Carrying on Marshall Rosenberg’s Legacy

10968500_10153808734601808_3423761194286852278_nI’ve been wondering what I could possibly write that would give a glimpse into the gratitude in my heart for Marshall Rosenberg’s Nonviolent Communication. I can’t find words to convey the strength of life stirring in me in the midst of sadness, gratitude and awe. Because of my time with Marshall, I see the world differently. I hear so much that is unsaid yet desperate to be heard. I have a clear sense of who I am and my purpose in the world. I have courage to do my best to make a difference, and deep compassion for myself when it doesn’t seem like enough. I wake up every day determined to carry on Marshall’s legacy of creating a world where everyone’s needs matter.

Some of Marshall’s favorite venues to share Nonviolent Communication were International Intensive Trainings (IIT), 9-day immersion experiences. I invite you to find one this year and immerse yourself in the dynamic legacy. Carry on Marshall’s work in the world. He’s passed the torch to us. Will you join me in the embodiment of this work and using it to create systems where all people can thrive? I’ll be at the next IIT April 3-12 near Portland, OR, where we’ll explore how to apply NVC to our own lives, entire communities and the world. I plan to honor Marshall by keeping the fire burning. Join me if you are moved to honor Marshall and his work in this way.

Learning This Stuff is Life or Death For Me

skeletonIn 2009,  my colleague, Sura Hart, and I were leading an Empathy workshop for men in a WA State prison. As I entered the workshop, I was surprised to see an inmate, Dan (not his real name), who had participated in a Freedom Project workshop I had co-led with another colleague, Doug Dolstad, four years ago at the same facility. I hadn’t seen him since.

Seeing Dan, I remembered a moment at that first workshop when he responded to some grumbling in the group about what he was doing by saying, “I know I’m taking up a lot of time here, but learning this stuff is life or death for me.” The whole room went silent as we soaked in the truth of those words for all of us. Dan was transferred out of state for three years and had recently returned. I was moved by what seemed to me a profound change in his energy and skills at the recent workshop. He set a tone of courageously looking at “skeletons in the closet,” inviting the whole group to participate in his learning and understanding. His example encouraged others to do the same. 

Encountering the enormity of the violence around me can be overwhelming, but I find renewed energy when I focus on creating safe corners, places of sanctuary in the midst of a larger backdrop. Science and history seem to support the idea that small changes in behavior have the power to affect living systems and organizations in profound ways. Be the change you wish to see and savor new life unfolding.

To experience the kind of presence these men gave to one another is to walk on sacred ground. If we can create that sacred space inside prisons, we can create it anywhere. What corner of your life do you want to turn into a place of hope and healing? What support would you like to make that happen?

Kathleen’s TEDx Talk released!

Houses of Healing: Kathleen Macferran at TEDx Monroe Correctional Complex

Kathleen Macferran on stage at TEDx - Monroe State Prison

This TEDx event was full of heart and inspiration for me. In this talk I’ve shared some of the experiences that make prison work so meaningful for me. I hope you find the stories relevant and inspirational in the video below.

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Still glowing from the prison TEDx Event

It has been a week since the TEDx event at Monroe Correctional Complex and I’m still glowing. I’m inspired by the many ways we have to support healing already and I’m hopeful that we can grow that support exponentially to embrace more of the prison system. One of the many highlights was a conversation between and inmate and officer in the green room as the three of us were waiting for our turn to speak. They were talking about inmate-staff relations. The officer talked about how he sees his job not just to contain, but to encourage. He talked about how he tried to get those in solitary to at least laugh once a day, because he wanted them to have that human connection that comes through humor. He told a story of how he was really hard on an inmate once, much more so than other inmates, and when that inmate was being released, he pulled him into an interview room and said he wanted to tell him why he had been so hard on him. The inmate’s crime was similar to the one that had killed one of the officer’s family members. The officer was encouraging the soon to be released inmate that he could do well one the outside, that he had a lot to give, that he could make it. The two of them ended up in tears and their relationship healed.

        

  

 

Kathleen Macferran, Certified Trainer
Strength of Connection Center for Nonviolent Communication
Office: 472 Grow Ave NW | Bainbridge Island, WA 98110
206.780.1021. Tel / Fax
Mail: PO Box 10009 | Bainbridge Island, WA 98110-0009