Community conversation Social change Understanding whiteness

Community Conversation – Understanding Whiteness

Thank you for your attendance and/or interest in the Conflict Transformation Weave’s Community Conversation – Understanding Whiteness on Friday 19th November 2021.  

I know many more of you were interested in this Conversation than were able to attend.

We began looking at these Books

In A Race is a Nice Thing to Have, Dr Janet Helms explores 6 lenses of whiteness, through which we interpret racial events, race and racism; and how important it is for white people to understand and free themselves from the ‘rules of whiteness.

She advocates asking the question ‘How is racism playing out in our organisation or network?’

In What white people can do next, Emma Dabiri discusses how overly focusing on ‘performative allyship’ and worrying about saying or doing the wrong thing replaces the solidarity we need.  She explores how we need to be talking about class, capitalism and sources of oppression.  She advocates building a coalition around shared interests, figuring out people’s material needs and working together to organise a workplace or community.

Here is a short video (15 mins) with the framing of the evening.  You also get the questions.

Slides shared are here.

The questions we asked about how white supremacy is showing out in our contexts and organisations are helpful for ongoing reflection.

We are going to co-host an Understanding Whiteness Study Group beginning in January 2022 on these dates Once a month
Sunday 30th January 10am – 11.30am
Sunday 27th February 10am – 11.30am
Sunday 27th March 10am – 11.30am
April – June date tbc

More info here

Register interest here

Community conversation Social change

Community Conversation: Preparing for COP26 – Harvesting

In our Community Conversation in advance of COP26, there was a palpable sense of togetherness with the emotions of facing this current moment, including space for despair, not knowing, shame and hopelessness.

There was a strong sense that NVC practice and needs awareness and advocacy can support with many elements of organising within social movements.

There was appreciation of this coming together as an NVC-fuelled community. Companionship and togetherness nourish us. We need to learn more and more about power, privilege, and living under patriarchy, white supremacy and this form of capitalism.

There was a sense of freedom and newness at the end. In the face of despair and not knowing, let’s play with that, together. We have nothing to lose.

We like to think of these questions we asked as an ongoing enquiry, and are part of what we are willing to look at within our community in these times of transition and breakdown.

Breakout 1

How can we be heard by those with political and structural power?

How do we believe change happens? How do we believe NVC can create change?

What blocks come up as you think about this?

Selected notes:

We can use empathy  to contribute to changing stories that are told.

We can use empathy to validate all needs, of all stakeholders, including those with different views.

Stop ‘othering’ / dehumanising / judging

Keep learning about how power and privilege operates

What does it mean at an emotional level to face the truth of this moment? – to be with grief and despair.

We can focus on positive news stories of successful (nvc) community action to inspire, keep going, encourage, give hope (news about the French revolution sent ripples across the globe Motivational success stories can nurture hope, validation, entitlement and fuel activity)

We can increase capacity to be vulnerable, Going beyond the victim, perpetrator, rescuer dynamic. 

We can mobililse to be more empowered. Initiate emotionally, grow up into responsible adult. What initiation rites can we create?

Proceed as if you matter, as if what you do matters.

Learn Emergent Strategy.

Change happens through a diverse range of methods that create pressure, unexpected snowballs. Change happens in unpredictable ways.

NVC practitioners can support people on the frontlines / taking to the streets.

Create a community force. Connecting to and speaking from love. 

Help decision makers listen to scientists and us.

Blocks – hard to understand, overwhelming, 

stories i tell myself, 

shame that i dont know

shame that I have nothing to add,

Patriarchy says only special people have vision 🙁

We learn shame when showing up not knowing

Breakout 2

How can our NVC practice support and usher in the change that is needed?

What alliances do you need to make?

What networks can be forged for mutual support?

What healing do you need in order to play your part in this current moment?

Selected notes:

“I want us to learn three things that might help us face what may be coming: to find choice within; to honor our limits and know when to choose death; and to walk towards community and life as far as we find pathways to do so.” – Miki Kashtan

Let’s get more NVC folk in social movements.

We want networks of support, with needs consciousness, and be part of, going somewhere together. 

Learn how to grieve

Togetherness – a movement towards something together – including as NVC UK community.

Recreating the collective.

Supporting young people / children, our present and future, maybe our future leaders.

Maybe they will create our world beyond patriarchy!

Our own healing includes talking with our children / families about power.

Sharing power – Power Anonymous groups!

Standing in my own power. Risking my significance.

Mourning for flow and ease – to know how to make a difference, to express my care, and to be understood for that – that the care and love is there.

Would love to be able to express how i really care and don’t know how.

Finding compassion and empathy for ‘the enemy’.

Not firing ‘the second arrow’.

Act as if my life depended on it, or act as if other people’s lives depended on it.

In the face of despair and not knowing, play with it all, we have nothing to lose

Not knowing what to do and using NVC for finding what we do want to do.

Connecting with others who value NVC. Motivating.

Building NVC UK community that includes awareness of what’s in the world, engaging.

Connecting with not knowing what to do and how to do it – companionship in that.


Calls to action in relation to Cop26  Find your local hub and take action on 6 November  There are protests on 29 October, mainly in London

Stop excluding Military emissions from climate agreements – Petition


British government is set to approve a new oil field called ‘Cambo’ in the North Atlantic, 75 miles from Shetland. Inform yourself

If you are in Scotland, you can ask your MSP to add their names to the motions opposing Cambo (Monica Lennon’s motion number S6M-00722 and Mark Ruskell’s motion, number S6M-00720. You can also sign this FoE Scotland Petition

Check out this handy toolkit for writing a letter to your MP and doing social media

Friends of the Earth UK have an Open Letter you cansign

Also stay connected to #Stopcambo updates at

Financing fossil fuels:

Inform yourself why this is a problem with the Greenpeace/WWF report from May, The Big Smoke: The Global Emissions of the UK financial Sector

Bank on our future has 2 min and 10 min online actions you can take to challenge banks funding fossil fuels. Their website also have printable signs and banners, social media images and more

Extinction Rebellion are organising direct action under the heading ‘Money Rebellion’

On twitter, you can tweet the chancellor Rishi Sunak to #CleanupBanks with a new climate finance law

You can switch your bank and tell them why you are leaving. This ‘Market forces’ site will tell you how to check if they’re funding fossil fuels and walk you through the process.

Divestment: Pressure institutions to stop investing in fossil fuel companies

If you are near Chichester, Sussex, here is an upcoming demo you can join

Community conversation Resources for neurodiversity Resources to tackle privilege

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

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. Sue poses some helpful questions you might want to ask in your groups and communities to nourish the sense of ‘we’ in our interactions amidst difference.


“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; illnesses that additionally lend themselves to imposter syndrome in my culture. People with conditions often undiagnosed or ordinary looking enough to still be measured against norms and found wanting. Repeatedly.

Who in NVC circles may, for example, experience significant difficulties in “the basics” such as remembering “an occasion when”; in identifying feelings and/or needs; or in making clear requests. Perhaps because their executive function isn’t orientated that way. Perhaps for other, maybe unknown, reasons.

Here are some questions that come:

  • 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 wider 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?
  • What stops us seeing when we are othering?
  • 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, away, with our own plans and preoccupations? And what is it that orientates us when we choose between these?
  • 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 happening around them?
  • Could it be the self same approach that is eliminating inconvenient life everywhere? Weeds, trees, bees?
  • When particular individuals with difficulties consistently run into the personal boundaries of others and therefore become isolated, to what degree is it “their problem”? Could it also mean anything for those personal boundaries? Are they really as personal as we may believe?
  • 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, and much more besides?

Obviously I am orientated in a particular direction, given my experiences of loss of self and others; of isolation. And at the same time I’ve been on both sides; I’ve found people 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 the health of interdependence and relationship before my needs or yours. Whenever, that is, I have sufficient capacity to do so without jeopardising my basic health and ability to contribute (interesting, “perfectly reasonable” boundary, right there;  what does it cost, I wonder?). 

And even if I withdraw from you into self, for I am a limited being, I want to be in the “us” as I do so. To pause with my wake as it ripples into your life and beyond. I’m guessing that at the end of days especially, I’ll  regard my wake with less regret, for every inclusive, less ‘Suecentric’ choice I make now.  I find personal comfort such a burden to drag through this time and place, both of whom are calling out for love with woefully inadequate response. Comfort has a way of drawing me away and devouring my humanity.

Written in gratitude to the ones I have othered in any degree, who have endured my clumsy attempts to reach out in curiosity, who have indeed humbled me with their stories. And written in grief for my negligence in witnessing the wake of most of my othering, more times than I cared to know.”

Further reading

An instruction manual for and about dissenters by Miki Kashtan

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
  • 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
  • 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!