Practicing Being a Sponge

In 2010, I was lucky to be invited and hosted at a training on Toronto Island for the Youth Social Infrastructure (YSI) Collaborative. This training was transformative. I was able to connect to a group of extremely passionate, like-minded, action oriented folks who understood the value of reflection. It was powerful.


Throughout the years, I have been intention about practicing these skills of participatory leadership and in particular Art of Hosting. The YSI introduced me to a way of working where voice and power and parallel to the calling to do work that moves you.

Last year, I was honoured to be brought into a calling team looking to connect with others and create another opportunity to practice these tools.

At Exhibit Change, we bring Art of Hosting and Design Thinking tools together specifically in our work to connect with stakeholders and facilitate co-design to build ownership and purpose into each project we work on.

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Next week, I am excited that Art of Social Innovation is finally happening. Being on this team has already taught me so much. Heading into next week’s training, I am delighted to be a host and a sponge.

I know that I will get the most from the 3 days of training and 1 day of design by opening myself up to people around me and learning with my heart and mind open.

Art of Hosting practices key principles that have resonated with me for some time. Primarily, it is about having conversations that matter. Honouring people for who they are and their voices and experiences.

“Give what you can and a little bit more” – Tim Merry

We have often integrated Art of Hosting tools into our work. You may have experienced a World Cafe or Open Space or Pro-Action Cafe with us. Each of these tools builds our tool kits and gives us methods of convening and cultivating relationships and connections.

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World Cafe is a great tool for getting a sense of the conversation in the room and drawing out themes in the room. The harvests from World Cafe are often nuggets of surprise or questions that lead to deeper conversations.

Open Space is a ideal tool for creating a container for participants to lead conversations or inquiries that they wish to share and jam on with others.

Pro-Action Cafe is useful for connecting others to one idea and working the intention towards action.

The best part about these tools is that we can facilitate conversations with them and scaffold a conversation for deeper meaning without having to explicitly tell participants about them. For example, here are 2 events we have used these tools in:

EdCamp Design Thinking (world cafe & open space)

Designing Toronto  (pro-action cafe)


As a process and methods nerd, these trainings get me excited in a particular way as I know that they will stay with me long after the training has ended.

I am really looking forward to next week and being able to bring back and share learnings.



Art of Social Innovation Training | Postponed

Art of Social Innovation 

Full Invitation: Art_of_Social_Innovation_Toronto

Fee:  $900 for corporate, $750 for non-profit, $650 for youth/student 

participatory leadership in times of change

3 day training




The complexity we are facing in the world right now is pushing us to ask some new questions about how we act, what our organizations do and how to respond:

How can we increase our capacity to learn?

How can we thrive in complexity and shifting systems?

How can we create initiatives and socially innovate within complexity?

How to work with relationships, difference, real diversity?

In Toronto and beyond, social innovators and pioneers of new ways of doing things are popping up all around us. We can’t predict the results. This by nature is complex. The complexity can be overwhelming – halting our learning, making us feel stuck, tense, and even perpetuating fragmentation and conflict – with and among those who are also trying to make a better world a practical reality.

This training will explore:

How we can use methods and practices of collaborative and participatory leadership to connect social innovation efforts, learn from one another and address the complexity of the challenges facing communities and organizations today?

This is for people who:

– are not shying away from all the work it takes to make a better world a practical reality

– see that making a better world cannot happen in isolation

– want to increase their capacity to learn

– need to work with diverse voices and invite real diversity into their work

– are ready to develop their own capacity, and the capacity of those doing good work around us


  • art of hosting is a technology of social learning.
  • art of hosting is a practice of personal and collective leadership that makes the world a better place.
  • art of hosting is about adaptive knowledge and not getting addicted to best practices

The Art of Hosting is an intensive three day experiential personal leadership and professional development training designed to build community and explore powerful participatory leadership practices to address complex community, organizational and societal challenges.


– Learn practical, participatory tools — and how to use them — including: chaordic project planning, world cafe, open space, pro action cafe, and more.

– Immerse yourself and your team in a supportive and co-creative space.

– Experience the connection between personal transformation and the capacity to create change in the world.

– Connect and learn with a community of leaders working to bring change into diverse settings in Toronto and beyond.

– Explore tools for resilience and systems change

– Learn how to work within the systems all around us, to see how systems are changing and shifting and exploring how can we thrive in complexity

 Register Here!