Alternatives to Violence & Rev. Jane in The Fig Tree

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Pastor Working in Prisons Finds Many Prisoners Seek Alternatives to Violence

“Many people in prison for life or serving long sentences want to escape the violence they experience there.  Many want to move outside the defensive bravado façade that living in a prison engenders.  Many want to avoid becoming abusive themselves.

Jane Simmons, who began as co-pastor at Unity Spiritual Center in Spokane in April 2015, has spent 16 years offering Alternatives to Violence Project (AVP) training programs in prisons in her native country of Canada as well as around the United States.  Now she is offering classes to train others who may be interested in being AVP facilitators.

Workshops help participants increase self-awareness, empathy and personal responsibility through techniques for interpersonal peacemaking and transforming conflict through community building, communication exercises and cooperative games.

In a 20-hour weekend in February, Jane and two facilitators led 10 people in a basic workshop, the first step to becoming facilitators. Members of the congregation and her husband and co-pastor, Gary, were among the participants.

She hopes to offer the program in Spokane-area prisons, similar to the one being offered at the Monroe Correctional Facility.”

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