How the pandemic has affected our work and our people

I last facilitated a workshop at the end of February.  Since then, Indiana Prisons have tried to mitigate the spread of Covid-19 by suspending volunteer activity in their facilities. There was some hope, as cases declined in June, that we might be able to return in late July, but even at one of our facilities in Pendleton, where there are no cases of Covid, they have indefinitely pushed back the date when that will happen.

I feel for the inside facilitators and participants who have been waiting to join a circle. They so appreciate the regular rhythm of workshops where I often hear “I can be myself and forget, for a little while, where I am.”  I am also sad for those outside facilitators who had just finished their Training for Facilitators workshop and were eager to put their skills to work.

Unlike other programs, where inside facilitators can organize and meet on their own, the Indiana Department of Corrections requires an outside volunteer to convene any gatherings. I do know, through anecdotes, that participants and facilitators will gather informally to talk about AVP and topics that have arisen in workshops. But the regular practice of facilitation, with its immediate feedback and encouragement, its engagement of the whole body, its incitement of laughter, will have to wait.

For myself, this long pause has been difficult, personally, because I realize how much I feel appreciated by the circles I co-facilitate. The work is so meaningful because I have freely chosen it. And my continuing education on how to be a more mindful human, how to be more empathic and loving person, how to be an advocate and ally, has largely been carried forward by those circles. I miss working as a team precisely because it is hard, making huge demands on my patience – it is a kind of temperament strength training.

Since Covid has coincided with the great social unrest and consciousness raising following the killing of George Floyd, AVPIndiana is exploring its own racist tendencies and white supremacy behavior. We are creating exercises and resources for facilitators and possible future participants who wish to engage in this needful, challenging labor.   AVPIndiana is also seeking to expand its capacity to facilitate online, having successfully hosted its Annual Gathering in that manner.  

Regarding actual statistics on Covid cases at the two facilities where we host workshops, Plainfield has the third most diagnoses of the virus, with 126 individuals having contracted it. There have been 6 deaths.  It is useful to know, however, that Plainfield also receives many individuals who have health conditions requiring attention because of their medical facility. For example, to the best of my knowledge, anyone who needs to receive insulin is sent to and resides at Plainfield for those regular treatments.

The Correctional Industrial Facility that we serve in Pendleton, as mentioned above, has had 0 cases of Covid.  I am adding the link here for anyone interested in looking at data on the IDOC site which is updated daily.  Data includes information on staff as well:

As the quarantines at facilities continue, adding weeks and months to when we will be able to return, it will be vital that other avenues for contact inside be established.   We are waiting to find out if small groups of inside facilitators might be allowed to meet with us to keep those connections alive.

Respectfully, Darin’ Aaron Nell

AVP Indiana Gathering

Join AVP Indiana for our Annual Gathering this July 14th!

AVP Indiana is hosting out annual gathering where we will continue to build relationships with one another and vision for the future of AVP Indiana and AVP in the Midwest Region. Please join us!

Here are the Logistics Details:

Location: Earlham School of Religion, 609 National Road West, Richmond, IN 47374
Date/Time: Saturday, July 14th 11am-5pm
Food: Lunch will be provided! Feel free to bring a small donation and a side dish (drink, dessert, salad)
Who: Anyone involved in AVP Indiana or the Midwest Region (no need to be a facilitator)
What: Practicing AVP skills, learning about the non-profit and ways to plug in, and brainstorming how to make our community stronger.

The AVP USA National Conference is Coming Up!

There are only 5 days left to register for the AVP USA Annual National Conference in Richmond, Indiana!

Join us this Memorial Day Weekend, Thursday May 24th through Monday, May 28th, for a celebration of 43 years of AVP in the United States and worldwide. Learn, share ideas, meet new people, and have fun!

Register online at or visit for more information. Follow us on Facebook for updates and reminders!


Basic Workshop @ Earlham College

AVP Indiana is excited to be offering its first college based workshop at Earlham College over two consecutive Saturdays!


When is it?

The workshop will be held over 2 consecutive Saturdays, March 24th and March 31st, from 9:00am to 8:00pm. Snacks will be provided! We will have breaks for lunch and dinner. To complete the workshop, you MUST attend both sessions!

Where is it located?

Earlham College Multicultural Center. Inside Runyan Center, this workshop is located in the Orchard Room.

What is the cost?

This workshop will be free. Donations of any amount will be accepted to help cover material costs, however no one will be turned away for lack of funds.

Register online! 

Promote the Workshop on Facebook: 

AVP Basic Workhop



Want to Do Something About the Violence in our Society?

Do you–want to make a difference in your life?

  •                 want to learn anger management skills?
  •                 want to help others learn to control their aggression?
  •                 want to become a conflict resolution facilitator?

Benefits of our training include learning to,

  •                 Diffuse potential conflicts at home, school, work,
  •                 Solve family issues with “win-win’ options,
  •                 Understand opposing viewpoints,
  •                 Resolve common misunderstandings that lead to violence,
  •                 Become more emphatic and caring

Consider becoming an AVP Facilitator!  It is a life-changing experience and a lot of fun. We at AVP Indiana would love to share this process with everyone, but cannot without more volunteers like you.

Will you join us?  Our next Basic workshop is in Indianapolis on Saturday and Sunday, Aug. 26-27 at West Newton Friends Meeting, See flyer for details. Don’t forget to sign up on the registration page!

August 2017 Basic Workshop Flyer

What is Violence?

One of the exercises we do in a Basic AVP workshop is a brainstorm on the topic, “What is Violence?” Participants say whatever word or short phrase comes to mind when they think of violence and it is transcribed onto a sheet of poster paper. It is a word storm of ideas. No one’s idea is censored. When the storm passes and the ideas cease, we look at what we have written, noting the things that surprise us and the things that confuse us. Usually a good discussion follows on violence and how the group has experienced it in their lives.

Sometimes a word like “babies” ends up on the page. When that word was challenged once, I defended it, even though I had not been the one to add it. From personal experience, I came to realize after the birth of my first child, that there is a very fine line between self-control and child abuse. Working full-time in a demanding, stressful job, breast feeding at night, being constantly sleep deprived, I remember the moment I realized I could see that line clearly. The scary part was recognizing how easy it would be and how perfectly capable I was of crossing that line.

Occasionally, a participant is surprised to realize that something besides physical aggression could be considered violence. I have been fortunate never to have personally experienced physical violence. However on numerous occasions over the years, I have been the giver and receiver of verbal violence. Words carelessly or intentionally spoken can do tremendous violence to a person, creating wounds that fester for years, causing harm over and over again whenever they are remembered. I have carried such wounds with me for most of my life. Through AVP, I discovered their origin and was finally able to heal. What is violence in your life?

The Power of the Process

As a life-long avoider of conflict and an acknowledged introvert, I find it ironic that I spend so much time facilitating Alternatives to Violence Project workshops. It seems so out of character to willingly go into a minimum or medium security prison and spend essentially 18-20 hours over a weekend, once a month, with a bunch of guys dealing with conflict and talking about feelings. It is difficult for me on so many levels. And yet, I keep going back.

For me, it was the power of the process that kept pulling me back. An AVP workshop is packed with interactive, immersion type experiences. It very successfully builds a sense of community and level of trust I have never experienced anywhere else before. It was the power of this community that drew me. I kept learning things about myself and changing, and even though it was challenging, everyone else was being challenged at some level at the same time. I was not alone.

I used to be afraid of doing anything that put me in a position of making mistakes in front of others. The first community workshop I helped facilitate was a baptism in fire. I made all kinds of mistakes, but the process worked so well that in spite of my mistakes, all of the participants grasped what we hoped they would. As one person said at the end of the workshop, “I realize now that non-violent resolution of conflict is inside everyone of us and what we need to do is reach down inside ourselves and pull it out.” I learned to trust the process, because it works.                          — Magical Miriam


Basic AVP Workshop – Plainfield Correctional Facility – January, 2017

AVP Indiana Training For Facilitators


Announcing the next Community T4F from AVP Indiana.

AVP Community Training 4 Facilitators – at West Richmond Friends Meeting.
9 am – 8 pm Saturday January 14th and , 9 am – 7 pm Sunday, January 15th.  Participants should have taken Basic and Advanced Workshops to participate.

Please sign up on website: under the Registration tab.

Contact for more information.