AVP facilitators often speak of each other as family. The team for the fall 2020 workshop is a wonderfully diverse and enthusiastic clan.
Tre is a high school teacher, with experience in yoga, legal studies, and the military who came to AVP several years ago. “AVP has given me very specific and concrete tools to improve the way I facilitate small group discussions about challenging topics. More fundamentally, AVP was a huge step in developing my compassion for self and others. My most powerful AVP experience was my first prison workshop. I walked in with prejudices about people in prison and the mentality that I was going in to “help” these men. I walked out with profound gratitude for these men who had welcomed me, shown me true compassion, and been more “real” with me than I almost ever find on the outside. That workshop radically changed my perspectives and my self-perception – for the better! And every workshop has strengthened and deepened my commitment to that path.”
Having a heart for the least of God’s children led Sylvia into prison ministry. Prison ministry led her into Madison Prison and her first Alternatives to Violence Program (AVP) workshop. That was the beginning of Sylvia’s AVP relationship that has continued for many years to this present day. Sylvia has brought AVP into the community and her prison ministry has grown in the intermediate and advanced courses of AVP. Sylvia is excited about continuing with AVP in the era of COVID19 and to all the bright lights that will come into the Basic AVP workshop.
Latwan served 12 years and 3 months in IDOC. During that time he struggled with the guilt, the shame, and all of the pain that he brought on himself, his family and his community. During that time he participated in an AVP workshop. “It wasn’t work. I started to see myself as a person. My value was returning to me. The support, encouragement, and connectivity gave me tools within myself to heal. Who knew that would put me on a path to become a facilitator. Recognizing that I am so much more than my mistake breathed new life into me.” Today, Latwan’s passion is breaking barriers and building new relationships. Whether as a caterer serving the construction crew he once worked with or as an AVP facilitator, Latwan enjoys learning new skills and is committed to nurturing love, connectivity/community, and down right enjoyment.
Jana, now a resident of Richmond, Indiana, helped introduce AVP in Ohio’s prisons and has facilitated workshops in Tennessee and Indiana communities. She is excited to have time to be active in AVP again. She always receives so much from workshop participants and is thrilled to be part of the effort to re-activate workshops at the Dayton facility where she participated in her first prison workshop. She is an educator and advocate who serves on the Board of the American Friends Service Committee and until recently was the Director of Community Engagement at Earlham College.
Margaret raised her son in Richmond and has recently returned after 15 years living on the East coast. During that time she became addicted to AVP, facilitating in New York prisons and Central America. “People often praise me for volunteering, but I am really doing this for myself. In every workshop, someone says something that is exactly what I need to hear. That’s what I love about AVP: people who may be very different on the outside share their common humanity, each learning from the other.”
The fall 2020 workshop is designed to be Covid-Cautious, bringing together the best of both in-person and on-line workshops. We will begin by meeting each other out-doors with masks for two sessions on one Saturday. The pavilion at Quaker Hill has room to spread out and a large roof to protect us from the elements. The 10 am to 5 pm time frame allows participants to travel from 100+ miles and still make it a one-day event. We look forward to meeting everyone in person, but are prepared to move that first session onto Zoom if conditions dictate. Subsequent sessions will be on Zoom, reducing the need to travel and recognizing that temperatures will be dropping as the fall progresses.
If you would like to try a sneak preview of a workshop or sign up for the Basic, please signup on our registration page.
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: https://www.in.gov/idoc/3780.htm
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
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.
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 https://www.regonline.com/registration/Checkin.aspx?EventId=2022849 or visit http://avpusaconference.org/ for more information. Follow us on Facebook for updates and reminders!
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! https://avpindiana.org/registration
Promote the Workshop on Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/events/217079932173129/
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
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: avpindiana.org under the Registration tab.
Contact email@example.com for more information.