About the Conflict in CNVC

[The following Op-Ed letter is from Bob Wentworth, who has had a close-up view of CNVC’s organisational change efforts since 2012, having served as a CNVC Board member and co-architect of Process for a New Future, a facilitator of much of the process, and a volunteer supporting the Implementation Phase. This letter reflects his personal views of recent events. For highlights only, please read the text in bold.]


Dear friends and colleagues,

I am writing out of a desire for some companionship in relating to an experience of frustration and disillusionment-with-humanity so deep that I am sometimes not sure how I will survive it.

For the last eight months I have been in shock. I find it very hard to sleep at night. Although in the past I often found writing easy, most of what I would want my NVC community to know goes unsaid, month after month. I try to write letter after letter. But the emotional pain that gets stimulated makes it slow going. I have countless letter drafts that remain unsent. The problem of communicating what I would like to communicate in a way that I have confidence will be received and understood seems all but impossible to solve. It seems like there is a choice between using evocative language that is concise but “too provocative” or writing with careful precision in a way that would take far more words than I predict people are likely to choose to read. I don’t find either choice satisfying.

To make it possible to say what I’d like to say, I will try to express myself here with the best balance I can currently find — even though I know that many people might not get what I actually mean, or why I would choose to say it, or might not trust my deep intention of nonviolence. Would you please do your best to read with “giraffe eyes, ears and heart”?

I apologize to those for whom this letter will seem like “too much.” I simply can no longer tolerate leaving so much that is important to me unexpressed.

I see CNVC and Marshall’s institutional legacy as being in severe crisis. I understand focusing on, and caring about, human needs, to be central to NVC. And, I understand the idea of values to be closely tied to that of needs. CNVC is central to the movement to bring NVC into the world, as a means of making life more wonderful for more and more people. I cannot imagine how CNVC can be effective in its mission unless it pays attention to what values it is upholding and modeling through its actions.

On April 25, 2018, the CNVC Board sent a letter to CNVC’s New Future Implementation Council. The contents of that letter, and Board’s preceding and subsequent actions and inactions, have stimulated shock in me, as a result of how many of my core values, and how many values that are at the heart of why I love NVC, I interpret those choices as failing to honor.

What has further contributed to rendering me nearly speechless is a sense of a profound lack of shared reality. If I were considering doing something that was so profoundly out of alignment with even one of the perhaps dozen values I interpreted as being not cared for in the Board’s choices, for me, that would have been a “show-stopper” — meaning I would have found a different choice, unwilling to violate such a precious value. That this didn’t happen seemed to imply an extraordinary lack of overlap between my understanding of the world, and that of Board members. In my life, I’ve experienced that a lack of shared reality often seems to be associated with painful and destructive things happening. And, whenever a lack of shared reality is present, I have experienced it as a major barrier to things getting better. So, the degree of lack of shared reality in the situation has seemed to me to be reason for extreme concern.

I want to be clear that, while I am experiencing and expressing extreme concern in relation to the choices of the Board, what I want to call attention to is not about individuals. I think individual choices are being affected by the systems (and lack of systems) that we have in place. I want us collectively to give attention to these matters to ultimately support us in creating more life-serving systems. It’s regrettable to me that we see the impact of our systems through the actions of individuals, so it is easy to mistakenly think that what is going “wrong” is about those individuals. I don’t think it is, and I do want care for those individuals. Yet, I don’t want care for those individuals to prevent us from collectively seeing more fully and learning, and thereby caring for what is happening overall. Not speaking would mean accepting continuing to not care for the individuals that our current systems fail to care for.

An incomplete, high-level, list of my concerns includes:

  1. I experience the CNVC Board as making choices that create experiences of a lack of care for human beings who have been in relationship with CNVC.
  2. I interpret the Board’s choices as out of alignment with what is most precious to me about the practice of NVC.
  3. I understand the current CNVC Board as illegitimate, in that it is no longer populated or acting in accordance with the agreements previously made by the Board about how CNVC is to be governed. And, it appears to me that the Board is denying the authority of other key portions of CNVC’s governance structure, and declining to have meaningful dialog with those other portions of CNVC’s governance.
  4. I perceive the Board’s processes as not conductive to acting with justice, wisdom, compassion, or sound governance.

I am certain that Board members do not see things this way, or they would not be making the choices that they are. I imagine this “seeing things very differently” has happened because the conversations have not happened that would have allowed perspectives to come into greater alignment. Given the severity and importance of the disagreement, I long for responsible effort to reconcile our worldviews and care for all the needs that are present.

CONTENTS

Given the above, in the following sections, I will address:

What has happened • Acknowledging the Board’s concerns • Challenges in talking about this • Concern about care for relationships and human beings • Concern about Board’s process • Concern about responsible use of power • Barriers to collective intelligence • Absence of dialog • Nature of influence in the situation • What I’d like now

WHAT HAS HAPPENED

What is the situation, and what are the choices, that I am concerned about? From my perspective:

  1. CNVC has had a history of relating to attempts to improve it (even when those attempts are initiated by its own leadership), in ways that result in (1) change not happening, and (2) pain, alienation and loss of trust for those who had poured their talents and passion into contributing to CNVC. This happened in 2003, 2005 and 2009, and likely at other times. Unless something changes, this will have happened again in 2018.

  2. In 2014, the CNVC Board (which I was then a member of) initiated a new change process for CNVC, the New Future Process. In ratifying this change process, the Board also ratified a change in CNVC’s decision-making structure. This change in decision-making was designed to offer structural protections against the sort of blocks to change, and experiences of lack of care, that had been the outcome of prior change processes. The changes involved creating another decision-making body (or a sequence of bodies) which would not be secondary to the Board — the Board explicitly decided to give up some of its own powers concerning CNVC and grant those powers to the structures created in the New Future Process, deliberately giving up any right to veto or reject the results. 
            To me, this might be considered as analogous to when kings gave up the right to assert absolute power, and instead agreed that a legislature would have certain powers, and be able to serve as a check and balance on the power of the king. This structural change created a context in which more people could hope to have their needs be met, and have their well-being be protected.

  3. In subsequent years, members of the NVC network, took on working on behalf of CNVC using the authority that had been transferred from the Board. In 2015, some volunteers, finding trust difficult after prior experiences with CNVC, asked for guarantees in writing that the Board would honor its commitment to respect the transferred authority, before they were willing to begin work. In 2016 and 2017, the Board was again asked for assurances of its commitment to honor the decisions of the NF Process. And, each time it was asked, the Board offered reassurances about its commitment. Volunteers invested thousands of hours of effort, in hundreds of meetings, to making specific decisions about what CNVC would become.

  4. In 2016, two Board members, two staff members, and a handful of New Future Integration Council members spent 9 months collaborating to develop a transition plan for how CNVC would be evolved to achieve the outcome that had been decided on. All decisions were ultimately made by consensus. In January 2017, the decisions of the New Future Plan were ratified. According to the structural changes and processes that had been initiated in 2014, these decisions — including decisions about how CNVC was to be governed — became essentially the “law” for how CNVC would function (albeit changes could eventually be made via the new governance structures that the decisions established). The authority for implementing the new design was given to the elected members of CNVC’s New Future Implementation Council.

  5. In 2017, as I stayed in touch with members of the Implementation Council, I became increasingly concerned. What I was personally most concerned about was that, as best I could tell, the CNVC Board was honoring almost none of the agreements (that it had spent the prior year making) about how it would support implementation of the NF Plan. (See list of 18 transition agreements not fulfilled by Board with the text of those agreements.) [Also, see Footnote 1 at end of the letter]
            This misalignment with the plan escalated when the Board started asking the Implementation Council to do things that were, as I understood it, in direct contradiction to what had been agreed. [Footnote 2] My impression is that, in response, Implementation Council members were troubled and confused by these demands and did not agree to them. Subsequently, I heard two Board members, with what I interpreted as intensity, refer to this interaction as evidence of the Implementation Council’s “incompetence.”
            I understand the Board had concerns about the Implementation Council. However, I also believe the Board was not taking the effects of their own behavior and filters into account. I have the impression that the Board made the job of the Implementation Council considerably harder, and the Board’s confusion about the process led to inappropriate expectations and judgments. 
            I feel stunned by the degree to which I perceive a double standard to have been in play. It appears to me that the Board’s subsequent choices had the effect of imposing an extraordinarily harsh outcome on the Implementation Council (and others), apparently based on judgments of that group’s performance, without showing awareness of, or accepting responsibility for, comparable deficits in the Board’s own performance. I am in favor of both “accountability” and holding care and acceptance for the humanity of people doing their best to do difficult jobs. I am not okay with vastly different standards being applied to different groups of people.

  6. Most troubling of all, the NF Process had specifically committed the CNVC Board to supporting a peaceful transition of power to a new governance structure. This involved the Board passing new bylaws, and the formation of a new CNVC Board. However, as I understand it, Board members declined invitations to change the bylaws or accept new Board appointments in keeping with the new governance structure. They instead appointed new Board members (Raj Gil, and subsequently, Ronnie Hausheer), and perhaps reappointed existing Board members, in a manner inconsistent with what I understand as CNVC’s current governance structure. 
            To me, this is comparable to an elected official deciding that they don’t like the administration elected to succeed them, and so simply refusing to leave office or even acknowledge that an election has happened. I see such noncompliance with a peaceful transition of power as behavior that threatens the foundations of the social contracts that allow the world to experience even a semblance of peace. I understand it as profoundly destructive to the possibility of peace in the world — or in this case, peace in the NVC network.

  7. On April 25, 2018, after months of being begged by the Implementation Council to offer clarity about what was going on without any response from the Board, the CNVC Board announced that they had suspended funding to the Implementation Council 4 months previously, and suggested that they implement the NF Plan “separate from CNVC.” Though the Board has not responded to any requests for clarification, it seems as if this latter “suggestion” implies an intention to not comply with any of the decisions of the New Future Process, nor to recognize the authority of the Implementation Council and support its actions. To me, this was much bigger than the decision to unilaterally cut off funding.
            I found the rationale the Board offered in their letter perplexing. I could make sense of much of what was said only by supposing that the Board was believing things about the New Future Plan and its implementation contrary to the facts as I and many others associated with the New Future Process understand them. The letter, and subsequent actions, also seemed to imply commitment to a strategy (essentially dissociating CNVC from its own change process) I interpreted as inexplicably drastic  — I have clarity about how each of the issues the Board has alluded to in its letters could have been addressed in ways that I feel certain would have had far less negative impact.
            The decisions the Board announced in their letter were decisions that I believe were not within the Board’s authority to make, given the changes to CNVC decision-making process that had been established in 2014. Given the governance structure that I understood to be in effect, addressing the Board’s concerns was something that would have been done properly through the Board clearly expressing those concerns to those involved in the New Future Process, and inviting a dialog to figure out how to address those concerns.

  8. Since last April, I understand that the Board’s limited communications with the Implementation Council have repeatedly conveyed a message that the Board’s decision is final and not open for discussion. To my way of understanding, the issues had not been discussed openly and clearly even once with the Implementation Council, before this “final” decision was made.
            There has been only rather limited conversation between Board members and the CNVC trainers list, concerning any of this. As far as I have seen, most of the substantive questions and concerns about the Board’s actions which have been expressed publicly have not been acknowledged or responded to by the Board or its members in any way.
            I wrote several letters to the Board, expressing my own questions and substantive concerns. Typically, these contained a request that, at the very least, the Board acknowledge having received my message. I have received no acknowledgments, nor any other responses to these letters.

  9. One aspect of the Board’s choices is that they initially involved not paying those working on behalf of the Implementation Council for work done after the Board’s December 2017 decision to suspend funding, even though that decision had not been shared and work continued in good faith. This choice, in my view, did not consider or care for the adverse impact on those who had offered their labor, and also, I believe, was illegal under U.S. law.  After Katherine Singer engaged in dialog about this issue with members of the trainers list, the Board’s position on this shifted and workers were paid.
            However, there has been no indication of any openness to reconsider, discuss, or participate in conflict transformation, regarding the Board’s other choices — which I personally see having even larger negative impacts on people who worked in good faith in service to CNVC, to possibly be illegal as well, and to pose a threat to CNVC’s vitality and its credibility as a life-serving organization.

  10. The CNVC Trainers Agreement invites certified trainers to “live the process”, to demonstrate willingness to search for connection, and to be willing to work to resolve conflicts. CNVC’s vision mission and aim says that CNVC “helps people peacefully and effectively resolve conflicts in personal, organizational, and political settings.” So, I would hope that there might be willingness, by all involved, to support “peaceful and effective” resolution of the current — to my mind severe — conflict within CNVC. 
            I understand that one Board member has responded privately to a question about why the Board wouldn’t engage in conflict resolution regarding the current situation in CNVC by stating that, in their view, there is no conflict.
            (This stimulates a worry in me that it might come with a subtext of “Those who are complaining are so unimportant that disagreement with them doesn’t count as a conflict.”)
            (Personally, I believe that if one party says there is a conflict and the other party says there isn’t, that in itself is evidence of a conflict. Unwillingness to engage in dialog also suggests to me the possibility of the conflict having reached a stage of extreme disconnection.)

ACKNOWLEDGING THE BOARD’S CONCERNS

I have the impression (based on public and private information) that the Board’s actions were stimulated by worries that:
  1. The Implementation Council was not competent to implement the NF Plan, based on a perceived lack of progress during the first 10 months of the implementation phase.
  2. Continuing to fund NF Plan implementation would be a threat to CNVC’s financial viability.
  3. Because the Implementation Council lacked financial expertise, if control of CNVC’s budget and savings were handed over to those associated with the NF Process, CNVC funds would be spent unwisely, possibly bringing CNVC to financial ruin.
  4. As the New Future Plan was implemented, the old systems that kept CNVC functioning would be eliminated, and there would be years of dysfunction until new systems became functional.
  5. Proceeding with NF Plan implementation would involve the Staff and Board painfully putting off taking actions important to CNVC’s operations.
These are serious concerns, and I can certainly imagine that the Board would prioritize addressing them.

Given that the Board is made up of people who have dedicated themselves, like me, to the study and sharing of NVC, I can only conclude that they saw no other way of addressing these concerns except taking the actions that they took. And that they still see what they are doing as the very best, most caring way possible to attend to all the needs they are holding. 

When I look at it like this, I can mourn the tragedy of it all.

My mourning is based on the combination of active care for their concerns, and a belief that another way of addressing their concerns was, and still is, possible, that would have likely led to different outcomes and attended to many more needs.  

Fundamentally, I believe that frank open discussion of each of these concerns, instead of unilateral action, would have led to a different understanding of the situation, and different strategies for addressing any concerns that remained. 

I offer some details of my perspective on each of the above concerns in Appendix 1, at the end of this letter. As a summary:
  1. Regarding concern #1, I believe the Board misjudged the Implementation Council’s capacity to implement, because of stylistic differences between the Board and Implementation Council. The Implementation Council became highly productive shortly before the time that the Board gave up on it, and ended up accomplishing a huge amount before the Board’s letter halted the implementation process. [See Appendix 1]
            Even if the Board’s assessment had been accurate, I feel so much more hopeful about what I imagine could have happened had this concern been shared openly with the community. I feel certain that the commitment and creativity within the community of people who care about CNVC’s evolution could have presented a satisfying solution.
  2. Concern #2 is important, in that CNVC’s financial sustainability absolutely matters. Yet, if funding NF Plan implementation out of normal CNVC revenues isn’t sustainable, then other strategies for funding implementation could and would be used — there is no reason for funding concerns to lead to wholesale rejection of the NF Plan.
            There was some heartbreakingly confused communication between the Board and the Implementation Council about finances around October 2017 that likely led the Board to draw conclusions that I believe failed to take into account the role of the Board’s own lack of clarity. [See Appendix 1]
  3. I believe concerns #3, #4 and #5 reflect misunderstandings about how financial decisions were planned to be made going forward and who would be involved, misunderstandings about the incremental nature of implementation, and misunderstandings about expectations of Board and Staff, respectively. [See Appendix 1]
            I feel deeply sad about the level of worry and suffering that I can imagine these concerns generating. It seems tragic to me that these concerns were not frankly discussed, since I imagine such discussion might have alleviated these concerns relatively easily, or lead to concrete strategies for addressing any residual issues that did not simply reflect misunderstandings.

Ultimately, much of the crisis seems to me to be an artifact of the sort of gaps in mutual understanding, and imagination about potential solutions, that are prone to happen when there is insufficient connection. I believe the Board’s choice not to engage in transparency and dialog, before or since their decision, has prevented misunderstandings from being unraveled, and prevented solutions (in some cases potentially quite simple) from emerging.

I wish that the Board had had the capacity to recognize and acknowledge how profoundly unmet other needs would be, as a result of the course it chose.

I have a story that if the Board had sought to honor even one of the agreements that I believe it did not honor, then that would have provided a gateway into having the sort of conversations that could have led to a very different outcome.

Even if the Board felt it was critical to the survival of CNVC to address the concerns the Board held, and could not imagine how to care for additional needs, I would have found it inspirational if they had been able to say that, and to open themselves up to support from the community in addressing that difficult dilemma of caring for so many needs.

I have a story that it may be a “tragic flaw” of many leaders that they think they have to know the right answers, and act on that assumption, even when in practice, being only human, they don’t.

I feel tenderness for the tough spot that I suspect the Board members thought they were in. And, I long for the leadership of CNVC to be able to ask for help, and to trust in what can happen when NVC is used to support addressing our hardest challenges.

CHALLENGES IN TALKING ABOUT THIS

How, in NVC, does one talk about it when people do things that others experience as horrific?  I am not sure we collectively know how to do this well. I recall talking to one person who was assaulted severely enough that the assaulter was sent to prison. They told me that the way the NVC community around them tried to “police” what they said about the experience, out of care for the person who was convicted of the assault, was for them almost worse than the assault itself.

I am in favor of speaking in a way that holds every person’s humanity with care.  Yet, I don’t think it serves life to erect unsurmountable barriers to the intensity of people’s experiences being expressed. Passionate expression will never offer a complete picture, but it can offer an essential piece of the picture, and thereby, I hope, support movement to wholeness and healing.

This situation is extremely intense for me. I left my former career and spent six years of my life doing my best to contribute to CNVC and the NVC community, out of a desire to support people in having an experience of CNVC acting in a way that I could understand as congruent with the practice of NVC. But, I wouldn’t be nearly as upset if this were just about me. I am upset because I see:

  1. Many people being affected adversely;
  2. What is happening as contrary to what is precious to me about NVC, and 
  3. What is happening as precisely recreating exactly the sort of intensely alienating experience that I and the CNVC Board promised would not happen, no matter what, this time around. 

I set out to help CNVC care for people in a way that I perceived CNVC as repeatedly not doing. It shocks me to my core to experience the CNVC Board behaving in a way that, from the viewpoint of those impacted, seems to once again reflect that same “lack of care for human beings” that I had hoped to shift, at least within the context of this one organizational process.

I believe the Board’s choices have been poor choices, in the sense that those choices and the processes that led to them have unnecessarily harmful impacts and are out of alignment with values that I hope are dear to many in the NVC network. I don’t believe that makes the Board members “bad people.” I think that the information that I and Board members have had access to has been very different, and this has led to our different perspectives. I don’t think anyone will know what is “true,” or what would serve life, until it is possible to reconcile the information that we collectively have.

I don’t know how to write about my extreme concern about these choices without people thinking I am counterproductively or uncaringly “attacking” Board members.  I don’t want to attack anybody.  And, at the same time, I do want to call attention to the ways in which there are substantial reasons to be deeply concerned about what is happening, and to do everything in our power to change what is happening, to find a way to make life more wonderful.

There is, I am certain, a narrative in which the Board’s choices make sense. I have not had access to that narrative (though I have guesses, as named in the section above). Nor have they had access to my narrative. Though it is in some ways frightening to do, I want to share how I see things, as what I hope might be a step towards integration and healing.

CONCERN ABOUT CARE FOR RELATIONSHIPS AND HUMAN BEINGS

One of the things that most attracted me to NVC was that it offered what I experienced as do-able and effective ways to “love your neighbor” — to create experiences of care, and “everyone mattering.”  To me, NVC supports more joy and less suffering, especially in regard to the ways that people relate to one another.

Even before I found NVC, I had become convinced that one of the most serious problems the world faces is the tendency to divide the world into US and THEM, and making choices that care for US, while dismissing what THEY have to say as not worth listening to — with the effect that we get stuck in unending cycles of conflict, and never are able to partner together to find truly sustainable solutions to the worlds problems. I was so inspired that NVC offered concrete ways of living in a “partnership paradigm” — offering empathy as a means of transforming enemy images (i.e., demonizing stories about THEM), and offering the ideal of caring for ALL the needs that are present, with “connection” being a way to get there.

To me, NVC is, to a significant extent, about care, for ourselves, and for one another. NVC invites me towards a world in which we all see needs, ours and others, and treat them as mattering. To me, that is the heart of what it means to “care.”

I find it hard to imagine how the actual needs of those who have been investing in the NF Process could be much less cared for by the CNVC Board’s actions.

I believe that many people have been invested in the New Future Process coming to fruition. Some signs of this include 600 people participating in early phases of the NF Process, 50 or so people participating in subsequent phases, doing thousands of person-hours of work (mostly as volunteers), and, to date (with minimal publicity) 299 people from 49 countries becoming Members of the the new NVC Community forming in association with the NF Plan implementation.

Perhaps the Board intended to care for people’s needs, to some extent, via their suggestion that the NF Plan implementation be continued “separate from CNVC.” But, to me, this suggestion hints at a stunning lack of understanding of the needs involved.

Some of what has been most important to me, in regard to the NF Process, has been a yearning to contribute to trust that:

  1. It is possible to translate the NVC community’s collective dreams for our central NVC organization into at least some small semblance of concrete reality.
  2. At least once, our central NVC organization can act in ways somewhat more aligned with the NVC principle of allowing everyone’s needs to matter.
  3. At least once, CNVC could refrain from repeating a pattern of those with power acting in ways that reflect and stimulate disconnection, consequently crushing the hopes of any who dare to dream and are willing to invest in trying to make life more wonderful at an organizational level.

I have dreamed of contributing to making the global NVC movement feel safer for people who want to contribute, and more supportive of the possibility of collective thriving. I can’t imagine anything else that would be more likely to boost NVC’s chances of spreading in the world, and offer a more profound contribution to making life more wonderful globally.

Instead of building trust, my assessment is that the current round of attempted change in CNVC is offering the worst experience yet, in terms of undermining hope that the human beings managing CNVC can actually live the process that CNVC promotes. To me, this is utterly devastating to my hopes, not only for the NVC community, but for the human race being able to address any of the significant challenges that it faces.

Since the Board’s April 25, 2018 letter, I’ve noticed the following impacts:

  1. As I’ve noted, I have trouble sleeping at night and writing to the NVC trainer community, being so frequently flooded with intense pain and disbelief that “Human beings who believe in NVC could, however unintentionally, treat one another so ‘badly,’ with so little evidence of care or use of NVC, rendering so many years of effort by so many people possibly meaningless.” (Yes, I acknowledge there being a story there, that contributes to suffering.)

  2. I watched members of the CNVC Implementation Council at first make continued heroic efforts to apply the principles of NVC, and try to connect with the CVNC Board, only to slowly slump into apparent despair, and a need to distance themselves from any more futile attempts at interacting with the Board and from CNVC more generally, to support their personal emotional survival. Where I had seen tremendous dedication and commitment and hope for contributing to others lighting up their eyes, I’ve seen that enthusiasm flicker and die, or become available only in regard to things far outside the reach of the Board.

  3. I’ve heard others, around the world, eager for the changes they hope the NF Plan would bring, share their puzzlement, disappointment, and longing for hope, regarding what is happening in CNVC.

I can’t believe that it would be a good omen for CNVC to take people who are burning with a desire to contribute to CNVC, and largely extinguish that fire — especially if such an outcome is allowed to stand, unchallenged.

Although I am not sure it is “mainstream NVC” (as in something explicitly taught by Marshall), one of the most profound things I learned, as I was learning NVC, is that “much of human suffering comes, not from needs being unmet, but from needs being treated as not mattering.” Even if we are unable to meet a need, we can acknowledge its existence and importance, and this can make a huge difference.

It has certainly compounded my suffering, about the needs profoundly unmet by the Board’s April 25 letter, that I have been unable to detect, in any communication from the Board or its members, acknowledgment of any adverse impact on anybody, in relation to its choices. Nor have I noticed acknowledgement of any questions or concerns by those who care about the NF Process.

It’s very hard for me to resist interpreting this as communicating “You (and others you care about) don’t matter.”

Maybe I could tolerate that, if transforming the pattern of CNVC treating certain people as if they don’t matter (even if they were in a significant relationship with CNVC) hadn’t been going on for years, and if changing that wasn’t one of the main points of the the NF Process. It’s a pattern that people have apparently tolerated for years. Our collective tolerating of such behavior on the part of CNVC’s leadership, has, in my view,  doomed the NVC network to, without end, repeating patterns of suffering, stimulated in relation to CNVC.

I do not want to tolerate that pattern continuing.

CONCERN ABOUT BOARD’S PROCESS

In addition to being concerned about the content of the Board’s decisions, I am deeply concerned about the process they have used to get there.

I long for justice. By “justice” I mean “rigor in using structural power to address profoundly unmet needs in ways that are likely to make matters better, rather than worse.” (I know “justice” has a danger of being used in jackal ways, but I think eliminating the word entirely poses a huge risk of ignoring something important — I don’t know how the American Civil Rights movement could have worked, if they weren’t allowed to use the word “justice.”)

To me, the emotional impact of the Board’s effective repudiation of the New Future Process has been no less than the effects of a criminal conviction of a loved one would have been. In the case of criminal convictions, we know that how the process occurs is profoundly important, if there is to be any hope that the outcome might be any way “fair.” Yet, if the Board’s decision process had been a legal proceeding, I tell myself it would have looked something like the following:

Four judges, one of whom had been appointed in violation of agreements about appointments, take on a case where the written agreements say these judges do not have jurisdiction. Three of them hold a trial in secret, without informing the accused or the public.  Only the prosecution is allowed to present a case. No lawyer for the defendants is allowed to be present, and no witnesses sympathetic to the defendants are called. A verdict is reached and a sentence is passed. The sentence affects not only those convicted, but also many others who were not even charged. The sentence increases the power of the judges. The sentence begins to be enacted 4 months before those convicted are told about it. The judges inform those convicted that there is no possibility of an appeal.

Does that sound to you like a process you would associate with justice? I acknowledge that what happened was not literally a trial, and that people are used to applying different standards to Board decisions than to criminal trials. Yet to me, the analogy is illustrative of how little confidence I have that the process used in the Board’s decision making would be likely to fairly take into account all relevant information for making an unbiased, well-informed decision about matters that profoundly impact people.

One detail that I think is not generally known is that one Board member (Cate Crombie, who has since resigned) had had much more dialog with the Implementation Council than others and apparently differed from other Board members in her perspective. Yet, that Board member, who I had understood was an active Board member in December 2017 when the Board reports having made its decision, was not fully part of the Board’s decision-making process — to the point that I understand she was as unpleasantly surprised as anyone else, in April 2018, to learn of the decision the Board was said to have made months before. In the legal analogy, it would be as if the judge most knowledgeable about and sympathetic to the defendants was not present at the time when the verdict and sentence were decided, nor was she even told about the court’s decisions. (I was reluctant to share information that might put a spotlight where it is unwanted. Yet it seems important to me to have a shared understanding that the Board wasn’t, in my assessment, acting from full connection, even within itself.)

Some messages to the trainers list in the last two years have included assertions about the NF Process and Plan which seem to me to amount to the sort of “alternate reality” of provably false “facts” that inform way too many political processes these days. Even if one isn’t certain whether to trust those accounts or those from NF supporters (who were, at least present for the disputed events), it seems like intellectual integrity would demand investigation before taking disputed claims at face value. Yet,  multiple sources have reported people who apparently adhere to such alternate accounts “advising” the Board in some way, and I have seen some Board members quoting some positions similar to what I have seen from these sources. I have an impression of an adversarial US vs. THEM dynamic being in play, and the Board having chosen a side. To me, this is the opposite of what I would want from leaders of a group committed to nonviolence, who I would wish to care for the whole, for everyone involved. I see the path of seeking connection and integration, as not only being more caring and inclusive, but also yielding wiser, more sustainable outcomes.

I don’t know for sure to what extent disputed information has influenced the Board’s positions. I only know that I am not aware of proponents of the NF Process having had a significant opportunity to have their perspectives be heard by the Board.

There has also not been (at any time since the ratification of the NF Plan, before or after the Board’s decision) Board-level dialog with NF supporters to understand one another’s needs and to explore how to find solutions that could work for everyone.

I see the process as also being profoundly unbalanced to the extent that an extreme double standard was in play, in my view, with regard to how Implementation Council performance was assessed vs. how Board performance was assessed (as I described above).

What I would have wanted instead would have been: for the Board to have been transparent about its deep concerns, and to bring those concerns to those involved in the New Future Process — in keeping with agreements about how decision-making in CNVC is currently intended to function (as documented in Process for a New Future and the CVNC transition plan).

Failing that, I would have at least wanted transparency that the Board was deeply concerned and was contemplating a decision with enormous impact, and either (a) allowing those impacted a fair chance to make their case (in keeping with mainstream notions of justice), or, better yet, (b) invitation for those likely to be impacted to be actively involved in dialog about what was going on, and what to do about it — in keeping with the principles of restorative justice (which Marshall strongly supported).

In the absence of these having happened, I now want acknowledgment of a flawed process, and willingness to re-consider the decision using a process that offers hope for justice.

CONCERN ABOUT RESPONSIBLE USE OF POWER

I believe that much human suffering results from patterns of how power (atypically large influence) gets used, and that, to the extent that “civilization” has created a “kinder, gentler world,” much of this  has been the result of agreements to temper the use of power, by introducing “rights,” “due process,” “checks and balances” and so forth.

In retrospect, I think CNVC’s problems with “always abruptly killing off change efforts” reflected a structural problem in CNVC’s governance. Prior to 2014, the CNVC Board has structurally had something approximating “absolute power” relative to CNVC. Yet, it has always been the case that Boards consisted of a handful of volunteers, usually with hardly enough time to attend to the most urgent facets of keeping CNVC running, and little time for doing deep learning and deliberation about big strategic issues. And, even if sometimes a Board bought into a change process, changing Board membership meant that institutional knowledge and commitment tended to erode before a change process could be completed. It’s no wonder that those who have to focus on urgent day-to-day issues, and those who have the time to focus in depth on strategic issues would tend to understand things differently. And its no wonder, given the power to do so, that those focused on day-to-day issues, and without continuity of institutional memory, would eventually fail to support projects that emerge from deep consideration of the organizational context, requiring sustained focus. It was a structural problem, a mismatch between the decision-makers and what was to be decided, which was contributing to CNVC being unable to make significant strategic changes.

The design of the New Future Process did its best to correct this structural problem. It essentially changed the governance of CNVC, creating two categories of decision-making, and arranging for different groups of people to make these different decisions. The Board would continue to make decisions related to near-term operations of CNVC and to maintaining CNVC’s legal status. However, the Board would restrict its use of power to respect the authority of the other decision-making mechanism, the New Future Process. Those involved in the NF Process would make a finite set of strategic decisions concerning changes to CNVC, taking into account feedback from the NVC network. These decisions would include decisions about how CNVC would be governed after the completion of the NF Process. The Board, in approving the New Future Process in 2014, transferred some of its authority to the NF Process, and committed itself to whatever new governance system the NF Process decided on. The NF Process ratified its decisions in January 2017.

This new governance structure offered new protections to the NVC community, in much the way that the adoption of government structures with multiple branches, balancing one another, offers a degree of protection to citizens of modern governments.

Given this perspective, that CNVC’s new decision-making structures are protective, I find the Board’s actions particularly disturbing.

Again, I will offer a metaphor to illustrate the nature of my concern:

Imagine a country which has historically been ruled by a small group with no accountability to anyone else, but where there has been an historic agreement to govern the country more democratically going forward. During the transition, the government has two branches, each with designated areas of authority. These are, roughly, an Executive/Military branch, and a Legislature.* The Legislation was created to do a job that the Executive/Military branch was not well-equipped to do, and to offer protection from patterns of unilateral behavior without dialog that had been associated with prior administrations of the Executive/Military branch. The Executive/Military branch is scheduled to be replaced, in accordance with lawfully made decisions that had been agreed to by all decision-makers. 

A difference of opinion between the branches of government arises. The full nature of the disagreement isn’t clear, since there is no transparent conversation about it. The Executive/Military branch simply declines to allow itself to be replaced. And, one day, the Executive/Military branch bars the doors of the Legislature building to members of the Legislature, and suggests that they go do their work, their overseeing of the installation of a new government, in some other country. The Executive/Military asserts that this is the new way that things will be, and declines to entertain any discussion. 

A “military coup” has occurred, in which a small group with power has gone beyond the agreed limits to its authority, 
over-stayed its agreed term, asserted exclusive control over the government, and disenfranchised other decision-makers and implementors of the agreed governance changes.

* (I compare the Board to an Executive/Military branch since the Board focuses in practice primarily on near-term operational issues, and because the Board’s legal standing allows it to potentially enforce its will on others, although agreements say that this will not be done. I compare the New Future Process and Implementation Council to a Legislature, because their function is to decide and steward a framework within which operations will occur, and to do work the other body was not well-equipped to do, and to serve as a check and balance on the authority of the other body.)

To the extent that this metaphor in any way corresponds to what has happened in CNVC, can you see why I would be extraordinarily concerned about the way that power is being used? Why I might be very concerned about the future of an organization where this is allowed to happen? And why I might long for accountability?

I want to be clear that, when I compare what happened to a “military coup,” I don’t believe that the CNVC Board thought of what they were doing in remotely such terms. However, I see a parallel, at the level of effect.

Governments which don’t even nominally follow the agreements about how they are to govern undermine trust, people’s sense of safety, and the possibility of people living together in relative peace and thriving. Those currently content with what the government is doing might not notice much. But, those who in any way see things differently, and believe that the government does not represent them, will be acutely aware that there is no peaceful avenue available for improving things, given that agreements cannot be trusted to mean anything. In such situations, nonviolent resistance at the best, or violent conflict at the worst, become the only available options for caring for needs.

Something similar is true for CNVC. Being able to trust agreements is a key ingredient for making peace and partnership possible.

I have little hope for having a functional world, or a functional NVC network, if agreements about how decisions are to be made, and how power is to be limited and balanced, are simply disregarded.

In prior postings (to mailing lists) I have detailed numerous agreements about decision-making that I understand the CNVC Board has neither honored nor acknowledged, in its actions and communications of the last year and a half. [Footnote 4]

I imagine systemic issues contributed to this: Some agreements (e.g., about finances) were made on behalf of the Board as a whole by Board representatives, but perhaps understanding of the agreements was not transmitted to the Board as a whole, and the representatives involved may have forgotten details with the passage of time. And, while other agreements were made by the whole Board, each time a new Board member was added, collective understanding likely eroded. Many of the agreements were designed specifically to offer protections against the effects of such loss of institutional knowledge. However, in the absence of any of those agreements being kept, there was no protection from other agreements also being not kept.

I imagine that Board members haven’t understood the purposes of some of these agreements, forgot some agreements, and associated agreements with something they had judged as suspect (the NF Process), and so felt free to disregard them. In a way, this is understandable. But, I don’t think that makes it into behavior that the NVC network is well-served by accepting.

In law, there is a doctrine that “ignorance of the law is no excuse.” I think that principle reflects a reality that, when people do not understand critical agreements, if you allow that to be a justification for not following those agreements, then all hope is lost for collective social cohesion — and peace. It matters what we have agreed to, and how we attend to keeping or changing those agreements.

BARRIERS TO COLLECTIVE INTELLIGENCE

One of the things I love about NVC is the way that solutions that emerge from NVC-based dialog are so often more wonderful than anything anyone could have come up with on their own. I have experienced the ability of NVC dialog to support the emergence of collective intelligence. So, I feel sad that this Board seems to have a pattern of doing their work in isolation, without engaging in external dialog — even with stakeholders such as those who were serving CNVC via the New Future Process, and even when agreements the Board had entered into specifically called for such collaboration.

ABSENCE OF DIALOG

The Board has declined to engage in discussion or dialog about its choices, either with the Implementation Council, or with the trainers list. Although in August 2018 the Board offered to have a conversation with the Implementation Council, I understand the Board to have made a condition of meeting that it only to be to mourn and celebrate the past, with no possibility of dialog about making new or different choices.

John Gottman, a scientist who studies divorce, considers “stonewalling” (or refusal to communicate about significant issues) to be highly destructive to a relationship and highly predictive of its total breakdown (i.e., divorce). It’s extraordinarily painful to be on the receiving end of. I suspect the behavior that draws this label often reflects intense pain on the part of the one choosing it. I long for such pain, and those suffering it, to be cared for.

I don’t know what is going on for the Board that leads them to decline connection. I’m sure busy-ness and overwhelm are factors. And yet, I interpret there to be an absolute barrier to connection that seems to call for a deeper explanation.

In the only exchange I was able to have with a Board member (about the non-payment-of-wages issue), I learned that that person viewed not communicating as an expression of kindness, because the extreme judgments that they had would be hard for the targets of that judgment to hear. To me, this points out the importance of distinguishing intention and impact. The intention of not communicating might, for some people, be kindness — but I experience the impact of someone acting decisively on a judgment, but not sharing the underlying judgment, as the opposite of kindness.

Rather than silence, I would far rather hear expression and discussion of the harshest imaginable judgments of me, if those judgments were informing important decisions. I believe that sharing the judgments underlying decisions would increase mutual understanding, and create the possibility of a situation shifting. I suspect that many judgments could not survive untransformed, once brought into the “light of day” and exposed for consideration. In contrast, silence functions like “shunning”, a practice used as a punishment because it is so painful to the social animals that we are.

Such blockage to connection is the opposite of what NVC leads me to long for, and to hope for from my fellow NVC practitioners.

What have we as an NVC network come to, if profound disconnection is allowed to develop, drive decisions, and persist in the heart of our institutions?

NATURE OF INFLUENCE IN THIS SITUATION

Without making the Board “wrong,” it is still the case that so many things that I care about in this situation seem inseparable from the Board and its choices. It is hard to see how aspects of this situation can be addressed without the Board’s involvement.

It’s easy to say “The Board has all the power in this situation; there is nothing we can do to shift what is happening, if the members of the Board aren’t inclined to engage.” I think that is only partially truth. I believe the collective voice and actions of the community potentially have enormous power, were there to be any substantial agreement about anything within the community.

There is potential to both shift what is happening with the Board and to do life-serving things that don’t involve the Board — though the situation with the Board creates an environment where I have concerns that even doing things not involving the Board may be far harder than would otherwise be the case.

That said, I don’t personally know how to alter or improve the situation much on my own.

WHAT I’D LIKE NOW

Even after 8 months of wrestling with my relationship to the situation, I continue to find the situation unbearable. The acuteness of disconnection and absence of entry points to support movement or hope seem so contrary to everything that drew me to NVC. I’ve thought through a lot. I see various possibilities, some flickers of beauty. And, I am still, in some ways, at a loss.

I long for partnership in figuring out how we can collectively relate to the conflict within CNVC in a life-serving way. 

Please let me know if you’d like to:

  1. Be part of (or organize) a group that would work together (virtually) to consider and develop ways to transform the situation; or
  2. Offer other support; or
  3. Be informed, regarding anything that might happen in this regard.

(You can reply to me directly, or you could fill out this form.)

I’d also be curious to know if this letter touched, moved or contributed to you in any way.

Thanks,
Bob Wentworth


APPENDIX 1: PERSPECTIVE ON BOARD’S CONCERNS

Repeating from above: I have the impression (based on public and private information) that the Board’s actions were stimulated by worries that:
  1. The Implementation Council was not competent to implement the NF Plan, based on a perceived lack of progress during the first 10 months of the implementation phase.
  2. Continuing payments to support the Implementation Council would be a threat to CNVC’s financial viability.
  3. Because the Implementation Council lacked financial expertise, if control of CNVC’s budget and savings were handed over to those associated with the NF Process, CNVC funds would be spent unwisely, possibly bringing CNVC to financial ruin.
  4. As the New Future Plan was implemented, the old systems that kept CNVC functioning would be eliminated, and there would be years of dysfunction until new systems became functional.
  5. Proceeding with NF Plan implementation would involve the Staff and Board painfully putting off taking actions important to CNVC’s operations.
Here is my perspective on each concern:
  1. I believe there is good evidence that the Board significantly misjudged the Implementation Council’s abilities to fulfill their role. As detailed in a Sept 20, 2018 message to the trainers list, by the time the Board’s letter arrived on April 25, 2018, the Implementation Council had completed at least a dozen significant implementation tasks, and progress was ongoing. If work hadn’t been interrupted by the Board’s actions, my own assessment is that the core NF Plan implementation tasks were on track to be completed within a respectable timeframe (e.g., within 2.5 years of beginning), despite an initial seemingly slow start.
            I think the Board misunderstood the Implementation Council’s approach. The Implementation Council focused on “connection first” and on first developing good processes, and only after that, leveraged these preparations to allow themselves to go into a phase of exceptionally high productivity (compared to the typical working speed of CNVC Boards over the last 15 years or so). It might not be the approach everyone would use, but I saw it working for the Implementation Council — producing the very results that they were being taken to task for not producing, until the Board’s letter largely halted the project.
            This was a tragic moment: it seems to me that the Board, in drawing conclusions dramatically different from what I believe was going on, reached a sense of an alarming need to act and stop the investment of energy (not just money) in something that wasn’t going to yield anything tangible within any reasonable timeframe that they felt able to wait for. This is tragic because support for a dialogic process likely would have uncovered the different approaches, and allowed for collaborative discovery of a path forward. 

  2. If funding Implementation Council expenses out of CNVC revenues is not sustainable, then the work of implementing the NF Plan could and would be funded in other ways. Concern about spending in no way necessitated rejecting the NF Plan.
            Having heard accounts of the conversation between the Board and the Implementation Council about funding (in, I think, October 2017), I am filled with a sense of tragedy regarding the level of confusion, on both sides, that I interpret as having been present. I believe the root causes of this confusion were the Board not having tracked agreements it had made, while the Implementation Council was relying on those agreements being understood; and also the Board not being transparent in offering information about CNVC finances and the problem that it was trying to address. I think the Implementation Council responded with confusion to what they perceived as unmotivated demands for a balanced budget separate from CNVC’s, contrary to what the Board had committed to in the transition plan — a combined budget, collaboratively developed, with full access to CNVC’s financial situation. The Board never got a chance to hear a reaction to transparent sharing of a financial dilemma to be solved. I suspect the Board interpreted the reaction they got as the Implementation Council not caring about its financial concerns, or not being competent to address them, instead of recognizing that the Board had not presented their concerns in a way that was comprehensible, given the contexts of the information the Implementation Council had and the agreements that they understood to be in place. [Footnote 2] I assess it as an “epic fail” in terms of how little mutual understanding was present.
            (I remain confused about the suggestion that CNVC’s financial viability was at risk, insofar as I have heard it claimed that CNVC managed to balance its budget, despite paying the Implementation Council. However, it is possible that this information is not accurate. I wish that CNVC would honor the commitment it made, in the transition plan, to offer full transparency about its finances.)
            This was another tragic moment: It seems like financial concerns were a main cause of the Board’s choice to act unilaterally and dramatically. Yet, no pathway for clarifying, mitigating, transforming, or integrating such concerns was attempted to my knowledge.
  3. I believe this concern reflects a misunderstanding of how financial decision-making was planned to work as CNVC evolved. 
            The role of Implementation Council member does not necessarily call for financial expertise, since the NF Plan did not call for Implementation Council members to ever be making financial decisions (or preparing budgets) alone, outside a context of collaborating with others who would have the required financial expertise. That expertise could have been on the CNVC Board, which would continue to exist, or in the planned Financial Systems Weave.

  4. I believe this concern reflects a misunderstanding about the nature of the planned implementation process. 
            I understand that implementation was planned to be incremental, so that no functional system would ever go away before a comparably functional system was available to replace it.

  5. I believe this concern reflects a misunderstanding about the expectations of Board and Staff.
            I was horrified to read that the Staff and Board felt they had been putting off operational decisions and changes to the point of it being painful. I have a sense that, somehow, a request to “put everything on hold” was heard that was not intended. As of January 2017, the key decisions of the NF Process had been made. All that I would have wanted from the Staff and Board would have been for them to make decisions in ways that were likely to be complementary to, rather than antagonistic to, the strategic choices that had been made — and to be in conversation with the Implementation Council if there was any uncertainty about what would make sense to do. The agreed (but not honored) biweekly meetings between representatives of the Board, Staff, and Implementation Council had been intended to be a forum in which such conversations could occur on a regular basis.

So, my sense is that concerns #3, #4 and #5 are all concerns that would have benefitted from being unpacked, to discover if there was really any substance to them that needed to be addressed in a focused way. I feel deeply sad that they stimulated worry in a way that I believe frank discussion could likely have easily addressed and alleviated.

Concern #2 is certainly important, in that CNVC’s financial sustainability merits being held with care. Yet, I think the conclusions that led to the Board adopting a particular strategy were artifacts of failed communication. Other strategies for addressing any financial concerns seem to me to be clearly available.

Concern #1, about the Implementation Council’s capacity to fill its role, is also important. As I mentioned above, my assessment of the Implementation Council is different than that of the Board’s, based on actual results delivered. The Implementation Council’s approach led to a slow-seeming start, but rapid progress after that. Given the complexity of the task, I think that a rush to judgment about competence was unmerited. As mentioned elsewhere, I also perceive a huge double standard being applied, in that the Board’s performance — as seen by others — is arguably no better, e.g., when one considers that it took the Board 4 months to simply announce a decision affecting others that it had made, a task far simpler than the tasks the Implementation Council was wrestling with.

Note that some additional concerns, which may or may not have influenced the Board, are discussed in Appendix 2.

APPENDIX 2: REPRESENTATION & DECISION-MAKING

In addition to the concerns of the Board that I’ve named, I have heard other things expressed by people said to have advised the Board, which may or may not have influenced the Board’s choices.
  1. I have read a concern expressed that the NF Process did not include sufficient representation of NVC “elders” among its decision makers. When I’ve heard this, I have had a mix of responses. I’ve felt sad, because I wanted the participation in the process of those with much experience. I’ve felt frustrated, because they were invited to participate, and largely declined. I mourn the inherent imperfections in any process, and the extent to which we tried, and yet in retrospect, were not fully successful in bringing to people’s attention the stakes of their non-participation. I’d also like acknowledgement that the NF Process, in my assessment, has been vastly more “representative” of people in the NVC world than the CNVC Board itself has been in decades. I long for perspective, and willingness to find ways to incrementally do better and better. 

    I want a goal of including the voices of NVC elders AND others whose voices have systematically been excluded from influencing decisions in CNVC. Abandoning the NF Plan to address the concerns of some of the former, at the expense of attending to longstanding needs of the latter, does not seem to me to be remotely in alignment with the NVC vision of “creating a world that works for all.” 

    I would love to see partnership, integrating the insights of “elders” with addressing the needs of those in the broad NVC network. I would have far more hope for doing that in the context the NF Process and Plan intended to create (in which dialog is built into the functioning of the organization, and agreements can be trusted because of robust feedback loops).

  2. I have also read, in postings to the trainers list (from some of the same people) significant concerns about decision-making in the NF Process that seemed to me to imply that the results should be discredited. Postings about this have included assertions about the NF Process or NF Plan that I viewed as provably false (e.g., that 300 pages were written by one person). When such assertions were disputed, the authors in some cases simply continued to repeat their claims as if nothing had been said, or in other cases asserted the that evidence offered was wrong, without offering details, and declined to engage further.

    I worry that such rumors, especially when repeated, might be one of the unspoken factors influencing the Board’s choices. If rumors have influenced the Board’s choices, this would be another way in which the Board’s processes are not in alignment with any decent notions of “justice.” It is impossible to address, and get to the bottom of what is true about, what does not get expressed and discussed openly.

FOOTNOTES

[1] The main transition plan agreement that the Board honored for a time was the agreement to financially support the Implementation Council; but, the Board later disavowed there ever having been any clear agreement about this — which was puzzling to me since I had been present with Board members at the meetings where those agreements were made (and the transition plan explicitly called for CNVC to “use CNVC excess revenue to fund [NF Plan implementation] until the transition is complete” and for a “NVC-O Core Revenues” fund to be set up for this purpose). The Board did also honor an agreement to designate certain funds as a “reserve” fund, but I understand the Board has subsequently removed that designation.

[2] As I understand it, in relating to the Implementation Council, the Board provided no information on CNVC’s finances, contrary to the agreements the Board had made in the transition plan to provide full financial transparency. Then, the Board, without clear justification, demanded that the Implementation Council develop a self-contained balanced budget, separate from CNVC’s budget, contrary to what Council members and others understood had been agreed about developing a joint budget collaboratively. [Footnote 3] The Implementation Council said they couldn’t do a separate balanced budget (which had never been an intention of the NF Plan). That response was in a context of it being profoundly confusing why the Board would ask for such a thing, and why the Board was apparently disregarding the agreements that had been made about finances. The Board witnessed a reaction to confusing, unmotivated demands, not a reaction to transparent sharing of a financial dilemma (which I expect would have been quite different). It seems likely that the Board did not recognize this as what was happening, and so drew unfortunate conclusions from this interaction, which led to a sense that unilateral action to protect CNVC’s resources was necessary.

[3] Regarding the agreement to develop a joint budget collaboratively, (a) Integration Council members and, I believe, Board Member Cate Crombie, who were present at the January 2017 in-person Albuquerque meeting, recall that agreement being made as a memorably highlight of that meeting; and (b) this is reflected, albeit not in full detail, in the written transition plan via the agreements that “Decisions about allocation of resources from the common pool are collectively owned by all the weaves that exist during the transition. For example, initially, the emerging transitional configuration of CNVC and the Implementation Council share a budget because they are both entities that relate to the common pool” and the agreement to meet regularly “to collaborate on financial and other decisions that go beyond daily operations.”

[4] A brief summary of major commitments I understand as not honored by the Board includes: honoring the core decisions of the NF Process; bringing concerns to those involved in the NF Process to be addressed collaboratively; selecting only Board members committed to honoring these commitments; transitioning Board selection to be done in the manner decided in the NF Plan; amending CNVC’s bylaws in the manner decided in the NF Plan; including Dominic Barter as a full Board member in any deliberations impacting the NF Process; biweekly dialog with the Implementation Council and Staff, via representatives, throughout the implementation phase; being transparent about CNVC’s finances; collaborative budget development; acting as a fiscal sponsor to receive donations for NF implementation, and allowing trainer donations to be designated to go to this purpose; and more.