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How could hosting conversations that matter support real inclusion in our communities?

The Art of Hosting & Harvesting Conversations That Matter
3 day training  |  1-3 June 2022

All of the participants of the Carers Queensland Art of Hosting training celebrating the end.

Reflections    |   Practices   |   Patterns   |   Processes

This training was a first for Carers Queensland, bringing 85 of us together from within the NDIS Local Area Coordinator Partner in the Community Program, to connect with each other and to build capacity in hosting and harvesting conversations that matter.


Our calling question: How could hosting conversations that matter support real inclusion in our communities? 


We are sharing here what we learned, to serve as a reminder and inspiration for  bringing this practice to our work and lives.


What did we learn from the training as a whole? Here are some of our reflections and insights, recorded by Romi:


What is the favourite part of the workshop for you?


“… being challenged to explore my open mind with the support of my colleagues around me.”  —Lauren

“… the whole thing is an invitation. It's all about inviting people to learn, to share, to grow.”  —Rebecca


What are you going to take away for your practice from Art of Hosting?

“The importance of taking time and space to have meaningful conversations.” —Chaz

“... it's those really important purposeful questions that can bring about so many positive outcomes. It's been really important to see that in action today and I can bring that to participants and my team.” —Helen


“I really loved the open agenda (Open Space) and I’m really looking forward to being able to do that with my team.” —Peter


“ … learning a new way of thinking, delivering and hosting which expands my horizons and ask myself many questions about how I can introduce this in our work.” —Craig


“I’m taking new skills back to my team to help them think about how they can host conversations more effectively in the future.” —Ash


“What I have realised or what I have been reminded of is the power of connection, how inspiring providing people with the opportunity of and the possibilities these activities can actually bring to communities, within CQ, within teams.”  —Nat


“Don’t be scared to try new ways and ask questions. We are not going to know what the answers are unless we have the courage to ask and really engage in conversations, especially with our participants.” —Mel

“How much I love connecting with people, being with my tribe and connecting with people is totally my jam, that’s my love. What I loved most about the last few days is being able to slow down and do that.”


“To be mindful of the questions I’m asking, the space I’m creating for people … the last few days has opened up a lot of reflective practice for me.” —Emma


A small group of us (Allison, Noeleen, Rachel, Jess & Nic) spent time across all 3 days ‘fossicking’ for the gems we heard. Here’s just some of what we unearthed:

  • Small changes can make big waves

  • Gives me hope that we’re so grounded – authentic

  • If I can’t care for me, I can’t care for anybody else

  • Hosting others is hosting myself

  • Work in the positives to find a solution

  • Be comfortable with conflict seeing it as a positive

  • You can’t always choose the music but you can always choose how you dance to it.

  • You get what you focus on

  • Show up with intention

  • Create the space to do the slow work
  • Practice requires practice

  • Give it a go

  • Embody inclusion

  • There’s a beautiful dance between chaos and order

  • Powerful questions - thinking in questions rather than in answers

  • The future is bright

  • You can do the hard things with kindness

What clarity do you have now?

Here’s some of what we shared as we checked out of day 2:

  • Working together is essential to inclusion.

  • Be present, not just show up.

  • The importance of questioning to learn and understand.

  • Take the time. 

  • The breath of talent, compassion, intelligence, experience and heart at CQ is incredible and under-utilised.

  • That there are lots of ways to create space for conversations that matter.

  • The chaordic path was a ‘light bulb’ moment.

  • It’s ok to be curious, this is not a negative thing.

  • No one thing rests solely with me.

  • The importance of encouraging connection.

  • True, full and authentic participation from all is key.

  • I can create change.

  • We are moving forward with optimism and connection.

  • Self care is ‘not’ optional and should not be made a ‘luxury’.

  • I feel empowered to have conversations with people in different ways.

  • The significant thirst for innovation, change and growth.


Over three days we were immersed in an experience for deepening competency and confidence in hosting participatory group processes, and our own personal leadership.


Everyone was invited to step up to practice hosting and harvesting for the training, with the support of the hosting team. Here’s an overview of the ground we covered. 

A visual agenda of the 3 day training, handdrawn in colour with words and picturesflow


The Art of Hosting is more than a suite of methods – it’s also a practice field for hosting conversations that matter and our learning comes from practice. We were introduced and invited into these foundational practices:

The Four Fold Practice

This is the underlying practice of the Art of Hosting - what's underneath it all, the DNA if you like. Exploring this, we identified where we thought our strengths and stretches in these practices may be.

For more information, see page 7 in the digital practice guide or watch the video below.


The Circle Way

Circle spans the three layers of Art of Hosting — practice, pattern and process. It helps us remember ancient ways of meeting and making wise decisions together. We experienced circles in a number of different ways (and sizes!). We checked in and out of each day in a circle, we held smaller circles to practice hosting this way of being in dialogue together and we reflected on how we might use circle (and circle principles and practices) in Carers Queensland. 

For more, see page 10 in the digital practice guide
and the links below:


The Circle Way website

The Circle Way guidelines

The Circle Way video

The Art of Harvesting

What if we’re not planning for a meeting, but we’re planning for a harvest? 


We design our  conversations around the ‘harvest’ we want to produce.  The results we are seeking help to determine what processes we use and how. 


Harvesting is a practice that begins well before the event, during the event and also continues afterwards. 

  • The harvesting metaphor and how it applies to hosting conversations and work that matters. 

  • The principles of harvesting - PLUME 


We also practiced using a matrix to map out the harvest of our training, as a way of understanding more about the intangible (outcomes) and tangible (outputs). 

For more information about the Art of Harvesting see page 71 in the digital practice guide.


Designing from harvest is a simple version of participatory design that we became familiar with during the training. The hosting team used it to support those of us stepping up to co-host during the training. We also use it  to think through, prepare and coach each other in our work.

Design from harvest template


Invitation is more than just how we invite people into conversations or work that matters. It’s a practice and attitude all of its own. The quality of the outcomes from participatory work is directly related to the quality, intention and active nature of invitation. 


We learned the useful mnemonic ‘VALUE’ which represents a set of principles for invitation practice.


For more, see page 11 in the digital practice guide and the links below:

The VALUE of Invitation

A little secret to participatory leadership: the art of invitation

The Four Fold Practice as a graphic - showing the 4 circles or folds with arrows linking them
A graphic of The Circle Way in colour, words and pictures
A graphic of the four harvest quadrants in colour, words and picturesHarvest Quadrants