In a world fraught with violence, Nonviolent Communication (NVC) aims to transform how people communicate with each other, and is underpinned by an assumption that human beings are compassionate by nature. NVC was developed in the 1960s by Marshall Rosenberg, who wanted to understand how people can stay compassionate in the face of extreme circumstances and violence. The NVC community is active in over 65 countries around the globe.
The organising committee of the International NVC Conference in India is comprised of a team distributed throughout India and supported by Emma, who is based in Switzerland. They started using Facebook and email to plan and discuss the 5th international event. Soon they realised that it was impossible to archive anything, let alone find a discussion at a later date. So they moved to Loomio, which they are not only using for making decisions, but also for information management. One of the big problems they had was, as a new team, not having all the information about how the convention had been done previously. “So, now we’re making a legacy for future conventions on Loomio”, says Emma.
One of the things Emma loves about Loomio is the opportunity to share responsibility for making decisions.
“[Creating power with people is] a way towards peace, because as soon as you have an imbalance of power, as soon as you have one group of people imposing views on another, you have violence. Whenever people who don’t feel heard or that they don’t have the opportunity to share what they want, then you have a loss of power and there is violence. NVC is a powerful tool to support decision making and collaboration, and Loomio is supporting our convention team to do this even more effectively over a wide geographical area.”
The gift economy and collective action
NVC is founded on the underlying premise that our natural state of being is to want to contribute to each other’s well-being, so the organisers chose to base their conference’s funding on a gift economy model. The trainers give all their time and travel for free, and it was decided that attendees should be able to pay whatever they could. Within the team there were concerns about whether this would work and worries that people wouldn’t give enough to cover all the costs. However, eventually they decided to trust in people’s generosity and go for a pay-what-you-want model full-heartedly. They invited people to give from their hearts whatever they wanted, and provided a rough estimate of the cost. So far, things are working out and if everyone gives what they have pledged, the convention will be able to pay all its bills and hopes to inspire other people to use the gift economy model.
One thing that can prevent collective action is trying to seek absolute agreement or consensus. For this reason, Emma loves how you can put a deadline on decisions, people can own responsibility and action, as well as having a space where everyone can contribute.
Loomio loves this group, who are aiming to “create and sustain the kinds of community we long for” through encouraging compassionate dialogue – something that we think is rather important. You can find out more about how NVC is changing the world at the Centre for Nonviolent Communication.