How to Say Thank You During the Holidays

My friend Alan Seid over at Cascadia Workshops has a new post and video which offers a great glimpse into the world of Non-Violent Communication (or “Empowered Communication”), and is very appropriate for the season.

Do you sometimes feel awkward about expressing a Thank You?

Have you ever had the sense that the other person isn’t receiving your expression of gratitude in the way you meant it?

During the holiday time there is an increased opportunity to give and receive gratitude with the people in your life.

Expressing gratitude and appreciation can feel empty, or it can leave us feeling very connected and fulfilled, depending on how it is given and received.

In this short video, I share insights into the different ways to share and be heard when expressing thanks and appreciation.

A Valuable Tool

I appreciate Alan’s post above, as I have found this tool – Marshall Rosenberg’s Non-Violent Communication process (NVC) – to be extremely helpful. It can initially seem clunky and awkward, and it has its own lingo to get used to. The important thing using this process is to become committed to holding an “NVC Consciousness” as you struggle with the tool.


Stripped to it’s bare nuts and boldts,  the following components of NVC are relevant to me in regards to how to grow my communication skills, and how I would like to be communicated with.


1)  NVC Consciousness tells us that all anyone is ever doing is trying to meet their needs, and all anyone is ever saying is “Please” and “Thank You.”

Any time anyone is saying anything that sounds like judgment, blame, criticism, or a demand, you can know that they are merely providing you with a “tragic expression of an unmet need.” So you can translate that they are simply asking for you to please help them meet a need, or thanking you for the gift you’ve given them that met a need. All we ever do is try to meet our needs, and all we ever say is “please” and “thank you.”


2) As much as we can, we want to eliminate blame, judgment, and criticism from our communication with others and with our self – eliminate our own tragic ways of expressing ourselves. We call these expressions tragic, because these expressions rarely result in actually getting our needs met. The beginning point of this process is to begin making Observations rather than Evaluations.  Just the observable facts and direct sensory experiences.  When we learn to separate observations from evaluations, things become so much clearer, and the triggering of others greatly diminishes.


3) As much as we can, we want to clearly distinguish what we are feeling (physical sensation + emotion) from what we are thinking. Thoughts are mental, and include beliefs, ideas, and opinions. When we can learn to disentangle the feeling body from the thinking mind, we will be that much closer to true clarity, and less likely to accidently judge others.


4) We need to get in touch with our own true needs – our survival needs, but especially our “thrival” needs. When we can learn to disentangle what our true needs are from our strategies we’ve become glued to, we can see a much richer range of options. (Example: When we tell someone “I need you” this specific person is merely a strategy to meet our need for companionship and love, not the true need itself)


5) Requests. After we’ve gotten clear about needs vs. strategies, we realize we no longer need to be tied to specific strategies, and we can change Demands to Requests.  Requests are concrete and doable, and can be distinguished from Demands by how we respond when the answer is ‘No.’

Brief outlines of the essential components of NVC by Jim and Jori Manske can be found here:
I recommend the following pdf files: NVC Components; Four Choices on how to hear any message; Needs Wheel (based on Rosenberg, Spiral Dynamics, and Manfred Max-Neef), Feelings, and The 4 D’s of Disconnection.
The primary directive of NVC is to create life affirming connection.  Take a look at this chart on Empathy.

If you like Alan’s presentation above, he offers a FREE video training series, and I think you will really enjoy and find to be valuable. Check it out here:Free Videos from the Blackbelt Communication Skills Coaching Program

Top 10 Hits – Resilience and Energy Bulletin

Reposted from

Formerly known as Energy Bulletin, celebrating 10 years online, this is a great time to review some of the great articles posted there over the last 10 years. In the next post I’ll share my own favorites.
– David 
by Staff, originally published by  | NOV 15, 2013

Ever wondered which articles have been accessed the most at and Energy Bulletin? Here’s the run down…What have been some of your favorites? Please let us know in the comments section at the bottom. Top 10 Hits

1. Closing the ‘Collapse Gap’: the USSR was better prepared for collapse than the US
by Dmitry Orlov, Dec, 2006


2. A DIY guide to wicking beds
by Rob Avis, May, 2011


3. The Brief, Tragic Reign of Consumerism—and the birth of a happy alternative
by Richard Heinberg, Jul, 2013


4. What kind of tree do acorns grow on? 
by Gene Logsdon, Dec, 2007


5. Solar Energy : This Is What A Disruptive Technology Looks Like 
by Brian McConnell, Apr, 2013


6. How to build a chicken run in 157 easy steps 
by Brian Kaller, Jan, 2013


7. When agriculture stops working: A guide to growing food in the age of climate destabilization and civilization collapse
by Dan Allen, Mar, 2013


8. Commentary: Why peak oil threatens the International Monetary System
by Erik Townsend, Jan, 2013


9. The Hard Road Ahead
by John Michael Greer, Mar, 2013


10. Electric velomobiles: as fast and comfortable as automobiles, but 80 times more efficient
by Kris De Decker, Oct, 2012


Energy Bulletin Top 10 Hits

1. Closing the ‘Collapse Gap’: the USSR was better prepared for collapse than the US
by Dmitry Orlov, Dec, 2006


2. The Five Stages of Collapse
by Dmitry Orlov, Nov, 2008


3. Who has the oil?
by Aaron Pava, Nov, 2007


4. US military energy consumption- facts and figures
by Sohbet Karbuz, May, 2007


5. Why Our Food is So Dependent on Oil
by Norman J. Church, Apr, 2005


6. Soil food web – opening the lid of the black box
by Bart Anderson, Dec, 2006


7. Our American way of life is unsustainable – evidence 
by Chris Clugston, Aug, 2008


8. Peak phosphorus
by Patrick Déry, Bart Anderson, Aug, 2007


9. A shale gas boom?
by Dave Cohen, Jun, 2009


10. Energy Payback of Roof Mounted Photovoltaic Cells
by Colin Bankier, Steve Gale, Jun, 2006

You Say You Want a Revolution

Naomi Klein’s recent article posted at New Statesman has been generating a bit of a buzz. The title is “Why Science is Telling All of Us to Revolt and Change Our Lives.” She begins with a story discussing a presentation by complex systems researcher Brad Werner, who  “is saying that his research shows that our entire economic paradigm is a threat to ecological stability.”

Klein writes further:

There was one dynamic in the model, however, that offered some hope. Werner termed it “resistance” – movements of “people or groups of people” who “adopt a certain set of dynamics that does not fit within the capitalist culture”. According to the abstract for his presentation, this includes “environmental direct action, resistance taken from outside the dominant culture, as in protests, blockades and sabotage by indigenous peoples, workers, anarchists and other activist groups”.

I’m no expert, but as someone interested in systems theory, I find it a bit odd that there is only one dynamic mentioned that appears to offer hope.  Renowned systems thinker Donella Meadows identified at least 12 leverage points, or places to intervene in systems, and PatternDynamics™ founder Tim Winton has identified 56 patterns in systems that all need to be balanced and integrated if we want to achieve a sustainable system.  [I’m studying PatternDynamics now – Join me January 26th for a workshop in Bellingham, WA]

Transition U.S. blogger Joanne Poyourow, in her response to the Klein article (Revolt and Change Our Lives), points out that systems thinker Joanna Macy has outlined 3 Dimensions of The Great Turning.

Macy’s first is Stopping action, stopping further destruction, which is all that Klein talks about or labels as “appropriate.” Stopping action is noisy campaigning, it is Julia Butterfly Hill sitting in old-growth trees, it is Tim DeChristopher bidding on land parcels, it is the activists who lie down in front of the pipeline trucks.

…Macy’s second type of action is Creating New Structures, creating that which will be in place to replace the old. Sound familiar? To those of us working with different facets of the international Transition movement it sure does. This is the “change our lives” part of the equation. It’s a much quieter type of action, in that it doesn’t necessarily mean noisy crowds with plackards out on the streets, and it doesn’t necessarily grab the notice of the news cameras. But it’s no less of a revolution. And it’s happening all around you right now.

Which brings me to Macy’s third type of action to help further The Great Turning: Change in Consciousness. Joanna Macy describes this as changing the stories we tell each other, our cultural stories, our inner stories. Redefining who we are, and how humanity fits into the cycles of this small planet. Within the international Transition movement, this is addressed as “inner transition.” Changing our inner selves, our inner paradigm, our ways of relating to each other is another huge part of creating the world we want to live in.


Rob Hopkins also mentions the Klein article, in his own excellent post on Austerity (Imagination: Antidote to the Plague of Austerity).

I don’t agree with Klein and Werner’s analysis that “resistance” should be only taken to refer to the same tools that oppositional politics has always used. For me, Werner’s “certain set of dynamics that does not fit within the capitalist culture” needs to be viewed more broadly…And that’s where Transition comes in, with its core focus on imagination and the telling of different stories.

……In order to be able to create something, first we have to imagine it.  That applies as much to the supper you’ll cook when you get home tonight as to social change.  While there is much that Transition initiatives can, and are, doing to respond to austerity, it is the holding of spaces where people, their political representatives and others, can come together to imagine the kind of future they want to see, and modelling this in practical ways, which may be one of the most powerful things we can do in these difficult times.  It could prove to be, as the world seemingly steps from arguing that climate change isn’t a problem to arguing that it’s too late to do anything about it, missing out that vital piece in the middle, you know, the doing something about it bit, that the “poverty of life without dreams” may turn out in the long run to be the wickedest form of poverty.

Hopkins’ thinking is reminiscent of thoughts expressed by David Holmgren (also a systems thinker) in late 2011 (David Holmgren Talks Strategy):

I think that, while the big political movement stuff is always going to be in some ways more exciting – and there’s certainly some exciting aspects of that emerging in the world now around the notion of demanding that someone do something, I don’t think those things really help change the structure much, unless people are also making the changes themselves.  Because the changes people make themselves are double insurance – they are insurance against dysfunctional or anti-social behavior by elites (and there’s certainly plenty of evidence for that), but they’re also the way we model the world that we’re actually wanting to be, because in a lot of ways it’s a matter of being able to crawl before you walk. The sort of world we’re trying to construct, I think it’s actually impossible to construct that top-down. It has to actually be rebuilt bottom up, in parallel with the crumbling system. And then as those models become more real, it’s possible to get some degree of top-down reform/support for those things. But if they don’t actually exist, if we don’t have the working, living solutions, then it’s very hard for policymakers to say “Yes, we’ll have more of that, and less of that.” They can’t actually create the things we need. The things we need are all very small, localized, particular, and large scale systems just can’t do that.


I’m saving the best for last. If we say we want a revolution, who better to check in with than someone who’s been at the forefront, and working on revolution for over 7 decades? Her name is Grace Lee Boggs, and she published a book last year called The Next American Revolution: Sustainable Activism for the 21st Century (read the review by WWU’s Molly Lawrence).

As an activist for over seventy years, and involved in movements including the civil rights movement, labor movement, women’s movement, Black Power movement, Asian American movement, anti-war movement, and environmental justice movement, Boggs has some wisdom to share.

Over these many years, her keen mind has continued to think about “how to bring about radical social change,” which has become all the more urgent, because, as she says, “I cannot recall any previous period when the issues were so basic, so interconnected, and so demanding of everyone.”  “What is going to motivate us,” she asks, “to start caring for our biosphere instead of using our mastery of technology to increase the volume and speed at which we are making our planet uninhabitable…?”

Interestingly, she believes that, though they were effective in the late 1960s, “it becomes clearer every day that organizing or joining massive protests and demanding new policies fail to sufficiently  address the crisis we face.”  She tells us that we need to “come out of our culturally defined identities,” and she claims that mass protests “do not change the cultural images or the symbols that play such a pivotal role in molding us into who we are. “

Boggs also makes a crucial distinction between rebellion and revolution.  Rebels see themselves as victims and do not go beyond protesting injustices.  Revolutionaries go beyond anger, protest, and opposition, and instead concentrate on involving people on a grassroots level with assuming responsibility for creating the values and infrastructures needed for a new society.

What does Boggs recommend on a practical level?  Working from the ground up to transform individuals and to rebuild community. This revolutionary sounds very much like Hopkins, Holmgren, and Poyourow:  Living radically differently by rejecting consumerism and the ideas around unending economic growth.  It can begin with simple actions such as “planting community gardens, recycling waste, rehabbing houses ,… and organizing neighborhood festivals.”  It can then develop into “a solidarity economy whose foundation is the production and exchange of goods and services that our communities  really need.  It’s about “remaking this nation block by block, brick by brick,” pledging to look after not only ourselves but also each other.

Fortunately, there are many working on various pieces of this puzzle we call “sustainability.” Are we doing enough, fast enough to avert crisis? No. That’s why we need all hands on deck. Stopping Actions, Creating New Structures, and Changing Consciousness are all significant.

In terms of changing consciousness, the theme Boggs returns to over and over in her book is that “these are the times to grow our souls.” It’s easy to neglect this important element. In Bellingham there are two upcoming events that address this work of inner transition from two perspectives:

1. Rabbi Michael Lerner: The Spiritual Transformation and Healing of the World: Building a Spiritually Progressive Political Party. On Thursday, November 14th at 7:00 pm, Rabbi Michael Lerner, “the most prophetic public speaker and intellectual of our time” according to professor and author, Cornel West, will share his vision on how to build a spiritually progressive political movement so we can move American politics from a perspective that hurts the poor and middle-class and undermines the rights and protections won by women, gays and minorities, toward a perspective that builds love, generosity and corporate environmental and social responsibility. More info.

2. The Holy Universe: A New Story of Creation For The Heart, Soul, and Spirit breathes life into the cold, mechanistic worldview of the Universe, transforming our physical history into a living story—and provides us with powerful insights into navigating the global ecological, social, and spiritual crises now facing our world, and provocatively argues the crises we face today just might be the best thing that ever happened to humanity. Author David Christopher 
will be here in person to present.
November 21st, 7pm at the Fairhaven Library, presented by the Bellingham Institute of Noetic Science.

Related Article:
JoAnna Macy On the Three Pillars of the Great Turning

Post-Election Reflection: “The Public” Is Way Deeper Than “Public Opinion”

It’s the day after the big vote here in Whatcom County, where many of us are breathing a sigh of relief that the 4 candidates for County Council most likely to Not support a coal export terminal, most likely to get our County back into compliance with state laws on growth management, and most likely to reverse a new policy on slaughterhouses…have apparently won.

However, I was not entirely pleased with some of the negative campaigning that occurred in the last couple of weeks from both sides.  I’m also not entirely pleased that these supposedly non-partisan races have become so clearly partisan, and it appears that voters tended to either vote for all of the Democrat endorsed candidates or all of the Republican endorsed candidates.

I hope we can move past the negative and divisive campaign season, and work together for the benefit of all.  It is important to remember that elected candidates are expected to work for all of their constituents, not just the ones who voted for them. If not, we could see a dramatic swing back the other way in the next election cycle.

It is in this spirit that I recommend the following article by David King, and posted at Tom Atlee’s blog, Random Communications from the Evolutionary Edge.

“The Public” is way deeper than “public opinion” 

One of the realities that bedevils voting is that, in an adversarial and two-party system, partisan messages and media comments suggest very limited (bi-polar) choices. People who see nuances, or prefer collaboration, or are seeking a ‘third way’, or reject confrontation are actively discouraged from voting. In an adversarial and two-party system, the only (apparently) valid reasons for voting are: (1) to elect the good guy; or, (2) to make sure the bad guy doesn’t win. Anything else is described as a wasted vote or worse, an undermining of the ‘strategic’ (blocking) vote.

In terms of citizen engagement, we have a problem in that the sense of “the public” is very weak and is being undermined, constantly. The public is not merely an aggregation of individuals, nor is it a temporary or specific or instrumental phenomenon, nor is it detached from its surroundings, nor is it a contractual relationship. The public is greater than the sum of its parts. Something transcendent transforms an aggregation of individuals into “the public” in a time and place. The public is enduring, organic, and embedded in its ecology. The public is relational: it is covenantal (for better or for worse, through sickness and in health, until death do us part).

I would argue that both politicians and conventional media have reasons for wanting to dissolve “the public” and replace it with “public opinion”, which is temporary, specific and instrumental, and detached from its surroundings…

Read More

Related: Election Results – November 2013 at Northwest Citizen