Here’s a thumbnail sketch of the A.V.P.-based process, followed by a sample agenda:
Note: Formats can be tailored in infinite ways to suit particular needs, used as a framework for
other beneficial curricula, etc.:
Co-Facilitation - Everyone is invited to be a co-facilitator… In A.V.P, proper, a team is assigned
to run a workshop. This involves “team-building” to facilitate consensus on an ideal agenda for
each “session.” People with more group experience may find themselves in the “lead
facilitator” role, but as skills strengthen this will diminish. Some members in your community
will likely choose to step right up, some may never… I’ve never seen such enthusiastic
involvement with any process as I have with A.V.P. Another approach – best when time is
limited – is to have volunteers rotate facilitation of exercises.
Co-Facilitate with the attitude of:
Everyone’s a star!
Everyone has unique and precious bits of illumination!
Each “little light” shining makes the journey easier for the rest of us!
[These include life experiences, insights, healing tools, creative offerings, etc.]
When our wisdom comes through as an offering in this way, it gains us benefit as well…
This creates tremendous buy-in!
Ask for Agreement on Ground Rules or “Cooperative Agreements”:
Look for and affirm one another’s good points
Refrain from putdowns of ourselves or others (even jokes)
Listen without interruption
Don’t speak too often or too long (K.I.S.S. – Keep It Short & Simple)
Volunteer only yourself (and your own personal information)
Everyone has the right to pass
Can we agree to this? Ask if anyone else wants to add something they need…
The Basis of the Alternatives to Violence Project (A.V.P.) format is: Transforming Power (T.P.)
One definition of Transforming Power could be:
“Healing is a thought by which two [or more] minds
perceive their Oneness and become glad.”
- A Course in Miracles
Create the format:
Building on that transformative (T.P.) foundation,
we create a safe and enjoyable space to grow ourselves and our community.
This takes a thoughtfully constructed agenda,
with a progression of exercise types…
(A.V.P. manuals offer tons or find &/or create your own!)
Exploration of Transforming Power
Ever Increasing Depth of Sharing
Interspersed with Playful “Light & Livelies” to Balance Intensity
Skill Development & Sense of Unity
(Genuine Community Circle!)
Examples of Simple Exercises:
Affirmation – Affirmation Whip: Everyone in turn mentions one positive trait they possess.
Communication – Dyads where each takes 2 minute turn “Something I’ve overcome is…”
Cooperation – Small groups build something with newspaper and masking tape. They
describe their process and creation. Debrief
Trust – Trust Walk: People take turns touring their blindfolded partner over & around
Increase Depth of Sharing – Facilitators model by going deep into their own personal realms
Light & Lively – “Mrs. Mumbly”: People take turns asking around the circle (to the person
on their left, e.g.) “Have you seen Mrs. Mumbly?” (& related questions), but show no
Conflict Resolution – Hand Push: Partners, numbered 1 & 2, are hand to hand, ask #1s to
push on #2s – notice how 2s react. Back in circle debrief. (Generally #2s push back.)
Exercises come in all sizes and complexities. A simple exercise, debriefed well, can provide
incredible bounty. The idea is to create an atmosphere where everyone is invited to dig into
the experience, and share insights with everyone else. It’s an atmosphere that says “There’s no
expert” and “We’re all experts”, simultaneously. If you feel inspired to share gems of wisdom
derived from your education as a healer, you may be amazed at how much more palatable this
format makes them.
Debrief typically means: Ask open ended questions… “What did you notice? How did that
feel? What did that remind you of? How does that relate to your life?”, etc. And go deeper any
time you sense there’s more to an answer.
A sample agenda on AVP for a mental health setting:
[Note the progression of exercises. Longer sessions always start with “a gathering” followed by
an exercise or two, a “light and lively,” another exercise or two, and a “closing.” Affirmation
and communication exercises create a “safe container” for digging deep and/or practicing new
Alternatives to Violence Project (A.V.P.)
Sample Agenda - Approximately 2.5 - 3 hours
(Time varies based on number of participants)
Intro to AVP - Some history, philosophy, testimonial…
Gathering (go ‘ round question): “One great idea about how to make this place more
like heaven is…” &.. as the light of attention passes around the circle… Also do…
Affirm-ductions: Each in turn introduces & shares a positive aspect of the next person
Heart Circle: A common ground exercise. We stand in a circle and I ask a series of
questions starting with “Who loves…”
Those “who love…” step into the center of the circle. We all look at them, they look at us
and each other, and then step back.
Questions go from simple and easy… i.e. “Who loves…Rock & Roll Music?”… to more
challenging… “Who loves… Someone who seems bent on self-destruction?” Debrief
Blind Faith: All are blindfolded and mill until they find a partner (facilitator assists.) In
turn, everyone finishes the statement… “Things I have faith in…” Debrief
Light & Lively: Earth Quake – You’ll see! (playful game in one of the manuals)
Problems in the Pond: Anonymous personal dilemmas are written on index cards
(with non-dominant hand?) and collected in the “pond” (A big blue bowl). If anyone has
a very pressing issue, they can star theirs. Volunteers pick from the bowl, read the card
as if it were their own issue, and offer their best thinking. Once the volunteer is done,
others can chime in.
I-Message Maze: (An assertiveness skills building exercise) Conflict situations are
collected on index cards (one or two per participant)… and a large grid is laid out on the
floor. People take turns practicing “I-message or feeling statements” in the various
conflict situations while trying to make their way through the physical maze. The group
gives feedback about whether or not they sense the “statement” would increase or
decrease a conflict.
Evaluation: Ask folks for their feelings and suggestions about the exercises. Do your
best to let the community itself improve exercises and guide future agendas
Closing: Gift Bouquet (We turn to the person to left or right and say what kind of flower
or plant they remind us of and why…)