We support AVP in Auckland and The Bay of Plenty, actively involved in peace and social justice in our community and region. Rosie is learning the in-depth training for creating cultures of peace, and learning to speak Maori. Liz serves as the World Beyond War Aotearoa/New Zealand Co-ordinator, and received the 2017 Sonja Davies Peace Award. Esther Cowley-Malcolm supports AVP with Pacific communities, Samoan returnees, church ministers and NGO representatives, and with villagers in Samoa to lead their own AVP workshops in Samoa. She also conducts brainwave workshops in prisons among men and women prisoners, teen parent units, schools, organisations, professional and community groups. Esther produced a game app called Play Kindly that giving parents concrete strategies to address aggression in children, rather than resort to violent responses. It also gives explanations to the responses along with animated scenarios to help parents address these concerns.
We struggle with getting participants and building momentum in a busy society. The Alternatives to Violence Project name carries negative connotations for some community people. It’s difficult to synchronize time and effort in a society that reinforces compensated positions in the workforce.
In 2018, two of us travelled from Auckland to Samoa to join a local Alternatives to Violence Project (AVP) facilitator, who had trained in California, to get AVP started in Samoa by completing a basic, advanced and training for facilitators. We trained fourteen Samoan apprentice facilitators. Ten new workshops are being planned with funding received from CSSP (Civil Society South Pacific). We run workshops with diverse groups: professionals, lay people, employed, unemployed, single, married, various religions, ethnicity and gender. We also work with ex-inmates in NZ and Samoa. Esther continues to offer Brainwave Workshops and develop her Kindly Play app. Rosie and Liz dedicate themselves to conscientious objection to war and establishing a public culture of peace.