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
In April, AVP Indiana was invited to Berea, Kentucky to facilitate a Basic (1st level) AVP workshop. One of our original group of apprentice facilitators is a Kentucky native and has been working for the last several years to regenerate interest in AVP. This spring, Steve was successful in organizing a group of local Quakers from Berea Friends Meeting to attend a workshop held on the campus of Berea College. It was a beautiful spring weekend, with the trees beginning to leaf and the mountains beckoning in the distance.
Our facilitation team consisted of me, Steve, and Arnold, who was a new apprentice from South Carolina, looking for an opportunity to gain experience. I had never met Arnold before the Friday evening of the workshop, so team building that first evening was crucial. Also, I had not facilitated a community workshop since the fall of 2012 and I knew it would be a different experience than my prison workshops.
Fortunately, the weekend proved to be a great learning experience for all of us. As a facilitation team, we learned how to smooth out some or our own rough spots and became aware of issues that we, ourselves, needed to work on. Personally, I learned to be more sensitive to the needs of the participants. We tried an exercise I had never done, or seen done before, and it generated some strong emotions among the participants. In the evaluation process, I received really good, critical feedback that will help me facilitate the exercise better in the future.
I also discovered that I have come a long way from my former, introverted, conflict-avoiding self. When conflict arose in several instances, I was able to handle them with a great sense of calm. Transforming Power was truly present, because I knew exactly what to do without thinking. It reminded me that the AVP process works and that we can trust it. It was a superb beginning to a new AVP presence in Kentucky!