A World Cafe outside, under the vine leaves, at the AoPL Axladitsa, 2014

A World Cafe outside under the vine leaves, at the AoPL Axladitsa, August 2014

  WHAT is AN AoPL?

The Art of Participatory Leadership is a 4-day training for leaders, innovators and citizens of all ages who are initiating (or wanting to initiate) new approaches to creating our collective economy and future. These gatherings bring us more deeply into our own calling, create networks of support and partnership, and offer a lived experience of collaborative and participatory processes that we can work with to lead changes within our own selves as leaders, and approach our lives and work in a participatory way.

The Art of Participatory Leadership is an experiential training that is being applied in many contexts – community, private sector, academic, healthcare, and educational settings as well as social change efforts around the world. The training is also designed as a personal leadership practice to deepen your own capacity to effect transformation within yourself and in a complex world.

In a world that is becoming increasingly fragmented and complex, true solutions and innovations lie not in one leader or one viewpoint, but in the bigger picture of our collective intelligence. The Art of Participatory Leadership is a response to this global complexity, at a time when institutions and democracies themselves are failing to address the increasing chaos in our world. It is a testing ground for those seeking to find new effective and healthy patterns for organizing, innovating and interacting to create new forms that serve us all better.

The Art of Participatory Leadership is the artform of listening to what wants most to happen, what has life, and it is a practice of creating the conditions for our collective intelligence to become visible to ourselves so that it can get to work. The principles of self-organization, participation, emergence, and nonlinear solutions are essential to both individual and collective discoveries – and actions.

The training is part of a global family of trainings through the Art of Hosting network AoPL is practiced all over the world – hosts from the SIZ have brought participatory methodologies to the European Commission as well as to social movements in Egypt, Israel and Palestine and Bulgaria and the UK. We brought it to Greece in 2011 during the beginnings of the democratic and financial collapse.

Through the AoPL you join a local and a global community of practitioners who are using integrated participative change processes, methods, maps, and planning tools that engage groups and teams in meaningful conversation, deliberate collaboration, and group-supported action for the common good.

In our context in Greece and with the SIZ, it’s about re-building democracy through citizen participation and engagement, and together creating new pathways forward!


During the workshops we practice and explore:

  • The design and methodology of engaging yourself and others in hosting and harvesting transformative conversations using different participatory methodologies such as World Cafe, Open Space Technology, Appreciative Inquiry, Harvesting, Pattern-recognition, Inner Presence, Circle Practice..
  • Authentic collaborative leadership
  • Noticing and shifting personal, team and systemic behaviors and norms
  • Models and practices for working with complexity and emergence
  • Connecting with others who are practicing participation, leading change, innovation and system transformation in the Greece, Europe and worldwide
  • Translating your ideas and seeds of innovation into experiments and initiatives
  • Parea! (the Greek word for being in good company!)

A teach on “Process Architecture” to design and how to create participatory processes @ Axladitsa.



Our pattern of hosting the AoPL trainings is to bring together our Greek core team with friends from abroad whom we love and trust and who bring different skills, perspectives, experiences, approaches and cultures to the mix.

Our hosting team includes hosts from Greece, including the core team of the SIZ and our wonderful friends from abroad:

Maria Scordialos (Greece), Odysseas Velentzas (Greece), Vanessa Reid (Canada), Nikos Rovakis (Greece), Yitzhak Mendelsohn (Jerusalem), Anton Vaklov (Bulgaria), Matthieu Kleinschmager (Belgium), Kieron Concannon (UK/Ireland), Mark Taplin (UK), Mary Thym (Larissa), Sarah Whiteley (UK), Bénédicte Rousseau (Belgium).



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