Transforming Power and Discernment Workshop, Oslo Norway 5-7 May 2017

Yousif Badawi was so pleased with his experience at the Discernment Workshop at AVP-International in Ireland in 2014 that he persistently encouraged AVP-Norway to bring the workshop to Norway.

Written by Nadine Hoover

Yousif began doing AVP in Sudan, then brought his skills to Norway. We are grateful to his tireless encouragement, and sorry his current night job did not allow him to join the team. Instead, he asked that Sjur Nesbø from Stord get the opportunity to practice with the team, along with Chro Borhan and Odilia Haussler Melbøe from Oslo.

Kristine Hofseth Hovland coordinated the event and supported it as director of Quaker Service Norway. The logistics, facilities, supplies and support for the workshop went beautifully. The first day we gathered at the Quaker Center and the second and third days at the Peace House in Oslo. Anke Stumper, a German Buddhist, worked with Kristine to provide glorious and lovely meals of vegetables, fruits, hummus, tabouli, edible tulips and other delicious foods.

On Thursday evening Yousif Badawi and Kristine Hofseth Hovland and team members met at Grønland Quaker Centre in Olso for dinner. Then Nadine Hoover, Chro Borhan, Odilia Haussler Melbøe and Sjur Nesbø did our team building:

  • Welcome: guided silence and stopping
  • Gathering: Name, time with AVP, favorite color & why: fire colors, budding green, sunshine yellow & red.
  • Why I want to be an AVP facilitator, especially for this workshop: practice in our own lives, recover from war and refugee experiences, bridge across wide-spanning family cultures and do amazing, transformative work.
  • My strengths and how I can help the team and my weaknesses and how the team can help me: strong team.
  • Games: Pass the Dance and Slo-Mo Tag
  • Hidden Agendas: getting to know each other across AVP, HIPP, Quakers and locations around Norway.
  • Game: My Bonnie Lies Over the Ocean
  • Agenda: confirmed the agenda we want to do, but changed the second gathering.
  • Assignments: shared activities as much as possible.
  • Closing: comments about the team and session, and one gift for the group.

Nadine Hoover speaking on Cultures of Peace at the Peace House (Fredshuset) in Oslo. Photo: Yousif Badawi

On Friday, we began with seven hours of time in session to go through our updated approach to Transforming Power in the Basic AVP Workshop including:

  1. Opening with our Positive Adjective Names, greeting one another with these names, and affirming a power for good that I have is… and remembered all the names in pairs. We played the blanket game to help remember names as well.
  2. We considered extensions to the AVP approach:
  • Respect everyone’s goodness, capabilities and beauty.
  • Respect the earth’s beauty and generous abundance.
  • Commit to personal change in private and public life.
  • Value commonality and diversity.
  • Everyone’s journey is different; include all ages and backgrounds.
  • Act as both learner and teacher; follower and leader.
  • Focus on learning, not religion or therapy.
  • Learn through experience, reflection and expression.
  • Discern decisions together based on what rings true.
  • Participate voluntarily, not required or coerced.
  • Practice! Be joyful, playful, curious, awestruck, surprised, creative, hospitable, and loving.
  1. Then we considered extension of the AVP Roadmap in which we notice Friendships and Agreements as the foundation of community building; how the stages of trauma recovery of safety, remembering and reconnection parallel AVP’s roadmap of affirmation, communication and cooperation; and additions we’ve made to flesh out how to overcome prejudice and base our cooperative thinking and decision-making based on conscience and a consensus of conscience:
  • Friendship & Agreements
  • Affirmation & Safety
  • Communication & Remembering
  • Cooperation & Reconnection
  • Confidence & Equality
  • Conviction & Simplicity
  • Transformation & Discernment
  • Direction & Settlement
  1. We introduced expanded AVP Cooperative Agreements based on our practice and use of them:
  • Affirm self and others; no put downs or put ups.
  • Stop, listen, don’t interrupt.
  • Speak simply and honestly, without fear of mistakes.
  • Share one’s own stories, not others’ without permission.
  • Make friends not enemies, with people similar & different from oneself.
  • Ask for and give help, feedback and hospitality.
  • Call for play or silence, as needed.
  • Tend emotion, then speak directly when in dispute.
  • Use what’s needed and share the rest.
  • Use one’s rights to pass and to consultation.
  • Volunteer oneself only, not others.
  • Care for each person, the group, community and land.
  • Live in integrity with life’s transforming power.

We agree to not put people up or put them on pedestals or to elevate some, because this can be a hidden self-put-down, way of distancing ourselves from someone, or excuse for not doing the right work ourselves. We do not need to rank people against one another, and when we put people up it won’t be long before someone begins to knock them down.

We added «stop» to the agreement «listen, don’t interrupt,» because to be guided by transforming power is to be inwardly guided. The difference between acting out of inspiration or out of distress is that distress cannot stop or respond to external feedback. So we regularly practice stopping, and stopping our bodies and minds is essential to turn our attention to listening.

«Speak simply and honestly, without fear of mistakes,» required some editing–without fear of retribution, with curiosity about differences, and so forth. Simply here meaning directly.

«Share one’s own stories, not others’ without permission» substitutes for the AVP agreement to confidentiality without the agreement to keeping secrets about matters so disturbing they intrude and become part of my story.

«Ask for and give help, feedback and hospitality,» «use one’s rights to pass and to consultation» and «call for play or silence, as needed» make agreements among facilitators common to all participants (to exchange feedback, ask for consultation, silence or play when needed), as well as balancing giving and receiving.

We discussed a few additional advanced agreements, which everyone understood and agreed to accept the final one, «integrity» and «life’s transforming power» needed more explanation, so we added them to the Unanswered Questions sheet:

  • Make friends not enemies, with people similar & different from oneself..
  • Tend emotion, then speak directly when in dispute.
  • Use what’s needed and share the rest.
  • Care for each person, the group, community and land.
  • Live in integrity with life’s transforming power.
  1. We played Big Wind Blows asking the person in the center to say something true about herself that helps introduce herself to the group or helps her get to know the others in the group. We noticed how being able to sit anywhere in the group with anyone in the group balances the community.
  2. We then drew our core selves and learned how to extend good listening to be good companions, staying relaxed and non-anxious in our own core self while remembering the goodness and capabilities of our partner’s core self as we listen well. We also practice discharging emotions such as grief, fear, anger and apathy, letting it go out of the body while receiving good attention from a companion; and how to give good listening, attention and companionship when the other person is emotional.
  3. We brainstormed Violence and Nonviolence, and using the Storytelling Protocol (where did it happen, what happened, how did it feel and when was it over, at least for now) we told stories of violence we have experienced ourselves while practicing being good companions as we listened. We also told stories where we were able to resolve a situation nonviolently when it could have gone violently. Then we studied the stories of nonviolence to identify the pivotal moments (turning points) and the factors in those moments that made the situation go towards nonviolence instead of violence.
  4. We also played Sun and Umbrella to see how when we are comfortable with some people, but not others in a group it creates group dynamics that can appear to be conflict or confusion: separating into groups, running in circles not wanting to stop, or standing in a line not wanting anyone to move. We often don’t understand why the group is behaving this ways so we may create reasons for it.

On Saturday morning we explored how we experience transforming power, and how to cultivate confidence and conviction in transforming power in order to rely on it in our daily lives. We sat in a circle using the Gathering for Sharing (AVP Advanced Manual it is called Claremont Dialog) format, and each spoke about how I experience and rely on transforming power in our daily lives, building our confidence in it.

Then we gathered in groups of four using the Companion Group format, and each of us took time to speak about how we experience transforming power in the hard times, when we fail, fall short, are inadequate or become the perpetrator. Finally we took some time to consider how to experiment with what we need to have or let go of in our daily lives in order to stay aware of and rely on transforming power in every moment. We introduced how important journals or logs are for experiments and gave people time to consider the implications of each activity for changes in our lives.

During the day we also played I Have the Ball, Slo Mo Tag (from AVP-Korea), and other games and ate wonderful food together.

On Saturday afternoon, we did Breakthrough to notice what stands in our way of doing the right thing, and what inner strengths we have to overcome those obstacles. We realized how not relying on transforming power is directly related to our own insecurities, often from when we were young, that we can overcome. We then showed an example of how to give feedback to one another on insights we believe are true for ourselves. We listened as good companions; mirrored back (reflected) what we heard when asked to do so, using the person’s words as closely as possible and focusing on what seemed to be the central point(s); and gave feedback when asked to do so.

We learned that just hearing our own words back can sound totally different in our brains. Do this, give the person time to let it sink in, and see if that is enough for the moment. The speaker may shift and ask their companions to mirror back again. When ready, the speaker may make a statement of what they believe to be true and ask for feedback. The listeners focus on one thing: Do I sense the transforming power in some or all of the statement? We do not talk about it, or say what we like, think, agree with, or understand. Simply, do we sense the transforming power in some or all of it?

Friday and Saturday were two of Norway’s warmest, most beautiful days of the year. It was almost a Norwegian crime to stay indoors as we did, so we closed a bit early on Saturday to catch a few rays of sun and sat outside for dinner together that evening before going home or going to sit on the top of the Opera Building to catch the last rays.

On Sunday, we practiced in companion groups sharing the time equally, making statements of insights or practices we have found to stay aware of and rely on transforming power in our lives and to ask for and offer reflection and feedback.

Then we did a new version of picture sharing and realized how complicated collective discernment can be. Nadine pointed out that from experience collective discernment changes totally after people commit to experimenting with transforming power in their lives, supporting each other in companion groups and testing each other’s discernment through reflection and feedback. So try that first, then revisit seeking direction or settle disputes collectively based on discernment.

The time was too short, but everyone seemed to greatly enjoy the workshop. While Kristine and Yousif cleaned up, the team debriefed the workshop for two hours, then prepared a three hour session to do with AVP and HIPP facilitators on Tuesday.

Categories: Fredsarbeid, Kvekerhjelp