There is an intricate, and implicit nearly infinite network of connections living beneath our feet that serves to resource all that grows in the soil. Not only does mycelium connect and allow organisms to communicate and share sustenance with one another, it also serves as a filter that has the capacity to compost harmful toxins into beneficial nutrients. Using the mycelial network as a metaphor and framework to ground our practice and exploration of compassionate interdependence allows us a model for understanding the non-linear nature and potential of the connections we make with each other as human, and aspirationally humane, beings.

Building Transformative Capacity for Responding to Dangers and Opportunity

Even as our current social context reveals how deeply interconnected and interdependent we are, and draws many to express care, compassion, and offer help to one another, this historical moment is also revealing more clearly than ever those structural inequalities pervasive in society that disproportionately wreak havoc on our most marginalized communities––again. African Americans and Native Americans are dying of COVID-19 at disproportionately high rates; Latinx farmworkers considered “essential” are not provided with protective equipment, have no or inadequate health care, and cannot afford to stop working, even when sick; those of Asian Ancestry are subject to blatant racism and violence; the working poor have even less access to resources and are more housing and food insecure than ever. The list goes on.

Now more than ever, those of us with a vision of creating a more just, loving, and compassionately-interdependent world, must develop our capacity to wield both our non-judgmental empathic capacity along with our critical understanding of how systemic social, political, and economic structures continue to systematically harm individuals and communities. These capacities, together, are essential for us to transform our current reality into that world that in our deepest being we sense is possible.

Come join us in this collective effort to learn and grow this transformative practice within ourselves and as a critically-compassionate community of change agents!

Register Now at NVC Academy

Key Questions:

  • What has our current social context revealed about the nature of our interconnectedness and our interdependence?
  • What are the consequences of not recognizing the truth of our interdependence?
  • What is the role of an empathic community in personal healing?
  • What is the role of personal healing and health in preserving community health; that is, personal care as community care?
  • What does it look like to have an empathic community?
  • What role does empathy play in strengthening our communal immune system and resilience?

In this opening session we will focus on experiencing empathic connection as both medicine for us individually, and also as an essential way of building a strong immune system for community. Because as humans beings we are interdependent and need community to learn, to grow, and to thrive, in this session we will practice with the tools for empathic connection as we open and learn how the current social context has impacted different members of our emergent community, based on each of our “social locations” along the intersections of our race, class, ethnic, gender, and other identities.

While holding “critical awareness” framing of how systemic social, political, and economic structures continue to impact us as individuals and as members of particular communities, we deliberately begin with building our connections as individuals and as a Community through application of the “Conocimiento Principle” for organizing.  This principle holds that to effectively and transformatively work toward a shared goal, a group of people must first come to know each other’s authentic story and the experiences that have shaped our view of, and relationship to, the dominant culture.  This is the ground from which we will build our work going forward.

Lead Facilitators: Edmundo Norte, Jihan McDonald, Kristin Masters

Key Questions:

  • What do we mean by “transformative”?
  • What do we mean by “critical awareness”?
  • What is the relationship between critical awareness and empathic, compassionate connection?
  • How does the way we “frame” the world––the most basic and most often unconscious assumptions we hold––shape the strategies we chose and the way we work for social justice?
  • How can holding both critical awareness and a compassionate, non-judgmental world view help us move toward transformative social change?

In this session we explore how understanding the ways that social, political, and economic structures and systems impact particular communities––and so, individuals who are part of those communities––and shape how we experience ourselves and our relationship to the dominant culture. This understanding is essential for deep empathic understanding and connection with individuals who’s community, family, and personal experience have all been profoundly impacted by these systemic structures, both historically and in our present context. Without this critical understanding, our empathic imagination and capacity to connect fully is limited to the circumference of our own experience, and circumscribed by the privileges that have defined and delimited our own experiences.

In this session we will examine and apply this framing as we practice integrating two essential capacities: 1) our understanding that systems and structures exist that have and do serve to uplift some communities while harming others, and that this is an integral and meaningful part of our collective and individual experiences that marginalized communities and individuals long to be seen, understood, and to matter to those with more privilege and power; and 2) our understanding that to transform existing, harmful, systemic structures––and we who inhabit and participate in them––we must apply an alternative view of the world that is not based on a moralistic right/wrong framing, but instead on a compassionate frame based on the understanding that all behaviors are attempts to meet human needs, and that this understanding must be the basis from which we seek to find more life-serving strategies to transform our world.

Lead Facilitators: Edmundo Norte, Jihan McDonald

Dealing with Our Losses with Care

June 27, 2020 @ 10:00 am - 12:30 pm

Key Questions:

  • How do we feel the depth of our grief without drowning in it?
  • How do we offer life preservers of care to those in our lives navigating loss?
  • How can we feel the pain of the world as it changes while also holding hope for what’s possible?
  • What are the mental, emotional, and spiritual frameworks that can allow for the full spectrum of our emotions to be expressed and integrated?
  • How can we make meaning of our losses (the Sixth Stage of Grief) in a way that includes both what matters to us personally, and what is needed to move us toward a more just and loving world?

In these times, we are all suffering many losses. Some of them are very personal and affect only the closest circle of what is “ours”. But other losses that impact us relate to larger circles of our communities, even losses to those we don’t share identities with. We will hold a process for naming our heartbreaks and the helplessness, rage, and despair that walk hand in hand with our grief. We will move slowly and intentionally to hold one another with care in this most challenging human experience.

Lead Facilitators: Alicia Garcia, Kristin Masters

Key Questions:

  • What gets in the way of our ability to care for ourselves?
  • How does our social location and history impact who prioritizes self-care and who prioritizes care for others?
  • How can we move past stories of martyrdom or selfishness to true empowerment?

Even before the pandemic moved through our communities, many of us struggled to hold the balance of self-care and care for others. For some of us, we have been heavily socialized to show up in ways that maximize others’ well-being, at high, sometimes deadly, costs to ourselves. For others, we have internalized messages of independence, stories that say we thrive based only on our own efforts.  The pandemic has brought to our awareness a high level of need that is excruciatingly paired with limited resources of all kinds. We have been confronted with scarcity: from restricted access to masks, tests and other items directly related to the pandemic, to increased food instability and empty supermarket shelves, to limited time as we care for family, children, elders while still attempting, if we’re lucky, to meet work responsibilities. In this session, we will explore how NVC and critical awareness intersect to offer us a model for making decisions that attend to needs. We will discuss the ways that individual and group histories impact our ability to value self-care and practice meeting that self-awareness with compassion and mourning. And, we’ll look at the role NVC can play in bringing a needs-based, rather than moralistic-judgment based, framework to decision-making related to both our care for ourselves and our care for others.

Lead Facilitators: Alicia Garcia, Roxy Manning

Register Now at NVC Academy

Financial Assistance

It is our greatest desire that all persons who want engage Nonviolent Leadership for Social Justice be able to do so.  As part of our commitment to ensuring class diversity, we do not want access to funds to be the only barrier for attendance. This is even more important given the extreme economic uncertainty many are experiencing as the result of COVID-19’s impacts on society.
We welcome and encourage creative problem solving. We would like to be in dialogue with each person interested in attending our sessions to see if we can identify a combination of financial assistance, fundraising, and payment plans that would enable your engagement.
Some of the factors that go into our decisions with respect to financial aid are:
  – financial need
  – potential for utilizing an NVC diversity consciousness toward social change
  – offering NVC to diverse communities, including commitment to working with currently underserved populations
Submitting applications for financial assistance as early as possible helps us to assess need and available resources.
About work-study: We don’t have a budget for work-study as such. We award financial aid based on need, and request assistance from those who are willing to assist our work in ways that they would enjoy. Such contributions of time and effort, which are made both by people who receive financial aid and those who don’t, play a major role in keeping our costs down and increasing the amount of money available for financial aid.
To apply for financial aid, please complete this survey.
Apply for Financial Assistance

“Peace requires everyone to be in the circle” – Isabel Allende