Friends General Conference

Nurturing faith and Quaker practice

FULL: Alternatives to Violence (AVP) Basic Workshop

Workshop Number: 
Kathy Ossmann, Joe Ossmann
Who may register?: 
Open to all adults and high school
Experiential Activities: 
only full time attenders (participants should attend all week)

Alternatives to Violence Project (AVP) uses experiential activities to empower us to more effectively practice peace personally, in community, and globally. Learnings come through direct experience and draw on the shared wisdom of participants and facilitators This will be a classic though slightly shortened Basic workshop.

Workshop Description

Since its inception in 1975 (in which Quakers participated), AVP has provided an avenue for many Friends to live out their peace testimony. Its approach is built on spiritual concepts expressed in universal terms meaningful to people of many faiths and no faith. There are three AVP workshops: Basic, Advanced and Training for Facilitators. This is an AVP Basic workshop in which we will:

  • Develop a common language and understanding of confilct and violence
  • Explore the building blocks of AVP - affirmation of self and others, communication, cooperation/community building, and conflict resolution
  • Address each person's own connection to conflict
  • Understand the role of community in conflict resolution
  • Learn creative conflict resolution strategies
  • Practice personal and group transformation

During the process we all learn more about ourselves, each other and how much we have in common. The skills and attitudes addressed in the workshop are applicable to all of us as we seek to have cooperative, respectful relationships with people in our lives. 

In this workshop, we will use the shared experience of participants, interactive exercises, games and role-plays to examine the ways in which we respond to situations where distress, injustice, prejudice, frustration and anger can lead to aggressive behavior and violence.

Activities in the AVP basic workshop follow a specific roadmap that is the foundation of practical peace work: set simple cooperative agreements, get to know each other, practice affirming self and others, develop communication skills, experience cooperative community building, learn from past experieces and explore creative ways to resolve disputes.

An AVP workshop can help you to:

  • manage strong feelings such as grief, anger and fear
  • deal more effectively with risk and danger
  • build good relationships with other people
  • communicate well in difficult situations
  • recognize the skills you already have and learn new ones
  • be true to yourself while respecting other people
  • understand why conflict happens
  • achieve insight into family experiences 

AVP has spread from one prison in New York State to over 30 states and 45 countries. It has been shown to be effective and empowering with youth, men and women; those who are incarcerated; ex-combatants and marginalized groups.

We will follow an AVP format of exercises which include individual, dyad, small group and whole group activities. The workshop is active so please wear comfortable clothes and shoes.

Leader Experience

Kathy and Joe were trained as AVP facilitators almost 20 years ago in California. Since then they have facilitated numerous workshops in prisons and communities. Currently they are reviving the AVP program in Michigan and lead monthly workshops at the Muskegon Correctional Facility.

In addition to our experience as AVP facilitators both of us have been trained in facilitation skills and led meetings and retreats in our work life. In California we also served on numerous facilitation teams for church and meeting retreats. One that was particularly fun was a family camp for which we led a team that designed and led a retreat based on "The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe". We have not yet led a workshop at the Gathering.