Miki Kashtan is a self-described “practical visionary pursuing a world that works for all, exploring the application of the principles and tools of Nonviolent Communication (NVC) to social transformation.” In 2002, she co-founded, with her late sister Inbal Kashtan, Bay Area Nonviolent Communication (BayNVC
), an organization that offers training, mediation, and facilitation to individuals and organizations using the skills and consciousness of Nonviolent Communication.
One of the central areas of learning and application for Miki is exploring the shift
from the paradigm of exchange and accumulation to the paradigm of a full gift economy, especially looking at how we can restore our relationship with the abundance of nature and increase the interdependent flow of energy and resources.
Miki describes encountering feminism in the mid-1980’s as a huge personal awakening, leading her to embrace nonviolent communication when she discovered it in the 1990's. From the principles and her 25+ years practice of NVC, Miki developed Convergent Facilitation
, a decision-making process that enables groups to look beneath the surface and find the essence of what’s really important to each member, and bring it together into one set of principles that lead to proposals and ultimately decisions that everyone can embrace. Miki believes that Convergent Facilitation is a methodology that can help us recover our collaborative capability, an essential ingredient if we are to have a future. She offers six free interactive calls a month on different topics, including Facing Privilege, Overcoming Patriarchy, and Questioning Money.
“I dream of local and global systems based on care for the needs of all life,” Miki says. “In my work with individuals, I focus on supporting a movement towards rapid empowerment in service of the whole. In my work with organizations, I focus on creating collaborative systems and processes. In my work with multi-stakeholder groups, I focus on transcending polarization and advocating for solutions that work for everyone.”
Inner freedom, nonviolence, dialogue, collaboration, interdependence, leadership, conscious use of power, and a commitment to structural change are some of the lenses through which Miki looks at every moment and interaction. She is particularly inspired by those who are open and willing to learn together how to remove barriers to looking at reality without illusion, holding vision without compromise, and living with integrity and all its consequences.
“My deepest sources of inspiration are many feminist theoreticians, Gandhi, Martin Luther King, Marshall Rosenberg, Mary Parker Follett, radical economics, and the commons movement," Miki says. "I strive to bring together theory and practice, spiritual commitment and conceptual clarity, radical vision and practical applications, heart and mind, self and other, and personal change and social transformation.”
Miki offers meeting facilitation, consultation, retreats, and training in many countries for organizations and committed individuals, and regularly blogs at The Fearless Heart
. She is the author of three books, Reweaving Our Human Fabric: Working Together to Create a Nonviolent Future
, Spinning Threads of Radical Aliveness: Transcending the Legacy of Separation in Our Individual Lives
, and The Little Book of Courageous Living
. Her writing has also appeared in The New York Times
magazine, Waging Nonviolence, Shareable
, Peace and Conflict,
and elsewhere. She holds a Ph.D. in Sociology from UC Berkeley.
Join us in conversation with this practical visionary and change-maker with a fearless heart!
Five Questions with Miki Kashtan
What Makes You Come Alive?
Being with people who are open and willing to learn together how to remove barriers to looking at reality without illusion, holding vision without compromise, and living with integrity and all its consequences. Intimacy, transparency, vulnerability, tenderness are qualities that support my own willingness to keep emerging from millennia of patriarchal training to live more and more of the future in the present, even as the systems around us are at odds with life.
Pivotal turning point in your life?
Encountering feminism in the mid 1980s was a huge awakening. It was the first time that I realized that what we were experiencing and the world we were living in were not all that was possible. I learned, personally, through reading and thinking, ever since, that another world is indeed possible. Not only that, another world existed before what we now have was put into place. Ever since then, I have been getting more and more clarity and refinement in how I can both free myself from that legacy and contribute to the most transformation within and around me. Having an abortion in the late 1980s was a personal turning point, because it opened me up to feel. Learning how to mourn losses and, after discovering Nonviolent Communication in 1994, how to experience gratitude and openness, set me on a path that eventually brought me here. My spiritual path, since 1996, is the path of vulnerability. Inner freedom and capacity for interdependent living are the great joy that then emerges.
An Act of Kindness You'll Never Forget?
One that was done towards me was when I was on retreat with seven other people, all of us dealing with cancer. A night outing was being set to happen, and I was unable to join because of a personal limitation related to my relationship back home. When I finished the very difficult phone call I was having, I was amazed to discover that they all decided to wait for me. Coming from a childhood of being ostracized, I will never forget this moment of belonging.
One Thing On Your Bucket List?
I am at peace with knowing I will die. The only thing I want before is to have enough infrastructure held by enough caring hands so that the work will outlive me. It's close to being ready.
One-line Message for the World?
Visionaries of the world unite. You have nothing to lose but your loneliness.