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More on “News and Goods”

This is a great reminder, Dan.*

Sometimes I do successes instead of “goods and news.” All of us have examples of overcoming obstacles, and I think we get a fuller picture of each other by sharing them. We also often do a round of counseling “goods and news,” such as successes in the counselor or client role or as RC leaders, or a “good and new” about the world around us. That often ends up being quite inspiring.

Pamela Haines
Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, USA


For many years now I have led a class with mostly people of the global majority and a few middle-class white people. The people of the global majority are of different class backgrounds and current economic situations and include poor and working-class people.

A few years ago I told the middle-class white people to think about what they shared in “news and goods.” I said that the purpose of “news and goods” was to create safety and a balance of attention so that people could discharge during their turns. I reminded them that there are hundreds of “news and goods” in any one week and that they could pick something that would contribute to the safety of everyone in the group rather than something that could throw the poor and working-class people, some of whom barely had enough gas money to come to class, into their worst distress.

I reminded them that sharing about cruises, expensive play activities, private schools and colleges, and even recent movies they had seen could leave others feeling separate, alone, and discouraged. I asked them to think about why they needed to choose those “news and goods” when they had other less restimulating ones. (I reminded them that they could call people of their own class background to share those more expensive “news and goods.”) In fact, it seems it would be a good practice for all of us to notice and share the good things that happen in our relationships as well as the many other joys in life that don’t come from money.

I think setting this policy has increased safety and discharge and improved relationships in the class, with no real sacrifice for those who have more money and opportunity. Most of the RC teachers in our Region try to get people to think about this, and it makes not only their classes but also our Regional workshops safer for working-class and poor people.

Gwen Brown
International Liberation Reference Person for People Raised Poor
Wilmington, Delaware, USA


 As a white middle-class leader, I have to be sensitive to pretence—my own and other people’s. Sometimes “goods and news” can seem like a call for pretence.

I find it useful to ask in groups of experienced Co-Counsellors, “What’s one thing that’s going well in your life and one place you are struggling?” I do not find that people take a session on the place where they struggle; they just sum it up, and it is good information for the rest of us. Somehow including the struggle makes people more real with the “going well” bit.

With new people who seem to be having difficulty thinking of a “good and new,” I sometimes say, “Maybe you liked your breakfast cereal. Maybe the sun came out for a moment.” This is because new people sometimes have a “therapy” model in their heads and think that only big, important things are worth saying or that it’s their job in counselling to focus on distress.

Caroline New
Bristol, England


 Thanks to you, Dan, and others for thinking about this. It is a very interesting topic.

As a person who was raised by a factory worker and a clerk, I was raised to put others before me. Although poor and working-class people rightly put the group before the individual, in many of us it becomes a rigid pattern, a place where we can’t think and be flexible.

I feel bad a lot. I feel “less than,” despite reality. I often have to discharge about “news and goods” circles. The things I usually feel bad about are reports of what I view as bigger and more meaningful lives—“news and goods” from world changers, people who’ve had dreams and fulfilled them. After forty years in RC, I don’t envy fancy vacations; I envy fulfilling lives of world changers.

However, I’m not really writing to whine about my feelings but to ask some questions. Aren’t “news and goods” supposed to be things that balance the individual’s attention rather than things that don’t make others feel bad? And isn’t it my job as a working-class (or any kind of) leader to discharge my restimulations and, without pretense, be able to listen to anyone else’s life experiences? If I’m leading a group, when things seem restimulating shouldn’t I be able to make a light comment or call for a mini-session so the group has a chance to discharge?

I appreciate hearing people’s thinking.

Randy Karr
Brooklyn, New York, USA

Randy Karr

Brooklyn, New York, USA

Reprinted from the e-mail discussion list for RC Community members

(Present Time 184, July 2016)


* See article by Dan Nickerson on previous page.


Last modified: 2021-06-01 12:29:59+00