Men Creating Peace (MCP), began holding classes in March of 2007 at Laney College in downtown Oakland. Laney College was supportive of MCP’s efforts to launch a new kind of violence prevention program and allowed us to rent classroom space at a reduced rate for the first few months. MCP also offered a reduced student rate for any Laney students who needed services for intimate partner violence or anger management.
The Alameda County Probation Department requires Violention Prevention Programs to be in operation for at least a year before they can begin the process of becoming a certified provider and receive referrals. Many individuals provided encouragement to MCP throughout the process of qualifying for and obtaining certification and supported MCP for their use of the Manalive curriculum (group process of holding each other accountable, retelling story and identifying root causes of violence).
MCP received referrals via word of mouth, therapists, victim advocate groups and organizations in the local community, including the Alameda Domestic Violence Collaborative, as well as people who were relocating to the East Bay from other programs. Offering the first class at no charge to the participant has always been an effective way to introduce the curriculum to a prospective client, so they can see for themselves how the process works, before making the committment.
In 2010 MCP became a certified Court-Mandated Batterer’s Treatment and Anger Management/Intervention Program by the Alameda County Probation Department and began receiving referrals directly from the courts. With the increase in the number of participants MCP opened a second class at Laney College expanding the program with a separate combined 2nd stage class and 3rd stage class.
In 2012 MCP began to invite survivors of violence to share their stories with the men in the program. Through this process these courageous survivors have helped the men develop a deeper sense of empathy and compassion for the survivor’s experience. Many of the men have shared that the Survivor Impact groups were the most powerful and life changing classes they attended during the entire program.
In 2013 MCP opened a third class in Berkeley on Saturday mornings at the Options Recovery Services. This class enabled participants who were attending Options to take anger management and violence prevention classes for a reduced cost. MCP was also able to offer classes in another area of Alameda County and this gave participants the opportunity to attend Saturdays instead of week nights.
MCP further expanded the program in 2013 by offering conflict resolution and anger management classes in the San Francisco County Jail’s Re-entry dormitory.
In 2014 MCP began teaching classes to men in San Quentin State Prison who are nearing completion of their sentences. These classes are offered through the “Insight Prison Project”. Participants can receive credit for Anger Management or Domestic Violence groups that may be required as a condition of their probation or parole.
In 2014 MCP has been invited for the second year in a row to speak at the International Violence, Abuse and Trauma Conference that is held annually in San Diego. Both Devon Gaster and Kevin Penn will speak at the upcoming conference to share their work and experiences with men who have been incarcerated in prison or county jails.
Devon Gaster has been a member of the Alameda Domestic Violence Collaborative since 2007.