Violence and aggression can be physical, psychological, emotional or verbal. They can make themselves known in our feelings, thoughts and interactions. They are often a major obstacle to communicating effectively with one another. Our experience of violence and aggression can limit our self-esteem, our capacity for joy and our sense of community.
AVP promotes a uniquely effective way of responding to conflict through self-development workshops that are fun and innovative. Each session is an individually empowering experience that provides opportunities for change and is as unique as the individuals who compose it. Building upon participants’ own experiences, workshop exercises provide opportunities for participants to develop skills for enhancing self-esteem, increasing communication, and promoting a sense of community.
AVP workshops develop basic conflict resolution skills. Exercises focus on:
Affirmation: Building self-esteem and trust.
Communication: Improving both listening skills and assertive methods of expression.
Cooperation: Developing cooperative attitudes that avoid competitive conflicts.
Community Building: Developing mutual support within the group.
Creative conflict resolution: Opening to the possibility of surprising win-win solutions.
The Alternatives to Violence Project began in 1975. An inmate group at Green Haven Prison, New York, was working with youth gangs and teenagers-at-risk and having difficulty conveying the consequences of violence. They sought help from the New York Quaker Meeting in creating an experiential workshop.
The inital workshop was so successful that requests were received for more, and AVP was born and quickly grew. It soon became evident that the program designed for prison inmates could be useful to everyone. Community people began to seek the training.
AVP currently conducts many workshops each year in California communities and prisons, as well as across the U.S. and other countries.
Through an international network of local chapters, the Alternatives to Violence Project (AVP) offers workshops for those who would like to reduce the level of unresolved conflict in their lives. AVP offers Basic, Advanced, and Training-for-Facilitator Workshops. Those who are new to AVP are required to start at the Basic level; once completed, they are welcome to take as many Advanced workshops as they like, before deciding whether they would like to move on to be facilitators themselves. Basic workshops follow a relatively standard format; Advanced workshops will differ based on each group of participants. All workshops are fast-paced and entirely experiential, weaving together interactive exercises, facilitated discussions, role plays, humor, and games. AVP Los Angeles currently runs workshops in communities and prisons around the Greater Los Angeles area.
AVP's mission is to build a movement of creative conflict resolution by empowering communities through individual and collective transformation. This idea of transformation, in AVP termed "Transforming Power," is at the heart of AVP's philosophy.