When Miki Kashtan and the late Inbal Kashtan founded BayNVC (along with John Kinyon and the late Julie Greene), one of their hopes was that having an organization would allow them to pursue their dream of transforming social systems as well as individuals and groups. This dream, also inspired by Marshall Rosenberg’s own vision, remains core and central to the work of BayNVC.
Our work in this area proceeds in several directions:
Miki Kashtan and other members of the BayNVC extended community often lead the way in conversations that aim to increase our understanding in the following areas:
1. What is the difference between collective personal transformation and systemic change?
2. What are the unique contributions that NVC can make in the area of social change?
3. How does the practice of NVC change in the context of power differences?
4. How can we envision a world and a set of social systems that use needs as an organizing principle?
5. What is the relationship between NVC and the larger field of nonviolence?
6. How can the study of NVC support our capacity to rethink leadership?
7. How does our understanding of power and privilege shift when we apply an NVC lens to our inquiry?
8. What’s the role of society in shaping our actions and thoughts?
9. What happens when we aim to integrate NVC into social activism?
10. What do organizations look like when the principles of NVC shape all systems within them?
11. Why is working on parenting significant from the point of view of changing systems?
12. What makes change possible, and how can NVC support people in creating intentional change within and around them?
13. How can NVC support us in maintaining openheartedness when engaging with people who we believe have done or are still doing enormous harm?
If you are interested in any of these questions, we recommend that you sign up to read Miki Kashtan’s blog and her book Reweaving Our Human Fabric: Working Together to Create a Nonviolent Future, which touches on all of the above questions. You also may want to join the NVC-Social-Change listserve, which brings together people from around the world who are interested in the intersection between NVC and social change work. You can sign up for it here.
Because we believe that social change requires something beyond supporting many individuals to achieve personal transformation, we are also taking on projects designed to create transformation in other ways:
This project, which started in 2002, offers classes to people incarcerated at San Quentin. You can read about the work being done by our Safer Communities team here.
This project started in 2001 when four BayNVC trainers began a commitment to grappling with the challenge of having fruitful conversations about race, power, and privilege. Over the years the people and the specific programs have changed considerably, while the original commitment remains strong. You can read here about the undertakings of current members of our Diversity Project team.
This project started in late 2012 when Miki Kashtan was approached by people from Minnesota after their governor vetoed a bill on child custody and expressed a strong interest in a collaborative solution. Miki has been working with the group since then, and collaborative legislation was passed in the legislature and signed by the governor in May 2015. You can read more about this project here.
We believe that the commitment to creating systemic transformation includes massive and ongoing experimentation in small and large labs. We engage in such experiments within BayNVC and are also committed to supporting other communities and organizations that are striving to model collaborative approaches.
As of March 2014, Miki Kashtan has been engaging in an ongoing and growing experiment to uncouple giving from receiving in her public offerings. She created a Circle of Support for those who want to support the experiment, and has been offering more and more of her public workshops as pure gifs to the community. Her long-term goal is to have all of her public offerings supported by a pure gift-economy model, in which people contribute monthly regardless of attendance at events.
Since June 2012, when a financial crisis resulted in shifting our operating model, BayNVC’s trainers have been operating on a collaborative basis. We are experimenting with a variety of ways of making decisions and allocating resources, continually learning about what works and what doesn’t as we shift into that new mode.
Part of our commitment to using NVC for social change purposes leads us to offer our skills and capacity to other groups and organizations modeling or working toward change. By and large, such work is done on a pro bono or very low-cost basis.
Between 2005 and 2009, Miki Kashtan supported the Peace Alliance with monthly coaching calls for its staff and volunteers. The purpose of these calls was to assist the group to model its principles of peace in their efforts to create a department of peace in the U.S. federal government.
A small group of individuals formed Canticle Farm in 2011 as an intentional community and urban farm in one of Oakland’s low-income neighborhoods. Since 2013, Miki Kashtan has been supporting this group on a monthly basis to establish agreements and create decision-making systems and others that are aligned with their values and mission.
Images: “Black Lives Matter Black Friday,” by The All-Nite Images. “Troublemaker,” by Scott McLeod. Both from Flickr CC license, unaltered.