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Thinking invitations for nonviolent response teams

What next? 

Thinking invitations for our network 

Members of our network are considering on-going requests from Extinction Rebellion (see previous news “ It feels like the beginning of something”). We’re conscious of the potential of stepping–up to this call, and the possibility of NVC practitioners adopting de-escalation, or other roles where nonviolent disruption happens, or in response to emergency or crisis situations.

Our group on 17 November was motivated, in varying intensities, by both personal response to climate change, (and the wider social issues it connects to), and a wish to contribute our particular skills and consciousness in the service of all. This meant some of us would have answered the question “Why are you here?” in quite different ways.

Going forward, is it important that there is a coherency and consistency in how NVC practitioners choose to summarise the intention behind their presence?

Collaborating for social change – a way into NVC:

As more people hear about NVC we may see a surge in individuals, organisations and the media approaching us collectively and individually (1).  I’ve already received an informal follow up from a reciprocal connection with one of the police liaison teams.

We clearly have the opportunity to model the world we’d like to see, as well as what we might contribute to others, in the interactions ahead.

Sustainability and scaling up

Sustainability of this form of service will rely on the kind of shared response we saw from NVC practitioners, on the 17th and 24th November.  This will need to be refined and amplified by others joining in, and an on-going willingness from across our networks of NVC practice.

“We have tried marching, and lobbying, and signing petitions. Nothing has brought about the change that is needed. And no damage that we incur can compare to the criminal inaction of the UK government in the face of climate and ecological breakdown.” Tiana Jacout

It’s inspiring to see the attention that Rising Up have already put into the three areas of self, action and interpersonal care (2)   Some of the practices that they have in place are interesting and may be useful for NVC in the UK teams to contemplate.  There are also complementary strategies we could offer to the national and local teams.

The Rising Up movement seems secure and articulate in their mission:

to spark and sustain a spirit of creative rebellion, which will enable much-needed changes in our political, economic and social landscape… We work to transform our society into one that is compassionate, inclusive, sustainable, equitable and connected.”

The steering group have an implementation plan, which “though very much subject to capacity and changes in the world, strives to get a balance between:

Running campaigns that feed … passion, but take up energy

Reflecting on how [they] are doing

Communicating what is being done, inviting others to join … and running training.

Building foundations that help [them]- practical ones like having a good website, and ways to build a better culture, like meeting up and doing “movement care”.

They stress, “We are not just about being out there and taking action, we must also resource all aspects of a regenerative culture and take time to reflect on whether what we are doing is effective. We might find it challenging to keep a focus on some aspects of this work, including self-care and looking after each other. There can be a pull to do the next thing, to be “active”, but this can lead to burn-out.”

Wise words, which we know, from two decades of experience, are equally applicable to our individual and collective work within NVC-UK. Like us, Rising Up are also educating themselves and taking action to acknowledge privilege (3).

Practical questions for sustainability: thinking invitations

As NVC in the UK and its practitioners contemplate responding to requests for presence, support and training in the turbulent year likely to await us in 2019, is there a place for some form of NVC -UK crowd-funding?

I know of several colleagues who would have loved to be part of November’s action but were prevented by geography, health or availability. I imagine this could be true for each of us at some point. Might there be an easy to operate, a discreet fund for our community’s resource needs in this emerging area of our work? This could perhaps enable repeated public transport travel to areas of action, and communication/website/social media hours on a needs basis.

I can imagine us sometimes wanting to contribute to such a pot ourselves, in solidarity with services our network’s practitioners may want to offer at future events. I can also imagine participants at our training being moved or inspired to support an immediate application of what they are learning about

There is also the emerging social media “boost” which could bring in donations from many people who do not yet know that we are able to offer our skills into public protests/civil actions of this kind, and who would be reassured to hear about us.

Looking further ahead, is there a role for NVC practitioners in other social change campaigns choosing to engage in civil settings – including those we may not personally support?

How can we support ourselves to hold neutrality and/or “activate the WE function” when we are personally “for” or “against” objectives of the actors?

Will we need financial contributions towards operational costs from groups keen for NVC practitioners to be involved?

Are there things we are afraid of? Things we might see as “failure”?

Other considerations:

Do we have sufficient capacity amongst trained practitioners, with our voluntary resources already poured into the network and other NVC-UK commitments?

Might we access some of this resource, or consider re-ordering some priorities for a defined time period in order to attend to these public requests? In and of themselves they are likely to be a key opportunity to increase the breadth and depth of public awareness about NVC consciousness and skill.

Could we use shadowing of trained practitioners at actions, followed by debriefs and coaching, as a way to upskill people who want to join us – such as the volunteers inspired at the Edinburgh launch?

Attending to one of Nancy Kline’s repeated attention questions:

What are we not facing that is staring us in the face? 3

Image Laura Harvey

Are we willing, as a community of NVC practitioners, to invest energy in experiment through 2019 and to learn from what we do?

The evolution of NVC in the UK (and the various collaborative projects that emerge) is an active and ongoing process. We know it requires resources for individuals and groups to think about what has gone well and what would be better to be done differently.

How can we improve our feedback loops?

And picking up on the framing Dominic Barter has offered to the international NVC community, in doing this learning how can we hold with clarity “the relationship between the work and the teaching of it”. Other international NVC practitioners have been alert, in recent times, to the risk, for many of us, of the two “collapsing into one, and the teaching becoming a substitute for doing the work”. Opportunities such as this are a fresh lens to help us remember this distinction, and approach it with awareness.

I’m appreciating the space this network blog provides to share some of the reflections and thoughts I’ve had about the questions these troubled times are raising, and to ask, of us all, what might be next?

I’ve also appreciated the group of thinkers and editors who’ve worked with me to shape this post and my previous post “It feels like the beginning of something”  for a wider readership.

Do you have responses or other thinking invitations, you’d like to share with the network?

Author: Laura Harvey, NVC Certified Trainer

Editorial team:  Carolyn Davies, Laura Harvey and Tracy Seed.

DISCLAIMER NOTE: The Nonviolent Communication network in the UK is not affiliated with Extinction Rebellion or Rising Up in any way


(1) Potential proposal: We view the importance of being clearly identifiable, and distinct from protestors, legal advisors and police liaison teams, as important. Carolyn Davies (NVC Trainer) and I wondered about having some sashes made up, with the website.
(2) A3 – Details on regenerative culture within our network, Extinction Rebellion values and objectives: website doc, About Rising Up – An Overview, accessed in the Look Deeper at the foot of
(3) See especially “Actively mitigate for power”, section 7 in the “About Rising Up – an overview” document.
(4)More Time To Think, Nancy Kline, Cassell (2015) 

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