Directions: The United Village is located at 215 Indiana Ave., Elkhart, IN 46516. Drive around to the back side of the building and pull into in the parking lot closest to the park. You will see the signs that say “The Village.”
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
History proves over and over that violence breeds more violence. Victims are traumatized by brutality — as are perpetrators, and the cycle is uninterrupted.
Yet, today ISIS terrorizes the Mideast and Europe, civilian jetliners are shot down in Ukraine and Sinai, mass shootings erupt even in “safe havens” like churches and elementary schools in the U.S. People of conscience everywhere are heartsick and looking for answers.
The Power of Nonviolence, by award-winning radio documentary producer David Freudberg, seeks deep solutions to this vexing problem. Voices of peacemakers are heard and their stories are uplifting. And we turn to wisdom teachings across our great spiritual traditions for guidance and inspiration. This is a powerful free resource. Please share with everyone.
In October, we held our second 3rd level AVP workshop at the Indianapolis Re-entry Educational Facility (IREF). The significance of the third level is that it trains participants to become facilitators of the workshop themselves. One of the beauties of the AVP model is that it grows its leaders from the ground up, empowering participants to transform themselves as they seek collectively to transform the violence they encounter and learn to channel their power into solving conflicts in creative and constructive ways. They learn by practicing and doing actual facilitation.
In this particular workshop, we trained eight new facilitators who will now begin their apprenticing. Two of the facilitators are from outside prison and six of the new facilitators are residents of IREF. At the end of the workshop, after each participant had concluded approximately 55 hours of workshop experience, I asked them to write a few words about their experience with AVP and what it has meant to them or how it has changed them.
I will share these responses one by one in separate posts and at the end, I will put all of the responses together on a page of Testimonials. As we continue to conduct these workshops and grow new facilitators, I will continue to ask the questions of participants and facilitators alike, “What have you learned? How have you changed? What does AVP mean to you?”
Below are the words of Dependable Dale. Dale did not attend this particular workshop because he was moved to a different facility, but without his help, this second Training for Facilitators workshop and all of the other workshops before it most likely would not have happened. He attended the first workshop we conducted at IREF in November 2013 and was one of the first group of inside facilitators in the state of Indiana. The program at IREF owes him a great debt of gratitude for his tireless organization, incessant recruiting, attention to detail, communication, and his inability to stop talking about and advocating for AVP once he saw how much it really worked. What I quote here are words I heard him say on multiple occasions.
“AVP has opened up a whole new world for me that I never knew existed. I used to think, where there is a will, there is a way, and I usually meant a violent way. Now I think that where there is a will, there is a non-violent way. I want to see AVP conducted in every prison in the state of Indiana. I want to see it in every half-way house, recovery center, community and school system in the state as well. And I will pursue my goals as long as I can take a breath.” –Dependable Dale