Metabolizing Setbacks
September 2021

Dear Friend,
When I left my home in Oakland, CA at the end of March 2019 after thirteen years of living there, I didn’t imagine what since has come to happen. Eighteen months, one pandemic, six countries, and too-many-Airbnbs-and-short-term-rentals-to-even-remember later, I am now part of a foursome “we” committed to be together for at least a year. Still vagabonding, we have an almost infinite vision for humanity that calls us into purpose relentlessly, intensely rigorous systems that support us in staying the course, and tons of laughter and joy. And we are still in recovery from the immense difficulties we faced in our intensive Portugal experiment and in the transition from there back to Ireland.
I regularly receive the writings of a kabbalist, Sarah Yehudit Schneider, an orthodox Jewish woman respected by male rabbis (a story unto itself). I need to do some translation when I read her words, as the language is very theistic and often framed in right/wrong terms, and, still, the wisdom breaks through everything and feeds me. I am quoting at length because it’s precisely what I would want to say and what describes the experience of working through the many challenges.

"In suffering one encounters Hashem [literally: “the name”; one of the ways that Orthodox Jews refer to god] at a level of depth and intimacy that is beyond all previous experience. This revelation of light (and good) is “bigger” than anything one has ever known. The “vessel” of one’s life is too small right now to receive and perceive this new increment of good (and God). It must stretch beyond itself to accommodate the new light, which is forcing its way in. The process is painful. The dilation hurts. One sees only darkness and bad. But in retrospect, when the work is done and the growth integrated, the event takes on a different meaning. It gets reframed, and from this new and slightly expanded perspective, it is even perceived as a (reluctantly welcomed) gift."

I want to illustrate with just two examples from the last months.
From conflict to deep learning
Within the first 48 hours of coming into Portugal, where we all anticipated being in an island of purpose alignment and relational ease, we fell into a wrenching conflict. Everything we were doing was on the line, and some of our relationships got strained beyond repair, and still are to this day. I am not exaggerating to say that I was flat out for several weeks putting all I know into trying to integrate differences unsuccessfully. Our relationship with Tamera, the community we engaged with while in Portugal, also took some temporary hits. To this day, months after the painful end of the conflict when one of us left, we are still in recovery.
… and there are three core pieces of new learning that we now have which I am quite confident we wouldn’t have if this conflict hadn’t happened:
  • A new conflict system: As a result of this conflict, and a couple of smaller ones in previous, shorter experiments, we have developed a new approach to conflict systems that is attentive to capacity limits and questions the imperative for parties to a conflict to meet and share with each other as a way for everyone to reach internal harmony. It’s too new to share publicly, and we are now piloting this slowly and are super excited about it.
  • A deeper understanding about onboarding: We have developed so much compassion for everyone involved in any community or organization that aims to function in visionary ways when integrating new people. It’s so much clearer to us how deeply immersed we all are in patriarchal conditioning, and how far the gap is from the vision we cherish. We know we need to support everyone better in bringing people together. This has fully and dramatically influenced one of the packets that is now available for all, “Organizational Systems Overview,” which includes extensive sections, including about increasing collective capacity, that are informed by what we have learned.
  • Complexifying our impact sharing practice: Since one of the areas of challenge revolved around the rigorous practice of impact sharing, we came to see that impact sharing, as we were doing it before, is extraordinarily demanding (which we both knew and didn’t). We then added to it a round of capacity assessment for receiving and for sharing impacts, which resulted in more tenderness for all of us, and in much less impact sharing. It’s only in the last few days that we have decided, again, to drop that and do full impact sharing again, because we saw that we got paralyzed. Impact sharing increases capacity and demands capacity. If we don’t take a leap into it, our capacity to get there won’t happen on its own. 
Bumping against “the system”
The larger group we are now part of has only been on the move since March. Emma and I have been moving from place to place since before the pandemic started. We’ve encountered much amazement from many about our capacity to move when all instructions are to stay at home (which we don’t have). We learned from it, deeply, how much of the power of states arises from compliance and fear rather than enforcements. Time and time again we worked hard to have all documents ready only to never be asked. And then, on this part of the trip, we had two different PCR (Covid) test-related delays, resulting in our little group of four breaking apart sooner than planned, so that only two of us rather than four ended up crossing the waters on the ferry back to Ireland, exhausted and with reduced capacity. The first round of delays was because I received a false positive, and we didn’t try to get on the ferry. The second test was taken too early for ferry arrival (we took it within time for ferry departure, mistakenly), and we were denied access to the ferry.
Given we were already exhausted by the time we got to Bilbao (a city in Spain where the ferry to Ireland departs from) – from the conflicts in Portugal, from the immense mobilization to engage with Tamera in multiple ways, from the heat, from the travel in a van in the heat – this completely devastated us, and it took weeks to gain capacity even on the physical level. 

… and there are two vitally important things that happened as a result and moved us forward in our relentless pursuit of liberation.

  • Writing a purpose will: Although we were all pretty certain that the positive PCR test was indeed false, we couldn’t know. Reviewing all scenarios and how to respond to them, we considered the possibility of me getting a serious case of Covid and dying, which led to Emma suggesting I record what I want done if I die in terms of my work. I was super clear, things got revealed to me, and some things have since changed in terms of what I am doing now. Plus, the term “purpose will” was born…
  • Facing fears: We came to see the palpable reality of how easy it was to stop us from moving where we wanted to go as a sneak preview of what’s to come as things get worse. We dug deeply into what may await us given our clear sense that fascism is on the rise and systemic collapse will only intensify as we move further away from mainstream ways of functioning. We all came out of it wiser, more sober, and more willing to face the risks. A priceless lesson.
As this newsletter is coming out on the first day of a new Jewish year, I want to wish all who read it the most support possible in digesting all setbacks so as to find courage and creativity to metabolize them into new insights; creative, even playful, pathways; and greater inner and outer strength. We will all need it.
With compassion for all of us,

Miki

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 one more blog post, other pieces of writing, vagabonding updates, the usual crop of inspirations, and more.
 

Picture credits: Focus Sphere by Pixabay from Pexels; Two Women by Monica Galaj for 4kroki.org; Blue words in cloud image by John Hain from Pixabay; Denied image by tswedensky from Pixabay; Apples and honey for sweet new year by Igal Ness on Unsplash
Our experiment in the gift paradigm...
Miki's Circle of Support
The Circle of Support is a central part of Miki’s commitment to participate in the movement to restore the maternal gift economy: a pattern of resource flow that is based on needs and capacity; not on individuals’ access to money. The Circle of Support acts as a baseline of steady support as more and more of what Miki does in the world is offered without any paywall or exchange. If you want to learn more about gift economy, the Circle of Support, and our experimentations so far with alternative economies, we welcome you to our Circle of Support page on Miki’s website, or join the Circle here

With immense gratitude and awe we have seen that, despite the hardships that have come to so many in these times, people continue to join the circle while others leave. This last period, more people have left than joined. At present, we have 109 people who contribute a total of $3,809 monthly to the Circle of Support. That’s slightly over half of our goal of 200 contributors, and just under two thirds of our goal of $6,000 a month. We feel blessed to have this much support at this time even as we hope to sustain ourselves more easily without dipping into our reserve. 

We celebrate every choice to join or leave the circle, as we aspire to our sustainability goal. Regardless of the total amount, we seek a broad base of participation both for the stability of this work, which increases when the circle is held by many hands, and for the affirmation of significance that your participation provides.

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 of engaging with Miki’s work by forwarding information about the conference calls, books, or other resources.

Join the Circle of Support, or read more about it on Miki’s website »
Upcoming Events
Free Teleseminars
All teleseminar times below are Pacific Time:

Facing Privilege
Saturday, September 25, 8:30 am - 10:00 am PT
Saturday, October 23, 8:30 am - 10:00 am 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

Overcoming Patriarchy
Saturday, September 4, 8:30 am - 10:00 am PT
Saturday , October 2, 12:30 pm - 2:00 pm 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

Questioning Money
Saturday, September 11, 12:30 pm - 2:00 pm PT
Saturday , October 9, 8:30 am - 10:00 am 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

Nonviolent Activism for Liberation
Sunday, September 19, 9 am - 10:30 am PT
Sunday, October 10, 9 am - 10:30 am PT
Sunday, November 14, 9 am - 10:30 am PT
The Nonviolent Activism for Liberation calls are to support activists in empowering themselves within their groups and movements to increase capacity to align means with ends so as to transform cultures of burnout, conflict, mistrust, blaming and shaming into environments of solidarity, trust, experimentation, and increased capacity to move towards the possibility of a livable future. Info and register
Online at NVC Academy
Responding to the Call of Our Times
Fridays, February 5 - December 10, 2021 (45 sessions)
Noon - 2:00 pm PT
This is the 5th year of this course, and registration remains open throughout the year. There’s a reason why some people have been coming for all the years of its existence. 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. As our social systems unravel, this is more timely than ever. Info and register
Restoring Togetherness: Needs Choreography as a Path to Collective Liberation
Monday, Tuesday, and Wednesday, December 13, 14, and 15 (three sessions)
11:00 am - 12:30 pm PT
There are no individual solutions to systemic collapse. A future for humanity means reweaving our frayed threads of togetherness into a fabric that is stronger than we could ever be in our individualized existence. This is what this course offers, as a deep exploration into three topics: 1) why capacity matters: freeing ourselves from patriarchal overstretching; 2) needs, impacts, resources: building blocks of integrative decisions that work for all; 3) needs choreography: leaning on all available capacity to dance together for liberation. Info and register
NGL doesn’t currently have any upcoming retreats. All of our work is online at present, and includes many calls where you can learn as well as many opportunities to contribute to our work.
NGL Friends

Every month we have more “NGL Friends” joining, now reaching 190 people in that category. Friends are welcome to join many calls, including coaching calls, conversations with guests, and team meetings. They also offer support with different tasks relating to the NGL Online community, contribute financially, and connect with each other for learning and mutual support. 

Sabrina (NGL member) and Fox (NGL friend and apprentice) have founded a new NGL Welcome Crew which has the purpose of creating a bridge to ease prospective and new NGL Friends' experience of landing within NGL. They run regular Welcoming Sessions where new NGL Friends can meet each other and ask any questions they might have. If you are experiencing difficulty with the sign-up process and are needing support you can contact them on welcoming-friends@nglcommunity.org 
Read about NGL and see whether being an NGL friend is for you here.

Support NGL's Gift Economy

The NGL Online community is a wild experiment in terms of use of resources of all kinds. In terms of financial resources, we pull together all money that comes in from any source, and distribute it in a collective process every four months. In our last distribution circle in August, we used the same process as last time. This was the first time I wasn’t there, entrusting BayNVC’s well-being to all the others in the circle to decide about. As in all distribution circles before, the resources available to us were fewer than the total of 12 requests made. This time around, several people received the full amount of their request, everyone else received at least their minimum, and BayNVC again received less than what is long-term sustainable for us, although we are still fine for now.

We know it’s really hard to convey in words how wild indeed the experiment is. At present there are about 40 or more of us pouring energy into NGL, many of us many hours every week. Only 12 of us have put in financial requests, independently of how much time and energy we put in, independently of how much we have been able to bring in. We are active co-creators of a community that aims to function on a gift economy basis. We are fully committed to uncoupling giving from receiving. Money related to all of NGL’s projects flows into one collective pot of money, as a strategy to increase cohesion and reduce the chances of stratification within NGL. 

Like in many other places, the pandemic has dramatically reduced the amount of money coming in without reducing the amount of work to do or sustainability needs. In particular, within BayNVC, the fiscal sponsor and parent organization of NGL, we’ve dipped into our reserve. We now distribute money 3 times a year, based on requests for bare bones sustainability from those who really need them to stay engaged. We want to keep moving closer to our vision and dream of full resource flow based on optimizing the movement of resources towards needs based on purpose and willingness. We are eager for the sustainability of all of us who pour countless hours over years to be able to lean on NGL for some of their sustainability instead of supporting NGL’s sustainability often at cost to themselves. 

If you have the capacity to do so, please donate here.
Convergent Facilitation

The world is hungry for people with skills to guide diverse groups and stakeholders toward decisions that everyone can wholeheartedly embrace. Are you called to support others with collaborative decisions? See what we have coming up.

Introduction to Convergent Facilitation: Online Intensive
November 13 - 14, 2021 
We are thrilled that more than 130 people joined us at our May intensive, so we decided to do it again! Please invite your friends and colleagues. The Convergent Facilitation (CF) Intensive offers a comprehensive introduction to collaborative decision making. The skills you acquire will help you make group decisions more easily and effectively at home, in your work, and in your communities. This is an opportunity to learn the basics of the CF process and principles or deepen your practice. 
No previous experience with Convergent Facilitation is needed. Offered within gift economy.

Seeking a Convergent Facilitation Outreach Coordinator
We are looking for someone enthusiastic, experienced, committed, and self-directed to support Convergent Facilitation by leading our outreach efforts. We want someone with a strategic vision for how to drive attendance to our workshops and generate interest in Miki’s book, the technical skills to realize that vision, and previous experience. Here are more details. If you are interested, please contact Mona.

Weekly CF Coaching Calls
We are celebrating our one-year anniversary of offering weekly Convergent Facilitation Coaching Calls. Our first call was on May 11, 2020! This program provides ongoing support from experienced facilitators on real-life challenges you encounter as you begin to use and apply Convergent Facilitation. We ask that you take an introductory workshop or read the book before you attend. Find out more about this project and get involved on the

Making Life Work - Online Self-Study Course

In the challenging times in which we live, many of us barely dare dream of a world that honors and seeks to meet the needs of everyone. This self-paced self-study course was born from that dream and it is available without a paywall, on a gift economy basis.

Created by Miki, the course integrates principles and practices that can move you in the direction of making this dream a reality, starting with your own life, exactly where you are. At your own pace, with optional built-in support from others, as part of an vibrant online community practice now numbering 385.

Sign up for the course or learn more here.

Radical Compassion: A New Pathway Toward Liberation

FREE Experiential Workshop
Radical Compassion: A New Pathway Toward Liberation 
with Arnina Kashtan
Sunday, September 19th, 2021
8:00 am - 10:00 am PT (Time Zone Converter)
Do you sometimes feel stuck in painful patterns that contribute to feelings of fear, anger, guilt and shame? Do you often find yourself trapped in thoughts of comparisons, judgements, or ”shoulds”? Do you ever notice how these thoughts show up in your body as tightness or tension in your shoulders, jaw, throat or chest?

If you answered “yes” to any of these questions, radical compassion can support you in liberating yourself from these painful patterns so you can enjoy an unprecedented sense of connection with yourself and others.

Intrigued? If so, find out more at the next FREE introduction to The Compass.

Please register here to receive a Zoom link and a reminder email prior to the event.

“My sister Arnina puts together so much — systemic perspective, compassion for trauma, deep understanding about how humans function, and more — into a comprehensive, deep, and fully accessible framework that supports dramatic shifts in the experience of being alive. I highly recommend it to anyone who has a passion for freedom.” ~ Miki Kashtan

The Parent Peer Leadership Program
With Ingrid Bauer and Stephanie Bachman-Mattei
October 2020 - June 2021 Program
Free preview calls Sep 27 and Oct 5
Founded by Miki's late sister and close collaborator, Inbal, and now led by Inbal's former students Ingrid Bauer (CNVC Certified Trainer) and Stephanie Bachmann Mattei (CNVC Certified Trainer and Assessor), the PPLP is a leadership training for sharing Nonviolent Communication with parents, teachers and youth-serving professionals. The program is structured to be long-distance in order to support participation by lay leaders throughout the world. The components of the program include regularly scheduled video conferences, weekly study suggestions, buddy relationships, and individualized tele-support. Learn more, register, or sign up for free preview calls here
The Fearless Heart Publications
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. This is the first time that packets based entirely on Inbal’s work are being made available. One of them is previously unavailable parenting work, and another includes Inbal’s processes for sharing NVC utilizing the body. In addition, three other packets are now ready, completing the “Purpose and Values” category. With this, we now have a total of 21 packets. Miki is planning to complete the “Restoring Togetherness” category by the January newsletter, and the entire set by December 2022. All packets are available on a gift economy basis, with no paywall.

  1. Restoring Choice: Socialization, Liberation, and Integration (5 out of 6 available)
  2. Purpose and Values: Collaborative Organizational Systems, Agreements, and Seeding the Future - complete with 7 packets
  3. Restoring Togetherness: Interdependence, Dialogue, and Collaboration
  4. Scarcity, Separation, and Powerlessness: Patriarchy, History, and Economics
  5. Restoring Flow: Nonviolence, Systemic Change, the Commons, and the Gift Economy
  6. Caring for the Whole: Facilitation and Leadership - complete with 4 packets
  7. Learning, Integrating, Applying, and Sharing NVC
  8. Power, Privilege, and Liberation

Many people are skeptical about money coming in when we provide content without a paywall. Our experience is a resounding affirmation that there is enough care and enough trust to begin to re-create flow. We are celebrating that so far this year people have downloaded 805 items in 500 orders, giving an average $7.34 per item. Of these, 258 people didn't give any money, and we rejoice in that. One person contributed $100 for 1 packet. This is the transitional world we want to live in, for as long as money exists: access for everyone regardless of how much money they have, supported by those who have the capacity to give more. 

Visit the learning packets page here.
The Highest Common Denominator

What if you could bring together any group of people to find solutions that are creative, satisfying, work for everyone, and actually get implemented?

In The Highest Common Denominator — Using Convergent Facilitation to Reach Breakthrough Collaborative Decisions, Miki Kashtan introduces a novel decision-making process that is designed to build trust from the very beginning, to surface concerns and address them, and to turn conflicts into dilemmas that groups feel energized to solve together.

For options about how to access the book, including the possibility of an electronic version on a gift-economy basis, visit The Highest Common Denominator.

You can also view videos from the book launch here.
A New Calendar featuring Miki and Inbal's Work
I have missed my annual trips to Poland since the pandemic. So it was a totally sweet surprise to receive a package with what to me are stunningly beautiful calendars that the organizers of the Polish NVC Festival created, with original art, featuring the "Key Assumptions and Intentions of NVC."

The calendar can be purchased through their Foundation. If you are in Poland, you can visit their website. If you are anywhere else, then email is the only way to go. Contact them at krok1 @ 4kroki.org (space left to reduce spam), with the number of calendars you want, your address, and what you are choosing to give for each calendar (49, 59, 69, 79, or 99 PLN). They will let you know the shipping cost, which can be sent to them in PLN or Euros. All sales support the Festival.
Core Nonviolence Commitments
Learning and Support Community
Strengthen your commitment to nonviolence
With Helen Adamson and Claudia Sánchez
The first 3 Thursdays of every month (except August)
January 2021 - January 2024 (34 modules of 3 sessions each)
6:00 - 8:00 pm CET (Central Europe Time) Find your time zone

An ongoing series of independent units or modules, each one designed to support participants in engaging, in community, with one of the 34 Core Nonviolence Commitments. The series is for people who want to strengthen their commitment to nonviolence and increase their ability to put it into practice in their day-to-day lives. Prior NVC experience is highly recommended. You may register for the series at any time; once you are registered you will receive an email invitation once a month to RSVP, if you like, for the next module.

Upcoming modules:
October: Commitment #9. Empathic Presence
November: Commitment #10. Generosity
December: Commitment #11. Receptivity


Nonviolence is a way of being and living that orients, in thought, word, and deed, towards integrating love, truth, and courage in individual and collective action aimed at preserving what serves life and at challenging what doesn’t to transform itself so the human family can realign with life. -Miki Kashtan