Celebrations & Mournings
January 2023 marks my last regularly scheduled newsletter.
I have linked to this page (previously on the Fearless Heart website) from every newsletter since March 2014, to add whatever celebrations and mournings didn’t fit in the newsletter. You can get to the newsletters through the links in the first paragraph after each month’s heading below.
The years 2014-21 have been archived: for 2018-2021 visit here, or for 2014-2017 you can read them here.
These celebrations, mournings and other happenings accompany my January newsletter, “Untwisting Fields: Farewell and a New Opening.”
Web of Support. As I am writing this newsletter for the last time (!), I am tuning into the many people reading this who I know want me to be well nourished and well supported with all that I do and give. From there, I want to celebrate the presence of a robust and solid network of support around me that I am anticipating being there for the rest of my days on Earth. It starts with my pod, which at present includes Eddy Quinn, Emma Quayle, and, at least for a while, Vesta Kroese. That’s the raw material and emotional baseline of everything, the deep shared risk that is unlike anything I’ve ever before experienced in my entire life. It includes the “Miki Support Team” that functions within NGL, where so much of what I hold is co-held, and where we are actively working on finding co-holding for all the many things (more than 40!) I am still a primary holder for because of non-redundant capacities. It includes my Purpose Pod that consists of Emma and Verene Nicolas, where we hold our individual purposes and, in some intangible and vivid ways, much that goes on within NGL. And it includes the growing web of people within the NGL Mycelium Experiment who are, with us, the seed for all that is yet to come.
Writing. As much as I wanted to complete the packets project this year, life took other turns. I did complete two more in the “Power, Privilege, and Liberation” category this past period, each longer than 40 pages. I have eight more to finish that are at various stages of readiness, and I am planning to do it now at a more leisurely pace. This has been a huge project, at the end of which I am currently estimating 49 packets for a total of about 1,800 pages. It’s still almost beyond my capacity to grasp that I’ve done all this. • As an almost after-thought, at the end of a truly fantastic writing retreat, I finally wrote the piece I have been wanting to write for so long: “A Love Letter to my Brothers.” It’s all about what is being done to men for patriarchy to continue, and what men can do about it to come back to aliveness and to being allies to all life, especially to women.
Nonviolent Global Liberation (NGL). For the last two years we’ve been working first on clarifying our relationship with BayNVC and then on transitioning from being fiscally sponsored by BayNVC to holding full responsibility for all that happens within NGL, including our relationship with the legal and financial world. I am ecstatic to see that we have been able to use all the challenges that have come with this as an opportunity to align ourselves ever more fully with the commitment to functioning within the maternal gift economy paradigm and with distributed leadership. I anticipate that in the near future a newsletter will come to you from NGL (not from me!) with a lot more detail about what we did and how we did it. • The leadership council experiment is continuing, with more and more clarity emerging about what is ours to do and why. Truth telling is happening and I am seeing how this can be a way to exit the either/or of endless processing vs. authority or majority deciding. • We now have a new website!!! Check it out and see how active you might want to be now that the transition is complete and there won’t be any other way to stay connected with what we do because I won’t have newsletters of my own any longer.
From students, former students, and friends. As this is my last newsletter from BayNVC, each time I write a little section of these celebrations and mournings, I am finding myself reflecting on the longest span that’s relevant. In this case, I am looking back at the entire life of BayNVC, since Inbal and I co-founded it in 2002 with Julie Greene and John Kinyon. That was also the year we started the BayNVC Leadership Program with the explicit intention to have people carry forward the work to where we ourselves would never go. Over the years we had people in the program from all continents, many of whom indeed went on to do exactly that: bringing NVC to places we couldn’t, supporting people in Sri Lanka traumatized by endless civil war, spreading NVC throughout Thailand, working with activists and supporting Extinction Rebellion, writing books, starting organizations, and much more. I feel awed and content from taking all that in.
Vagabonding is ending. We have found, finally, a place to be in for a year. On the 12th we are heading out of Scotland, in a car with a small trailer with all our things, taking the ferry to the Netherlands, and, from there, driving across several European countries all the way to Turkey. We have a house already and local support with the legal aspects of this. Being in one place for a year feels like an amazing luxury after the last several years. And during this year we are hoping to identify a full landing place for us.
The Humility Corner. I started this section in July 2017 and kept it up with each newsletter since. I am not doing it this time, because it just doesn’t feel energetially accurate to do it. Instead, I am celebrating that I have had this for more than four years and that now I have all this documentation about my journey over these years. I look forward to finding new avenues for making myself visible in those ways.
This month’s credits: People gathered photo by Emma Quayle; Fox, Miki & flipchart photo by Emma Quayle; Water ripples photo by Mylene from Pixabay; Ankara Turkey photo by Ekrem from Pixabay
These celebrations, mournings and other happenings accompany my November newsletter, “Stepping into Foraging Consciousness.”
Web of Support. In the last number of months, and for the foreseeable future, I am planning to do monthly events that serve as introductions to the NGL framework, each month on a different topic. I have all kinds of talents. Visual beauty isn’t one of them. I have been consistently impressed with what Sabrina Kley, an NGL member, can do to make concepts visually vibrant and clear. I asked her if she would be open to create visuals from Google slides I make. This has turned into a truly joyful collaboration, a rhythm of care, appreciation, and creativity that is nourishing my events and my soul. • I have never thanked the NVC Academy publicly, and I want to. Over the years, there have been a lot of shifts that the NVC Academy, and Mary Mackenzie in particular, have made to make my work there more and more aligned and flowing. I recently suddenly got what it gives me and shared this with them: “The word ‘home’ came to me. What you provide me is the only place I know where I can fly without any restrictions, where you do everything humanly possible to support me, where you surround me with appreciation and warmth, where you do extra bits of work because it’s complicated, and on and on. It was such a profound and joyful experience to get it so viscerally what an amazing gift you are to me and my work.”
Writing. I am back to being able to write and working on the packets project again. This time, I am releasing one new one: “Working for Transformation without Recreating the Past,” a mammoth enterprise that took, on and off, many moons. I am also making headway in the next one: “Liberation for All: Power, Privilege, and Our Collective Future.” • I have a new blog post called “Beyond Horizontalism: Co-creation within a Led Field.”
Nonviolent Global Liberation (NGL). A lot is happening within NGL that is not yet visible on the outside as we continue to prepare for the final steps of the transition to being entirely responsible for everything, without relying on BayNVC which is closing and passing on its name to the remaining trainers who have worked with BayNVC for years. I am deeply grateful to all of us for continuing to walk towards ever more alignment with our commitment to fully distributed ways of functioning and to full gifting in all we do. • We are continuing to explore deeply how we approach learning, moving from semi-conventional ways to fully empowered learning emerging from needs, requests, and offerings. Along the way, we are learning how much liberation is needed to be free learners. • We are in the early phases of establishing a leadership council to steward the work now and, most significantly, after I am no longer here. We are experimenting with deep truth telling through an exacting process of collective feedback. Once again, I see us building new pathways that are uncomfortable and exhilarating at the same time. • Our website project is continuing to unfold, and we are committed to releasing a new website by the end of the year, just in time for the transition. In the meantime, our current website is still all there is, and I invite you to see what we do, to sign up for our newsletter, and to check whether this experiment is one you might want to join or support as an NGL Friend. About half of our NGL Friends also contribute money, and we rejoice that more than half know they are welcome to participate without contributing financially.
From students, former students, and friends. Shar Molloy, an NGL apprentice and student of several years in Australia, who often is in session after midnight or at 4am given the time zone challenges, has been working in support of indigenous people in Australia. After applying what she is learning within NGL, the group she and her colleagues have been supporting managed to get a judge to travel thousands of miles to their land for a court hearing, so they could do it in the ways that represent their way of living, including song and dance. See this Wall Street Journal article for more details.
Vagabonding. We are still in Scotland, and we still don’t have a clear pathway for where to go next that won’t be another 3-month stint. This time here is the longest in two years that we are in one location: as the newsletter goes out, we still have more than two months before taking ourselves to the next, as yet unknown place. We are very ready for longer term settling, and we are exploring pathways in several places, as we have both legal and housing obstacles. Meanwhile, we have already had four visitors and are preparing for a gathering in late November that, at its peak, is likely to be up to seventeen people here. The picture here, drawn by Emma, shows the way we have named the rooms, as we are aiming to un-groove ownership and thus no room is anyone’s personal room. We sold our old van that took us and our things many places, and bought, instead, a little trailer that we can tow with all our things, in true vagabonding style.
Recent inspirations and mournings. This time, I have only one, and it’s all pure joy as well as unexpected integration: the Goede Hoop Marimba Band playing a Vivaldi medley. Watching the faces of these girls playing the marimba is amazing, and seeing this joy, this way of playing music, applied to Vivaldi, a composer from Italy whose works I totally love and who composed while horrors were done, by Europeans, to the ancestors of these girls, is much deeper than just the auditory and visual pleasure. It somehow nurtures my faith that life can heal itself.
The Humility Corner. This time, I am celebrating here. In the last period I have been able to find ways of attending to several limitations of mine in two main areas: honoring my flow and caring for me as a body. The deepest layer of the celebration is that I am doing it all interdependently. Instead of waiting for myself to be strong enough or liberated enough to jumpstart myself out of patterns of over-mobilization that are lifelong, I am leaning on a new value that I articulated as part of my vision mobilization structure: “Entrustment as tenderness towards my capacity limitation in honoring the finitude of the life energy that is me, and leaning into interdependence to find pathways to restore self-flow and to hold with reverence the body that is this life energy.” Here are two examples. One is that I now walk every day, four of them as a “walk and talk” with others, which means stacking the function of body care with the function of relationship and purpose: I walk more and I have more ongoing connection with a few people. I wouldn’t otherwise do either of them. And when any of them is unavailable, Emma, who is my “walk broker,” finds someone else to walk with me. I have only missed two days so far, despite the rain, and both have been circumstances that made it impossible on that day. The other is about managing to shift from prioritizing closing loops to having little stints of writing and even reading on otherwise full days. This is an agreement which I am tracking daily with friend and NGL colleague Yaren. In both cases, leaning on relationships is what makes it possible to take the leap into life as I want to live it. We are, as I never tire of saying, intrinsically interdependent beings. I am happy to be as free of self-sufficiency as I am.
These celebrations, mournings and other happenings accompany my September newsletter, “The Power of Raw Needs.”
Web of Support. I think we will never be alone again. Our pod is now surrounded by more people than I would be able to remember to name who are oriented towards our struggles and my capacity to continue and complete my work with a seriousness and consistency that has moved me to tears more than once. For example, two people came to the house we are staying at now when we moved in, one of whom flew in from the Netherlands. Our needs are catalogued and tracked. People are in touch with us multiple times a day. And all this is being documented so that more of us can learn more about how much support is needed for those who step off the mainstream way of living. I am overwhelmed with awe and gratitude.
Writing. For many weeks, I was almost entirely unable to write given the challenges we were facing. The result is that there is only one new packet this time. • I still managed to write two blog posts during this period. One is called “Increasing Collective Capacity for Visionary, Collaborative Leadership” and the other is called “Nonviolent Resistance in the Face of Hostility: Walking towards Conflict with Care for All.” Both of them are based on my own experience and experimentation. I also wrote my next article for Self and Society. • My previous article for that journal is now available. It’s called “Imagining a Post-Patriarchal Theory of Child Development.” • I received two astonishing appreciations for my writing. Jem Bendell, one of the key people responsible for our awareness of the risk of near-term extinction, posted my article “Why Capitalism Cannot Be Redeemed” on Facebook with this caption: “A remarkably simple and comprehensive summary. And no, it certainly doesn’t mean wanting communism!” The other one came from Chris Moore-Backman, friend and serious student of nonviolence, who said this about my post on “Experiments with Truth”: “Gandhi is lucky to have you, Miki! You’re throwing out the bathwater (all the patriarchal baggage he carried around) while holding the baby (what he showed and conveyed to us about nonviolence) securely in your arms. Not many folks these days seem willing to offer that kind of respect to Gandhi and what he did. I fear the cost of that is great. Which illuminates the great value of what you’re offering. Thank you!”
Recordings. In July 2022, four members of the Nonviolent Global Liberation (NGL) community were interviewed by Stephanie van Hook and Michael Nagler from the Metta Center for Nonviolence on the topic of “Weaving nonviolence into the fabric of everyday life.” The link includes the audio and a transcript about our work. I really like the way they framed it: “building a truly nonviolent world, one experiment with truth at a time.” • Also in July 2022, while in Portugal, I was invited back into Tamera to support them with thinking about how a gift economy approach might work for them. The first part of my presentation was deliberately general, so that it could be shared with others, and here is a link: “Living a Gift Economy within an Exchange World.” The slides for this presentation can be found here, where I made the original presentation that this was based on. • July was clearly a recordings month, which included one more podcast, a new one called “Omni-Win.” My topic was “Reclaiming Our Power with Nonviolence,” which is both an audio and a video. • In October 2021, as part of my Responding to the Call of Our Times annual course, I led participants in an exploration of connecting with and understanding those with polar opposite beliefs and perspectives about COVID-19 pandemic vaccination. We all felt the significance of it, and the NVC Academy then posted this 84 minute video that goes into the depth of how such connections can be made even when very strong disagreements exist, including what we need to do to internally be able to make those connections.
Nonviolent Global Liberation (NGL). We are celebrating NGL’s fifth anniversary as this newsletter is going out. On the 4th of September we got together twice to celebrate and to harvest our learning. • The full cycle of the Provider Apprenticeship Program is completed. We are now beginning the design of what comes next, and it is likely to fully revamp everything we do within NGL that is related to learning and apprenticing. • The second in-person gathering happened in July and early August. Our entire pod was present for at least part of the time. It was a challenging event because of persistent conflicts within NGL. In and through the difficulties, a number of things shifted in deep ways. I have a sense that NGL took a big step forward. I am particularly appreciating the formation of a Vital Functions Holding team that is working towards identifying and finding ways of attending to the key voids in baseline functionality. Given our commitment to function only within willingness and capacity, without coercion or incentive, I am in awe of the degree of mobilization that is happening. • During the gathering, we had several conversations about the new website we are aiming to have ready by the end of the year when BayNVC’s transition is complete. I am super excited with the design we are coming up with which I think will communicate to others much better what on earth we are actually doing. In the meantime, our clunky website is still all there is, and I invite you to see what we do, to sign up for our newsletter, and to check whether this experiment is one you might want to join or support as an NGL Friend. About half of our NGL Friends also contribute money, and we rejoice that more than half know they are welcome to participate without contributing financially.
From students and former students and friends. Ken Anno, former student, key NVC leader in Japan, and friend, listened to a recording where I talked about wanting someone to make a drawing of me as a heart tenderizer, and he did that! I enjoy both the humor and the accuracy. • Adigo Ataba, who has been coming to my coaching calls for activists and is now part of the team holding the VM for Power and Privilege, has taken deeply to heart my persistent, passionate descriptions of the gift economy, and has shifted her functional medicine practice to operating on the gift. Nothing gradual, a total headfirst plunge. I am in awe and full of gratitude, inspired by the courage to follow vision. Adigo is also responsible for my favorite short definitions of patriarchy and privilege, on her page here.
Vagabonding. At the moment, we are in Scotland, where we had thought we could be for a year. Now many obstacles have piled up and we literally don’t know how long we will be here nor where we will be next. Of course, no one ever knows what will happen… and in this case we don’t even have clarity about what a plan might be.
Recent inspirations and mournings. In July, the Pope was in Canada aiming to express apologies from the Catholic Church for its role in the forced boarding school experiences that Indigenous children in Canada (about 150,000 of them) were subjected to. As remarkable and rare as that is, I was particularly moved by the response of an Indigenous woman who stood up to the pope in Cree song (and here she explains what she meant). Also, along the same lines, another elder expressed concern about how few women were involved given the central role of women in their culture. • I was deeply honored to be asked to be one of the signatories for a recent solidarity declaration with Rojava given the continued existential threat and military attacks from Turkey. I am mourning how little attention and support this astonishing and potent experiment receives.
The Humility Corner. I am skipping this section this time, because my level of depletion and reduced capacity is such that I am not able to keep up with everything that’s on my plate. I mourn it, because I treasure the rigor that it invites me into, and still I surrender to the reality of my capacity. Since what I was going to be writing about is related to my pattern of over-mobilization, there is sweet irony in choosing not to mobilize more effort to do this, too, on top of the other things.
These celebrations, mournings and other happenings accompany my July newsletter, “Conflict-19: from Covid to Conflict.”
Web of Support. I am celebrating that a group of people are coming together to seed the Miki Support Team within NGL, determined to find a way for me to do only that which only I can do without instrumental relationships. I am still struggling to take in that people with high capacity would voluntarily consider releasing some significant and interesting projects in order to dedicate love and attention to this. It stretches me at the far edges of my own challenges in risking my significance, which usually isn’t at all a challenge for me. It’s all about receiving more than I can imagine. Wow.
Writing. In this period, I completed two articles that are long enough and significant enough for me that they are now posted on Medium, where all my long articles live: “Carrot Oppression and the Othering of Unwanted Species” and “Why Capitalism Cannot Be Redeemed.” • I completed three new packets: “Embracing Nonviolence as an Orientation to Life,” “Restoring Flow Using NVC,” and “Practical Aspects of Restoring Flow.” I am now counting only 10 more to complete the project of 47 packets. • One more of my articles has been published in the Self and Society magazine: “Imagining a Post-Patriarchal Theory of Child Development.”
Recordings. In May, I led a session in Sarah Peyton’s yearlong Resonance and Climate series. My session was called “What’s Mine to Do? Vision, Action, and Mourning in the Face of Collapse,” which is now available on a gift basis.
Nonviolent Global Liberation (NGL). The sixth trimester of the Provider Apprenticeship Program is well underway. The topic this time: “Restoring Flow: Nonviolence, Systemic Change, the Commons, and the Gift Economy.” I have particularly enjoyed the opportunity this time to work out my many thoughts over the years about moving from exchange to gifting. This is the last trimester of the original cycle, after which we take a break and assess where we are and how to continue with the program. • The Cotyledon Fund, with whom we have engaged and then submitted a very unusual proposal, gave us both some money and significant feedback about it being difficult to know what exactly we are doing. We are celebrating the depth of trust within the relationship with Mary Fifield, the program officer, that allowed this feedback to come to us. We also received similar feedback from a few other sources, and this is leading us to put some energy into deep reflection about how to make what we are doing accessible to and understandable by others. • As we are continuing the transition from being fiscally sponsored by BayNVC to being on our own, we are celebrating that we are slowly finding pathways to create more alignment between how we engage with resource flow with our vision of a global gift economy. • The first in-person NGL gathering happened, spontaneously, in early June. So quickly, that I wasn’t even there! The excitement was so strong, that a three-week one is happening next month, all for people involved with sustaining NGL, to immerse in increasing capacity. This time, most of my home pod is going, including me. • Please check out our website to see what we do, to sign up for our newsletter, and to check whether this experiment is one you might want to join or support. About half of our NGL Friends also contribute money, and we rejoice that more than half know they are welcome to participate without contributing financially.
Vagabonding. When the four of us (Eddy, Emma, Fox, and I) came to Portugal in early May, we had the intention of staying here through the end of the year, by which time we were hoping to find land somewhere, possibly in Portugal. We didn’t find a pathway to stay here longer than three months, nor did we find a place to live in beyond the first few months. During this time, we have continued to have challenges, including a bout of Covid for three of us (not me). For much of this time we were joined by Erin Selover, now also Menaka Neotia, and soon Aurelia St. Just. Erin, Fox, and Emma went to see our first piece of land that we are considering making our home. In the process of all this, we are reaching the conclusion that we don’t yet have the capacity to go on land, be full stewards of it, and simultaneously continue to work on our other projects within NGL. What we are choosing, instead, is to go for a year to Scotland, where we are hoping to be more successful in finding a place to live for a year that is one step closer to being on land as full stewards.
Recent inspirations and mournings. I have only significant mournings this time. One piece is, once again, related to the war still raging in Ukraine. It’s called “A Message about Ukraine” and is written by Joanna Macy and Michael Goldstein. This is a time of controversy and polarization, during which I particularly appreciate the courage it takes to make public statements that aren’t aligned with mainstream narratives, or even with much of what people on the left in the US are saying. I appreciate in particular how little attribution of negative intention there is in this message that is situated within such a field of challenge and makes such bold claims. I mourn all that this points to. I mourn, also, how many people see more arms going to Ukraine to defeat Russia as the only path forward, including what I understand to be a majority in Ukraine. I long for a creative way to engage that aims towards convergence and integration, including with the range of perspectives within Ukraine. During WWII, it was only the vanishing few pacifists who were actively attempting to come up with pathways for saving Jews. When they found one and presented it to Churchill and Roosevelt, they both rejected it, because it meant dialogue with Hitler. Both of them insisted on unilateral surrender. I so long, now, for people who approach this one, too, from the perspective of how to reduce suffering, death, and the destruction that is happening in that area, who can think strategically about how to de-escalate this situation rather than about how to vanquish Putin. • The other is a documentation of what I consider horrors that the state of Israel, where I come from, is bringing to Palestinians in South Hebron. I receive information about it regularly, absorbing it with a broken heart. Mostly, it’s in Hebrew, or it’s specific details that would require too much context to explain. This time, there is a photo article that has the information within it, and I can share it and bring my grief to those who click to this part of my newsletter. The only thing to celebrate is that there continue to be people like Margaret Olin, who manage to reach enough willingness to bear the consequences of speaking out and to give us the information we would otherwise not have.
The Humility Corner. The main major discovery in this last period is in one of the most painful aspects of being me in this world, something I used to call “The enigma of my life”: my difficulty in understanding why, over my entire life, so many people have reacted to me, judged me, and even walked away from me. I now have an understanding that feels solid and that also gives me a path that I can follow within this. The most significant piece in making sense of it is that, within the patriarchal field in which most of us are all the time, I am a “unicorn,” because I act with authenticity, and with no ill-wishes, ulterior motives, or hidden agendas. It’s so foreign to so many people, that they fill in the gap – which I see as a vision gap; an inability to imagine the possibility of something like me truly existing – by attributing to me things that aren’t there just to be able to make sense of me. I was bullied, likely at least in part as a result of this, for six years straight in multiple settings in two countries between when I was eight and fourteen. Being a super smart girl didn’t help. And being Jewish, in one of the contexts, also added to the complex setup and its devastating impacts on me. Until recently, I didn’t connect the dots to grasp that the bullying or mistreatment didn’t stop. It only became less frequent. Within certain group experiences, it has continued to this day. And the kind of judging me or interpreting me in certain ways that then lead to total separation happens much more regularly even if it doesn’t lead to bullying. This is very specific and intense trauma. While I have vivid memories of all the early bullying and abuse, I have yet to integrate sufficiently within me to be able to mourn it. More recent events I have more capacity to mourn, and they then accumulate less, though in the last several years some specific conflicts have aggravated the trauma because I didn’t find pathways for mourning. The result is that when someone interprets me in certain ways or I am afraid they might be, this raises survival responses in me because of the cumulative effect of the trauma. While the judgments, shunning, or anything else that may happen are all outside me, I am still very aware that my response is completely my own limitation, and that I have the human power to respond differently. Just being able to identify that, in those moments, I completely lose my capacity to integrate, has been a huge relief. My trauma response isn’t usually visible to people, as I have learned. Even when I say explicitly that I am struggling, people around me, perhaps because of pervasive forms of disempowerment, don’t usually notice that I need support from them. The helplessness in those moments is extreme.
I am totally celebrating that in one of my vision mobilization sessions with Emma Quayle, we were able to come up with a principle related to my “vision-based narratives” value. The principle is simple and revolutionary for me: “When I’m able to bring curiosity to another person’s judgment of me, especially by tying it to potential vision limitations, it depersonalizes it and reduces separation.” The practice we came up with is simply to respond with an empathic guess about the vision gap in the other person that may lead to the judgment. For example, in one situation, it would have been: “Is it hard for you to imagine that someone might do something purely because of care?” or in another situation: “When you see the strength of my force field and the degree of disempowerment that so many people are in, are you worried that people would orient to my preference rather than to the vision?”. Initially, this practice would be only within me, and eventually with the other person if I am conscious enough when it happens. Given the depth of the limitation, I can’t retain or track this, so our pod decided to do it over dinner, and it’s yet to be integrated into our dinner routine given all else that’s happened since. Even just knowing that this is possible, I feel the difference within me, because understanding something and having pathways for movement are both key strategies to my deep well-being. • The next chapter in my demobilization is now unfolding and is still quite messy. I am celebrating that I am continuing with the demobilization. The fact that I have essentially no support “helps” in this. I have been gathering capacity to demobilize for many years, because I remember joking about shirking responsibility quite a number of years ago. I have been specifically talking for near three years about putting my needs on the table, exposing impacts on me, and honoring the limits of my capacity. Last time I wrote about my forward movement in the last area. This time, I’ve been sharing many more impacts on me, in contexts where I previously absorbed and absorbed them. I have known for years that my doing this means that the true capacity in the field is invisible. Now I am actually doing it, and the results are really painful in multiple contexts. This has indeed made visible the low capacity to metabolize impacts and find other pathways that won’t result in so many impacts on me and others. It’s all work in progress. This is called the “Humility Corner” and I indeed feel very humbled by all this, with no words to end.
This month’s credits: People in circle image from publicdomainvectors.org; Tears with word peace image by Stefan Keller from Pixabay; Confused person image by SAIYED IRFAN A from Pixabay
These celebrations, mournings and other happenings accompany my May newsletter, “Spinning Straw to Gold.”
Web of Support. I am celebrating that I have so many people whom I experience as support that it’s a moment to pause to reflect. Today I want to celebrate Madi Loustalot who said a big, huge YES to taking on holding the entirety of what we call “The Materials Project” which is basically the legacy project of all my work and how it is archived and made available to others. I met Madi when she took on organizing the coaching calls I was then offering to Extinction Rebellion activists. We hit it off so amazingly well that when I decided to stop them, I asked her if she would organize such calls for activists anywhere, which she did, and we now offer “Nonviolent Activism for Liberation” on a monthly basis, calls that regularly shake us all up in their depth and rigor. When I saw the depth of Madi’s capacity and willingness to engage with the materials I create, to hold complexity, and to simply make things happen, it was an obvious step for me to ask her to take on the Materials Project. It’s a long-term project, and the relief I feel from it being in her hands is immense.
Writing. In this period, I posted two more pieces from the big writing project I recently completed within NGL: “Experiments with Truth” and “Nonviolent Communication for Liberation: Flow, Mobilization, and Emergency”. • The packets project is chugging along. These last few months I completed a massive new packet called “NVC as a Path of Liberation” which deepened my own awe and wonder about the power of NVC, even after nearly 30 years of engaging with it. I also researched and compiled a complex packet called “Why Patriarchy Matters: Making Sense of how We Got Here,” which is designed to support people to connect the dots about why what we see around us and in the world is there and how it’s come to be. Why I see it as important to have that knowledge is all within the packet. • A piece of mine was published in the Self and Society magazine: “Surrounding the Patriarchal Field with Love.”
Translations. My book Reweaving Our Human Fabric is soon coming out in Czech, translated by Miro Zaleta and with a foreword by Eva Malířová. In her foreword I learned of a link that stretches from nonviolence in Czechia through Tolstoy to Gandhi, and I felt the mystery of life weaving through us.
Recordings. In March, I had the honor of being part of one of the Maternal Gift Economy salons, on the topic of money, alongside Genevieve Vaughan, Vandana Shiva, and Cassie Thornton. • Also in March, I was interviewed by Martin Kirschner for Pioneers of Change, covering a wide range of topics about how to create change. The interview is in English, and the website is in German. It may require some persistence to get the video. A clip is also available. • This year I participated in the “Time for Empathy” annual event on the topic of “The Limits of Empathy and the Practice of Purpose-Oriented Healing.”
Nonviolent Global Liberation (NGL). The sixth trimester of the Provider Apprenticeship Program is starting as this newsletter goes out. The topic this time: “Restoring Flow: Nonviolence, Systemic Change, the Commons, and the Gift Economy.” This is where we touch on topics relevant to creating alternatives and nonviolent activism. The fifth trimester, with the heavy-duty topics of how we got to where we are, had the effect of bringing us together ever more, which surprised me and nourished me immensely. • As part of conversations about the transition out of being fiscally sponsored by BayNVC as BayNVC is moving towards closure at the end of the year, we’ve had astonishingly inspiring conversations with Mary Fifield, program officer for a small foundation that gave us an initial donation 18 months ago. We are exploring how to transform the relationship of grantor and grantee. And we decided to make our proposal to them publicly available on the NGL website for what it tells about us and what we do. • At long last, almost a year later, The Community Living Team completed a detailed report about our community experiment in Portugal in the spring of 2021. • Please check out our website to see what we do, to sign up for our newsletter, and to check whether this experiment is one you might want to join or support. About half of our NGL Friends also contribute money, and we rejoice that more than half know they are welcome to participate without contributing financially.
Free calls. April marked the last of the free audio-only conference calls (recordings here). The last call in each of the three topics was organized by Rachel, Dave and Nancy, the people who have offered technical support in the last couple of years, and ended up being a celebration of what people have received from the calls. It was the kind of thing that probably usually happens only when someone dies. It was amazing and overwhelming to hear how much of a difference those calls made. It was definitely a wistful event. I am closing them not because I stopped believing they make a difference. Only because they are no longer sufficiently aligned with what is mine to do. I mourn all the losses from the continually sharpening focus of my work.
Vagabonding. As of the writing of this newsletter, our pod of four – Eddy Quinn, Emma Quayle, Fox Keohane, and I – is preparing for transitioning to Portugal again, a transition we hope to have completed by the time the newsletter is out. Despite deciding that this time in Ireland would be three months of as near to full rest as possible, life unfolded very differently. We’ve had several instances of one of us needing to isolate because of Covid exposure. Our main vehicle broke down with Emma in Scotland, and we scrambled to get her and our things back here in southern Ireland. As of this writing we are still actively working out how to get all our things from here to Portugal. We decided to stay in Portugal until we have found land, and yet we only have a place to stay for six weeks. We’ve also had some relational challenges arise, and I am celebrating how much we have held them fully within togetherness and as examples of phenomena arising from patriarchal conditioning. During this time we also had a visit from Aurélia St. Just, whom we met when she organized for us a visit with a community in France. We have been exploring the possibility that she might join us and this visit is part of our co-discernment about it. The picture that accompanies this is just before she left, second from the left.
Recent inspirations and mournings. I deeply love the perspective that Robin Wall Kimmerer brings to understanding the plant world, life as a whole, and humans within all of that. She is an integrator of indigenous wisdom with academic botanical knowledge. I love the result. Here’s an article: “Hearing the Language of Trees.” • In the tragic days of war in the Ukraine, a war which is also splitting people in how they respond to it and make sense of it, all while so much other horror and bloodshed in other parts of the world rarely gets attention, I found the analysis provided by Otto Scharmer utterly settling. I hope you do, too: “Putin and the Power of Collective Action from Shared Awareness: A 12-Point Meditation on Our Current Moment.”
The Humility Corner. In this period I’ve found a way to articulate very simply a very deep limitation I’ve had as far back as I can remember, which is when I turned six. It’s so simple as to be nearly embarrassing: I crumble in the face of obstacles. Not all obstacles, obviously. I have surmounted so many in my life that I wouldn’t be able to count. I just am aware that the moment I feel something as an obstacle, I crumble. I have yet to understand why obstacles are so overwhelming, and I am, at least, having awareness and some tenderness for this reality. • A similar phenomenon is also becoming clearer: I need to be trusted and for what I offer to be wanted in order to be able to connect with the mysterious source of strength and wisdom that fuels me, especially when I write and when I coach and facilitate. If I enter a room, including a Zoom room, where I am not trusted, I don’t have access to that capacity. I become like Popeye without spinach! And this one may be here to stay. I both do and don’t have direct access to life; it seems some connection to other humans is needed for me to connect with life. • I am celebrating the beginning of tangible movement in my multi-year project of demobilizing. This is the result of recognizing that I over-mobilize and over-stretch so often that it took a long time to even notice it. I see little, tiny steps of being willing to leave something undone rather than mobilize to do it myself, well beyond capacity. I am letting people know, more and more, when I am at capacity, even when that is challenging. I learned in the process that in some ways it’s harder to change functional patterns than dysfunctional ones. This is because changing a functional one means new impacts on other people, and thus destabilization in the field. I am still learning.
This month’s credits: Madi Loustalot photo provided by Madi; Pod with Aurelia photo provided by Miki; Popeye image by jean pierre gallot from flickr Creative Commons 2.0
These celebrations, mournings and other happenings accompany my March newsletter, “Reweaving Humanity Commons #1: Support Us in Creating a Haven of Togetherness.”
Web of Support. In the time since the last newsletter, as part of the support that Emma Quayle offers me with all the many things I am holding that interface with our shared purpose, she suggested I list all of what I am holding and who is co-holding it with me. This resulted in a list of 26 main projects or areas (within which there are many goals, sub-projects, and tasks). This was potent in terms of confirmation of just how much I am holding. No wonder I feel crazy sometimes. We also listed all the people who are co-holding things with me. The total is 16 different human beings who are in my most active web of support.
Writing. The big writing project I am working on these days is internal to the Nonviolent Global Liberation (NGL) community. It’s a summary of my own experiences within NGL in the last few years and my learnings that emerge from them. I am celebrating that I am seeing, so far, at least three significant pieces within it easily flowing into blog posts, one of which is already posted: “Material Risk Sharing for a Livable Future.” • My latest Self and Society article is published: “Surrounding the Patriarchal Field with Love.” • I also wrote one more blog post since the last newsletter: “Liberation for All: How We Can Talk Differently about Power and Privilege.”
Nonviolent Global Liberation (NGL). The fifth trimester of the Provider Apprenticeship Program is well underway as this newsletter goes out. The purpose in delving into the heavy-duty topics of how we got to where we are is so that our vision of the possible is based on some sense of reality about what’s going on. I am already receiving feedback from some apprentices that this focus is supporting them, in the words of one apprentice, “in deconstructing the myths the lives on the global north are built on and offering other options.” • As BayNVC is moving towards closure at the end of the year, NGL is taking the bold step of imagining forms of organizing ourselves, on the material plane, that are rooted in flow and togetherness. This brings up more questions than I could write about here about how money will flow into, within, and out of NGL. The intention is to creatively engage with the world as it is to make gift flow possible and organic. One principle we have already learned is that when structures of incentive are removed, it’s very hard to mobilize capacity for instrumental needs. Capacity arises only in response to real needs. How to tell them apart is still something we all need to learn. • We now have 230 NGL Friends and have created more robust ways for them to participate more effectively in increasing capacity within NGL. I am in awe, daily, by the astonishing amount of work and energy that dozens of people within NGL are bringing, almost none of which involves any money. • Please check out our website to see what we do, to sign up for our newsletter, and to check whether this experiment is one you might want to join or support. Half of our NGL Friends also contribute money, and we rejoice that a full half know they are welcome to participate without contributing financially.
Vagabonding. As of the writing of this newsletter, our pod of four – Eddy Quinn, Emma Quayle, Fox Keohane, and I – are now in Ireland again. The intensive work with Tamera that we did along with Erin Selover completed at the end of December, leaving them with a very motivated continuation team that is implementing what we arrived at when we left step by step. The beauty and love shared were beyond my imagination. The last week of the year the five of us engaged in a retreat to think up our coming year, individually and collectively. This is where the land search project finally came into being, the main element of the newsletter itself this month. The four of us also made a decision, somewhere along moving across four countries and eight different places on our way to Ireland in six weeks, that we are done with intensive vagabonding. We are now in Ireland for three months, and we decided that we are not going anywhere for less than three months until we find our land to settle into.
The picture that accompanies this section is from a live moment in one of the many places we visited along the way from Tamera (in Portugal) to Ireland. Eddy is carefully marking the new box we created where we put the precious things that we have collected that now go on our altar everywhere we land for more than a couple of days. This was in response to what happened five minutes before, when Emma and I gave momentary intense feedback to Fox about how he handled some of the things now in that box. As always, we created a systemic solution rather than always expecting any of us to grow individual capacity which is usually the norm. This is part of how we keep trust and love between us.
Recent inspirations and mournings. In September 2021, a gathering in Berlin that I sadly wasn’t part of resulted in a declaration by the women present which is now available under the name #Matrifuture. I had the honor of participating in the editing of this statement, which made it visible to me just how much thought and care went into the full integration of multiple perspectives. • I mourn deeply the accidental death of Silke Helfrich, a deep thinker and practitioner in recommoning our world. This is a huge loss to the still very fragile movement. Almost simultaneously, David Bollier, her colleague and friend in the project, published “The Commoner’s Catalog for Changemaking” available freely online, and for purchase as a physical book here. • In these difficult times, I found much relief and awe in learning that after the many, many months of farmers’ protests in India, they succeeded in getting the government to strike down some new laws that were targeting farmers for the benefit of mega-corporations. Even though this doesn’t change the essential nature of the regime in India, I rejoice in any moment when ordinary people manage to come together in creative ways and experience their power together. I enjoyed Yes! Magazine’s coverage of this story here. • Two and a half years after visiting Cuba I am still carrying love and anguish for this little courageous group of people standing up to global capitalism. Here’s a story of how they responded to the Coronavirus situation in the context of the unending blockade. • I am posting a link to another Charles Eisenstein article. This one is about how we connect across major differences, and I found it touching and inspiring in times of immense polarization. It’s called Reunion. • I just learned of a 10-year-old Palestinian boy, MC Abdul, who sings, or raps, in English, protesting the great tragedy of Palestinian existence.
The Humility Corner. In this period, I grasped more clearly the depth of the one nugget of scarcity thinking that I have carried within me for decades. I was given support for coming up with an entirely new approach to how to respond to it. The scarcity is specific to my own needs. I blissfully don’t have scarcity about solving global challenges or supporting people in front of me. I only carry scarcity about the possibility of life to actually care for me, the human organism that I am. I have immense tenderness for myself about it given my pre-birth history and what happened to me in infancy and childhood. It often shows up in moments of difficulty which I usually navigate by mobilizing ever more capacity within myself to compensate for what I see as lack of capacity around me. I am in full acceptance of these gaps, until I lose energy and can’t do it any longer. That’s when I tend to get into an either/or mindset, the telltale of scarcity thinking: either I keep mobilizing at higher and higher cost to myself, or I try to advocate for my needs, which makes things worse. For so many years I had had no image of what else would be possible. Just before my 66th birthday in February, I received the most amazing gift related to how to respond to it. Like many profound gifts, it’s entirely simple. The picture I received from a wise woman’s channeling was that in those moments the task for me is to release any concern about my needs, or anything else; to become still; and to lean on my growing trust in life. In the stillness, instead of trying to figure out what to do, my task is simply to be with the experience of depletion and of not knowing what to do. I have now had the occasion to do this a few times and have been amazed. As I was told in that remarkable session, it didn’t take long. Within some seconds, either something clear came to me to say or do, directly from within, without any stress, or someone else found something to do or say. These are very early days in a brand new practice, and I feel curious, awed, and open.
This month’s credits: Paper and list items image by Mediamodifier from Pixabay; Resources to needs designed by Leslie Becknell Marx; Vagabonders placing items in precious box and Miki in downward dog position by Emma Quayle
These celebrations, mournings and other happenings accompany my January newsletter, “What Would Jesus Say?“
Web of Support. In the last few weeks, I spontaneously created a new support structure for me that is working absolute wonders. Given the overflow of acronyms within NGL, it’s no surprise that this group, too, has an acronym name: I call it the “JCI group.” This stands for “judgments, complaints, and impacts that weren’t shared.” It’s exactly what it sounds like: I share with them, via email, as close to daily as needed, any judgments, complaints, and impacts that I haven’t shared with others. It’s been amazing liberation. I have very few judgments that arise and stick for longer than seconds. And when I do, it’s amazing to share them with people who both trust my own commitment to living with vision-based narratives about myself and others and have enough of their own commitment that they can continue to see the dignity of anyone whom I judge rather than get involved with the judgment. The purpose is for support in finding a needs-based narrative to make sense of someone’s behavior. We’ve had some pretty amazing conversations trying to make sense of behavior that doesn’t easily compute for me. I feel protective of the individuals involved, and so I am just celebrating that this group exists and supports me, maybe only for a few more weeks, maybe longer term, we haven’t established that. And it’s already affecting my way of being elsewhere, supporting my ongoing commitment to exposing impacts on me.
Writing. Despite being engaged in massive projects and many transitions these past few months, I managed to complete four more packets and make a number of small revisions to a number of other packets. There are now under 20 packets left to complete. • Part 2 and part 3 of the “From Exchange to Gifting” mini-series are now posted. • My latest Self and Society article is published: “What’s Mine to Do? Vision, Action, and Mourning in the Face of Collapse.” • I recently completed a major project of providing substantial feedback to an upcoming book about the NVC Key Differentiations, as well as writing a foreword for the book. It was a delight to engage with the authors and I am eager for the book to come out. As part of my contribution, I finally put together, available to all, short descriptions of fourteen additional key differentiations that my late sister Inbal and I articulated, and you can find them here.
Recordings. This was clearly podcast/interview season, and there are four new ones as a result. • I had the exquisite pleasure of an interview with Vicki Robin as part of her podcast called “What Could Possibly Go Right?” We spoke of the possibility for transformation in the collaborative problem solving that is evolving in the midst of social and infrastructure breakdown. We had a lot of fun and depth, and the interview left me in a high for days. • I was on a panel for “The Festival of What Works” put together by the Salmon Nation. The panel was called Non-Monetary Resources: Envisioning New Exchange, featured several women leaders in various areas, and was facilitated by Lux Gypsum. The conversation was rich, and of course I talked about leaving exchange behind altogether for full resource flow. • I was interviewed for the “Hurry Slowly” podcast hosted by Jocelyn Glei. We focused in depth on similar questions about accumulation, flow, exchange, and where we are within the distribution of wealth in the world. • I was interviewed by Manasi Saxena, former student, colleague, and fierce leader who inspires me regularly with her work in India. This was to support their fundraiser and overall work. I totally loved our conversation, touching primarily on integrative pathways and systemic perspectives.
Nonviolent Global Liberation (NGL). We have completed the process of discerning our values, and the result is now posted on the website. I am touched both by the process, which was meticulously integrative, and by the result, which I believe deeply reflects the truth of where we are and what can pull us closer to vision. • The fifth trimester of the Provider Apprenticeship Program is starting days after this newsletter goes out. The topic, this time, is “Scarcity, Separation, and Powerlessness.” This trimester we take a deep dive into understanding the history of patriarchy, capitalism, and related phenomena so that our vision of the possible is based on some sense of reality about what’s going on. • I am celebrating in particular how much is happening within NGL through more and more initiatives by more and more people. Our calendar is exploding and our understanding is deepening. • We now have 220 NGL Friends who are hugely increasing capacity within NGL, both through joining existing teams and through initiating new endeavors. • Please check out our website to see what we do, to sign up for our newsletter, and to check whether this experiment is one you might want to join or support. Half of our NGL Friends also contribute money, and we rejoice that a full half know they are welcome to participate without contributing financially.
From friends and colleagues. I want to invite everyone to look into the work of Kazu Haga and his colleagues at the East Point Peace Academy. Kazu’s approach to nonviolence is deep, practical, and visionary, and I treasure his capacity for storytelling to match that depth, both in his book and in his approach to training. Kazu is key to the resurrection of Kingian nonviolence, which the organization teaches all over the US and online. And they function on the gift economy, too! • My friend and colleague Mars Gafforio wrote an article on sexuality that I find brave, inspiring, and clarifying. It’s called “It’s Not You, It’s Us: re-imagining sex interdependently” and I hope many people will find solace and opening to new vistas through reading it.
Vagabonding. As of the writing of this newsletter (which starts weeks before it gets sent), we are nearly done with our major deep engagement with Tamera. The level of immersion in this project is extreme, more than any previous project any of us has been part of. The four of us – Eddy Quinn, Emma Quayle, Fox Keohane, and I – rejoined with Erin Selover who was with Emma and me in the desert in 2019 and with all of us in Portugal in the spring. For the many weeks of this project, we haven’t had the capacity to meet as the foursome that we are used to being, and, as such, have been leaning on our already existing thick web of togetherness that we have woven for many months. Even without refeeding our togetherness, we had only a few days in which our web frayed a little as we lost capacity, which we easily regained. Our next steps are only partially known in the growing challenges of travel at this time. Longer term, we are in the early phase of research about where to land within the coming year, intending to buy land and convert it to some form of community land trust. After close to three years of living without a home, more than four for Emma, and nearing a year for Eddy and Fox, we are noticing growing exhaustion and a longing for growing roots somewhere where a global little community can thrive.
Recent inspirations and mournings. The Metta Center for Nonviolence, founded by my dear friend and deeply esteemed colleague Michael Nagler, now has a bookstore that features books for adults, a children’s book about Gandhi, and a cooperative game about deescalating violence. • This poem called Being Human, by Naima from Climbing PoeTree, touched me deeply in its tender understanding of our human challenges and the gap between us and life. • Two recent articles by Andrew Nikiforuk, here and here, both quite short (at least compared to my lengthy pieces…), speak of the relationship between technology and sustainability. I celebrate the depth of clarity and finally being able to settle, for myself, these complex questions. I mourn the even greater conviction I have that technology cannot solve our problems.
The Humility Corner. In the last while, I discovered two ways in which my deep personal history of being alone with vision and radicality, since a small child, are reducing my effectiveness as a leader. One came to me through feedback from a friend who read what I wrote in the last newsletter as if I am saying that we, those who do the work of Vision Mobilization, were the only ones who do the work of “tender, fierce love.” I want to mourn the impact, especially on people from the global majority, from non-European origins, whose dedication and vision are an inspiration to me. I can see how the depth of aloneness that I still carry with me leaks through in mysterious ways. I could have added a few more words to make it clearer that it’s this very particular work of bringing the Vision Mobilization framework to the world, not tender, fierce love in this area overall, that is early and that few have joined. I didn’t, and this had impacts I now want to care for in this way and in other ways in the future. The other way that this habit of seeing myself as alone impacts my work is that in many instances when I hold a complex and tense situation within a group I am facilitating I underestimate how much what I am holding is seen and co-held with me. This means I put more effort into what I am doing instead of leaning, softly, on energy available to me within the field. I have been taking initial steps to update my thinking and behavior with what I know now to be true: the love I carry, my care, and my dedication to service are visible and people want to support the work I am doing. This is not like my childhood. This is not like the first few decades of my adult life, either. It is the new reality of life, and I want to feel it all the way to my core and to inform how I respond to life for the rest of my days.
This month’s credits: Group with raised hands photo by fauxels from Pexels; Puzzle pieces photo by Tara Winstead from Pexels; People collage image by Gerd Altmann from Pixabay; Tamera group photo provided by Miki Kashtan; Search for a Nonviolent Future book image from metta center bookstore; Interlinked hands image by Bruno /Germany from Pixabay