A fortnight with Vocari

The main purpose for Shannon’s return to San Francisco was to work with Vocari – a community of Christian business people who work in the Bay Area. Having met them in May, and talked about the TI, they wanted to hear more and see for themselves how it worked, so this trip was an opportunity to do just that.

Over a period of two weeks, the Matryoshka Haus team met with different elements of Vocari at a series of gatherings, meetings and workshops. Many of these took place at the Vocari Hub in Pleasant Hill – a new space where community events take place, but also a working space for a range of businesses and organisations.

Our first interaction was at their regular Friday evening drinks, where we were able to tell a little of the Matryoshka Haus story and give a small taste of what the TI involved. We also learnt that Vocari know a lot about good wine (there’s even a wine storage centre next door) and good food – both are valuable qualities in business and community!

At their monthly hub lunch the following week, we had the opportunity to present the TI to a whole range of business people, philanthropists and social entrepreneurs. Thanks to a conversation the previous Friday, we were able to put our words into action immediately afterwards, by running a TI with one of the Hub’s tenants – the Center for Bio Ethics and Culture. It was a fun, but intense afternoon. Discussion was fuelled with Cadbury’s chocolate all the way from London, and some more of the excellent wine that Vocari seems to have an endless supply of!

CBC TI

A few days later, we were back at the Hub to conduct a ‘fishbowl’ of the TI with the Vocari team – ‘fishbowl’ in that the first phase of the process could be observed by anyone who was interested. If the level of noise was anything to go by, the team had a great time engaging with the TI! Cadbury’s chocolate came in handy again, as a prize for whichever team chose their indicators the quickest (which proved to be an amazing motivator). It was particularly exceptional to see so much energy, given as the exercise had begun at 9am on a Saturday morning.

Vocari TI

The work didn’t end even after Cathers and I returned to London. Shannon met with other groups based at the Hub, ending her Californian trip with another Friday evening event there, entitled: ‘Making Stuff Happen’. The idea was to share some of what Shannon and Matryoshka Haus have learnt about making ideas tangible and getting them off the ground – and judging by some of the feedback I’ve seen, it went pretty well!

Working with the people who make up Vocari was a real privilege for us. Not only did we connect with lots of different businesses and organisations on a professional level, we also made new friendships – there are even two couples who have already paid their deposits to join the next Chateau Duffy trip! Being hosted by Brad and Lynn Smith was a joy, they made us so welcome in their home and it was great having the opportunity to get to know them – we’d be happy to return the favour in London one day! Massive thanks also need to go to Wayne, Jesse and Rod for all their hard work on the programme too. (Jesse needs to be particularly thanked for his awesome Downton Abbey impressions!)

Thanks Vocari! We look forward to working with you again very soon!

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