Phases of the Moon, the newsletter of the Maine NVC Network
Volume Eight, Issue Seven:
Building Peace (a double feature)

Our newsletter appears approximately once a month. 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. Email: newsletter at


Double Feature, Part 1

This 18 minute video by Michael Gleich is about "constructive journalism," peace entrepreneurs and a peace building summit. You will hear about how NVC is an important element in practical, powerful life-changing peace movements around the world. Important food for thought for those of us who want to contribute to broader social change. (2016 recording)

Part 2: The Best Response to Hate

by Marc Erlbaum, Huffington Post Contributor, Filmmaker and Social Activist
Article originally appeared here, and came to us through the CNVC trainers group email list.

To fight or not to fight – that is the question.

A diverse variety of responses have been offered to the horrifying events in Charlottesville this past weekend. We are a diverse nation, and while certain truths are deemed to be self-evident by the vast majority of us, even amongst those who hold fast to the principles of liberty, equality, and tolerance, there are still variances in belief on how to assure and protect those virtues.

But before we discuss the issues on which we disagree, it is worthwhile to begin with the things that the majority of Americans can commonly accept and admit about Charlottesville.

From this foundation of common sentiment, we can now identify some areas where we are less in sync. First, there is a clear partisan divide when it comes to the roots and causes of the quagmire in which we find ourselves.

The left will assign blame to Trump’s own feelings of white supremacy, or at the very least to his failure to distance himself from the alt right. The right will point to Obama’s promotion of identity politics and his stoking of the flames of antipathy between people of color and caucasians.

These are matters of opinion, and though each side will insist on its facts and obvious truths, it is futile to try to convince one another. People are entitled to their perspectives, and the goal of productive dialogue is not to convert the other, but to hear the other and to consider our beliefs and opinions in the context of the new information that the other brings to our attention. Perhaps that information will strengthen our convictions, or it is possible that it will challenge us to reevaluate and reformulate our position.

What is absolutely unhelpful is blaming and shaming those who have no affiliation to violent extremist groups but who have voted differently from ourselves. Blame forces the other into defensiveness and a further entrenchment in his/her position. If we are genuinely looking to affect change, then blame is the last thing we should be offering to one another.

A more productive question than who is to blame is how we should address the situation now in order to de-escalate the current tensions. What, quite simply, is the most effective response to hate? Unfortunately, this is not so easy to agree upon either.

The most natural and instinctive response to hate is reciprocal hate. Biologically, we are programmed to respond to aggression with defensive force. It makes sense. But it does not necessarily make progress.

Nevertheless, there are many at the moment who insist that we must fight back. We must raise our voices to drown out the chants of those who scream and shout and threaten. We must display the strength of our will and the extent of our conviction. We must declare the inherent evil of those who declare us inherently evil. Let them come, we’ll be ready for them!

Yet others warn that this is precisely what hate groups want from us. Such a response, they will argue, is evidence that the incitement of the extremists is working like a charm. They’re calling for a fight, and we’re responding with a hearty acceptance of their offer.

But what else are we to do? Shall we stand down and allow them to trample us in our cowed submission? Shall we let them march forward and bolster their ranks while we pyrrhically refuse to sink to their level? Does it benefit us to be more evolved if we will soon be overrun?

What are we to do if fighting feeds their bloodlust and passivity enables their incursion?

There is a third alternative that negotiates the fine line between violence and inaction. "Peace," wrote psychologist and famed global practitioner of conflict resolution Marshall Rosenberg, "requires something far more difficult than revenge or merely turning the other cheek; it requires empathizing with the fears and unmet needs that provide the impetus for people to attack each other."

Our task, Rosenberg challenges us, is to actively engage those who hate, but not with brute force similar to that with which they engage and provoke us. While they present us with fists and aggression, we receive them with ears and compassion.

It sounds almost ludicrous doesn’t it? It certainly sounds dangerous and dubious. How can we possibly respond to hate with patience and empathy? How is that any less weak and passive than ignoring their provocation and/or turning the other cheek? Aside of the risks involved, why should we believe for a moment that this type of response is any more effective than those we have already considered?

Perhaps we can accept the testimony of Arno Michaelis, a former Neo-Nazi who founded one of the most violent white supremacist gangs in the midwest before he left his former life behind to seek a new path and rescue others from violent extremism.

"My life changed because people demonstrated the courage and inner peace necessary to defy my hostility rather than reflect it," Michaelis writes. "People who I had claimed to hate - a Jewish boss, a Lesbian supervisor, black and Latino co-workers - refused to lower themselves to my level, instead choosing to model the way that we human beings should treat each other. Examples of kindness, compassion and forgiveness changed the course of my life."

Those who hate are mired in pain, Michaelis attests. They are subjects of their upbringing and their difficult life experiences. As hard as it is to admit in this moment of shock and outrage, these are people like the rest of us. They are not animals any more than we, who they accuse of being subhuman, are animals.

While we are justified in our rage, anger and violence do not benefit us or make our society more safe. On the contrary, as Michaelis asserts about his life as a white supremacist, "we lived for violent opposition. We thrived on it. Violence of any sort, no matter how it may be rationalized, is the bread of hatred." On the other hand, "human warmth and compassion," he writes, "has the capability to crush everything the ‘alt-right’ is about."

Within the past days there has been an effort to identify the people who marched with the alt-right in Charlottesville, to post their names and make them accountable to their friends, families and employers. It seems to be a reasonable action – after all, those who assembled did not hide their identities and should not mind being identified. Furthermore, they should know that there are consequences to their actions.

But Michaelis responded to this initiative with a rare sensibility that reflects both his empathy and his pragmatism:

"Be mindful that people with nothing to lose are the most dangerous. Someone getting fired and publicly humiliated can easily become the next Dylann Roof or Wade Page. I’d be all for this if it led people to dialogue, learning, growth, and ultimately, love. If this just leads to punishment it will only make things worse. You can’t punish the suffering out of people."

We all suffer. We all have our biases and our imperfections. Some of us are more damaged and wounded than others, and some of us inflict more damage and pain than others. Our goal at this time of crisis must be to mend the rifts that are threatening to tear us apart. The anger and hatred that is mounting throughout the country may be countered by more of the same, but it will only be diminished and resolved by something quite different.

It is difficult to transcend our innate emotions, particularly in the heat of passion and a moment of great tension and trepidation. But it is time to hold ourselves to a higher standard and call forth our higher potential.

As Abraham Lincoln famously said at a time in our history when the very existence of our union was at stake, "We are not enemies, but friends. We must not be enemies. Though passion may have strained, it must not break our bonds of affection. The mystic chords of memory will swell when again touched, as surely they will be, by the better angels of our nature."

All of this is not to say that our duty at this moment is to seek out our nearest KKK klavern and go embrace a Klansman. While we have spoken here primarily of the response to the type of hatred that is perpetrated by violent extremists, and while Lincoln was speaking in context of a war that literally pitted Americans against one another on the battlefield, the "better angels of our nature" that he alludes to will be more commonly applied today to daily interactions with those who are not nearly as threatening to our physical well-being.

Unfortunately, the rage that is spreading throughout the country at this moment is often directed at those whose sole offense is the possession of beliefs and perspectives different from our own. Our scorn and antipathy is being stoked by those who would have us subscribe to an ‘us vs. them’ mentality that pits us not against extremists, but against our fellow citizens who differ with us not in their general morality or basic decency, but in their political persuasion and their opinions on how liberty, security, and stability are best manintained.

The hatred that we must address and counter is not simply the explicit racism and exclusionism that is manifest by fringe radicals, but even more commonly and importantly the subtle divisiveness and blamefulness that is creeping into our daily discourse and driving a wedge into the heart of our social cohesion.

While it is difficult to imagine empathic engagement with those who marched for the alt-right in Charlottesville, at least we can, and must endeavor to, practice the type of compassionate communication that Rosenberg, Michaelis, and Lincoln advocate in the context of our quotidian relationships.

Whether it is our family members, our friends, our co-workers, or casual acquaintances that we encounter in the course of our daily routine, we can all benefit from a more patient and generous attention to the commonality that binds us as citizens of our country and our world. With such a consciousness we will greet aggression with restraint and respond with the composure that will enable us to transform tension into communion and productive collaboration.

In response to the tragedy of Charlottesville, there are those calling for revenge, there are those calling for impeachment, there are those casting blame, shame, and ire in every direction they are able. They point to our failings and exacerbate and exaggerate our differences.

But there are also those calling for forbearance and reconciliation, who recognize this moment as an urgent cry for a return from the brink and an opportunity to celebrate both our diversity and our commonality. Now is the moment to enhance the bonds of humanity that transcend race, creed, and class. The most appropriate response to Charlottesville is to exploit every chance we have to display the generosity and magnanimity of our best selves, to seek opportunities for collaboration and cross-communal outreach, and to demonstrate to those who are mired in anger and hate that there is an inherent and inevitable kinship that we all share which no amount of incitement or antagonism can ever eradicate or overrun.

Ideas for action:

Special Announcements

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Upcoming Trainings

Trainings listed here are in the Maine region. If you wish to list an event, please follow our guidelines for submission. Please note that both certified and non-certified trainers, (who are willing to follow certain requirements of the Center for Nonviolent Communication), may be leading the posted trainings. Listing here does not imply endorsement by the Maine NVC Network of the trainer or the event.

Registration is now OPEN for the 2017-18 program.

Program details and mail-in registration form
In alignment with our vision to share & deepen NVC consciousness with as many people as possible,
we are once again making a special offer to first-time participants in the 2017-2018 NVC Integration Program.
Special offer details & application form here


Special Opportunity for Activists who want to strengthen their NonViolent Resilience:

Sept 29-30, Portland, ME
NVC & Activism

taught by Leah Boyd
FMI & Registration


Level 1:

Sept 16-17, Farmington, ME
Speaking Peace

taught by Leah Boyd
FMI & Registration


October 27-28, S. Portland, ME
Building Connection in Difficult Times

taught by Peggy Smith
This event is a fundraiser for the restoration of the Abyssinian Meeting House, Portland, Maine, the third-oldest African-American Meeting House in the United States and the first designated Underground Railroad site in Maine. The Mission of the Committee to Restore the Abyssinian includes but is not limited to the restoration, historic preservation and maintenance of the historic building and the preservation and promotion of the cultural heritage of African-Americans in Maine.
50% of profits will be contributed to the restoration project.
FMI & Registration (printable PDF)


Feb 2-3, 2018, Norway, ME
Speaking Peace

taught by Leah Boyd
FMI & Registration


Level 2:

Oct 28-29, Lewiston, ME
Speaking Peace at the Next Level

taught by Leah Boyd
FMI & Registration




  • Monthly Empathy Circle:
    Belfast, ME
    Second Friday of each month, 10am-1pm
    (formerly first Friday)
    NEW LOCATION: 25 Village Rd, Belfast
    You are welcome to come when you can.
    If this is your first time coming, please contact Linda beforehand:
    Phone 207-322-2122
    email: chezcote5 at

  • Authentic Communication Groups
    Falmouth, ME

    with Andrea Ferrante, trainer and coach
    Two groups meet biweekly, one on alternate Wednesdays; the other on alternate Mondays.
    Authentic Communication Groups are coaching groups designed to open you up to an approach to living that offers greater peace, personal empowerment, and conscious connection to that which sustains and enriches life.

  • See also the Practice Groups page.


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Paid Announcements

Clarity Services, LLC
Now Accepting Clients

Helping groups of people think together collaboratively and effectively. Free 30 minute initial consultation:
email: leah at


Open Communication

welcomes individuals and couples, who want NVC-based support, to meet with them at their new office in Belfast, ME
Please contact Peggy:
email: peggy at


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