Trans-local Experiments in Healthcare and Wellness (November 2011)

Dear Friends,

Like many of us, I’m paying close attention to the Occupy Movement. I’m curious about the way it’s spreading and touched by what it’s trying to illuminate: not the naming of challenges we know have existed for a long time, but the fact that we do not yet have the answers. No one does. We won’t discover them by acting alone either. The stirrings made visible by Occupy have been alive in healthcare as long, and maybe longer, than most of the systems in the spotlight now like finance and governance. We still don’t know how to mend many of the problems we see in our healthcare systems, but all over the globe healthcare practitioners have been using Art of Hosting to discover what we do know. If ever there was a time for trans-local Communities of Practice around healthcare to emerge, it is now.

What might our healthcare systems look like if we begin to bring a different level of consciousness to them? When we come together in generative conversations around how to improve healthcare and find the courage to reimagine it, how do we sustain that courage when we go back to our communities?

Kathy Jourdain

Walk Out Walk On: Learning from the Field

A Vision of Living Wholeness

Health and wholeness go hand in hand. To be healthy is to be in balance, in tune with our wholeness as physical, emotional, spiritual and relational beings. In a recent Walk Out Walk On blog, Marianne Knuth explores what it means to begin to live from a place of wholeness as we work to create change in our communities. As co-founder of Pioneers of Change and Kufunda Learning Village, and as a mother, Knuth, like many of us, knows how to keep herself busy with meaningful work. The challenge, she says, is learning how to live as an integrated human being rather trying to earn our place on the planet or hyper-compartmentalizing our different lives and selves. Read more.

Stories from the Berkana Web and Beyond

Healthier Healthcare Systems

Longtime Berkana friends, Tenneson Woolf, Steve Ryman, Kathy Jourdain and Marc Parnes, invite healthcare practitioners (and others) to join them at a workshop January 11-13 in Salt Lake City, Utah. Healthier Healthcare Systems is a gathering for “anyone interested in imagining together a different way of providing healthcare: one that involves health and caring, that honors the heart as well as the head, and one that recognizes the healing power of relationships and conversation.” This event is being called by the Berkana Healthcare Community of Practice, which hosts bi-monthly conference calls and has collaborated on a number of Art of Hosting events since 2010. In a recent blog post Tenneson Woolf discussed the work in this field and why this event is key at this time. Read blogLearn more or register.

Healthcare: The Machine

For more than 35 years Steve Ryman has worked in the healthcare sector in Eastern Oregon. It’s a system he has helped to shape and also been shaped by. In this post, Steve reflects back on his experiences in this field since encountering Margaret WheatleyThe Berkana Institute and the Art of Hosting. It has been a transformative and challenging journey. Even once we recognize the importance of relationship, participation, openness and authenticity in our workplaces, it can be difficult to continue practicing what we know and to keep the energy from our Art of Hosting trainings alive in the day-to-day. Steve and others know that, despite the challenges, it is vital that we continue our experiments in self-organizing and emergence within dominant systems. Read more.

Transforming Public Health in Nova Scotia with Participatory Leadership

In February 2009, a group of health practitioners across Nova Scotia began engaging people within and outside the formal public health system through interviews, “learning journeys” and stakeholder consultations. They asked people what was working well across healthcare systems in their communities, what was needed and what else might be possible. They brought in Art of Hosting tools and methodologies and worked intentionally with participatory leadership practices to explore possibilities in very different settings. In this blog, Michelle Murton, a nutritionist in the department of Health and Wellness, describes Nova Scotia’s journey and offers learning resources from the work this community has done together thus far. Read moreDownload “Nova Scotia Public Health: A Journey to Renewal.”

Innovations in Healthcare in Ottawa

Since June 2008, over 200 people have participated in 17 Real Conversations in Health across Ottawa. Designed to inspire participants to take more responsibility for their health using Art of Hosting methodologies, Real Conversations evolved from discussions in living rooms, coffee shops and retirement homes into a series of events hosted in collaboration with the Canadian Association for People-Centred Health (CAPCH). Participants share diverse opinions, and in turn, behavior changes and health improves. Real Conversations is planning a series of three events in 2012: “Real Conversations in: Mental Health, Healthy Workplaces and Integrative Health.” Learn more on the Real Conversations website or by contacting Cille Harris at And in Kanata, Ottawa, a group of dentists have come together to work on a project called Shaping the Future of Dentistry and are introducing Art of Hosting methodologies to the sector. Learn more about their efforts from Marielle Pariseau DDS on the Berkana blog.


Learnings from Our Optimal Health, Columbus, Ohio

You may remember the initiative Our Optimal Health from the Berkana article “From Hero to Host: A Story of Citizenship in Columbus, Ohio.” These folks and partners at the (New) Columbus Medical Association have been forerunners in the exploration of participative processes within healthcare systems. Our Optimal Health has been using the Art of Hosting as an operating system for the past five years. In 2010 they paused to look back on what they had learned thus far. The resulting harvest is an invaluable resource for anyone working with participative leadership models in the healthcare sector and beyond. The reflections opens: “Part of what we realized as we began to synthesize… is that much of what we are learning is actually about holding complexity and can be applied across many areas of social innovation.” Read onlineDownload PDF. Watch videos about this work on the Our Optimal Health website.

Berkana Healthcare Community of Practice Bi-Monthly Conference Call

The Berkana Healthcare Community of Practice was co-created by a group of people that value the Art of Hosting and want to stay in contact with each other, particularly around the intersection of hosting and healthcare. This trans-local group is creating new ways for healthcare practitioners to name, connect, nurture and illuminate their learnings. The community meets by telephone the second Tuesday of every other month. The next meeting is January 10, 2011. “I love the way that the quality of our conversations reflects the quality of health that we are imagining for ourselves and others,” says Pamela Schreiner about the calls. Healthcare practitioners using participative leadership as part of their ongoing practice are invited to join the community. For more information please contact Steve Ryman at or Tenneson Woolf at

From the Archives: “Listening as Healing,” by Margaret Wheatley

“Why is being heard so healing? I don’t know the full answer to that question, but I do know it has something to do with the fact that listening creates relationship,” writes Margaret Wheatley in this 2001 article. Our quest for health is not only about our physical well-being, it is also a journey toward wholeness. At times large systems, like healthcare, can feel burdensome and complex; it is important to remember that there are incredibly simple, healing actions we can take to deepen our connections with one another. One of these actions is listening well. This article is adapted from Wheatley’s book Turning to One Another: Simple Conversations to Restore Hope to the Future, January 2002. Read moreDownload the article in Spanish.

Community Events

World Café Signature Learning Programs | December 6, 8, & 9, 2011, 9-11 AM PT | The Americas

Drawing on the experience and expertise of master hosts from around the world, the World Café Community Foundation has developed a suite of World Café Signature Learning Programs to familiarize, develop capacity and build mastery in hosting “conversations that matter.” The upcoming learning program is a level one training for practitioners in the Americas. The program will take place online and by telephone in three two-hour sessions. Learn more and register.

Art of Collaborative Place-Making | December 7-9, 2011 | Mitspe Ramon, Hadarom, Israel

We are witnessing a massive re-claiming of public and communal space in the world right now. It is cascading through our public squares, parks, streets and our hearts. As citizens, we are becoming architects of our collective future, but how do we actually co-create, design and build the next level of powerful communal places that are needed now? Join Vanessa Reid, Maria Scordialos and Sarah Whitely with learning partners, Archinool, in this highly experiential 3-day learning journey in the incredible setting of Mitzpe Ramon. Learn more.

Webinar: “If You Till It, They Will Come: Nurturing Collective Leadership” | January 17, 2012

Long prior to the groundswell of what people are calling the “leader-less” Occupy Movement, many of us have been looking at how to create the conditions for emergent and collective leadership. Given the complexity of the issues we face, we cannot rely on expert or command-and-control leadership to move us forward. We must unleash more robust and adaptive collective intelligence. For almost 20 years, our friends at the Interaction Institute for Social Change (IISC) have been building the collaborative capacity of change agents for greater social impact. In this webinar, IISC Senior Associates Curtis Ogden and Gibran Rivera explore practices for creating the conditions to unleash “leader-full” momentum that embodies and leads to the social change we seek. Learn more or register.

Art of Participatory Leadership & Social Collaboration | February 8-11, 2012 | Salt Lake City, Utah

What conversations are you longing to have with your organization or community? This three-day intensive will explore participatory practices for inviting and hosting game-changing conversations in our groups, organizations, communities and movements. The Art of Participatory Leadership and Social Collaboration offers the opportunity to be inquiry together around tough, complex issues and to build new, authentically inclusive ways to go forward. We will explore Self-Organizing Systems, Emergence, World Cafe, Open Space Technology, Appreciative Inquiry, Circle, harvesting and storytelling, play, rest and stillness. Learn more or register.

Walk Out Walk On Book Events

Meg Wheatley and Deborah Frieze continue to host conversations about their latest book, Walk Out Walk On: A Learning Journey into Communities Daring to Live the Future Now. Events are scheduled for Salt Lake City, Utah (TODAY November 29, 6:30-9:00 PM) and Boulder, Colorado (April 17) with more dates to follow. Visit for more information.