July, 2019        

These days, almost everywhere I go, confusion, anxiety, and longing are palpable. We are in difficult times, possibly end times. Many of us want to know what we can meaningfully do in response to what is happening. Such questions arose frequently on my recent long trip to Israel, Palestine, and Europe, and consistently come up on many of my calls. On a recent Overcoming Patriarchy call, the bulk of our time focused on what steps we can t ake toward meaningful action, even before we are clear about how to engage, and I decided to share in this newsletter the distilled version of the steps that we fleshed out on the call. I don't mean to imply that this is a linear and orderly process as described below; only that these steps, in whatever order, are important parts of this process.   
Steps toward meaningful action steps 
*    Notice. In order to take any action for change, we first need to become aware of what isn't working in what currently exists. For as long as we believe that what exists is mostly functioning and just in need of tweaks, we won't be motivated to act. Even if we know something is off, if we think "that's just how life is", we won't be motivated to act. We need to both know things are not working, and have a vision of what's possible.
*    Mourn. Unless we find within us the capacity to mourn, any action that we take is likely to come from contracted energy that goes against rather than towards. We are then way too likely, even if we succeed, to recreate the very thing we are aiming to change. Mourning allows us to expand our hearts, find the love, touch the longing for something different in a soft way, and connect with our vision more fully.
*    Analyze. I know that, especially within NVC circles, analysis has a bad name. I want to revive our willingness to think, to learn, to examine, to reflect, to ask hard questions, to lift up root causes instead of focusing on the immediate, to look for the systemic context instead of only the individuals involved, to link past, present, and future as we come to a fuller understanding of what is happening and what would need to change for a different outcome to come about. I want us to be able to maintain clarity about acute issues we are struggling to address while at the same time remembering root causes as one more way to reduce the chances we will recreate what we are aiming to transform.
*    Reframe as needed. Especially if we are going to be part of activist networks, I want us to find and retain our capacity to shift narratives and choose what we tell ourselves and those around us. Narratives matter. If we see the police as a part of the working class that was pushed into working for the elite we will act differently than if we only see them through the lens of the impact they have as instruments of the state, without holding in the mix their humanity, including their potential to shift.
*    Discern. I want each of us to be able to name what we have to offer that is ours, which will often be some small subset of what we passionately care about. In some way, what I am inviting us to look for is the accurate intersection between our capacities, our availability, our sense of what's needed, and where we are positioned.
*    Care. How can we care for our bodies and our lives in the same moment as we care for all life in our efforts to bring about the change we long to see? How do we nourish ourselves while doing whatever we choose to do?
*    Support. One of the ways we can reduce the likelihood of recreating the patriarchal past is to seek and sustain networks of support for ourselves. Support challenges all three pillars of patriarchy: scarcity, separation, and powerlessness. When a support network is multilateral and strong, everyone is supported and we become more creative and resilient as we aim to challenge the systems and worldviews that are bringing us to the brink of extinction.

If you are called to this journey, what might the sweet spot of action be for you? Where would you start your journey towards action in this time? As you reflect, you might want to read my recent blog post about what happened as a group of us made our way from the NGL retreat in Poland to Stroud, England and engaged with many Extinction Rebellion members. Or you might want to come to the new Reckoning with Collapse call, as some of us will gather to collectively grapple with the immense questions that arise when we face the challenges of our time. This is a time to be together.

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 the next chapter in my vagabonding life, a recent application of Convergent Facilitation, and more.
 Update on the Circle of Support updatecos
more info on COS here )
Life is still cycling! Since the last newsletter, 6 new people have joined the Circle of Support, adding $482 per month, and 3 annual donors recently contributed. Also, 4 people have cycled out, leading to a net increase of $549.66. This collective change brings us to a monthly total of 112 members contributing $3,704.24. 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. If you would like to find out about other ways to support COS, please email me: ezb@baynvc.org
I jogged past the iron bars in front of my hometown alma mater, Fresno High School (FHS). It was the Friday before the school's Spring Break. The oppressive heat of a Fresno, CA spring doesn't punch like the fist of a Fresno summer. It's more like an open-handed slap, the kind that sometimes bruises a child's skin as punishment for simply being a child.

As sweat dripped from my forehead, I saw a Black male teenager being arrested by two police officers outside campus. "If you see someone being arrested, it can be supportive for everyone's safety if you stop and witness. This is especially true if the arrested person is a person of color, and even more true if you are white". These words from my colleague and dear friend, Leonie Smith, echoed through my head at that moment. She said them during a Responsible Bystander training, an offering Leonie co-developed and led at a meditation center last fall. 

"There must be a reason for it. There's probably nothing you can do. Just keep running". This harsh voice followed Leonie's. It is old and familiar. I attended FHS during the era of "No Child Left Behind", a time when increasing numbers of children of color were forced behind bars. That harsh voice frequently controlled my response when I was a student at FHS. Although I was in the statistical minority of white kids within the student body, white privilege protected me and influenced my decisions to turn away from my criminalized peers.

Since Leonie's voice is more beautiful than that harsh, played-out voice, I decided to listen to her. Not only did I witness the arrest, I also drew upon nonviolence trainings I learned from Leonie and other activists at the Nonviolent Global Liberation retreat in Santa Cruz, CA. The wisdom imparted during that retreat helped me prevent the arrest of a second teenager. As I read Miki's 'Steps toward meaningful action', my understanding of the experience deepened. Using the steps as a framework, I share and expand upon my reflections on  The Fearless Heart's 'From the Team' page.
Stephanie Smith is the Administrator at BayNVC. She can be reached via email at stephanie@baynvc.org.
Upcoming Events events 
Free Teleseminars
On the Fearless Heart calls you can engage with Miki and others about her latest blog post, "Reckoning with Collapse: Living into Community from Warsaw to Stroud," earlier posts, or other topics of interest. Info and register

Facing Privilege
Sunday, July 28, 10:30am - Noon PT
Saturday, August 24,  5:00-6:30pm  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
Sunday, July 28, 5:30-7:00pm PT
This upcoming Principle-Based Teaching call is the last one that Miki is planning to offer. Some people are beginning to self-organize to continue the exploration of PBT in some form. And the materials are still available here. There is always sadness in an ending, and also often new beginnings, this time the new Reckoning with Collapse call announced below. Info and register

Saturday, July 20, 9:30 - 11:00am PT
Sunday, August 25, 3:00-4:30pm 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

Saturday, July 13, Noon - 1:30pm PT
Sunday, August 11, 10:00-11:30am 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

Reckoning with Collapsereckoning
Saturday, August 3, 2-3:30pm PT
New in July, Reckoning with Collapse calls are an opportunity for anyone to come engage with others who are, also, grappling with the overwhelming information and grim prospects that humanity is currently facing, most specifically with climate change, as well as a host of other severe crises. 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
Sept 15 - 21, 2019

In Stony Point, New York
Oct 30 - Nov 5, 2019
Special Event
Until August 27th!
From Fear to Freedom: The Compass Toward our Liberation 
with Arnina Kashtan (Miki's Sister)
In Ben Lomond, California 
Oct 5 - 10, 2019, with video conference meetings before and after the retreat
After years of testing and synthesizing practices from Nonviolent Commun ication, The Work of Byron Katie, and Inner Child work with her own discoveries and tools, Arnina is coming to Northern California with her integrative, life-changing method, The Compass. Arnina has assembled a toolbox of practices which helps you to understand and decode your hidden blocks, and fill your cells with an unprecedented sense of compassionate self-acceptance.
A note from Miki: "For the very first time ever, my sister Arnina is offering a retreat in the method she developed -- THE COMPASS. She 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." 
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 112 participants contributing $3,704.24, 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.