What is your committed step forward to serve?


The Art of Convening is a vital study for anyone serious about developing their talents as a convener of meaningful conversations. Within my indigenous culture there is a prophecy that speaks to the survival and evolution of our society occurring when the committed step forward to serve as the facilitators of meaningful conversation.

The wisdom contained in The Art of Convening can surely aide these caring activists in serving our communities and organizations as the responsible leaders that our society needs. I extend my appreciation to the authors Craig and Patricia Neal for providing the “Convening Wheel” framework to guide gatherings that can give rise to meaningful and authentic conversations. My experience as a community organizer, meeting facilitator, and ceremony leader has only been enhanced by the wisdom they share in this powerful handbook. -- Dr. Roberto Vargas

What is your committed step forward to serve?

SAVE 15% on AoC trainings in 2013

Photo Credit: Craig Neal

Photo Credit: Craig Neal

Give yourself the gift of The Art of Convening this holiday season by enrolling in one of the 2013 Trainings.

Registrations by 12/15 will receive a special 15% discount.

The AoC Trainings benefits include:

  • New skills for Convening and Facilitation
  • New strategies and tools for applying convening in your work and life as a leader and catalyst for change and transformation.
  • State of the art virtual and in-person participative learning practicum utilizing practices, tools, and principles for authentic engagement and leadership.
  • Credentials as an AoC graduate. (certificate and certification)
  • From 15 to 36 CCEUs from the International Coaches Federation.
  • Listing on Heartland's AoC web site as a Convening Resource Provider.

Our new Practicum Trainings include:




- AND -

2 NEW CORE TELETRAININGS: January 2013 -1/29 & 1/30


Bring your case study, project, next convening challenge to your Practicum Training Cohort.

A space and discounted rate can be held with a deposit.

When we, as Conveners, tap into the generosity inherent in people, the wealth of knowledge and wisdom in any gathering is revealed. That wisdom is felt as a connection to being whole, both individually and collectively. When we feel and experience wholeness, our connection to one another and the world around us becomes less hostile  and more inviting.

-- Craig Neal, Originator of The Art of Convening Trainings 

The Training illuminated the essence of adding action to intention in a way that has transformed and equipped me to serve and contribute convening in both professional and personal areas of my life. I have committed to convening as a way of life." -- Myron Lowe, Director, Office of Information Technology, University of Minnesota      


- Call: 612.920.3039 - Email: info@heartlandcircle.com

Operationalizing and internalizing for possibility

Photo Credit: Craig Neal

Photo Credit: Craig Neal

"The art of convening operationalizes the dialogue principles and practices." Daniel Pesut, Director, Densford Center for International Nursing Leadership, University of Minnesota School of Nursing

Craig and Patricia are engaged in co-creating an annual Retreat with a leadership group at the University of Minnesota School of Nursing. As we organize and plan around the 9 Aspects of the Convening Wheel, the value of the AoC book as a "roadmap" for authentic engagement emerges as we not only operationalizes, but internalize the practices and principles that inform convening.

"Convening was, and is, one of the most powerful, life-altering forces in the universe. The genesis of this book can be traced back to the art of convening to energize communities and stir us to survive and envision what might be possible." -Richard Leider, Foreword, The Art of Convening

Sept: The AoC Book Launch in Denmark!

Photo Credit: Craig Neal

Photo Credit: Craig Neal

September 24-27 2012 | Copenhagen, Denmark   --The Art of Convening Book Launch, Programs, and Trainings   

via heartlandcircle.blogs.com

Jim Carey introduces Ekhart Tolle

Photo credit: Craig Neal

Photo credit: Craig Neal

"Check out this video of Jim Carey introducing Tolle for his Ekhart Tolle TV on, AoC Grad, Amy Lenzo's blog.  I was intrigued by Jim Carey's ablility to be so funny and at the same time so sincere about the profundity of spiritual experience."

via www.beautydialogues.com

Convening and the Digital Native

photo Credit: Craig Neal

photo Credit: Craig Neal

by Cindy Wold

via heartlandcircle.blogs.com

Convening the Digital Native

PHoto credit: craig neal

PHoto credit: craig neal

I've really been interested in a book that came out last year - around the same time as The Art of Convening - called Alone Together: Why We Expect More From Technology and Less From Each Other by MIT Professor Sherry Turkle. The main point of the book, as told by Turkle in her TED talk in March 2011, is that a generation of "digital natives" have grown up in a world where electronic contact is perceived as natural. Unfortunately, if often substitutes for genuine human connection - while at the same time, engendering a yearning for the kind of real connection that is often missing in these managed digital environments.

Turkle also spoke this year, on March 1st, 2012, at TED. That talk, titled "Places We Don't Want to Go,"

has not yet been published, but in the blog post that describes it, Turkle is quoted thusly:

"A teenager says to her, “Someday, someday, but certainly not now, I’d like to learn how to have a conversation.” There is a feeling that conversations are difficult because we don’t have the ability to edit as we talk, and so can’t present the exact face that we’d like to. ”Human relationships are rich, and they’re messy and they’re demanding. And we clean them up with technology. We sacrifice conversation for mere connection."

Read that quote again. Now read it again.

It occurred to me, reading that paragraph, that the real value of the Art of Convening has not yet been manifested. The ability to have a "real" conversation may be slowly lost as a skill as our culture becomes more and more dependent on a "performance of connection" rather than genuine connection.

Like Turkle, I'm not suggesting that digital devices and methods are not useful or that we should junk them, but the ability to connect, for real, is no small thing - and many of us will require help to engage outside of the digital performance arena. Our ability to "see" each other - not the managed performance of each other - requires a strategy that The Art of Convening can provide. I think of it now as a technology of conversation that is an essential element in the momentum of the increasing digitalization of our lives.

The Art of Convening provides a simple formula and practices that a convener uses to provide a safe "container" for us to venture into the vulnerable place of trust, recognition and yes, messiness, where genuine conversation resides. This skill is more and more absent from our everyday lives - and critically absent from the lives of our children, grandchildren and young colleagues.

I've said from the beginning of the process of writing it that I'd love to see The Art of Convening book on the bookshelf in every conference room and every dining room as a guide for those of us yearning to communicate in a meaningful, human way. I continue to learn from it myself, every day, and still have a lot to learn.

I'm grateful to Sherry Turkle for doing the kind of work that examines our humanity as it may be outweighed by a digital environment that create a ubiquitous shell around us. Turkle recommends putting technology in its place. My response, or bias if you will, is to recommend "The Art of Convening" as a  means (one of perhaps many) to regain that balance.

Please add your own comments. I'd love to hear about your experience with "digital natives," conversation and connection strategies.

Cynthia (Cindy) Wold is a co-author of The Art of Convening: Authentic Engagement in Meetings, Gatherings and Conversations.

Convener as Leader Restoring Wholeness

photo Credit: Craig Neal

photo Credit: Craig Neal

From The Art of Convening:

P. 7: We believe that the Convener is a leader whose power and effectiveness are rooted in personal development, integrity, and coherence. When we tap into the generosity inherent in most people, the wealth of knowledge and wisdom in any gathering is revealed.

P. 158: This notion of restoring wholeness is recognizable by an absence of fear and a generosity of spirit. When we, as Conveners, tap into the generosity inherent in people, the wealth of knowledge and wisdom in any gathering is revealed. That wisdom is felt as a connection to being whole, both individually and collectively.

When we feel and experience wholeness, our connection to one another and the world around us becomes less hostile and more inviting.

The Art of Convening: Authentic Engagement in Meetings, Gatherings, and Conversations
Berrett-Koehler Publishers 2011  


The Joy of Quiet

photo credit: craig neal

photo credit: craig neal

Now for something completely different.

"The Joy of Quiet"