We have been developing our approach to this work for over ten years. Some of our participants have come for every one of those years. Read about their experiences below to see how integration of nonviolent communication principles and critical awareness theory has impacted those who join us.

I have attended other NVC retreats and benefited from each. But my husband and I travel to the Bay Area from Ohio to attend the NVC Diversity/Social Justice retreats and I have attended every retreat since their inception. I cajoled my husband into honeymooning at an NVC Diversity/Social Justice retreat and he has not missed one since.

NVC Diversity/Social Justice trainers teach and learn. They listen as well as speak and have created a safe place to share and examine my lived experiences. As a person of color I find such places are precious, few and rarely consciously created. It feels good to be in a place where experiencing life as a person of color is not subsumed as (perhaps) part of the agenda but has a place of primacy as part of the practice.

I have seen NVC Diversity/Social Justice trainers apply their skills to major real world social and cultural conflicts and resolve those conflicts in ways I would never believe possible in the absence of miracles and magic. Through NVC Diversity /Social Justice retreats I have watched my all-too-familiar feelings of fear and reluctance evolve into compassion and connection. These retreats have given me the freedom to be in choice about how to respond to painful stimuli. I attend this retreat every year because being with these trainers in this environment has allowed me to dance and sing and play and remember that joy is possible. I plan to return to this retreat for as many years as my body permits. I am excited and so pleased to return to this place and these trainers who apply their knowledge and skills to bring out the best me I can be, and during the NVC Diversity/Social Justice retreats I am a better me than I am at any other place and time.

Gwendolyn Wilson-Cobbs, Retired Social Worker, Ohio
I experienced the NVC Diversity Retreat as a radically supportive space for dialogue about difficult racial issues. It was a powerful forum for learning how the tools of nonviolent communication can be applied to discover the hidden sides of both individual and systemic oppression. It was a life-changer for me – at the age of 35, I learned the true cultural impact of my advantage as being born a white, middle-class male. With this knowledge, I have since been able to engage with people of color in a far more vulnerable and supportive way.
Leif S., Florida
Before the NVC & Diversity Retreat, I was intrigued and eager to learn more about this pairing. After participating in the Retreat, I was (and remain) so thoroughly enamored with BayNVC and how they approach diversity that I modified my workplace annual charitable contribution from a few different agencies to just one, Bay NVC.
Dawna Vann, Contra Costa County, California
The NVC Diversity Retreat is unlike any other social justice conference or workshop I’ve ever been to. The integration of the principles of non-violent communication in the hard work of confronting racism and classism allows for people to be honest, uncover biases and roadblocks, and keeps folks accountable to one another and their own principles, all in a spirit of love and forgiveness. As a student affairs professional, I find that my efforts to create a container of love, forgiveness, and accountability result in deeper connections, progress toward understanding, and commitment to change.
Mandie Caroll, Coordinator for Residential Education, Oakes College, California
Deep learning began right away for me in my first NVC & Diversity Retreat (now called the Nonviolent Leadership for Social Justice Retreat). In the accepting and loving space of the retreat, I, a white woman, realized that I had an unconscious belief that “I know better” than people of color do about a lot of things. I also realized that that belief had gotten in the way in my relationships with some co-workers in particular. Though I know that idea still influences me sometimes, my awareness of it has allowed me to develop much more genuine relationships with the same co-workers, and with other people, and my life is so much richer for it. I will be forever grateful for the space to have had that realization — and for the two African-American fellow participants who listened with patience as I talked about my process. I can’t imagine a more loving and empathic space than the Nonviolent Leadership for Social Justice Retreat for delving into the intense issues of social justice. I’m looking forward to my fourth Retreat in a few months!
Julie Rogers, California
The NVLSJ retreat is home for me – a place I can feel safe and ‘known’ on a cellular level, without explanation, just known and therefore knowable. It’s where I make sense, where everything I care about, all my life experience and family history come together in one coherent package that is “me” on a continent that doesn’t have any official narratives I can look to to help me know I fully exist. I don’t think I would have stuck with NVC without meeting this healing community.
Mika Maniwa, Vancouver, Canada
The retreat is a lot of inner work, honest dialogue, empathy circles–plus time to rest and talk, swim and play together. The sharing sometimes gets deep and emotionally intense. For me, the retreat has been about learning to be vulnerable around people of color, more willing to show myself even
if I make mistakes, and building authentic, warm interracial friendships. Some things I have gotten at this retreat: a broader perspective, courage, community, real listening, self-compassion, compassion for others, hope, and friendship.
Kar Fraser, California
In attending the NVC and Diversity retreat, I was one of a pair – and this made a big difference. It’s paid off. Just tonight I attended an important meeting – ongoing mediation facilitated by the DOJ following a tragedy in Rockford, IL – a Black man killed by white policemen in a day center in a church. Our participation in the retreat has helped us to connect and collaborate more effectively, contributing significantly to the process of healing for our polarized traumatized community: We’re a white community therapist and a black pastor. I urge you to participate in the NVC and diversity retreat, and bring partners who represent the diversity of your community.
Harlan Johnson, LMFT, Community Therapist, Illinois