Phases of the Moon, the newsletter of the Maine NVC Network
Volume Two, Issue One: NVC and Social Change

Our newsletter appears once a month around the time of the new moon. Our purpose is to contribute to the NVC learning of people who have taken at least an NVC Level 1 workshop, and help us stay connected as we endeavor to deepen a culture of peace within ourselves, our families and the world. We believe a Level 1 offers so many new ways of thinking that additional support for learning and integration could be helpful.

We endeavor to make each edition informative, connecting, inspiring and fun. Please let us know how the newsletter might contribute to your NVC well-being.

The theme for this issue is NVC and Social Change. Drawing on the wisdom of Mahatma Gandhi, Marshall Rosenberg, Joanna Macy and David Korten, this issue explores how NVC can contribute to manifesting Peace on Earth.



NVC and Social Change

by Peggy Smith, CNVC certified NVC trainer

snow-laden branches
"Tell me how much a snowflake weighs?" a sparrow asked a wild dove.
"Not more than nothing," was the answer.
"Then," the sparrow said, "I want to tell you a wonderful story. I was sitting on a branch of a pine tree, close to the trunk, when it started to snow. Not much - not like in a storm. No, it was like in a dream, without any touch of intensity. Because I did not have anything else to do I started to count those snowflakes that fell on my branch and the needles. Their number was 3,741,952. When the next snowflake fell on the branch – not more than a nothing as you said - the branch broke."
The sparrow did not say more; he flew away.
The dove, which is supposed to be an authority in this topic, thought a while about this story and then said to itself: "Maybe there is only one voice missing to bring peace to our world."
(Author unknown - story translated from German by NVC trainer Gitta Zimmerman)

We have the habit at the New Year’s beginning to wish Peace on Earth to our family, friends, and neighbors. Yet we know we live in turbulent times. The United States is involved in multiple wars, homelessness and hunger are increasing throughout our state, there is much political turmoil, and the planet is experiencing dramatic climate change. How do we make our yearning for Peace on Earth more than a wish? How do we create concrete action? How do we become another "snowflake" for life?

Nonviolent consciousness is an active practice of bringing harmony and peace to our inner and outer world. Most of the previous Maine NVC Network newsletters have focused on deepening peace through use of the Nonviolent Communication (NVC) process for inner transformation and inner harmony.

Inner work is the vital first step toward social change. Without the inner work we often make enemy images of others who act or express themselves differently than we would prefer. As Mahatma Gandhi explained, making myself or the other person wrong in my own thinking is the root of violence. NVC is a strong practice for orienting myself toward embodying peace no matter what is happening around me.

Modern-day philosophers and activists David Korten and Joanna Macy call our time "The Great Turning." They use this term to describe the current change in humanity they believe is on the magnitude of the agricultural and industrial revolutions.1 From an NVC lens we come to see these revolutions as strategies to nourish needs.

Nonviolent Communication and The Great Turning

earth seen from outer spaceJoanna Macy describes The Great Turning manifesting on multiple levels. The first level includes efforts to slow down the destruction caused by current human activity. This can include lawsuits, demonstrations, and direct actions. The second level is to create life-sustaining forms and structures – this can include local food movements, cohousing, land trusts, permaculture, restorative justice, mediation practices, and alternative basis for currency. The third level is a shift in consciousness - to profoundly change our perception of reality.

NVC, developed by Marshall Rosenberg, is a process we can use to shift our consciousness so we are liberated from "us" and "them" thinking. NVC helps us lay down new neural pathways in our brains to bring expansive loving-kindness from a vague wish into practical reality.

When we become ready to turn our NVC focus from our immediate world to the larger arena of humanity, we can consider the following Four Keys to Social Change.2

  1. Transform enemy images of others. This equates to the "4th Chair" as described in last month’s feature article. By transforming enemy images, we let the feelings and needs of the other become the focus of our attention. (See further practice for one of many exercises to develop this focus.)
  2. Focus on a Positive Vision. Make it a conscious practice to see the positive outcomes you wish for as concrete and do-able.3
  3. Gratitude – make a continuous habit of embodying gratitude:
    • Gratitude for the people around us
    • Gratitude for the bounty of life – air, water, food, learning, community, challenges and celebrations
    • Gratitude for the people who think differently than we do
  4. Connect with the people we hope to influence. Remember, with nonviolent consciousness we only want people to change if they can do it joyfully from a full realization of Universal Needs. To "force" change is to perpetuate the domination paradigm we hope to transform.

Joanna believes that in The Great Turning everyone’s efforts toward sustainability and compassion are contributing to the whole. Whether efforts are small or large in focus, they are all "snowflakes" for life expressing itself. Each one’s efforts are vital to the flow of the life-force.

This new year we will bring to our newsletter an exploration of deepening our inner NVC practices and moving these practices into the larger human context. We intend to include feature articles about NVC in the workplace, NVC in building community, NVC within the family, and NVC in health care, in addition to continuing to explore using NVC to bring more peace to our inner world.

If there is a situation or topic you want to read about in the newsletter, please email us with a specific request.

1 * The Great Turning: From Empire to Earth Community, David Korten. Kumarian Press, 2006
* Coming Back To Life: Practices To Reconnect Our Lives, Our World, Joanna Macy. New Society Publishers, 1998
* The Great Turning As Compass And Lens, Joanna Macy. YES! Magazine, summer 2006, p. 44

2 Material presented by Jeff Brown, certified NVC trainer, in his NVC Academy course: Creating a Kick-ass NVC Organization. FMI

3 YES! Magazine is a source for learning about positive visions for the future and how they are being created now.

The author would like to express deep gratitude for the editors of this feature, whose contributions increased clarity and effectiveness of this piece: Lynd Morris, Kristi Kirkham, Betsy Terrell and David Smith.

Peggy Smith is co-founder of the Maine NVC Network and founder/principal trainer with Open Communication
Contact Open Communication for a presentation on NVC for your organization or business.

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Suggestions for Practice:

  1. Plan on taking an NVC workshop that will strengthen the need of empathy that flows within you – such as the Maine NVC Integration Program or a Level 2 workshop.

  2. Take time to consider the Four Keys to Social Change. With a partner take 15 minutes each to explore your reactions to each of these Four Keys. From this exploration make one concrete, positive, do-able request of yourself.

  3. Use this exercise to practice transforming enemy images.

  4. Schedule an NVC coaching session with a certified trainer.

  5. Read YES! Magazine to expand your vision of a positive future. (Social Change Key #2) From Yes!, here is a video about social change through listening and walking and connecting.

  6. Read The Heart of Social Change: How you can make a difference in your world by Marshall Rosenberg. Puddle Dancer Press, 2005

  7. Participate in the January 7, 2011, Maine NVC Network gathering.

  8. Watch and contemplate this 20 minute talk on connection.


Crossword Puzzle

This is a fully interactive online puzzle; we will have a new one each month which relates to the issue's theme.


~ Poetry Corner ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~


by William Ernest Henley
(1849 – 1902)

Out of the night that covers me,
Black as the Pit from pole to pole,
I thank whatever gods may be
For my unconquerable soul.

In the fell clutch of circumstance
I have not winced nor cried aloud.
Under the bludgeonings of chance
My head is bloody, but unbowed.

Beyond this place of wrath and tears
Looms but the Horror of the shade,
And yet the menace of the years
Finds, and shall find, me unafraid.

It matters not how strait the gate,
How charged with punishments the scroll.
I am the master of my fate:
I am the captain of my soul.

This poem was an inspiration to Nelson Mandela during his long imprisonment
and his efforts to bring reconciliation and peace to the nation of South Africa.


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Gathering of the Maine NVC Network
January 7, 2011, 10am-2pm
Unitarian Universalist Community Church
69 Winthrop St., Augusta, ME

The purpose of this gathering is to take time to look deeply at what the Maine NVC Network is, and if
the stakeholders would like it to evolve into something else.

Anyone who supports the current Mission & Vision of the Network as written on our website is considered a stakeholder.

ALL are welcome and encouraged to attend.

The request is that attendees do the following things before arriving at the meeting.

  1. Completely read the current Maine NVC Network website, with special attention to the Vision & Mission page.
  2. Be prepared to respond to:
    • Is the Vision & Mission still alive for you? If not, how would you suggest it be changed?
    • How is the Network serving you now?
    • How would you like the Network to serve you in the future?
    • What are you willing to offer to the Network to support the Vision & Mission?
    • Does the current structure serve you?  If not, what structure would you suggest and how would you support that changed structure?

Currently we are a loose group defined as those people who support the Vision & Mission. There is no official membership or list of stakeholders and no bank account. All work is done on a volunteer basis; any expenses are covered by voluntary donations at the time of service.

If you have specific items you want included for discussion that are not connected to the questions above please email them to Peggy.

The gathering will be facilitated by Deb Austin and Brenda Mitchell, NVC practitioners from Community Partners, Inc. and strong supporters of NVC in the Maine community.

Those who are not able to attend can share their responses to the questions by emailing them to Peggy.

Please RSVP

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Celebrations Corner

Jennifer Leonard

Trying to practice NVC during especially strained times, I’ve needed permission to slow down, to think, so I could respond from that connected place we talk about. I tried a variety of ways, the most effective being a taped feelings and needs list on the refrigerator and literally running to it to identify what was happening inside me.

I would run to the refrigerator instead of producing an immediate reaction to whomever or whatever was in front of me. Continuing this ‘run and read and identify’ practice became supremely useful in cultivating habits of self-empathy. Another discovery from this practice arose in an awareness that - rarely were there such emergencies that must be dealt with immediately.

My emergencies were the overwhelming emotions that wanted to be acknowledged with their connected needs. It was then I saw the concept of emergency in a new fashion, a play on words, in which I allow time for the need connected to my feelings to emerge so I can see it. Once the beautiful need has settled in my mind, and rests on my heart, then can I respond or act in ways that contribute to the kind of life I want to be a part of. Emerge and see.

Upcoming Trainings

Jan. 8-9, 2011, Camden, ME
Introduction to NVC & IR Focusing
(combining NVC with Focusing)

This is 2 days to delve and explore NVC self-empathy and working with what is alive in us in deeper and deeper ways, always using NVC as our main guiding principle. Led by Gina Cenciose / FMI

January 15-16, Arundel, ME
Level 1

Taught by Peggy Smith / pdf icon details and registration

Jan. 29-30, Camden, ME
Introduction to Restorative Circles
(based in NVC)

This is a 2 day introduction to the skills and theory of Dominic Barter's method of restorative circles, which combines Restorative Justice principles with NVC principles. Led by Gina Cenciose / pdf icon FMI

January 29, Portland, ME
1-day Introduction to NVC as a fundraiser for MOFGA-El Salvador Sistering Committee

Taught by Peggy Smith / pdf icon details and registration

Feb. 3, South Portland, ME
Panel Discussion: Building Bridges:
Incorporating Principles of Transformative Mediation & Nonviolent Communication
in your ADR practice

Peggy Smith will represent NVC on the panel.
pdf icon details and registration

February 5-6, Falmouth, ME
Foundations Of Open Communication:
The Basics of NVC

Peggy Smith / pdf icon details and registration

February 19, Camden, ME
Day of Empathy in NVC

Led by Gina Cenciose / FMI

March 12-13, Norway
Speaking Peace In A World of Conflict:
The Basics of NVC

Taught by Peggy Smith / pdf icon details and registration

March 26-27, Bangor, ME
Building Bridges of Communication:
an introduction to NVC

This event is a fundraiser for WERU Community Radio. Taught by Peggy Smith / pdf icon details and registration

May 14-15, 2011, Belfast, ME
Building Bridges of Communication:
an introduction to NVC

Taught by Peggy Smith / FMI



NVC Practice Group
Announcements & News

There is a Practice Group forming soon in the Falmouth area. FMI please contact Andrea: 207-939-1124 or email


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Maine NVC Intergation Program:
Opening My Heart - Opening Communication, An Intermediate/Advanced NVC Experience
April to November 2011 - 9 Months of Deepening NVC Consciousness; 17 Days of Workshop
with Gina Cenciose & Peggy Smith, CNVC certified trainers

photo of the participants in the 2010 Maine NVC Integration program

17 days based in integrating empathy at deeper and deeper levels,
as well as strengthening ease and fluency with NVC dialogue. This program focuses on

"I have thought long and hard about this. How does one put a life-altering, complete paradigm shift into words? Imagine my delight in discovering that I HAVE CHOICE and am only responsible for my own feelings, thoughts, and actions! Who knew not only is it okay to share my "stories," but it brings the joy of authentic connection to my life and the life of others. "Being with" whatever comes up for me, instead of smashing down feelings that are deemed unsavory, allows self-connection and self-empathy like I never knew was possible. Dispelling core beliefs that I’ve harbored for a lifetime has opened up space for me to try new things and let go of old fears. The NVC Integration Program brought a bounty of discovery, empathy, compassion, and connection to my life and shifted my paradigm of thinking and being with myself and all those I encounter. It has altered my life in ways I’ve yet to realize!    - Jenn D., Mount Desert Island

pdf icon details and registration


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