We went to Brillo Nuevo this time to host an Alternatives to Violence Project (AVP) Training for Facilitators workshop. This session had 13 participants from 6 native communities in the Ampiyacu area and four facilitators. It was encouraging this many people who had completed the Basic and Advanced workshops wanted to become a facilitator.
Our lead team led the first morning that featured a typical intro session and each element’s purpose. These included a basic intro to AVP, an agenda preview, adjective name game, community agreements, listening exercise, “light and lively,” and evaluation.
A key feature of AVP are adjective names which include one’s first name and an adjective beginning with the first letter or sound of the name that is a positive quality that may be inspirational or aspirational. My common adjective names are Courageous Campbell (for workshops in English) and Campbell Creativo (for workshops in Spanish).
Community agreements are another foundation of AVP workshops. Our brainstorm produced many standards: “Respect oneself and others,” “Don’t speak bad about yourself or others,” “Be punctual,” “Don’t interrupt when someone else is speaking,” “Respect confidentiality,” “We all have the right to reserve or express our opinion,” “Don’t volunteer others,” “Participate, but don’t speak too often or too long.” They are common-sense phrases, but they have a profound impact on individual and group attitudes and behavior when faithfully applied.
During our first sample AVP workshop at Brillo Nuevo, several people starting crying just considering the implications of these agreements. They were so frustrated that their community meetings always started late and often included people yelling with little true listening or making well-considered decisions. Since our AVP program began here in late 2018, there has been a small increase in the civility of these gatherings.
Our opening session included the classic Concentric Circles exercise where people take turns sharing their response to a thoughtful question with a partner who just listens.
Listening exercise in AVP Training for Facilitators at Brillo Nuevo
Community agreements at AVP Training for Facilitators workshop
Bora woman at AVP Training for Facilitators workshop at Brillo Nuevo
"While concepts like punctuality, mutual respect, no put downs of self or others, and listening when someone else is speaking may seem like obvious guidelines to form a positive community, a commitment to actually practice and hold each other accountable to observe these agreements is profound in a culture where showing up late, malicious gossip, and interrupting a speaker are painfully common."
"Artisan facilitators should of course share what they know, but beginning and experienced artisans all benefit by remaining humble, enthusiastic about learning, and committed to encourage and affirm their fellow artisans. So many artisans said that the thing they most wanted to bring back to their communities was this spirit of working in a mutually supportive environment."
"Both men and women wore garb made with bleached llanchama tree bark painted with graphic figures from Bora clans. Several wore headdresses made with the feathers from macaws and parrots. They discussed the importance of nature and craft-making in their culture and then launched into a lively dance where the men chanted and pounded sticks into the ground to the rhythm of moving around in a circle. Visitors joined the undulating lines to share the vibrant energy."