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Area residents invited to learn The Art of Hosting conversations that matter for the greater good of their communities - Grand Rapids Herald-Review: News

Area residents invited to learn The Art of Hosting conversations that matter for the greater good of their communities

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Posted: Friday, November 1, 2013 4:22 pm

There is the art of good conversation and then there is the art of hosting and harvesting conversations that matter.

The Blandin Foundation is sponsoring an opportunity for Itasca County area residents to participate in world-class training to work with groups in more interactive, engaging and effective ways. During a three-day workshop, Nov. 19-21, at Sugar Lake Lodge in rural Grand Rapids, participants will be taught the skills to develop conversations within a group and generate ideas for project development, community inspiration and solving disputes. This leadership training is called The Art of Hosting and it involves practicing humanity to find solutions.

“It is based in the idea that good conversations lead to action and lead to good outcomes,” explained Jerry Nagel, Art of Hosting steward and president of the Meadowlark Institute, a Minnesota rural-based nonprofit which has facilitated the training throughout the state.

The Art of Hosting was developed in Slovenia. It was introduced in the U.S. in 2004. In the first year and a half following, 12 such trainings were held in Minnesota. Because it is a self-organizing community effort there are global stewards of The Art of Hosting who take care of the practioners. Of the 170 stewards, 11 are in Minnesota which is the largest number in one state. “We have a good, active community in Minnesota,” said Nagel who credits that to support for the training from the Blandin Foundation and the Bush Foundation.

With the Blandin Foundation’s mission to foster vibrant, resilient, rural communities, providing The Art of Hosting training at no charge to Itasca County area residents is a way to engage people toward strengthening their communities.

“It’s amazing how people, if in good conversation, learn to work things out,” added Nagel. “It’s the wisdom to find that the solution is in the room.”

According to Nagel, the word ‘host’ is intentionally used instead of ‘facilitate’ because the act of hosting involves being welcoming, attentive and aware to those in the party.

“You have a sense of presence, invitation and space,” said Nagel.

After participating in the training, “people see themselves in what they are doing,” explained Nagel.

The lessons learned in The Art of Hosting can be used “just about anywhere where people come together as a group.” The curriculum focuses on humanity, involving the whole human being.

“Bringing the head, heart and spirit into the room really makes a difference for people. Participants say ‘people got to see all of me,’” added Nagel. “Creating space to bring all of us into the room really makes a powerful impact.”

Nagel said he’s heard people say “a miracle happened in our community after your training,” because “we bring people together to see the realness in each other so they can see ways to make solutions.”

The Art of Hosting training is open to all ages, all backgrounds and range of life experiences.

“The only criteria is they have to want to hold good conversations,” Nagel explained.

Nagel has been a part of The Art of Hosting trainings for both large and small groups.

Those with projects in process will make progress by participating in The Art of Hosting trainings because “people learn by working on things they are passionate about.”

Other lessons will be on learning the art of powerful questions, changing the art of the community conversation, shifting to seeking the positive instead of the negative and more.

For more information about The Art of Hosting and Harvesting Conversations that Matter visit www.artofhosting.org, or to register for the Nov. 19-21 workshop find a registration form at https://adobeformscentral.com/?f=hkwz1Qwb5pPI-A93pDkRog. Another training for Itasca County area residents will be held Feb. 18-20 at Sugar Lake Lodge.

The workshops start at 9 a.m. on Tuesday and end about 4 p.m. on Thursday. Lunch and a continental breakfast will be provided.

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