The dragonfly gathering!

Sunday (I guess). Another day of our gathering… Anne Dosher opens the day like the previous ones: calling in the directions in silence. Everybody is sitting in silence, eyes open, eyes closed… the sacredness is tangible…
And like in all the previous sessions the new people who joined us, are welcomed: Bienvenido!
Tom Hurley opens the conversation. We came to see ourselves as a whole through what happened in all the previous sessions. It seems that the meaning of stewardship has been shifting. We want to continue refining and deepening what this whole is and what stewardship means.
What are our core elements?
What does it take to support it, now and to steward it forward?
How will it look like, when it are not a few people, but a network that is stewarding?
We will use stories.

Note in between: don’t think that the stories that unfolded had a title! I only put them out to make your reading easier and to grasp better what are the essentials of the history so far.

Tom tells his own story. The history map of World Café, a beautiful drawing, is shown behind his back. His story begins before the initial World Café meeting in ‘95. It started with the Swedish word for business ‘Näringsliv’: to nourish life. Conversations started around this; as if preparing the soil for the World Cafe to be born. Of the initial participants in this Intellectual Capital Pioneers meeting literally seven of them are here!!! Every one of these pioneers has put the World Café into the world, in very different settings. Like an open source approach, nobody was the owner; everybody experimented and build it.

The spiritual connection

A year later Anne Dosher stepped in, as the elder of the World Café. Her story begins at MIT, 13 years ago. The first international women’s dialogue: 4 of them are here!
“On that first evening, 28 women (who all work with large system change) – in some mystical way – I was named the elder! I was given a feather by, guess who? Juanita. I was outed as an elder! Mystery, magic… So Juanita invited me to the first formal meeting on the World Café; and later to the core team, as the elder and holder of the Soul of the World Café. I came out of the Celtic tradition and was using the medicine wheel, but now I was teached by the younger people of the Native American tradition how to be an elder!
What has guided us all the time: every meeting we started by calling in the directions, like we do here. Next: we are really involved in evolutionary design; and we are working with it for 10 years. Next one: every document, and I mean every document, is signed at the bottom with: “in service to the world’s soul”.”

The minimal, next step

The core team, as a company of friends, did a marvelous job over the years. They were always listening for the minimal, next step!
What is the least we can do that would liberate the most potential; in order for the network to find its own true nature?

It was good to do research. There was Juanita’s doctoral dissertation and others – Bo was on the dissertation committees. The beginning stories were in that dissertation, they were the basic for the writing of the book. They have enabled us to understand and discover the design principles, based on the lived practice of Café practitioners around the world.

Collaboration and publishing
One of the core questions now is: How does a network guide itself? A ‘normal’ organisation would start talking about governance here. How can this network unfold, true to its principles and not be drawn into business models? We really want to explore: How is guidance provided in this kind of network?
Through the years there is a lot of work done: through experimentation; hosting cafes in large organizations; Shambala and other venues where people got to know the café, always in collaboration with others.
There has been support for the development of the initial virtual infrastructure: developing and maintaining the website; now the Girl Geeks are taking that to a next level. from listserv to web-crossing…
The publisher of the first articles who believed in it, and the publisher of the book: all this catalyzed an enormous interest around the word.

Love, friendship, weaving the relational field

Somebody asked: “Who contributed to the book?” Guess how many hands went on: something like 25! And a very important thing that was done: weaving the relational field. “Who says that they are friends of David and Juanita?” I guess more than 30 hands were raised!!!
Giving it away: the intentional connecting with key people all over the world; supporting them and putting them in connection with each other. Encouraging the younger people to stand up in their communities.
Always take steps in alignment with the spirit of the world café. How to do the publishing in a new way? We decided to let the friendship do the work. We decided to give the book away, to support the work of all. The publisher is surprised by the big respons!

Gifts from the heart
This was all a lot of work: Who supported all this? It was decided not to find seed money or making a training program, but to let it be supported through gifts from the heart. In 2000-2005 it was about 80 to 90.000 dollars a year, and this year it was even more! David and Juanita, and a lot of friends brought it together: it was part of the gift economy, instead of the money economy.
The foundation was set up to receive gifts from people. Anne D. emphases this third sector, to create value for the commons. The foundation is only a legal vehicle, it is not to become an organization! but to be as free as possible for the growth.
How does the whole resource the whole?
What is the role of the foundation to support the future network?

Living the process
This has been a constantly evolving process, on so many levels. Juanita: “In our company of friends many of us knew Tom H., as a Celtic bard and as a chaordic consultant. We asked him to become our chaordic mentor.” Some other chaordic friends are also here!
The World Café is now reaching a transition point. The first ten years has been a developmental process, now it is a zone of transition in which we ask all these questions.
Who are we?
How to prepare to let the collective step forward and see itself? To be owned by all!

Tom: “Last October, in the course of all these conversations, there was a meeting in Mill Valley. David and Juanita were ready to take a new step in their new lives and step to the rim of the network. We invited them to dream about their place in the community. It was a challenging and deeply touching meeting. When time comes to let it go, it is not easy in many ways. And yet, there is a knowing that it has to take place: for the growth of their selves, for the growth of them together; for the local community and for the network as a whole.” An: “There were many deeply touching moments in the life of the WC. My feeling was we were enfolded by love, absolute care and love. It was love for Juanita and David and for each one there. The circle was reaching out to the development of the network; the heart was reaching out to what we sensed to what the future would be.”
Tom: “One of the practices we used, was consciously bringing in the present of all the friends who are now here. Once David and Juanita did step up to the invitation to dream their future, it became very clear that the work of 2006 was to begin gathering the community. Work is done in Europe, in Latin America, in Asia, and this gathering. We were working on this gathering for 9 months now!
Our agreement with David and Juanita is: they are on sabbatical till the end of 2007! They are free of any organizational responsibility!”
Who are we as a community? How do we want to be together?

Peggy: “Juanita asked me a year ago to tell the story of the community of Open Space. Kenoli is here as the community of Future Search; the community of Appreciative Inquiry is here , the Art of Hosting community, the value network;… we are all in to this question: How to go forward?”
Indeed, a new world wants to birth itself!
The visual practitioners network is like interwoven through the communities. Integrating of graphic recording is a key, and critical element in the success of the World Café.

From one lens, this was the story of the World Café. That is why the purpose of this gathering is:
To nurture and deepen
the field of collective intelligence
through which the World Café community of practice
can guide its own development
and the evolution of its work on an ongoing basis.

And An added: “One event is not in this history: September 2001, a gathering of 46 people, in Stockholm, the World Cafe pioneers. Remember that time, no airplanes were leaving… Bo said: “You come or they win!” My military voice said: we come! We were welcomed by people who enveloped us, all weeping. The chief of the Orin arrived on the same day, we invited him to be with us. He brought Leila, the cultural ambassador of the Sami. She wore a dragonfly, like I am since childhood! Her poem was:
“Grandmother dragonfly
who rides on the winds of change
and guides us through the void
is gathering the right people.”

For the Sami the dragonfly is one of the holy spirits, through which they teach there children.
From now this gathering is called: The dragonfly gathering!


6 Responses to The dragonfly gathering!

  1. Nancy White says:

    Ria, just a quick but HUGE thank you for capturing these notes and sharing them out in such a timely manner so that those of us “watching” from afar can partake.

  2. I would like to add the words “seeing systems”. Yes, many of the thoughts reflect it, but I feel that invariably it is I-You relationship and the explicitness around I-We is not as clear as yet.

    Stewardship is ultimately “about doing what is right for the whole”. This commitment brings with it a shift in our relationship to our pesonal vision. It ceases to be a possession, as in “this is my vision”, We become a steward of the vision.

    Being a steward out there for the larger good starts with seeing the systems that we have shaped and which in turn shapes us – until we see the larger patterns and our own part in creating these patterns, we feel being stuck in it that is not working and leading to feeling frustrated and trapped.

    There are two fundamentall aspects to seeing systems: seeing patterns of interdependency and seeing into the future. The ability to see interdependencies can be aided by stories, pictures, songs (and might I add systems diagrams).

    Seeing into the future starts with knowing how to interpret the signs that are present today but go unrecognized by those without the systems perspectives. Seeing interdependencies that have been invisible to us leads to a particular kind of awakening, “knowing that we knew, but didn’t know that we knew”.

    My experience is that when people truly see a systemic pattern that they have created and comprehend the suffering it will create in the future, they invariably discover ways to change patterns. To me, stewardship has achieved a larger whole, a purpose larger than myself.

    I can’t think of a better process than a world cafe to achieve all of this!

    Warm regards
    from Singapore

  3. […] Originally uploaded by theworldcafe. Anne Dosher telling us the story of Grandmother Dragonfly…she’s gathering the right people together […]

  4. Ria Baeck says:

    Sheila, this is great!!! I will try to bring your voice into the conversation that we are having here! And if I find time to respond more at length today, I will!

  5. Great Ria! Much appreciated.

    Just a quick note – and this may be coming late. Be great if this site includes proceedings for the day – kinda of a programme that you guys are experiencing – I was trying to make out across the photos and the snippets as it was happening for you. Of course really appreciate that we could see the photos and see the emotions on your faces. That was just great!

    I am leaving a thought here about my hopes about stewarding the World Cafe. I do feel to help us become a better steward, it would help me to see happen a network that connects:
    – practitioners within the county (potentially different sectors can also cut their own pies)
    – practitioners in the region
    – practitioners across regions (by proximity)
    – practitioners across the globe (by interest)

    When we get to see more of the ‘different parts of the whole’ we can, I am sure over time become stewards of the whole. If this view of the whole remains fragmented, we keep seeing lesser than what it is.

    We would need to provide focus – so the need for groups at each level. And each group in turn creates links that includes groups at each of the other levels so as to not lose sight of the whole. This could start with making connections across groups where their energies matter most.

    So here’s was my thought wherw we can raise this consciousness for ourselves over time. Some things that could looks like this:


    Warm regards and best wishes to all,

  6. Ria Baeck says:

    Hi Sheila, I’m back home now in Belgium; still digesting the 4,5 days… You have very valuable suggestions! As you can read in one of my latest topics here, there will be people looking into this ‘connecting function’ of the stewardship; and as I made a commitment of serving the group that will keep an eye on ‘seeing the whole’ I will take your ideas there.

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