May, 2019

Less than three weeks after the previous newsletter went out, I left my home of more than thirteen years, put all my things in storage, and began a long adventure about which I write more in another part of the newsletter. I am writing this newsletter from the first long stop on this journey: I am in Israel for the month of April after landing here in late March and going directly to Bethlehem to work intensively with a group of Palestinian women for five days.

This has been a challenging time for me, both politically and in terms of my family situation. Politically, it's the rightward move of this country, especially as it's manifested in the near absence of engagement with the core issues related to Zionism and its impact on Palestinians in the last more than 100 years. In terms of my family, it's the encounter with the bureaucratic nightmares of dealing with a mother of 90 who is at constant risk of falling that neither she nor the health evaluator of the social security system here fully recognize. I am dedicating this letter to a few vignettes of what has sustained me in this time: seeing the human spirit shine brightly, even and especially in time of challenge and difficulty.  
Empowering Palestinian Women LeadersEPWL 
  • On March 28th, about 40 Palestinian women converged in Bethlehem for a 5-day intensive training with me. Most of them were there last year and came back for more. Some of them joined this year for the first time. Beyond the immediate breathtaking experiences of seeing women open up, notice and step into their power, develop relationships, and find hope and courage for the next phase in their life and leadership, this time around we shifted the relationship into fuller partnership. A number of these women -- most of whom face, on a daily basis, the dual challenge of Israeli occupation and all the horrors it brings with it on the one hand and the many restrictions of their community norms, especially as it relates to women, on the other hand -- accepted a new challenge: higher partnership in terms of the funding of the project, and a new design for the coming years. The empowerment, in other words, is already happening. Once they realized that the fundraising we are doing here (in which you can still participate!) has not reached its goal for the first phase, they came up with a threefold strategy: finding ways of cutting the costs; taking on some of the responsibility for fundraising on their own (they already raised $900); and thinking about how to reduce costs for next year. Some of the women are beginning to take leadership with other women in the group, being focal points for small groups, and eventually being the ones to introduce new women to the frameworks we are working with. Starting next year, the work I do is now designed to focus primarily on these efforts at leadership within the group, which also will mean a smaller group at next year's programs and hence fewer expenses.   
Several of the Palestinian women and Miki at a museum in the Walled Off Hotel 
The Two Faces of Zionism  zionism 
  • In the midst of the devastation that I see going on in Israel, I encountered an entire swath of the population that I hadn't known about at all when dozens of them came to the 3-day retreat I led in Israel, and almost 100 came to a daylong that my sister Arnina and I co-led. These are people who are part of what is now called the Collaborative Movements. I have been seeing Zionism, for some years now, as a two-faced phenomenon: one face is a national liberation movement and one face is a settler colonial enterprise. Most people see only one or the other. It's lonely and painful to see both within this climate. Those who see the settler colonial face, the devastating impact on Palestinians, and the absence of any acknowledgment of or taking responsibility for that impact, are usually either unaware of the other face, or, even when they are, often dismiss its significance. Those who are present leaders within Israel and much of the current Zionist movement are immersed in a version of nationalism that is no longer aligned with the historical visionary elements of Zionism. Indeed, they usually do their best to suppress memory and awareness of the radical roots of Zionism as a movement aiming to transform conditions of capitalism and even of separation, and to serve as inspiration in the world for what living differently can look like. The Collaborative Movements are reviving these radical roots. Incomplete, imperfect, open to lots of critique, especially about the role of social pressures in their decision-making processes, they are nonetheless thinking through questions that are similar to what we grapple with in NGL. Dozens and hundreds of people in their 20s and 30s are trying to change Israeli society. They are aiming to be demographically representative of the entire population of Israel. So far, they have managed to do so in terms of the Arab population, although I don't see evidence of much actual living together. They are in open dialogue with as many groups in Israel as are willing to be in dialogue with them. They take on and actively engage with significant social problems within and even beyond Israel. They are doing it in an Israel that is hostile to their efforts, up against opposition from their families of origin, with little by way of material resources, and without an older generation to learn from.
  • Right after sitting with a group of people from one of these movements, Arnina and I went to Nazareth, to visit some of the women who came from there to Bethlehem and some friends of theirs. The contrast was intense. This was a 30 minute drive, and a move from seeing one face of Zionism to seeing the other. Both Arnina and I are still learning the full scope of the horror that befell Palestinians in 1948, what is referred to as the Nakba, or catastrophe in English. It was revelatory for us to learn, and then it made perfect sense, that Palestinians wouldn't grasp the extent of how little is known by most Israeli Jews about what happened to them. It's actively suppressed, to the point of there being a law that forbids the use of the word Nakba in high schools. It's not common, even within Israel proper, for Jews to visit Arab towns. Everything in Israel is set up against us knowing each other, against us knowing about each other's experiences and history. And these women engaged with us in such openness. We easily walked through all these challenges and differences to an intimate conversation and to images of future projects together.   
The Nakba
With My Mother, Finding Togethernessmother  
  • And, lastly, my mother. She turned 90 last month. She remains oddly strong physically, and recovered with amazing speed and fullness from a fall last December that led to an ankle fracture. And there is no amount of strength that will overcome the slight brain damage from a small stroke she had a few years ago and which puts her at permanent risk of falling. This, and some memory decline and confusion, are a permanent hazard. And, until a few days ago, it was impossible to talk with her about it, something which was a cause of anguish for Arnina and, through that, for me also. Then we had a watershed event of finding a way to hold it together, which all of us worked hard to create. Watching my mother walk through the fear to a place of acknowledging that she hadn't wanted to look at these things, and still mostly doesn't want to, and, based on that, to a format that we created for how to hold the gap together, was inspirational. It also led to a way of framing certain conversations that are, I believe, generally difficult for people. Here's what we came to in that. Any time Arnina brings up a moment in which it's hard for her to not be able to hold reality together, my mother now has a script, written for her and which she fully embraces, which says this: "Thank you for telling me. I understand that this is hard for you. I don't understand why it's hard for you. And this is the situation we are facing." A tender togetherness can emerge in this even when the gap is big, even when it is unlikely to be filled: the togetherness of recognizing, together, that the gap exists and we can hold it together even if no change in behavior will ever happen on either of their parts.

All my life I've loved movies in which the human spirit shines through, not the ones that highlight cruelty or violence, or portray a negative view of human nature. My heart longs for more evidence of those possibilities, especially as the accelerating challenges of our times are pushing more and more of us into survival mode, even many of us who are in decent health, have more than enough to eat and a basic sense of solidity in our lives. In my recent post, I speak of the power of choosing our story instead of inheriting it from the dominant narratives, and the intoxicating freedom that can come from reclaiming ourselves from the throes of patriarchal training. May the stories I included here serve as a reminder of our irrepressible human capacity to choose beyond our conditioning and habits and find fullness and beauty in life.
in peace and hope,
P.S. If you want to hear more of what's been happening in the last couple of months, click here for both work and personal celebrations and mournings, including my first retreat in Israel, recent podcasts I appeared on, and my move out of my house.

Update on the Circle of Support updatecos
more info on COS here )
Life moves in cycles. Since the last newsletter, six new people have joined the Circle of Support, adding $190 per month. Also, nine people have cycled out, reducing our total by $576. This collective change brings us to a monthly total of 109 members
Photo by Bogomil Mihaylov on Unsplash
 contributing $3,078. We celebrate every choice, as we aspire to our sustainability goal of $6,000 per month.

Is it your turn to cycle in? If so, please take a moment to do so now. If this isn't your moment to make a financial contribution, please consider telling the people in your life about your experiences with The Fearless Heart by forwarding information about the conference calls, books, or other resources.

In community,
elizaBeth Simpson
Resource Coordinator
In the Humility Corner of her Celebrations and Mournings, Miki reflects: "I am seeing how challenging it is, in some situations, to release any attachment, and to come into a conversation truly ready to learn." I recently experienced a related situation when I met with Leonie, my co-Steward at BayNVC, about our outreach efforts. Having reflected on the situation independently, I approached her with a proposal and asked for her thoughts on my idea. Instead of responding to that, Leonie offered a perspective that to me emphasized a collaborative, rather than transactional, orientation. Her response made all the difference. I realized I had come to her thinking about how to move forward on my idea, rather than how to engage with her about it, even though I value collaboration with her. I realized I had approached her with the assumption that she didn't have time to engage, and that I often assume, without realizing it, a lack of availability in others for collaboration with me. Leonie's graceful redirect opened my eyes to a blind spot that has kept me unnecessarily from the resource of others' willingness. Though I know it will take a certain mindfulness on my part to keep that veil from falling back, the relief and expansiveness I feel has already impacted my engagement in local racial justice and community singing work.
ElizaBeth Simpson is the Resource Coordinator at BayNVC. She can be reached via email at
Upcoming Events events 
Free Teleseminars
On the Fearless Heart calls you can engage with Miki and others about her latest blog post, "The Powers No One Can Take Away From Us," earlier posts, or other topics of interest. Info and Register

Facing Privilege
Monday, June 24, 5:30-7:00pm PT
The Facing Privilege calls are an opportunity for people to engage on the deep questions that arise as we reflect on the topic of privilege.  Info and Register

Principle-Based Teaching Coaching Calls
Saturday, June 29, 1:30-3:00pm PT
The Principle-Based-Teaching calls are designed for people who have been integrating NVC for a while, who are now sharing NVC with others in various forms, and would like to engage with others and with Miki in deepening our collective capacity to bring NVC to the world in this particular way.  Info and Register

Sunday, June 23, 1:00 - 2:30pm PT
The Questioning Money calls are an opportunity to grapple together with all aspects, both internal and external, of global capitalism and to move toward transforming it inside and out.  Info and Register

Sunday, June 9, 3:30pm - 5:00pm PT
The Overcoming Patriarchy calls are for conversation, exploration, and active challenging of self and other based on the commitment to see and transcend all the ways in which we have internalized patriarchal thinking, to increase our collective ability to notice and act with choice.  Info and Register
Online at NVC Academy
Responding to the Call of Our Times
Fridays, February 1 - December 13, 2019 (46 sessions)
Noon - 2:00pm PT 
Registration remains open for the third year of this course. Whether you are an "official" leader or not, this ongoing program will support you in freeing yourself to fully step into leadership in all aspects of your life and work, and play your part in making life work for everyone. This course remains open throughout the year and is easy to enter at any time, as it's not based on a set curriculum. Info and register
Freedom and Flow: Recovering from Our Collective Addiction to Money, Exchange and Accumulation
Sundays, July 28 - September 1, 2019 (excluding August 18) (5 sessions)
7:30-9:30am PT 
Miki has been investigating money and economics since she was five. In this course she explores all that she has learned since, including how we broke from our evolutionary design and got to where we are now, and what we can do individually and collectively to rejoin life. Info and register.
These retreats are designed to create the conditions that would allow all of us who attend to take a next step in our understanding, capacity for interdependent living, practice, service, and contribution to support the possibility of nonviolent global liberation. You can watch the 2018 Poland retreat video here.

In Ben Lomond, California
Aug 15 - 21, 2019

In Mexico, in Spanish only
Save the date: Sept 15 - 21, 2019

On the East Coast
Save the date: Oct 25 - 30, 2019
Other Events in Europe
Following the NGL retreat in Poland, a small group of us  will continue our travels in Europe. We will host events with local  Extinction Rebellion and other activist groups supporting the  development of skills in collaborative leadership. Our confirmed  locations are Berlin (19th May), Brno (23rd May), Vienna (24th). These will be whole day events held in gift. If you would like to sign up to attend and receive more information from the organizers, please fill out this form and someone will get in touch with you.
Other People's Events
Compass Retreat with Arnina Kashtan (Miki's Sister)
In Ben Lomond, California
Save the Date: Oct 5 - 10, 2019
The Compass is specifically designed to support you in reliably deepening your understanding of your own and others' conditioning, and finding ways to reclaim your full connection with yourself. Arnina's passion and special gifts are in enhancing breakthroughs in consciousness, which are assisted by her unique approach - a profound, laser-like exploration into our innermost core, supported by a rare sense of humor and embedded in deep, embracing empathy.  If you want to learning more about this event and receive registration information when it is available, please add your name and email address here
Living Room Conversations
In a political climate of division and mistrust, this organization slowly and quietly brings together people from across political divides to talk, including about challenging topics. Co-founder Joan Blades and I met each other earlier this year, and came up with different ways that NVC people in particular could support the power of such conversations. You can find out more on the " Individual Actions" page on the Fearless Heart website.
Learning Packets
Miki worked for years with her sister Inbal Kashtan to develop learning materials about NVC, and has continued to develop new materials after Inbal's death. The first 6 packets of this material are now available here for download on a gift economy basis, with no paywall. The packets are in four categories: Learning about NVC; Overcoming Patriarchal Training; Applying NVC in the World; and Sharing NVC.
We acknowledge, and want to transcend, the pattern of linking the meeting of needs to money, both in the sense that people who have needs are often required to have money in order to meet them, and people who want to contribute to the meeting of needs are often required to have money to do so. The Circle of Support is an intervention in this habit. It is our baseline of steady support for Miki's role in boldly (and successfully) venturing into a gift economy, with our blessing. It is a joyful leap towards offering this work as a gift to anyone who seeks it, with no "strings attached."

We seek to reach our goal of 200 monthly donors, and to have a collective commitment of $6,000 per month, which will cover the financial expense of The Fearless Heart. We are grateful to be able to say that we now have 109 participants contributing $3,078 each month. We offer special thanks to the 6 people who joined since the last newsletter. Our largest monthly financial gift is currently $500, and our smallest is $8.25. We can't know which is the greater gift. Both are cherished.

Your participation, of any degree, contributes to this vision of shared responsibility and shared meaning. We invite you to listen into your role: If you are inspired to join the Circle, we thank you. If you are you inspired to make a one-time donation, we thank you. If you are inspired to spread the news about this work and why you value it (e.g. forward this email), we thank you. This is our collective work. We are grateful for your part in it.

Join the Circle of Support now.

Note: If you would like to make a donation smaller than $10, please send a check written out to TFH/BayNVC, and sent to BayNVC, PO Box 22872, Oakland, CA 94609.