Craig in the news today: Transformation 1963 to 2013


"I knew my life would be forever changed. I hadn't bargained on transformation in its very essence."

Letter of the Day (Aug. 28): March on Washington

I was a 17-year-old self-proclaimed “jock” from suburban New Jersey when a friend asked me to join her synagogue on a civil-rights march in Washington. With parental support, I ventured forth.

Our bus arrived early, so I walked the reflecting pool to the steps of the Lincoln Memorial. I witnessed the preparations and eventually the speakers and singers, and ultimately saw the Rev. Martin Luther King Jr. deliver the “I have a Dream” speech.

Separated from my group and hemmed into place by the crowd on the steps, I knew my life would be forever changed. I hadn’t bargained for transformation in its very essence.

As King spoke, I turned away to the watch the sea of people spreading across the mall and beyond, and I fixated on a man in a black suit, black tie and hat with a sign that I believe said “We Shall Overcome.”

My lasting impression was that this man and others dressed in their elegant best, with tears streaming down their faces, smiling and saying “amen” after each phrase. I knew at that moment that my life’s work would be for the sake of service to a dream of a better world.

CRAIG NEAL, Minneapolis

The writer is cofounder of Heartland Inc., a social enterprise organization, and is a former publisher of Utne Reader magazine.

This was passed on to Patricia by a friend on her 60th

Photo Credit: Craig Neal

Photo Credit: Craig Neal

Prophets of a Future Not Our Own

It helps now and then to step back and take a long view...

We all plant the seed that one day will grow.

We water the seeds already planted, knowing that they hold promise.

We lay foundations that will need further development.

We provide yeast that produces efforts far beyond our capabilities.

We cannot do everything.

Knowing this enables us to do something, and to do it well.

Our work may be incomplete, but it is a beginning, a step along the way.

Our actions present an opportunity for the Lord’s grace to enter and do the rest.

We may never see the end results, but that is the difference between the master builder and the worker.

We are the workers, not master builders.

We are ministers, not messiahs.

We are prophets of a future not our own.


—Attributed to Archbishop Oscar Arnulfo Romero of El Salvador (1917-1980), possibly original to Bishop Ken Untener

AoC Reviews

Photo Credit: Craig Neal

Photo Credit: Craig Neal

8/23/13: The Spiritual Collective Daily: Taste of Convening: scroll down to "Education"

8/6/13: Yorkshire Post: Business Diary: August 6
Have you ever been stuck in a meeting that went on for hours and achieved nothing? Well, Yorkshire-based leadership coach Tilla Brook says she is on a mission to banish unproductive, boring meetings.
She claims she is the “first certified convenor in the UK” – convening, as defined by Brook, is “the art and science of gathering and holding people for the sake of the best possible outcome”.

7/29/13 Kelly Castor @Velldr #FF Fantastic #Leadership resources from this week:@kevinjdean @mikemyatt @leadfearlessly @heartlandcircle

March 2013, CRISI E SVILUPPO MANAGERITALIA: The Art of Convening, or the art of managing meetings

Last minute discount! One more spot available...

Photo Credit: Craig Neal

Photo Credit: Craig Neal

Last minute discount! One more spot available >  

We are looking for one more father & son duo to join us on the next Fathers & Sons Wilderness Journey departing on September 1st.

We are willing to offer registration for this "Journey of a Lifetime" at "cost plus".

 Call or email us now to secure this incredible last minute deal:

Phone: 612.920.3039 (office)



 This is the perfect opportunity to join 3 other father & son duos who are on a lifelong journey of cultivating powerful, fulfilling and nurturing relationships with each other. 

What has changed the course of your life?...


Craig was interviewed yesterday by Minnesota Public Radio for an upcoming program on the 50th anniversary of the "March on Washington, Aug. 28, 1963, which he attended as a 17-year-old, and was profoundly impacted by.

The interview prompted these questions for Craig to offer to you:

Conversation 1: Speak to a seminal event in your life that transformed you and/or changed the course of your life.
Conversation 2: Is that shift alive in you today and, if so, speak to how it is taking form in your life.
Conversation 3: How are you bringing your aliveness into the world at this time? What is the vehicle for your offering?

And the sun rose...


An offering from Craig: A Minneapolis/ Lake Calhoun sunrise ...

Taste of Convening: your participation wanted


Dear Friends,

Join Craig and Patricia on any of the upcoming AoC Taste of Convening Maestro calls.

WHAT IS THE TASTE OF CONVENING? Each 1-hour informational Maestro conference call is a blend of interaction and engagement with Craig, originator of The Art of Convening Trainings. You will learn about how the 9 Aspects of the Convening Wheel can transform your engagements and relationships. Plus, learn new developments and opportunities in The Art of Convening Trainings and Graduate Community.

Aug 7 - Aug 12 - Aug 14 - Aug 20 - Aug 22

7-8am PT, 9-10am CT, 10-11am ET, 15-16 GMT

Click here to register and join us:

Patricia speaks at Business Book meeting

Photo credit: Daniel Scotton

Photo credit: Daniel Scotton

Minneapolis Book Events: A Business Book Bonanza of Minnesota Based Authors

In January, we started something called the Business Book Breakfast — and groups of 25-50 exciting, high energy, curious and fun people have gathered at 6:45 AM the 4th Wednesday of every month, to share thoughts and ideas about five very amazing books.

I decided we needed something more relaxing for the last, hazy days of summer, so we’re now meeting from 4:30-6pm (with a cash bar, lovely passed hors d’ouevres, plus FREE parking). Up next:

Wednesday, July 24, 4:30 – 6pm

This month, Minneapolis Book Events will be featuring 5 local authors, each sharing short snippets of their books and allowing time for book signings (and buying). Included authors are:

Al Watts, 

Navigating Integrity

Ralph Jacobson, 

Leading for a Change

Gary Cohen, 

Just Ask Leadership

Manny Steil, 

Listening Leaders

Patricia Neal, 

The Art of Convening

  • Location: The Minneapolis Club, Main Lounge on the 1st Floor
  • 4:30-5:40pm  Facilitated session; 5:40-6pm  More time for informal conversations.
  • Cost: $15-passed appetizers, cash bar, free parking. Prepayment required.
  • Non-Club members welcomed!



 or Call the Club (612) 332-2292

Guests Encouraged.

I have to Shine!

Photo Credit: Craig Neal

Photo Credit: Craig Neal

Yesterday I awoke to take this breathtaking image of the sun rising through our front door over Lake Calhoun in Minneapolis. May it and poem below inspire your day today!


On a gray day, when the sun

has been abducted, and it’s chill

end-of-the-world weather,

I must be the sun.

I must be the one

to encourage the young

sidetracked physicist

working his father’s cash register

to come up with a law of nature

that says brain waves can change

the dismal sky.  I must be the one

to remind the ginger plant

not to rest on the reputation

of its pungent roots, but to unveil

those buttery tendrils from the other world.

When the sky is an iron lid

I must be the one to simmer

in the piquant juices of possibility,

though the ingredients are unknown

and the day begins with a yawn.

I must issue forth a warmth

without discrimination, and any guarantee

it will come back to me.

On a dark day I must be willing

to keep my disposition light,

I have to be at the very least

on stray intact ray

of local energy, one small

but critical fraction

of illumination.  Even on a day

that doesn’t look gray

but still lacks comfort or sense,

I have to be the sun,

I have to shine as if

sorry life itself depended on it.

I have to make all the difference.

~ Thomas Centolella ~

(Views from along the Middle Way)

Good Morning! Being alive

photo credit: Daniel Scotton

photo credit: Daniel Scotton

We had an 8 inch snowfall here on Lake Calhoun yesterday. The grace of the sunrise this morning is a gift we share with you.

Craig & Patricia

Here comes the Sun! Gifts of the morning

photo credit: Craig Neal

photo credit: Craig Neal

I've been shooting sunrise photos thiswinter from our home on Lake Calhoun in downtown Minneapolis. And what to my wondrous eyes should appear each morning, but this miraculous sphere of energy that brings us such joy and sustains life. Here is todays gift, as shot through our icy storm window, along with a poem by Mary Oliver.

Craig Neal

Hello, sun in my face.

Hello, you who make the morning

and spread it over the fields

and into the faces of the tulips

and the nodding morning glories,

and into the windows of, even, the

miserable and the crotchety—

best preacher that ever was,

dear star, that just happens

to be where you are in the universe

to keep us from ever darkness,

to ease us with warm touching,

to hold us in the great hands of light—

good morning, good morning, good morning.

Watch, now, how I start the day

in happiness, in kindness.

Mary Oliver

Wednesday Wisdom (or Wit) from Heartland: Your Life Catches Fire


John Squadrea, from The Compass of the Rose

When you die to what

you thought was true

everything in your life catches fire.

You are the instrument

not the music

If you think you are the music

you will stop at

the final bar

If you become an instrument

for the music,

you will go on playing

no matter where you are

or who’s conducting

the gig is never over. 

The heart is always singing


The mind is always shouting


Between the two

we come and go

safe on the solid shore of maybe. 

Wednesday Wisdom (or Wit) from Heartland: Love and The Art of Convening

Photo Credit: Craig Neal

Photo Credit: Craig Neal

Love and The Art of Convening

by Cindy Wold

I started a graduate program this fall and am interested in carrying “love” as a scholarly topic of study and as a theme for my program. As I research this topic I am finding many others who are taking love as a serious phenomenon worthy of understanding for the sake of human wellbeing and effective relationships. The time seems right to dig deeper into this subject.

I find myself, still, passionately interested in studying the meaning and practice of love. I say “still” because this is not a new interest. It has its roots in many life experiences, in reading and study and, surprisingly, in the co-authoring of The Art of Convening!

Many years ago I read Erich Fromm’s classic book, The Art of Loving. In the book, Dr. Fromm posits that love is a not simply a sensation we may or may not be lucky enough to feel, but is indeed an art which one must study and practice to master. In the book he gave advice on how to both recognize and practice the art of loving.


When I collaborated with Craig and Patricia on writing The Art of Convening book, I began to think about one of the practices of loving that Fromm presented in his book: the quality of concentration.

According to Dr. Fromm this meant attending very deliberately to what one was doing in the moment, and multitasking as little as possible. He also took it to mean that we avoid, as much as possible, what he labeled “trivial conversation.”

Avoiding trivial conversation doesn't mean that everything we talk about has to be of grave or overarching importance. It means that what we talk about be genuinely of interest and meaningful to us and our conversation partner(s) and not just an exchange of pithy clichés or memorized talking points. In other words, we are urged to bring our conversations into the realm of truth, genuineness and recognition of the other.

I began to realize that The Art of Convening was a book that described a detailed method for bringing exactly this condition of concentration into our conversations. So, to me, as I have practiced the Art of Convening in my life and work, I consider that I am also practicing love. And I think that whether we intend it or not, we all bring a practice of love to our meetings, gatherings and conversations when we use the Art of Convening to create the quality of authentic engagement.

Do you have an experience of bringing the quality of love to your everyday work and life? Are there practices that you have discovered? Has the Art of Convening made a difference in the quality of your relationships? I'd love to hear from you and, if you're interested, would be happy to send links to some of my research.

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