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Community conversation Resources for neurodiversity Resources to tackle privilege

Do we tend to the consequences of our ‘othering’, or rush on with our plans?

On September 17th 2021, the Community Conversations team in CTW hosted a Conversation about Social Change asking the following questions.

  • What is the world needing that you as an NVC practitioner, or us collectively, as NVC practitioners, could contribute to?
  • What is it important to be doing right now?
  • What will deepen our lives and our connections to one another and the web of life?
  • What are our options for integrity in a time of increasing marginalisation of some, of collapsing systems and civilisations and the threat of extinction?  
  • How do we choose where to put our energies? 
  • What if we have low capacity or ill health? 
  • How can our practice of NVC support all of this?

This is Sue Johnston’s response to these questions.

“My interest is around the disadvantaged, disabled, sensitive, outsiders, misfits and frankly rejects; those with conditions that suffer more than enough ignorance and intolerance – for example neurodivergence, CFS, fibromyalgia, illness with imposter syndrome. Conditions often undiagnosed or ordinary looking enough to be measured against norms and found wanting, repeatedly.

Who in NVC circles find it difficult to remember “an occasion when”; in identifying feelings and/or needs; in making clear requests.

What does it cost our humanity when we protect our own comfort/perceived safety above another’s basic well being, when our fears blind us to consequences? What gets in the way of our curiosity about their story?

What hampers our curiosity about the negative consequences for them and ourselves when we other them?

Could it be that taking time to grieve might address something of our failings at such a time?

Do we tend to the consequences of our othering, or rush on with our plans, and what is it that orientates us in the direction we choose?

When we focus on removing people who interrupt our plans for harmony and growth, is it possible that we undermine the very qualities we seek?

Are our time frames askew; when we “protect ourselves from inconvenients” what happens when we one day become the inconvenient ones?

What is this process doing to our culture?

What are the children learning from seeing this?

Is it not the same approach that is eliminating inconvenient life everywhere?

When particular individuals consistently run into the personal boundaries of others and become isolated, does that mean anything for personal boundaries?

Could we be reinforcing the very prejudices we long to address?

Is there any value in having “difficult” people in our midst?

In such troubled times, when there is so much we are each struggling with, could it be that gathering such folk in might better serve the whole? Might listening to them be a worthy endeavour? Not to “help them” or “support them”, but to learn and live and model interdependence.

Obviously I am orientated in a particular direction, given my experiences of isolation and loss. And at the same time I’ve been on both sides; I’ve found adults very daunting indeed, and blocked many out. I’m longing to listen for what I am missing when I am convinced of my position; longing to find patience and humility to put interdependence and relationship before my needs or yours, whenever I have sufficient capacity so that I am not putting my health at risk. 

Written in gratitude to the ones I have othered, who have endured my clumsy attempts to reach out in curiosity, who have indeed humbled me with their stories.”

Further reading

An instruction manual for and about dissenters by Miki Kashtan

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Community conversation

Community conversation on Certification

Thanks to all those who came along to our latest Community Conversation around Certification, asking the question “How are we supporting the next generation of NVC practitioners?”. Seeds of ideas to respond to that question were nurtured, including…

  • Starting with a deeply effective inquiry into what the world needs.
  • Designing a continuous journey of growth, support and accountability.
  • Acknowledging and supporting people with different strengths and capacity.
  • Learning from circle processes where we act as equals.

Below is a summary of the conversation for those who missed it.

Shared Dilemmas

This conversation came from various threads, so we started by exploring our different perspectives and coming to a shared understanding of reality, using the image below (video describing the image is here)…

Others then brought in their perspectives for us to consider as we moved into thinking about action. Here is some of what came up…

– feeling depleted of resources (even more so in lockdown) affects how we navigate through certification

– financial resources can be a blocker to some people who want to certify

– CPP document (guide to certification) is not accessible to all, can feel overwhelming

– certification shapes how NVC is understood practiced and brought into the world – ‘NVC trainer’ puts training more in the centre than applying NVC as a facilitator, mediator and other things

– it is not clear where to go to learn more about how NVC is applied in different contexts e.g. education 

– wanting more understanding of where people are starting from, their background and experience as individuals

– wanting to increase awareness of power differences, becoming conscious of where we are around power

– not seeing awareness of guilt, shame and privilege in the process, and longing for social transformation

One of the things assessment and certification brings up for many of us are issues around power, so Ron led us in an embodied exploration around our relationship to power and standing in our own power as we move into thinking about what we might want to change.

Moving into action

From here we moved into groups to ask…

  • What support might people considering certification need? What might get in the way?
  • How do we include and value people who are choosing a different pathway?
  • What’s your vision of a process that meets more needs, and how could we do that collaboratively?

Here is a flavour of some of the initial suggestions…

  • Have a deep inquiry into what the world needs and starting from there, designing a process based on what comes out of that.
  • Recognising capacity and supporting people using NVC in different contexts.
  • Designing a process that doesn’t have an end – a continuous journey of growth and accountability. As a community of practitioners having a process where we are continuously supported, given feedback, held accountable. Space for everyone to be supported for what they bring and held with integrity, and acknowledgement to the commitment to be in that.
    • Idea of pods to get feedback, support, ideas, coaching.
    • Using the riseup list to self organise groups around applications of nvc including social change, education, facilitation etc.
  • Longing for circle processes where we act as equals, as a collective, including grieving.

Continuing the conversation

If you are interested in being involved in what happens next, here are a few options…

  • Dany and others are exploring forming a ‘Certification weave’ to feed into and support the current certification process. If you are interested please contact Dany at daniela.schirmer@hotmail.co.uk.
  • Viv and Sarri are starting to explore ideas around ongoing learning, support and challenge, and how we might experiment with different ways of doing this. If you are interested please contact Viv at vivslack@gmail.com.
  • If you have any other ideas or things to try around this, go for it! Start a conversation, reach out through the riseup list, or if you are stuck where to start please get in touch. You can also add ideas to the event harvesting document here.

Finally, we are planning more Community Conversations so hope to see you at one soon!