Breaking the Meeting Standard: Authentic Community Engagement

by Ashley Babbitt

Guest Blogger, Social Marketing Consultants

Photo thanks to

Recently, United Way of Salt Lake and Jennifer Smith, UWSL’s Women’s Philanthropic Network Chair, extended the opportunity to attend the Art of Hosting by the Berkana Institute.  The Art of Hosting is a “participatory approach for leading, convening and engaging groups and teams in meaningful conversation using integrated change processes, methods, maps and planning tools. Examples include Open Space Technology, World Cafe, Circle and Appreciative Inquiry.” (

Last week, I had the privilege of attending “The Art of Hosting:  Participative Leadership and Social Collaboration,” which was co-founded by Meg Wheatley, and hosted by a team of talented individuals in Salt Lake City. Over four days, artistic experience was shared and celebrated—we explored connecting with others from a place of authenticity:

  • We found a collective: We
  • Conversation became an art form
  • Linear thinking was called out as a common tool, not the standard for all processes
  • We explored organizations as living systems (Meg Wheatley)
  • It became evident that the answers are in the room (Meg Wheatley)
  • Invitation grew from a noun into a verb
  • Leaders were recognized as those who want to help
  • Active listening became valued and practiced and practiced again










“Collective clarity of purpose is the invisible leader.” –Mary Follett

Thank you to United Way of Salt Lake and Jennifer Smith for this tremendous educational experience!


  1. Thanks for sharing! We “meet” so often, but it makes me wonder how many missed opportunities are there to authentically engage each and every member of the group so that each person has a voice?

  2. Good to see this Ashley. On the surface level it is about designing and hosting meetings. Underneath that, what it is really about, is meeting with more openness, authenticity, curiosity, and imagination. Both at the surface and underneath, it is about us humans being brilliant together on behalf of the people and projects we are engaged in. I appreciate your awesome presence at the event.

  3. Ashley, I am so glad you had an amazing experience. I can’t wait to hear more about it, and how it impacts our community. Honored you could go.

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