Untethering: an always-on project
January 2021

Dear Friend,
It was a Friday afternoon in 1995, and I was going down the elevator in the Charles Schwab (a major financial firm) headquarters building after a day of work as a computer programmer, contracting through a small consulting agency. I was living with my beloved late sister Inbal in an apartment in Oakland, and this gig was part of my overall effort to work as little as possible and keep my consumption as low as possible. I was able to work 2-3 days a week while going to graduate school to study sociology. It was painful to sell myself, which I knew I was doing. In that pain and alienation, there was also satisfaction in imagining that no one in the office would know that I wanted to dismantle their business even while working within it.
Someone inevitably spoke the near-obligatory TGIF statement (in case you don’t know, it means “thank god it’s Friday” which is designed to capture that work is hateful, only there to finance the measly two days off that we get.) True to form, I mentioned that I hadn’t worked full time in more than 10 years. I saw the longing, the bodies stretching towards that imaginary possibility, the ache for more freedom. Then I added that the only way that worked was that I lived a very simple life. And I saw the bodies contracting again, accepting, I imagined, the deal they made to get all the goodies of comfort and convenience that come with the full time, well-paid work, paying the price of the deadening work that came with it.
As I came to write this piece, that memory floated to the top as an example of what I mean by untethering, as well as what makes it so difficult to embark on consciously disentangling from the dominant culture. Although this story is 25 years old, the vagabonding life I am currently living is shedding more light on that experience.
My sister Arnina has affectionately referred to Emma and me, the vagabonders, as a vacuum cleaner: it’s as if everywhere we go, we pull people, with us, in the direction of the luminous vision we are moving towards. And as this pull moves us, the strength of the counter-pull reveals itself. The cost of liberation is enormous. Early on, it means releasing the attachment to the goodies that come with modern, capitalist patriarchy, and, further along, it means standing naked in front of social mores and those who enforce them. It takes increasing our willingness to accept judgments from others, which requires strengthening our own muscles of self-acceptance. Here, we are taking the particular risk of making public a statement about what we call our “purpose partnership.” The further we walk towards vision, the more of the tethers of patriarchy we undo, the higher the cost. By exacting such high cost, patriarchal societies reproduce and sustain themselves. And we keep walking.
Long ago, I heard from someone that internalization of any kind of oppression is like being in a cage where we have the key that could open the door, and we don’t use it. Through the complex, rich, sometimes painful and always enlightening encounters with people along the way, I have now come to understand why we don’t use the key. An image came to me in which the keys are wrapped (intertwined) in our trauma; the very trauma that got us to agree to enter the cage in the first place. In order to unwrap the key and open the cage, we need to be willing to re-experience the trauma. For most of us, most of the time, the vision is too elusive and the prospect of experiencing and releasing the fears is too daunting: there is no path to the vision that doesn’t involve facing the challenges along the way, and there isn’t enough support available to face the challenges. It’s still the case that when we try to free ourselves, if we even try, it is on our own, not as part of a community. Simultaneously, when building communities we bring all the ways we are in the cage into our community building efforts.
This is one way of making sense of why visionary communities and organizations, including any that I’ve been part of and the two that I brought into life, become rife with conflict. I now see that understanding the ways that conflict is an expression of patriarchal legacy is a key endeavor as we imagine a new life. It’s definitely a key question for our vagabonding, directly aligned with our purpose. Our vagabonding is, explicitly, designed to find people, places, forms, principles, practices, and other resources for building an eventual live-in community. We are exploring the levels of conflict that our experiments generate to discover a level within our collective capacity to navigate. At such an early phase of community-building, when the agreements we have are still embryonic, the purpose and values only barely integrated, and the pull of our patriarchal patterning still so strong, the question of capacity is front and center in our minds. 
Since the last newsletter, where I celebrated my recovery from the illusion that vagabonding could be done incidentally rather than it itself becoming central to purpose, life has been a series of breakthroughs. I wrote then: “the instability of vagabonding makes our patriarchal conditioning more visible and allows for more learning to happen. Reorienting in this way helps me see that this is part of my work rather than interference: I am learning more about the ravages of patriarchy and about how we can work with vision and agreements to create islands within and around us in which the commitment to transformation holds us more steady.” This is precisely what has been happening.

At one of our recent experiments, staying for two nights with a dear Zoom friend whom I met in person for the very first time, he described what we do as the “always-on project.” After initially laughing, I felt the truth of it land, and it made it into the title of this piece. After all, once we have tasted the glory of restoring (even partially) choice, togetherness, and flow, why would we ever want to take a break? What would it even mean to take a break other than choosing, consciously, to re-embrace patriarchal living? I can’t imagine how that could ever serve my purpose.
As always, I have no answers to my own questions. I only know to keep going. In some ways, I have been walking away from patriarchy my entire life, even before I knew an alternative exists. Walking and falling, sometimes being dragged back to patriarchy, sometimes even getting so demoralized that I walked back part of the way myself. Always, I have lifted myself up and continued forward, and I still do, less and less alone as I go. And, all I said before notwithstanding, there are moments of exquisite rest in an experience that comes more and more often: reverence for life itself, savoring the moments of feeling, again, aligned with life. This work, this minute experimentation, the details of what it takes, on the small scale, and even before getting on a piece of land and reengaging with a form of rooted life, feels vital to the prospect of bringing to the world what has been given to me and what I am learning. With the world in its current state ravaged by patriarchal norms and practices, it may be too late to turn things around collectively, and continuing to envision and walk towards that possibility is the only thing I know to do.
In peace and mystery,

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 the unfolding of the Provider Apprenticeship Program within NGL, my book launch party, the finishing of “Apart and Together,” my Coronavirus series, and more.

Credits, from top: Skyscrapers by Philipp Birmes from Pexels; Money and handcuffs Photo by Tima Miroshnichenko from Pexels; Path with fork Photo by James Wheeler from PexelsPrison bars Photo by Felipe Vallin from Pexels; Woman in box Photo by cottonbro from Pexels; Dates in dish Photo by Naim Benjelloun from Pexels
Our experiment in the gift paradigm...
Miki's Circle of Support
We aim to encourage the gift paradigm: a pattern of resource flow that isn’t based on individuals’ access to money. Within this, the Circle of Support acts as a baseline of steady support for Miki's choice to boldly (and so far successfully) venture more and more into operating within a gift economy. If you want to learn more about the existing paradigm, gift economy, the Circle of Support and our experimentation so far with alternative economies, we welcome you to visit the 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, hardly anyone has left the Circle even as a few people cycle in and out each month. At present, we have 121 people who contribute a total of $3,947 monthly to the Circle of Support. Both are roughly two-thirds of our goal of 200 contributors and $6,000 a month.

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 her conference calls, books, or other resources.

Upcoming Events
Free Teleseminars
All teleseminar times below are Pacific Time:

Facing Privilege
Saturday, January 31, 11:30 am - 10:30 pm PT
Saturday, February 13, 1 pm - 2:30 pm 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, January 16, 1 pm - 2:30 pm PT
Sunday, February 21, 9 am - 10:30 am 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, January 2, 9 am - 10:30 am PT
Sunday, February 7, 9:30 am - 11 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

Reckoning with Collapse
Saturday, January 30, 11 am - 12:30 pm PT
Saturday, February 20, 9 am - 10:30 am PT
The Reckoning with Collapse calls are an opportunity to engage with each other as we grapple with and aim to respond to the overwhelming information and grim prospects that humanity is currently facing, most immediately with the impacts of responses to the pandemic within the context of climate change, and other severe crises. 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. 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
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

We continue to invite people to join us as “NGL Friends.” Every month we have more friends joining, now approaching 150 people in that category. Friends can join many calls, including coaching calls, conversations with guests, and team meetings, offer support with different tasks to the NGL Online community, contribute financially, and connect with each other for learning and mutual support. Read about NGL and see whether being an NGL friend is for you here.

Support NGL

The NGL Online community is a wild experiment in terms of use of resources. There are over 20 of us in the core teams that sustain the community. We are co-creators of a community that aims to function on a gift economy basis. When money arrives, which now is about $1,400 a month, we aim to distribute it among us based on the same principles. We’ve also been fortunate to receive two small grants that have given much needed funds to individuals who otherwise would need to look for regular jobs and back out of all the work they do in support of NGL’s infrastructure and projects. In the last period we have shifted into combining all of NGL’s projects into one collective pot of money, as a strategy to increase cohesion and reduce the chances of stratification within NGL. In the absence of retreats, we don’t have less work to do, and our sustainability has become much more strained, including that of BayNVC, the fiscal sponsor and parent organization of NGL. We just finished a distribution circle within NGL where the total contributions, including money from the grant, were only 70% of the amount needed by those of us sustaining NGL. We worked out how to do it, as we always do, moving each time closer to the vision of complete resource flow. We distribute money 3 times a year, and this challenge is likely to continue and grow until such time when we can offer NGL retreats again. In the absence of the retreats, BayNVC can no longer support NGL to the degree that we have in the past, as our resources have been depleted this year. 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

More than 20 people a week are now attending the Convergent Facilitation Coaching Calls to receive ongoing support from experienced facilitators on how to help groups make collaborative decisions. Many of them attended the introductory workshop Roxy Manning and Lisa Rothman in the fall. Are you interested in becoming a Convergent Facilitator? See what we have coming up.

Introduction to Convergent Facilitation Workshop
Mondays, January 25 - March 1 (5 Sessions)
Now more than ever, we see the devastating consequences when stakeholders aren't involved in making decisions that affect them. This is a time of extraordinary challenge, change and opportunity. The world is hungry for people who have the skills to support a group to arrive at a decision that everyone can wholeheartedly embrace; one that is arrived at with surprising efficiency. Learn how! Attend Roxy and Lisa’s workshop starting January 25th, available on a gift economy basis. You can find more information here.

Convergent Facilitation Weekly Coaching Calls
With experienced facilitators, based on gift economy
Are you ready to serve in this time of extraordinary potential, challenge, and change? We are now providing access to Convergent Facilitation training if you haven’t done it yet and are called to this form of service, and offering weekly coaching calls to support you with practice. Find out more about this project and get involved here.

Book Release Celebration - PDF Available Now
Tuesday, January 12 (2 sessions)
6:00 AM PT
12:00 PM PT

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.

Miki’s latest book is now in the final stages of publication, and we invite you to celebrate this new resource in revolutionary decision making with us! View the PDF and sign up for the launch here: thefearlessheart.org/hcdlaunch/.

The celebration will be held in two 90-minute sessions, to maximize the participation of people in different parts of the world.

During the event, Miki will share her vision of how Convergent Facilitation can help create a world that works for all. She will also share inspiring stories of the breakthrough collaborative decisions that Convergent Facilitation has made possible and answer your questions.


Sign up to receive the link for our live launch, or learn more: thefearlessheart.org/hcdlaunch/
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. With this newsletter, five more packets are added to what is available, for a total of eleven packets. Miki is also in the process of full revision of the entire structure of the packets to incorporate the entire NGL framework, which we anticipate will be released by the next newsletter. All packets are available 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.

The new packets are:
Many people are skeptical about money coming in when we provide content without a paywall. We are celebrating that last year people downloaded 730 items in 415 orders, giving an average $7.17 per item. Of these, 209 people didn't give any money, and we rejoice in that. One person contributed $150 for 4 of the 6 packets we have had on offer last year. 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. 

With the NGL Provider Apprenticeship Program starting, we anticipate completing the entire learning packet project when the first cohort finishes the program in August 2022, as each of the six trimesters of the program prompts and supports the completion of the packets relevant to the theme of that trimester.
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 European 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 anyone who wants to strengthen their commitment to nonviolence and increase their ability to put it into practice in their day-to-day lives. You may register for the series at any time; once you are registered you will receive an email invitation once a month to sign up, if you like, for the next module.

Upcoming modules:
February: 2. Openness to the Full Emotional Range
March: 3. Risking my Significance
April: 4. Responsibility

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
We are now accepting scholarship applications!
Reducing Financial Barriers to Training in Nonviolence
We have been granted an opportunity to designate a small fund to offer support to members of marginalized communities to increase access to educational opportunities in the fields of nonviolence, including Nonviolent Communication (NVC), Kingian Nonviolence, and Nonviolent Global Liberation (NGL).

At BayNVC, we are painfully aware of the enormous systemic obstacles that block full participation in shaping and benefiting from training in nonviolence. One specific example is that the vast majority of people who participate in NVC training in much of the world are from white and middle class backgrounds. We hope this fund will be a small contribution to change in this area.

To see if this scholarship may be a support to you or someone you know visit the project here: baynvc.org/reducing-barriers-scholarship.

We are also inviting continued contributions from our community and anyone else who is excited about what we are aiming to do. Let us know if you want to participate, and let others within your communities know about this project so that we can continue to offer this support into the future. If you are inspired to make contribution, please click here and choose “Reducing Barriers to Training in Nonviolence” as your designation.