Miki has linked to this page 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.
These celebrations, mournings and other happenings will accompany Miki’s May newsletter later in the week of May 15.
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 email@example.com 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 Miki’s 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 Miki’s January newsletter. Miki 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.
These celebrations, mournings and other happenings accompany Miki’s November newsletter. Miki did not send out a newsletter in October.
Web of Support. This time I want to celebrate the totality of my web, not any one person in particular. For example, I became aware over the summer that I do much better at organizational training or consulting events when there is someone with me – a colleague, apprentice, or friend. I have now made it a reality, and have had people with me in every such event ever since the last newsletter. When I write something and I want feedback, I have many people I can ask that support from, and the final version is so much clearer and on point because of that. I feel truly blessed in this way.
New members of the Fearless Heart team. I want to celebrate the addition of Dawn Raymond and Aimee Ryan to the team. Dawn was perhaps the first BayNVC employee, and then a board member and volunteer for some years, and is now taking on doing administrative tasks on top of her many other activities. I am delighted with the results so far. Aimee has studied Convergent Facilitation with me, and has been a colleague in the immense New Future Process. She is joining as manager of everything Convergent Facilitation, and more on that below.
Expanding the Fearless Heart Team. Because of shifting from full time support to very part time support, and because of unexpected significant funding that has shown up in the last while, I am now able to reach out to the world to ask for two more people to join the team. This will allow us to tend to two areas that have been languishing for lack of funding. Together, I see the two new positions as laying the foundation for long term sustainability for the Fearless Heart even while I reduce my own level of activity.
Preparing for the sabbatical. It’s been a major journey to figure out how I can move towards next year with enough resources to sustain me and those who support my work. I now trust that the paid work I selected for next year, along with the choice to reduce and laser-focus the total hours of paid support, I have a budget that balances well enough for me to take the risk of seeking to hire a fundraising and development person starting next year.
Convergent Facilitation (CF). Last month I both taught and used CF on the east coast. In NYC, we used a hot example for demonstration, and came up with a list of noncontroversial essences for an imaginary church choosing whether or not to post a Black Lives Matter banner on its lawn. I am itching to share that on a blog post, and it has been trumped, twice already… I used CF when working with a non-profit and, once again, saw the power of everyone coming together on the project of making things work for everyone. The biggest CF celebration is that Aimee is joining me. Aimee will be an ear for me when I make decisions about the direction CF will take. She will work with local organizers to make CF trainings easy to organize and more visible. And she will design with me a method for the CF “tribe” to come together for learning, shared practice, and to ultimately take it over, so it can outlive me. I am thoroughly excited and eager to get started. Meanwhile, there are two more CF workshops in Europe this year: Paris, France Dec 5-7, and Bristol, UK, Dec 9-11. In 2017: Spain in June, Israel in April, and more. I am also planning two weeklong facilitation retreats, Jun 12-18 in Poland, and Aug 25-31 in California. Not seeing something in your region? Let me know if you want to organize one. Although my own availability is limited, others are beginning to step in, both in the US and in Europe. In Oakland, Roxy Manning is planning two CF workshops in 2017, and in Europe, Verene Nicholas has begun teaching CF in the UK and France. Stay tuned for all.
Leveraging Your Influence (LYI). I am doing the last day of my own involvement with LYI in December, and then passing it all off to others. It’s bumpy and uneven as we begin the process, and may take some months to be in full gear, and it’s already happening. Aya Caspi, who’s been teaching LYI with me in Oakland, is planning to do three LYI mini-retreats next year each on different aspects of LYI. Some folks in Europe are already planning a retreat. Franca in Nigeria, along with Adam from the east coast LYI team are planning to do an LYI in Nigeria, and Kanya Likanasudh in Thailand probably in 2018. I am slowly resting into the faith that this approach to sharing NVC will stick around for a while. If you missed it until now, stay tuned, as I plan to continue to provide information on how to tap into LYI in different places.
Coaching leaders. While I haven’t worked with individuals on personal matters in a very long time, I do, on occasion, work with individuals who are in positions of leadership, supporting them on the path of collaboration. I am blessed now to have an ongoing relationship with two such leaders. What I love about both relationships is that there is mutual learning all the time. Reclaiming a collaborative approach to leadership is a journey with very few role models in a world that believes that leadership means making all the decisions and that efficiency is the same as the least amount of linear time instead of the most laser-like use of resources to create results. I love in particular the repeated puzzles that arise as we aim to bring together the large vision that lives in me with the practical realities of these extraordinary individuals to forge a path forward that attends to the limitations of where we are while ever moving into more heart, truth, and possibility.
These celebrations, mournings and other happenings accompany Miki’s September newsletter. There was no newsletter in August when Miki was in Europe and hiking the Appalachian Trail.
Web of Support. I have both celebrations and mournings this month. I am in conversation with at least four people who are eager to support my work, either with their skill and passion, or with their financial resources. I anticipate being able to make a more concrete celebration in the next newsletter, and I wanted to celebrate the sense of possibility that these conversations are giving me.
Meanwhile, Adriana Skura, who’s been responsible for every aspect of the operation of the Fearless Heart and much else at BayNVC, moved east to Rochester, NY, for personal reasons, and four years of a very happy collaboration are coming to an end. Working with Adriana nourished and sustained me immensely. I can’t imagine a more steadfast commitment, positive attitude, or openness to feedback. She will be hard to replace.
Supporting NVC in Nigeria. About a year ago, I connected through the NVC Academy with Franca Onyibor from Nigeria. Franca touched my heart instantly, and I wanted to support her. Towards that end I raised some funds to help Franca come to Europe to study with me. Here’s an excerpt from what Franca had to say about what she received: “In your willingness to fund my coming to this event, you are joining in partnership with me in sowing seeds of peace and non violence in Nigeria. Through this, I also experienced interdependence where everyone’s need is held with care irrespective of where the person is positioned in the world. … I am returning to Nigeria to share NVC in our challenging context with a deep sense that I have companions for this journey, whose love and support are there for me especially when things get very difficult. The impact of almost three weeks immersion in NVC consciousness, equipped also with many valuable skills, is empowering me as I step into my power to humbly bring NVC to Nigeria.” It’s still possible to support Franca: if you would like to do so, click here and at “select a designation” choose “LYI Poland Scholarship Fund”.
Convergent Facilitation (CF). While in Europe, I taught Convergent Facilitation twice. I don’t know how to say this more plainly: I just love teaching Convergent Facilitation. It gets clearer and better each time, and I see how much people are taking to it, including activists, community organizers, NGOs, and others. I am planning to continue to share CF with folks even as I wind down many other commitments (more on this elsewhere). I have three more planned for this year: Oakland, October 1-2; New York City Oct 21-23; and France Dec 5-7. In 2017: Spain, Israel, Oakland, Poland, and more. Not seeing one in your region? Let me know if you want to organize one.
Leveraging Your Influence (LYI). I love it that the last LYI retreat was the biggest and most fun that I can remember. There were about 70 of us altogether, representing about 15 countries, mostly from Europe. The level of depth, alignment, fun, and forward movement was astounding. One person said at the end: “I have a sense that we have been in a delivery room, giving birth to our power, with Miki as the midwife. It’s hard, as birthing is often painful. And, at the end of this week, there are a lot of babies around.” I couldn’t hope for better. Later this month I am meeting with the 16 or so people who want to take LYI forward, and will no doubt have a report to give afterwards.
Backpacking on the Appalachian Trail. This year was my 60th birthday. As part of the celebration, I decided to put together a group of people to take a weeklong hike on the Appalachian Trail, the eastern part of the USA. This trip happened Sep 1-7. I am so joyful and grateful for the support of two people who organized every last detail of it, and to the seven people who joined me on this adventure. It was an exertion. It was immense beauty. And the group that came together was just perfect, as we all shared a love of beauty, nature, working with our bodies, and, more than anything else, good conversation. We had such amazing conversations, in twos, threes, and even the whole group, ranging from the largest theological questions to the most intimate inner processes. I am enriched and delighted to have participated, and hoping for more in the coming years.
CNVC New Future Process. In July, I led two live presentations about the plan that has emerged from the process we’ve been on. I loved the aliveness, the excitement, and the thoughtful questions that came up. I also presented it, more informally, to the groups I was with in Europe, with a similar response. You can find out more by looking at http://cnvc.org/future and following links. Right now the main activity is feedback, as some people are working hard on managing translation, and others are providing feedback on the plan. We anticipate a shift to the new organization form at the beginning of February, once the feedback has been integrated.
My Upcoming Sabbatical. I already mentioned that a couple of people approached me for the possibility of contributing financially to my work. One of them wanted to have a clear plan about what it will be, and we had a long conversation while I was in Europe, about how to combine my imminent need for a sabbatical with moving the work forward. An ingenious combination of shifting much of my time to writing and finding other people who can move the work forward has emerged. Of course, the funding may not happen in the end, and I am still celebrating the clarity I have now about how to make the sabbatical work for me. If this funding won’t happen, I have quite a bit of faith that I will find a way to crowd-fund at least some core aspects of the plan, and I am eagerly awaiting the coming year in which I see myself making a huge dent in some of my languishing writing projects. The joy about this knows no bounds.
These celebrations, mournings and other happenings accompany Miki’s July newsletter.
Web of Support Mourning. In the last year-plus-a-little, I’ve been in the extraordinarily fortunate position of being able to rely on Anna Barnett for support in the most crucial aspects of my work: she’s been shaping the arc of what’s coming, figuring out how to reach out to others about it, writing and editing core messages to the world, and teaching me invaluable lessons about how to function more effectively. Sadly, Anna is leaving at the end of the month, returning to her freelance work, which I hope to be part of as one of her clients. Not the same, of course. I am mourning the impending loss, and celebrating all that’s been coming to me through her intelligent generosity.
Convergent Facilitation (CF). I am celebrating extraordinarily helpful feedback on my CF book manuscript from Jean Meier that is helping me get it to a next level. The Seattle workshop is over, a few more are planned for this year, and I am already getting invitations for next year. In 2016: Oxford, England, Aug 19-21; New York City Oct 21-23; and France Dec 5-7. In 2017: Spain (three different cities!), Israel, Oakland, Chicago, and possibly Japan. Not seeing one in your region? Let me know if you want to organize one.
Leveraging Your Influence (LYI). I am celebrating the last LYI retreat in the US. It was a smaller group than I had hoped for, and unusually cohesive and “ready” for the work. It was clear to me people really wanted what I was offering, and I was seeing major transformation all around me. I have a meeting planned with the next generation in September to imagine a plan going forward starting in 2017 that will keep the flame going and feeding all of us. I am quivering in humility and excitement to see how it will grow and morph as others step into more leadership. There is hardly any room left in the very last one in Poland Aug 5-11, so if you are still hesitating, now is your chance.
Working for Transformation. I am most excited when the people who join a program of mine are exactly the people I most designed the course for. This is what’s true of this course. I am so moved to hear the stories of struggle and commitment people have been bringing. Only two sessions in, and people are already applying what they are learning, especially about leadership that is open, humble, and collaborative as they step into power in their movements for change… I could never go as far as they are going, in such diverse contexts, including organizing marginalized communities in Texas and supporting Armenian children. If you want to join, it’s still possible, and you will receive the recordings of the first few sessions. Something’s happening in this course that I’ve wanted to see happen for many years, as people engage deeply with nonviolence and its most mundane applications to how they do their work.
A Movie Project? I have been in conversation for several months now with a film director who is excited about my stories of the future that appear in my book Reweaving Our Human Fabric. We are inching our way to a concept and synopsis that we both are jazzed about, at which point we will be looking for a screenwriter to convert it to an actual movie. The piece I am particularly celebrating now is that, as part of this unfolding, I finally found a way to imagine a plausible path into a future that works. As improbable as it might be, the fact that I can envision it (as can the few others I’ve shared it with already) gives me such joy, that my days are a little lighter, even with all the intensity in the world and in my own life.
Image credit: Hollywood, by Shinya Suzuki, Flickr, CC BY 2.0
These celebrations, mournings and other happenings accompany Miki’s May newsletter.
Web of Support Celebrations.
Today I want to celebrate the many, many people who make my work possible by giving me endless small gifts: connecting me to someone for work, sending me an unsolicited small transcript of something they found meaningful, taking notes and sending them to me later, trusting me with their stories that serve as the foundation of my ongoing faith… and so much more. These acts of kindness, along with the steady stream of reminders about how my work supports people I don’t even know it supports are indispensable for my ability to keep going.
Image credit: Planets of droplets – water droplets on spider’s web, by aotaro, Flickr, (CC BY 2.0)
A Personal Update. I left home March 22 for a six-week trip from which I came back just recently. This was a difficult trip. The first part was an intensive meeting of the Integration Council of the CNVC New Future Process. For four long days we completed a big chunk of bringing together the work of many months into one coherent plan. I facilitated much of the meeting, which was challenging, rewarding, and exhausting. I got to Israel for a month to be with my sister and to deal with a challenging family situation. I then visited Europe for a few days, meeting friends and colleagues, and then came home. I came with less hope and energy than I had before I left, and I am mourning this. The combination of family challenge and the remaining mystery about how to create sustainability for the work I am doing are weighing on me. Life is a mystery, and this may change tomorrow. For now, there is much mourning in this.
Convergent Facilitation (CF). My most recent CF celebration is that I finished the manuscript I’ve been working on for the last many moons. Now is time to shop for a publisher. It’s a huge milestone on the road to having CF recognized and known, and solid enough to outlive me. Next year I am planning an apprentice program, and this year there are still quite a number of CF workshops: inSeattle July 2-3; in Oxford, England, Aug 19-21; in New York City Oct 21-23; and in France Dec 5-7. The 2017 CF schedule is not yet ready.
Leveraging Your Influence (LYI). I am celebrating how much the yearlong LYI program is already self-managing, as the passing of the baton to Aya is continuing to happen. It’s an astonishing feeling to trust someone so much that I am hardly involved with decisions. Each month I leave at 3pm, and the program continues without me. Last month I was in Israel and the program already happened, with Jihan MacDonald assisting Aya. This is heaven for me, to be able to release responsibility to such a degree. Soon I plan to coalesce the next generation. More on all that in the future. Meanwhile, you still have two opportunities to participate with me leading: one in Chicago Jun 23-29 or the very last one in Poland Aug 5-11.
Workplace Collaboration. I am both teaching about and living collaboration in the workplace. The class I’ve been teaching at the NVC Academy about Collaboration in the Workplace is coming to an end this week, and plans are already in place to convert it to an in-person workshop, delivered for the first time in France this winter. The level of hunger for collaboration is overwhelming. I see it everywhere, and I feel blessed to be able to support people in inching their way in this direction, against all odds sometimes. Meanwhile, at BayNVC, we are collaborating on finding a path forward that provides enough sustainability both financial and in terms of our own very human resources. It is heartening to me that Anna and Rose (Slam) are leading this initiative. Once again, I can step down from some responsibility, which is essential for my well being. Being so willing to support their leadership means more ease for me, which is one of the great boons of collaboration.
CNVC New Future Process. This past month I did two presentations about the results of the work done so far on designing a new way for the global NVC network to organize itself both as a community and as an organization nested within the community. One presentation was in Israel and one in Belgium. In both cases the level of excitement was really high, and I loved the questions that have been asked. Work continues, and I am particularly heartened to see the level of collaboration between those of us working as part of the New Future Process, and those who are currently staff and board of CNVC. It’s deeply moving to see the trust and co-creation that are taking place in planning the actual transition, when the rubber begins to hit the road. You can still follow what we are doing on the cnvc.org/future site, and to observe meetings that are still happening. Soon there will be a full plan ready for feedback, and you will likely hear more from me then.
Working for Transformation Course. When Anna and I came up with the idea of partnering with other individuals and organizations to make this course happen, I didn’t for a second imagine the results. We now have 18 partners, including people and movements I’ve been looking up to for years! Together, in addition to calling in the people to participate, we are co-creating a collaborative primer on transformative nonviolence. It’s humbling and moving and inspiring to see this coming together, several pages of resources some of which I didn’t even know existed. This in itself is such a huge celebration, because it is modeling the very things this course is teaching.
These celebrations, mournings and other happenings accompany Miki’s April newsletter.
Web of Support Celebrations. Today I want to celebrate Anna Kassulke from Australia. Anna came to the workshop I did back in October, and stepped forward in offers of support that were just extraordinarily fitting for what I sometimes need. Even as we speak, Anna is doing academic and literary research for me on the topic of needs, fairness, and gift economies, about which I am planning to write an article for a print magazine. One of those “what would I do without her?” kind of experiences.
Convergent Facilitation (CF). This month I led my first Convergent Facilitation workshop in Hebrew. I truly miss living in Hebrew, the one thing I just can’t get over even after 33 years of living abroad. CF certainly works in Hebrew, too. I have now taught CF in all the languages I know. We’ve also been using CF in our own meetings on staff, supporting us in holding together the complex situation we are facing. Meanwhile, we have scheduled another free CF workshop in Oakland October 1-2, which is not yet posted. In addition, I am scheduled to do CF workshops in Seattle July 2-3; in Oxford, England, Aug 19-21; in New York City Oct 21-23; and in France Dec 5-7. Requests for CF workshops in 2017 are starting to arrive.
Leveraging Your Influence (LYI). The last two retreats that I am planning on leading are gathering steam. I am amazed by the inner clarity about passing this work on to others even as I love doing it. It is complete, and I am thinking more and more about how to more effectively jump-start the next generation of LYI trainers into taking the leap. If you want to be part of it while I am still leading the retreats, you can sign up for the one in Chicago Jun 23-29 or the very last one in Poland Aug 5-11.
My Consulting Work. In the medium run, I see the Center for Efficient Collaboration (CEC) as a key possibility for both transformation and sustainability. Although still in its infancy, we are slowly getting more exposure. I am particularly excited, this month, about new opportunities coming up this spring and fall to support values alignment work in two non profits with visionary scope, and about a likely piece of work that will engage me with individuals and organizations in the US involved with the Israeli-Palestinian conflict.
Working for Transformation without Recreating the Past. This class starts in June, and what I am celebrating is the way it’s being put together. Thanks to Anna’s creative thinking, we have approached a number of organizations and individuals working for social transformation to invite them to partner with us on this project. I am humbled and honored that so many of them are choosing to endorse this class, to provide us with materials, so that the reading list will be comprehensive and way beyond NVC per se, and so that many people outside the NVC community can have access to a very thorough introduction to principles of deep nonviolence in support of their work for change. Stay tuned for more information about the class itself. For now, I am just loving that we apply the principles of collaboration to how we do our work, not only to what we teach and consult about.
These celebrations, mournings and other happenings accompany Miki’s March newsletter.
Web of Support Celebrations. In general, in this corner of my newsletter, I celebrate volunteers – people who have given their time, love, skill, expertise, and camaraderie to support my work. In this case, the work that Adriana did in support of the recent Convergent Facilitation workshop went so far beyond a “job” that I feel compelled to name it here. We had more than 3 times as many people as would fit in the room sign up for this workshop. As operations manager, Adriana handled every single aspect of this workshop from start to end. Despite the extremely high stress level, the love, generosity, and commitment kept coming from Adriana before, during, and beyond the workshop into all the complex follow up work. What a privilege it is to work with her.
Convergent Facilitation (CF) Workshops. Last month I led the first free Convergent Facilitation workshop in Oakland. It was both a huge celebration and a significant mourning folded together. The celebration, beyond just the sheer number of people who came, is my sense of how much people learned, and the level of interest in bringing the work to the organizations that people are in. Given that many of the people who came are change agents, I have some hope that CF will continue on the trajectory of becoming more and more known as a methodology for collaborative decision-making in groups. The mourning is that a profound misunderstanding occurred with a participant that was never resolved, and, perhaps as a result, about a third of the people didn’t come back for the second day. A big piece of my mourning is about having clearly made a mistake in not thinking through the potential effects of what I said. An even bigger piece, though, is that, collectively, we continue to “punish” rather than heal and learn from mistakes. I want leaders and allies to be supported rather than criticized when we make mistakes, because we will, as all of us do. This is critical enough for me that I plan to write about these dynamics in a blog post soon. Meanwhile, we have scheduled another free CF workshop October 1-2, which is not yet posted. Meanwhile, I have CF workshops scheduled in Israel April 7-8 (in Hebrew); in Seattle July 2-3; in Oxford, England, Aug 19-21; in New York City Oct 21-23; and in France Dec 5-7.
Writing. This past month two longer pieces of mine got published. One, called The Freedom to Disobey, was posted on academia.edu. It contains my thoughts about the dangers of training our children for obedience given the degree to which morality rests on empathy and inner freedom. The other, called A Blueprint for Collaborative Lawmaking was published in the Interdisciplinary Journal for Partnership Studies, a magazine created by Riane Eisler who coined the term partnership studies. It’s about my work in Minnesota and contains more vignettes that aren’t in the case study. Please pass around these links to potentially interested people.
Please help make a movie about Marshall Rosenberg and NVC! Six NVC trainers in France led by Saleem Ebrahim, pictured above, and director Geneviève Roger, are asking for funding to create a major documentary movie about Marshall Rosenberg and his influence in the world. Check out their fundraising website and the many clips they have posted there from their filming over the last year. They are now at the place where they need major crowd funding to enable the movie to go forward.
Turning 60. This is a purely personal celebration. I turned 60 on February 18, and had a big party two days later, in between the two days of the CF workshop. I feel happy, mischievous, and triumphant about having reached 60 and living life the way I do. Even though life has always been and continues to be full of challenges of all kinds, I keep coming back to my commitment to meet life with an open heart, integrity, curiosity, generosity, and trust. Over time, it gets easier, not harder, to do so.
Leveraging Your Influence (LYI). The Oakland-based yearlong program continues, and the rhythm is very satisfying. I have three hours in the morning to distill what I want to convey to people about the topic of the day, which is an amazing and rich discipline. Then, after lunch, I offer coaching on facilitation while Aya coaches people on empathy and other leadership skills. Then I go through a moment of surrender each month as Aya leads the group in practice and deepening of what we did in the morning. I sense the growing willingness in me to transfer this rich territory to others to the group of people who have been studying with me for some time and are more and more willing to take on the responsibility. I have two more LYI retreats to lead, and that will be the end of my own involvement in LYI as we know it. If you want to be part of it while I am still leading the retreats, you can sign up for the one in Chicago Jun 23-29 or the very last one in Poland Aug 5-11.
My Consulting Work. When BayNVC launched the Center for Efficient Collaboration (CEC) in October, our hope was to increase the visibility of the work we’ve been doing, and to distinguish training in NVC from NVC-infused consulting work. As is with so many new endeavors, it’s taking time for the shift to occur. I am celebrating, this month, that this shift is happening and I’ve taken on two engagements that are completely aligned with the purpose for which we created CEC. One just finished, bringing together two national organizations that have been embroiled in conflict. Following a series of interviews and a three-day intensive retreat, they are now ready to collaborate on major projects, having done healing work as well as planning concrete steps for maintaining the gains from the retreat. The other is still ongoing, supporting the leadership of an organization based in Oakland in providing feedback to each other after years of challenge on their team. Both of these projects have been sponsored by organizations that are themselves networks, thus providing more visibility and access to additional possibilities. Seeing how quickly and profoundly the work transforms, I am eager to apply it in more and more contexts.
These celebrations, mournings and other happenings accompany Miki’s February newsletter.
Web of Support Celebrations. This month, the strongest support I received was from the people who hosted me in Costa Rica and in Mexico. Everywhere I came, despite challenges about food, transportation, and the inevitable uncertainties and stresses that travel and teaching entail, my hosts and organizers remained loving, open, creative, and resourceful. They are still smiling at me and sending me messages of love, as I do them. Thank you Christine and your team in Costa Rica, and Rodrigo and many others in Mexico. I am so glad to know you.
Leveraging Your Influence (LYI). The LYI retreat in Costa Rica was one magical experience.
Across language and culture, the message carried deeply and fully. I experienced a degree of companionship that took me to a place of such rest, despite the hard work. I had a sense that people are taking the message and integrating it minute by minute. They are meeting to take inventory of their privileges and choose how they want to steward them for the benefit of all. I am in heaven.
Meanwhile, the Oakland-based yearlong program is continuing and thriving, and the handoff to Aya is more and more real in preparation for next year. I have two more LYI retreats to lead – Jun 23-29 in Chicago and Aug 5-11 in Poland. – and then, next year, it belongs to the amazing people who are getting readier and readier to take it over – locally, around the US, and beyond. Stay tuned for more celebrations as the year progresses.
Convergent Facilitation (CF). This weekend I am delivering the largest ever CF workshop to a packed room of 150 people. Meanwhile, I have CF workshops scheduled in Asheville, NC, March 25-27; in Israel April 7-8 (in Hebrew); in Seattle July 2-3; in Oxford, England, Aug 19-21; in Oakland again, another free one, Oct 1-2; in NYC Oct 21-23; and in France Dec 5-7. Next year I am imagining an intensive training program, though that has not been determined. Wow.
Teaching in Mexico. Beginning in Costa Rica, and solidifying in Mexico, I was able to teach in Spanish, increasing my fluency by leaps and bounds every day. Having not lived in Spanish since 1970, this was a huge experience for me. I also carry with me deeply the memory of one woman in Puebla, who, at a certain moment, got deeply what I was saying, brand new information for her. Agitated and with growing visible awareness and excitement with each word, she said something like: Making decisions together? That changes everything… my children… my husband… my family… in school… at work… … the government… everywhere… I am shocked, and I am so uncomfortable, and I am grateful.
Working with Youth. For the first time ever, I have been invited to provide some training to a group of youth. This is a most unusual group – interns with RJOY, one of my admired organizations in the world (Restorative Justice for Oakland Youth.) I visited their circle today and participated in their activities. What a deep and amazing honor it is to be allowed into their lives and dreams. I took the opportunity seriously, and chose to speak openly and vulnerably of some personal experiences as well as comment on the material we were exposed to. I felt a clear sense of trust and connection, and look forward to when I work with them directly. Meanwhile, I am collaborating with them in designing what specifically to focus on in the training, and they are rising to the occasion.
These celebrations, mournings and other happenings accompany Miki’s January newsletter.
Web of Support Celebrations. The hat goes to Julie Lawrence this month. I met Julie when I was in Australia in October when she picked me up from the airport, and I rather idly asked her how she was bringing her computer skills together with her passion for NVC. It took me a while to recognize that the Julie that other people at BayNVC were raving about, the person who came to our rescue regarding website maintenance, is the same Julie I knew. Now Julie is maintaining our three websites, doing it with grace, effectiveness, and an amazing spirit of humor and friendliness. And she is volunteering! Wow.
Facing Privilege. This past year I started having monthly calls to look, together, at the topic of privilege. I am deeply touched seeing how much the calls have been speaking to a true need for a place where questions, doubts, irreverence, commitment, curiosity, depth, and honesty about the topic of privilege are welcomed; a place where no one is shunned because of an unpopular opinion or statement. This is simply sacred work for me, which is why I decided to double the frequency of these calls.
Leveraging Your Influence (LYI). The Oakland-based yearlong program is off to a start. Aya and I co-led the day, with numbers that far exceeded what we imagined. More than 50 people signed up for the program, and our first day was rich with known and unexpected opportunities for learning. As you receive this, I am leading an LYI retreat in Costa Rica. LYI has been an amazing journey, and my last year of it is already so satisfying. I hope you will consider joining me for one of the remaining two LYI retreats that I am still planning to lead myself: Jun 23-29 in Chicago and Aug 5-11 in Poland.
Convergent Facilitation (CF). I grew up as an ostracized child. If anyone ever told me back then that a workshop of mine would be sold out two months before it’s offered, I simply would not have believed it. I still am barely able to believe it, and yet we now have a waiting list of 175 people and growing by the day. I am also now scheduled to do CF workshops in Asheville, NC in March, Israel in April, Seattle in July, UK in August, and NY in October. I am also doing two CF trainings internally within organizations this year. And, locally, we are scrambling to figure out how to find a way to respond to the clear hunger for tools that we have tapped into in the activist and change agent community. We are hoping to be able to receive funding to conduct more free workshops locally. Stay tuned for more about this.
Circle of Support. The response to my last newsletter was quite amazing. No, we didn’t make our goal of $2,500 per month by the end of 2015. However, as I wrote in the current newsletter, 17 people joined the circle since that letter, and people continue to join. The total number of people in the circle is at an all time high: 74 people. Together, they are contributing $1,971 every month. This makes the average contribution $27. At this rate, to reach my long term goal of $9,000, which would allow me to make all my public offerings completely free of charge, will take another 253 people. Will you be one of them?
Responding to the world. Once again, I wrote in response to events in the world. This time, it was about the climate talks in Paris. Rather than looking at whether or not the change is “enough”, I focused instead on the unprecedented event of all the world’s countries agreeing on something of substance. The post is called COP21 – the Unrecognized Milestone.
Working in the Philanthropy Field. In this past year, I’ve been doing more and more work supporting philanthropists. This work, by its nature, is quite private. I am celebrating having more and more opportunities opening up. As in every other sector I have worked with, I am seeing the same aspirations and challenges: people wanting to collaborate, to figure out ways of working together across differences of power and worldviews, while the skills and intentions necessary for such collaboration remain elusive. I am glad to support the people who support so much of the fabric of what makes life possible for some and more meaningful for others.
Collaborations. I have been on the advisory board of the Metta Center for Nonviolence Education for some time now, a great honor considering the amazing and pioneering work they do. More recently, I’ve written two articles for them, and we are beginning to consider more ways of collaborating. The Metta Center is co-sponsoring my upcoming course at the NVC Academy starting in June called “Working for Transformation without Recreating the Past” which is for social activists. I have also chosen to endorse a new initiative called 1000 trainings in nonviolence – aiming to publicize and connect nonviolence training worldwide.
These celebrations and mournings accompany Miki’s December newsletter.
Web of Support Celebrations. Many of you have benefited from the support that Jason Stewart has been offering for a couple of years now. He’s been editing and posting all the recordings from my free calls. He’s been offering technical support to the Fearless Heart team, especially with regards to the website. And he’s been working on the audio part of a long term project – the Making Life Work self-study guide. All this, and the cheering energy it comes with, as a volunteer, and for a long time. Jason is getting ready to retire from his volunteer role, wishing to focus more locally in Wales, where he now lives. I am, in this moment of sadness about it, celebrating the high degree of collaboration and care I experience in how he is doing this. I have full trust in his commitment to shepherd the handing over of his responsibilities to other people.
Facing Privilege. I am mourning the continued existence of social divisions that have such devastating effects. Globally and within the US, resources are allocated in ways that threaten people’s very lives, and certainly their dignity and all of our humanity. One of my responses to this wrenching and sustained tragedy has been to set up free calls where everyone who wants to explore the topic of privilege is welcome to come. I celebrate the deepening trust within those calls, and my growing ability, in part as a result of leading these calls, to incorporate an understanding of the workings of privilege into more and more of what I do: in writing, in conversations with people, while teaching, and in my organizational work. I don’t have the illusion that this commitment, in itself, will make a dent in the larger order of things. I do see it creating ripples, however small. And it makes my life more whole to do so.
Leveraging Your Influence (LYI). Since I last sent a newsletter, I’ve led my last planned LYI retreat in the East Coast, and a free workshop in Oakland as an introduction to the topic and to the yearlong program. I am also continuing to do the preliminary work with a team of people who are supporting me in planning a training of trainers for 2017 in Europe, part of my plan for releasing LYI to others to teach. I am celebrating two things in particular this month. One is mixed with mourning: at the retreat in NY, Uma Lo and I collaborated throughout the retreat on making a focus on the effects of privilege on our capacity to leverage our influence and also within our own group. There was significant pain for a number of people – both people of color and white people, and we are keen to figure out how to support the continued learning about this integration of perspective with far less cost, especially for people of color. Still, I have a sense that at least some of the conversations had a degree of honesty and wholeness to them that I feel satisfied with.
The second celebration is the growing clarity in how LYI is described, which is inviting into the room people who are more and more aligned with the vision of this program. Eighty people attended the daylong in Oakland, and I felt elated to see the degree of congruence between their spoken hunger to find new meaning and service in their lives, and what I most want people to take home with them. I hope you will consider joining me for one or more of the remaining LYI events that I am still planning to lead myself: The yearlong program in Oakland starting in January, which I am co-leading with Aya Caspi, and three LYI weeklong retreats: Jan 15-21 in Costa Rica (for Spanish speakers only: Spanish description, registration in English), Jun 23-29 in Chicago (the very last one I am leading in the US; registration not ready yet), and Aug 5-11 in Poland.
Convergent Facilitation (CF). My biggest celebration with regards to CF is the reception that the case study about the work in Minnesota is receiving. I am so happy that the work that Anna put into interviewing people and writing the case study manages to show people how exceptional this tool is. I am eagerly awaiting possible upcoming opportunities to apply CF in other large scale, multi-stakeholder settings. My second celebration is that I am doing a 2-day FREE CF training in Oakland in February, primarily focusing on change agents, and it’s filling up really fast. And my third celebration is that people are eager for me to offer these in other places as well, and I am in the process of scheduling five additional ones in other parts of the US as well as one in Europe in the summer. More on all this in upcoming newsletters.
Growing courage in responding to the world. I have written before, more than once, about not knowing how to make change in what is happening in the world. I only know how to stay focused on the one piece I do have a say about: how do I respond to all that I am aware of in a way that is most congruent with my deepest values? How do I mobilize whatever privileges I have in service of the whole? I am delighted to see my growing willingness to speak and write in a more visible way than before. For example, in the face of the media reaction to the recent attacks in Paris, I immediately knew what I wanted to do: use the privilege I have of writing with ease on a platform that some people read. I posted a blog piece, “The Uneven Distribution of Violence and the News,” in which I challenge the focus on Paris, and bring attention to other dimensions of privilege and to the connections between things.
My free calls. I have now been doing free calls for about a year, and it’s been growing. I so love doing them, in so many ways. First, I simply love doing things for free. My spirit and soul know this as a deep human way of being – sharing our bounty with others, unconditionally. It works so well for me. Second, I love what happens on the calls. There is no curriculum, no set agenda. I co-create what happens with whoever is there based on the purpose of the call. The quality of companionship I experience is super sweet, as we explore and learn together. Sometimes it’s talking with people about my latest blog posts, which is what we do on the Fearless Heart Teleseminars (January 10, & January 11). Sometimes it’s conversations about privilege, which is deep and rewarding work to do in the company of others who are similarly drawn to it, which is what we do in the Facing Privilege calls. And sometimes it’s examining deep issues about sharing NVC from the perspective of the principle-based teaching approach I have developed, which I do in my apprentice calls (you can purchase the Principle-Based Teaching packet at the BayNVC Store, and then contact us if you are called to participate). All of them have been joyful for me this year, no exceptions that I can remember.
CNVC New Future Process. I have written here before about the unfolding of my participation in this process. Our work in the Structure and Governance Working Group is coming to an end, and we are in the process of finalizing our design and preparing it for the Integration Council that comes next, putting it all together. I am in awe of this process, and with the prospect of participating in creating a blueprint that could be used by other global organizations that are eager to shift to a fully collaborative, self-managing, purpose-driven way of functioning. For me personally, it’s such a joy to translate the principles I have been living and applying and teaching for all these years into something this visionary and big. Stay tuned for the unfolding, and check out updates on the New Future Process.
These celebrations accompany Miki’s October newsletter.
Mission Blue II Voyage. I am planning to write more about my experiences on the National Geographic Orion ship accompanying the Mission Blue II group of scientists, environmental leaders, philanthropists, and TED conference president and producers. Mission Blue II was designed to support the scaling up of efforts to save the oceans. My role was to support collaboration. My hope was to see dramatic new initiatives emerge from the trip, and to find ways of supporting them in getting there. The reality as I now see it: I contributed, as almost always, to individuals and relationships, not on a systemic level. Many people appreciated my presence and said it made a difference. I am inspired by every single one of the initiatives that emerged from this trip, and hope that at least some of the nine that emerged make it to their hoped-for finish line. Still, I am sobered by seeing that even people with far wider spheres of influence than I have are as blocked as I am to imagine how to make a true dent in fossil fuel burning and related climate change realities. One day I dream of facilitating a conversation between some of the top environmental groups and some of the key corporations that are at odds with each other. What would be policy recommendations that all of them could truly agree on?
Web of Support Celebrations. I finally realized that there is no reason to separate those whose livelihoods are tied up with the BayNVC team from those who are fortunate enough to be able to offer their support as a pure gift. This last month Rebecca Sutton, longtime friend and supporter, showed up in the exact right moment, rolled up her sleeves and plunged into writing a draft proposal for us while we were all busy getting ready for the launch of the Center for Efficient Collaboration. Without prior experience and with boundless enthusiasm, humility, and responsibility, Rebecca got us to the finish line.
Leveraging Your Influence. The workshop I led yesterday in Brisbane, Australia was an introduction to the materials I have developed for LYI. I was elated to see how much I was able to share in such a short time with enthusiastic responses. People seriously engaged with the idea of embracing and stepping into their full power while bringing endless tenderness to their current reality. I particularly enjoyed supporting a German man whose early childhood took place under Nazi rule in recovering his ability to smile, to breathe, to hold himself with love, and to ask for what he needed. These kinds of miracles happen regularly at LYI, and I hope you will join me for one of the remaining offerings before I release this program and materials to others to teach. The retreats are Oct 23-29 in Upstate NY, Jan 15-21 in Costa Rica (for Spanish speakers only), Jun 23-29 in Chicago (the very last one in the US), and Aug 5-11 in Poland. The open, free workshop is Nov 8 in Oakland. And the yearlong program, the last one I plan to participate in, starts in January.
Convergent Facilitation. This past month, I taught a 3-day introduction and practice immersion in Convergent Facilitation (CF). It was like candy. The crowd – facilitators, mediators, and NVC people – was just the perfect mix for us to be able to play together with deep questions of process and change. I have so much hope that the people who attended will actually put what they learned to practice. Soon, I hope to start collecting stories from CF practitioners around the world. One person who wasn’t even at the training, who only heard some of the basic principles of CF on a discussion board that I am part of, dared to put them to practice at a meeting in a school that was questioning a program she offers to schools. The result? The school board changed their agenda for the day, asked her to continue to facilitate, and hired her to run the program. There is something here that tends to create such astonishing results, and I am so eager for the experiments to turn into more of a norm in group decision-making.
CNVC New Future Process – Conversation with Frederic Laloux. This past month I had a Skype call with Frederic Laloux, the author of Reinventing Organizations, a self-published book that’s been making strong waves. He agreed to review and provide feedback on the work of the Structure and Governance Working Group that I am part of. I was delighted to speak with him on two levels. One is that his feedback was the best kind I can imagine: at once affirming and challenging. He appreciated our work and saw it as aligned with the principles he is recommending based on his research. He offered no criticism, only a few rich and deep questions for us to reflect on, which I am eager to do with the rest of the group. The second level was just the pure joy of companionship in vision and clarity. I so enjoyed the connection, and am so enthusiastic about the potential overlaps and collaborations between his work and my own. Click here for updates on the New Future Process.
A personal update. When I last sent a newsletter, my sister Arnina was still stuck in Europe with passport issues that prevented her from entering the US. She arrived, finally, on the 18th of September, and was with me until I left for my journey on October 6th, leaving the next day. Inbal’s death has gotten us even closer to each other and to our mother. Arnina and I talk daily and accompany each other despite the significant distance, almost opposite ends of the world. During this time I also inaugurated a microscopic experiment in community by creating monthly social gatherings in my house. Combining meaning and fun, good food and play, and bringing together people who don’t know each other into a regular environment gives me hope that a true community might finally emerge in my life over time.
These celebrations accompany Miki’s September newsletter.
Web of Support Celebrations. Very regularly, these days, new people are offering their support. It is humbling to know that there is absolutely no way that I could generate enough income to provide livelihood for more people than are already on the team currently. That there are so many people happy to help is one key element that feeds my confidence to keep going, especially when my inner resilience is low.
Leveraging Your Influence. Last month, I had my first conversation with the team that is doing the long range planning of this work. We have quite a bit of work ahead of us. For me, the biggest task is to codify and articulate all that I do in these workshops and retreats. Knowing I have only four more retreats before I turn it over to others is at one and the same time exciting, daunting, and a bit wistful. Meanwhile, check out the upcoming opportunities to participate. The retreats are Oct 23-29 in Upstate NY, Jan 15-21 in Costa Rica (for Spanish speakers only), Jun 23-29 in Chicago (the very last one I am scheduled to lead in the US), and Aug 5-11 in Poland. The open, free workshop is Nov 8 in Oakland. And the yearlong program, the last one I plan to participate in, starts in January.
Convergent Facilitation. Finally, our case study about the work in Minnesota is posted on the website, and you can read all the details of what went into the breakthrough results that were achieved. Also, an Op Ed co-authored by the two opposing legislators is published in the Governing journal. I am in conversations with three new potential applications on a public policy level, and interest just keeps growing. I am also slowly finishing a book I want to publish on this revolutionary methodology that, to my mind, changes what collaboration looks like. If you do any work with groups, please consider coming to the next scheduled workshop in San Francisco, October 2-4.
My Free Offerings. I am delighted to be in a flow about the workshops and teleseminars I am offering. There is now a rhythm – I have six calls every month, and three workshops this year (four planned for next year). I particularly enjoyed the last free workshop I offered on August 30th on the topic of requests. In this photo from that event, I am with my friend Show (Shougen Horoiwa), Zen Buddhist and translator, who flew in from Japan to learn more about NVC, and especially to see me. I have a sense that the gift experiment is taking roots, people are getting used to it, and everyone understands better what I am doing and why I am doing it, also in terms of the contents of the workshops. I continue to derive unprecedented joy from giving my work away. Oddly, it feels like the same joy of doing something that is “forbidden”, as if I am getting away with something! I continue to aim for having all my public offerings be gifts to the community. You can support this in happening by joining the Circle of Support.
CNVC New Future Process. The Structure and Governance Working Group that I am part of is now digesting the feedback that came when we distributed our first proposal. This is a challenging time, as we have put enormous energy into creating this proposal, and are somewhat struggling to find more energy, as volunteers on top of our other work, to complete this task. Still, I remain excited about what we are doing and hopeful that we will create a structure for the global NVC network that will support it in becoming more coordinated, visionary, and effective in contributing to the world so many of us dream about. Click here for updates on the New Future Process.
Partnership within the team. I continue to be nourished and amazed by the quality of partnership and creativity within the team. It only gets better. In particular, this month I am in awe of the work that Anna Barnett has been doing in support of launching the new Center for Efficient Collaboration on October 1st. We have had conversations within BayNVC about creating a separate entity to do the work within organizations since at least 2006, and it is only now, with Anna’s arrival in June, that all the pieces are in place to make it happen. More on this in emails from the new center. Stay tuned.
This accompanies Miki’s August newsletter.
Web of Support Celebrations. The big celebration of the month is about the growth of the little tribe of transcribers. For years, now, I have had recordings I wanted to transcribe, and they just kept piling up. For the first time ever, now, the backlog is not growing. The three people I celebrated last month, and the four joining them as of the last week, are enough. We are still working out the system to maximize ease and efficiency, and then the backlog will be me, since each transcription becomes a piece waiting to be written. That’s a wonderful problem to have.
Leveraging Your Influence. This last period, I have been mostly focused on the longer term plans for LYI. I am pretty excited about the teams being put in place to organize and promote the remaining retreats that I am planning to lead – two in the US, one in Costa Rica, and one in Europe – as well as the steps we are taking to prepare the training of trainers in 2017. All of it is based on love and inspiration, which fills me with immense joy. I hope to see many of you at these events before I pass them on to others.
Convergent Facilitation. In this area, too, a lot of behind-the-scenes work has been happening to prepare the ground for the upcoming 3-day workshop in early October. Anna has written a detailed case study about the work in the Minnesota child custody collaborative lawmaking that I have been facilitating for the last two and half years, and we anticipate it will soon be available. I am eager to have new opportunities to apply Convergent Facilitation in other large scale settings, and am in early conversations with a few potential sponsors.
Team Building. Our May board meeting marked a milestone in the unfolding of BayNVC’s existence, completing a process of discernment and recovery since the crisis we had in 2012. We came to see that BayNVC has evolved into becoming an umbrella organization that supports a range of projects related to NVC instead of being an organization with a specific and all-encompassing mission. The change, although quite subtle, has been a joy to witness and participate in. Our team has become decidedly more capable. We have adopted a clear new decision-making process based on and modified from the radical notions put forth by Frederic Laloux in his book Reinventing Organizations. I’ve been feeling a surge of energy and initiative all around the team, and am loving the new frontiers of learning that open up as a result.
This section accompanies Miki’s July newsletter.
Web of Support Celebrations.
This time, I am celebrating the people who are making themselves available to create transcriptions and in other ways support my written work. Most especially, I am grateful to Reba, a person I don’t even know who lives in New Zealand! Reba has made a number of high-stakes, quick turnaround transcriptions that have made it possible for me to respond to some things in a timely manner that I might not have managed otherwise. Charlaine, here in the Bay Area, is currently working on another, and Ozgur from Turkey, whom I met in Hungary a few years ago, bought some software to help her be available for this work. I am so amazed, repeatedly, by the amount of goodwill that exists in the world in support of what I am trying to do. Because there is a backlog of recordings to transcribe, there is still plenty of room for more people to join this emerging team. This, and other ways of participating, are all on the You Can Help – Volunteering page.
Leveraging Your Influence.
In May, I led another LYI retreat, this time in Chicago. While I generally appreciate what happens LYI retreats (or I wouldn’t do them!), I enjoyed two things in particular about this one. One was the location. We rented space from the Institute of Cultural Affairs – USA, and the match was amazing. I had some meetings with some of the old-timers who maintain an intentional community on the 7th floor, and learned about a rich history I was previously ignorant of. The other pleasure was an unusually high sense of cohesion in the group and a growing sense that the curriculum, which I continue to develop with Uma Lo, is getting more and more in shape. Not a day too early, as I prepare for a training of trainers in 2017 (Europe) and 2018 (US), and handing LYI teaching over in 2017 to others. More to come on this.
In May, I did another daylong training on Convergent Facilitation in Minnesota. Board member Lisa Rothman and executive director Roxy Manning collaborated to produce a revised version of the handout which I find exquisitely beautiful and comprehensive. The group that came together, which was mostly facilitators who work for the state of Minnesota, brought enormous challenges to the room, and left with a clear sense of having new options for the toolkit. I believe the curriculum is now set, and we are ready to make it widely available to audiences ranging from senior corporate leaders to activists.
Work with Philanthropists.
In June, I led a breakout session at the Philanthropy Summit and met with others. The practical tips I offer people on collaboration and organizational systems were celebrated by all in the room. In the coming months, I anticipate having more workshops offered through organizations which support philanthropists, and I am heartened to make these gifts available to people who are working hard to make a dent in the major social challenges of our times.
Supporting the CNVC New Future Process.
Since before Marshall Rosenberg died, the Center for Nonviolent Communication has been undertaking a massive collaborative effort designed to come up with a new way for the global NVC community to come together and become effective in contributing to the social transformation that is so sorely needed. The current phase of the work involves the setting up of twelve working groups that attend to various questions. You can read all about it here. I have joined this process by participating in the Structure and Governance Working Group, along with Jeff Brown, Elkie Deadman, and Verene Nicholas. Any day now our first draft proposal will be released with a request for feedback from the global community. If you are interested, we would love to hear from you. It’s been an amazing joy to work within this group, with a level of depth, collaboration, trust, and creative output that is, for me, a sneak preview of what we could have the world over if we manage to collectively wake up from the millennia of separation, scarcity, and powerlessness that have been our only version of social reality for way too long.
Prospects for Future Projects.
Although I have no belief in there being a “plan” in the universe, or any entity that guides what happens, I do have total faith in there being mystery and things beyond my capacity as human to understand. Within this, I have noticed, ever since I started working with Nonviolent Communication, that things dry up and then others come to me, in amazing synchronicity with my own development and readiness. Thus it is no surprise even while being utterly astonishing that since I finished the big push in Minnesota (where there is still some work I am supporting, mainly the educational efforts about the new paradigm of the law) several new projects are showing up that are entirely aligned with where my current focus seems to be: supporting organizational leaders that want to align themselves with their deeper values, and being available to various groups and entities seeking to identify collaborative solutions to difficult problems. I am celebrating the possibilities as they unfold.
This section accompanies Miki’s May newsletter.
Being in Israel for a month with my sister Arnina was just the right medicine for me. Unlike most of my visits to Israel, during which I run around town to make sure I get to see everyone, this time I felt almost no energy to go anywhere. I did have the sacred opportunity to accompany one of my oldest friends on her last journey with her father, who died while I was there. And Arnina and I did little bits of travel outside Ramat Gan where she lives. Still, this was a sister visit for which I am super grateful. I plan to do this every year now while resources allow, and Arnina plans to continue to come once a year as she has been.
Web of Support Celebrations
It is a particularly exquisite pleasure when I ask people to support me in a certain way and that way is aligned with joy of theirs. Ariane Korth, Uma Lo, and Paul Kahawatte, all people who studied my approach to teaching and to facilitation and are now applying it elsewhere, agreed to sift through many notes I had collected over the years about group facilitation, and categorized and catalogued them in such a way that can support my writing of the new book I am working on that is all about Convergent Facilitation.
I get tremendous pleasure from visiting Europe and teaching there. It seems like the veil of masking the presence of systems and the irreducible web that links us to each other is thinner there, which allows for conversations to flow deeply to those areas, which are so rich for me. In Germany, I led the second Leveraging Your Influence retreat in Europe (the first one, last September in Poland, was led by others who stepped in while I was accompanying my sister Inbal on her last journey). I am sensing that the material is maturing, settling, ripening. It is such a joy when people truly open to engaging with ideas and practices which are not necessarily comfortable because they can see the huge expanse that opens. I also led other workshops, both in Germany and in Spain. I am very clear that there are many people in the world, many, many more than already know about NVC, who are ready to respond to the invitation I issue everywhere I go to step into leadership everywhere we are.
Minnesota Custody Dialogue Group
The Minnesota legislature pretty unanimously passed the collaboratively created bills proposed by the group after two years of working together. The House voted 121-0, and the Senate 61-3. I am barely able to contain the joy and amazement of this historic milestone for the vision of a collaborative future. The governor of MN is expected to sign this into law some time this week. More on this project and its history here.
The Team Is Growing
Some time ago, we posted a job description. Little did I know that I was sending a call to the world to find Anna Barnett (the only candidate we interviewed). Every single line on the job description is within her skill set and passion. Anna starts officially in June, and has been doing small projects for now, long distance (she will be moving here from Portland, OR). Anna complements the rest of the team in remarkable ways. With her coming on board, I can sense myself relaxing, as it seems that, for the first time since founding BayNVC, I have adequate support to contain the wildness of what I take on.
This section accompanied Miki’s March newsletter.
There is no way I can capture in any succinct way the many changes, small and large, that transpired during my mini-sabbatical. It was very much not an easy time, as being with far less responsibility and structure in my schedule made my sister Inbal’s absence that much more vivid and present, including the many unexpected ramifications which I have come to call secondary losses. Someone wrote to me a note in which they wished for the hole she left to be filled. I don’t. That hole is, forever, part of my life, a way of honoring what she was for me, all the way to the very last days of her life. Of the many things that came to be, I want to focus on this: I emerged from this period knowing that finding local community is a strong personal goal of mine, and I hope to make that a reality soon. I also emerged with clarity about various ways in which I want to make my work more manageable and effective. And I am grateful to the people on staff at BayNVC and to the many friends who offered support in so many ways which made it possible for me to make use of this time instead of simply disintegrating without purpose.
Web of Support Celebrations.
I have known now for some time that the main asset I have is the many people who are touched by what I have done and are deeply motivated to support the work. I am in awe of how often I hear “yes” when I ask specific people for support in ways that I believe are a fit for their gifts and my needs.
This time, I want to honor Ilene Fortune, who approached me last year at the public reading from my first book, and offered to support my work. She did a few projects that have improved the quality of my written materials and supported me in taking steps forward with a big project that is still underway – the Making Life Work self study course that I’m working on. Ilene is no longer able to offer this support for very personal reasons, and I want to offer her my gratitude as she steps back from responsibility for supporting me.
As promised, I had set up a series of coaching calls for people who’ve taken any Convergent Facilitation training with me or my colleagues. The first one took place last month, and I was deeply satisfied. The quality of engagement and the depth of the questions indicate to me that people are very much committed to using what they learn, not just enjoying the learning itself. Later, I learned that two people who participated in the training I did in Rochester, undertook to use Convergent Facilitation to make some key decisions. Despite some initial doubt on the part of people in their group, everyone agreed to give it a try. “Just like you said,” I was told in great enthusiasm, “magic happened.” The decisions that needed to be made were made in this one meeting, whereas previously such decision-making took forever. Soon we will announce new courses in Oakland, and in May I am doing a training provided by the state of Minnesota for facilitators who want to learn how to do what I did with the custody group. Also, during my mini-sabbatical I wrote the first half of my next book, which is all about what Convergent Facilitation can bring to the project of collaboration. Stay tuned!
Bringing Collaboration to Organizations.
Since I came back from my mini-sabbatical, I’ve started two projects in organizations new to me. One is a major manufacturing company with 7,000 employees, the other a mostly volunteer multi-stakeholder initiative to address structural racism. As different as they are from each other, and with little overlap between the goals of the two projects, the challenges and the paths forward in both places are surprisingly similar. As I focus more and more clearly on what I sometimes call collaboration consulting, I see how much room for learning there is. In both places, key obstacles to achieving their goals are lack of clarity and agreement about decision-making and a big challenge in knowing how to provide consistent, ongoing, useful feedback. In both places, we identified relatively simple next steps that I anticipate will enhance function, effectiveness, and collaboration in both places. I am heartened to see, again and again, that collaboration is, indeed, consistent with other goals if only the will and the skill are there.
Minnesota Custody Dialogue Group.
Just before starting my mini-sabbatical, I traveled one more time to Minnesota, to complete the process of integrating feedback and finalizing the legislative package that was to be presented to the legislature for this session. During that session, the group dropped one bill as it was evident that it wasn’t sufficiently worked out to address needs well. All the other bills were adopted unanimously, despite earlier concerns that some people would be left behind this time. Since then, the package has been submitted, and has gone through various committees, including the Senate Judiciary Committee, which is one of the key milestones on the path of anything being voted into law. Meanwhile the group continues to meet in preparation for next steps, each time revealing more capacity for creating bridges where previously they couldn’t have been imagined. Read more here.
Teaching about Dialogue.
Clearly, if we are going to move towards collaboration, we will need to know how to dialogue – both at all, and effectively. We will need to know how to dialogue when it’s not easy; when there are differences; when we are upset about what’s going on. For over a year now, I’ve been focusing intensively on supporting people in making dialogue a fluid option instead of a rare accomplishment. Coming back from my mini-sabbatical, I married this passion with my experiments in gift economy, resulting in a workshop attended by 130 people (at left). Clearly, the hunger for learning about dialogue is there, and the path of offering entirely gifted workshops (we turned down money people wanted to give at the end of the workshop because of wanting to ensure that any money coming would not be an exchange… MUCH more on all this next month). Now, on this trip, 65 attended a workshop on this topic in Berlin, organized on short notice, and the NVC Academy is continuing to offer this course on a monthly basis, under the title Dialogue with Anyone about Anything. I love it when contributing to people moving towards their dreams completely coincides with doing something that’s pure fun for me.
Leveraging Your Influence (LYI).
Some time last year I had an inkling that this year’s LYI West would be bigger than ever. Between this and my knowledge that some people were coming back for yet another year, I chose to co-lead it this year so as to be able to break it into two groups for purposes of practice. Still, I wasn’t prepared for the “onslaught” of people who came to participate. Each past year, the program was left open for new people to join for all or most of the year. This time, we closed the program after two months, because already the room we have can barely hold us. Meanwhile, Aya Caspi and Lynda Smith, my collaborators in this adventure, are holding the program with the support of a few people who stepped forward to assist or to offer feedback on design.
One more step towards freeing up my time: I have nothing to do with the program in between sessions except to review the design of the next session. I am truly inspired by the growing alignment between what I am longing for and who shows up. I am so moved and inspired to see the level of commitment and focus in this group, and elated about what we might create together. I am writing this the evening before starting an LYI retreat in Europe, and I have two more LYI retreats coming up this year, one in Chicago in May and one in Upstate NY in October. This movement, the empowerment of people to adopt an attitude of leadership towards life, within and around them, is definitely catching fire.
Working with BayNVC’s Staff.
One of the biggest and least expected gifts from my mini-sabbatical came out of the inevitable – handing over all responsibility and decision-making to others. It became crystal clear to me that this was one key way to attend to a new priority that I arrived at: to free up my time so I can do more writing and development of social change projects. When I came back, on our first staff meeting, I wanted to know if this new freedom was at cost to them. It wasn’t. In fact, they welcomed the challenge, and we agreed to proceed in this way moving forward. Many emails now go out signed by others and without my review, for example. I just got an email from Adriana telling me that the team has all agreed that a certain request for my services is aligned with mission, and I wasn’t even asked. I am celebrating the deepening of a true spirit of collaboration.
Miki is on a mini-sabbatical, so we didn’t expect her to do a newsletter. But the success of her gift economy experiments in 2014 led her to write this newsletter (without its usual extras that go on this page).
This section accompanies Miki’s December 2014 newsletter.
Grieving the loss of Inbal has been taking an immense toll on me, which doesn’t surprise me one bit. She was the person closest to me and most like me in the whole world, and I lost the one relationship in which I experienced mutual accompaniment. What it means to have a life without her is still entirely mysterious to me, even though I already have three months of experience doing it every day. On top of it, I have had a series of unrelated and significant other challenges in my life about which I could not talk with her. I’ve been seriously depleted and mostly unable to be excited about or looking forward to anything. Because her death came at a time when I had much on my plate that I didn’t want to cancel, the deeply needed break is coming later than I would have wanted it. This break is my response to the loss, a way to open to the grief and confusion, and to integrate all the other significant changes that have happened since. I am surrendering to this experience without knowing whether I will achieve my hoped-for goal of getting clarity about what comes next in terms of how I want to live my life in this new era, the one without Inbal.
Web of Support Celebrations.
The ongoing flow of generosity and ingenuity continues. In the weeks leading up to Inbal’s death, a new person stepped up and offered her extensive skills and heart. Her name is Charlaine Prefontaine, and she said, very calmly: “Pretty much everything administrative you can give to me.” Mind you, she has a full time job! It’s been an amazing gift at this very difficult time to have had her extra care and support. Charlaine recently had an accident, and I am sending her warm wishes for a speedy recovery.
In early November I taught a 2-day version of Convergent Facilitation in Rochester, NY. Kit Miller, long-ago BayNVC director and current Gandhi Institute director invited just the right people, and the mix in the room was exquisite – 65 people representing 25 agencies doing extraordinary work. Despite my ongoing depletion and sadness, I felt buoyed and hopeful seeing what people experienced and learned, and what they were planning to do with the work. We have one more Convergent Facilitation workshop set up for this year in Oakland, and I am in the process of setting up a follow-up, ongoing series of phone-based group coaching calls for facilitators.
Cultivating Inner Freedom – Europe.
There’s a group of women in Poland that I’ve been working with now for the 4th year in a row. I am so deeply moved by their depth, clarity, commitment, and determination to master the art of living a nonviolent life. Since last year, the group has opened itself to other people from Europe, and we’ve had people from a variety of countries, mostly in Eastern Europe, and also from Austria, Germany, and Spain. Our topic for this year is one of my own deep wells of meaning: cultivating inner freedom, and I derive immense pleasure from seeing transformation and blossoming of souls, even on the phone, in a language foreign to almost everyone, and for only two hours. The group is now closed, and will reopen in February.
Cultivating Inner Freedom – Canada and Costa Rica.
Without previously planning it, and without knowing about each other, two people taught a workshop on cultivating inner freedom on the same weekend, in two different places, using my own materials on the topic. One was in the northern part of Canada, and one in Costa Rica. Given how much I am longing to find ways of working less so I could write more, having people use my materials and teach in faraway places is a boost to my hope that this dream can actually become a reality one day.
The Unexpected Power of Teaching about Dialogue.
When 2014 started, I began a new series through the NVC Academy called “The Art and Craft of Dialogue.” I have been profoundly humbled and astonished by what began to happen in this class. I heard from a mother that her twelve-year old son walked by as she was listening to the recording of the session on teenagers, and decided to stay for a while and listen with her, which completely shifted their relationship. The stories kept pouring in about people managing to apply what they learned and see “instant” results. I so enjoyed this, that I ended up adding a last-minute 5th segment that is still running and which you can join for one more session on Dec 19. I was stunned when 95 people signed up for this course with minimal promotion. The same day this newsletter is going out, I am starting a weekend workshop on this topic at Esalen.
The Fearless Heart Teleseminars.
I don’t know how else to say it other than simply: I LOVE these calls. The people who join are so present, so ready, and bring up such deep and fascinating responses to what I write about. I wish this on any writer – to have an ongoing opportunity to engage with enthusiastic readers, to learn and explore together, and to reach new territories with them. I am hoping that soon enough the day will come that my gift economy experiment will grow and grow to where I can offer all my public workshops as gifts to the community. In the meantime, I try to stay ahead of it, to offer more than I receive, as a way to nurture the flow of generosity.
Minnesota Custody Dialogue Group.
This project is completing its second year, and moving more and more towards trust and collaboration with some magic sprinkled over it. In October I was there working with the group on reviewing 17 proposed bills, all of which were approved by the group and are now being discussed with constituencies in preparation for the next step, when the group comes together tomorrow to finalize the feedback and move it forward towards a legislative package to be presented to the legislature next spring. There is no doubt left in my mind that collaborative law-making is entirely possible. In parallel, a comprehensive non-legislative effort is underway to support the necessary changes that would make integrating the changes smoother and more likely to succeed. Read more here.
Update about My Gift Economy Experiments.
I am learning more and more about how to traverse the treacherous ground of our money conditioning to arrive at a place where choice becomes possible, where generosity gets truly unleashed, and where experimentation is embraced rather than resisted. Like much else, this depends on painting an appealing vision of what could be possible in the world, and then supporting all of us in walking towards that vision in the most deeply nonviolent way we know how. At the recent Leveraging Your Influence retreat in NY, a participant mapped the presentation we did about money, in artistic beauty, onto three sheets of paper named love, truth, and courage, the building blocks of nonviolence. I am still learning, not yet as successfully as I would like, how to make the Circle of Support expand as fast as I would like to increase my fully gifted offerings (watch out for the next one February 1st: The Art and Craft of Dialogue.
The NVC Jewish Group.
When we announced the Shiva for Inbal, I felt a tremendous urge to connect with other Jews who practice NVC, and I set aside time for that. A number of people responded to the call and gathered with me to explore what the intersection of being Jewish and practicing NVC means to us. Since then we’ve met twice more. We are still in flux about exactly what we are doing, though we know we want to be somehow connected to Jewish texts. If you are drawn to joining us, there is still the possibility of doing that. We are aiming for meeting once a month on a Sat or Sun afternoon. Let firstname.lastname@example.org know, and she will connect you with Liz, who’s stepped forward to do the logistics of the group.
This section accompanies Miki’s September newsletter.
Web of Support Celebrations.
This time around, I would like to acknowledge everyone who is engaged with supporting my work, because in the last two months everyone stepped into more responsibility as I was not available to be consulted with, and everyone agreed to a high degree of flexibility in order to be available to me for whatever I needed during the intense focus of Inbal’s final weeks.
In the last two months Convergent Facilitation was taught by Lisa Rothman at the Stanford Business School, by Lisa and me in Oakland, and by Roxy in the Netherlands. We are getting closer and closer to a fully professional line of materials and approach, and continue to test it with each new workshop. Next year I anticipate having a phone-based clinic for facilitators, as well as a training for more advanced practitioners. The responses to this approach to decision-making in a group have been so astounding that I am taking them in even more seriously.
Cultivating Inner Freedom.
In the midst of Inbal’s progressive decline, I wasn’t sure I would be able to be absent for an entire day. I am glad it was possible, because we had about 90 people in the room, my all-time biggest workshop in the Bay Area, perhaps anywhere. Half of this number were people new to NVC. It is always my intention to provide something that people can put to use instantly, and that was my sense about the day. Moreover…
The Gift Economy Experiments.
This workshop was the first one I offered as a pure gift. There was no donation basket, not even for costs, because even before the workshop started enough people donated enough money to cover the cost of the room and miscellaneous costs. I also celebrate that I was successful at conveying the point about it truly being a gift. More and more I see how learning to receive without obligation to give is as important to the flow of generosity as is giving without an expectation to receive. With this celebration also comes a mourning: I don’t think I am as effective in inviting people in a compelling enough way to join the Circle of Support, which is one of my key strategies for future sustainability. Nonetheless, the deep satisfaction of people “getting” what the experiment is about, and the unwavering commitment I have to break through the hold of exchange relationships, leave me with an intention to continue to offer more and more workshops as pure gifts and to continue to invite people, anywhere they are, to participate in the ongoing support of the work I do.
This section accompanies Miki’s July 18 newsletter (which includes dates and links to any future programs not linked to here)
Teaching with Francois Beausoleil and Jeff Brown.
I don’t know what magic arranged for the particular group of people that came to our retreat in early July to spend a week together learning about bringing NVC to the world. We had people from 5 or 6 different countries, engaged in a wide range of life choices, on very different segments of their NVC path (from no prior experience with NVC to a certified trainer), and we bonded in a way that can barely be captured in words. I have recently come up with a succinct way of measuring the usefulness of my participating in any activity: am I, or am I not, being “well used?” I can say with immense joy and clarity that I was “well used” to the max for all the times that I was actively leading, and also had long stretches of complete rest from the retreat, where I could focus elsewhere. This is a lovely model of sustainable leadership that I hope to deepen into practicing.
Web of Support Celebrations.
This past few weeks, two new people have joined the web of support that is sustaining me through more work than I can humanly handle as well as much personal challenge (the ongoing stress of tending to my beloved sister Inbal’s struggle with ovarian cancer). I know so deeply that there is no way I could do what I do without this level of support. I am unabashed about it, wanting to shout from the rooftops, inviting every leader and leader-to-be to know and celebrate their irreducible need for support. Enough of the “lone man” model of leadership.
Today I want to mention, in particular, Ilene Fortune, a longtime NVC enthusiast, who approached me about supporting me, and is making it possible for me to move forward with a project that’s been stalled for months because I couldn’t attend to it. She is offering me years of experience with NVC, with curriculum development, and with all-around writing and management. So far it’s been an entirely volunteer relationship, though we would both love to find a way for this work to be part of supporting Ilene’s livelihood.
The project of making this training available in a way that is accessible to people who work in corporations as well as others is moving forward with remarkable efficiency. Lisa Rothman, who’s been partnering with me on this project, has been putting her incredible skills into creating a workbook that we both feel totally excited about and which we are planning to test drive at the Stanford Business School, where we are offering this course later this month. The next open Convergent Facilitation workshop is on August 26th, in Oakland, and more are coming.
The Fearless Heart Teleseminars.
In the recent past I hosted and led the July teleseminars. It’s been the most astonishing pleasure, exactly aligned with how I want to contribute in the world to people who want to move their liberation and service forward. I wrote about some of what happened in a blog piece, because it’s been an extraordinary opportunity for me to stretch my wings even further than I have while in the company of others who want to receive what I have to give. I so long for a time when there is enough support coming from elsewhere to do my work in such a way that I can offer such calls way more often. I know that having group coaching calls about different topics is one of my most favorite ways to contribute and live. The next ones are August 10 and 12. I hope you can join us then.
This section accompanies Miki’s June 27 newsletter (which includes dates and links to any future programs not linked to here)
China Trip: The Teaching
Humility is a quality I have worked hard to cultivate. Whenever I teach in a new country I haven’t yet been to, it is even more important to me to embrace it. I want to remain open, continually, to the possibility that NVC as I know it will simply not work in the new context. What I have so far encountered in many cultures is that NVC challenges different norms for different cultures (including the US, its culture of origin). I believe there is something fundamental about the shift beyond either/or to a view of caring for all needs and all people, and that fundamental intention inspires people everywhere I’ve been to so far. The first two workshops I did were on intimate relationships (one of two hours, and one of three days). The next two were for NGOs. One of them was going to be about gender, though it turned into a general introduction to NVC because that was what people wanted. The last one, about which I wrote in the newsletter itself, was about collaboration in the workplace. I could only say I wish I had encountered more cultural differences. Time and again, when I presented a particular challenge in handling conflicts or relationships, I was told by the participants that it was familiar to them. Overall, I found evidence of striking similarities in relationships, despite different social norms. Sadly, those similarities are more about our common challenges than about successful navigation of differences.
China Trip: the Personal Dimension
Most of my time away was consumed with work: teaching, traveling from place to place, preparing, relating to the organizers, more transportation. In Beijing, for example, my days lasted 16 to 18 hours. Still, these celebrations would not be complete without including the friendship I shared with Kanya and Ya Ping, which also included our hosts in Shanghai while we were there. That part of the trip was particularly extraordinary in terms of our connection with the 18 year old daughter who accompanied us almost everywhere, who speaks remarkably fluent English and whose maturity astonished me. She is coming to the US for college, and I am eager to see where she will direct her extraordinary capacity for human understanding and depth of engagement with life.
Our time also included food, and a lot of it. If I ever thought I knew anything about Chinese food, I now know the folly of that. I think we didn’t eat the same kind of food twice on this trip, not just different dishes. Liu Yi, the main organizer of the trip, made sure we would have different experiences from multiple regions and forms of preparation. I am reminded of Marshall Rosenberg’s point that the easiest way to make people happy is to eat their food and enjoy it. A particular highlight was a hot pot experience, something vaguely akin to fondue, where we sat around a large table with a bubbling soup in the center (two varieties), into which we dropped a staggering array of different items that would then cook in the liquid and be pulled out. Everyone shared, a common feature in China, a reminder of community and trust, a relief from the intensity of focus on hygiene and individual boundaries.
Another particular adventure was our nightly trips to the host family in Beijing, where we, along with the taxi drivers, would get lost in the maze of streets and neighborhoods along the way. It was a daily reminder of just how unthinkably vast this city is, with its 18 million residents and 100 million daily visitors.
The bond I shared with these women is a memory of a lifetime.
Leveraging Your Influence (LYI)
During this summer, the only LYI program that is active is in the Bay Area, the yearlong monthly program that is now in its third year. I am excited about the three people who have taken on responsibility for assisting me in the design and delivery of the program, and who are now actively strategizing and engaging the group in taking on our relationship to money, with a focus on shared ownership for the financial sustainability of the program instead of individual decisions about what each person will contribute. The companionship I feel about this exploration is pure joy. In the newsletter you can find out about the upcoming LYI retreats in three locations. I am also open to invitations to offer LYI retreats in other parts of the US or beyond in 2015.
Web of Support Celebrations
Several of the people who supported my work in China cannot even read this celebration because of a language barrier. Liu Yi (Shanghai), with the help of three women, pulled together a three day workshop in a country where NVC is barely known. They worked through logistical and organizational challenges most of which I don’t even know about because Liu Yi so carefully and lovingly protected me from the details. I can’t say this was an easy trip. I can say that it wouldn’t have happened without their support and without the blessing and encouragement of Yin Hua (Beijing) who has been quietly bringing NVC to China through translation of Marshall Rosenberg’s book, through bringing in some trainers, and through his own teaching. All of them nourish my hope in the possibility of transformation anywhere that humans are.
“Transforming the Workplace” Mentoring Program
Sarah Wilson-Jones writes: “We are about to have our third call, and so far the feedback has been enthusiastic. We have heard that people are feeling “fed” and “inspired” by the conversations. The between-call “buddy” conversations have been rich and supportive as well. Uma (Alice Lo) and Paul Kahawatte have supported the program by transcribing sessions and helping us to set up a wiki, which feels like a celebration in interdependence. I held our first all-company meeting at Phoenix Coffee [Sarah’s own company], centered around the discovery and announcement of our shared purpose. The shifts that I have seen around the company since that meeting are helping me to see the power and clarity of shared purpose, something that is a topic of the mentorship program. I am very much looking forward to our next call and seeing how this unfolds!”
J Street Conference
On June 8th, just two days before departing to China, I moderated a panel at the conference organized by J Street, an alternative lobbying group (to APAC) promoting a two-state solution to the Israeli-Palestinian conflict. While I personally feel deep concern about anyone from the outside deciding what the solution ought to be before serious dialogues that bring to the surface all the needs of all the parties to the conflict, I wholeheartedly endorse their commitment to something that works for everyone in the region, and was happy to do this assignment. I am particularly happy to have met three extraordinary women – A Palestinian who works for the empowerment of women, an Iranian who drafted the UN resolution that calls for “equal participation and full involvement [of women] in all efforts for the maintenance and promotion of peace and security, and an openly feminist Israeli Knesset Member. Moderating a panel proved to be fun and rewarding, and I loved the depth to which the conversation went.
MN Custody Dialogue
The group is now working in small groups on phase II of the project, following the successful passage of a small legislative package that had zero opposition. I am beginning to plan my next visit, in late October, and looking forward to working with the convenors in this next phase. The agenda includes some of the deeper issues that didn’t get addressed in the previous round, with ambitious goals and more goodwill than ever. I continue to solicit donations for this extremely demanding work, and I hope some of you will choose to make it easier for me to continue to dedicate so much time to this project.
Visiting the BayNVC Leadership Program
For the first time since I passed the baton fully to Roxy Manning and Francois Beausoleil in 2011, I joined the program for two and half days. It was such a joy to teach people who are so dedicated to learning and sharing NVC with others. I was invited to share with the group my own latest cutting edge work, and I loved having an audience that was delighted to be with me in the learning process. If you have any interest in bringing NVC to others, I urge you to consider this program. Roxy and Francois have contributed to the program immensely since Inbal and I designed it, and I am confident that it offers exquisite benefits to all.
This section accompanies Miki’s June 6 newsletter (which includes dates and links to any future programs not linked to here)
Leveraging Your Influence (LYI)
The Europe-based LYI program just ended, and I have three LYI retreats coming up. One in Poland (Sep 2-7), one in the West Coast (Oct 15-20), and one in the East Coast (Nov 7-12). Each of these has an extra day for those who want to learn about facilitation. I am delighted to sense the coalescing of core groups, in different places, that are uniting around a vibrant commitment to be agents of change wherever they are.
Web of Support Celebrations
I want to honor my friend, student, and co-holder of a big vision of what collaboration and system thinking can bring to organizations. Sarah Wilson-Jones, CEO of Phoenix Coffee in Cleveland, OH, came to a retreat a year ago. We then started working together as I was coaching her on implementing some principles in her organization. The prospect of the change, and the astonishing results within her company prompted Sarah to partner with me on a variety of projects. The first of those is the mentoring program that we just started.
Transforming the Workplace Mentoring Program
I am totally jazzed to celebrate the beginning of this new offering. The program now contains eleven people: three CEOs, two people in key positions in the non-profit world, several people in positions of management, and three consultants/coaches who are joining us to learn how to become more effective in their work through engaging with organizational leaders. I am sure there will be many kinks, and I am so grateful for those who are willing to entrust themselves to the first time a program is run.
The Art and Craft of Dialogue
The 2nd part of this yearlong course is now complete. I am both celebrating and mourning at the end of this segment. The celebration is just how much trust and openness I experienced on those calls, how deep the willingness to expose raw, unedited challenges and to learn and try out new things. The mourning is about just how immense the challenges are, how many people, even in positions of leadership, suffer on a daily basis for lack of trust, meaning, or choice. There are still two more parts to this yearlong course, and I am anticipating learning and contributing as we look at dialogue within communities and in the world at large.
Working with Lisa, as I had said last time, has been an immense joy. The feedback we’ve gotten from the last workshop was astoundingly positive. We already have a new date set (see the rest of the newsletter), and we are making plans for teaching this material in a business school and in a consulting company. I couldn’t wish for more.
MN Custody Dialogue
In early May the Governor of Minnesota signed into law the first product of the work I’ve been supporting in Minnesota. What was entirely unprecedented is that the legislative package was passed without any opposition in both houses. This is the power of collaboration. The main newspaper in Minneapolis-St. Paul included a reference to this work in an article. And the work continues. We are now done with the design of the next phase of the work, which is scheduled to conclude by May of 2015. Still operating with hardly any funding, I remain committed to this project because it’s the first real world, high-stakes terrain of exploring just how far collaboration can go in a highly adversarial context. I continue to solicit donations for this extremely demanding work, and I hope some of you will choose to make it easier for me to continue to dedicate so much time to this project.
Making Life Work. For You. For Everyone. No Exceptions.
This week a small group of people got together with me and with Lou Zweier, the videographer who’s been working with BayNVC since 2005, to watch a rough draft of the first part of six that will comprise, along with audio and comprehensive booklets, the self-study course that I’ve been telling you about. A lively discussion and feedback followed, and I managed to overcome the aversion to watching myself on screen sufficiently to see that there is much in that video that I like, that I believe can contribute to people’s lives and capacity. In the coming months we plan to start an Indiegogo campaign to support the very high cost of producing something at the level of quality we are striving for. Stay tuned.
This section accompanies Miki’s May 23 newsletter (which includes dates and links to any future programs not linked to here)
Leveraging Your Influence (LYI)
For the first time in my life I have come to create an offering that at one and the same time clearly aligns with some of my deepest passions and dreams, and also responds to people’s deepest longing for supporting liberation and living their own dreams in full. I have just decided to offer the first LYI retreat in the West Coast (soon to be announced – Oct 17-22), and am in conversation with the amazing Nashville NVC team to offer one there, hopefully next year, in addition to the two in Upstate NY that I offer each year. I am continuing to expand and deepen the scope of what happens in these workshops and retreats. Last month, in NY, we opened up the race conversation, a process about which I have both celebrations and mournings, and about which I plan to write more fully in an upcoming blog piece.
Web of Support Celebrations
I want to honor my friend, colleague, and BayNVC board member Lisa Rothman. Lisa recognized, more than two years ago, the extraordinary potential of the process I now call Convergent Facilitation. She came to several workshops, and created a curriculum with me that will allow her and many others to be able to teach this process, not only use it. I have no capacity to count the number of hours that she has put into this endeavor. Now we are being joined by a few other people who are so excited about this process that they want to help bring it to the world on a much larger scale than I’ve ever been able to. Do, please, stay tuned for more on this. Including below.
BayNVC Trainer Collaborative
Since this newsletter has much focus on collaboration, I want to celebrate the experience of being part of this group of people – friends, colleagues, mutual teachers. Since the big transition at BayNVC two years ago, we have been making all major decisions collaboratively. First meeting every week, then every other week, and now finally settling into a pattern of every other month in person and a few standing committees in between, we are living proof for me that collaboration, trust, and effectiveness all go together. (The low-res photo above from our 2013 retreat does at least get us all in the picture, along with support staff Adriana and Dave: back row left to right: Newt, Adriana, Meganwind, Lynda, Dave, Jared; front: Mair, LIsa, Roxy, Kathy, Miki, Nancy.)
Dialogue in the Workplace
I am now in the middle of the 2nd part of my dialogue course with the NVC Academy. Once again, I see that the offering speaks to what people want, and I rejoice in this. About 130 people are signed up for this course. Each week we’ve been focused on one aspect of workplace dialogue. One session, in particular, was deeply moving for me, when a superintendent of a school district was completely open and transparent about the challenge of working with a staff person who was being transferred to another school. How can one even begin to imagine collaborating in such a context? We did find a way to honor this person’s dignity and still be truthful. I am filled with hope as I see so many people willing to take the very real risks of moving away from familiar into what is more aligned and less practiced.
On May 12th, I offered a 2-day Convergent Facilitation workshop in Oakland. I have offered this workshop, in various formats, several times before, and have used the process extensively for many years. Still, there was something special and exciting about this particular event: almost everyone in the room was an experienced facilitator. This meant that they were able to engage with the material at a level I’ve never seen before. The questions, and therefore the learning – both for them and for me – went to the heart of what collaboration means and entails. An entire new section will be added to the materials, and a number of new connections were made that I believe will support this process in becoming far more known in the world than it has been. Lisa and I are planning to have more of these workshops in the coming months.
This section accompanies Miki’s March newsletter (which includes dates and links to any future programs not linked to here).
The West Coast program is in full bloom. One of the things I most love about this program is the group of people – third year and second year – who are coalescing together as the key support and design team. Each month they offer me feedback on the design for the next meeting, and magic invariably happens. They notice and think about things I haven’t seen, and the sense of synergy and collaboration, a microcosm of the world I so long to see emerging, is palpable in the air for all of us. The 2nd cycle of the distance learning version for people in Europe is continuing. Last time I cried on the call, so moved by the depth of inquiry, the wisdom of the questions, the insights people were putting together. I now have two retreats scheduled in Europe, too, one in September in Poland, and one in March, 2015, in Germany.
Web of Support Celebrations
A few months ago I had a particularly grueling trip that took me to two cities, five different events and engagements, over 6 days. I came back so tired that it took me a couple of weeks to recover. It’s the logistics of travel, more than anything else, that are so exhausting for me: carrying things in unfamiliar places, using several modes of transportation, not knowing how to get places, all of that. In DC, one day, I had seven transitions before reaching my final destination and crashing. I decided then that “some day” in the future I will find a way to have someone travel with me places. Little did I know that “some day” was going to begin so soon afterwards. Two people who heard me mention this in a conversation approached me afterwards and offered their support. Rebeccah Johnson is coming to meet me in Nashville later this month, and Ya-Ping Douglas is planning to support me in China in June. I can’t even begin to thank them for this.
All around the USA, and in other places that I am not aware of, people are engaged in experiments in community and urban farming. It is an immense honor and pleasure for me to have been invited to support one of these experiments very near where I live in Oakland. If you haven’t heard about them, I am sure you will be as inspired as I have been: Canticle Farm. I have been working with the group since September. In addition to having so much passion for what they do and are, this is a dream project for me also because I get to work with them on creating systems and structures of decision-making that can support them in addition to supporting interpersonal relationships and dialogue, and because it’s an opportunity to experiment with Convergent Facilitation in one more setting. Beyond the work itself, since the Canticle farmers operate with extremely little conventional currency, they cannot give me money. Instead, I received a list of what each of them feels able and willing to contribute to me to free up some of my time. All of this is a little snippet of the future happening now.
When I designed this year’s NVC Academy course – The Art and Craft of Dialogue – I wanted to do something different that I had never done before. I had done so many courses that entailed deep inner work, that I zeroed in on the idea of doing something practical, geared toward giving people concrete tools they could use right away. This has certainly happened in the first part of the course that ended recently (three more parts are ahead of us, still). What also happened is a depth of transformation that stunned me. The whole premise of the course is so simple: to find the truth of where we are without trying to be somewhere where we are not; and to bring that truth to the other person with the utmost care possible. I was most touched by the story of one woman who said that her 12 year old listened to one part of the course with her, and that changed their relationship. Finding ways to create transformation with less effort is such a blessing.
Climate Action March
In late February, Lynda Smith and I went down to Los Angeles to do some training for a group of people who are marching from there to Washington, DC to inspire people to start taking action about climate change. It was right when the worst rain hit CA, and the elaborate plans for multiple parallel sessions throughout the day dematerialized. Instead, I did two sessions on the first day, and only one on the second, along with some other spontaneous teaching for those who wanted more. I am so happy to have had the opportunity to support a cause I so believe in, and people so committed that they are willing to walk for eight months across many states. I most loved the experience of showing, live and unexpectedly, how an adversarial relationship could be transformed through authentic and empathic connection. One of the participants started out being very antagonistic to what I was sharing, and by the end of the two days so movingly told me: “You know, what you are teaching requires thinking before speaking, and I rarely do that. I just speak authentically. I don’t mean to hurt, and I know that sometimes it comes out harsh. How do you ever learn to do this?” I offered her some after-the-fact practice she could take, and we ended up hugging for a long time before I left. Since part of what the marchers will be doing on this sojourn is connecting with angry people who disagree with them, the parallel made a profound impression on those present. I also taught them the essentials of making collaborative decisions in their groups, and intend to stay in touch with them as they march.
Collaboration with Sarah Wilson-Jones
Last May, when I co-led a retreat with Jeff Brown and Francois Beausoleil, I met Sarah who was then a participant. Sarah (below) is CEO of Phoenix Coffee in Cleveland, and was coming because she wanted to learn more that would support her in implementing NVC within her company. Sarah asked the most penetrating questions, and reflected back to me the principles I was putting out in the most accurate way that then enhanced and transformed them. After the retreat, we started a coaching relationship, because supporting her project was key and central to the aspect of my mission that is about bringing NVC principles to organizations. So when Sarah brought up the idea, last Fall, of working with me to do just that, I was overjoyed. We are already cooking up some directions that I have never considered, and Sarah is pushing me to think bigger. I can’t wait to have some specific stories to tell in the coming months.
Reaching for My Vision in how I Live
Even before I discovered NVC in 1993, I had a deep passion for the kind of integrity that comes from living our values. This aspect of the work – how I myself act, how I embody the principles that I teach, and what I do internally and with others when I don’t manage to do so – is core and central to my spiritual path. In the recent past, circumstances and my inner resolve combined to put me in inner and sometimes outer contact with a number of people with whom I’ve had strained relationships. It’s been challenging and so very rewarding to stretch to choose, for each of those, how I want to approach it. In one case, a conversation aiming for closure so that we won’t be awkward seeing each other (we have overlapping contexts) became the occasion for speaking, finally, about some painful things that happened five years ago. We then jointly decided to resume the friendship. In some other situation, the closure happened with a letter I sent for which I know I will receive no response. In yet another situation, I decided to have a difficult conversation that I was postponing to prevent some unwelcome consequences. This happened because I had made an almost vow to myself that I want to make decisions based on what I want, not based on what I fear. The experience of a clean, expansive, full heart is worth every moment of discomfort or uncertainty I might encounter on the way.
Getting Coaching Support
As much as I truly love what I do, who I do it with, and the people I am able to meet and reach through this work, there’s simply too much of it for any one human body to manage. I’ve known that for some years, and it’s not gotten better. Even though I’ve been getting better at saying “no” to things, the rate of things coming to my attention has grown faster than my ability to say “no.” For some time now I’ve been having this fantasy of finding someone who would look at my calendar, emails, projects, and to do lists with me and help me change this fundamental structure of my life. Then, two months ago, I found someone who is doing it with me, week after week, as a gift of his amazingly large heart, completely pro bono. Ed Niehaus (at right) gives me just the right push combined with immense respect, love, and wisdom. The fundamental insight that is driving the work is that I’ve been saying “yes” to things mostly on the basis of how much I care. The trouble is that I care about too many things to be effective or sustainable. Instead, I am learning, painfully, to allow myself to care about something deeply and yet recognize that I have my own mission, my own focus areas, and to say “no” to those that are outside that area. I am already hopeful even though I know it will take probably months, because I’ve been able to say “no” to some things that have been significant involvements in the past. As Ed said recently: “For you, strategic direction is about saying “no” to more things.”