My first exposure to Nonviolent Communication was when Jean Morrison gave an interactive training to our faculty and staff at Santa Cruz Waldorf School. In came this spunky, funny, inspiring woman full of heart who gave a presentation that left a lasting impression on me, ultimately changing my life.
After traveling to San Francisco and hearing NVC founder Marshall Rosenberg speak, there was no turning back. It was time for me to transition to my next iteration, and I knew teaching NVC was what I was meant to do.
So I trailed Jean around Santa Cruz wherever she taught, each of her classes touching me deeply and helping me to grow along this path.
She was such a natural at teaching these skills that I thought perhaps she was a giraffe (the symbol for NVC) in her last lifetime. Students would often follow her out to her car, offer to carry her easel and training materials, and talk to her until she needed to leave.
Eventually, I found the courage to offer my organizational skills and Jean agreed to let me manage her local workshops. Those were the days of driving around town, posting fliers at cafés and community centers. Jean became my mentor and as the workshops grew, we invited NVC founder Marshall Rosenberg to Santa Cruz.
Marshall’s three days of workshops were so popular that interest in NVC flourished even more and I was on the path to certification. I’ll always remember Jean’s advice to me when I taught my first NVC class to Waldorf 8th graders. “Have fun” she said.
“Have fun...that’s it?” I repeated.
She very sensibly explained that if I wasn’t having fun, neither were the students.
This sudden surge of interest inspired us to form a local non-profit organization that eventually became NVC Santa Cruz (and invited Marshall back twice more to sold out venues). Today there are nine teachers and trainers serving the greater Santa Cruz area and around the world through Zoom classes.
In 2005 Jean and I put our heads together and decided to develop products that could help people learn NVC and empathy skills. From the beginning it was a joyful process of learning and growing, building a business based on NVC values.
In 2006 we officially became a partnership calling ourselves Galloping Giraffe Enterprises. Our first product GROK (a word from Robert Heinlein’s sci-fi book Stranger in a Strange Land) captured the spirit or flavor of empathic communication.
We have designed our products together in Jean’s Aptos loft home, at a retreat center in the Santa Cruz mountains, and sitting in my bay window sill overlooking our country garden. My husband Mark kept us fed with his hearty soups and delicious salads, all the while keeping us warm with logs on the fire. Our latest brainchild “WeGROK for two” was even developed in the digital realm, while Zooming from Santa Cruz to the San Francisco bay area where I now live.
Fifteen years later, there are eight products that have sold in over 75 countries, and we have Collaborators producing our materials in 7 languages. My daughter Claire, our VP of Everything, ensures that the legacy we have created will continue to grow with the next generation!
None of this would have been possible without Jean’s guidance and leadership.
She has been the embodiment of living a heart-centered life based on compassion, kindness, and valuing everyone’s needs. It’s been a joy, an honor, a privilege, and downright fun to be in partnership with her these past fifteen years.
A deep bow of gratitude for all she contributes to me, our business, the world, and all of the students fortunate enough to be in her classes.
Thank you, Jean.