Lusophone Project

Purpose of the Project

To support skills and social structures that protect and honour Life, by giving shanty town youth, police and Justice system workers, teachers and students access to viable alternatives to violence, through community based NVC sharing. Funding supports investment in new projects, materials and stipends for training.

History and Background


In April 2001 Dominic Barter invited a group of acquaintances to supper to discuss an idea. We proposed that each person present dedicate several hours a week to teach themselves to create the world they would rather live in. Our vision was to engage in a heart-based dialogue with the monologue of violence, escalating on every level of society Within months we had been invited by the city council to facilitate meetings between the chief of police and residents associations in South America’s biggest gang-controlled shantytown.

Why ‘Lusophone’?

  • In 2003, seeing there was no NVC training or materials available in Portuguese, the world’s 6th most spoken language, with over 200 million native speakers on 5 continents, we initiated the Lusophone Project. Countries and communities with a Portuguese, or Lusophone, colonial heritage have, almost without exception, a recent history of armed civil conflict. East Timor, Mozambique, Angola and others have recently created unique chances for peace, motivated in part by an emerging awareness of the positive power of non-violence.
  • Brazil has suffered no such declaration of war, and maintains its image of exuberant celebration of life. Meanwhile it suffers an undeclared civil war of social exclusion, which has claimed 600,000 lives in 20 years of civilian rule. While making up only 2.8% of the world’s population, Brazil sees 13% of all violent deaths in the world. Increasingly these deaths involve children, with armed drug gangs the largest youth employers in many cities.
  • Our experience here confirms that NVC can make a key contribution to the urgent need for radical change in this reality, at a personal, interpersonal and social level. NVC empowers us to dialogue with the view of human beings that this colonial heritage left behind and which prepares the ground for such (self)destruction.
  • The new relationships we are establishing and nurturing in Brazil will enable us to arrive in other Portuguese speaking communities ready to offer effective support to those creating new and sustainable futures for their communities.
    They include:
    1. CNVBrasil, ‘an interdependent learning network’ which offers free community learning opportunities in 8 states
    2. ‘Footprints’, a program of project based training and trainer development
    3. ‘People making peace’, a partnership with UNESCO and local organizations to provide basic nonviolent action skills nationally
    4. Projects with local government developing violence reduction through community mediation and other programs
    5. Local social programs offering learnable skills in conscious compassion and the transformative power of empathic dialogue on systemic, social and interpersonal levels, inspiring ordinary people to create life-enriching and life-sustaining relationships and organizations, often in extraordinary circumstances

Current Status of the Project

Our focus on work in Brazil is moving towards developing:

  • Increased public access to NVC
  • Skills learning/sharing autonomy for 10 non-neighboring states, so that more and more people have access to NVC
  • Skills learning/sharing autonomy for key populations: the justice community (prisoners, ex-convicts, police, judges, guards, administrators); the education community (teachers, students, social services, managers); drug-gang controlled urban communities (sport and cultural groups, residents associations, gang-members, community schools), so they may spread their learning to colleagues
  • Model systems in each of these areas:
    1. a school community;
    2. a community security process – from policing, to sentencing, to agreed restoration, to supported reintegration;
    3. and an urban community change project – involving police, gang members, other residents, needs based organization, community mediation services, etc.
  • From this basis we begin to develop contacts in other communities overseas

Plans for the coming year

Restorative Justice

In 2005 Dominic was invited by the Ministry of Justice and UNDP to create a training program for Brazil’s first pilot projects in Restorative Justice, focusing on youth crime, in schools and court systems. Almost 400 training hours with hundreds of teachers, judges, guards, police and administrators have established a RJ model with NVC as its ethical basis.

The work has been called “one of the principal movements of social change in Brazil”.

In 2006 we have been invited to support NVC training in state Justice training institutions, for guards in youth prisons and for the civil police. The Ministry of Justice program has been extended and expanded to include 4 times as many schools and court systems. I have a dream of seeing imprisoned youth having the choice to teach NVC as their community service, and doing so with civil police officers in local schools.

One year ago RJ was almost unknown in Brazil. Our objective, starting 2006, is for NVC based RJ programs to be adopted as policy in schools and justice systems in 2 states within 3 years.

Conexión 2006

With colleagues in Argentina, Paraguay, Chile, Paraguay and Uruguay we proposed and have begun a year long coordinated initiative to bring NVC to public attention. Through combining printing costs for materials, and organizing regional community trainings, we plan to introduce NVC into Paraguay and Uruguay for the first time, as well as seeing significant growth in public access to NVC materials and experience in Argentina, Chile and Brazil.


In 2006 we would like to see network presence continuing to empower people to learn, share and apply NVC in their lives. We would like to provide new materials and services, which increase the options for group and individual development, especially for those who experience discomfort with the printed word or live far from established groups and projects.


In the next few months we plan to request institutional status, open our project based trainer development process to new people, produce educational and public information and begin work on producing new media materials.

These and other projects are stimulating us to keep innovating beyond the commercial training/professional trainer model, developing new ways to grow, increase access for all and keep having fun.

As our understanding of the unity of inner and social change grows we would like to share what we have learnt and learn more from our linguistic sisters and brothers overseas.

As the network extends throughout Brazil, and the interest of government organizations grows, our focus will be on keeping real and speaking peace to those with ever differing vocabularies of word and action.

Supporting new trainers, with ongoing deep learning and basic resources, so as to see this potential come true is our major challenge. Producing materials to get the word out to so many people is another.

How to Contribute to this Project

All of the above has been achieved with essential support from the world NVC network. This enables us to invest in new possibilities, and nurture programs towards sustainability.

It was with this support that we created the CNVBrasil network, which has now been economically self-sufficient for 2 years. The Restorative Justice project was also born this way: when individuals committed to NVC gave funding for Dominic to present NVC at an education conference, for which he needed transport costs. It has only been possible to continue this project, whose promised funding is 9 months overdue, with the financial support sent to us at CNVC.

In 2006 our plans for trainer development will depend on this same spirit of active partnership.

  • Please share our story with those you believe will welcome it
  • Please consider establishing an ongoing financial relationship with our work (donate to this project)
  • Please send us your contacts or information about others working in Portuguese-speaking communities
  • Please contact us to find out other ways in which we can grow together:email dominic,+55.21.8123.8403
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The Center for Nonviolent Communication
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