Ways of Knowing Conversations


Bill Manahan, Minnesota Holistic Medicine Group, and Marie Manthey, Creative Health Care Management, two national and international leaders in integrative healthcare, hosted the first Ways of Knowing Conversations. Over a hundred people responded to their invitation and the evaluations were outstanding.

Other internationally known presenters were Mary Jo Kreitzer, Director, University of Minnesota’s Center for Spirituality and Healing; Terry Gips, Alliance for Sustainability; Sharon Franquemont, Charlson Meadows; Eric Utne, Founder, Utne Magazine. In addition, members of an on-going circle conversation launched at the 2010 Ways of Knowing Symposium presented how their monthly conversations have influenced their lives.

This site contains the agenda, Bill Manahan’s opening remarks which frame the call for integrative medicine, Marie Manthey’s article on Salons and Circle Conversations and her hints on how to start your own salon, the Power Points of three speakers, and other offerings. We hope you enjoy being able to attend the gathering virtually.

Bill Manahan and Marie Manthey, Co-Hosts, and Advisor, Sharon Franquemont

Circle conversations at tables

Twenty minutes for presentation;
40 minutes for Circle conversations at tables

The format emphasized conversation, so each presenter had 20 minutes to cover core points in their topic and then each table of 6 had 40 minutes to discuss what they heard, learned, and thought about the presenter’s topic.



8:30 to 9:00 am Check-In
9:00 to 9:10 am Welcome – Sharon Franquemont, Charlson Meadows, and Mary Jo Kreitzer,Center for Spirituality and Healing, University of Minnesota
9:10 to 9:15 am Introduction – Bill Manahan, Minnesota Holistic Medicine Group
9:15 to 9:30 am Salons and Circles: the Value of Conversations – Marie Manthey, Creative Health Care Management
9:30 to 10:10 am Circle Conversations – Spirituality, Sustainability, and Healthcare
10:10 to 10:30 am The New Science of Interconnectedness – Mary Jo Kreitzer, Center for Spirituality and Healing
10:30 to 10:45 am Break
10:45 to 11:15 am Circle Conversations – The New Science of Interconnectedness
11:15 to 11:35 am Sustainability and Spiritual Practice – Terry Gips, Alliance for Sustainability
11:35 am to 12:05 pm Circle Conversations – Sustainability and Spiritual Practice
12:05 to 1:15 pm Buffet lunch
1:15 to 1:35 pm Intuition: Sustainable Ways of Knowing – Sharon Franquemont, Charlson Meadows
1:35 to 2:05 pm Circle Conversations – Intuition: Sustainable Ways of Knowing
2:05 to 2:35 pm Stories of Sustainable Transformation – Eric Utne, Founder of Utne Reader, and Sharon Franquemont, Charlson Meadows
2:35 to 3:00 pm Break
3:00 to 3:30 pm Circle Conversations – Stories of Sustainable Transformation
3:30 to 4:00 pm WOK in Your Life? An Example – (Terry Gips, Sue Haddow, Julie Kateres, Jan Marie Lundgren, Bill Manahan, Erin O’Meara, Karen Zeleznak)
4:00 to 4:15 pm Actualizing Spirituality and Sustainability in Your Life – Marie Manthey
4:00 to 4:45 pm Circle Conversations – Actualizing Spirituality and Sustainability in Your Life
4:45 to 5:15 pm Collecting Table Reflections: Actualizing Spirituality and Sustainability in Your Life
5:15 to 5:45 pm Evaluation and Feedback
5:45 to 6:00 pm Closing – Marie Manthey and Bill Manahan
Optional Evening Self-Organized Activities – Walk


Bill ManahanChange is in the Air

An Invitation to be Present and Shift History, Bill Manahan, Minnesota Holistic Medicine Group

Change is in the air!
Stone Age lasted tens of thousands of years
Bronze Age lasted a few thousand years
Industrial Age lasted 300 years
Chemical or Plastic Age lasted 100 years
Information Age lasted 30 years
Biotechnology Age lasted 10 years
Nanotechnology age will last how many years? I believe it is quite possible that we have reached a tipping point, and that transition to a more spiritual, environmentally sensitive, collaborative, peaceful, and healthy world is possible. Is that what 2012 is really about?

Some people believe that a major factor keeping us so separate is fear and especially fear of the other! But the other is changing rapidly. Who is the “other?” We have moved from tribes to fiefdoms to kingdoms to countries. As there has been more mixing of races and cultures and religions, and as we have gotten to know each other all over the world through travel, books, movies, and electronic media, we have become less fearful of “the other.” We have begun to recognize the humanity of all people and we have once again begun to recognize our connection with the plants, animals, environment, and all that exists.

So, why are you here today? What prompted you to make room in your busy schedules to attend a gathering about Spirituality, Sustainability, and Healthcare? Outside of the fact that those three things just about cover everything that is important in the world. Spirituality – our higher self, our energetic self, our connection with the Divine. Sustainability – our cosmos, our universe, our planet. Healthcare – our human self, our physical bodies, our mental bodies.

Here is what I believe are some reasons that you are here today:
You are here today because you are people who have chosen to be the conscious co-creators of a new reality!

  • You are the artists, shamans, mystics, healers, alchemists, and seekers. In fact, I suspect that you are the antennae of the human race – at least the antennae in Minnesota!
  • You are the people helping us move toward more of an inner landscape; one that is more spiritual, more collaborative, and more peaceful.
  • You are the people who will help us transition to something that might be called “liberating our imaginations.”
  • You are the people who understand our interconnectedness and our oneness.
  • You are the people who truly believe with all your heart in both high tech and high touch solutions to the world’s problems. You are “both-and” people rather than “either-or.”
  • You are the people who are willing to investigate and explore ideas and information that fall outside the accepted parameters of our culture (such as intuition, psi phenomena, crop circles, etc.) You understand that if we do not do that exploration, those repressed elements will eventually return to haunt us.

In summary, I believe that you are here today because you have had no choice but to become strong enough, courageous enough, and artist enough to assist in the change that is occurring. This time in our world is what the Greeks called KAIROS – the right moment; the opportune time. It is the “right moment” for a fundamental shift of our principles, symbols, and myths; a shift in the parameters of our culture of what we now call normal but with a knowing that those parameters no longer serve humankind.

So, how did we dare to give you participants two-thirds of the time (40-minutes of each hour) while allowing these fabulous speakers only one-third of the allotted time (20-minutes)? It is because we believe that so much truth and wisdom reside with each of us and change occurs when we share that truth, that wisdom, and our stories with each other.

Story-telling and conversation provide grounding; provide a means of bonding with others; provide a means of validating and affirming experiences; provide a vehicle for educating; and provide a means of re-visioning what we believe to be true for us. Stories contain energy, hope, vision and imagination. They inspire us to create new forms and to stir things up. They turn us on!

We believe it is through story-telling and conversations; through listening to each other; through sharing our inner thoughts and feelings with each other that a new world, a new way of being, can self-organize out of the chaos, take root, and vitalize until it suddenly manifests as established truth. With this new way of being, we will no longer live in fear of the other – whether it is other people, plants, animals, the earth or the universe. We no longer will have to dominate the other; rather we will live in partnership and collaboration with all that exists.

By having conversations with each other, by telling our stories and listening to our stories, we help connect each of us at a deeper level; a level that will help build a foundation throughout our wonderful state of Minnesota and eventually our world based on trust, compassion, forgiveness and love.

These conversations today are a template for the magical switch that can and will transform the world. Thank you for your part in helping to make that occur.


Marie MantheySalons and Circles, The Value of Conversations

Marie Manthey, Salons: An Explanation of Circle Conversations, A Creative Nursing Journal article by Marie on conversation as a transformational experience and then her key points to starting your own nursing salon.

1. A Talk for All Times, Nursing Forum

Vol 45, No. 4, October-December 2010 by Marie Manthey.



2. What You Should Know If You Want To Create A Salon

History of Nursing Salons: What started as a small group of four graduate students and their faculty member has grown into an e-mail list of over eighty individuals participants.

The nurse salon.
The Nursing Salon is held monthly throughout the year and each session is a unique, positive event, attended by anywhere from 8 to over 20 people. Although most are nurses, it is not a requirement for attendance. The only requirement is an interest in nursing and a desire to talk about it.

Each Salon is complete unto itself with a beginning, a middle, and an end. There is no carry-over (except in people’s memory) from one Salon’s discussion topics to the next. Each one consists of whatever issue/topic the people bring to share. There is no formal agenda, no minutes and no action steps. Just sharing experiences that touch the reality of nursing at a depth of meaning enriches the practice and the experience of the participants.

Over the years, a format has evolved, a function created, and an outcome achieved. The format is a modified Socrates Cafe (1), the function is healing and the outcome is hope.

The format.
There are several key elements to the format. It is fair to say it is a combination of Open Space Technology (1),and the Socrates Cafe (2) format, thus incorporating inclusivity and good conversation practices. The Open Space Technology involves how individuals get invited and how the event proceeds. Information about The Nursing Salon is passed by word of mouth. Individuals who attend are encouraged to tell others and bring a friend. No one is specially invited. No selection criteria exists. It is made clear that the discussion topic will be about nursing. To be ‘on the list’ an individual only has to email me expressing a desire to be ‘on the mailing list’. People on the list are notified by email of the date chosen for the next Salon and they email if they plan to attend.

Every effort is made to keep stress out of this event. There are no requirements or expectations. Dress is casual. Food is provided. No one need to worry about preparing something to say, bringing food for a pot-luck, or being put don the spot in any way. The atmosphere is deliberately lo-key, informal and friendly. The topic emerges from the Socrates Cafe conversation format:

  • During the meal, there is a check-in where attendees are asked to share “what is on your mind about nursing tonight?”
  • Efforts are made to keep these comments brief and to refrain from entering into a topic discussion at this time.
  • After everyone has been heard, a decision is made about the major topics for the night.
  • An in-depth discussion (using good conversation principles) ensues
  • At the end of the evening, a check-out lets everyone answer “what is on your mind about nursing now?”

The function of healing.
During the check-in, people briefly share an experiences with patients, families, teachers, co-workers, classmates. These comments can be either positive or negative. As we enter into a deeper discussion on specific issues, participants experience validation, support and sometimes enlightenment as others share similar situations. Recently, many commented on how important it is to process the feelings they have about some of the horrendous experiences they see in their work, and how hard it is to do so. Many family members are simply not available for these kinds of discussions, and there is no time at work to share with other nurses. This Salon is one of the few times major practice issues can be discussed in a safe environment.

Humor is healing. Nurses have a good capacity for finding and using humor to heal painful experiences. At times the Salon is rocking with laughter…..tension is released and healing occurs.

The outcome of hope.
Hope is the most frequently mentioned outcome of these events. It started showing up years ago and continues to be the most consistently used word when people check-out. Young nurses feel hope when they realize some of the seasoned staff nurses are basically still as passionate about practice as they are…..and older nurses feel the same hope as they see young new nurses depth of caring and passion about nursing. It becomes so clear that nursing is a culture, not just a job.


Kreitze rPPTThe Science of Interconnectedness PPTThe Science of Interconnectedness

Mary Jo Kreitzer, Director, University of Minnesota’s Center for Spirituality and Healing

This presentation offers an inner look at how complexity, chaos, advances in neuroscience, new understanding of epigenetics (visit TIME magazine article: http://www.time.com/time/health/article/0,8599,1951968,00.html) and other advances are all related to the emerging study of interconnectedness. Download PDF Presentation


TerryGips PPTSustainability and Spiritual Practice

Terry Gips, Alliance for Sustainability

It’s all a question of story. We are in trouble just now because do not have a good story. We are between stories….We need to reinvent the human at the species level, reflectively, within the community of life systems. Thomas Berry, Dream of the Earth

Painting a rare hopeful vision of our planetary future, Terry Gips shares a number of doorways to sustainability and the 4 simple Natural Steps necessary to restore a healthy environment in his presentation. Download PDF Presentation


SharonFranquemont PPTIntuition: Sustainable Ways of Knowing

Sharon Franquemont, Charlson Meadows

The intuitive mind is a sacred gift and the rational mind is a faithful servant. We’ve created a society that honors the servant and has forgotten the gift. Albert Einstein

Encouraging people to embrace their intuition as a sustainable, enriching way of knowing, Sharon Franquemont stated that working with your intuition implies a shift in identify. This shift features moving from

  1. Identity with knowledge as neutral to knowledge that is bound up with caring, love, and intimacy
  2. Identifying yourself as a container of knowledge to discerner of knowledge
  3. Identity as an individual to a field identity.

Download PDF Presentation

Once Upon a Time in 2050….

Eric Utne and Sharon Franquemont presented a short skit taking turns being children and elders. Their conversations focused on this question raised by children of the future:

Is it true that in the past people actually killed each other, lived in poverty, starved to death, or suffered from illness? If so, what happened to change everything for the better, Grandpa or Grandma? (depending on who was asking the question)

As the wise grandfather, Eric suggested that the return and rise of communities all over the world—communities that heal, communities that vision together, communities that nurture, communities that play together, communities that assist each other—lead to the creation of a healthy planetary community. As the wise grandmother, Sharon suggested that the evolution and implementation of human compassion technologies in schools and homes plus the understanding that death is a transitional state not an end point brought about profound positive changes.

Eric and Sharon then asked table members to have a conversation about how they would answer the children of the future if they were asked:

What happened to change everything for the better and create a healthy planetary community?

Eric Utne and Sharon Franquemont Talk

Little girl Sharon and little boy Eric talk the future over with wise elders Eric and Sharon


WOK in Your Life? An Example

At the conclusion of the 2010 Ways of Knowing Symposium, Exploring Whole Systems Healing, one of the conversation tables chose to continue meeting for dinner and conversation on a monthly basis throughout the year. At the 2011 Ways of Knowing Conversations, table members shared how meaningful their monthly meetings had become.

The Whole Systems Healing guiding principles that they crafted at the 2010 Symposium became a foundation for their work together. According to the members, these guiding principles impact how they conduct their daily lives and are a touchstone for their monthly interactions.

Whole Systems Healing Guiding Principles
  • The new story evolves out of material and spiritual abundance, sustainability, and co-creation, not deficit or expert models.
  • We protect and nurture the dignity, knowledge and wisdom of all our relations.
  • We ask in every moment: How can I serve?
  • We act from hope, celebration and joy.
  • We are a hollow bone, a conduit of energetically positive, divine wisdom flowing through the world.

After establishing sacred space, each person reflects on how Whole System Healing has impacted his or her personal and professional lives during the month. These conversations provide a safe container for sharing their stories, nurturing each other through transformative times, and lifting their spirits.

One member stated, “The conversations feel like a walk outside on a beautiful sunny day when my heart and soul feel like I am truly part of something beg, beautiful, and full of love.”

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