who is the one you found the most courageous? Whose story inspired you? Who is the one whose heart you want to encourage? It’s beautiful to see us all come together so much learning and giving and receiving from each other.

And in the final piece, we asked people to consider our future story. If we stood five years in the future, what did we do now that made us so successful in such a thriving community? There were some beautiful offerings. We have such powerful dreams for the future!

We ended in a closing circle with people sharing whatever they felt like needed to be said. It was touching to hear how people had learned much, felt themselves touched by others, felt drawn together and were deeply digesting their own steps forward. We thanked Franc, who is the only person who still lives in this old stately home and is taking care of it with his big vision. We were able to give him more than €2000 to create an art gallery which will be called The Art of Hosting Homecoming gallery. He was so touched he cried.

By 4 PM most people had departed and we were blessed with a beautiful rainbow in the sky. It felt like a fitting end to the time we had shared as a full group.

It is important to continue to inquire into:

  • What have we learned individually and collectively?
  • What relationships have we formed and who have we been to and for each other?
  • What do we dream is possible?

These are important steps to consider and help us stay together and practice. This is my wish and my dream: that we stay and practice together and that our practice makes a significant contribution in this world!

This is a practice of peace. And it is so needed everywhere. We send out to all of you the heart to keep going and we say to you that we are at your back.

Dirk Stockman’s video of Day 6