Rusty Thomas

With Gratitude to Marshall Rosenberg, on his birthday.

On the occasion of Marshall Rosenberg's birthday, we offer this memorial and appreciation from Rusty Thomas, Freedom Project Co-Founder.

I first met Marshall when he came into Twin Rivers Unit at Monroe Correctional Complex in March 1998 for a Basics of Nonviolent Communication workshop. I was immediately struck by how many needs and feelings we all have and how language really affects ability to resolve conflicts. I thought, "We really need this here."

And so in the parking lot outside TRU, Marshall gave his blessings to Lucy Leu as an NVC facilitator so she and I could work together to bring NVC into the prisons and later create Freedom Project.

Like so many others, I was impacted by the skills Marshall shared, learning about feelings and needs, and the hardest journey to travel, the 18 inches from the mind to the heart. That knowledge and way of being truly changed my life for the better.

He was a person who truly walked his talk. He would visit us at Giraffe House (the first FP offices and home for some of the staff) and when he was with you, you felt like you were the only person in the world. He talked to me like a father, but with lots of understanding and empathy. It wasn't the words he used, but all of the feelings and needs were there. You could tell he was just holding you. It wasn't about the words, but about emptying himself so he could be present with the other person.

He stood out, not as the person who invented NVC, but because he fit in with all sorts of people. He was just present, listening.

I have so much gratitude to Marshall for giving us the tools to start Freedom Project, to be able to have the opportunity to learn and share ways of communicating that are more connecting and making things safer for the community. He talked about Freedom Project everywhere he went, all around the world.

He believed in change, that people can change as long as their needs are met, that they can learn more skilled and connecting ways to get their needs met, that this material works. Marshall started all of that when he came into the Twin Rivers Unit.

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