It’s always useful to gather in person. This helps us sense the whole of our community. But a truly transformative gathering requires more than just showing up. We know that gatherings feel differently when they are designed to be truly participatory in contrast to those that are one-way transfers of knowledge. If we are to create new possibilities together, we’ve learned that gatherings must be well-designed and hosted and are most powerful when they are grounded in clarity of purpose and yet still open to co-creation.
What gatherings will you be a part of this spring and summer? How will you prepare yourself to participate fully? What do you hope to gain? What will you offer?
A Call From Brazil: 2011 Berkana Exchange Gathering
Imagine what might come out of a group of practitioners of positive change gathering together for 10 days to create a learning lab, practice new forms of organizing and discover creative solutions we have never before considered. Berkana is excited to announce that learning center partners Elos Institute and Núcleo de Aprendizagem Paulo Sogayar (NAPS) have invited the Berkana Exchange community to come together for a trans-local gathering in Brazil this October. It will be the first event self-organized by the Exchange community. More than sharing knowledge, the purpose of this gathering is to live and learn together, celebrating friendship by working on the land, cooking, playing, having fun, engaging in meaningful conversations and learning from one another. View the invitation here. For more information on the gathering, please email: firstname.lastname@example.org.
“Alive in Community: Designing and Hosting Transformational Gatherings”
by Aerin Dunford and Bob Stilger
In this new article from The Berkana Institute we share reflections on what we’ve learned from four years of hosting the Art of Learning Centering gathering. These events have been a critical opportunity for the Berkana Exchange community to learn about each other’s work, share experiences and skills and embrace the challenge of learning from immense diversity. We explore how to intentionally design and host face-to-face gatherings that transform the quality of our experience and identity as a community. What conditions invite cooperation, creativity and synergy? How can we make the most of our precious time together? Read more.
Facilitation Tools from YES! and the Global Collaborative
For more than ten years Berkana’s friends and colleagues at the international youth organization YES! have been convening powerful encounters with diverse social entrepreneurs. YES! World Jams are week-long gatherings of young leaders from around the globe that explore internal, interpersonal and systemic change. Leveraging Privilege for Social Change Jams create space for a group of self-identified privileged young changemakers to engage in personal exploration, skills-sharing and collaboration. The Global Collaborative is an intentional and ongoing community of practice that grew out of the ‘Jamly’ (hosts and participants from past YES! Jams). Together YES! and the Global Collaborative recently released two new resources to inspire and spark ideas for calling and hosting transformative gatherings:
- “No Way Out: Many Ways Forward” is a collection of stories, poems and art from Jamparticipants. Inspire, Connect, Collaborate! Read here.
- The YES! Jams Facilitation Manual is filled with over 120 activities and processes from the global community of YES! facilitators. Read here.
The Art of Convening: Authentic Engagement in Meetings, Gatherings, and Conversations
by Craig and Patricia Neal
For meetings to be useful, we need authentic engagement: a genuine expression of what is true for us, and an attentive listening to what is true for others. Why it so often eludes us can be a matter of habit, distrust, lack of attention, or fear. Craig and Patricia Neal’s new book shares the unique and powerful Art of Convening model which brings authentic engagement and meaning to any group that comes together for any purpose. Convening goes beyond facilitating; it creates an environment in which all voices are heard, profound exchanges take place and transformative action results. Read more.
Harvests from Berkana Community Events
The Art of Hosting – Columbus, Ohio
For three days in February, practitioners gathered for an Art of Hosting in Columbus, Ohio around the question, “How can we boldly and authentically be present in conversation, learning, and action in our work, our community, and our individual lives in a world that is constantly transforming?” The gathering was deeply focused on personal leadership transformation, while building the skills, insights and courage needed to gather others together to navigate a changing world. It was a rich time of learning together on many levels: individually for participants and hosts, collectively for the community that gathered and across communities using these processes and methodologies to change the way they work. View a photo collage from the Art of Hosting Columbus.
Learning Societies unConference
From April 4-9, more than 150 people gathered at the Deer Park Institute in Bir, India for the Learning Societies unConference to explore how to move beyond current frameworks of factory schooling toward new models of self-directed learning in community. This year’s unconference focused on four qualities: Courage, Compassion, Contemplation, Creativity. Participants used Open Space Technology as a way of self-organizing sessions. Workshops focused on everything from organic farming to quantum physics to how to co-create diverse self-directed learning communities, opportunities for dialogue and cultural regeneration. Read reflections on the experience from Tana Paddock and Warren Nilsson of Organization Unbound. Watch the unconference video.
Walk Out Walk On Deep Dive in Toronto
Last week, 36 participants from across Ontario joined Berkana board members Deborah Frieze, Tim Merry and Tuesday Ryan-Hart for a two-day “deep dive” into ideas offered in the new book: Walk Out Walk On: A Learning Journey into Communities Daring to Live the Future Now. Participants represented nonprofits and collaboratives, foundations, healthcare, academia and religious organizations. Berkana President Emerita, Meg Wheatley, spent time with participants sharing experiences and learning from her work with leaders across the globe. Together they explored what it means to begin acting in this world from a new set of beliefs and principles. A key learning from this gathering was that we all have opportunities to take walk out walk on journeys in our lives and communities, and it’s up to each of us to determine which paths to take. For more information on upcoming Walk Out Walk On gatherings and book events, visit walkoutwalkon.net.
The Berkana Institute works in partnership with a rich diversity of people around the world who strengthen their communities by working with the wisdom and wealth already present in their people, traditions and environment. As pioneers, we do not deny or flee from our global crisis. We respond by moving courageously into the future now, experimenting with many different solutions.
Whatever the problem, community is the answer.