A Gathering Of Change Makers

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On February 4, 2010 the Leadership Transformation Group, Upstream Consulting (Kelly McGowan) and the NYC Art of Hosting (Martin Siesta and Nancy Fritsche Eagan) co-hosted a gathering of change makers. The event was a conversation and workshop for 60 invited guests admired for their work making change in their communities and organizations and for their support of other change makers.

The event, held at the Hunter College School of Social Work in New York City, was led by Chris Corrigan, a “change practitioner/professor at large”, and First Nation activist engaged in supporting people committed to change in South Africa, North America and other parts of the world.

The participants, most of whom did not know each other, entered the room with quizzical yet eager looks on their faces. Mr. Corrigan dynamically started the day facilitating a World Café. The World Café is an innovative yet simple methodology for hosting conversations about questions that matter. The World Café, along with Open Space Technology and Circle Meetings, was one of several self governing facilitation tools used at this event. These tools for conversation are frequently used by LTG in its trainings and consultations.

On this day, the question posed to these change makers was, “What is going on in your world that makes it important for you to be here today?” People spoke in groups of four about how their lives were so full and, at the same time, there was often no room for them to care for themselves. Most of them felt that self-care was very important and that they needed support in cultivating healthy self-care practices. As the participants moved between groups, they linked their conversations and experiences, cross pollinated ideas, and discovered new insights and new ways to increase their capacity for effective action in their organizations.

The day provided opportunities for change makers to build community and learn together. Participants left the gathering enthusiastic, joyful and ready to bring more clarity and focus to their work over the next six months in their organizations and communities.


February 4 was the culmination of many months of not knowing.

The calling team (Ed, Liz, Steve and Willie of LTG and Nancy, Martin and me from NYC Art of Hosting/Participatory Leadership collective) joined in circle last fall around a simple question: What does NYC need from us now?

We decided that what our friends and colleagues needed was the same thing that we needed: to be held in community and conversation with other change makers who are living with similar questions. As Chris said in several ways in his stories that Thursday, we may not have the answers, but we have some good questions!

The day took form quickly when we knew that Chris could join us on his way back from South Africa. Jet lagged and at at the end of a many-week tour, he generously hosted the day, which allowed us to participate instead of host. As paid trainers and problem solvers, this was a welcome and nurturing gift!

We are grateful to all of you who took the leap and carved a day out of your busy, rich schedules to join us.

The day generated several developments on our end:

Liz, Martin and Nancy are organizing a Women's Leadership Revival in NYC on March 26th with Meg Wheatley (contact them for registration information!!).

Ed, Steve, Willie and I collaborated for the first time, designing and implementing a very successful co-learning retreat for a community system change collaboration in California.

We also received some great feedback from friends and colleagues who participated on February 4th and would LOVE to hear more!!

A friend reported that she used the World Cafe structure during a meeting of a membership organization the following week and that she got lots of wonderful 'I felt heard' and 'best meeting ever' kind of feedback.

Another friend reported that she re-organized an afternoon of a policy planning session she was contracted to lead into Open Space. I wonder how that went?

My friend Laura said that she had never experienced a full day of interactions when the quality of conversation was so consistently real and meaningful. She asked her partner Aswad, who is a practitioner of World Cafe, Circle and Open Space, why this was so? He replied 'give people a simple structure and a little direction and they thrive.'

This sums it up nicely!

I am curious, what did the day generate for you?

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About this Entry

This page contains a single entry by Leadership Transformation published on March 16, 2010 7:03 PM.

The Women's Leadership Revival Tour NYC was the previous entry in this blog.

A Night of Renewal: Keeping the Conversation Going is the next entry in this blog.

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