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Workshop aims to stem violence

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People tend to deal with conflict either by avoiding it or fighting. But neither is productive, says Shannon Richmond, a volunteer with the Alternatives to Violence Project, and both approaches can lead to violence.

Everyone has the capacity for violence, she says, but they also have the ability to learn techniques that resolve conflict and adversity and build meaningful, healthy relationships with family members, friends, neighbors, and co-workers.

That's the essence of the three-day workshop running from Friday, April 22, through Sunday, April 24, and hosted by the MK Gandhi Institute at 929 South Plymouth Avenue. The event is free, though donations are welcome. To register, contact: mariehickey@riseuup.net.

The Alternatives to Violence Project is an international grassroots organization committed to reducing violence in every aspect of society, including violence against communities, the homeless, families, and in the prison system. The project is run almost entirely by volunteers.

Violence comes in many different forms, Richmond says, and it's not just physical. The main concept of the workshops is to learn how to convert a negative situation into a positive one, she says; it's what workshop facilitators refer to as "transferring power."

The change begins inside each person, she says, and not with others.

"AVP starts by working on the internal piece within each of us, which has a ripple effect and extends to the larger society," Richmond says. "Not only do we have the capacity for nonviolence in the future, but all of us have already done it. Each of us has solved problems through nonviolence, but we're not always aware of how we did it."

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