The Art of Participatory Leadership: Hosting meaningful conversations that matter

Information from Pre-Retreat Online Training Sessions: March & April, 2020

Participation is not required at online sessions for attendance at in-person retreat

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The Art of Participatory Leadership Retreat


Yasodhara Ashram – Kootenay Lake – August 30 – September 2, 2020

Join us on the beautiful shores of Kootenay Lake to deep dive into three days of hands-on learning and skill building in the Art of Hosting. Come away with new understanding of theories, methods, tools and practices that leaders and change-makers can use to co-create solutions to complex challenges like climate change. This retreat will build your capacity for incorporating collaborative solutions, conflict resolution and collective wisdom building into your personal and organizational leadership practice with a focus on community action.

The current global climate crisis calls on us to ground ourselves in this beautiful place we know as the Kootenays. We must find ways to transcend the fragmented social, organisational and political processes that limit our collective wisdom, our leadership and our ability to co-create the lives and communities we want. No reason to wait; let’s learn together how to host the conversations that matter, now. 

The Art of Hosting is a three-day leadership training course that scales from the personal to the systemic. We’ll help you develop leadership practices that co-create a collective impact that responds to the complex challenges surrounding us. Participants will learn models and practices to maximize personal leadership abilities and surface the collective intelligence needed to respond to the most pressing issues of our times.

Climate change affects all of us. We will come together on the east shore of Kootenay Lake to learn and practice skills to host the conversations needed to successfully navigate the complex issues and system changes facing us today.  Here in the Columbia Basin, our mountain landscapes and small rural communities create unique opportunities and challenges for action. What is needed? How can we make a difference? From where can we take inspiration? By coming together, understanding where we are at, and having new conversations to address our vulnerabilities and paths forward, we will co-create solutions to this challenging issue – turning conversations to actions. 

Facilitation Team: 

David Stevenson:David has spent the last 25 years supporting personal, social, cultural and organizational healing, wellness and reconciliation. He is a practitioner of the Art of Hosting Meaningful Conversations/Art of Participatory Leadership and current chair of the Royal Roads University School of Leadership Studies. As CEO of the Moose Hide Campaign-an Indigenous innovation for the benefit of all Canadians- he supports a national team with a mission to end domestic and gender-based violence in Canada. David has held leadership roles in the private, non-profit and government sectors, including Strategic Lead for Aboriginal Services with the Ministry for Children and Family Development, Executive Director of Indigenous Leadership and Transformation Services; and 7 years as CEO of the Government Crown Corporation …the Vancouver Island Aboriginal Transition Authority for Children and Families. David lives on Mount PKOLS [pq̕áls], in SENĆOŦEN and Lekwungen peoples territory, also known as Victoria BC with his partner and two daughters.

Bob Stigler: Bob Stilger, PhD, is an activist-scholar who explores social change, leadership and community building in these times of collapse and regeneration. Bob’s first work with collapse was in Zimbabwe in the early part of this century. He has worked extensively with communities in Japan where people are creating a “new normal” after the devastating Triple Disasters – earthquake, tsunami and nuclear explosions – of March 11, 2011. Bob’s book, AfterNow: When We Cannot See the Future, Where Do We Begin was published in Japanese in 2015 and then in English in 2017. Bob has worked with First People’s from across the world who have been forcibly displaced by climate crises. He’s carried this work into Northern California, after the fires and now his nonprofit, NewStories, has launched a regional initiative in the Northwest called Regenerating Communities.  Visit for more of Bob’s story. Check-out www.AfterNow.Today

Ingrid Liepa: Ingrid is a consulting professional from Kimberley, BC, with a strong background in environment, climate change, health and sustainability. She’s been engaged in climate change since the late 1990s in work that has spanned classrooms, communities, corporate boardrooms, government policy agendas, and simple, everyday life. And since her teens, she has been a student and practitioner of facilitation, experiential learning, knowledge mobilization and participatory engagement techniques, with the good fortune to lead, support or be part of dozens of projects bringing the transformative potential of well-designed processes to support people, organizations and communities to further their missions. Ingrid first discovered Art of Hosting in 2010 and quickly made it an essential part of her toolkit. She completed the advanced training in 2015, and is excited for this training to be offered in the Kootenays.

Jayme Jones: Jayme has a passion for sustainability and engaging others to build resilient communities. She is a natural facilitator, project manager, and communicator. She loves being in roles bringing people together to address complex issues. Her key interests are water governance and climate change. Jayme has a Master of Art’s Degree in Environment and Management where her master’s thesis examined community action on climate change. Jayme has experience in government, industry, academia, and non-profit sectors. She is presently working at Selkirk College in the Columbia Basin Rural Development Institute as a Faculty/Research Assistant where she is doing applied research and supporting capacity building for local governments on a variety of projects, including a project on climate adaptation. When Jayme is not busy with work or volunteering, you will find her skiing, crafting, singing, or exploring with her husband and two young kids.

Jenn Meilleur: Jenn is a facilitator, systems-thinker, and a strategist who works collaboratively to co-create clarity, purpose and impact. Her passion is for drawing upon bold, creative, and participatory leadership to build capacity and create the conditions for happier, healthier, and more environmentally sustainable and resilient communities and workplaces. With leadership experience in the public, private, cooperative, nonprofit, and philanthropic sectors, Jenn has been developing and delivering sustainability and community development programs for two decades. Jenn has been privileged to build the foundation of many of her skills as part of the leadership team at Canada’s largest retail cooperative. Since that time, she has worked collaboratively on a national wilderness conservation engagement campaign, as a staff member with five local government on public policy, sustainability, communications, and community engagement, as the coordinator of a Collective Impact food systems initiative, and with a Community Foundation on organizational and community capacity building. She has been supporting and leading non-profits since 2011 in the role of board director, advisory member, and steering committee member. Jenn finds her inspiration in nature on the traditional lands and waters of the K’omoks First Nation on Vancouver Island in Canada with her husband, two children, and many furry friends.


Yasodhara Ashram is a unique setting for our gathering. Spacious, light-filled classrooms and sacred spaces combine with the incredible natural beauty of this land which will help to create a meaningful space for renewal, conversation, celebration and change. The ashram, and those who call it home, are very dedicated to spiritual and monastic practice. This is not a conference centre or a hotel. We have had many discussions with the ashram leaders about bringing the program there and they are excited to host us. It’s a beautiful and magical place and they are also feeling ‘called’ to support leaders and influencers at this critical moment in the human story. We view ourselves as honoured and respectful guests rather than customers and will be respecting the rich traditions of the ashram while we are there. More details can be found at

Learning Outcomes:

  • You’ll learn theories, methods, tools and practices for leading and hosting groups though processes of discovery, development, design and implementation of solutions to complex challenges.
  • You’ll increase your personal and organizational development capacities to co-create collaborative solutions, resolve conflicts and build collective wisdom.
  • How these practices create new and powerful options for leadership and solution development that are frequently not present in our personal, organizational or community development approaches.
  • Concrete practical experience and tools to support participatory leadership initiatives and to host meaningful conversations in challenging contexts.

Each AoH is uniquely designed based upon participants. Some of the processes learned will draw from:

  • Traditional Circle Practices
  • Four Fold Practice
  • World Cafe
  • Chaordic Path: Chaos and Order
  • Diamond of Participation
  • Organizational Paradigms
  • Open Space Technology
  • Story Telling Trios
  • Triads
  • Solo Time — Meditation, Journaling, TIme on the Land
  • Pro Action Cafe
  • Art of Harvesting
  • Art of Powerful Questions
  • Two Loops of Innovation
  • Cynefin Framework
  • Theory U
  • Collective Story Harvest
  • NowCast
  • Spiral of Co-Creating

Read more about the Art of Hosting here:


  • Date Format: YYYY slash MM slash DD
    CBEEN Membership: If you are not a member, but would like to become one to access discounted rates, go to If you are unsure if you are a member, but want to register as one, please select the member rate and then email to confirm your membership status. And if this event really calls to you, but you are unable to afford these options, please contact us and we will see if we can accommodate you in other ways.
  • The Ashram is at least one and a half hours from the nearest hospital and three hours from larger hospitals with specialized services. Because of the Ashram’s isolated rural setting, ambulance services are not always immediately available; at best an ambulance takes half an hour or longer to arrive on the Ashram site. Although the Ashram has basic first aid and a medical clinic is nearby, the clinic is only open three days per week and is without emergency service; accordingly the Ashram’s ability to respond to medical situations is limited.
  • An allergic reaction can affect the skin, gastrointestinal, respiratory, immune or cardiovascular system. In severe cases allergies can be life-threatening.
  • $ 0.00 CAD
    Please note our refund policy: Refunds of 90% of your registration fee are available up to 1 month before the event. Refunds of 50% of your registration fee are available up to 2 weeks before the event. No refunds within 1 week of the event.
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