Building Resilience

by Shirley Way
Ithaca Meeting


There have been great strides in trauma healing research in recent years and it has been exciting and empowering to incorporate the techniques and understandings into Alternatives to Violence Project workshops.


Nadine Hoover, working with many others, developed Creating Cultures of Peace, an AVP special topic series that takes participants through Transforming Power, Trauma Resilience, Conscience, Liberation and Discernment. See Nadine’s book, Creating Cultures of Peace: A Movement of Love and Conscience, 2018.

Since 2015, Karen Reixach (Keene MM, NEYM) and I, later joined by Trudy Buxenbaum (Poplar Ridge MM), together with the inside team at Cayuga Prison, have facilitated the AVP Trauma Resilience Workshop with newly trained facilitators as participants. This workshop is the most powerful and transformative in our toolbox. Prior to taking this workshop, the participants have completed three 21-hour workshops. Most understand Transforming Power and have begun to believe in its power, and they almost universally have begun to believe in their own power for good. Together we have done the work of building community in the group and each of us is cared-for by the group. This creates space for us to be our real selves, making space for healing.


AVP is not only for people who are incarcerated. It is for all of us. Practicing healing can build our resilience so that when confronted with what might otherwise be a traumatic event, we remain calm, alert, and capable, and we are not traumatized by the event.
Early in every workshop we draw our core selves—the source of our goodness, creativity, confidence, compassion, and courage. Our core selves become our safe place—a place we carry in us, always available, always true. So when we remember a traumatic event or experience what could be a traumatic event, instead of freezing or fleeing or fighting, we can remember to stay present in our core self, remaining calm and alert and connected. The more we can practice being present in our core selves, the more resilient we become. 


Following Hurricane Eta’s destructive path through Honduras and Guatemala, Val Liveoak of Friends Peace Teams’ Peacebuilding en las Americas asked Amanda Roberts to offer a one-day PRISE (Paraprofessionals with Resilience Intervention Skills and Education) training for bilingual AVP facilitators with the hope that we will be able to share the training with facilitators in Latin America. The practices are stunningly simple and seem to be able to rewire the brain so that the traumatic memory loses its power. It is very exciting and I look forward to incorporating the techniques into the AVP workshops that I am a part of.