Discovering a Shared Vision for Creating a World of ‘Power With’

Aukje Byker’s quiet intention resonates with Peterborough Dialogues

Photo by Michelle Strutzenberger

Though it took time, inquiry and much conversation, Aukje Byker has come to a place of sharing a sense of resonance with the people and intention of the Peterborough Dialogues.

Recently retired and a newcomer to Peterborough from Hamilton as of last year, Aukje joined the dialogues while also completing a certification in Nonviolent Communication.

She recalls often wondering at the delight that other participants expressed about their experiences with the Peterborough Dialogues, and realized her nonviolent communication practices included some similar elements, especially the focus on deep listening.

At the same time, she was constantly seeking to better understand the essence of the dialogues. She read books that have shaped and inspired the dialogues, including Peter Block’s Community: The Structure of Belonging. She also learned about some of the influencing practices, including Art of Hosting. And she continued to candidly share her many questions with the group.

“It’s all leading to the idea of how can we really work with each other, how can we value each other more.”

Aukje recalls a shared moment of clarity for both her and Peter Pula, a co-founder of the dialogues, which in turn created in her a deep sense of “Ah, yes, we ARE in this together.”

“There was a meeting of the hosting circle. I had just been reading Peter Block’s work, trying to understand, and Ben (Wolfe) had shown me some specific things around the Art of Hosting. I was starting to get this sense that I was understanding all of this, and I said, ‘I think I’m really getting it. What this is about is creating a world where it’s about power with, rather than power over’.

“And Peter (Pula) went “Wow, yeah’.”

The language and intention of moving from “power over” to “power with” is a pivotal piece of the nonviolent communication approach.

Sensing the resonance that this had with Peter, Aukje had the feeling that the two worlds she’s been immersed in ­— the Peterborough Dialogues and her nonviolent communication work ­— had finally come together.

“The dialogues are one way and nonviolent communication is a different way, but it’s all leading to the idea of how can we really work with each other, how can we value each other more,” Aukje says.

“It’s about seeing each other as equals, which is part of working collaboratively. If I see you as having value, even if we’re disagreeing, then what you’re trying to say is just as important as what I’m trying to say.”

Since her experience with the dialogues, Aukje says what seems possible now is more people working collaboratively in the community ­— which is exactly in line with her greater vision for the world.

“It’s about how I want to live, so it’s about being in integrity with myself.”

“I would love for people to really be able to envision what it could be like to live in a world where everyone’s needs matter and we’re being much more collaborative,” Aukje says, suggesting the dialogues offer a “taste” of that preferred future.

As for the part she sees herself playing in realizing that vision going forward, she’s committed to doing what she can to create the world she wants to live in, and that she wants for her grandchildren ­— but she’s not about to “run like crazy” to make it happen.

“It’s about how I want to live, so it’s about being in integrity with myself,” she says.

“If this is the kind of world I want to live in, then I need to start acting into that world. Some of it is just showing up for things, doing things, offering things in ways that people can access them, just being available to support others.”

That’s certainly how she’s shown up with the Peterborough Dialogues as she’s attended a large number of the gatherings, always fully present, curious, listening, supportive, completely at ease with seeing what unfolds, certainly a companion for this world-remaking quest we’re all on.

To learn about how to get involved with the Peterborough Dialogues, visit

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