Celebrations & Mournings
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. As of Jan 2019, the years 2014-17 have been archived so go here to read them.
These celebrations, mournings and other happenings accompany my January newsletter, “Untethering: an always-on project.”
Web of Support. It’s been some years since I posted my piece called “What It Takes to Support a Conscious Disruptor.” I just recently learned of Donella Meadows’ term “social irritant,” and it reminded me of the enormity of the task. I sometimes think of myself as disrupting the conversational infrastructure that sustains the status quo. As I walk further in that direction, inevitably more conflict will arise. Being in multiple fields of conflict is overwhelming and exhausting. Continuing to see the systemic in those conflicts takes determination, especially when others, even those not within the conflict, personalize it. In this iteration of the newsletter, I want to highlight how much support I am getting to maintain my capacity to both engage and disengage with those conflicts. I want to name, in particular, Emma Quayle, Arnina Kashtan, Lisa Rothman, Verene Nicolas, Victor Lewis, Gwen Olton, Jacquie Duncan, Elkie Deadman, and Catherine Strickland, as people who have concretely given of their love and attention to respond to me and others.
Writing. If vagabonding wasn’t enough of an obstacle, over the course of these past many weeks, my computer has been slowly dying, creating many problems and being less and less available to me to actually work with it. A new computer is on its way to me as I write this, and I am hoping for increased capacity. I thought I wasn’t going to manage to write anything other than this newsletter for these two months. And then I participated in the 3rd writing retreat that we are hosting within NGL, and the writing started pouring out of me. I wrote, with Emma, the Purpose Partnership Statement that we released with this newsletter. I wrote the last planned piece of the Apart and Together series: “Finding Collective Wisdom towards a Future for All.” And I wrote an extra piece in the series: “Mending the Tear.” • I am still discovering articles of mine that have been published and somehow didn’t make it to the list on the Fearless Heart website. What are hopefully the last two are “How we talk about race and safety can really make a difference,” which was published on OpenDemocracy in 2017, and “Giving Makes the World Go Round,” which was published on Sharable in 2011! They are both now finally on the list.
Nonviolent Global Liberation (NGL). The first trimester of the Provider Apprenticeship Program has come to an end. Despite the overwhelm of the first trimester in a new program, the amount of things we didn’t know, and the persistence of conflict within NGL, it appears that many people have gotten a lot from the program so far, and 35 of the original 37 are continuing on with the program. We received another batch of applications for the 2nd trimester, which will likely increase the pool of apprentices by about 50%. The apprentices are now actively involved with the design of the next trimester and with much else, and we are, I believe, slowly moving towards the purpose of the program becoming a reality, ultimately unleashing dozens of people ready to take on and share with others the radical, liberatory work that we are doing within NGL. The level of activity within NGL is increasing, with more people scheduling more calls about more purposes than before, perhaps finally taking off in terms of empowerment and contributions from many. We now have several regular offerings, most of them by people other than me, on topics including the Core Nonviolence Commitments, the vision mobilization framework, a liberation learning lab, and, the newest: a series of conversations between Arnina, Emma, and me about the integration of the Compass and NGL. • We are continuing significant work within NGL to upgrade our agreements and structures based on all the learning and challenges of the first three years. • A celebration mixed with mourning: we are continuing to deepen our understanding of the enormous obstacles on the path of reclaiming the full flow of resources through the gift paradigm. Each iteration of asking for money, and each iteration of distributing the money that we receive expand our capacity and humility. I am celebrating the depth of engagement that our “asks” (the requests for sustainability support from members of the community) now reflect. I also celebrate that in inviting people to contribute to the sustainability of NGL in relation to the apprenticeship program, we have invited NGL friends in addition to the apprentices themselves, and that some friends have indeed contributed. I am mourning that our resources continue to be so far behind the need, with no clear image of how to bridge the gap. At this point, we have only 40% of the resources needed to attend to the sustainability requests from all of us who are putting in the work to make NGL function. If you wish to contribute to this degree of experimentation with liberation and movement toward vision, you can do so here. • Each month we have new NGL Friends, now numbering about 140, and I invite you to look here and on our website to see what we do and whether this experiment is one you might want to join or support.
Convergent Facilitation (CF). The website is finally ready and I invite everyone to come check it out. I celebrate both how much I love it, and how little I had to do with it coming to be. Lisa Rothman, Roni Weiner, and master web designer Paul Carter are the ones who made it happen. • The book launch plans are in full gear, and I very much hope many of you will join us on January 12th. Already, before the book is out, about 150 people have downloaded the PDF, which is offered to all on a gift economy basis. Ideas for projects and applications are already coming to us, too. Maybe, just maybe, this book will open the doors to breakthroughs where so much enmity now exists. At the book launch party, I plan to read from the book and engage in exploring topics and dreaming about how CF can be a useful tool in these extreme times. • Lisa Rothman and Roxy Manning have scheduled a new five-week on-line course starting January 25: An Introduction to Convergent Facilitation: A Path to Efficient, Collaborative Decisions.
The Gift Economy. This year has seen a leap in our capacity to function within the gift economy. In 2014, I started the Circle of Support with the ambitious long-term goal of moving all of BayNVC’s operations to the gift economy. Since its inception, NGL has been functioning purely on the basis of the gift economy, with support from many, including BayNVC’s consistent contributions of resources to support and seed NGL’s eventual sustainability. More and more of BayNVC’s programs are offered on a gift economy basis, notably all of the varied learning packets and anything related to Convergent Facilitation . I have learned so much in these years, most of all about how enormously difficult the road is, and how deeply embedded notions of exchange, ownership, and deserving, (sustained by the scarcity mindset) are in both individuals and institutions. The more we move towards the gift economy, the more demanding it is to interface with the existing structures, and the more excited I become. I continue the way I have started: aiming to jumpstart the gift economy by expanding unilateral giving and, simultaneously, making visible and asking for what is needed. Within this, I believe that the more visible the giving, the more people will trust me and us and increase their giving to us. This is indeed happening. This year we received several significant donations, including our largest donation since establishing BayNVC, just over $50,000; we got a new grant of $35,000 to support our gift experiments, with a possible renewal in a year; we got $12,000 in support of my work for Extinction Rebellion (that campaign is still open, here); and, through a creative engagement with Canticle Farm, an organization we endorse and support, we have successfully received $5,500 by fundraising with them. We are exuberant about this, and hope that more people will continue supporting Canticle Farm even though the matching grant for us is now closed.
Former students. From time to time, what former students are doing is so breathtaking, that I want to share it with all who read this newsletter. This time, I share the work of Ann Malabre, graduate and assistant trainer for some years in the BayNVC Leadership Program. Ann attended the Phillips Exeter Academy during her high school years, one of the most prestigious schools in the US. She has been a key leader in exposing decades of sexual harassment and beyond at this institution, which she and dozens of other students have come forward to name. Given the power of this institution, this would have been a major feat, yet I would likely not write about it. What moves me so much is that she and the group of survivors have been adamant in aiming to achieve, in her words, a “genuine shift away from the use of traditional legal protections from liability [and] movement toward a restorative path of dignity for survivors, healing for the community, [and] sincere examination of what change will bring a safer culture for students.” I had some conversations with Ann early on in this process, which she has been engaging for several years, with no change, despite Ann traveling to meetings with the school’s administration, attending many conference calls, and opening the information to thousands of alumni; not even after one of their teachers was arrested in August 2020 “on charges of felonious sexual assault of a student.” Most recently, the group she and a few other survivors have created called PATH (PEA Alumni for Truth and Healing) has started a fund for alumni in need. Ann has used her NVC leadership skills every step of the way, enough to overcome a brain injury she sustained early on in the process. I am in grief and admiration of what it takes, and how tenacious the existing structures of patriarchy are.
Vagabonding. In my last newsletter, I wrote in the vagabonding section: “We live in a patriarchal world, and there is only so much we can exit it.” In the time since, the depth of this awareness has hit us ever more deeply as we have encountered new challenges in our encounters with the world as it is, seeing the limitations within and around us, even when the commitment to transformation is fully present. While in Barcelona, immersed in an intensive exploration, we also began significant steps towards planning our most intentional experiment to date: an upcoming temporary community for three months, modeled on our best current understanding of what it takes, from all of our learning. As of this writing, there are already six of us committed to being there for the whole time. We are seeing more and more clearly how each time we stay somewhere with people, and even each deep conversation we have in relation to building community, how we advance our learning and capacity, even when in the moment there is tremendous pain. As of this writing, we are early in our first experiment involving a child, as we are staying with a friend and her seven-year old outside Edinburgh. We are slowly moving in the direction of making conscious agreements for all, including the child. Our conversations have already yielded a new way to think about both sugar and bedtime, two of the most challenging parent-child conflicts that I’ve heard about from so many parents. This is an exciting and daunting new possibility on this journey, and I look forward to sharing about the results in the next newsletter.
Recent Inspirations. There is a bitter medicine that I consume regularly, as a friend in Israel passes along information about the continued horrors that happen in Palestine at the hands of both the army and the settlers. I need this medicine to feel sufficiently strong and honest, as I must be able to include the brutalizers in the circle of care. It’s horrifically difficult not to separate from them. I find that the courage and heart of those who accompany the local Palestinians and then write about it feeds me directly in my own efforts to walk towards the structures of patriarchy everywhere with the aim to transform the whole foundation. Here’s a report from one group of witnesses called the Villages Group. It’s about one of the well kept secrets of Israeli occupation: persistent house demolitions. • Nonviolence News continues to amaze me with the deep and global research into nonviolent resistance movements, success stories, and more. During the month of December, 2020, the site focused on wins: nonviolent campaigns that succeeded in creating change. We rarely hear those stories. • I am celebrating learning about the parenting practices of the Inuit, who engage with their children with tenderness, nurturing their capacity to choose and to learn about potential impacts of their actions instead of scolding them or telling them what to do. Although it took me some effort to read through the modern framing of the psychologists, I was still able to see the practices themselves and relish knowing that, somewhere on our distraught planet, collaborative and tender parenting still takes place. • My friend and colleague Roxy Manning has posted a series of articles on Kwanzaa for seven consecutive days, each on the principle of the day within this African-American holiday that is little known outside the Black community. Her reflections and personal stories go deep and touch grief, dignity, defiance, and hope. • I am delighted and inspired by the wealth of content on Sarah Peyton’s new website. Sarah’s work of integrating brain science with NVC, including with systemic perspectives, is a gift to many. I hope this website opens the doors for new people to learn more. • For copyright reasons, I can’t post here this picture by Marco Mancinelli, “The Age of Innocence.” It touched me so much I wanted to share the link for you to see it. • The city of Belo Horizonte (beautiful horizon) in Brazil ended hunger in its midst more than 20 years ago, and its infrastructure for this program, which is only 2.5% of its annual budget, managed to adapt even to conditions of pandemic. Interested? Read this article from YES Magazine.
The Humility Corner. In this last period, I have been thinking a lot about the phenomenon of powerful women leaders and what our experiences are like. I have known how much women leaders are challenged and questioned, in ways male leaders aren’t. Those of us who are Jewish, or of racialized minorities, have additional dimensions to the challenge. I have started talking informally with other women leaders, and I am seeing a more widespread phenomenon, something I hadn’t taken in as deeply as I do now. I am thinking of doing an actual journalistic piece on it in some future, interviewing a number of women leaders to glean out common features and make the suffering associated with it more publicly visible. In parallel, I have noticed one striking behavior that I do, and other women leaders also appear to do, which contributes to the difficulties that surround our leadership. Many of us, it appears, really struggle to say no, to set limits, to name clear criteria, to stick by our decisions when others challenge them. This isn’t something that happens in a vacuum, of course. Being a woman leader, especially stepping into the power of personal authority, means navigating impossible contradictions, as we navigate the inner and outer reactions to challenging what patriarchy is training us to do, still in the 21st Saying no means asserting our needs even if there is discomfort around us. In an either/or world, when people’s needs are seen as being at odds with each other, just naming our own needs looks like an absence of care for others’ needs. With my personal experiences of having been undermined by my father, put in impossible positions by my mother, and bullied by my peers for years and well into adulthood, saying no registers internally as me passing on harm. I have a visceral aversion to doing so, despite knowing it’s needed. I now see, more than ever before, that by not saying no when I need to, I contribute to confusion around me when people look to me for guidance; I put ambivalence and ambiguity into the field, and I show myself to be more able to absorb impacts and navigate difficult interactions than is actually true. It’s so clear to me now how this has contributed to the difficulties I face as a woman leader. I am not blaming myself, as I know all too well that my difficulty, however personal, is systemic. I have gotten a lot of resonance from other women in relation to this challenge. While the cause is ultimately systemic, the only change I can make is from inside out. I have been moving in the direction of honoring my limits more and more, and I now feel a true leap in my willingness. Recently, on an online forum where someone has been singling me out for years without anyone ever standing up for me (though I received many personal, offline messages of support), I sent a message in which I expressed my raw feelings, and my choice to be done with the exchanges with this person. It was only then that an outpouring of messages came acknowledging and naming what has been happening, offering support, and questioning the other person’s behavior towards me. I don’t believe it’s an accident that the outpour came only then. It seems to me that by exposing the impact on me and honoring a limit, I made my humanity and vulnerability more visible, the impact on me harder to dismiss, and the need for support apparent. And I have lots to learn, still, about how to continue to move in the direction of honoring my limits. In particular, I want to learn how to do this and, simultaneously, make the care for others that is always within me visible enough that it could make it easier for the limits to be received. I know this is a long journey ahead.
This month’s credits from top: Laptop Photo by cottonbro from Pexels; Dollar currency Photo by Pixabay; Gift Economy mural Photo by John Mosbaugh from flickr; Enough written on hand Photo by RODNAE Productions from Pexels; People around table Photo by Askar Abayev from Pexels; People with signs Photo by Physicians for Human Rights from flickr CC BY-SA2.0; Vegetables in bins Photo by Lydia from flickr CC NY-BC 2.0
These celebrations, mournings and other happenings accompany my November newsletter, “Love in the Time of Covid-19.”
Web of Support. I have many interlinking strands of support in my web. I highlight this time the support I receive from my mourning circle. Every week we gather for an hour. Within a very few weeks, it settled into a small and fairly consistent group where I receive love and companionship, whether or not I manage to tap into any deep mourning. It’s not easy for me to get into mourning, especially not “on demand” as is the case when it’s prescheduled. And I still treasure the time I am with this group and the entirely unconditional trust and presence they bring with them. I wish this for everyone in the world.
Writing. Vagabonding is taking its toll. Writing, I am discovering, requires something from me that I can only give from a place of spaciousness. Since the last newsletter, I wrote only two pieces. One is the latest in my Coronavirus series, subtitled “Blurring the Distinction between Public and Private Spheres” and the other is a new article called “The Power of the Soft Qualities to Transform Patriarchy” which was published in Self and Society. • I also did some massive work on the packets project. I am reconfiguring the entire map of the packets to reflect the structure of the NGL framework. And, within that, I completed 4 new packets. They are not yet available to the public; I anticipate that happening towards the end of the year. • A personal essay of mine was just published five years after I wrote it. It’s based on my experiences with cancer, primarily about caregiving for my beloved sister Inbal for seven years. It’s called “From Rights to Needs and Commitments – Collaborating with Those We Care for.” If you know someone in that kind of situation, I hope you share it with them. • My own dissertation is finally available to anyone who wants to view it. It’s called Beyond Reason: Reconciling Emotion with Social Theory, and it was finished in 2000! I am thrilled I found the way to make this happen. • The work I’ve been doing with iBme, an organization dedicated to bringing mindfulness to teens, is featured in the winter 2020 issue of Mindful magazine. It includes an article about the work itself, in which I am featured, and an interview with me.
Recordings and Interviews. I was interviewed for Paul Samuel Dolman’s podcast called “What Matters Most.” Here’s how he introduces the conversation on his website: “This felt like a life changing conversation for me with Miki Kashtan. I have not been the same since we spoke with such depth and scope.”
Nonviolent Global Liberation (NGL). One huge celebration is approval of a grant application I was asked to submit, which focuses on NGL’s experiments both with different approaches to leadership and with the gift economy. This means $35,000 coming into BayNVC for these purposes, of which $25,500 will support the people who have been working on making NGL a reality with almost no support for their material needs. We also hope to establish a new fundraising team within NGL, as we have now received two grants, which makes getting other grants easier. • As I write this, the NGL Provider Apprenticeship Program is half way through its first trimester, and we are soon opening up applications for the second trimester, for a new cohort to join the first one. As with any new endeavor, we are in a steep learning curve. The presence of the current apprentices is already bringing more capacity to NGL, and the program provides a huge motivation for me to finish the work of the packets. I anticipate all packets being done by the time the first cohort finishes the program, now envisioned to be August 2022. • We have been approached by a community that suffered in the recent California fires to support them in distributing funds they raised based on needs, all because one of their members attended an NGL retreat and saw how we did that. • We are continuing to engage in significant work within NGL to upgrade our agreements and structures based on all the learning and challenges of the first three years. • We are mourning the continued impact of an ongoing conflict related to use of power, while continuing to hold to the faith that on the other side of this conflict there is huge learning we would then share with others. • Last month we hosted a conversation with an activist who lived in Rojava for a year and shared with us what they are doing there in more detail than I’ve heard before. I was inspired, in particular, to see about 30 NGL members, apprentices, and friends participate on the call and the potential ripple effect on how we do things. A core idea was to challenge internalized patriarchy collectively rather than individually. No one needs to stand up to inner and outer oppression alone. • Each month we have new NGL Friends, and I invite you to look here and on our website to see what we do and whether this experiment is one you might want to join or support. Even with this grant, we continue to be in need, as the amount of money coming our way so far is much lower than the sustainability needs of those doing the work.
Convergent Facilitation (CF). Our brand new website for everything Convergent Facilitation is being finalized and will soon be announced. Meanwhile, we finally have a date – twice on January 12th – for the online launch party of my book, The Highest Common Denominator: Using Convergent Facilitation to Reach Breakthrough Collaborative Decisions, where I plan to read from the book and engage in exploring topics and dreaming about how CF can be a useful tool in these extreme times. • Lisa Rothman and Roxy Manning have scheduled a new five-week on-line course starting January 25: An Introduction to Convergent Facilitation: A Path to Efficient, Collaborative Decisions.
Making Life Work. For You. For Everyone. No Exceptions. In 2011, I first conceived of creating a self-study course on NVC based on my principle-based teaching approach. I created the skeleton curriculum, and started encouraging it to happen. I envisioned a massive undertaking to produce six booklets for six modules, each with a DVD and a CD. I ran the course twice, once via the NVC Academy on audio, and once in person in Nashville, with a videographer. Everything was transcribed, and I created the text for the booklets. All this was finished in 2014. It’s hard to believe that it took another six years to be nearing completion, in an entirely different form, as an online course. It’s impossible to track the number of people who got us here. At present, a small team of enthusiastic NVC trainers (Jocelyn Kennedy, Pam Lauer, Rachel Turiel, and Vanessa Alonso) is working with Isa to bring it to the public in a way that will include support within the online community from NVC trainers familiar with the principle-based teaching approach. The official launch date is not yet determined, we are anticipating some time in November. I am particularly celebrating that this course is being offered on a gift economy basis, which means that anyone, anywhere, can have access to it, no paywall whatsoever, so long as they have internet access (which is still a barrier to many).
BayNVC Celebrations. I am celebrating the trust and collaboration within our team these days, and how much I experience co-holding what’s important to me, both at the level of what we do (purpose) and at the level of how we do it (values). • I am celebrating our project of refining our vision, values, purpose, mission, theory of change, and of aligning our systems with our values and purpose. I anticipate such relief and settling when we are done and are finally on a par with some of our clients. • We are in the process of a gradual shifting towards doing more of our work on a gift economy basis. We want to explore further by not only asking for money based on needs, but also distributing resources based on needs whenever we collaborate with others on various projects. We are well on our way to adapting our financial record-keeping so we know what our needs are when we engage with collaborators.
Vagabonding. One of the main features of vagabonding, especially in a time of global pandemic, is change. Almost no part of what I anticipated would happen when I last wrote about this actually took place. We did go to Ireland, and had the most amazing experience with two friends, where for three weeks, and then later another 9 days, we experienced a deeply satisfying preview of what living in community that works can be. After difficult experiences earlier this year, this was a very healing and nourishing gift. We are still thinking through what made that possible to translate it into criteria for what to look for in terms of people and structures of support. On the other hand, a community where we planned to stay for up to two months didn’t work out for us, and we left the day after arriving because of misalignment about Covid-19 precautions. This, too, as everything else, is grist for the learning mill. Instead, we stayed almost three weeks in a random Airbnb in western Ireland, the Dingle peninsula. The beauty and sparseness of the place, and the presence of those two friends for a large part of that time were glorious. Sometimes there are moments, one we experienced by the sea, when all difficulties and challenges fall away because of such depth of beauty and connection to vision. From there we went on an arduous 6-day journey by car and ferry to Barcelona, where we are now in the midst of another temporary experiment in community with friends whose apartment we now share. Over these last weeks I have had some major insights about which I share below, in the humility corner. For now, I am surrendering in mystery to the continued and intense call to stay in this quest until the people, resources, agreements, and location for our eventual community become clear. Whatever else, at the end of two years we plan to create something with what we then have, even if it’s not entirely all we dream of. We live in a patriarchal world, and there is only so much we can exit it.
Recent Inspirations. A bit late, and not stale at all, sadly: this is a video of what happened in Mexico on March 8 earlier this year, International Women’s Day. It was about violence against women. I cried while watching it. • I read and find deeply meaningful a new article by Charles Eisenstein which uses a fresh metaphor: “The Banquet of Whiteness” • The image shared here is from a protest in Israel, where I come from. The sign reads: “Motherhood is a political stance. It’s connected not only to the biological process, but also to care as a human ethic. Not only my own private children, but also the universe and our world.” (Words by Hamutal Gouri) • By the time this goes out, we will be a lot smarter about what’s going on. At this moment of writing, with the elections 12 days away, the possibility of a coup appears to me very much on the menu. In this context, I want to recommend the article “How to Stop a Coup”, by Daniel Hunter, nonviolence thinker and trainer. • I learned something astonishing. In 40 US states, women ran for office before they could vote. If you find this impossible to believe, check out the archival research about it here, courtesy of Dr. Wendy Chmielewski, archivist at Swarthmore College.
The Humility Corner. For decades, I had prided myself on living without illusions or denial (though with blind spots for sure). It was exquisitely humbling to find a piece of denial right smack in the center of my experience of the last 19 months since I left my home. Like most forms of denial, it wasn’t entirely conscious in the way I am describing it here. It showed up as a refusal to accept that vagabonding takes a toll. I kept holding out for some imaginary soon time when my capacity will come back to its fullness. I related to all the transitions, the packing and unpacking, the adapting to new circumstances and people, and the accompanying friction and stress as interference, as something to overcome or ignore to be available to do my work, instead of an organic and integral part of how I am doing my work while vagabonding. I didn’t in any way expect any less of myself in terms of writing, keeping up with email, tracking projects, etc. I was in a “fight” within myself and to a smaller extent with my surrounding people and circumstances. Once I realized this, it was painfully entertaining. I now see two things. One is that the intensity of my desire and longing to keep doing what is mine to do and to complete certain things before I die is, in part, fueled by unworked out patriarchal conditioning. I am now working on bringing tenderness to this area, and readjusting how I do things and how I respond to email to fit my reduced capacity. This involves surrender and leaning on faith, the latter being one of my values. It won’t happen overnight. The second insight is that the instability of vagabonding makes our patriarchal conditioning more visible and allows for more learning to happen. Reorienting in this way helps me see that this is part of my work rather than interference: I am learning more about the ravages of patriarchy and about how we can work with vision and agreements to create islands within and around us in which the commitment to transformation holds us more steady.
This month’s credits from top: clasped hands, Creative Commons Zero license, Pexels; What matters most, Paul Dolman; women, Photo by Anna Shvets from Pexels; heart, Photo by ATC Comm Photo from Pexels; bridge reflection, Photo by Martin Damboldt from Pexels; pushpins on map, Photo by Aksonsat Uanthoeng from Pexels; papers, Photo by Daria Obymaha from Pexels
These celebrations, mournings and other happenings accompany my September newsletter, “Do We Stand a Chance?“
Web of Support. I have been writing about Victor Lewis more and more in the last while, and I have a sense that many people have been introduced to him and his work in this way, which brings me utter joy. I haven’t sufficiently spoken about the personal dimension of this relationship, and how I am endlessly supported by Victor’s presence in my life. Victor and I have known each other for 31 years, and have been close friends for many of them, and especially since my sister Inbal, who died in 2014, urged Victor to care for me in her absence. Victor has been a solid and amazing supporter. In the last couple of months, where I experienced many challenges, including in the charged areas of power and privilege, our friendship, and our weekly get-together, have been a lifeline for me and my sanity.
Writing. I just discovered that a core article of mine that was published two years ago in a UNESCO ebook had not been uploaded to the Fearless Heart website until now. It’s called Feminist Leadership as Care for the Whole. My latest Tikkun article is now out, called From Ability to Willingness: Freeing Socialism from Its Patriarchal Roots. • I wrote three more pieces in my Coronavirus series, which are subtitled “Finding Systemic Solutions to Systemic Problems,” Restoring Dignity and Meaning to Work and Separating it from Sustainability,” and “Accepting Our Vulnerability to Consume Less.” I now have only three more, plus a final piece that will pull it all together. I am both looking forward to this and not. It’s been an amazing project, demanding so much of me for each piece. • I posted a 2nd article on Medium called “Responding to Breakdown of Trust in Police: Capitalism, Racism, and Creative Compassion” • Also, another short post about overcoming patriarchy went up on Facebook.
Recordings and Interviews. I was interviewed for Manda Scott’s podcast “Accidental Gods” which is dedicated to visions of a possible future. Manda had so many questions about my views of the present, that we recorded a second podcast to capture in full my vision of the future. They are called: “Imagineering: ReWeaving the Human Fabric with Miki Kashtan” and “Imagineering: Weaving a Flourishing Future with Miki Kashtan.” The term “imagineering” is taken from Tom Atlee, founder of the Co-Intelligence Institute, which has a website with a repository of immense amounts of visionary and transformative material.
Nonviolent Global Liberation (NGL). Since the last newsletter, so much has happened in NGL that I am not even going to try to say it all. The main item I want to celebrate is that the day this newsletter is going out, Sept 7th, we are starting the first cohort of the NGL Provider Apprenticeship Program with about 40 people. These are all future NGL providers (the name we gave to people who have integrated the NGL approach sufficiently to provide teaching, coaching, support, and consulting based in NGL principles and frameworks). This is fulfilling a deep purpose of increasing capacity for us to do the massive work we’ve taken on (just think of our name!). This new apprenticeship program continues to be offered only through invitation to certain groups that have been involved with the NGL framework for a while. • An active team from around the globe is planning the first NGL online retreat which is almost ready to be announced. • After many months of complex work involving many within the NGL community, we now have a new purpose statement: “To integrate nonviolence into the fabric of human life through ongoing live experiments with truth focused on individual and collective liberation.” You can find the statement, and notes about each part of it, here. • We could use your support if you are inspired by what you hear about us. You can join the 100+ NGL Friends, and you can also support us financially, as the amount of money coming our way so far is much lower than the sustainability needs of those doing the work. I invite you to look at our website and consider whether this experiment is one you might want to support or join.
Convergent Facilitation (CF). We are gearing up for two major events coming very soon. One is the appearance of a brand new website home for everything Convergent Facilitation. The other is the publication of my book, The Highest Common Denominator: Using Convergent Facilitation to Reach Breakthrough Collaborative Decisions. We are planning a separate email when we finalize details about the online book launch party where I plan to read from the book and engage in exploring topics and dreaming about how CF can be a useful tool in these extreme times. • Meanwhile, Lisa Rothman and Roxy Manning offered a five-week on-line course and 200 people signed up! We plan to offer this same course soon after the book launch party. • The book and the website include a technological leap for CF: a web-based and phone-based app that can be used for the tricky step of evaluating proposals cleanly and efficiently, offering invaluable support to CF facilitators anywhere.
Purpose and Values Work. I continually aim to apply everything colleagues and I learn to my own life and work. Over the months in Glasgow, colleagues and friends Verene Nicolas, Emma Quayle, and I formed what we now call a “Purpose Pod” where we met weekly to support each of us in deepening our capacity to do our work and learn, together, what it takes to focus on purpose, including within a Purpose Pod. We had several conversations where we delved into the nature of this focus. One of those conversations was about developing principles for how to identify a set of values for an individual, or group, or an organization. Emma has been applying this work with individuals she is coaching, as well as coaching others on how to do the work. Sharon Carmel, student and friend, just recently supported me in identifying my values, and they are now posted on my website here.
Former Students. I recently heard from Chi Hin Cheong and Ruby Young in Hong Kong who completed teaching the first Convergent Facilitation workshop offered in Hong Kong. It’s deeply touching to me to see their dedication. Chi and Ruby traveled twice to Europe to participate in an NGL residential intensive, and Ruby also traveled to the US to participate in the first Compass residential retreat in 2019. It is moving and heartening to see their determination to use and adapt what they are learning in their extremely difficult context, as Hong Kong’s relative freedom is being slowly dismantled. I am particularly excited to see them examine the relationship between trauma and decision-making using Convergent Facilitation, and how much the thresholds (decision tools that are used in a process) need to change in the presence of trauma.
Vagabonding. After embarking on and then aborting a significant multi-country trip towards the end of July, I learned that I can had an extension for staying in Glasgow, Scotland through the end of August. Thus all plans changed. If all goes well, by the time this newsletter goes out I will be quarantining myself in Ireland for the 2nd of two weeks before some weeks of staying with a community aiming to embrace some of NGL’s principles. This visit is the first of many we hope, as co-vagabonder Emma Quayle and I continue our learning how to create resilient and transformative communities that embrace NGL’s principles along with the commitment to risk-sharing in relation to all resources. After Ireland we anticipate being in Spain for a month, with friends, learning by creating a temporary community, and then in Portugal, near Tamera, for another two months. At that time, months down the road, the next segment of vagabonding will likely reveal itself more clearly, as the rate of change and uncertainty these days obstructs planning. For the moment I know that the only two places in the world where I am legally allowed for extended periods – the US and Israel – are places where, given what is happening, I don’t find in me willingness to be. This is an odd experience, and one I am embracing with curiosity and pain.
Recent Inspirations. If you haven’t already encountered Deeyah Khan, your heart will soar and melt as you see her – a dark-skinned person from Norway – interviewing people from the extreme right in the US who are fully supporting policies against people like her. She maintains her dignity and cares for theirs, and amazing things happen. Watch the trailer of Meeting the Enemy and imagine what’s possible. • For entertaining, unsettling, and instructive cognitive dissonance, read this short piece entitled Foreign Affairs: Unrest continues for a seventh day in former British colony and think deeply afterwards about insights and discoveries. • Nonviolence News, started by Rivera Sun just over a year ago, tells a different story I want heard more: of people coming together to create change, nonviolently. • I want to share a new book, a collection of writings by my dear friend Merijane Block who died a few years ago. It’s called “Everything Takes Longer Than You Think It Should Or Thought It Would Except Your Life;” she is memorialized by a mural, featured as the cover picture. Each written piece captures life in poignant, deep, light, and surprising ways. • A version of the song “We Shall Overcome” that will likely soothe your heart in difficult times (though, depending on your views about the pandemic, you may not like the context and images), by the Aeolians of Oakwood University. • A wrenching and inspiring story for me. As Hong Kong’s relative freedoms are encroached upon by China through severe laws and punishment, Jimmy Lai, a media tycoon, is interviewed and reveals his courage in standing up to China and risking arrest, which subsequently happened. • I conclude with a link to a talk by Victor Lewis, teaching in the East Point Peace Academy, on the topic of “The Future of Racial Capitalism – There Is None.” Listening to Victor weave wisdom and experience into a coherent, startling, and inspiring new perspective is one of my reliably favorite activities.
Remembering Inbal. The newsletter is scheduled to go out one day after the 6th anniversary of Inbal’s death. I was recently asked if I miss her. And I wanted to share what I said in response and a bit more, as a way to celebrate her life and acknowledge her death. Inbal is present, and her absence is tangible, many times a day. It’s not the same as missing her. Those words are a different way of relating than I recognize within me. I use them sometimes for ease in communicating with others, and they are somewhat foreign to me. And because the person who asked is close and very willing to engage with me being a stickler for words, I gave the specifics rather than a simple “yes.” • Sometimes Inbal comes as a whiff of joy and vibrancy, those are the most rare. That’s when I can see her laughing or dancing. She could do a good mischief. • Sometimes she comes as the memory of working together with someone on deep theory with emotional and political significance, irreplaceable, as if anything ever is. And then it’s an intense gratitude for having had it, and intense absence. • Sometimes she comes as clarity about how to respond, or even tenderness for me. And then it’s relaxing and mysterious. • Sometimes she is acutely present in moments of deep connection with Arnina, my other sister, as we are still adjusting to being only two, again. • I regularly hear evidence that she is still alive for many others. If you haven’t ever met her, a particular Youtube video of hers is a great way to get a sense of who she was and what she gave, and her audio introduction to NVC is still available here. May all parents and children benefit from what she gave us all.
The Humility Corner. This section of the Celebrations and Mournings has been consistent for three years, and I am ready to update it. My purpose has been to increase the transparency quotient about myself and how I show up, so that the image that some have of me is continually challenged. I am remember a time when I was with Marshall Rosenberg and a few NVC trainers, probably in 2000, when he ended up weeping about how much he didn’t want to be a Guru. It’s one of my most cherished memories of being with him, I felt deep respect and, oddly, reverence for where he was. He was probably, then, about my age now. I never dreamed I would come close to where he was and feel a similar distress about how some people see me. So I am still committed to the same goal: to make myself simple, human, accessible, visible. I still want to show what so often is hidden. And, I no longer want to be restricted to only what I initially called “the least glamorous aspects of my trajectory.” Rather, I want to share the journey, the learning, what it takes to move in the world as someone aiming to live in deep commitment to feminist nonviolence. With that, here are two insights I harvested from the last couple of months. • I have discovered that something I do spontaneously – follow or track purpose – isn’t something that most people do most of the time, though I had thought for the longest time that everyone does it. I almost automatically track purpose almost all the time – whether it’s the purpose of a meeting, the larger purpose of a relationship, or even any bit of conversation. Without effort and within my body, I am aware of an explicit or even implicit purpose at hand and have a sense within me of whether we are on or off that purpose in any moment. I have, unconsciously, been assuming that others do, too; that everyone does. Therefore I was not explicit and transparent about tracking purpose, believing that others were tracking purpose alongside me. Because I did not name my tracking of purpose, others have not learned and developed their own capacity to attend to purpose. I also realize that while I assumed (for years!) that others were following purpose with me as agents of their own choice, in fact they were often following me as an authority. • In my ongoing commitment to supporting people, encouraging leadership, and offering care whenever and wherever I see it possible to do so, I have been unaware of the impact this care can have when offered to people who are unable to own their needs in that moment. In this situation, care from me (or from anyone else, for that matter) can become unbearable, because it exposes a need the person is otherwise keeping hidden from themselves on account of shame and patriarchal training; so my care can even come in looking like judgment!
This month’s credits from top, not including personal photos:
typewriter, Photo by Min An from Pexels; hands, Photo by Andrea Piacquadio from Pexels; whiteboard, Startup Stock from Pexels; book cover, lulu.com; crystal ball, Photo by Kaboompics .com from Pexels; questioning palm, Photo by cottonbro from Pexels
These celebrations, mournings and other happenings accompany my July newsletter, “Wrenching Anguish, Defiant Joy, and Liberation for All.”
Web of Support. This time, pure celebration, and it’s bursting. So much so, that I could “cheat” and keep some for next time, just in case there is nothing new to celebrate…So I cheated in another way, by spreading the sense of support into many of the other sections: new people joining BayNVC and supporting my core work; new teams that came into existence within NGL to move key projects forward; and a whole bunch of people stepping in to make Convergent Facilitation take a quantum leap forward. And, in addition to all that, I want to highlight the support of Ozge Altinkaya Erkok who dreamed up, and is now carrying out, a complex project of setting up interviews with me for each of the Coronavirus posts I am writing, which you can see here. And I am sure I am forgetting more. It’s been astounding to feel all this energy affirming and supporting me in doing what is becoming increasingly more demanding and difficult work. It’s all a super huge WOW.
Writing. Now is a time of harvest. An article I wrote over three years ago on the gift economy is finally published. • The anthology Life after Covid-19 that has my modified first Coronavirus post as its concluding chapter is coming out at the end of July or in early August through Bristol University Press. And another article of mine, also about the gift economy, is coming out in another anthology later this summer (title not available yet). • I finished the Core Nonviolence Commitments text for a full booklet, and soon you will find out about ways you can participate, through conversation and through finding images to bring it to the finish line. • I also wrote the third piece of the Coronavirus series, subtitled “Grounding in Interconnection and Solidarity,” a shorter version of my long patriarchy article that is now available here, and a new blog post called “King’s Two Messages: The Power of Soul Force in Times of Social Unrest.” I am glad to be more in flow. • Also, a new and short post of mine went up on Facebook, an entirely new option for me, as my writing tends to be longish. • Lastly, a group of people who were inspired by my recent online retreat in Israel with my sister, Arnina, have come together to translate parts of my second book into my own native language, Hebrew.
Recordings and Interviews. As I am doing more online work that is publicly available, new recordings pile up quickly. So I decided to add a section about them in the “Celebrations and Mournings” each time there are new ones. A recent online class I did for the East Point Peace Academy called “Exiting the Either/Or Trap: Beyond Consensus vs. Command and Control” is available for viewing, with a request to contribute to their organization, which brings nonviolence to vulnerable communities, including prisons.
Nonviolent Global Liberation (NGL). Since the last newsletter, we’ve had what we called a Co-Creation Party, when we invited those who’ve been to an NGL retreat in the past to join NGL Online to jump-start us to a new level of functioning. We were on Zoom for hours every day, with so much energy it jumped out of the screen for me, so to speak… We set in motion a team now working to put together the first NGL online retreat in the coming weeks or months, and another team to launch an ongoing and active NGL provider apprenticeship program. This is not an official announcement of the program, which will take a while. The first round is only open through invitation to specific groups of people who’ve been already exposed to the NGL framework before. Please wait with any queries until you hear from us again with more specific contact information. • We have been engaging in our first ever attempt to distribute money between current members, and have run into extreme challenges, which is painful and humbling as we recognize that patriarchal conditioning remains, even as we work so diligently to create support structures to transcend it. I am in grief and I am in awe of the love and commitment we all bring to it. In these times of global upheaval, of so many shapes and impacts, we are more determined than ever to find our own visionary response to the times. I recently sent a tweet to Cleona, who manages a Twitter account for me, that says this: “Aligning means with ends is an integral part of strategy as it reminds everyone watching that there is a visionary alternative.” • We could use your support if you are inspired by what you hear about us. You can join the 100+ NGL Friends, and you can also support us financially, as the amount of money coming our way so far is much lower than the sustainability needs of those doing the work. I invite you to look at our website and consider whether you want to support or join this experiment.
Feedback from the Field. I rarely share here anything about the ongoing stream of gratitude that I receive from people and groups who have benefited from the work I do. One in particular, however, was so totally joyful for me that I want to share it. Five years ago I facilitated two days of healing, collaboration, and decision-making between two organizations that had split some 25 years before. I could sense that the event was monumental for them, and they immediately established a joint team to look at potential collaborations going forward. Now, five years later, the two groups are choosing to join again into one. This is a minor miracle, and since I applaud the overall work this group does, which is biodynamic farming, I couldn’t be happier.
Convergent Facilitation (CF). The CF scene is buzzing with activity. Roni Wiener from NGL and Lisa Rothman, who’s been co-holding CF with me from day one, are taking on the CF community and the creation of a website. Roberta Werdinger (new to BayNVC) is stepping up to the complex plate of the publication of the book. The endorsements I am beginning to get for the book are quite stunning. Lastly, many active CF practitioners have mobilized to offer weekly coaching sessions. With all this, CF is set to make a bold appearance in the world. It couldn’t be a better time, as the need is intense and growing.
Vagabonding. It appears that the relative stability I have enjoyed in the last number of months under lock-down in Glasgow may be coming to an abrupt end that is not by my choice. My own desire would be to stay here through about mid-October, when I anticipate having enough intuitive safety to board a plane to go to Israel next. It’s quite an intense experience that brings me into odd solidarity with many around the world, where I literally don’t know where I will be in a few weeks’ time. It is also highlighting my immense gratitude for this period of relative comfort. I’ve been able to settle into a routine that supports me in the intensifying quantity and focus of the work I do. When I landed in the UK on Solstice, just over six months ago, none of us had any idea what was coming. I knew I had signed up to do three years of vagabonding, and now the next chapter is coming. I feel prepared and weary.
BayNVC News. The main celebration this time is three new team members. One is Isa Stewart, who took on the project-manager-of-everything-Miki position, and is already doing things I haven’t been able to get to for years, no exaggeration. Main among them is the self-study course I’ve been trying to make happen since 2011, taking spurts with it and then having it die for a while, all because we didn’t have a project manager. No dates yet, and it’s now clearly in motion – without requiring my involvement. Another is Roberta Werdinger, who took on working with me on publishing, converting transcriptions to articles, and more. This blog post is one that would not have been written if not for her careful combing of a transcription of a recent call and shaping it into the skeleton of an article. And one is Jihan McDonald, who is taking on the difficult and highly needed ongoing project of making BayNVC and NGL systemically hospitable to marginalized groups, and then making what we learn in the process accessible to others who want to do the same.
Recent Inspirations. I have long been a secret admirer of Leah Pearlman’s Dharma Comics. The “Sometimes I have a sad” entry crossed over into “must share” because it’s both utterly adorable and deep, and is about how we undermine ourselves when we don’t accept our emotions. • Another person I admire and learned from over the years is Genevieve Vaughan, whom I call “the goddess of gift economy.” Here’s an interview with her in which her insights can become accessible to all. • Probably most of you have read one of the darkest stories of all times, Lord of the Flies. It turns out there was an actual story, entirely the opposite of William Golding’s scathing depiction of evil human nature, in which a group of boys truly were shipwrecked for 15 months. And what happened to them was deep and transformative collaboration, precisely what I would expect. Here’s their story, part of a book that speaks of human nature as cooperative. A ray of light in these very difficult times.
Climate and Extinction Rebellion (XR). After many, many months and much sweat (no blood so far…), XR has finally received funding to do the work of internal system alignment that an NGL proposal from last year recommended. While none of that money will come to BayNVC, it is allocated, in part, to support a team we are putting together to do the work, based on insights and learning from years of experimentation and teaching that I and others have done. Work begins as this newsletter is being posted, and I can’t wait to see what will come of XRUK within the 18 months this project is scheduled to last. • The work that Victor and Skeena and I are doing about a liberation-based approach to power and privilege within XRUK is slowly moving from theory only to theory and practice, as we have identified a first concrete application of the insights we have been marinating together. • In the coming weeks I am planning to start a crowdfunding campaign to sustain the work BayNVC is doing in support of XR, since it’s now clear how unlikely it is that XR will ever be able to fund the work.
The Humility Corner. I continue to learn more and more about how much my implicit authority, and the power that comes with it, regardless of who I am and what my choices are, influences others, and how much my efforts to attenuate this impact may have instead exacerbated it. Here are excerpts in italics from a letter I wrote to the participants in my weekly leadership coaching course after a complex evening in which things became more chaotic than any of us enjoyed.
I learn and relearn many times over, that many of my challenges stem from “caring for others’ needs, in this case all of you.” My insights “emerge from the simple reality that it is entirely part of my spontaneous unfolding, the joy of my being, to orient to and integrate others’ needs. That means that without effort or even active request on the part of anyone, I am constantly looking for and usually finding ways of folding other people’s needs into the flow, sometimes even changing in the process what my own preference is as I hear what others say. Both in the class and in my life, this is a constant flow, entirely fitting with how I see life function.” The way my power affects it is both that there is more responsibility on me, and that “others might have less capacity to express their needs, making it important for me to reach for the needs and to care for them when expressed through that power barrier.”
I believe I have already mentioned in this section my ongoing struggle to change my lifelong pattern of presenting with “too little information about needs and impacts, too much availability of resources I didn’t technically have; too much willingness to stretch past limits, to absorb impacts, and to accept unmet needs.” And this means I need to grow faster than I know how in “two core relational options. One is to mourn and express regret for the needs I didn’t find a strategy to meet alongside mine…That sadness is real precisely because I want to care for others’ needs, I want to find a strategy that includes all, and I want to find a way for others to get what they want, regardless of what I do, or don’t do. It matters to me hugely, and I see that this wouldn’t have been evident last night.”
“The other relational option I didn’t follow is to deliberately slow down and stay in the unknown, to establish togetherness about the divergent needs, and to be curious together to see if strategies could emerge that would care for the needs without requiring effort from me…This one I believe is an expression not so much of forgetting or wanting to model something. Rather, it was all within an edge for me.”
“I am working now on a core belief that the only way to get my needs met would be at the expense of others’ needs. This is what led me, for years and decades, to not put my needs on the table: I didn’t believe that there would be any way to attend to them if there wasn’t already flow from others towards me; I didn’t believe my needs would potentially create a shift rather than submission or fight. I say ‘didn’t’ and it’s still true; the pattern isn’t gone…I couldn’t access and lean on my own joy of finding integration with others’ needs, and on my larger faith that such is possible even when there is an apparent clash. It is that larger faith that is absent for me and that feeds into the pattern I am now aiming to shift.”
This month’s credits: Photo by Miguel Á. Padriñán from Pexels; Photo by bongkarn thanyakij from Pexels; Photo by Trav Williams/Broken Banjo Photography; Photo by Mabel Amber from Pexels; A cracked Heart by Falk Lademann licensed under CC BY 2.0; Photo by Ethan Sees from Pexels
These celebrations, mournings and other happenings accompany my May newsletter, “Power and Liberation in a Pandemic.”
Web of Support. There is a mourning and a celebration here. The mourning is that Rebecca Sutton, who has been supporting my work as editor, personal assistant, and core advisor for years, is no longer working at BayNVC. She continues to be my friend, and we will continue to support each other as friends, and it’s different. The gap is too big to fill, and now comes the celebration. Instead of looking to one person to edit all I produce, I put together a group of 9 people, all of whom I know and respect, all of whom know me and want to support my work, who, between them, now edit all I write, look for images, post what needs posting, and do miscellaneous text-related tasks. All of this on a gift economy basis: some of them will receive money, as needed, and some of them won’t need it and won’t ask for it, and this will change fluidly over time.
New Website. After many years of reluctance, I came to see the usefulness of having a website that carries my own name. MikiKashtan.org was born a couple of months ago. While I already mentioned it with the last newsletter, I want to fully celebrate it now. I celebrate, in particular, that the about section has my own purpose as an individual, along with my mission elements and my agreements with myself, forever an evolving structure.
Writing. If anyone thinks that the lock-down has created more opportunities for me to write, it didn’t. Even as I long for more writing time, I have finished pieces to celebrate. A main landmark is that I finally completed my mammoth article Is Nonviolent Use of Force an Oxymoron?, and posted it as the first piece on my newly created Medium account. I also just finished the writing part of another mammoth project, a booklet with one page for each of the Core Nonviolence Commitments. I am ecstatic about this milestone, and am getting ready for next steps in making it a downloadable resource for people. I also posted a 2-part piece called Sharing Impacts for Liberation about how to speak of impacts across power differences. I am currently deep in the process of writing a 9-part blog series titled “Apart and Together” on the Corona crisis. Part one, subtitled Responding to Opportunity in Extreme Times, and part two, subtitled Addressing Needs beyond Market Economies, are already on the Fearless Heart website. I am now revising the first post to be a chapter in an anthology about responding to the Corona crisis.
Project Manager Position. As of now, we still haven’t found a person who fits this position. Meanwhile, a mini-celebration is that we gain clarity about the position with each application and interview, and when others take on some aspects of the job. Details on the position are here, revised again. I am mourning how difficult it is, and celebrating the web of people who are sustaining me in different forms until we find a project manager or another way to move forward with this.
Nonviolent Global Liberation (NGL). Since the last newsletter, the NGL world has turned upside down. We were hoping to find an online alternative to our in-person retreat in Europe for the same dates in May. We didn’t. To have enough capacity to match the vision we now have of what a global online retreat could be will take us longer. We don’t know when we will be ready to roll out online retreats again, nor how soon we might have in-person NGL retreats. Instead, we plan to use this time to reflect on and upgrade NGL’s overall purpose to match our evolving reality as a community of practice in the last two years. Meanwhile we are planning for ways to engage the active NGL members in necessary conversations, such as: how we can serve life at this time; how to complete our internal systems to match more fully with the vision we are based on, and how to engage with divisions along lines of power and privilege and how to respond to the resulting dynamics in visionary, liberatory, and systemic ways within NGL and in the world around us. We now have upwards of 70 NGL Friends; I invite you to look at our website and consider whether you want to support and join this experiment.
Convergent Facilitation. The very last in-person event was already in the era of physical distancing (see picture), soon before lock-down. It was for XR activists, and it resulted in various projects that are underway in a collaboration between XR and NGL. One of them operationalizes a dream I’ve had for years: weekly coaching sessions offered to anyone who’s taken a Convergent Facilitation (CF) course and is committed to using it in service to a world in crisis now. This, like more and more of how I work, is offered on a gift economy basis. Another development is that Emma Quayle lined up all the resources we need to complete the publication of the CF book. I am now the main obstacle, as I am doing, slowly, a final review of the manuscript and looking for people to write endorsements. And, as if all this wasn’t enough, we now have a computer application for criteria generated in a CF session to be entered and vetted, and for proposals created in the process to be evaluated against the criteria.
Vagabonding. The Coronavirus has resulted in active movement between places being virtually impossible (or maybe only possible virtually). I was supposed to be in Israel for all of April, and in Poland in May. Instead, vagabonding has turned into temporarily residing in a small house in Glasgow, a city where I know only two people. I have no grasp on how and when to make any plans, and so I am now turning to paring down our existence here in Glasgow. It has become quite monastic. We are near a small local park that has become everything for us and where I walk at least twice daily. Being 64 and sharing living space with someone much younger means she is doing all the shopping and interfacing with the world to reduce my own chances of contagion; while I remain in the house doing more work than ever, all online. Lush, green land and often grey skies in an urban setting are now the context for a bare-bones life that’s strikingly similar to our month in the desert last year: demanding and liberating. I think some part of me will miss this rigor when the next chapter comes.
BayNVC News. After many years of me longing for it, BayNVC is finally taking the step of doing our internal systems work. This is likely to take some time, as we are being thorough. This is a relief, as we do this work with clients and it’s felt like a significant tug on me for BayNVC to be so far from full alignment with what we bring to others. In our first meeting we focused on our vision and purpose, aiming to discern what they already are rather than what any of us might want them to be. This question shift is a potent way to bring awareness to the whole rather than the individual, and led to rich conversations. We have new drafts for both vision (what we want to see in the world, one day), and purpose (why we do what we do; what is ours from the vast total task ahead). This one meeting has already freed up energy that was previously stuck in one area of the organization, even before we address the nitty gritty of goals, objectives, and, most importantly, concrete and simple agreements to care for the whole.
Recent Inspirations. A new website was created by the people who created ServiceSpace, DailyGood, and a host of others. It’s specific to the Corona crisis, it’s adorably called karunavirus, and it’s full of stories of everyday love and inspiring responses. • A new poem by Adrie Kusserow, modeled after Mary Oliver legendary “Wild Geese,” is now circulating. I found it beautifully speaking to the depth of surrender called for now. • Neil Howard, friend and author, wrote what I see as a deeply thoughtful piece about how to prepare for the post-pandemic world. • It appears (though it’s also contested) that women heads of state have a head start with the pandemic. An article in Forbes magazine, not a bastion of feminism, looks at why this might be so.
Climate and XR. An article about Greta Thunberg’s path to becoming a young activist, drove home to me, again, the insight that it’s hard to fully mobilize to work for transformation, of any kind, without some willingness to feel deep feelings. I notice the same in my own Reckoning with Collapse calls: that a barrier to action can often be transcended with enough support to access deep mourning. I trust action that emerges from mourning much more than action which emerges from anger. I see the latter sometimes in my work with XR, and I cherish their organizational commitment to regenerative culture and to aligning current practices more and more with the vision of the world they are striving to support coming into existence.
The Humility Corner. For the past many months, an ongoing conflict has unfolded related to how we hold power differences within NGL. It takes determination and courage to speak about this publicly, and I want to. As with many conflicts, what the conflict is about is, in itself, contested territory; thus I will say very little about it. I bring this to the “humility corner” to point to the immense challenge of addressing power differences, regardless of our position in the power map of the world. In parallel to being asked to work with XR on developing a liberation-based approach to power, privilege, and leadership and grounding it in systemic agreements, I am also challenged and critiqued by some others on these same topics. What is there to learn? What is the potential learning at the systemic level, and what is for me to learn personally? How do I maintain relationships in the messy process of learning and discovery? What is truly a lesson for me that I would take on as part of my visionary role, and what are, instead, expectations of others that go beyond what would make sense for any individual to take on? How do I develop, with others, a specific framework that includes awareness that we are all shaped by our social location and yet are not fully determined by it and remain free to liberate ourselves and support liberation for all? My first insight is already unfolding: a liberatory perspective cannot unleash its radical potential by focusing only on an individual leader; it requires a wider systemic awareness of internalized powerlessness. Some people have internalized such disempowered states that even when someone in power actively aims for collaborative decision-making, they are unlikely to find capacity to bring themselves forward. I have too many examples of that to count, and my pain about it is large. Personally, I want to be able to look at my own learning edge and blind spots. Part of it, ironically, is taking too much responsibility upon myself. I want (in addition to, and sometimes instead of, personal responsibility) to collaborate with others to create systemic responses: practices and agreements to transcend the divisions and their horrific impacts and create islands of genuine liberation.
This month’s credits, not including portrait: writing: public domain; Convergent Facilitation workshop: Juliana Muniz Westcott; Elder Park, Glasgow: Rosser1954 / CC BY-SA (https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/3.0); Greta Thunberg: Anders HellbergDerivative work: Dikson / CC BY-SA (https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/4.0)
These celebrations, mournings and other happenings accompany my March newsletter, “Start Where You Are.“
Web of Support. This time around I want to celebrate the people who are supporting me as a human person struggling to live in this world. Most recently, I have concluded that as things get harder in the world, and as I continue to walk toward more unknowns, it is more and more important for me to mourn, because whatever I don’t mourn turns to reduced trust. I have therefore added a new component to my existing support system, which is a weekly mourning circle. It is too early to tell how much of a dent this will make. So, for the moment, I am celebrating the act of choosing it, and the big yes I received from the people I invited to participate.
Writing. The toll of many transitions and challenges continues, along with getting more deeply immersed in supporting Extinction Rebellion (XR). Once again, my yield is small. I have finished, finally, part two of a post from September that is now up, about how to engage with NVC in ways that reclaim its radical roots. My article about use of force is now complete, and I am searching for a place to publish it. My contribution to the collection honoring the 80th birthday of Genevieve Vaughan (see picture) is done, with the title “Attending to Needs without Coercion: Moving beyond the Patriarchal Limits of Socialism to a Full Gift Economy” is ready. I feel such immense gratitude for all I and the world have received from her, and deeply awed by the opportunity to contribute to this collection. All the other hoped-for writing mostly didn’t happen. Now that I have a temporary base for the next several months in Glasgow, I am ever hopeful again.
Project Manager Position After not finding someone to fit the full-time project and content manager position, we broke down the role into responsibilities among different people. We are now once again on the search for a passionate, visionary, and self-directed individual to join Miki’s team, this time as a half-time project manager of all that she holds. The Project Manager will work directly with Miki with the aim of maximizing potential to bring her work into the world. Details and information on how to apply are here.
Nonviolent Global Liberation (NGL). We are now in the externally fallow and internally very active in-between period, with the 2020 NGL retreat season starting in May in Poland again. Over these months, many people within NGL Online work endless hours to digest feedback from the previous season and integrate it into plans for the next one. A core element that is changing this year is a clearer focus on the purpose of these events and what people are invited into. For the first time, we will offer a reflection process to help people to self-select more accurately about attending the event. We now have all the dates for the coming season, though only two of them are ready for registration. NGL Europe retreat in Poland, May 20-26; West Coast in CA, Aug. 20-26 (a correction from the last newsletter); Mexico, Sept. 10-16; Asia in Bali, Oct. 29-Nov. 4, and East Coast in NY, Nov. 12-18. In 2021 three new sites are being considered, including the possibility of one of them happening without me. Meanwhile, the presence of NGL Friends is growing, approaching 50, and we are about to make it possible for NGL Friends to attend team meetings as observers, having an opportunity to see our actual experiments in running NGL Online more and more in line with our vision for the future. I experience awe and wonder in thinking about the many people who are putting so many hours and so much love and wisdom into constructing this new way of working together.
Convergent Facilitation. This coming month I am offering a Convergent Facilitation training specifically to Extinction Rebellion in London, geared toward a new process they are initiating of a randomly selected council to evaluate controversial actions. Also, Emma Quayle has taken on getting the manuscript published, and I am excited to have movement in a place that was stagnant for some years now.
Vagabonding. I am just settling into the new place we’ve identified in Glasgow through August 7, when I cross the Atlantic again to stay in the US for some months. I am noticing the shedding of expectations, the growing capacity to rely on far fewer resources, including food and clothing, and the deeper understanding of the enormousness of the challenges that vagabonding brings into my life, with the added benefits of even greater freedom. I see it as no accident that in these months I’ve had so much expansion in my self-understanding, and greater choice in areas that were still hidden in pattern for years.
Recent Inspirations. I am always hungry for stories about places and cultures that continue to live in flow. Here’s one such story that inspired me. • I similarly love crossings of political and cultural divides. This one is a story of crossing political divides in the US and discovering deeper commonalities than meet the eyes. • Without needing much training or philosophical alignment, here are two methods for how to support people feeling heard. • Viktor Frankl’s talking about having faith in people in a talk from decades ago hasn’t gone stale for me. • Here’s a most amazing 3 minutes about a dad who finds a way to his daughter’s heart on the other side of a tantrum. • I highly recommend an article linking Coronavirus to the “wicked problem” of the overall global challenge and calls for resilience as a response. I found it uplifting. • I just started a new section on the website that is just for quotes that I love, and I anticipate it will grow over time. Check it out.
Climate and XR. I’ve recently been engaged in some deep conversations and read some articles about the difference between short-term and longer-term climate impacts. What I have discovered helps me understand the specific nature of predictions of near-term collapse. Those are not based on climate change directly affecting human survival, at least not in the next few years. Rather, it’s about climate change resulting in major disruptions to human-made food and transportation systems, systems that operate on a “just in time” principle that keeps supply chains brittle and thin, without much backup. This article may help shed light on these distinctions and on what may be in store for us. • My work with XR continues to deepen and expand in areas including supporting them in developing an approach to power, privilege, and leadership that is based on liberation; participating in designing a process beginning with grassroots conversations across differences and culminating in 2021 in a global citizens assembly; facilitating some major conflicts within the movement; and more.
The Humility Corner. These past few weeks, while engaging once more with the unraveling of a long-standing relationship, I discovered a significant limitation of mine that now helps me understand more fully what might lead people to choose to end relationships with me. The limitation is that when I interpret people’s actions as meaning a choice to separate, even in a small way, I lose trust in flow, and I find it really hard to honor people’s boundaries. Something in me finds it intolerable for anyone to have boundaries. I am affected to a degree that is very intense because of a deep lack of trust that comes from much trauma in my life. It’s as if the entire possibility of relationship, intimacy, togetherness, connection, and so on disappears. As a result, I don’t know how to honor the boundary. I definitely don’t know how to move away sufficiently so the person feels at peace. I also don’t know how to even relax into unconditional love and acceptance. What I do, instead, is to aim to move closer, to find some togetherness at the very moment that the other person is signaling that they are not seeking it. Sometimes I am skillful at it, often I am not. Often I don’t even know what is happening until and unless someone tells me afterward the impact on them. As challenging as it is to see, I am aware now that there is subtle demand energy in those moments within me. The result is that people experience injury from me at a really deep level of being seen, of autonomy, or of some other core need. Getting this clarity helps me understand more fully that injuries at that level will wipe out any of the benefits of being with me and will, at times, leave no option for the other person than to exit the relationship. While I remain open, as just about always, to hear from them and stay engaged, from that place of injury, trusting that I could care given that the signals of protection were not honored is clearly challenging. I am full of tenderness for both me and others in this, and surrendering to the mystery of what will unfold from understanding this.
This month’s credits, not including portraits: “Rebel for Life” and “Boundaries” both from Shutterstock.
These celebrations, mournings and other happenings accompany my January newsletter, “The Wisdom of No Escape.”
Web of Support. What I am celebrating this time is the deep clarity that I have about how important it is to have a very solid team that supports my work. There is an ongoing trickle of people showing up and offering support in various forms, ranging from transcribing calls to offering personal assistance while traveling. It’s stunning to me how much of that energy is out there, coming towards the work. And what I am clear I need is the kind of consistent support that comes from a solid, dedicated team. With Jeff Brown and Sheryl Faria holding the basic administration of BayNVC with support from Aimee Ryan, and with Dawn Raymond, Heather Austin, and Rebecca Sutton holding specific pieces, much is attended to. And now I see clearly the need for someone to work alongside me in a full time capacity to manage and track everything I hold as well as independently care for all the materials I produce and want to produce. I am excited to have this clarity and to have a job description ready for anyone who wants to apply.
Writing. Since I was entirely offline for a whole month since the last newsletter went out, and in major transition before and after, I have done just about no writing this time. I am celebrating only future things now: that my article “From Ability to Willingness: Freeing Socialism from Its Patriarchal Roots” was accepted for publication by Tikkun as part of their “Reimagining Socialism” issue coming up soon, which gave me an opportunity to contextualize my experiments and learning about gift economies and feminism within the conversation about socialism; it will also serve as the basis of another article for a collection honoring Genevieve Vaughan‘s 80th birthday; I have received many helpful suggestions about my article “Is Nonviolent Use of Force an Oxymoron?” and am excited about integrating them; and I am anticipating having more spaciousness for writing where I am now, within which I intend to complete one or more packets in the coming weeks, complete two blog posts in progress, and make a dent on the book writing project. Of course, celebrating the future is risky business, and more will be revealed, as always.
Nonviolent Global Liberation (NGL). The 2019 NGL retreat season ended. The last retreat, on the East Coast, was one of the hardest experiences of co-leading I’ve ever had. I am still celebrating the amount of love, care, truth, transparency, and mobilization that I experienced within the team and among participants of the retreat. I am also celebrating a moment of silliness in which I showed up with a wizard costume in one of our evening sessions. Our NGL online retreats team is now actively digesting all the learning from this year’s retreats, and I am anticipating quite a number of changes in the coming season to attend to many more needs, for us and for participants. I am in awe about how much willingness we all have to keep going. I am also celebrating that NGL received its first ever grant, $8,000 dedicated to supporting the gift economy experiment, and our online Resource Flow team is getting ready to think through how to engage with this, and the now steady trickle of money coming from NGL Friends, in a way that is fully aligned with our radical principles of resource flow. Stay tuned for 2020 NGL retreats: NGL Europe retreat in Poland, May 20-26; California (Aug 14-20); and then Mexico, East Coast, and NGL Asia in Bali sometime in the fall of 2020. 2021 is likely to bring NGL, in addition, to France, Israel, and Spain, and possibly to be the first year in which NGL retreats will take place without me personally being in them.
Convergent Facilitation. I am delighted with what I hear about the resounding success of Lisa Rothman and Aya Caspi’s Convergent Facilitation course – the first such online course that was taught by someone other than me. You can still sign up now and get the recordings. Lisa will also be teaching it to an organizational client soon, and we are gathering momentum around self-publishing the book and including Convergent Facilitation in proposals we are putting together for other clients.
Facilitation Course. As is now a tradition, I offered a three-day winter mini-intensive through the NVC Academy. This one was called “Nonviolent Facilitation as a Path to the Future” and drew about 180 people to it, most of whom came to the live sessions (usually only about a third of people who register to online courses show up live). I loved what happened, covering so many types of situations and principles and tips for how to attend to them. As with any other NVC Academy course, you can still register for it and receive the recordings.
Former Students. I am starting a new section here, where I want to celebrate what former students of mine are doing. For this round, I’m celebrating Christine Raine from Costa Rica, an early apprentice who’s been applying what she has learned from me with both individuals and government, was invited to national TV to celebrate Gandhi’s birthday, and shared about the work and about NVC in general. This touches on why I want to celebrate what former students are doing: they reach places and do things that so often go beyond and outside what and where I can go. This growing capacity to create change is what initially propelled my late sister Inbal to focus on leadership development in our work. If you are seriously applying what you have learned from me and have a celebration about how it’s going that you’d like to share with me and are open to me sharing here, please send it to me. I may include it in this section in the future.
Vagabonding. I have now reached Stroud, England, my current base for a few months. I am celebrating the possibility of staying put in one place for a while; it’s not easy to be moving around so much, and having more extended stays eases it. I am mourning that the things I thought would be waiting here for me are not in place, and that the first housing situation is challenging. I am celebrating that I have friends here who are already reaching out to offer support.
Recent Inspirations. This video had the most profound effect on me even though it’s entirely false and says so at the beginning. It is a very creative rendition of John Lennon’s “Imagine” song. During and after watching it, I cried, because imagining that what it depicts could be possible touched something deep in me. I hope you find meaning in it, too.
The Humility Corner. Before looking at the new discovery I have for this newsletter, I want to celebrate, first, that during the trip to the desert I got to have a lot of practice with sharing impacts (a challenge I wrote about in the last Humility Corner), and I sense that muscle has been exercised well, leaving me hopeful that I will be able to shift my internal dial and maintain it at a different threshold than before. On that same trip, I became much more aware of a surprising form of lack of transparency in one area of my interactions. It’s included in the blog post I wrote about the desert trip, and here I add more about the personal context and what I need to learn. With my automatic focus on integration and convergence when making decisions with others, I am not making visible the “togetherness engineering” that I do: neither the process of integration, nor my own needs that I am integrating with what I hear from others. In my internal explorations, I discovered and was able to tap into deep mourning about how much of that kind of knee-jerk hiding of my needs is based on very early mistrust. I was born into a world in mourning, as my father’s father died two days before I was born. In addition, my father adopted a conscious plan, a project designed to break my spirit. The result was that response to my needs was inaccurate and distracted at best, and actively undermining at worst. My body hasn’t registered deeply enough the possibility of receiving accurate care for my needs when I express them. I was able to bring significant tenderness to myself for the depth of mistrust I live with, even while seeing and mourning the ongoing impacts from not being able, as of now, to work my way through this mistrust to renewed and deepened capacity to expose this kind of vulnerability. It’s particularly humbling to grasp the depth of all this, having been on the path of vulnerability for twenty three years (of which for twenty it was my primary practice of nonviolence).
These celebrations, mournings and other happenings accompany my November newsletter, “When Things Fall Apart.”
Web of Support. The last period in my life has been so challenging that I have needed way more support than in general. Rather than acknowledging any one person, I want to express my awe at the general level of support that I am able to mobilize in my life. This covers many aspects of support: the logistics of transitioning into living from a suitcase and putting everything in storage; strategic advice every step of the way as things that had appeared clear and solid shift and I need to make new decisions while having reduced resilience and external options; and emotional and spiritual sustenance while navigating so much challenge at once. I am also celebrating my celebration buddies who hold me to this practice, challenge me to find sufficient celebrations even when things are hard, and keep me company by doing their own celebrations.
Writing. I am celebrating having a second writing retreat this year, and intend to plan at least three of them next year. The structure of having a few people mutually accountable to each other, and thus setting aside a block of time to focus on our work, has been immensely helpful for my process. On my own, it’s far harder for me to stay focused on writing rather than the endless backlog of people and projects waiting for my attention. During the eight days of the retreat, in various configurations of five women and in two locations, I was able to finish any number of small, pesky projects as well as finally begin in earnest to actually write my article now called “Is Nonviolent Use of Force an Oxymoron?” Although still unfinished, it’s now in total flow. Also, Lisa Rothman and I are inviting those who are interested to join us in the creation of our Making Decisions We Won’t Regret book. If you are interested, check out the invitation and apply to be part of the volunteer team in the forming.
Nonviolent Global Liberation (NGL). I have both celebrations and mournings related to NGL. I will start with the mourning. Leonie Smith, one of the original group of people who started NGL, decided to leave in the wake of ongoing challenges related to our respective understanding of and actions related to topics of power and privilege. The impacts on both of us and on others within the community are quite large, and various collective processes are underway to digest and integrate all that’s happened. I mourn that in one form or another all of us as individuals, and all organizations or communities I know of, continue to re-enact the very patriarchal ways of operating that we are aiming to transform in our work. It’s tragic beyond measure that this is happening within NGL, committed as we are to nonviolence, to engaging with and creating systems to transform the sticky issues of power and privilege, to collaboration, and to so much more. Part of my commitment to nonviolence includes continuing to celebrate even in the midst of such tragic moments.
I am, therefore, celebrating that we had our first ever NGL retreat in Spanish and in a global south setting. At the end of our time together in Mexico, about half of the 40 participants came together to create the Spanish-speaking LGN (NGL in Spanish) online forum which has already started operating. We had people from a number of Latin American countries as well as the US, Canada, and Europe. Our group included indigenous people, and their presence was the first opportunity that we’ve had for engagement between NGL content and indigenous cosmologies. We loved the result. We had formerly incarcerated people and those working with them. And we had a number of front line activists working in extreme conditions. The energy and focus were breathtaking, and the systems work went far and deep on this first ever retreat in Mexico. I already can’t wait for next year, when we do this again in Mexico. The first NGL East Coast retreat is underway as these words are being finalized. The number of NGL friends is growing even as we are still figuring out how to engage and support NGL friends most effectively (go to the website to find out more). The NGL retreat season for 2019 is ending. Stay tuned for 2020 NGL retreats: May 20-26 in Poland; some time in July in Asia (now likely in Bali!); and again in California (Aug 14-20), Mexico, and the East Coast. 2021 is likely to bring NGL, in addition, to France, Israel, and Spain, and possibly to be the first year in which NGL retreats will take place without me personally being in them.
Convergent Facilitation. I am still celebrating that Lisa Rothman and Aya Caspi are teaching the first online Convergent Facilitation course that is taught by someone other than me. I am also celebrating that we have made a final decision to self-publish the Convergent Facilitation book, and soon there will be a job description posted for someone who will do that, along with editing and production of everything I create.
Teaching in Cuba. In September, my sister Arnina and I were invited to Cuba to teach at the International School of Havana. I recently posted a piece about our visit to Cuba as a whole. Here I want to celebrate what Arnina and I did in our teaching. Specifically, in addition to three workshops for parents of the students, we worked with the students’ leadership program alongside some of the teachers to look at teacher-student collaboration. I am still in awe of the courage of both the students and the teachers to expose areas of vulnerability and to stretch to understand and inhabit the experience of the other in some challenging situations. Most amazing was a student stepping into the role of a teacher who was role-playing a situation with a student, so that a student was talking to another student as a teacher. Everyone noticed how much more is possible when everyone’s humanity is on the table. Our host and colleague Oscar Avila Ackenberg is continuing with the program and we are hoping to find ways of visiting the school again next year.
NGL and The Compass. When we were in Mexico, my sister Arnina and I co-led for the first time within the NGL context. We have known for some time now that there could be some extraordinary outcomes from bringing our two bodies of work together. With NGL Mexico happening and then with some NGL people going to Arnina’s first ever retreat in North America, we are calling together a group of people who have been drawn to both her work and mine to co-discover how the integration and synergy could enrich what we both do. We are already seeing the beginnings of the shape of this collaboration, which we both know will be done by our students, not us: bringing a trauma and healing aspect to NGL, as a pathway for those who want to join and for whom more healing is needed to be able to fully step into service; bringing the wisdom of the live systems we create into the retreats and yearlong programs that Arnina leads; and marrying the two in developing better capacity to attend to the ravages of oppression and colonialism in how they manifest in individuals and within groups. We are excited to embark on this journey and I anticipate keeping you posted as the group forms and matures.
Vagabonding. When I signed up for the unknown, I could not have predicted the opportunities and challenges that were going to come my way. That is the nature of releasing the illusion of control. It’s been a beautiful and immensely challenging time. As I am writing this section, I am in a beautiful house generously offered by a friend of a friend to do some writing in, on a small lake with East Coast peak foliage beauty right there.In the moment, I know less than I thought I knew two months ago: I no longer know where I will land in the UK, nor even fully with whom; a visit to Rojava seems wrenchingly unlikely given the calamities that Turkey is now inflicting on Rojava with active hands-off support from the US (which just recently was supporting Rojava); and more instability in other areas than I had anticipated. These are hard times for me. I am nourished by the clarity of the call I continue to get from life to stay on this path and by the immense web of love, support, and faith in me that surrounds me. My days now attest to how much more support we need the further we move away from trodden paths.
Recent Inspirations. A few months ago, a poem from the Nahuatl people in Nicaragua was shared with me. It’s now finally translated into English, and I am happy to share this simple Dialogue with Nature that so gracefully challenges everything that Western civilization has aimed for and valued. • As the incremental collapse creeps around the globe, these musings on money that expires may provide creative outlets. • As Rojava is facing growing attacks from Turkey, this call from Italian women warms my heart in the face of one more impending tragedy. • South Korea pioneers ingenious solutions to dramatically reduce food waste at the household level.
Climate. There is no update on the NGL proposal to XR, though there is slow and complex movement, as the difficulties in finding a path forward to decision within XR are, themselves, part of why we believe what we propose may support XR. • The Reckoning with Collapse calls are getting into gear and rhythm. For the first time ever, I have found a way to offer an ongoing forum primarily for mourning and finding pathways to action, with little else. As the days and weeks and months progress, more of us know that we need to find new ways of relating to self, other, and life such that the suicidal institutions we have created will be transformed and transcended. May we be supported along the way.
BayNVC Transitions. BayNVC’s transitions continue to unfold. As of this month, Leonie Smith is no longer working at BayNVC, after more than two years holding a key leadership role in the organization’s programming. I mourn deeply that we didn’t find a way to hold the ending together, which leaves much more to be tended to now for all involved. Leonie’s clear voice and especially her perspective on and commitment to do what it takes to create access for marginalized groups will be sorely missed.
The Humility Corner. In this last period, as the confluence of situations that I have been facing continues to unfold, I am learning about the more difficult ramifications of one aspect of my practice of nonviolence: the willingness to absorb impacts. While I continue to maintain that the willingness to absorb impacts disproportionately is vital to the practice of nonviolence, I am discovering and struggling to integrate two pieces that, when not consciously engaged with, can lead to opposite results from those intended. One is that absorbing impacts beyond what is absolutely necessary has the systemic ramification of depriving the larger community of information about how to best function. As a simple example, if we collectively don’t know that a certain course of action is detrimental to someone, we may continue to engage in that path at cost to someone, and thus not learn, through integration, how to function more effectively. The other piece of learning is that within a patriarchal context it’s challenging to know where to put the line in terms of how much absorbing is necessary. In my case, for example, the principled commitment to nonviolence is overlaid on top of a personal core belief that there is no room within others to contain and hold impacts on me. This belief is only marginally clear to me as belief rather than reality, and is rarely a conscious choice. Thus, my discernment – an essential component of nonviolence – is impaired, and I over-absorb. This means, then, that I both become less resilient in certain situations, and that the web of relationships I am part of is not informed of critical information that the impacts on me point to. I am only beginning to have capacity to look at and make choices about this pattern.
These celebrations, mournings and other happenings accompany my September newsletter, “Transitions.”
Web of Support. I want to acknowledge here Erin Mychele Selover, who joined the NGL California retreat team in support of me at a time of significant challenges within the team. I invited her into this role intuitively, based on my experience of her as a participant last year, and on interactions we’ve had since. I couldn’t have chosen better. Erin supported me, and the entire team too, to walk through a very complex situation we were facing within the team, with love for all. In particular, Erin offered me a mirroring of myself and what I was trying to do and how I was trying to be that I’ve never received in my entire life. She gave me a piece of me back to me, in exactly the spots that were challenged by my father and most adults in positions of authority throughout my childhood. I am changed and strengthened in the process.
Writing. I am celebrating that three pieces of mine that, for different reasons, were languishing for long periods of time after being submitted, have been accepted for publication. The first is an article about feminist leadership that is now part of a UNICEF e-book, which you can find here (though it takes some persistence to find the way to enter the e-book and find the specific article). The second is an article that describes the way the gift economy works within NGL; how resources flow there, including into the writing of the article itself. You can find this one here. The last one, which is likely to still take months before it’s published, is also about the gift economy. I rejoice in growing opportunities in this field that is so dear to me these days. I am also celebrating that I finally decided to let go of trying to find existing publishers for my books. Until and unless a publisher actually seeks me out (or I change my mind about this for some other reason), I plan to publish all my upcoming books through Fearless Heart Publications, our own imprint. The first is the one that many have been waiting for: the book on Convergent Facilitation, which has been fully written and on hold for two years during which I was shopping for a publisher. In the coming weeks I begin a search for someone who can take on the task of publishing it. Meanwhile, Lisa Rothman and I have begun writing the book we plan to co-author: Making Decisions We Won’t Regret: Creating a World that Works for All One Decision at a Time.
Nonviolent Global Liberation (NGL). The biggest NGL news is that the path is now open for anyone who wants to join NGL. If you go to the website, you will see that you can sign up as an NGL Friend and participate in our coaching calls, and soon also in our meetings, which can also be a pathway to further participation and membership. The NGL retreat in CA finished on Aug 21 with 60+ participants from multiple states and a handful of people from other countries. I was in awe of how much more robust the systems that supported the retreat were, resting on a deep collaboration between the online NGL team that cares for all retreats, the team point people from the Poland retreat, and those who stepped into these roles in CA. In the picture you can see some of the results: a poster from the Power and Access team showing the process of attending to incidents and the links with other systems supporting the transient retreat community. Now the point people from the CA retreats are turning their attention to pass along what they learned from their roles to those who are taking on these roles in Mexico. This is what it means to be tied through a global community rather than only specific locations. Upcoming NGL retreats are in Mexico, in Spanish, Sep 15-21, on the East Coast, Oct 30-Nov 5. Stay tuned for 2020 NGL retreats: May 20-26 in Poland; some time in July in Thailand!; and again in CA, Mexico, and the East Coast. 2021 is likely to bring NGL, in addition, to France, Israel, and Spain, and possibly to be the first year in which NGL retreats will take place without me personally being in them.
Convergent Facilitation. I am celebrating that the first online Convergent Facilitation course taught by someone else is coming up this November, taught by none other than Lisa Rothman, the colleague who collaborated with me to create the curriculum, and Aya Caspi, who brings to this work a depth of love, understanding, and nonviolent presence that complement Lisa’s focus on the content. Don’t pass it up in the hope that I will teach it again. I have no plans for that, as life calls me elsewhere. If you are hesitating, you can attend the first class for free, and I believe you will see for yourself that Lisa has the capacity to entertain while sharing Convergent Facilitation from an embodied place of her own practice (including with her children!), aided by Aya’s precision in pulling out what is of the essence moment by moment. Also celebrating that Convergent Facilitation is built into a massive participatory action research project on child labor that has been funded and approved starting some time next year, and some colleagues and I are planning to go to India to teach local leaders how to use Convergent Facilitation as part of their leadership capacity building for this project.
Free Calls. With not having any stable home for the foreseeable future, and with increased mobilization for a number of projects, I am creating some shifts within the structure of the free calls. First, adding the “Reckoning with Collapse” call as of July, I now have more monthly calls of various sorts than I can manage. I am now retiring the Fearless Heart Teleseminar calls, the last one of which is scheduled for Oct 7, 5:30 – 7:00 pm Pacific Time. These calls have been going on since 2014. There is always wistfulness and surrender whenever anything comes to an end. I sincerely hope that some of the other calls will be supportive enough, though I know that nothing can truly be a replacement for anything else. In addition, as NGL is now open for people to join as NGL Friends, you may want to explore the website and see if it feels like a fit. If it does, participating in NGL gives you access to zoom-based coaching calls where people ask questions and I and others coach them on how to apply the NGL framework – which all my calls are steeped in – to this or that situation in their lives.
Vagabonding. Before the last newsletter went out in July, I fell and broke my arm. This has made the experience of living in a temporary and unfamiliar place here at Canticle Farm even more challenging than before.
I was unable to drive for many weeks, depending on community members and friends for transportation and much else, especially in the initial period of healing. I am so grateful for all the support, and that my arm is almost entirely healed now. Meanwhile my clarity about what comes after my East Coast trip in October is expanding. In mid-November, I’ll go to a remote desert location for spiritual reset. And in the second half of December, I am preparing to cross the Atlantic through the end of June, mostly being with my new community of shared risk there. During this time, and mostly together with them, I plan to be in the UK, Israel, Palestine, Italy, and Rojava. This is a very long trip, no longer feeling like a trip; more like a temporary relocation. From there I have plans to go to Asia for a month before coming again to the Bay Area in August 2020 (assuming life as we know it and I still exist). It is with joy and trepidation that I contemplate all this. More will no doubt arise in the coming months.
Shared Risk Communities. My first shared-risk community has been moving into greater bonding and commitment. Our first specific form of sharing resources, before moving in together, is an agreement that none of us go hungry unless all of us are. Just like the NGL retreats, a team is in the process of forming within NGL online to be the link between future NGL communities, so that learning and other resources can flow as we continue to seed the future life we hope to see one day.
Recent Inspirations. For the first time in this, I am including a piece simply for beauty: a 12-minute underwater filming of a free diver in several spots around the world • An interview with Carl Rogers in which he talks about an army of facilitators (starting at 3’ 46”) • Thousands of Jews engaged in significant action, confronting the US government and corporations in solidarity with refugees and immigrants, on the day of commemoration of the destruction of the 2nd temple. • Cooperation Jackson, in Mississippi, is a project that demonstrates a solidarity economy in an economically depressed town, I was truly uplifted. • Brian Stout and John Powell are working on an ambitious project they call the politics of belonging, and Brian’s newsletter features much information I found inspiring about how change comes about. • I like it when people wrestle with the biggest questions about how to transform capitalism, and this piece about getting to post-capitalism, though I am unsure where I stand about its claims, really invited me to think hard.
Climate. During the period since the last newsletter, including when I couldn’t type and used an annoying and hilarious voice recognition software, NGL has submitted a major proposal to Extinction Rebellion, which is now in the process of internal advice and feedback to decide whether to move forward with our support or not. The project, if it comes to be, involves supporting the movement in its internal organizational function, and would entail building a large, global team to support them in those ways. Those of us involved with this proposal are sinking into the intensity of the stakes and our potential contribution at such a critical time. • Margaret Klein Salamon, founder of Climate Mobilization, writes about what she calls “emergency mode” and how to usefully enter it and inspire others to enter it as a response to climate crisis. • Meanwhile, I’ve had two of the new set of calls that I call Reckoning with Collapse. Neither has been easy. The first one was one day after my arm fracture, and we just did a go-around, with some dialogue between me and each person, about what brought each person to the call. The second one meandered too much for me. I am longing to find the way to create the conditions for us to deeply look, together, at what collapse means and what we are called to do in response. I hope to find that path, and it also doesn’t surprise me that we may be flailing for a while. Humanity has never faced this magnitude of challenge ever before on such a global scale.
BayNVC Transitions. As part of a complex process of transition that is still unfolding as of the last couple of months, we lost Stephanie Smith, as she has decided to leave the organization, much to my sorrow, as a result of the impact of the conflict we have all experienced during this transition. I have nothing but appreciation to Stephanie. For the too short period that she worked with us, she took upon herself the thankless tasks of administration. She did them with grace that often moved me, even to tears; with precision and meticulous attention to detail that never became rigid; with relational acumen that amazed me and made working with her an utter delight. I will miss her. Although we are grateful that Jeff Brown and Sheryl Faria, both of whom are already part of the BayNVC team, are stepping into larger roles to attend to the many tasks Stephanie managed, I also know she leaves a hole that cannot be filled.
The Humility Corner. Throughout my life, as far back as I remember, I have had a persistent aversion to making unilateral decisions; to anything that smacks of imposing my will on others. It doesn’t mean that I’ve never made a unilateral decision; I’m sure I have. It only means that I’ve many times backpedaled and avoided making them when I knew what was going on; that, for the longest time, any such decision I may have made was likely entirely unconscious. What I have been learning in the last long period, in a number of relationships and situations, is that continuing to engage in a situation for a long time without making a unilateral decision that might transform the situation, even if it’s extremely difficult to do so, or painful for others, is, itself, a form of imposition. In the last while I’ve begun to take embryonic steps in the direction of asserting what is true for me even when it may be uncomfortable for someone else. In one situation, I sought someone’s advice and, despite my deep respect for that person and the seriousness of the situation I was seeking advice about, I succeeded in going against the advice. In another, more complex example, part of the still-unfolding transition within BayNVC, I said to Stephanie that I wouldn’t be open to continuing to fund certain parts of her work from money that came from my work, because I didn’t experience sufficient alignment of purpose between us in relation to those parts of her work. Saying this to her, within the context of an already unfolding conflict that also included us, was exceedingly challenging. I can’t imagine I did it elegantly. I do imagine this exchange contributed to the unraveling that led to her eventual departure. And, still, in this moment both of us recognize it as a moment of transformation that, despite disagreements between us, is leading to more clarity of purpose for both of us. Painful exchanges, especially while stretching into new territory, appear to be necessary. I regret the impact on Stephanie and on me of the unskillfulness. And I celebrate our joint capacity to emerge from it with sufficient mutual care to settle into this change together.
These celebrations, mournings and other happenings accompany my July newsletter, “Moving towards meaningful action“.
Web of Support. I’ve mentioned my friend and colleague Lisa Rothman a number of times in previous newsletters, and it’s been six years since I named her in this section. Lisa’s support has been steady and steadfast, ranging across many areas including collaborating with me on projects, coaching me on work-related issues, and supporting me with personal challenges. She truly makes my life easier.
Writing. I am celebrating that my 5-week stay in Europe resulted in three travelogue piece posted on my blog. I enjoyed and felt a lot of ease in this kind of writing, which is basically about sharing with you, my readers, from the actual learning that happens through the living of this life. I am having warm thoughts about continuing to write from within my living, especially as my life continues to be an ongoing transition. I also made a huge decision this past month to focus on self-publishing and making my books available, at least electronically, on a gift economy basis. This means investing far less energy in the effort to secure publishers; an effort that has never yet been successful. Finally, a major celebration is that a chapter I wrote last year was finally published! This is in a volume engaging with Mary Parker Follett’s thinking and applying it to our current issues. Many of the chapters are rich and thoughtful and may be of interest to some of you.
Nonviolent Global Liberation (NGL). I’ve written an entire post in May about the NGL retreat in Poland. The short version: we so long for transformation, that we experimented too far in too many dimensions all at once. The results were challenging and exhilarating, and we are learning and integrating so much. I am particularly moved by the experience of freedom from scarcity that arose, spontaneously, when we sat at the end of the retreat and distributed the money that people gave towards our sustainability among the 18 people and organizations that had made requests. I really saw vividly how need calls forth generosity. I am changed. There is now a public website for NGL! We still have technical challenges in making it possible for what we call NGL Friends to have access to our calls and meetings, which we hope to be able to do soon. For now, it is still true that the only reliable way to engage with NGL is to attend one of our retreats. They keep getting more and more aligned with our passions. The one in Poland filled up about three weeks before it started, and I anticipate the same happening in California, Aug 15-21, so don’t wait if you want to be there. It will be the first NGL retreat with tracks, and we have five of them, though of course you are welcome to move around between them: Purpose, Leadership and Facilitation, Power and Privilege, Systems, and Projects. Registration is also open for the one in Mexico, in Spanish, Sep 15-21, and the East Coast, Oct 30-Nov 5 (a few days later than earlier announced). Stay tuned for 2020 NGL retreats, including a new one in Thailand in July!!! Meanwhile, here’s the description, which is likely to continue to change and unfold as we ongoingly integrate feedback from earlier retreats.
Vagabonding. Since I left my home of thirteen years at the end of March, I’ve slept in fifteen different places in ten different countries. I think that’s my record in 63 years. And it’s far from over. It’s not been an easy ride. There have been days in which I was utterly miserable. And, through it all, I have felt fully aligned with the choice to live this way now. Also, for the first time in my life (since I was involuntarily in the Israeli army), I am now living, for the next few months, with housemates who are not family, life partners, or very close friends. I have avoided it all my life, because I long for intimacy in my close quarters. I am now temporarily at Canticle Farm before heading out to Mexico and Latin America in September, and then to the East Coast in October. After that, I am as yet uncertain about where I will be. Meanwhile, I am now part of a group with three other women who live in England and Scotland who are looking deeply at what it means to align our life choices, decisions, and resources with the intention to meet life together and participate in a shared purpose. We’ve been bonding more and more deeply as we engage in this exploration of shared risk and aiming to find a way to live together.
Recent Inspirations. Rivera Sun’s weekly Nonviolence News, which I mentioned signing up for last time, is a ray of light in very difficult times, especially the success stories. • Former student and NGL member Mary Goyer collected stories about the power of empathy, and they are now available in her book The Healing Power of Empathy. • I love learning new things about Gandhi, and this hour-long interview with Gandhi scholar Manu Samnotra captivated me for the whole time. It was about Gandhi’s approach to truth and to dialogue, especially his commitment to holding multiple perspectives, topics I didn’t know much about. I recommend it especially because the written work is likely only going to be of interest to academics.
Climate. In May, a group of us from NGL traveled together from the Poland NGL retreat all the way to Stroud in England. This trip was conceived last year at the CA NGL retreat, and morphed into being an intensive offering to XR communities in four countries. You can read about this in my last travelogue post. Throughout this trip, Paul Kahawatte, one of my close colleagues, kept bringing up a question that is now not leaving me. One version of it is simply: what is each of us planning to do in response to the mix of crises now bringing us to the brink of collapse? My own response has been to focus my activities ever more on responding to the growing likelihood of such collapse, and aiming to say “no” to what is neither a direct response (e.g. me working with XR) or once removed (e.g. saying “yes” to something that will leave me more prepared in specific direct ways to respond better to where we are). Also, starting yesterday, I am offering a new set of calls that I call Reckoning with Collapse. Meanwhile, if you want to understand what happened during Rebellion Week, this video from my friend Patrick Chalmers, former Reuters journalist gone revolutionary, can give you a glimpse.
Fracture. On July 5, I broke my arm. It’s a minor fracture that is on course to heal without any residue. Meanwhile it is a big hurdle logistically, providing an AFGO. (Please don’t write to me because typing is the action most impacted by this injury).
The Humility Corner. I have a decades-long painful enigma that got a surprising new light shed on it in this last period. In its rawest forms, when I am deep in the pain, the enigma engulfs me and shows up as some variant of this question: “I am fundamentally a decent person. I care, I aim to collaborate all the time. I always tell the truth. I honor my commitments. I learn from my mistakes. And so on… Why, then, is it that there is such a reaction to me from others, more often than to others?” Over the years, and with the help of many loving friends, I have chipped away at this sore spot and have some bits and pieces of understanding. This past period I learned one new thing in a conversation with two friends and a new person I had just met. That person, a Palestinian from Israel who lives in Tamera for many years and who loved talking Hebrew with me, suggested to me that it may be the energy with which the words are said, not so much the words themselves. Once I grasped what she was saying, I was able to create a new practice for myself. From now on, whenever I am aware that I am about to say something that may be hard to hear (and I am not always, sadly), I want to remember to check in to see if I am relaxed. If I am, I trust there will be enough care in the saying of it. If I am not relaxed, then I cannot trust myself about that, and likely would express the care best by speaking, first, about the tension, and only say the potentially difficult message once I am connected with the person in mutual trust and togetherness about that moment. I have excitement and curiosity about this new practice, and I hope to have something to say about it in future editions of this newsletter.
These celebrations, mournings and other happenings accompany my May newsletter, “Against All Odds: Vignettes from Israel and Palestine“.
Web of Support. This last period being challenging has made the vital role of my daily support network even clearer. For those who don’t know (I have written about it in the past), I have five dear friends with whom I am in daily contact. Wherever I am, I end the day with an email to “my dailies,” as I affectionately call them. Here’s what one of them said to me recently that captures their role so beautifully: “I was just struck by something in reading this and your other recent emails…that you are in contact with so many different people all the time, in different places, connected to various organizations…and somehow this little group that witnesses you, while very simple, is perhaps the only thread that runs through everything (besides yourself, of course.)”
Writing. This has been a period of transition and challenge, and writing is generally the first to suffer. When I embarked on the huge transition that is unfolding in my life, I knew that March would be a total loss to writing. Somehow, though, I had managed to imagine a peaceful time here in Israel during which I would be free of some of the usual hassles of living, and had a long list of writing projects I had imagined I would attend to. Alas, this is not the case. I am mourning the gap between my burning passion for so much that is in my mind or in notes that I want to write, and my available energy for doing it. I am celebrating that I did get to write at all. I am chipping away at a project of creating an extended packet for the Core Nonviolence Commitments, with a page per commitment that describes it fully and provides a practice. And I adapted my list of all the books I am in process of writing (11 of them!) to be able to present to a potentially interested publisher. While I believe the chances are small, I love the ongoing unfolding of clarity about these projects.
Nonviolent Global Liberation (NGL). What comes to mind to celebrate about NGL this time is continual evolution and clarity about what it truly takes to run it in the collaborative manner that we also want to bring to the world. Within this, I want in particular to focus on two bits that I am involved with. One is simply how much of the design and implementation of things within NGL I am out of the loop about and is entirely run by other people and teams. From time to time, like everyone else, and depending on the teams I am part of, I am asked for feedback about things, and, for the most part, I only find out about things when others do. This is a joy, because I also have such deep trust in the quality of what unfolds. The other celebration is the work that is unfolding in the team I am most active on: Resource Allocation. We are taking apart, one small decision at a time, the entire invisible structure that holds together the world as we know it. We are rigorous and dogged in our commitment to find one more and one more and one more way, over time and not all at once, to uncouple giving from receiving as part of restoring life’s flow of resources within this community. It’s still true that the only reliable way to engage with NGL is to attend one of our retreats. The one in Poland filled up about three weeks before it started, and there are over 30 people already signed up for the one in California, Aug 15-21, so don’t wait if you want to be there. Registration is now open for the one in Mexico, in Spanish, Sep 15-21, and the East Coast one is confirmed for Oct 25-30. Stay tuned!!! Meanwhile, here’s the description for NGL, which doesn’t capture all that is exciting about it for me. The public website for NGL is almost ready, at which point you will finally have a way to be involved from your home, too.
Leadership Coaching Course. Year three of this course started Feb 1st. The NVC Academy people and I are clear this is a home base for my work, the more direct entry for all I do and hold for people anywhere in the world who want an ongoing way to be part of a quasi-community. There is now total flow and comfort for me, no effort. The medium is a total fit for who I am, how I operate, and what I have to offer. The idea that enough people, and a growing number this year, actually want what I am offering there is still bewildering to the memories of being an ostracized girl in school. It’s a lab of sorts where discoveries happen every week. We have some people there from Extinction Rebellion, the group I’ve been supporting for some months now. And the framework of leadership is seeping slowly into a growing group of people who are applying it in more and more contexts. If you haven’t signed up for the course, there’s no reason to feel regret. You can still do that! The course remains open for the entire year and beyond, and anyone who registers gains access to all the recordings. I hope you will consider joining us!
First Retreat in Israel. A few months ago I was contacted by Sharon Carmel from Israel, who wanted to find ways to connect with my work. I didn’t know her. And I tend to follow my intuition, which was to ask her to organize this year’s event in Israel. Some months and many miracles later, about 70 people gathered for a 3-day intensive retreat in April. The group was intense, vibrant, challenging, deep, hungry, receptive, and creative. Many if not most of them are actively working to create social or cultural change. It was a major workout and serious joy to work with them. Their questions took us deeper and deeper into explorations that rarely happen with people who just come for the first time to an event like this. It was especially precious to engage with them in the gift economy process about the money , since about half of them live in communal settings where some version of a gift economy is part of their ongoing unfolding. Six of them are scheduled to come to the NGL retreat in Poland, along with six of the Palestinian women I’ve been working with. If dreams can come true, there is every reason to believe that next April there will be an NGL retreat in Israel, with a local team holding it, including in Arabic.
Israel, Elections, and Palestine. April 9th was Election Day in Israel, and the first time since 1981 that I was in Israel during elections. There is no absentee voting in Israel, and thus I had been spared the wrenching choice about what to vote for in a country whose politics I completely object to. Not this time. I talked with the few friends I have whose political leanings make sense to me. One of them suggested I ask my Palestinian friends what to vote for, as if I am voting on their behalf, since they don’t have voting rights for a government that rules so many aspects of their daily living. I found no inspiration there, only discouragement about the situation, and some surprising reasoning about the election, including someone who suggested voting for the right wing government only to speed up the disintegration he hopes for as the reality of the situation hits home. In the process I came to learn about Tamer Nafar, the first Palestinian rapper, and his short video struggling with whether or not to vote, as many Palestinian citizens of Israel chose to boycott the elections. The video is short and fast, showing him as having a boxing match with himself about the topic. He came out strongly on the side of voting. In the end I split my vote with Arnina, each of us voting for one of the options that remained in the desolate landscape of Israeli politics. She voted for the remaining semblance of an Israeli left, and I voted for an Arab party with which I don’t identify politically. Both were in support of them getting into the Parliament at all, as both the left and the Arab presence are diminishing rapidly. So much for “democracy” in a country ruling more and more people without access to decision-making of any kind. If you want a short and painful history of the region, I recommend two movies. One is called 5 Broken Cameras, and is very current, about the struggle of one Palestinian village that keeps demonstrating against the separation wall, filmed by one of the residents over several years. The other is called Junction 48, and it may be available on Netflix. It features Tamer Nafar in a semi-autobiographical feature film that shows one slice of the complexities facing Palestinians within Israel, bringing into focus the unfolding of events in 1948 that most Israelis don’t really know anything about from a Palestinian perspective. For more on that period, you can find rarely available information in an article by Alon Confino about a Jewish couple, Holocaust survivors, who, in 1949, refused to move into the house of expelled Arabs in Jaffa. The article also exposes the mass looting that happened at that time, which was a first exposure for me and left me struggling to breathe and grasp this aspect of the early history of Israel. So much beauty in all these documents. So much human dignity. So much to mourn.
Podcasts. In the last few months I had several interviews for podcasts. I see that I enjoy this format, and curious what is next in this medium. One is a conversation with Daniel Thorson on personal and social transformation, on the Emerge podcast. The other is a conversation with Erik Torenberg mostly on the gift economy and its feasibility and merits, on the Venture Stories podcast. I hope you enjoy listening as much as I enjoyed these interviews. You can also find more video and audio with me here.
Vagabonding. Until I am in one place that is home again, I plan to share from time to time about my vagabonding adventures. This time, I want to share just about the last few weeks before I became officially without a home. The first part is an unexpected miracle. For most of March, before leaving, three friends and colleagues converged within my then house, a not-at-all-big place, forming a transient and intensive community of four for those weeks. I didn’t know that we would share a paradise together. There was laughter and joy, food sharing as a tag team, simple mobilization of generosity and capacity in response to need, among all of us, and support flowing around when one or the other of us ran into some crisis. There was also some conflict, even serious conflict, and we found ways to be with it and navigate it. The felt sense of living so many days in total community, in a small house never designed for 4 people to live in it, in growing chaos as I was dismantling the house, with multiple outer and inner stressors, may very well be impossible to impart. I know I am changed by having been part of this experience, in a direction of more faith and ease. The experience culminated in a big party (see photo) and with a “free shop” of all the things I was happy to discard. I left, and then they and others finished the packing and storing of all my things.
Recent Inspirations. Kit Miller from the Gandhi Institute for Nonviolence writes, in The Choices We Make, about how we can choose to release bitterness about adversity. • Bell Hooks, one of my ongoing inspirations, writes about what it means to be a Boddhisatva in this world (you will need to scroll to find her contribution, as it’s the last in this collection of short pieces by several writers). She also shows up in another article about the innovative work some incarcerated people are doing in a prison. • Talk of Universal Basic Income, and now its younger sibling, Universal Basic Services, is slowly gaining momentum, and here’s an article about the first country in the world to offer free public transporation – Luxembourg! • A library in British Columbia in Canada is changing the way it catalogs books as they realized the that “conventional” Dewey Decimal System is steeped within the Western, colonial bias, and, specifically, relegates Indigenous people to the past, in the “history” section. They are redoing it using indigenous, relationship- and place-based methods. • And I just discovered a treasure trove: Rivera Sun, nonviolence activist and author of The Dandelion Insurrection, sends out a weekly newsletter with much of what happens in nonviolence around the world.
Climate. With this newsletter, and all that’s happening, I want to include something about the climate situation and the responses to it each time. As more and more people and groups begin to recognize the immensity of the catastrophe that is already unfolding, I find solace in the depth, love, and courage of the responses. Catherine Ingram writes about the process of Facing Extinction from a Buddhist perspective, inviting us to look at where we are and reorient our lives with this reality. Another Buddhist group, the Green Mountain Sangha in Vermont, is declaring a climate emergency, and inviting all of us to come out of the trance and begin to take action where we can. I am not surprised that Buddhists are involved given the permanent invitation to look truth in the eye that is how I see meditation at its core. Last but not least, I am so amazed by the creativity and agility of Extinction Rebellion, the UK-based group that’s been spreading across the globe and staged a massive action in London, disrupting life as we know it for the purpose of engaging the government and the public in speaking truth, facing truth, and taking action. You can read about what they have done and what their basic three demands are here. To conclude, here’s a quote from George Monbiot, a Guardian writer: “Do we stop life to allow capitalism to continue, or stop capitalism to allow life to continue?”
The Humility Corner. A few weeks ago I took a walk with my friend Lisa Rothman, to whom I often turn for advice on thorny issues. The conversation turned difficult quite quickly when she had significant feedback to give me about what I was imagining doing in the situation I brought to her. Startled by this, we both turned our attention from the issue itself to what was happening in the conversation. I learned this about myself: there are times, and that walk was one of them, where I ask for someone’s opinion when in reality, without knowing it, I am just assuming they will agree and can get tense if they don’t. It isn’t conscious, of course, and if asked, I am sure I would reframe myself. It’s not even exactly that I want the other person to agree with me; it’s that I assume it and I don’t know how to recover from the shock I experience when they don’t. For someone committed to collaboration, to learning from feedback, to curiosity and compassion, and to rigorous self-learning, this was utterly surprising. It has since happened once more at least with someone else about another situation. I am seeing how challenging it is, in some situations, to release any attachment, and to come into a conversation truly ready to learn.
These celebrations, mournings and other happenings accompany my March newsletter, “Living in the Flow“.
Web of Support. This time I want to celebrate the totality of the BayNVC staff. For the first time in I don’t know how long, we have, between us, sufficient know-how, care, and capacity to hold together the amoeba of more-than-humanly-possible projects, events, actions, and passion for contribution that we keep generating. Two principles that particularly support us are the commitment to learning rather than blame and separation when we discover the inevitable mistakes and imperfections. The other is that while we each have specific roles, there is an ongoing flow of who does what when someone isn’t able or even truly willing to do something. I am in awe.
Family challenge. By the time I left Israel at the end of January, my mission had actually been accomplished. I left in place a stable care system for my mother and a dramatically better organized apartment with far fewer things in it than before. There is still an ongoing avalanche of new challenges, since my mother’s condition includes permanent risk of falling again, and the bureaucratic maze continues. And I am relieved to see that, weeks after I left, some stability is still in place. I am also celebrating the total sense of togetherness with my sister in holding this extremely difficult situation, and the conscious commitment to upholding the dignity of our mother even as her capacity declines and despite how little actual connection I experience with her.
Gift Economy Conference. While immersed in the work with my mother in Israel, I received an invitation to present on the gift economy at a conference in Colombia. It wasn’t an easy decision to add one more unexpected trip in a year where I was so committed to reducing travel. Having made it, I wrote and presented about the NGL community as an example of experimenting deeply with the gift economy, which was well received. The biggest highlight of the trip was encountering a community, partially based on gift economy, of 80 female-headed households, in houses they themselves built, climbing out of incredibly difficult conditions, and exhibiting strength and self-reliance, individually and collectively, within a society that deeply curtails the lives of women. I hope to write about the community itself in a future blog post.
Working with the Unit for Finding the Desaparecidos in Colombia. While in Colombia, I arrived a day earlier and was with former students Camila Reyes and Angie Aguileras meeting with a large group of about 30 people from different levels of this ambitiously constructed unit aiming to care for the needs of families who have lost people during the many years of civil war (which continues, despite a partial peace accord out of which this unit arose). Despite cultural differences, despite intense pressures and an admittedly hierarchical structure, I was struck by the very similar human longings I encountered there: for meaningful work with sufficient autonomy to carry it out; for relationships of trust regardless and through differences of power; for effectiveness, both individually and collectively, in carrying out their very painful and complicated mission. The focus on systems was, as almost always, new to them, and they took to it with eagerness. Now a team will continue with this work, and, in parallel, Camila and Angie will do some intensive training with them to complement the systems perspective with concrete capacities and practices to make the systems work well.
Writing. In the period since I sent the last newsletter, I’ve written a piece about systems and collaboration for a new book that Extinction Rebellion is putting together through Penguin. The Tikkun review of David Graeber’s Bullshit Jobs is now published. And, most significantly, I am done with the full design of the packets project, and the first six of them are available to the public on a gift economy basis here. Given my unexpected trip to Israel, my writing took something of a back seat. Still, I now have a clear order for all the remaining books I wish to write and active support with the first one, which I anticipate co-authoring with Lisa Rothman.
Nonviolent Global Liberation (NGL). What comes to mind to celebrate about NGL this time is the coming together of people in support of sprints of action. One week before it was due, we learned of an award that seemed like a perfect fit for the Global Governance work that I submitted with a group of people in Sep 2017. In no time people from within NGL stepped up to take on chunks of work to make the submission ready, resulting in a strong letter with five signatories (four more than was required). Similarly, when I accepted the invitation to present at a conference in Colombia about the gift economy, several people stepped up to offer examples of how the gift economy works within NGL, and others accepted the challenge of translating the paper into Spanish. It’s still true that the only reliable way to engage with NGL is to attend one of our retreats. Registrations are coming in for the two upcoming ones that are already posted: May 9-15 in Poland, and Aug 15-21 in CA. Send yours in, as I still believe they will fill up. Also added this year: one in Spanish, Sep 15-21 in Mexico, and one on the East Coast which is crystallizing on Oct 25-30. Stay tuned for that one!!! Meanwhile, here’s the description of NGL, which doesn’t capture all that is exciting about it for me.
Leadership Coaching Course. Year three of this course started Feb 1st. I am wistful about the people I so connected with who didn’t come back, and excited about what’s already emerging in this new group. Several people from Extinction Rebellion have joined through a generous willingness on the part of NVC Academy. Right from the start, I am sensing a longing for capacity to engage powerfully in our lives and beyond that is touching me deeply. This year someone has stepped forward to take notes and post them, and others are contributing here and there, too. Once again, coming together produces more than anyone can alone. The course remains open for the entire year and beyond, and anyone who registers gains access to all the recordings. I hope you will consider joining us!
US Nonviolent Activism. The network of nonviolent activists that I visited in December is now working hard to create its DNA. In early February I was with them for several hours grappling with deep questions about who they are and why they are choosing the focus they are choosing. This group is aiming to nurture teams of activists around the US with a dual focus on climate change and racial healing, a rare combination in the US landscape. I was uplifted and moved by the degree of commitment to ask and engage with difficult questions. Doing this work with them is a rich experience for me of being well used. I look forward to continuing to engage with this group and others like them.
Recent Inspirations. An article in The Atlantic, “The New Authoritarians Are Waging War on Women,” was painful and useful to read, giving voice and clarity to my sense of growing difficulties for women and more pronounced disdain for feminism. Thanks to a participant in my calls, I learned of the visionary work of a group that is aiming to create and ultimately jump-start a needs- and resources-based economy worldwide. I have connected with them and anticipate more connection unfolding over time. Check it out here.
Ending a Project. After many months of working with a company in India, I finally decided to exit that engagement. It wasn’t an easy decision to make. There was a relationship that developed over time. There was clearly learning and benefit to the people I was working with. And there was learning for me about how to engage across so many dimensions of difference. Still, when I look deeply at what my purpose is and what their purpose is, the alignment is not sufficient to put into this project the hours and effort that it took. Initially it seemed like we would have much more alignment and a far larger scope of the project, which is why I said yes then, a year ago. Walking my way towards this clarity, and then, together with the founder of that company, towards the decision, were both challenging and ultimately rewarding. I am particularly celebrating that the clarity became mutual instead of unilaterally ending a relationship of significant meaning.
Exciting Plans. I want to share a few more coming plans. In April, I am doing a 3-day retreat, for the first time, in Israel, in Hebrew. The organizer, Sharon Carmel, previously unknown to me, is someone I have come to admire and trust immensely. This is likely to be the first time that I will have a group of social activists with me to learn about nonviolent social change. And, in the UK at the end of May, I’ll be leading another 3-day retreat, with a group of activists who came together to host, inviting people from the Labour Party, the Green Party, and others in positions of influence. Between this and my involvement with Extinction Rebellion in the UK, that place is turning into a major engagement. In September, my sister Arnina and I are scheduled to go to Cuba, both to lead events and to connect with people there for mutual learning. Lastly, towards the end of the year, I am scheduled to return to India to facilitate processes and engage in some training for a massive project in the area of child labor. Wow all around.
The Humility Corner. A couple of years ago I wrote about the ongoing phenomenon of people ending friendships with me. Writing that piece hasn’t ended this experience in my life. Since then, it’s been three more times, two of which are temporary breaks. In the recent past, in the wake of the last two, the intensity of this ongoing experience of loss has tipped into something that more acutely feels like trauma that is affecting how I show up, a kind of protective layer that I am, once again, wearing. It’s subtle, and co-exists with the vast flow I am immersed in. There is so much pleasure in my life, such awe and a sense of mysterious blessing. I feel so profoundly supported and loved. And, still, the trauma of losses and the enigma of why they happen continue to press on my heart and soul. Yes, I could, and trust I will, mourn ever more. And life can open up just from that. And, in parallel, I am setting up conversations within an ongoing active exploration to see what I can learn. It’s clear to me that part of what’s happening has to do with people not telling me when things I do bother them, and then reaching a cumulative point of where it’s unbearable to them to continue to relate to me. My current question within this is simple and potent: am I really as accessible as I believe myself to be to feedback about what I do? is there more I can do to create the conditions that would allow the flow of feedback and learning to be integral to relationships I am part of? And is this the main lesson, or is there more I can do to flow with people in relationships that sustain both of us?
These celebrations, mournings and other happenings accompany my January newsletter, “Do you have enough support to live as you want?“
Web of Support. You’ve been hearing about NGL for a long time, and it’s still going to be some time before we figure out how to open it more to people who are likely to want to be part of it. Meanwhile, we have a group of 60 or more people who are already members, many of whom participate in the design and maintenance team (about 15 different teams comprise this group, caring for everything NGL). And, to the point of this celebration: NGL is, among everything else that it is, a group of people who are dedicated to creating a kind of way of being with each other, of which asking for what you need and offering yourself based on willingness, nothing else, are the norm. Several times now I (and others) have reached out to this community to ask for support, and then, miraculously, someone steps up and does it. It’s such a boost to my faith in humanity, and most specifically that when we apply the principle of willingness, there will often be someone willing to do things, even while we still live in this world, with its exchange, rather than gift and flow, paradigm.
Writing. In the period since I sent the last newsletter, I started writing an article about use of force within the paradigm of nonviolence that I’ve wanted to write for years; I finished the commitments project, and it’s now posted, with some translations of the new version included to multiple languages; I wrote a book review for Tikkun about the book Bullshit Jobs; and two articles of mine were accepted for publication: one on feminist leadership and one a version of a blog post about privilege. I also have been doing work in creating packets of materials with everything that my late sister Inbal and I created over many years of collaboration, materials that have supported and inspired many generations of participants in the BayNVC Leadership Program, and which I anticipate being available in the coming weeks or months. I am especially celebrating writing being entirely integrated into the fabric of my life.
Family challenge. Unexpectedly, as you receive this newsletter, I am in Israel with my family. My mother, whose 90th birthday is this coming March, fell and broke her ankle. What was previously a challenging situation for my sister Arnina has become untenable, and I decided to join her in facing the mountain of bureaucratic mazes that awaits anyone who needs constant care and is not flush with money. My hope is to be able to reduce the burden on Arnina and miraculously contribute to some stability before returning home by the end of the month.
Nonviolent Global Liberation (NGL). NGL continues to unfold in its own emergent way, entirely scoffing at the idea of being “planned” or “designed” to be anything other than what it, we, all of us, are discovering and putting into form through the interdependent web of mutual influencing of all of our decisions and movements. Sounds complicated? It’s called “life.” And I am more and more able to let go of even expecting to understand what’s going on. Any sense that it was ever “mine” to decide is long gone. One of the most challenging and exhilarating explorations is how to acknowledge and effectively engage what continues to be my unique role – as the one who gave birth to almost all the materials; the one who, still, formulates and frames much of what we are trying to make sense of as the “NGL framework” – without giving me special status or decision making power. In the last while, we are working out a way for many more people to be involved in NGL, and it’s likely to still take some months until that is fully in place. At present, the only reliable way to engage with NGL is still to attend one of our retreats. We currently have two scheduled: May 9-15 in Poland, and Aug 15-21 in CA. I have a strong sense that they will fill up, so if you want to be part of it, consider registering early. And two more are not yet ready to post and are becoming a reality. One in Mexico, in Spanish, Sep 15-21, and one on the East Coast towards the end of October. Stay tuned!!! Meanwhile, here’s the description, which doesn’t capture all that is exciting about it for me. And here are some statistics that give a sense of how it’s been going.
Leadership Coaching Course. The yearlong course I did at the NVC academy for the 2nd year in a row just ended Dec 7. Just like in the first year, a remarkable experience of community emerged that multiplied the effects of being in the course, since a community, with its web of connections, can carry more wisdom, more collaboration, and more capacity for risk, than an individual engaging with a teacher. It’s become a hub of sweetness and awe for me, too. It’s not just the satisfaction of “teaching” something meaningful. It’s also, in addition, a place where I, personally, am being received; where I experience companionship in holding the ravages of global neoliberalism; and where I feel free to be without any censoring of who I am. I hope you will consider joining us next year, starting again February 1st, as we strengthen our collective capacity to respond to the intensification of pressures in the world in a way that more and more embodies the alternative vision we have about how things could be and expands the field of what appears possible to others.
Extinction Rebellion. In the weeks since the last newsletter, I have had extensive interactions with some members of this UK-based-turned-global initiative, on the part of ordinary people, now in dozens of countries, to challenge the dominant narrative and to create enough collective power to create pathways for governments and corporations to shift course and save what can still be saved of life on earth. They are consciously working to mobilize 3.5% of the UK, and then of the global population, as Erica Chenoweth and Maria Stephan’s research indicates that this percentage, when organized well, is sufficient to create change as far-reaching as regime change. From exploratory initial conversations with some of the founders, my involvement has now turned into twice-monthly calls, open to all members, in support of aligning means with ends in terms of their internal organizational function. I am beyond ecstatic at the opportunity to offer principles and practices distilled over many years of work to people who might be able to support massive mobilization to turn around 10,000 years of patriarchy and restore our embeddedness within life, now consciously and with chosen care for all of life. I can still imagine this, though the window is closing rapidly.
It’s Not Just Me. My recent NVC Academy course about bringing a systemic lens to the work of healing took place during the week of Dec 17. Over 100 people signed up, and many of them were present for the calls to learn about how we can become more effective in our own liberation and that of others when they entrust themselves to us. We looked at patriarchy and shame; the crucial role of reclaiming interdependence in finding our wholeness, and how much this means learning to ask for support; and the ways that our different social locations affect us very differently and the relationships we have with our clients. The course is over, and yet you can still sign up to get the recordings and the links to readings.
US Nonviolent Activism. Last month, I also had the opportunity to work a little bit with a different group of activists in the US. Small and ambitious, these people, from around the US, are coming together with the explicit intention to participate, as their own emerging group with its own commitments, in a movement of movements they see forming, responding to both acute and long-term issues. Their own group combines a focus on climate change with a focus on racial healing, a rare combination in the US landscape. Along with Victor Lewis, my co-visionary friend and colleague, I engaged with them in the area of systems and feedback. The result has been so successful that we are now exploring how I can support them in integrating this approach to systems into what they call their “DNA.” And, to make things ever more exciting from my own personal perspective, they are now engaging with Extinction Rebellion to create mutual support. What a blessing to be right there with both these groups.
Awakin Calls. Last month, I was interviewed on Awakin Calls on the topic of Vulnerability, Shedding Excess, and Communicating Our Needs. I really enjoyed the interviewer, Birju Pandya. His questions kept bridging the gap between the individual and the systemic, just what I love to do. I so enjoyed the challenge of grounding everything in my own personal experiences, and I am grateful to have said yes to this opportunity. The call recording can be found here, along with notes, transcription, and comments from others.
Recent Inspirations. In November, Melissa, who has been coming to calls and classes for a couple of years now, sent me a photo of a sign she carried in a demonstration in Vancouver. I find it an ingenious and creative way to pack information into a few words that can be digested. Lots of people came up to her to talk about it at the demonstration where she carried the sign. Greta Thunberg’s speech at the Climate Summit in Poland is some of the most moving and effective 2 minutes of video I’ve ever seen. Ayishat Akanbi’s five minute video called “The Problem with Wokeness” has also been grounding and inspiring, demonstrating for me the possibility of bringing together compassion and active willingness to speak truth about a difficult topic. Emma Quayle from NGL addressed an Extinction Rebellion meeting in Scotland speaking of the challenge of non-separation. Another short video that speaks to much that I care about. Yet another video is from a fundraising campaign by the Mosuo people in China, one of the few remaining matricentric societies in the world. Just scroll within this link until you see the video embedded in the campaign. And, Vincent Harding addresses a conference and speaks of the future, painting a picture of a country that doesn’t yet exist.
California Fires and beyond. The last newsletter went out while California was still actively dealing with massive fires amidst ongoing statements from politicians that continue to insist on there being no connection between fires, hurricanes, and other weather crises and the larger climate crisis we are facing. My own attention focuses on the workers who continued to have to work in the open fields, exposed to smoke; on the central visibility of California fires when disasters of larger magnitude happen all around the world with little to no coverage in mainstream media in the US; on the millions of climate refugees already in the world who often don’t get accurately perceived; and on the fact that many of the firefighters were brown and black-skinned people working for $1 an hour at a job they cannot apply for when they are released from prison; and on how all the dots connect, as laid out in this interview with Gopal Dayaneni of Movement Generation. I long for more and more companionship in removing the veil that keeps us in the dark or semi-dark about the gravity of what’s happening in the world.
The Humility Corner. One of the deepest lessons that we have been deriving from the NGL experience so far is the importance of leaving a void as a necessary condition for things to shift. For as long as we continue to do things and to plug holes, there will be no reason, within the larger system in which an issue arises, for a different solution to emerge. This is extremely easy conceptually. And next to impossible in some instances to actually put into practice. I’ve written before, including one of my twitter messages, about my tendency to act as “Prozac” by propping up a system that is not functioning well, thereby preventing the dysfunction to become visible by not being attended to. Still, when I see something that needs attention – a person or group who ask for my support with something that’s clearly within my capacity and not widely available elsewhere, or a task, anywhere, that I can do quickly and thoroughly without any apparent someone else who could or will do it, it appears, superficially, so much easier and more efficient to just do it. I am learning, much more slowly than I would like, that any time I do find the willingness and capacity to allow something not to be fixed within the context of a community or larger system that I am part of, if and when someone else does step forward, the collective learning and forward movement is worth all the trouble and discomfort. May I find more of that willingness, and soon, as we move towards ever larger challenges.
These celebrations, mournings and other happenings accompany my November newsletter, “How relevant is nonviolence?“
- Web of Support. I am welcoming beyond gratitude the addition of Sheryl Faria to the web of people who support what I do. Sheryl has been compiling and sending the BayNVC bulletin for some years now, and I’ve loved all our interactions about it over those years. So when I identified that I wanted to find someone who could support me with managing the nitty gritty of my life, to free me up even further for the work that is coming my way, she came to mind. The result has been outstanding. Nothing appears to be too small or too big for Sheryl, and our communication is a joy. I look forward to how, over time, this will bring more and more ease to my life.
- Writing. I am no longer calling this section of the celebrations and mournings “Sabbatical” because writing now feels much more fully integrated, and my life doesn’t look anywhere like what a sabbatical would ever look like. I am a writer, and that is now an integral and significant part of my life. Between when the last newsletter went out and now, two major writing things happened. One is that I set aside a 4-day writing retreat for myself (with three other people there with me part of the time). During that time, I completely revamped the existing Core Commitments, doubled their number, and integrated feedback from many people along the way. I am now planning to complete writing up little pieces about each of the new ones, and likely create a little booklet from the whole thing that would become available for download. I am anticipating being done with this within a few months. The other writing celebration is that I received an idea from a friend for a new book and, within 90 minutes, came up with a table of contents. The title: “Making Decisions We Won’t Regret.” I haven’t written a word of it yet, and it’s already alive and buzzing within me. I anticipate getting to it next month.
- Nonviolent Global Liberation (NGL). NGL was initiated with the Advice Process as its fundamental decision making process. The Advice Process, first described publicly by Frederic Laloux in Reinventing Organizations, breaks free from the either/or of top-down vs. everyone-participates-in-all-decisions models that we have available. It offers a way to make decisions that emerge from autonomous initiative and integrate input and feedback from others in ways that don’t bog down movement. This process challenges our patriarchal training, and thus it took us, collectively, about a year to recognize that we defaulted to our coordinating group becoming a decision-making group. Since we realized and addressed this, much more flow is happening about decisions, and I am, once again, marveling at how astonishing this community has become and how much I love being part of it. Here’s the description, which doesn’t capture all that is exciting about it for me. And here are some statistics that give a sense of how it’s been going. At present, the only reliable way to engage with NGL is to attend one of our retreats. We currently have two scheduled: May 9-15 in Poland, and Aug 15-21 in CA. I have a strong sense that they will fill up, so if you want to be part of it, consider registering early.
- Empowering Palestinian Women. As some of you will recall, I’ve been working with a group of Palestinian women since last April. About 35 women came to a 4-day event last year near Bethlehem. You can read the statement of impact to get an initial idea of the scope of the work. Five of the women came to the NGL retreat in Poland (all of them want to come again!), and I continue to work with them every month from a distance. Their thirst for freedom, deep empowerment, learning, and contribution to their sisters is touching me each time we come together. This month the whole group is getting another workshop, this time from Arnina, my sister who lives in Israel. We are, of course, gifting our work to these courageous women whose lives are full of so much challenge (for example, one of the likely indirect impacts of the Israeli occupation is that 50% of Palestinian women under occupation in the West Bank experience domestic violence). We are not yet starting the full fundraising for next year’s workshop with me (5 days this time) and for sending another group to Poland. And, still, if you are moved to contribute, you can do so here by choosing “Palestinian Women training” as the designation.
iBme. Every once in a blue moon (which is actually not that infrequent, despite the connotation), a project comes along that is so aligned with what I want to bring to the world that it’s dripping delight. iBme conducts mindfulness retreats for teens around the US and a little beyond. I’ve been working with them on creating a collaborative organization for almost two years, and in October I facilitated a board/staff retreat for them where the staff presented to the board all the work they had done in creating collaborative structures and invited the board to join in with the commitment. It was an extraordinary opportunity to see how much they have internalized from what we have done together. You can see the values they have articulated through this work here. They have a fully explicit decision-making matrix that supports clarity and collaboration. They have feedback systems that are taking more and more root both in their office and at the retreats. And there is a passion and vivacity that the people who work there exude that is similar to children who have been respected their whole young lives, walking around with a sense of poise, dignity, and full agency, however young they are. I was moved to tears to see how far the investment has gone.
- East Coast Teaching. While I am gradually reducing my traveling around, and especially reducing one-off events without continuity and community, I still do them. In the weeks between the previous newsletter and this one, I taught in two contexts on the East Coast. One was the Rowe Center, where a group of 20 people focused over an intensive weekend on the deeply challenging question of how to work for transformation without recreating the past. The other was in Ithaca, where the Center for Transformative Action hosted a 2-day intensive workshop on the topic of Collaborating for a Shared Purpose. I was deeply touched to see people so hungry for capacity to match their commitment, and so willing to face reality and to deepen their understanding of how to move in the world in these troubled times.
- Costa Rica. No, I didn’t go again to Costa Rica. Thanks to the double-edged gifts of technology, I visited Christine Raine’s yearlong facilitation class and offered them a one-time 90-min session on money, patriarchy, and liberation – at their request! I was amazed to receive, afterwards, statements from those who participated and to see how much they opened up to the information I shared. Here’s the statement that most touched me, translated from Spanish: “I bring with me the clear message that while it’s not possible to change the world through the individual, world change needs to be initiated through an individual consciousness that unifies and reflects on the collective.” Amen.
- Twitter. Ever since Cleona started managing a Twitter account for me as a volunteer, she has been gradually increasing the visibility of the work I and others do here at The Fearless Heart and beyond. Just recently Cleona told me that there are now 1,000 followers. I continue to love the discipline of creating 140-character messages, which constraint (no longer enforced by Twitter, still by me…) allows very simple and condensed meaning to arise. Click here for the latest.
- Recent Inspirations. I’ve been slowly watching the 6-part documentary called Capitalism. It is an accessible introduction to the history and the functioning of the overarching system that’s been ruling our lives for the last couple of hundred years at least. For anyone who is not familiar with this story, this introduction is likely to work well. If you are aware of theongoing devastation that capitalism mostly is for all life except a minority of humans, this is a way to introduce others. I also want to call attention to a new mobilization called Extinction Rebellion. Based in the UK, theirs is a truly open-eyed attempt to mobilize millions rapidly to avert the worst of the catastrophes that are the impending consequence of rampant capitalism in the last while (60% of wildlife has disappeared since 1970, for example). They are already getting attention and staged a significant civil disobedience action in London on Nov 17. I am happy to be connected with some of the people involved and hope to share more in coming months.
- The Humility Corner. It’s super humbling to recognize that a core pattern I have is not shifting. Time and time again I keep bumping up against my limited capacity in recognizing other people’s limits, even when they mention them. Just recently I worked through a moment in which I persisted in coaching someone who clearly indicated to me that they were not ready to go further into what was painful for them. What’s keeping me from being able to take it in? This one is open, not neatly resolved and packaged, which is the whole point of having a humility corner: to expose and share what is raw and unfinished. One thing I have learned about this pattern is that I have two pieces, pulling in different directions, that I haven’t yet found a way to integrate. One is the obvious one about honoring a person’s autonomy and limit when they reach it, bringing tenderness (which I do have in spades, for all of us), and recognizing that all of us are sensitive and traumatized, even when it doesn’t fully show. The other is the one that’s clearly interfering, insisting that it be taken seriously, too. This one is about faith in people’s capacity and resilience, trusting people sometimes more than they trust themselves, holding vision and possibility, pulling and inviting the near-impossible, and so often managing in the process to support extraordinary stretching and transformation. Clearly, I don’t want to lose this second one for the first. So far I have compromised the first for the second. I am still searching for a path forward that honors both.
These celebrations, mournings and other happenings accompany my September newsletter, “What can happen in seven years?”
Web of Support. For a while now, I have been aware of a growing need for support around the unruly proliferation of materials I have created, many with my late sister Inbal. I am celebrating that, slowly and consistently, an organic team of folks is forming, committed to these materials being carried forward even when I am no longer here. Now that the Nonviolent Global Liberation community is beginning to function and to occupy its structure, there is a clear home for holding this effort. Emma Quayle, who I secretly believe has unlimited energy, has offered to coordinate these efforts and support me and us in organizing and indexing everything. I imagine this will be many moons in the making, and I am already grateful beyond measure. Dave Young and Christina Honde have been slowly chipping away at transcribing some of my public calls, and I anticipate others will join. WOW.
Sabbatical. Despite intense travel this year, I am still managing to do a significant amount of creative work in addition to my blog. My sister Arnina and I have written an article on nonpatriarchal parenting for Tikkun. I wrote a piece for the “Blogging Carnival for Nonviolence 2018.” I came up with a number of twitter messages that Cleona has been posting on my twitter account (which I don’t even visit!). I started working on an essay about feminist leadership for a UN-sponsored e-book. I am working on a book review for Tikkun of David Graeber’s Bullshit Jobs. And I am working with Leonie and our beloved consultant Aaron Soffin on the self-study NVC course I have put together. And I am still not accepting any new requests for 2019 beyond the three trips that I am already committed to. In this moment I am home, not going anywhere on a plane until mid October, and relishing the slow dissipation of stress.
Nonviolent Global Liberation (NGL). This month I am celebrating two things about NGL. One is about how we function. For example, I am so touched by how much those of us on the design team are modeling staying within the limits of our capacity. I wish I could say that we all recognize immediately when we have exceeded our capacity. That is still in the future. What is true, though, is that when we recognize it, it seems that at least many of us take action – to change agreements to create more spaciousness; to initiate dialogue to explore options; or to simply ask for support. Honesty and care flow in this nascent community remarkably well, alongside a deep and ongoing inquiry about the nature of power relations and how to maintain everyone’s capacity to put their needs, perspectives, ideas, and disagreements on the table. We are overturning millennia of patriarchal functioning etched into our psyches. The second thing I am celebrating is that we now have members from four continents, whose work in their own projects is supported within NGL, such that learning emerges from the field and is immediately available to all members. Exactly what I was hoping for, and much more.
California NGL retreat. There is so much to celebrate here that I am trimming a lot. I don’t even know how much I am not sharing, because more was being created and put into flow within this transient community than I could track. Celebrating that the money pile extended beyond the retreat support team into others in the community and even beyond; that almost all participants engaged in building and sustaining the systems that supported all of us; that many people participated in providing core content; that so many of us learned palpably what sharing needs and responsibility within a community-based flow of resources could mean; and that integration of what so often is held as either/or kept happening: theory and practice, getting things done and caring for relationships, thinking and feeling, big vision and nitty gritty details.
Mary Parker Follett. In July, I had the pleasure of meeting a whole group of others who, like me, are profoundly inspired by the work of Mary Parker Follett. This was a conference to commemorate the 100th anniversary of the publication of her book The New State. I have a chapter in an upcoming 100th anniversary anthology in which I apply Follett’s thinking and insight to questions of global governance. In keeping with Follett’s legacy, we co-designed the epilogue and the introduction to the book on the last day of the conference. I truly hope that this small community, the gathering, and the upcoming book will finally put Follett’s depth of visionary thinking back to broader use to assist us in responding to the global crises we are facing.
Meg Wheatley. Also in July, I attended a workshop by Meg Wheatley on the topic of “Who Do We Choose to Be?” which is also the title of her latest book. I was with a group of dear friends, and thus the conversations we had in between sessions deepened the experience of the workshop and of our friendships. The material was difficult for most: an invitation to face what Meg Wheatley and many others believe is an inevitable social collapse in the near future, and to choose how to become leaders within that reality. I remain humble in the face of all the information, without capacity to know. I see collapse as incredibly likely and becoming ever more likely by the day. And still I don’t know. Within this uncertainty, I celebrate being with others who are just as willing to look reality square in the face without shying away from the immense suffering that is already happening and is so likely to increase manifold. I feel ready to be present and to serve.
Mexico workshops. Going to Mexico has a special meaning for me because of my personal history there. Growing up, I lived for two years in Mexico City, arriving shortly after the student massacre of 1968 and just in time for the Olympic Games, and leaving shortly after the World Cup in 1970. I speak fluent Spanish that’s been getting more and more fluent as I have travelled and taught in Spain and Latin America. Teaching my current core offerings in Spanish to a large and diverse group of mostly Mexicans and some people from other Latin American countries was incredibly joyful. About 1/5 of the participants were women working with vulnerable or marginalized communities, and I felt humble and grateful to be able to offer them insights, principles, tools, and practices that can assist them in their incredibly difficult work. Being in a country that has suffered so much from US policies, especially at this time in history, I noticed a heightened awareness and a willingness to challenge internalized norms that was profoundly moving for me. And, in the end, when we engaged in a gift economy process, the solidarity within community that came to the foreground there, as several people within the temporary community of participants received money in addition to the event team, I landed in a temporary heaven.
Convergent Facilitation. This past period I learned that the publisher I was hoping would take on my manuscript is delaying his decision by long enough that he suggested I go elsewhere and come back in the spring. I am back to square one about whether it makes sense to go for a publisher, a literary agent, or self-publish. Personally, the question of whether anything that is within the world as it is could be a home for me keeps coming up, and often painfully. Meanwhile, other exciting developments are pulling me in a celebration mode. First, with the incredible help of Jean Meier and Lisa Rothman, who’ve held my hand about CF development for a long time, a handout is now available for download on a gift economy basis. Second, the first CF online course started. Over 300 people registered for the free course, and over 200 for the continuing course. This shows me just how much this is wanted in the world. I’ve also had a chance to update the PowerPoint presentation I have, and to put into use the muscles I built through the stretching into lecturing I talked about last time. It’s not too late to join, and you get recordings from the sessions you will have missed.
The gift economy. I am deepening into my celebration of the growing capacity of so many to step into the unknown waters of experimentation in restoring the flow of resources through some semblance of the gift economy. This is happening at events, both between participants and event team and within event teams, using the “money pile” approach pioneered by Dominic Barter, where money is distributed based on needs and availability of resources, not based on concepts or rules. I am both doing these experiments and writing about them, and I have a palpable sense of a growing circle of people who are willing to step outside the seductive logic of transaction and into embracing life in all its mystery and complexity. The emerging NGL community’s approach to resources is fully structured around the gift economy. I have more and more capacity then to offer more and more things to more and more people without any expectation or sometimes even request to give money to BayNVC. In parallel, more people are giving to BayNVC, and to my work in particular, than ever before. I recognize that what we are doing may not be replicable, and is specifically dependent on there being enough people who know enough about me and what I give for there to be enough collective willingness to support the work. And, despite its evident limitations, this ongoing experiment is still, for me, a small beacon of light in very difficult times. Here’s what we shared at one NGL team call: “As we emerge from thousands of years of debt and exchange and deserve, it is gonna be like emerging from a swamp. We’ll be full of mud and we don’t get cleaned right away.”
Recent Inspirations. A free call participant sent me some information about deep canvassing, a method used by the Knock Every Door organization to help volunteers go door-to-door inviting people toward more progressive stances on issues, campaigns and candidates by non-judgmentally soliciting their views, actively listening, sharing vulnerably and connecting around values. They’ve found that a surprising number of people from across the political spectrum have shifted through a 10 minute conversation conducted in this way. I’m including this here as a very charged election season is in swing, so those of you who are engaged in electoral politics might want to know this exists or choose to get involved. If you do, please let me know how it goes. I also recently learned about the work of Jem Bendell, and his way of presenting what he considers the inevitability of near term social collapse. The combination of willingness to tell truth and ample care for the readers, in a way that seems entirely personal, really speaks to me of what is needed in these times. I am touched and called to clearer willingness to serve after discovering his frame of deep adaptation to climate change. I have also been touched and called, for years now, by the work of Genevieve Vaughan, who grounds the gift economy in the relationship of mothering: the unilateral giving in response to needs to support survival. This, extended to a whole society, is her frame of reference for the gift economy. For me, these ideas are simple and inspiring. Now I found an article of hers that gives access to her ideas without hundreds of pages of text. http://gift-economy.com/beyond-capitalist-patriarchy-the-model-of-the-maternal-gift-economy/
The Humility Corner. Since the last newsletter, I have had one more loss, at least temporary, of a close friend who chose to step back from connection. At the rate of one or two a year, the ongoing trauma is intense. Given that I have such a commitment to take responsibility for the whole and to always look at what I can do to make changes, I’ve been thinking, yet again, about what I have contributed to so many losses happening, and what I can do about this one, about my other existing relationships, and about my own ability to keep trusting people and relationships. In the end, after talking with several people, where I am in the moment is with the thought that the most transformative and honest thing I can do is simply mourn: this loss; other losses; the complete ultimate enigma about why they have been happening, and the futility of trying to make sense of it; and the fracturing of communities that the common-ness of such occurrences points to. May we all live to see our sense of being in interwoven communities restored.
These celebrations, mournings and other happenings accompany my July newsletter, “What’s money got to do with it?”
Web of Support. Just as I was settling into a solid acceptance that I am unlikely to significantly increase my sphere of influence – that if my efforts are to bear fruit on the more systemic plane it would happen indirectly – I am learning of several people, in several places on the planet, who are actively pursuing possibilities that would connect me with people with the power to make decisions with large-scale effects. I am hoping that their efforts will bear fruit, and down the line I will have exciting stories to tell. For now, I am purely celebrating that there are people who want to support me in this way.
Sabbatical. I am celebrating that, in the two months since the last newsletter went out, I have managed to stick to my plans for 2019. I have not accepted a single request to go anywhere outside my already planned activities for 2019. It gives me a modicum of self-trust in my ability to persist in this way and have an entirely different year in 2019.Nonviolent Global Liberation (NGL). There is so much to celebrate here, that I could literally write an entire newsletter dedicated only to these celebrations. For now, I am focusing only on two. One is the first NGL retreat in Poland. It was a giant step forward in making my work less and less dependent on me. This was a fully co-created event, where participants designed systems and agreements based on the work done by the online design team, with changes and feedback that will inform both the next retreat and NGL as a whole. This was an environment in which I could mostly focus on coaching and dialogic teaching, where other trainers taught most of the core sessions. We created more of a culture of feedback than I ever before remember. And we stepped deeply into interdependence, most especially in the way that we handled the challenges of being in a venue that was clearly not designed to be wheelchair accessible, while one of the participants uses a wheel chair. Many of us had the experience of living in the world of the future even while knowing we were in the present and pretty brutal reality of late capitalism. If you have any capacity to travel to California for the next one, please do join us as we take what we learned in Poland one step further. The second big celebration is that our pilot launch is proceeding, and we have about 25 applicants who are showing me, in what they wrote, how so many people are already working to bring about nonviolent global liberation, and what an amazing service to them, to all of us, and to the world, we are doing by creating this program. It’s a little while longer before our full official launch, and I invite your patience, as we set up systems to increase the likelihood that everything functions well when we open our doors fully.
Stretching into lecturing. It’s been a goal of mine to grow in my capacity to lecture rather than being as dependent as I am on interaction with participants. In these two months I had two opportunities to practice. One was entirely unexpected. I was conducting a webinar for those who are considering attending my workshops in Mexico in a few weeks. I knew that 600 people had signed up for this webinar – the greatest number ever for any event of mine. I didn’t know that technical difficulties would mean I couldn’t hear or see anything except myself. Without planning for it, I was suddenly thrust into lecturing to a large number of people (about 250 at any given moment during the call), in Spanish, without notes, and with only the chat to guide me about where to go. That it went well, apparently, is entirely a miracle. The other opportunity was planned, and it’s a celebration all its own: I had an event in London in which I mostly lectured in front of a camera. There was an audience, for which I am deeply grateful. And, still, it was more lecture than my usual. I am itching to see the edited portions of the video of this event, all of which are designed to be widely shared.
New Future Process. This item is a major mixture of celebration and mourning. The mourning is that the unfolding of this process has not been smooth. Some relationships within the global NVC community are strained, some structural constraints are difficult to transcend, and those of us who are passionate about the possibilities are in a deep exploration of what it exactly means to respond to these conditions with full nonviolence. What does the combination of courage, truth, and love look like in these circumstances? The celebration is that, in parallel with the challenges, some of the work continues to unfold. More and more people are joining the emerging new way of organizing the global community, and you are fully invited yourself: http://nvc-global.net/join/. Once you join, soon enough there will be opportunities to contribute if you so wish, including to an emerging curriculum being put together on the topic of power, access, and inclusion as part of aiming to reduce the chances that patriarchal norms of separation, especially in the form of race, class, and other differences, will affect our organizational functioning. Stay tuned.
Responding to the Call of Our Times. This course, now in its second year, has evolved into an ongoing lab in a way that is fully intertwined with its central purpose of coaching and supporting participants in stepping into more leadership in more ways with more care for the whole. In this lab, I regularly bring my own learning edges, ranging from theoretical topics that occupy and fascinate me, to places where my own capacity is challenged. We then explore them together as others reflect on their own engagement with the topics. And we emerge, regularly, with new insights, deeper understanding, growing individual capacity for many of us, and the continued building of community in this most unlikely environment of seeing many little faces on the screen. It’s never too later to join as there is no set curriculum and you will have all recordings available to you.
Recent inspirations. An article that takes on the recent call to “effective altruism,” particularly by Peter Singer, and challenges its assumptions. Most specifically, it calls attention to how much charity pre-supposes the amassing of resources in the hands of a small group of people, addressing only the faraway results without attending to the causes. And an organization that trains and supports journalists to report rigorously on effective ways that people around the world are responding to problems. I have recently learned this exists and haven’t looked into it very much. I’m passing it on because I’ve thought for a long time that the nearly-exclusive focus on problems in the news presents a skewed sense of the world and contributes to hopelessness, powerlessness, and disengagement.
The Humility Corner. This month, the humility corner is about the role of humiliation in my unfolding journey. Recently, I participated in a very difficult online meeting during which I was challenged, more than once, in ways that both I and others experienced as intense and shocking. So much so, that I ended up leaving the meeting before it was over (after checking with all that they didn’t see my leaving as affecting the purpose of the meeting). I remained deeply affected, on a physical level, for the rest of that day until I went to bed. I had little energy for anything that required even the smallest amount of effort. In the course of that day, I understood two things. One is that my experience of humiliation in those moments means that I still give others the power to grant or not grant me dignity, instead of experiencing it as inherent to who I am as a living being. In that, then, I could see how my own power of choice to respond in full nonviolence diminishes. Although I didn’t do anything I regret, and I managed to remain calm and to continue to engage, I was in protective mode. It’s crystal clear to me that, until I manage to fully inhabit, within me, my own dignity, in key moments I will remain less capable of traversing the gap with another person and meeting them with love and empathy even when they are not finding a way to treat me with care. Wrenching as this was, I am glad for the clarity of the task ahead of me and its crucial role in the healing of patriarchal wounding.
These celebrations, mournings and other happenings accompany my May newsletter, “Radical and Practical.”
Web of Support. This month I am celebrating the existence of people on my various calls who are mobilized to support my eventual capacity to convert some of what happens into writing. It’s not always the same people. It’s the easy presence of willingness in the larger group that I am particularly celebrating. People have stepped forward to collate and share notes, post recordings, track topics, and transcribe calls. When (not if!) I dramatically reduce my travel schedule and take on the endless task of creating articles and books from all that I have taught in these years, the materials are ready for me. They are no longer getting lost as in the past.
Sabbatical. It’s time to recognize that this year I am simply not able to maintain any semblance of the sabbatical and focus on writing that I have longed for. I still have the two days a week discipline of not scheduling meetings, and I am home little enough that these days serve mostly to keep up with my growing backlog and to do minimal writing. I am not making progress with any of the larger writing projects that I am so eagerly longing to engage with. With this, my resolve to change things is growing. Starting in 2019, I plan to focus on three regular trips a year – one to Israel and Europe, one to South America, and one to the East Coast of the US – and to add at most one more trip.
Empowering Palestinian Women Leaders. Last month, I launched, together with Amal Hadweh from Bet Jalla, Palestine, a project that we are committed to seeing continue indefinitely, with annual gatherings in person and more in between. This experience was a profound celebration for me in so many ways. You can read the impact statement that was written to the dozens of people who contributed close to $32,000 to this project. On a more personal note, the human connections that I made with so many women with such dramatically different life circumstances, women who are oppressed along so many dimensions, including the 50-year occupation of the government of the country where I was born and raised, is one of the most transcendent experiences I can remember. Several of the women are planning to come to the upcoming retreats in Poland or the US. The friendship Amal and I developed, and the shared long term vision about the powerful role Palestinian women can play in their society feed my soul whenever I think of it.
Nonviolent Global Liberation (NGL). Life continues to take its twists and turns, and the soft launch of this apprenticeship program and community now seems likely to happen by June 1, with the official public launch anticipated later this summer . One of the formats that this program includes is dedicated coaching calls to one individual or team that others can be part of for their own learning. This format allows multiple purposes to unfold, and I am excited to see how it’s already supporting people in various parts of the world. In particular, I am excited to see an entire team of consultants forming in India to work with me on a major project there, with the plan that all of the coaching I’ll offer them is designed to be done through NGL. Even before official launch, it’s already global in scope. Click here to read the description as it currently stands, and watch for a special email that announces this program when we are finally ready. The program is closely connected to the two upcoming retreats I am doing, one in Poland and one in CA, where NGL members and others are invited to come together to co-create a meaningful week of learning, collaborating, and scheming to bring about global liberation.
Jaipur Rugs. When I was in India in January, I was introduced to Nand Kishore Chaudhary, the CEO of Jaipur Rugs, a company with 36,000 weavers working from their homes to create rugs sold all over the world. NK, as he is called by everyone, is a man of vision who used to be a weaver himself decades ago before founding his company. We hit it off immediately, and have been working ever since to begin a process of fundamental transformation that is designed, eventually, to put the weavers at the helm through collaborative self-management around the company. For now, we are putting in place a pilot project with nine villages and a local consulting team made up of people who attended my trainings in India in January. This team is designed to form itself through collaborative mutual-selection so that self-management is built into how we work together as well. The design calls for this team to work with the villagers and the self-selecting project team from within the company, and to receive regular coaching from me through the structures of NGL. NK is committed to making it all transparent and documented, so that the work we do can serve as a model for other companies that want to make this kind of transition. I am deeply touched by the way so many things are coming together in this project.
Global Governance. Some of the group of us that worked on the submission that didn’t win the competition came together to explore what we might do with our entry. What emerged from it is a possibility of bringing this project to the Nonviolent Global Liberation program/community to work with. I indeed have some confidence that as the group of people that comprise the learning community emerges clearly, some will be ready to take on the quest for creating a pilot project, in some local context somewhere in the world, to experiment with the radical and practical ideas that we worked out.
Free calls. The free calls, which I started along with the Circle of Support, remain a consistent highlight in my life. I now offer five different topics, and the only reason I don’t have more is that I have other needs, too… I am already itching to add two more, and I know I can’t until I am done with travel. What most appeals to me about these calls is that the focus on learning and exploring together. I come with no agenda of my own, only responsive to the topics and longings that emerge from the group that configures itself as we come together to learn and explore. There is collective resilience and presence with the discomfort that often arises, and a growing willingness to engage more and more honestly with the personal and collective issues of our time. Please consider joining us to see for yourself what I am talking about. Click here to look at all the offerings.
Transitions. After working together for 16 months, Margo Dunlap and I reached the conclusion that more needs will be met by having Margo transition out of her role with BayNVC than through continuing, as we have done, to look for ways to create more ease, flow, and effectiveness in the current configuration. I am immensely grateful to Margo for successfully engaging at such a level of openness, courage, and care, that this entire transition is fully collaborative between us. Margo anchored the extraordinarily successful match campaign of 2017 and managed a complex transition when several people left BayNVC at about the same time last fall. I am celebrating completion, and mourning that we didn’t find a way forward that would work for enough purposes and needs.
Recent Inspirations. An Article by Charles Eisenstein about how the race to “scale up” reinforces the very mindset and culture we seek to transform. I cried on and off reading it. And an interview with Stephen Harrod Buhner who has dedicated decades to learning from and with plants. It opened a whole new world to me about life and what little we know.
The Humility Corner. Last month I mentioned that I am in ongoing conversation with a potential publisher. It has been deeply instructive to see how, each time he comes back with more questions and things for me to look at and engage with, my first reaction is total doom. Without the support of Lisa Rothman, who is holding my hand through this process, I don’t know if I would have been able to continue. I have a deep internal habit, born no doubt of trauma, to see certain forms of feedback as insurmountable obstacles that “prove” there’s not room for me in this world as it is. This is an ongoing lesson for me, and one that I welcome delving more deeply into learning about and transforming. I sense it is utterly related to some of the mystery of why what I have created isn’t getting further in the world. For that to happen, I probably need to grow my capacity to see and feel the continuity between me and everyone else.
These celebrations, mournings and other happenings accompany my March newsletter, “Stretching our imagination across differences.”
Web of Support. I am wishing to celebrate the support of more than 20 people who’ve been actively part of designing the infrastructure of the about-to-be-launched new Nonviolent Global Liberation apprenticeship program and learning community. They are from multiple countries, none of them know all of them, and since September, in multiple self-organizing teams, every aspect of this infrastructure has been attended to, mostly without my active involvement. I am beyond awe with this one.
Sabbatical. I am mostly mourning this time around in this category. The amount of travel I have this year is not providing sufficient time at home to really benefit from the discipline of having two days of unscheduled time. Also, more evening time is now taken to connect with people I am working with in Asia and, overall, I am not finding as much spaciousness as I long for to sink into writing and creating new things. I am celebrating one thing, though: I am absolutely saying “no” to new travel requests, and have even canceled one tentative plan for 2019.
Convergent Facilitation (CF). I have four celebrations here! I am in ongoing conversation with a publisher and have a positive feeling that this will lead to a contract to publish my manuscript (fully written and edited already) on the topic. It’s my first choice publisher: Berrett Koehler, whose mission mentions creating a world that works for all. The second is that I am scheduled to do the first ever online course on CF, through the NVC Academy, in the summer/fall. The third is that there are now several people in various stages of getting ready to share CF with others. I am sure to announce those events when they materialize. Lastly, I had a major opportunity to apply CF in a high-stakes situation about child labor research and policy, working with a group of people from the UN, some governments, other international agencies, and a group of academics. The result: 15 common principles and a list of 24 research questions to form an initial draft of a shared research agenda. Considering how much strife and mistrust there is in the field, this was a major milestone. Verene Nicolas from France/Scotland and Franca Onyibor from Nigeria were co-facilitators with me. I am beyond pleased to have had their wisdom, perspective, and capacity to attend to things that would have been far harder for me to do all on my own.
Visiting Korea. After being in India for two magical and difficult weeks (including pollution sickness for me, while teaching!), I confess I was looking forward to being in Korea and having more of the Global North amenities I was used to. I wasn’t expecting below-freezing temperatures and an extremely challenging cultural gap that I initially didn’t know how to bridge. For four days, I was teaching Convergent Facilitation during the day and impromptu sessions on organizational collaboration and systems in the evenings. It took three of the four days to connect fully across translation and vast cultural differences, such as me coming from an exquisitely informal and direct culture (Israel, where I am from, despite living in the US for 35 years) into a culture rife with subtle cues about hierarchy and expectations (which I understood Korea to be). And then it happened. Without bells and whistles, I gradually and then suddenly felt the barriers melt away, and there we were, a group of 50 or so human beings, all vulnerable, all full of needs we don’t really know how to express, all longing for a path forward towards a better life for all of us. I experienced it as a miracle that will stay with me for a long time.
Global Governance. The long waiting period is over. I now know that our submission to the competition put on by the Global Challenges Foundation for a model for global governance has not been chosen to be a semi-finalist. Since 2,700 other people submitted a proposal, this is entirely unsurprising, and yet it is incredibly sad. We truly believe that our model could make a huge difference. Because of that, some of us have indicated that we want to continue to work with it and see if we could get a pilot project to happen. Stay tuned. This topic is not over yet.
NVC Academy. The 10 month Responding to the Call of Our Times: A Leadership Coaching Course started in February. It remains open for the entire year, and anyone who registers gains access to the entire set of recordings. Already 120 people are signed up for it, and the joy of seeing more than 75 different names, most of them live faces, from around the world, on one call is truly exhilarating. I have two more shorter offerings coming up, the one on Convergent Facilitation in the summer/fall, and one planned again as a mini-intensive just before Christmas, in which I plan to focus how to bring systemic awareness to healing work.
Free calls. This month, I launched the new call I added: Questioning Money. People raised deep questions both about the role of money in the world and about how we make decisions about money given we live in this world and not one based on voluntary flow of resources. If you haven’t yet ever joined any of these calls, I really hope you will choose to give it a try. It’s astonishing how much of a sense of community, of shared holding of something precious, I see in these calls as people weave their own connections with each other. Especially considering they are all drop-in and constantly changing schedules to accommodate multiple continents. Click here to look at all the offerings.
Nonviolent Global Liberation. One of the principles that are core to my vision of how to create human systems that work for all of life is the principle of willingness. As it relates to work, it includes honoring our limits and capacity. We have had a planned launch date of March 1st for this new program, and it became clear that that would result in getting into work patterns that mimic the world we want to change. We celebrated recognizing it, and pushed the launch date back by one month. We are now aiming for April 1st, and so far this seems real. Click here to read the description as it currently stands, and watch for a special email that announces this program.
Twitter. I have a complex and very ambivalent, mostly negative, relationship to social media. Still, within this complexity, I have accepted a presence on Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram that is managed by two volunteers. Then, one day, I realized that there’s something really fun about being able to say something of meaning, even something that challenges modern capitalism, and to do so in 140 characters or fewer. So I’ve taken, from time to time, to writing tweets and sending them to Cleona for posting. Although I am less than fully happy about being on Twitter at all, I am more than fully happy about having, now, eleven tweets. If you are curious enough, you can find it here.
The Humility Corner. This time I have a deeply meaningful celebration to share. As I was talking with Verene and Uma – the two friends, colleagues, and co-holders of the Nonviolent Global Liberation vision with me – about when and how to expand our circle of providers within the program, Verene said something about it taking years to integrate what she is learning about my work. Without losing a beat, I said: me, too; it’s taking me years to integrate the things I am learning. That’s when I got the image that captures so deeply the experience of humility I truly aim for: Verene and I are drinking from the same fountain. I am just the one excavating and articulating what I find; it’s not mine at all, what I am discovering. Then we all grapple with it, together, as we move closer to the radiant vision that calls to us.
These celebrations, mournings and other happenings accompany my January newsletter, “Why do we care about others?”
Web of Support. This time, I am celebrating the totality of the experience of having so much support, the steady stream of it that keeps coming, and the miraculous ways that the offers and the needs can coincide as much as they do. I am excited about the prospect of becoming more systematic about this with Leonie’s support, so that my own erratic memory is not the only engine driving this abundance. It’s so heartening, and I am so grateful to all who are offering various forms of support.
Sabbatical. As this new year is beginning, I am continuing to plan my gradual shift into even more focus on writing, projects, and providing the foundation for my work to outlive me. I am actively in the process of designing three two-month periods of being in the same place with my sister in 2019. Right now it’s looking like these will be in Tel Aviv, Israel, Oakland, CA, and an as-yet-to-be-decided town in Costa Rica. Can you see the enthusiasm and delight in the picture of us doing the planning with our friends in South America?
NVC Academy. Last month I led a mini-intensive course using the principle-based teaching approach for sharing NVC basics. I was very pleased in particular with the last session, when we, together, scratched our heads about how to plan an introduction. It was so clear that planning such an event is an empathic activity: if we want to create something that will be engaging for, say, teenagers, we need to be able to see the world from within their eyes. Surprisingly, it doesn’t come so easily, and we worked hard on it. Next month I am starting, again, Responding to the Call of Our Times: A Leadership Coaching Course. It’s the first time that I am redoing a program through the NVC Academy. It feels fresh because it’s generative, organic, emergent, and responsive to who’s there and what’s happening within and around us each time. I hope you join us. The first one was really an exceptional experience for all, and I am so grateful to have the NVC Academy to work with.
International Intensive Training (IIT) with a special focus on Power, Privilege, and the Body. It took the training team – Roxy Manning, Jeyanthy Siva, Sarah Peyton, Bob Wentworth, and myself – many moons to make this event happen, and much effort on the part of many people to make it possible for all who wanted to come to attend it. We had about 60 participants from 8 countries on 4 continents. We managed to take substantial steps towards our dream of integrating the needs-based, blame-free, dignity-for-all framework of NVC with a critical understanding about power and privilege, and with the science that helps make sense of how power differences affect our bodies. We emerged with several plans, including creating a version of the BayNVC Leadership Program that’s entirely for people of color, as well as enthusiasm for continuing curriculum development. The stories of people – 1/3 of them people of color from around the globe – and what this meant to them continue to nourish my resolve to persist in doing this work that so often brings loneliness with it. For once, we were surrounded by people who cheered us on, and this gives me and all of us a boost to continue.
Free calls. It’s an incredible joy to be offering six calls every month (sometimes fewer when I travel) that are available to people without any request for money. There are regularly between 25 and 40 people on these calls, with deep discussions that leave me and others wide-mouthed with awe. How can people who, often, have never even seen each other’s faces, speak with such trust and authenticity? How can it be that we keep getting to more and more core layers when it isn’t a committed group of the same people every month? There’s a core group of people who show up to as many calls as they can, and many others who come here and there. I find these calls some of my best moments of every month, for so many reasons. I am able to challenge the institution of exchange that gives value only to that which is commodified; I get to play with ideas, feelings, and often taboos, with people who want precisely what we do; and I co-create, with people who think with me, challenge themselves, each other, and me, and join with others in taking seriously the challenges of our times and responding with our full being. Click here to look at all the offerings. And click here to read about the new addition to the calls: once monthly talking about money, exchange, gifting, and whatever else arises as we face the economic underpinnings of our social structures and conditioning.
Passing my work to others. One of the celebrations from the IIT was that there were three sessions in which someone else, Roxy Manning in this case, was sharing with others work that I developed, leaving me free to focus elsewhere. Even as I write this, I know of plans for several people to share Convergent Facilitation with others, and an emerging plan for others to lead a Principle-Based Teaching workshop in Europe. And, most exciting of all, the Nonviolent Global Liberation Apprenticeship Program and Learning Community is just about ready for launching. Click here to read the description as it currently stands. 20+ people are already within the program/community working on the design and infrastructure of the program to make it launch-ready. It will literally be announced as soon as it’s ready. It’s such a delight that the very tools that the program is based on are being used to create the foundation of its own systems and infrastructure, making it a lab in itself.
The Humility Corner. Through the first few months of the process of creating a transition at BayNVC designed to pass on the leadership of the organization and its vision to Margo and Leonie, I learned something new about the dynamics of power. I now know, with much gratitude for my colleagues who engaged with me through discomfort on all our parts, that, when I am in a position of power, expressing concerns and following them with a proposal for change without first connecting with all the needs is likely to register as lack of care and as an act of power-over. As someone who teaches others about how to collaborate across power differences, I was duly humbled and decided to share this with others. I am now ever more keenly sensitized to how much emotional cost there is to the experience of not having power, and how much more is called for on the part of those of us in positions of power in order to create the conditions for true honest engagement and collaboration.
These celebrations, mournings and other happenings accompany my November newsletter, “Keeping Our Eyes and Hearts Open.”
Web of Support. This time I have a big mourning in this department, as one of my pillars of support is departing soon. Dave Belden has been with me, with BayNVC, and with the Fearless Heart since 2012. Everything I’ve published and the overwhelming majority of my blog posts have been edited by him. There hasn’t been a newsletter that hasn’t seen his loving and gentle changes and beautiful layout. The pictures he has found for my posts have repeatedly upgraded the quality and significance of my writing. More than anything, he’s been an amazing thought partner, fan, and critic. This is the end of a chapter for me, an irreplaceable gift in my life I will never forget. Rebecca, Dawn, and Leo, who are already members of the team, are stepping in, in various capacities, and I trust they will minimize the loss as much as is humanly possible.
Sabbatical. The sabbatical works when I am home. Since Sep 30th, I’ve been home for only a few days, and the incredibly delicate balance that allows me to function with little to no stress collapses very easily. While I am excited about everything I’ve been doing on the road, it’s not the same as being home and concentrating on writing and creating. This is a piece of clear mourning. The only celebration that I can come up with in this moment is that my travel days are numbered. I have a finite number of locations that I am planning to bring myself to in the coming months, after which point I’ve already committed myself to an entirely different rhythm and plan for living. I am in the process of working with a group of about 30 people on putting together the infrastructure for an ongoing apprenticeship program that I hope to launch with the new year, at which point I plan to do work in person in only a handful of locations and do all the rest of my work mostly from home. For now, I am inching my way in this direction.
Global Governance. (For those who don’t know: I have put together a group from around the world to submit an entry for the competition put on by the Global Challenges Foundation.) With this newsletter, the documents that, together, comprised the submission for this competition are now available for anyone to review. In about a month, we will find out if we are one of up to 100 entries selected as semi-finalists from among the more than 2,700 that were submitted (of over 13,000 people who registered to submit). Regardless of whether or not we are selected, we are committed to take practical steps with the ideas that informed the submission.
Responding to the Call of Our Times. The first season of this class officially closed on Sep 29th. This program surprised everyone, including me. I did not imagine how much coming together, how much shedding of constricting habits, and how much capacity for embracing vision and taking risks in life in service of that vision would happen in eight months of being together. Meanwhile, the plan for next year is already in place: instead of eight months, the program is designed to last ten months, every week. About once a month a guest speaker comes, a feature that was enthusiastically welcomed by the 2017 group, and the rest of the time it’s me and the many small faces on a screen. You can check out if this is a fit for you by visiting the course page.
International Intensive Training (IIT) in Chile. My biggest celebration of this period is the trip to South America that revolved around my sister Arnina and me participating in the first IIT in Chile. Over 70 people from all around Latin America and beyond participated in this groundbreaking event. It was an extraordinary treat to see people so eager to learn and spread the teachings, and to do it in Spanish, carrying the spirit and vision of these events as Marshall Rosenberg conceived of them. We were in a unique location that supported our work and connection with each other and with life. Our extended team included four trainers and six assistant trainers, a structure we chose to support the growth of local leaders instead of reliance on others from outside. I loved co-leading with Arnina and being immersed in the culture of Latin America, which is familiar to us from having grown up partly in Argentina and Mexico. Connections were built that we plan to sustain and nurture over time. I was exhausted and well nourished by my days there.
Team News. Our team has expanded to welcome Leonie Smith to manage our programming. Leonie and Margo are engaging in a process of thinking through deeply what’s needed and what’s possible, and what they can do to support both the organization and me in the next phases of the work. I have known Leonie for some years now as a participant in many classes and calls, and it’s a delight to work with someone who is that familiar with the work and able to represent it so much from within.
The Humility Corner. The first weekend this month I led a workshop in Rochester on the topic of Working for Transformation without Recreating the Past. Towards the end of Saturday, there was feedback from one participant which led to a full conversation on Sunday: she had felt that people who were more familiar with Nonviolent Communication and with me had more space to speak and more of my attention. As someone committed to attending to group dynamics and power differences, this was definitely surprising and somewhat uncomfortable to hear. It also wasn’t the first time to hear such input. Somehow, in the context of what I have started calling being “intentionally naïve”, I have not been tracking closely this dimension of people’s experience. With this being a workshop for change agents, we focused more on what blocked this person from speaking earlier and making requests. Still, my own lesson is about learning that even though I hold a deep commitment to everyone’s needs, I have been less aware of how people might relinquish their own care for their needs if I don’t actively and explicitly invite everyone’s participation. I hope this time, and writing about it here, will be enough for that to sink in.
These celebrations, mournings and other happenings accompany my September newsletter, “Islands of Inspiration in Dark Times.“
Web of Support
Back in December I received the notice about the Global Governance project from four different individuals. I then began to build the web of support that would take on this project with me. It was a bold move for me, because I was clear I already had a template (the governance model from Reweaving Our Human Fabric), and it was more about developing and refining it than creating from scratch.
The emerging group of people that has worked with me on this project spans continents and many countries, including people I didn’t know from before. I couldn’t possibly name all of them, though I want to single out those who’ve been the closest collaborators: Elkie Deadman from the Netherlands (originally UK); Uma Lo from the US; Franca Onyibor from Nigeria. More on the project itself below.
For now, I am just marveling at the new connections, the ways people stepped forward to offer conversation, brainstorming, feedback, feedback, feedback, technical support, and just plain companionship and encouragement. Although I was quite adamant I would finish it even if I was the only one, I am well aware it would have been an entirely different year without them.
Sabbatical. I have only celebrations this time. This summer I had two months, July and August, in which I was mostly home, without much client work or intensive teaching until late August. During this time I really got a flavor of what life post-travel is likely to become. In terms of what I have to show for it: my Convergent Facilitation manuscript is now ready along with a book proposal that is soon to be submitted to a potential publisher. The intensive work on the Global Governance project was made possible because of this spaciousness. I participated in other writing projects and materials creation. And I did it all without stress.
Global Governance. (For those who don’t know: I have put together a group from around the world to submit an entry for the competition put on by the Global Challenges Foundation.) The editing and feedback phase of the work is now complete, with feedback coming in from so many sources I cannot even count. It’s been a continual affirmation of the ideas and the audacity of our approach. We’re now in trimming, production, and graphic design mode (only two pages of illustration are allowed by the competition rules.) I am most in celebration about feedback from Ron Ngata, an NVC trainer from New Zealand who is Maori and whose feedback meant the world to me. My sense of integrity is much more solid for having had this perspective to affirm the work. Submission happens later this month, and some time next month I hope to make the documents available.
Responding to the Call of Our Times. The first season of this class is coming to a close at the end of this month. It’s been a remarkable adventure for all of us, learning and community and transformation, and much that is unexpected. It’s clear to many of us that we want to continue, and I am already in communication with the NVC Academy to see how we can turn this into a year-round class. For now, though, we are about to take a long break until February. Meanwhile, about twelve or thirteen of the participants came to the Art of Facilitation retreat in California, and we celebrated being together in the same room, not just as little squares on a screen, though it’s truly amazing how much connection and community can happen with those little squares. I hope you can join us next year, and I trust that information will be available by the next newsletter in November.
Art of Facilitation. This retreat was a long string of celebrations of so many kinds I can’t imagine I will remember all of them. I will start with the BayNVC team coming together and participating in the holding and support of the retreat. More on this in a moment. I continue with being again at Quaker Center in the Santa Cruz mountains and eating the most amazing food of Tod Nysether. Then there was the growing sense of true co-creation and learning together day by day, as participants stepped into more and more shaping, design, facilitation, and more. It was also extraordinarily demanding, as Uma Lo, who co-held the retreat with me, and I navigated the very complex territory of attending to issues of power and privilege in our midst even while learning about how to facilitate such challenges. While perhaps not everyone fully embraced the perspective we brought forward, and some people were overwhelmed for a while by how much attention is necessary in order to fully open to the light the anguish and separation that exists underneath the veneer of civility, I am still in awe and delighted. More than anything, by the last full day we had managed to cross over to what so many believe we can just decide to inhabit without doing the work first: we were mostly people together, laughing and crying and learning and being vulnerable and strong together. It was a true experience of Beloved Community. I am also satisfied with how much learning about facilitation, the topic of the retreat, happened as a result of attending to the challenges. May we all learn even more relaxedly how to meet the challenges of our time with grace and courage.
Update on Miki’s Match: As of the writing of this newsletter, we have received enough new donations to make the total match of $45,000 for the year. I am grateful to all who have contributed, from the smallest amount to the largest amount. And I am so grateful to Margo Dunlap who’s stepped into the role of managing fundraising and partnerships for an invigorating and rich collaboration in getting us here. This match was intended for the whole year, and is fulfilled by September, well before giving season. I would love to imagine that someone reading this will consider stepping in with a significant pledge joining the matching fund energy to seed the giving season. My increased capacity to do the longer term work that I’ve been engaged with this year is directly related to these funds coming in, and we have an amazing opportunity to create more capacity for the coming years. Even without a matching fund to double your contribution, any amount given, especially as a monthly contribution to the Circle of Support, directly increases this capacity.
Team News. As a continuing part of the transition into an organization that is less and less dependent on me, we are in the process of mapping out our systems, creating a better sense of team, and adding people, both to staff and to board, that will support us in doing the work we are more and more taking on. This is still in process, and more “official” news will likely come in a while. For now, what’s important to share is my deep trust in the people I am working with, my growing sense of relaxation, clarity about purpose and direction, and an experience of partnership I haven’t had since Kit Miller left in 2009. These are good times.
The Humility Corner. I am continuing to learn, in layers and layers, how much I have been expecting me to compensate for whatever wasn’t working. For example, I didn’t, in the past, create group agreements, because I was holding myself responsible for attending to everything, and thus, unconsciously, agreements weren’t necessary. How I could have not been aware of this for so many years is amazing to me. I am celebrating bringing alignment between my inner self, my organization, how I teach, and what I teach.
These celebrations, mournings and other happenings accompany my July newsletter, “Tenderness, Vulnerability, and Mourning as a Response to Patriarchy”.
Web of Support. This month I want to honor the work of two individuals who’ve taken on maintaining my social media presence.
One is Leo Proechel, who was an intern here two years ago and started, on his own initiative, to look after and enhance my Facebook page.
The other is Cleona Lira, who, a few months ago, stepped forward to offer support in managing my twitter and Instagram accounts.
To be clear: except for a very few times that I have asked Leo to post something on Facebook, and one time that I labored to create a tweet (at right) with the stringent requirement of 140 characters or fewer, they are 100% on their own. (Stay tuned for another one soon! And meanwhile you might want to follow the ones Cleona does for me.) It’s the most amazing kind of support that I can imagine, because I don’t even look at what they do. I don’t even know my password on Facebook, that’s how far I am personally from social media. And the feedback I get from others is super positive.
Sabbatical. I have both celebration and a mourning here. The celebration is that the sabbatical is yielding the very outcomes I was hoping for in terms of what I produce. In May, for example, I wrote a chapter for a book that’s coming out next year to mark the centennial of Mary Parker Follett’s The New State, and a major article that connects human evolution, patriarchy, parenting, and global warming. I am currently shopping for where a 30-page academic paper like this could be published. (If you are interested in a condensed set of ideas, I created a comparative table of before, during, and after patriarchy that you can peruse.) I am mourning that even with all that I am doing to set aside this space, more astonishing opportunities and challenges that demand my attention arise, and I remain with a plate larger than I can manage. Then I am celebrating that the infrastructure to attend to all this is coming together more and more, as you will see below. In the end, my biggest celebration of all is that I now have reliable, regular space to engage in intensive intellectual activity, which I now know beyond any shred of doubt that my organism needs in order to thrive.
Global Governance. (For those who don’t know: I have put together a group from around the world to submit an entry for the competition put on by the Global Challenges Foundation.) The work on this continues, with support and engagement from around the world. While continuing to receive and integrate feedback on the design, I have been working on the submission documents, and have one third of the submission ready in early draft form. It’s hard to imagine that a non-techy, radical, non-coercive system that aims to involve everyone on the planet will win the prize. And right now the joy of creating, and the potential of what this means are way more significant than what will happen. We are certainly committed to doing something with it regardless. If any of you reading it believe that you have unique expertise or vantage point from within which to offer feedback, please write to email@example.com and let me know what your specific gift could be at this time so I can send you a link. I am in particular eager to receive feedback from an indigenous perspective.
Overcoming Patriarchy. I am writing this after the 3rd call on this topic. It remains the most popular of all the free calls. I have a sense of it leaping forward with speed, urgency, and love that take my breath away while at the same time giving me renewed breath and life. The most moving thing that happened on the last call for me was that a man wanted to know how he can learn what he does to make it harder for women to speak, and four women responded to my call and are making themselves available to him for support, education, and feedback. This is a definite step towards joining together in mourning and transformation, exactly what I believe is needed to transcend the legacy of patriarchy with its focus on control and eradication of weakness. Please come join the Overcoming Patriarchy calls, offered monthly for now.
Responding to the Call of Our Times. We are now in the 2nd half of the course. With 140 people registered, and about 45 coming every week for the calls (not necessarily the same people, though some are amazingly reliable), a community of commitment is now clearly present. Between the weekly coaching that happens with me, and the occasional visits from guest speakers, I am simply in awe of how much transformation, joy, openness to grief, and stepping into power are happening. Exactly what I was hoping for, and much more. It’s really not too late to join, and the NVC Academy has just lowered the price again: you can join and get access to all the recordings since we started in February. If the cost is no barrier, there’s really no reason not to join “because it’s too late”. It isn’t, because there’s no sequence of materials, so you would have nothing to catch up with, only yourself.
Snippets from Europe. I am writing this newsletter about 10 days after returning from my annual trip to Europe. This time I was in Poland, Czechia, and Spain. What I am celebrating more than anything is that the local organizers successfully issued invitations to the world that brought into the room people who were there for reasons fully aligned with what I wanted to bring to them. As I am more and more mindful of the numbered days I have as a person in my 60s, this was pure grace. Together, we explored the nuts and bolts and many subtleties of facilitation in Poland; the spiritual and conceptual shifts necessary to work for transformation without recreating the past; and the rigorous practice of Convergent Facilitation in Spain, twice (in Spanish, too!). I am glad for having been there, and for the many seeds planted and others watered into blossom.
Update on Miki’s Match: As Margo and Rose are both on vacation, I do not have an exact number to offer. Still, I couldn’t wait for another month before you are invited to celebrate with us the magical success of our work this year. Our matching grants of $45,000, which were for the entire year, are nearly matched half-way through the year and only three months from officially being announced. We lack only a few thousand dollars more to complete what seemed near-impossible to me a few months ago. I want to acknowledge all the gifts of this year, from the match donors to the gift of Margo supporting this work; from the smaller donations of $10 each to the largest donation of $25,000 that came in last month. I am in awe. I can’t wait for Margo to be back and to discuss the possibility of inviting others to offer additional matching funds as we move into the fall and the end-of-year period. Stay tuned.
Team News. For about 8 years now I’ve been longing to find ways to step out of explicit or implicit leadership within the BayNVC team. This past two months have seen that longing materialize. During one of our weekly co-working days, at an impromptu lunch meeting, Margo and Rose took in more than ever that I am quite desperate about being involved in fewer and fewer decisions about organizational and administrative aspects of the work. They stepped forward, took charge of a complicated staff transition moment, and are now fully driving the team together. Just before they both went away and while I was in Europe, they envisioned the development of the team, and the results are materializing. They started defining a new position that they plan to announce next month: someone to lead the programmatic aspects of BayNVC, so that I can shed this responsibility, too, and focus more and more efficiently on what only I can do. Stay tuned for a job announcement coming soon. In parallel, we became clear on my own needs for support, and Rebecca Sutton, who’s been supporting my work as a personal assistant and strategic advisor behind the scenes, and who is also my housemate, is now taking more responsibility and stepping forward to manage my schedule, my to do lists, and the overall shape of my work. I am extraordinarily happy for this development.
The Humility Corner. I am adding this as a permanent section so I can track and share transparently the least glamorous aspects of my trajectory. These past two months I became aware of two elements that I now am giving more of my attention to. One is that in my zeal to take 100% responsibility for everything, I also have acted as a bit of “Prozac”, plugging holes in unsustainable ways, and thereby preventing feedback from showing up in the form of organizational chaos in several projects I’ve been involved with. The other is that I have not had a solid practice for reliably recharging myself outside of the times when I absolutely need to be “on”. The two are related: I have acted with some unconscious hubris, and it’s time for me to honor my limits more fully and attend to them with love.
These celebrations, mournings and other happenings accompanied my May newsletter.
Web of Support. It’s been a while since I’ve celebrated the quality of support I receive from Dave Belden. Dave makes it possible for me to write with abandon, because I know he will catch what needs to change when he edits everything I write. We have tremendous mutual respect and enough worldview difference that improves my writing as I wrestle with Dave’s comments to integrate his feedback without losing integrity. His support in this area has been steady for five years now, the longest relationship of its kind I’ve had. Although he works only a few hours a week, I doubt I would be able to produce as much as I do without his backing.
Sabbatical. I have both celebration and a mourning here. I am celebrating that I continue to find ways to make writing and certain projects a core priority. I am celebrating that the rest of the work I am doing these days is very much aligned with core mission, as you will see below. And I am mourning that at present, as of the writing of this newsletter, I am definitely in a moment of stress about juggling all that’s on my plate. I was really hoping for that not to be the case this year. It’s been a lot less than in the past, and, still, it’s work in progress. I treasure having this space of celebrations and mournings that serves the purpose of keeping me honest and knowing what I need to do to increase my capacity in this area.
Global Governance. (For those who don’t know: I have put together a group from around the world to submit an entry for the competition put on by the Global Challenges Foundation.) I am celebrating at this time that our design is complete. In other words: we have a draft design of a system of governance that we believe, if implemented, would be capable of attending to the major challenges facing humanity at this time and into the future. The system, in principle, can involve every person living on the planet, has innovative ways of funding itself, and has feedback and conflict resolution built into it. If any of you reading it believe that you have unique expertise or vantage point from within which to offer feedback, please write to firstname.lastname@example.org and let me know what your specific gift could be at this time so I can send you a link.
White Privilege Conference. Last month I co-presented with Victor Lewis at the White Privilege Conference which was held this year in Kansas City, Missouri. I had never before been in an 1,800 people strong, multicultural group of people where there was no effort needed to have a shared agreement that white privilege, and privilege more generally, are vital topics for conversation and, more importantly, action. The sense of relief about that was palpable to me even in the midst of the anguish about how massive the challenges we’re facing are. I continue to offer my twice monthly Facing Privilege calls.
Overcoming Patriarchy. After years of subsuming my feminism under my commitment to NVC, my deep concerns about patriarchy as a system that feeds all that I find troubling have recently increased. I finally decided to start holding monthly calls in this area in addition to the others I have. On May 7th, we had our first call. I am celebrating that it happened; that I was present with my nervousness about it; that some 35 people attended; that we had lively conversation on multiple topics ranging from the historical to the most practical tips about how to lead as a woman; and that the thread of clarity and presence didn’t leave me for the duration, even in a challenging moment. I am now definitely committed to having the Overcoming Patriarchy calls on a monthly basis. Come check it out.
Responding to the Call of Our Times. The joy of this course continues. Most recently, some people within the course are not satisfied with its format while most are. Instead of either having me change what I do and do something I and most don’t want, or simply respond with “too bad, this is how it is”, the group is taking on finding a solution that works better for everyone. The learning is happening in the area I most want to be effective in enhancing: people’s capacity to step into holding and caring for the whole. In case you’ve missed it, you can still join, and you will receive the recordings of all previous classes. Because this is not sequential, and there is no curriculum other than what arises, there is no reason not to join later.
Organizational Work. I still remember the first time, in 2000, of walking into an organizational setting – a company where I had worked years before – to offer something of what I’ve learned through NVC. Fast forward to this year, I experience a sweet alignment between what I most want to offer and the organizational clients I am working with this year. In all cases, the possibility of enhancing function such that all systems are supporting effective work for purpose in alignment with values is the core of what we focus on. One client in particular is a huge joy to work with, because they are taking full ownership of the process, doing their internal work with only coaching and guidance from me as needed. I feel super well used and in total integrity in all my organizational endeavors of this year.
Personal Celebration. Last month I returned from a month-long visit in Israel. Being with my sister Arnina is one long bath in ease, connection, endless fun (she’s the funniest person I know), and poignancy about the permanent loss of Inbal, our third sister. We are also learning so much about how to relate to our 88-year-old mother (Rivka Kashtan, at right, San Francisco airport, 2014), and I am celebrating navigating challenges and continuing to learn things with her and about her. I’ve not had an easy relationship with my mother, and it’s wonderful to be able to celebrate her openness to feedback and to self reflection.
These celebrations, mournings and other happenings accompany my March newsletter. The newsletter is currently going out every two months.
Web of Support. When Anna and Adriana left in the early fall, I was quite worried about how I would manage to continue my work without their support. I knew I didn’t have the budget to replace them, as 2016 was a difficult year financially. Gradually, I pieced together small bits of support from different people both paid and unpaid, and with their support, this year has been a breath of fresh air. I would never have thought that this model would work, and I am so pleased to see how well it does. Most areas in which I need support I am getting it from someone I know well. This is heavenly.
Sabbatical. A lot of people remain confused about what I mean by sabbatical. How can it be a sabbatical when I am doing so much? So I want to clarify again and to celebrate what is happening. The purpose of the sabbatical is not for me to rest. It’s for me to shift the nature and focus of what I do, to accomplish three overlapping goals: to write much more, to stay even closer to my core mission, and to be able to follow my own rhythm with far less effort and responsibility. ALL of it is happening. Writing is pouring out of me, and the more it comes, the more I want to write. There isn’t anything I have planned for this year that is a stretch in terms of effort, mission, or responsibility. And I have been keeping the focus on two days a week in which I am not accountable to anyone. I have always known that unstructured time is my most productive. Now I have twice as much as previously: two days every week. My intention is to continue in this way indefinitely. May I have the good fortune to manage to set things up to make that work.
Convergent Facilitation (CF) Celebrations. My biggest excitement in this moment regarding CF is that it is now interwoven with two other core teaching frames. It means I have a clear frame for what I am happy to teach when I go places, and it means CF is well integrated into my work with change agents and my work on collaboration in the workplace. This year I am offering CF as a standalone workshop only four times, and only one of them is in English: Chicago, Nov 11-13. One in Israel, in Hebrew: Apr 3-4, and two in Spain: Jun 23-25 in Madrid, and Jun 26-29 in Barcelona. I am also integrating it into two facilitation retreats, into a workshop in Czechia on Working for Transformation without Recreating the Past, and into the two CNVC International Intensive Trainings that I am participating in this year. Next year, CF goes to India, Japan, China, Mexico, Brazil, back to the UK and Poland, and Houston. In 2019, I am thinking of going to Colombia and to Nigeria.
Beyond that, I am beginning to pass CF to others, starting with Roxy Manning taking over teaching CF locally in Oakland, July 22, and December 11-12. If you can possibly do it, I think you’re in for a treat.
Stay tuned for details on all of these.
Convergent Facilitation (CF) Mournings. At the same time as all these celebrations, I am also mourning two things about CF. One is that despite so many promising moments and connections, there hasn’t been a second major project. I long for an opportunity to demonstrate in other contexts how much of a breakthrough CF can provide. In these times, especially, I see CF as a key process and capacity to support humanity, and without more projects, I don’t know how to make it known. The other is that the book project is taking longer than I had imagined to bring to a level of bringing it to a publisher. I hope very much to be able to offer a celebration in this next time.
Leveraging Your Influence (LYI). The first LYI event led by others is now scheduled. Aya Caspi, friend and LYI veteran, is joining together with Jihan McDonald to offer an LYI day in May. The LYI East team is surveying the people who’ve been to previous LYI events to see what and when they would offer. People in Europe are still in the early discussion time. And, overall, it’s moving forward. Without my involvement. All that’s on my plate is to support, coach, update materials, tweak the curriculum, receive feedback, and mostly focus elsewhere. I am so grateful to see this transition unfolding.
Global Governance. The group I invited has come together, and we are deeply committed to submitting an entry for the competition put on by the Global Challenges Foundation. Two of the most exciting principles we’ve come up with so far both exist in the realm of paradox which I love. One is that we want our design to allow both for divergence and convergence in group process. The other is that in order for any global governance system to work, it must work for both ends of the power spectrum: both the people with unimaginable power and those without any say must somehow be served by it and embrace it. That’s the true challenge we are facing: how to make it work for all, truly all. Working with the smaller group that’s the most committed is becoming a precious joy as we aim to use our own process in part as a way to live and demonstrate what we are designing.
New Future Process. This is likely my last celebration about NFP for a while. The two and half year process has now moved into its final phase – implementation – after all the parties that have been involved so far have accepted the plan that we created. An Implementation Council is now operating and facing the immense task of operationalizing, prioritizing, and finding ways of funding all the transitions and innovation. In keeping with my sabbatical, I have resigned from the NFP. It’s been a focus that consumed a lot of energy, and it wasn’t consistent with my new focus. I do fully anticipate joining the new organization when it reaches a stage of being joinable. If you want to follow what’s happening, you can find updates on the CNVC website.
Responding to the Call of Our Times. This year, my NVC Academy course is unlike any I’ve done before. Neither the NVC Academy nor I had any idea how it would unfold, since it was so experimental: no curriculum, no specific agenda, no careful planning. Instead, it’s me, on screen with participants, responding in real time to all the challenges everyone has in finding their best self and moving outward from their own personal lives. So far, more than 130 people have signed up to the class, and it’s the first major class I am doing on Zoom rather than Maestro, which means we all get to see each other on the screen. It’s been so joyful, I come every week with utter joy to the next class. In case you’ve missed it, you can still join, and you will receive the recordings of all previous classes.
Support for the Sabbatical. Last time I shared with you that we hired Margo Dunlap to do fundraising and development work. Margo has been on a steep learning curve: about the unusual relationships we have with supporters, about the work we do, and about my very uncommon approach to money. Our shared goal is to create a foundation for my continued ability to contribute in the ways that most utilize my vision, passion, and capacities. Over time, I want to increase my writing time and the free calls more and more, and Margo will be in touch soon. Meanwhile, I wanted to celebrate that in parallel with her coming on board, we are receiving commitments to matching grants, and thus the vision of the long term sabbatical is emerging as entirely possible. Stay tuned for more soon.
Personal Mourning. When my beloved sister Inbal died in 2014, I told all my friends that I had to have a moratorium on loved ones dying. I am grateful to have had a full two and half years before my next loss. Merijane Block (who participated in BayNVC’s Leadership Program in 2005) was a dear and close friend, a radiant lover of life and people, with wisdom and grace that nurtured all her many friends. She faced metastatic breast cancer for 26 years, losing mobility towards the end, and never losing her bright light, even when she was fully in deep discouragement about her life. I found solace in her capacity to meet me in looking at life and death unsparingly and with warmth. She died of a reaction to a medication, without the opportunity to say goodbye, surrounded by love to the end.
This month’s credits, not including the portraits: From top: 1) “Spring” by Ardu (CC BY-NC 2.0); 2) Musco Twilight XII by Phil Roeder (CC BY-NC-ND 2.0); 3) Mandels 2 by Mark Carter (CC BY-NC-ND 2.0). All 3 are from Flickr.
These celebrations, mournings and other happenings accompany my January newsletter. I did not send out a newsletter in October.
Web of Support. My celebration this time goes to the people who organized a last minute Convergent Facilitation training for me in Bristol, England, and then supported me while I was there. Sophie Docker took upon herself an impossible task of making this training happen with less than 2 months notice, during the holiday season, and without any assurance that there would be any income. She pulled it off and I couldn’t imagine a more proactive, flexible, and cheerful organizer. Dorota Godby opened her home to me, and took care of every little detail, including cooking all my meals with such gentle joy that I was in tears. I would go back there in a heartbeat, and, indeed, Sophie is cooking up some plans for 2018.
New development person hired. This is an unofficial welcome to Margo Dunlap who is joining the Fearless Heart team. This is the very first time in our entire existence as a non-profit starting in 2005 that we have a person entirely dedicated to fundraising and development. Stay tuned for more soon. I am super happy this is happening.
Convergent Facilitation (CF). 2016 was a big year for Convergent Facilitation. I conducted workshops in multiple locations in the US, in Europe, and in Israel. I solidified my plans for making CF outlive me, and, as part of that plan, I wrote the manuscript for the CF book. And I hired Aimee to support making these plans a reality. In 2017 we are focusing on finding a publisher for the book and on building the “tribe.” The response to CF continues to be overwhelmingly positive, and I am now in early conversations about two possible international projects that might help with putting CF on the map way more visibly.
CF in the movies… When I was in Paris, teaching CF, the team of the Big Dream, the movie being made about NVC and its social change applications, filmed a simulation of a real issue. This was about a parent-run preschool that is struggling to decide whether or not to adopt an organic standard for the meat they purchase. I felt entirely transported to another reality while the circle met and we converted one comment after another into a list of principles that everyone in the group agreed to. The person whose situation it was felt the magic, too, and was eager to take it back to the school. Although the movie is not likely to be finished for a couple of years, I am utterly pleased that this is now captured.
Leveraging Your Influence (LYI). I am celebrating that my personal involvement in LYI is complete. LYI plans are in the making for both Europe and the US, and news of this will come when they are ready. For now, I am just delighted to notice that letting go of everything was a bit scary, and now I am in full trust that this body of knowledge and practice will continue to move forward. I am even more at peace knowing that Uma Lo is going to take on managing LYI. Uma has been involved with LYI almost from the start as part of the East Coast organizing and design team, and who has been instrumental in getting me to articulate and prioritize a focus on power and privilege at LYI and beyond.
Global Governance. When four different people suggest that I submit an entry for a major prize, I know it’s time to pay attention. This prize was announced by the Global Challenges Foundation. It’s up to $5,000,000, and the invitation is to design a new global governance model to replace the UN, since the UN is inadequate to the task of attending to the major issues that humanity is facing. I think I’ve been waiting for this opportunity, without consciously knowing it, since I was five and began thinking of bringing together the leaders of all the world’s countries to convince them to stop war. I have gathered together a group of people from a number of countries to grapple with the challenge and to see what we can come up with in the very few months that are available to us. It’s coming up just as the New Future Process is winding down for me, and seems entirely aligned with where I see myself wanting to contribute. What a miracle.
Free calls. I am now beginning the 4th year of my offering free conference calls. These calls have consistently been some of my favorite ways of sharing my work with the world. There are many people who are quite regular, so that a sense of community and mutual familiarity has developed. We delve together into everything, without taboo topics, with gentleness and love towards everyone’s experience, and a fierce and loving commitment to challenge, together, our frames for making sense of our experiences and the world. I offer five free calls every month except when my travel schedule makes it impossible. Two of them are dedicated to the topic of facing privilege, which to me is one of the major ways that we can transcend many current blocks in our ability to move forward together. Two of them follow my Fearless Heart blog and related topics, and one is for people who are sharing NVC with others. I just love making these opportunities available to anyone who has access to the internet or a phone line, anywhere in the world (schedules vary to accommodate multiple time zones).
New Future Process. When a letter from the CNVC board came to the New Future Process indicating that they wanted massive changes in what we were producing before they would feel in integrity to move forward, some of us were ready to throw in the towel. After committing ourselves to meet the board with empathy, open-heartedness, curiosity, and courage, we arrived in Albuquerque for a two-day meeting that went as well as any meeting I’ve ever attended, especially when starting in conflict and mistrust. Key to the success was our small team creating a thick web of mutual support amongst us such that none of us feared being alone during the meeting. We then attended to the relationship and our respective emotional experiences before looking at content. Thus it was that when we got to actually looking at the letter, we were already fully together. We were able to find solutions to all of their concerns, and we are moving forward with their blessing. This, at this time of chaos and disintegration, is nurturing my hope that we humans can solve problems when we come together and look for practical solutions that work for all of us.
Support for the Sabbatical. I cannot truly find words for describing the experience of having more and more people step up and find ways of supporting my plans to reduce my income generating activities so I can have more focus on writing, creative projects, and pure giving. This includes a number of people who joined the Circle of Support, including a new major donor committing $500 a month, other one-time donors ranging from a few dozen to $13,000, and two donors who are committing to a very significant matching grant as soon as we launch our campaign designed to make the new focus of a sabbatical an ongoing sustainable reality. Thank you thank you to all who have faith in what I and the Fearless Heart team are doing.