MCP in the News

This article was originally Posted https://oaklandnorth.net/2016/02/18/men-creating-peace-works-to-reduce-domestic-violence-in-alameda-county/

Each week, a large group of men meet Wednesdays and Saturdays at Berkeley’s Veterans Building and Oakland’s Laney College to discuss gender roles, anger management and domestic violence prevention.

Men Creating Peace (MCP) is one of the few domestic violence organizations in Alameda County specifically geared towards men. Founded in 2009, the organization aims to help men who’ve been involved in violent acts adopt coping mechanisms so that they can develop healthier relationships with partners, family and their community.

“We’re not a parenting class, we’re not an AA class. We’re a violence prevention class, and the men that we’re working with have agreed that they’re violent, and they want to stop,” said founder Devon Gaster.

Prior to launching MCP, Gaster worked in jails teaching the same methods in Sacramento, San Francisco and Marin County. Through years of experience practicing the 30-year-old Manalive Violence Prevention Program, founded by interventionist Hamish Sinclair, Gaster established the curriculum for Men Creating Peace.

“Every class starts with accountability,” said Gaster. “In the beginning of the first class, we ask the men to tell us why they’re here, and we ask them to be as specific as they can about what happened. How did they start their violence? How did their violence escalate? And how did they end their violence? ”

The program is made up of three stages that altogether last 52 weeks. Men who are 16 years or older and have issues with anger are referred to Men Creating Peace by the courts, agencies, clergies, therapists and even school counselors.

Gaster says he based the organization in Alameda County due to the economic downturn. Men who lived in the East Bay, couldn’t afford to travel to domestic violence classes in San Francisco or Marin County. “People were moving to Alameda County where it was less expensive to live, but they didn’t want to lose credits for the classes they had already gone to in San Francisco, so they just transferred into our program,” he said.

The organization differs from other programs due its focus on teaching men how not to fall victim to their egos or what they call the “male-role belief system,” which is the idea that men are superior to women and other men.

“There is always this competitiveness around men, and when that belief system gets challenged, when you get disrespected, when someone outdoes you, makes fun of you, or cuts you off on the freeway, it’s a challenge to the belief system. What are you going to do as a man? Are you going to stand up for yourself or are you going to let someone disrespect you? That’s a big challenge,” says Gaster.

When asked what is the most significant challenge men face upon entering the program, Gaster said “accountability.” It’s difficult for his students to accept responsibility for their actions without blaming their victim, he said. Once men accept accountability and graduate to later stages in the program, victims of domestic violence are brought to speak to the class. “We have stories of rape, we have stories of kidnapping … stories that victims tell when they come talk to the class,” said Gaster.

“Once students graduate to that second and third stage of the program, the resistance level has gone down. Their buy-in to the work has gone up. The awareness of their violence has gone up. The awareness of the impact of their violence has gone up and they’re more receptive to that kind of a story,” added Gaster.

Though Gaster said the program’s success rate is lower than he’d like, the men who do graduate often end up returning to teach or sit in on classes. Gaster hopes to expand his business even further, one day establishing a headquarters and even creating classes for couples and women.

Recent News

Devon at Day of Rememberance
13th Annual Day of Remembrance in Oakland, October 30, 2015

February 19, 2016 – Devon attended the February meeting of the Alameda County Father’s Corps and joined the organization. The event was held at the First Five of Alameda office in Alameda.
This was a lunch meeting of the Father’s Corps followed by a presentation by Vina Runnels from the Alameda County Department of Child Support Services about Father’s Rights and Responsibilities Child Support and Custody. There was also a presentation by Robert Ayasse LCSW PPSC from the School of Social Welfare at University of California Berkeley regarding the need for more men of color to pursue masters or doctoral degrees in Social Work. Both presentations were informative and helpful and it was a great networking opportunity. 

February 5, 2016  – Devon was on a panel of presenters at the First 5 of Alameda conference on The Effects of Domestic Violence on Children. Devon was joined by Susan Murray from Oakland Children’s Hospital and Will Yancy from Triumph Educational Center.

October 30, 2015 – Devon Gaster tabled and attended the 13th Annual Day of Remembrance Oakland CA. The event was presented by the Alameda County Family Justice Center and District Attorney Nancy O’Malley.

October 29, 2015 – Devon Gaster attended a conference on The Health and Social Service Needs of Older Adult Population in the Criminal Justice System. The event was hosted by the San Francisco Sheriff’s Department, University of California Division of Geriatrics and the Bayview Hunter’s Point Multipurpose Senior Services in San Francisco, CA.

October 23, 2015 – Devon Gaster attended the National Conference on Domestic Violence, Trauma and Mental Health in Oakland, CA. This event was organized by A Safe Place and included presenters and experts from throughout the United States.

October 6, 2015 Devon Gaster from Men Creating Peace and Cherri Allison from the Family Justice Center co-presented on Intimate Partner Violence to the Oakland Raiders Rookies for the National Football League’s Rookie Success Program.

October 3, 2015 – Devon Gaster attended an 8 hour Batterer’s Intervention Training at the Alameda Family Justice Center. The training was put on by Will Yancy and the staff at Triumph Educational Center.

September 25, 2015 – Presentation on Batterer’s Intervention Treatment for Building Futures 40 hour core training.

September 22, 2015 – MCP Fundraiser Tailgate BBQ at the Oakland A’s Game

August 24, 2015 – Devon Gaster from Men Creating Peace and Dr. Lisa Firestone from The Glendon Association, co-presented at the Institute on Violence Abuse and Trauma (IVAT), conference in San Diego, CA

August 15, 2015 – Devon Gaster tabled an event at the second annual Breaking the Cycle of Violence day at the El Shaddai Ministries located in San Lorenzo, CA.