The Alternatives to Violence project is a group of local organizations (of which AVP Indiana is one) that exist solely for the purpose of conducting experiential workshops in conflict resolution. These local groups are supported by regional groups and a national organization – AVP USA. AVP facilitators are all volunteers and expect that participants in the workshops are volunteers as well. Each workshop strives to create a sense of community that is safe and caring enough to allow individuals to do the reflection necessary to bring about real change in their lives. Although AVP was begun by Quakers, it is not a religious organization, and participants and facilitators are welcome from all age groups, socioeconomic backgrounds, religions (including no religion), ethnicity, and sexual orientation.
AVP workshops are experiential and include exercises and games. We learn by doing, practicing techniques, and reflecting on what we experience, how we feel, and how our past experiences contribute to the conflicts we encounter daily. It is lively, fun, and can be life-changing. Workshops are between 18-22 hours in length and occur over the course of two or three days (usually a weekend). This allows time for true community building to take place.
There are three levels of workshops. The first level or Basic workshop includes exercises on affirmation, cooperation and communication, community building, and conflict resolution skills. It introduces participants to the key concept of Transforming Power, the underlying philosophy of AVP. The second level or Advanced workshop includes many of the components of the basic workshop, but empowers the group through consensus to choose a topic that the group wishes to examine more deeply, usually something that prevents or blocks their ability to solve conflicts nonviolently. Some examples of topics chosen are anger, fear, relationships, power, gender, healing, forgiveness, etc. The third level workshop is the Training for Facilitators (T4F) workshop in which participants learn to become facilitators themselves, learn about team building, and lead practice sessions.
AVP Indiana is currently the only local AVP group in the state. It was started in 2004 by Stan Zarowin, who conducted workshops in New York state for over 30 years. After Stan retired in 2009, no AVP group operated in the state until AVP Indiana was revived in 2012 by Miriam Bunner, Kirsten Bunner, and Aaron Nell. We are now currently located in Richmond, Indiana, with facilitators in Indianapolis, Richmond, Kentucky, and Ohio.