Category Archives: Education

Arts & Culture Civil Society Education Home & Family Multi-Stakeholder Uncategorized

Conversations for building peace – phase 1 – for all citizens in Cote D’Ivoire / Ivory Coast in West Africa

How can we, individually and together, contribute to living in peace in Cote
D’Ivoire for ourselves, our children and our grand children?

This is story of a sincere and heartfelt call from concerned citizens and elders in Cote D’ivoire, West Africa to bring more peace to their country after the civil war that took place 3 years ago. It is an exploration into the wise blending of personal and collective practice peace and basic wisdom for citizens of Cote D’ivoire and it has begun to unfold during 2012 and 2013 and will continue into the coming years.

The first conversations for building peace and training of facilitators to host many gatherings for Practicing more Peace in Cote D’ivoire took place in Abidjan 24 – 27 January 2013, with 30 participants.
This initiative is called by Amani, Goli, Zehi and several other conscious citizens from Cote D’ivoire.
They have formed an associative for peace and well being for all to support this Work.

The purpose is to help citizens be ready to host conversations to build peace in Cote D’ivoire and beyond.

Participants have been trained in using conversational methods to be used in the future gatherings / conversations, mainly the circle and appreciative inquiry trios hosting in an art of hosting way.
In addition a lot of insights have been shared about how to work with people and allow individual and collective wisdom and courage to emerge, so that each new host has a clear background on how to host groups and feel comfortable with facilitating such a process with many other human being – many of whom have been enemies during the recent civil war in this country.

3 day training to prepare for the 3,5 hour conversation with guests was hosted by trainees and served as a model for future meetings. This group for the open meeting consisted of 47 humans (including 17 guests) in the circle of all ages, political and religious convictions, and professions and all that did not matter. We met in our hunger for more peace and the simple practices that allow us to share and harmonize as humans.
The invitation said:
How can we, individually and together, contribute to living in peace in Cote d’Ivoire for ourselves, our children and our grand children?

The conversation started with a listening circle, the talking / listening piece being a microphone addressing the question:
Why have I decided to to come to this meeting to learn more about the art of practicing peace for Cote D’ivoire?
After a short break a video was shown:
Introduction to practicing peace – with Ambassador of Peace, Prem Rawat offering a message of peace at the Nordic peace conference in August 2012:

Then all participants were invited to sit in trios with people they did not know, to offer a personal story:
Share a story where you experienced practicing peace with someone.

They were asked to identify / harvest: What was the conditions that made it possible?.

Two conditions per trio were expressed and gathered collectively:
Desire for concord, patience, humility, asking for help, need to understand the other, conviction that reconciliation is possible, will to forgive, tolerance, harmony with myself, putting myself in the other person’s shoes to offer help, refusing violence, mutual understanding through listening, awareness, going beyond, accepting the other as he is and not as I want him to be, loving the other, communication, discipline, accepting to dialogue and communicate.

The last question for the trios: What do we dream possible for Cote d’Ivoire if we practice more peace?

This was harvested back into the circle and it was amazing to see the deep and hopeful dreams expressed:
A prosperous country with shared happiness and progress for all. Real brotherhood. To aim towards a united and indivisible nation, not tribalism. A model of peace for other countries. A country united and prosperous. A country of hope, hospitality, liberty and dignity and to be able to dream and practice peace for each one. The well being of a reconciled population. Cote d’Ivoire being united and developed. Cote d’Ivoire open and prosperous. The joy to live in brotherhood and harmony. Living really together. A country united, peaceful and prosperous. A country full of love and respect for the other with a hope for the future.

This conversation about the Art of Practicing Peace ended with an invitation to share what they will take away with them from this meeting. Few people expressed verbally their thanks and appreciation.
Water, tea and coffee was served as participants shared their joy and left.

It all worked in a good way and proved that when invited with care and clear purpose and with well-hosted participatory methods, human beings will engage in a fruitful constructive dialogue for peace and well being for all..

Day 4 was aimed at looking ahead and organizing the future conversations. 4 projects were called and for each a team of 3 – including the “caller”- was formed with support of all other trainees. These conversations – and 5 more – has all taken place succesfully by now.

In August 2013 we continued to train and practice together with 12 of the practitioners to be able to train others to convene and host more conversations – more story on that process coming soon….
A story harvest video here:

For more information please contact Koffi Amani, Marc Levitte or Toke Moeller.


Learning at the University of Minnesota

The Community of Practice at the University of Minnesota was interested in gathering up just these same types of stories — how we were using Art of Hosting in our work. We collected them all and published them in an e-book It includes photos and some stories have videos.

The Ebook covers a range of topics: 1) Personal Transformation; 2) Teaching and Training; 3) Working with External Communities; 4) Organizational change; 5) and Institutional Effectiveness.

There also is a companion web-site that allows people to comment on the stories and engage in discussion with the author. (

Please check out the collection

Education Government & Public Sector Health Home & Family Multi-Stakeholder

The Journey Home: Back to Ourselves and Into Our Community

I’ve heard folks say that a “3 day Art of Hosting does not a practitioner make” and I would add that it’s the start of a practitioners journey. I’ve just completed a 2 day capstone experience with a community of practice through Lutheran Immigration and Refugee Services in Baltimore, MD. The hosting team included Fabio Lomelino and Laura Griffin, Community Conversation staff that have helped convene a 10 month learning journey – convening community builders from across the US that do work with refugee and immigrant resettlement services across the country. I’ve never had an opportunity quite like this- how often do we host a 3 day Art of Hosting, provide ongoing learning and connection throughout 10 months and then reconvene to deepen relationships and distill the learning? The stories that surfaced throughout our 2 day gathering were that of personal transformation- transformation from the inside out. People gathered in September thinking they were getting tools to bring back to use in their community and what ended up happening was a collective learning journey of how to integrate this practice into our being- transforming ourselves, our relationships, our organizations, and our communities.

The design for the 2 day was intentional in that we wanted to step into the not knowing of what would emerge – we created our purpose statement:

“Contributing the learning from our experience and deepening our relationships to co-create a vision for sparking and activating transformation within ourselves, our organizations and our communities.”

We gathered in the Fredrick-Douglas Isaac Meyers Maritime Museum, a beautiful open space with wood floors, brick walls, and windows on all sides that face out the eastern seaboard. The site was fitting in more ways than we could even begin to imagine. Our planning calls helped frame our thinking around the questions with past, present, and future. Throughout the museum the art and artifacts were all laid out with a “past, present, future” context.

The quote that helped us think about our work during these two days was:

“If you want to build a ship, don’t drum up people together to collect wood and don’t assign them tasks and work- but rather teach them to long for the endless immensity of the sea.”

This event was unique in many ways. LIRS is converging on their strategic plan and wanted to hear from the collective wisdom of the group as their plans transitions from Community Conversations out of a separate program and integrate its practices into the work they do as a network host. We started our day with a brief check-in that lead to a teach on the Theory U Levels of Listening. We then went into a Collective Story Harvest with four different storytellers from the Community Conversations group. They shared their story with participants and the Strategic Council members from LIRS. Throughout the story sharing, key pieces surfaced that affirmed what LIRS was looking to continue to explore with their strategic plan.

After lunch, the Strategic Council headed back and the rest of the participants went into a World Café’ where we explored the following questions:
1. Share a story of how you have brought Community Conversations home to your organization and community.
2. What new learning has surfaced for you from engaging with Community Conversations?
3. How do we transition Community Conversation from a project into a practice? From events we organize to how we operate?

We harvested the learning between rounds which helped the collective wisdom to continue to grow and emerge as we deepened our conversations in each round. We revisited the 4 Fold Practice from last September and explored what happens when you integrate the learning from a Community of Practice back into how we host our self. We closed the day with the question, “What is dying to be born?”

The next day participants lead our check-in with a breathing exercise and a conversation around what surfaced with the question we closed the previous day with. We then hosted a teach on the Systems Change Map that deepened our understanding of what Community Conversations was transitioning out of and explored what was beginning to emerge with the relationships in the room.

We broke into smaller groups to explore a conversation around the sustainability and adaptability of our group, together we explored:
1. What is the most important piece of this for you to continue forward with as the capstone comes to a close?
2. What do you need to sustain this?
3. What commitment do you personally make to sustaining this?

Conversations around relationships, local capacity building, connecting to a community of practitioners swirled around the room as we began growing in our learning from our local experiences. We came back to Circle and shared out our personal commitments to the group- making visible what we were responsibly agreeing to carry forward with our passion for this work. Over lunch, we convened in smaller groups to explore the common threads of our commitments and started to sense into a deeper level of connection and practice.

We explored in the afternoon the invitation from the collective to the commons – exploring how story builds a desire to connect- fulfilling a longing for community. Hosting hospitality into who we are as humans, creating welcome and building belonging into our communities. Our check out question for our final day together was “What is quaking in you as you prepare for your journey home?”

What surfaced in our check-out was a deep reminder for all of us… that this journey was a collective remembering of who we are as human beings and how we collectively strengthen our communities through sharing our story, our experience, and our learning along the journey. This was a journey of bringing us home – back into ourselves and our community.


Participation in higher education

I work as a parttime university teacher at a University in Bogota Colombia. I mentor the industrial design students during their final projects.
It is a 4 months long process, where they are expected to be creative, innovative and independant, to a degree that most of them have not been used to during their first 4 years at the university.

I have started introducing a series of participatory spaces and practices like check ins and check outs – group work in adapted world cafe formats, feed back sessions all with the intent to create a more creative and participatory culture in the classroom

It is slowly starting to take root and I am working on a proposal for the whole department about how to include these ways of working in the study plan and the long term strategy of the university.