Just before starting this newsletter, I watched a video
made by Demos about the relationship between racism and economic inequality, issuing a strong call to viewers to pass on the message that if we want everyone's needs to matter, talking about race is indispensable.
In addition to heeding the call of Heather McGhee, president of Demos, I want to say more. Along with heartbreak about the state of affairs in the US, this video brought home to me one more time how difficult it is to have public conversations about significant issues, and redoubled my own commitment to the quest to bring Convergent Facilitation
to the public arena to support conversations and decision-making about tough issues, at all levels of society.
The video focuses on race and economic inequality. The country is facing so much in addition that is also tearing us apart: immigration, climate change, and more. In so many instances, conversations about these issues happen only within circles of agreement, with very little mutual understanding between people who disagree, let alone shared attempts to find solutions that attend to what's truly important for all.
Just recently, a caller on one of my Fearless Heart Teleseminars was a Donald Trump supporter, a group of people highly underrepresented in NVC circles. To my amazement, in addition to sharing his affiliation, he also made himself available for conversation. We both understood the immensity of the opportunity we had, and for a few precious minutes we had the beginning of true dialogue across the divide. Our goal was small and huge: to focus on mutual understanding. One thing I myself was able to understand was that it is entirely possible for people with a different story to believe that restricting immigration could be motivated by care for all. While I don't share that belief, seeing its coherent narrative was a step forward for me. Sadly, our dialogue happened towards the very end of our time together, leaving us in a mystery about how far we can go. I certainly look forward to more such opportunities.
Inviting and transcending disagreement
This kind of dialogue, aimed solely at understanding one another, is quite different from my dream: applying Convergent Facilitation in contexts where people with opposing views or social positions can actually work together on solving problems that affect them all. A different application, and a similar principle holds: in order to work together we need to learn how to face and transcend our differences. In my recent blog post - Strengthening Collaboration through Encouraging Dissent
- I speak of how inviting dissent, and attending to it with care, can bring about more creativity and increased function in teams.
These days I am actively seeking opportunities to apply Convergent Facilitation in the public arena. What if we could bring energy company CEOs together with senior climate change activists and support them in coming up with joint policy recommendations? Or members of Congress to settle a longstanding divisive dispute such as gun policy?
Because of how deeply motivated I am to make these tools available, I am also scheduling more and more Convergent Facilitation workshops around the world. Check out the schedule below.
You can read about my recent 60th birthday, a couple of new articles of mine, including one about my work with Convergent Facilitation in the Minnesota state legislature, and you can find out about how you can support an amazing international project to make a movie about Marshall Rosenberg and the power of NVC.
Today's gratitude goes to our own staff here at BayNVC.
For months now, we've been having serious challenges - financial, structural, and, by extension, interpersonal. Just recently, we had a long meeting in which we applied what we bring to the world. Through Convergent Facilitation, and our own blend of love, truth, and courage, we grappled with the underlying sources of tension, dug deeper than the personal pain that all of us have had, and came out the other end with clarity and commitment to holding the challenges together. I could not ask for more.
In hope and peace,
Image credit: Trump supporter by Darron Birgenheier, Flickr (CC BY-SA 2.0)