- What is the Art of Hosting and what difference does it make? What makes it both radical and common-sense at the same time?
- The Art of Hosting doesn’t have a central office or paid staff, and yet it has quickly spread and become its own movement. What can we learn from this as we try to accelerate change in Nova Scotia?
- How is the Art of Hosting enabling young people to become leaders within their communities?
I got to interview my old friend and mentor, Toke Moeller, for a webinar offered by Engage Nova Scotia, filmed at the HUB South Shore My questions were along the lines of:
Latest video blog from myself and Tuesday Ryan Hart - Why are meetings important?
There are three practices at the centre of participatory process: hosting, harvesting and organizing. I have been learning a lot about the key role the coordinators and organizers play in the success of our work, particularly on the more complex pieces of work. Here's a few reflections:
Check out this short video blog on what are the group sizes that shift the design, methods and approach ...
What are the best ways to market our open and public events? What type of invitation works and what doesn't? Some thoughts and questions from me, and I would love to hear your experience ...
A collaboration between Tim Merry and Tuesday Ryan Hart . We are excited to share our 2017 online offerings! Our new Art of Hosting Webinar Series begins February 16, and the fourth iteration of our Leading Effective Meetings online course begins in April. If you'd like even more time with us, consider joining our Advanced Leadership coaching. Check out our video on what's coming in 2017. See you online!
Tuesday Ryan Hart and I have been working on a model for systems change and equity ... it is exciting! Here's a short video blog with a little bit about why we are doing it and how we are going about it:
"I love the new Mahone Bay playground. It says to me, "families are welcome to live here!" It's the Mahone Bay equivalent of a neon sign inviting people like me to settle. My wife and I have three kids and have chosen to stay in this area because of the community of young families who live here. I used to describe the phenomenon as "instacommunity" - we move into the area, add water, stir a bit and boom! - community.
Therefore, it was with a mixture of sadness and exasperation that I heard the story from the Mahone Bay mayoral debates. At the debates one of the candidates said he did not want Mahone Bay to become a "grey haired ghetto" to which the reply from one audience member was "what's wrong with a grey haired ghetto?" The room of around 150 people dissolved into laughter, apart from the small group of parents who had managed to find babysitters and came to participate in the event ..." Read the full article here
We have lost some greats of music this year and there have been some incredible new artists, and new tunes by existing artists, to listen to. I am lucky to have a bevvy of friends who recommend music to me. My ears have been blessed with atmospheric electronica like Badbadnotgood, Gogo Penguin and Floating Points (all Gary), De La Soul are back to their best, Nick Cave broke my heart (Karl), The Incredible String Band (Toke) woke me up, Roots Manuva took me back to my twenties and I felt happy every time I listened to Julian Dore, Le Lac. And, if you haven't listened to Kate Tempest's new album (Matt), go do it now. Here are are a few of the other artists that kept coming back on my playlist. I hope you enjoy them and they put wind in your sails for 2017. It is amazing what beauty pours from the hearts of humans!
I was finally able to set up my record player (a result of moving house) and it has been great to pull out some Vinyl. I am lucky enough my old friend, Anna, is with a fellow who runs a record shop in Amerstdam called Plato. They have sent the Vinyl LP of Urban Hymns by The Verve! My mate, Jonty, has also convinced me it is time to get some of the The Specials on vinyl too ... and because it is new year here's one more track, Enjoy Yourself (It's Later Than You Think) ...
What are you listening to?
If you could order anything on vinyl for 2017, what would it be?
In 2016 we worked on the Spring Garden West Public Engagement - it as was great process that lead to major changes in the design influenced by the public input. Here is a video from the developer talking about how they think development should be happening based on their experience working with us. I hope it could be useful for anyone trying to build a case for proper engagement in the design of infrastructure:
Follow the process from the beginning. This document illustrates the collaborative process on how the design evolved based on a dialogue between the public, the developer and design professionals. I hope this illustration of the engagement process can be used as material to support other projects. Check it out here or download it below:
Chris Corrigan and I were recently in Calgary running an Art of Hosting training together and the professionalization of the field of engagement, facilitation and hosting came up. It provoked some thoughts about certification, IAP and the role of training events like the Art of Hosting in the bigger picture. The video blog speaks a lot to why we call it the ART of Hosting, why we have resisted certification of the Art of Hosting and why we must make this work widely available as a human practice rather than a professional field.
Recently there has been an excellent exchange of resources on the Art of Hosting email list around how evaluation connects to the work of participatory leadership. I hope you find these resources and reflections as useful as I have. I have separated the content based on the person that contributed to make it a bit more accessible. Check it out below.
Here are a few resources that have been meaningful for me:
The New Directions for Evaluation Journal (special issue on evaluation and facilitation)
The Guide to Evaluating Collective Impact
Also here is a resource that Miranda Cobb and I created as an introductory toolkit for community-based, participatory and developmental evaluation last year.
"In my experience, so much of what Developmental Evaluation does is already naturally embedded within Art of Hosting practices, especially if there is a strong and rigorous harvesting strategy, so I'd suggest syncing up at this level with the evaluation team (otherwise needless overlap can occur)."
We are doing lots of developmental evaluation connected to many of the hosting projects of the Future Services Institute in Minnesota. But most are 'under construction.'
Kathy Quick and I have done a few articles that are more theory building / basic research. One is published in a journal, another in a book chapter, and another forthcoming. I've attached them here:
Another form of harvesting that we did is an e-book from how Art of Hosting was implemented throughout our University system. It can be found here: http://conservancy.umn.edu/handle/11299/155523
There's a distinction to be made based on what are you evaluating. Do you want to know: how effective the program is that uses hosting? Or how hosting works? Whether the event was hosted well and whether hosting was the right approach?
Depending on your answer, I'm listing resources below. And of course, I am open to a conversation (DrRita@ritafierro.com), if you feel like you're swimming and need support.
A distinction is needed between evaluating the effectiveness of programs using participatory leadership (how effective the program is), publications on participatory leadership and evaluation (publications on the area above), research on participatory leadership practices (how participatory leadership works), and evaluation of participatory leadership practices (how well participatory leadership works).
1) EVALUATING PROGRAMS USING PARTICIPATORY LEADERSHIP - how effective the program is
I've been combining participatory leadership practices in evaluation for several years now and training on the topic for the past four years, including three years at the American Evaluation Association.
Currently, one of the developmental evaluations I am conducting is of a trauma training for police officers and community members in Newark, NJ, which began with a community visioning process for the best role for police in the face of violence in community--Using World Cafe and Circle Practice. We are using developmental evaluation to track the increased mutual understanding between police and community especially on issues of race.
More on the added value that participatory leadership provides to evaluation on my blog: Seven Great Reasons to Use Participatory Leadership in Evaluation.
2) PUBLICATIONS ON PARTICIPATORY LEADERSHIP AND EVALUATION - publications of program effectiveness
I also co-edited an issue: Evaluation and Facilitation in the New Directions in Evaluation Journal that digs into these issues more deeply.
If you're interested in purchasing it, you can a discount here, or contact me. The issue includes my article:
Enhancing Facilitation Skills: Dancing with Dynamic Tensions
As for the use of complexity theory in Evaluation there are two articles I wrote for Better Evaluation on:
- Using SenseMaker in Child-Centred Research
- Using SenseMaker to Understand Girls' Education in Ethiopia
3) RESEARCH on PARTICIPATORY LEADERSHIP PRACTICES - how hosting works
Jodi Sanfort has been a leader here and links to her articles are in the section above with her name.
4) EVALUATING PARTICIPATORY LEADERSHIP PRACTICES - how well an event or training was hosted
This is the area that is least developed, and that is growing. In the above mentioned journal there is one article on an
Evaluation of Participatory Leadership practices:
Invisible and Unbound? The Challenge and Practice of Evaluating Embedded Facilitation 107 by Jessica Dart, Megan Roberts
Further, in researching for the journal I found four reports on evaluations of Art of Hosting - but it's mainly evaluating the impact of trainings:
- Practicing the Art of Hosting Report
- AOH Success Works Evaluation Report
- Cultivating Change in the Academy
I hope this helps.
Just before leaving the event in Slovenia Mary Alice Arthur interviewed me. Here is what I had to say in response to her questions about Participatory Leadership, practice and where the work is going from below. You can see a full harvest from this excellent event here and here's the link to the summary of the track Toke and I ran together 'Making An Honourable Living'.
Right before me my friend, mentor and co driver for the trip Slovenia was interviewed too on similar questions. Here is what he had to say ...
I recently found this in my diaries from 13 years ago. The year I moved to Nova Scotia.
“The world is not going to get better. The current global chaos is going to increase. The madness we see now will only continue to escalate, I suspect until we hit a massive ecological crisis. I believe human intervention has gone too far globally to be remedied - the battle is lost. The opposite of despair is not hope for me; the opposite of despair is action.
Nova Scotia works for me as a place to begin this new action in my life. It is on the fringes of the madness; what has infected so much of the world has not really hit Nova Scotia yet. It still has slowness and simplicity in its nature. When a pond unfreezes, it is the edges that melt first. I believe that as the world descends further into chaos, that we will need places which hold good human wisdom and practice.”
It felt a bit strange to read it to be honest. It does feel to me like the chaos has only increased over the lat 13 years: the number of ecological disasters, increased economic uncertainty, massive social unrest, the breakdown of trust between citizens and governments, corporate greed running rampant … you don’t need me to continue the list!
That got me to thinking about why Nova Scotia is such a great place to be. In the midst of all this madness we can watch from the edges and make our own decisions. It is like we are part of it but not fully in it all. Thank goodness. More from my diary:
Check out this short video introducing a learning track I am doing at the Practitioners Gathering in Slovenia in October. I am excited to be doing this with my old friend and mentor Toke Moeller. The video introduces the track and also has some highlights from a conversation we had recently.
I have put the learning track description below and an link to the event. Check it out and hope to see you there!
Making an honourable living and doing work for the common good of all:
Tim Merry, with guest host Toke Møller
FOR MORE INFO ON THE EVENT CLICK HERE
During the two days we have together we will explore the journey of making a living through staying connected to our integrity. On the first day we will look at one or two examples of applying Art of Hosting to large scale public engagement work - where money, purpose and power mingle together with enormous potential and great risk. On the second day we follow the trajectory of applying Art of Hosting as a practice in the world but also as business that pays the bills and leaves you with some profit at the end. Please come prepared to dive into provocative conversations with other participants, to explore models for public engagement and Art of Hosting as a business, and to dig deep to discover your own business ethic. This module will be co-designed by Tim and Toke on their road trip from Denmark to Slovenia, Tim will lead the sessions and Toke will be joining to give one or two teachings, his health permitting.
We’re going to have some fun.
We’re going to dive deep and learn a bunch about ourselves and our work.
We’re going to prepare for the future that is coming to meet us in the most practical way possible.
How about it? You in?
Tim and Toke
FOR MORE INFO ON THE EVENT CLICK HERE
Upcoming webinar on Systems Change and Social Transformation - September 7th at 11am ET. Check out this short video to wet the appetite! It has clips from a blog Tuesday Ryan-Hart and I did earlier this year on social justice and systems change. Register for the webinar at here. See you there!
Happy to get a mention in this piece of research done by Rachel Sinha and Tim Draimin. Check it out - a good 20 thousand foot view with lots of jumping points for those wanting to dig deeper. Read online or download below:
Latest column in the local paper ... "I find myself in this constant tension between wanting to name some of the underbellies of the challenges facing our rural communities and simultaneously wanting to blow the loudest and most positive horn possible to attract people, business and progress."
My Mum and Dad were just over from England and we took them to the Nova Scotia International Tattoo on Canada Day. I had one of those straight up heart bursting “I’m proud to be Nova Scotian” moments. The MC, in the beginning, was getting everyone from different regions of Canada and parts of the world to cheer to show they were there. When he asked Nova Scotians to cheer, the roof was raised and I found myself unreservedly cheering too.
CBC Radio interview #2: democracy, unintentional racism, government power sharing, population decline ... and more ...
One of my earliest and most impactful mentors has been Toke Moeller. To say he has had an impact on my career and life would just be scratching the surface. One of the things he said to me the first time I met him around a fire in 2000 at a Slovenian Castle (you know, as you do ... ) was "keep good company".
The phrase has always stuck with me and played out in lots of ways, particularly as a mantra for who I hold close as friends in my life and who I choose to work with. There is now question that the results of my work are dependent on the quality of relationships I have with the people I deliver it with. Over the years I have chosen "my company" carefully and built relationships which enable us to offer services of an equal quality to any studio or bigger company. It is not by becoming bigger as a business that we can do this but by being more connected as friends, colleagues and entrepreneurs.
I wanted to introduce some of the brilliant people I get to work with. This is not only to showcase them and their work on my blog but also to make visible a business model that enables small entrepreneurs to collaborate and take their work to scale. There are notable omissions from this list. I have focused on folks I work with who are not facilitators / hosts / front of room. Check out the who page on my website for a full list of people and links to their sites.
Gary Blakemore - cutting edge music creation / production
I've known Gary since I was 18. He has always been one of those people who has blown me away with new music from across all genres. So when he got into music production and making his own music it just made sense to combine forces whenever possible. Any music, sound production or original music you hear on blogs and videos, that's Gary. Gary also produced and mastered my album with Marc Durkee - Everyone Else Is Taken .
Karen Densmore - top notch project management, strategic counsel and communications
Karen is the back bone of the many of the major projects you see on The Work page. She joined in the role of project management and communications and quickly became a key strategic thinking partner. She also supports with co-facilitation and recently added media relations to her tool box! Her ability to learn skills in response to the needs of the projects we have taken on together has been outstanding, especially when it comes to public engagement work. More on Karen on her website .
Katie Condon - managing partner and administration
Katie is my wife and life partner. She also has an incredible attention to detail. Her partnership, guidance and friendship are a massive part of anything I do. Katie runs my business; from bookkeeping, calendaring and contracts to helping me think through complex professional issues. She also has her own bookkeeping business where she provides cloud based accounting and some admin support for small to medium sized businesses.
Meg Craig Wiens - branding genius and fabulous website builder
Robert Wright - advice, coaching and therapy
Tim Reeves Horton & Justin Pickens, Picnic Studios - video
When I read the book ReWork (by the folks who made Basecamp) they had this whole section on "hiring mangers of one". It made total sense to me. I find I am working with brilliant mangers of one (or two or three but not big companies). To finish, here's a quote I took from their website which talks about it:
When you’re hiring, seek out people who are managers of one.
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