Oregon PeaceWorks, the 25-year-old Salem organization that promotes peace, has engaged with local instructors of Marshall Rosenberg’s theory of nonviolent communication (NVC). PeaceWorks has asked NVC instructors to educate their members and ensure that the organization’s peace advocacy and civil actions advance in a nonviolent manner.
Tim Buckley and Elaine Hultengren, long-time instructors of NVC in local prisons, will join Peter Bergel, Program Director of Oregon PeaceWorks, Mark Babson and Delana Beaton to teach the 12-session class to PeaceWorks members and volunteers.
The concept first came to Buckley when he was working on the (PeaceWorks) My Peace art project in 2010 and 2011. He and Kerry Fox, new PeaceWorks executive director, expanded on his ideas during a daylong trip to a Rotary International Peace Conference.
Bergel’s belief in nonviolence is unwavering. It is essential, he says, that “all members of our current society understand that the many forms of separation that divide us – from ourselves, from our environment, from each other, from our wider human family – have brought us to the point where our way of life is no longer sustainable and therefore must – and will – change. NVC is a wonderful tool for helping us change, from the inside out, the ways we interact with our families, our associates and ourselves.”
The course will include instruction in classic NVC training such as defining power and considering the difference between requests and demands. It hopes to de mystify the source of human anger while building the capacity to empathize with others.
Mohandas Gandhi and Dr. Martin Luther King exemplified the effectiveness of this approach to those, like PeaceWorks, who pursue social justice.
“I hope we will… draw students who will be interested in extending their NVC practice to the broader arena of social change,” says Bergel. “I personally also… hope we will be able to establish an ongoing structure that allows that collaboration to expand and grow.”
Hultengren adds, “NVC is very fulfilling work, in and of itself because of the opportunity for inner peace and understanding of self. “She believes that combining that kind of consciousness with nonviolent training, such as PeaceWorks wants to do, “can only double the ability of peace to become more of a reality within ourselves, in our interactions with others in our neighborhoods, community-wide, as well as at the state, national and world levels.”