If you want a full report, I harvested the whole conference in detail on the new World Café Community blog, but I thought I'd share a few of my own personal highlights here.
The amazing Tom Hurley was in his best Bard mode, weaving the conference sessions together along with Sharon Eakes from Pegasus. During the last session they asked what 3-5 images, metaphors, or phrases we had heard or experienced over the last few days that we felt would stick with us.
These were mine:
Two images – the blue one on the top left and the green one in the middle of the page - are graphics from Otto Sharmer’s talk on his Theory “U”, which is one of the most powerful ways to work with perception that I’ve heard and really captured my imagination. I believe the violet "expanding moment of ‘now’" graphic was articulated by Gabriel Shirley, illustrating the wonderful realization that, far from being a little blip in the progression from past to future, the 'now' is an expanding moment of presence, a space of 'no time'.
The tagging line is from a creative innovation that the abundantly creative Chris Corrigan started and several of us took up. I wrote a bit more about it in my World Café harvest, but it is an exciting idea that I am looking forward to expounding and expanding upon in the future, along with some other thoughts and initiatives several of us were juggling around harvesting practices in general, and conference harvesting in particular.
The Conversation as a Radical Act words and the image immediately above it came from a collaboratively presented session based on an idea from Juanita Brown. I think her concept has serious ‘legs’ in that it offers a way to see how we can go beyond ‘just’ dialogic process or ‘just’ the details of any given issue and find a way to use them together to evoke wisdom and wise action in response to the pressing issues of our time.
Besides Tom’s weavings, Otto Scharmer’s Theory “U”, and Juanita Brown’s Conversation as a Radical Act, the other conference experience that stood out most powerfully for me was the Conversation Space.
Several of us collaboratively hosted an ongoing conversation session that went on in its own room all through the conference. The team was multi-modal, using a variety of conversational processes, from World Café to Open Space, Art of Hosting and Circle practice, and we set it up to host in cross-disciplinary teams. Even though we had specific scheduled times to be there, everyone on the hosting list flowed in and out of the room during the whole event. We came to give each other support and because we were so attracted to the energy that no one wanted to stay away.
The entire experience was extraordinary for me, since as my first time hosting it was a “coming out” of sorts, and I was very aware of how much I owe my friends at Heartland Circle and Resonance for my knowing how to 'hold space'.
During the last session in the conversation space, we went around the circle and each of us shared a question we would be taking home with us from the conference. My question, which is something I’ve been holding for a while and so came to the conference with me, had been refined and reformed by the reflection time this conversation space afforded me. This is its latest articulation: “What are the languages that allow us to connect to the heart of the whole, and to the hearts of the whole?”
As I listen into that question I’m finding myself more and more aware of the variety and proliferation of these languages: visual, verbal, metaphoric; magical and mundane; and beginning to find ways to translate them into utterance in various media.
One last gem – at the end of the conference proceedings the organizers showed a rough, hand-made video of one of the natural treasures of this community – Tim Merry – doing a spoken word performance piece dedicated to the conference (which he was unable to attend this year in person). An incredible poet, Tim’s lyrics were all wonderful, but you’ll understand my particular fondness for the chorus of his piece:
“Look around you,
What’s about you?
Nine hundred human beauties surround you!”