How Sleeping on the Streets Paid Off

NVC Challenge: Episode 5 (20-25 minutes)

Continued from Episode 4.

As word spread of the value of NVC in dealing with racism, Marshall was invited to assist groups dealing with sexism.

The groups active in the fields of racism and sexism, often did not have much money, as compared with the more affluent people who came to see Marshall when he was in private practice. With the growing number of invitations from communities with limited resources, Marshall found himself travelling regularly, where overnight stops at hotels would make the trips too costly.

The Solution?

Sleeping outdoors in his sleeping bag, as he traveled from city to city.

This worked well when the weather was good, especially since he had a quality sleeping bag, but became more challenging in winter, or when it was raining.

An episode with the Kansas police

There was a time Marshall was travelling home through Kansas. It was night time, he needed to sleep, but it was raining hard, so he drove into the town to find an overhang that could provide enough shelter to sleep under.

He found a spot that would do the job and got his sleeping bag out, but when the police came by, they had their suspicions, and soon had Marshall up against his car, asking about why he was there sleeping on the street?

Marshall told this story to friends of his, who a little while later, when they were all attending a workshop, were making fun of him for drawing police attention to himself when sleeping on the streets, within the shelter of overhangs.

A woman who overheard the banter, asked Marshall why he was sleeping outdoors like that? He explained that many of the people who invited him didn’t have much money, and that he didn’t mind at all, it just got a little awkward when it rained.

On the last day of workshop, that same woman came up to Marshall, offering him a cheque for a substantial amount of money. She said there were strings attached. She wanted Marshall to commit to no longer sleeping in hotels, but to spend the money on hotels where he could be more comfortable.

Thanks but no thanks

Marshall thanked her for her kindness, while returning the cheque, explaining that if he had that much money, he wouldn’t spend it making hotel owners wealthier. The woman asked how he would spend the money, and he shared that he would:

  1. Firstly buy a car that he could comfortably sleep in;
  2. Secondly, invest in a computer to make his work easier, by for example assisting him in creating a mailing list as well as spreading the word.

The woman gave him back the cheque, requesting that he purchase the car and the laptop.

The birth of the NVC non profit

She also remarked that if Marshall had a non profit, it would be easy for her to deduct the amount as an expense. Marshall shared how others had also been telling him of the advantages of forming as a non profit. He took action and formed the Centre for Nonviolent Communication (CNVC) as a non profit.

Personal insights from Loren: OMG I found these 5 minutes incredibly moving. When I shared them with my kids on our drive to school I was tearing up. For someone to be so motivated to want to enhance the quality of lives of others! What an inspiration! I was in awe of the sublime choreography of life. How Marshall’s street sleeping episode with the Kansas police lead to an injection of funding and that final push to registering the non-profit. Imagine living life daily from a place of KNOWING this level of choreography is at play ALWAYS! Especially when we don’t see it for ourselves, especially when things are chaotic and seem so far from contributing meaningfully to a bigger picture.

To be continued here Episode 6

This is the online training program I’m listening to as I journey through this challenge:

Passionate about living consciously, connecting and contributing meaningfully