Tuesday, January 25, 2011

Something Huge

Inside Facilitator Leading AVP Exercise
 I haven't had much time for posting recently and fortunately that's because of many wonderful things going on, the most recent of which was an Alternatives to Violence Project (AVP) workshop that I co-facilitated this past weekend at Solano State Prison.  The current prompt for Every Day Matters is "Something Huge."  Something huge going on in many of the prisons (men's and women's) in California, and indeed throughout the United States and around the world, is this AVP work.  We are seeing real transformation taking place in the inmate population, as they learn skills to communicate and deal with anger rather than to react violently.

In AVP, outside volunteer facilitators join with inmate facilitators to form teams that put on a 22 hour workshop taking place over the span of 2-3 days.  A Basic Level workshop introduces exercises in affirmation, community building, communication, cooperation, problem solving, and conflict resolution.  The activities are fun and participatory, and work with groups of varying educational backgrounds and literacy skills.  The concepts and skills developed are useful for improving ALL interpersonal relations, whether they be for incarcerated people or within the family or n the workplace.

For incarcerated people, this is a huge opportunity to interact with people from different racial groups and different housing units, as well as with people from the outside.  You can't imagine what a difference this can make in their abilities to transform themselves and to break down interpersonal barriers.

This past weekend, I was involved with an Advanced Level workshop on a relatively low security yard where the participants were mainly lifers.  The Advance Level workshop builds on the skills gained in the Basic and introduces consensus-based decision making, through which the participants select a focus topic.  Our group chose Transformation and Change (and they wanted to include exercises on anger, fear, forgiveness, communication, and self-esteem).  It is so uplifting to be a part of this process. It makes it truly worth the amount of time and energy that one puts in as a volunteer, something much easier to do now that I am retired.

As far as the sketch goes, I tried to use some elements of gesture drawing to recreate some of the physical attitudes of the participants.  (Naturally, no photos are allowed inside a prison.)  I got a couple of the people fairly well, but others have eluded my drawing skill.  This is why we have to keep on practicing, right? Here we see an inside facilitator leading an exercise.  I have taken some liberties with who's in the groups, which posters are on which walls, and the layout of the classroom. Artistic license : )

Let there be peace on earth and let it begin with me.



Tahirih said...

Wonderful sketch, and what a wonderful thing to be involved with. You are an inspiration!

curiouscrow said...

What a great thing to be involved in. I think you did really well with your sketch - groups of figures are difficult to handle. You're so right, practise is how we learn to draw, but it's surprising how many people don't accept this

Sandra said...

Body language can speak so loudly. Good sketch.

raena said...

Wonderful sketch and wonderful project! I taught at an alternative school (troubled kids) and this sounds like the perfect thing for them!

Alex said...

Such a lovely sketch this is ^^

paulien maria said...

Great sketch and great story.