To me, NVC is a way of life


*by Tom Carlisi

To me, NVC is a way of life, not just a communication tool. Through the practice of seeking connection to our humanity and universal needs with others, NVC fosters the principles of Peace, Justice, and Unity that spiritual practices also invite us to aspire to our lives.

On a personal level, NVC provides me with a “framework” that I can live by each day, as I am stimulated by various issues. Do I respond with Empathy and Mutuality, or am I “triggered” by some judgment of self and/or others.?  When I am in “Jackal” reaction, NVC provides a learnable process to “shift from judgments…to “Giraffe” heart connection…to Self-Empathy… to Empathy with Others. I feel connected to a “power greater than myself”…in 12 Step Program and Spiritual terms. The meaning in all I do is enhanced by this “NVC way of life”.

I have valued Social Change issues most of my life, through volunteerism of various issues in my youth. In my early 20’s, my first direct Social Change action involved protest march in Washington, DC…encouraging USA to find Peace Resolutions to end the Viet Nam War. This march was peaceful and I felt a “power with” contribution with the “mainstream” of society, while expressing a collective voice. From my 20’s to 40 years of age, I chose! the profession of Counseling as a way to help others. I was also an active volunteer in key social change issues, such as Social Justice, Alleviating Poverty, etc. I felt satisfied to contribute to individuals and families, and select social causes.

Then I experienced a major shift in my life. I felt inspired to contribute to the needs of many youth in the Education field. At the time, in the local Columbus City School system (over 60,000 youth), 40% of students were not graduating from high school. Violence and drug issues were rampant. I decided to start a non-profit organization to help contribute to some of these issues. The organization was called, Winners’ League Foundation.

The intention was to inspire youth to feel empowered in their educational process by connecting classroom learning to “real life” social issues, and partner with local community agencies to help resolve these issues. The learning model is called Service Learning. Our organization developed educational programs on topics of Violence and Drug Prevention, Environmental Stewardship, Health and Fitness, and Enhancing Literacy.  Over the next 15 years, through a “Train the Trainer” model with teachers and youth facilitators, we positively engaged over 25,000 youth (and families).

In 2004, I was introduced to Nonviolent Communication (NVC), in Atlanta, Georgia, as a participant in a 3 day training program with Marshall Rosenberg, PhD. I was so moved by Marshall Rosenberg’s message of NVC. I concluded that this approach to “life learning and peace” was the most “simple and elegant” model that I had experienced in 30 years of counseling and community engagement.

I personally committed to 3 objectives, 1) incorporate NVC into my personal life, 2) help bring NVC to my home city of Columbus, Ohio, and 3) incorporate NVC into my professional counseling and training career.

In the next 2 years, Compassionate Communication Center of Ohio (CCCO) was formed. It’s mission is to promote peace, help eliminate violence, and foster conflict resolution systemically, using the NVC model. The systemic intention is to encourage Social Change action through partnership with various sectors of our community (Education, Social Services, Faith Communities, Business, Government, Justice, etc.).

In summary, NVC has enriched my personal life, by providing a framework to live by…and contribute to Social Change…through pro-active action in my professional career and through volunteerism. I am grateful for the introduction to NVC and I am committed to continue to foster Social Change, as I can.

What I am doing now with NVC:

 At this time, I am involved in integrating NVC into Social Change through the following initiatives:

  • Community Development

    • Creating Community Partnerships on the South Side of Columbus, Ohio, with Community Development 4 All People & Reeb Avenue Center, to host NVC Introduction Meetings, NVC Practice Group(s), and NVC Workshops

    • I am working with CCCO, our local NVC community 501(c) (3) organization

  • Higher Education

    • Creating a new Service Learning course, titled, “Nonviolent Communication and Social Action” – to be taught at OSU, College of Social Work…targeted start date – January 2018

  • Secondary Schools (High & Middle Schools, After School Sites), featuring Service-Learning

    • Creating a new Service Learning program for High School, Middle School, and After School Programs, titled “Peace & Social Justice”

  • Rotary (Professional Service Organization) and Rotaract (College/University Service Clubs)

    • Creating an new Volunteer Service program through Rotary and Rotaract (college service clubs, titled “Peace Through Service” (Rotaract District 6690) in Ohio (USA)

  • NVC & 12 Step Program

    • Aligning NVC process with 12 Step Program, starting with the 4th Step (NVC workshop)

  • NVC & Addiction Recovery

    • Demonstrating how NVC process can help with Addiction Recovery and Relapse Prevention issues…with a special focus on Opiate Addiction Recovery in Ohio (planning grant)

  • NVC in US Virgin Islands

    • In discussions with key leaders in US Virgin Islands, regarding NVC & Social Change initiatives in various sectors, including, 1) Education, 2)Youth Workforce Development, 3) Restorative Justice, 4) Addiction Recovery issues)

  • NVC & Research

    • To develop and demonstrate “NVC Best Practice Programs” with evidence based research in next 3 years.

*CCCO is sharing Tom’s descriptive profile of his work, in celebration of his Certification as a Trainer with The Center for Nonviolent Communication, announced June 6, 2017.

Posted on May 22, 2019 .