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Name: Hassle/Parallel Line

Time: Minimum 15 minutes

Goal or purpose of the exercise:

To give people an opportunity to solve a hassle or conflict using nonviolence. To practice what it feels like to be in both roles in a conflict. This is a good introductory exercise for many situations.

How it's done/facilitator's notes:

The facilitator asks people to form two rows of an equal number of people facing one another (you can add another row, which will play the role of observer and then comment during the debriefing on what the person saw during the exercise). Then ask them to reach out to the person across from them to make sure they know who they will be relating to. Explain that there are only two roles in this exercise, everyone in one line has the same role, the people opposite them have another role. Each person relates only to the person across from them. The facilitator explains the roles for each side, describes the conflict and who will start it. Give them a few seconds of silence to get in the role and then tell them to begin. Depending on the situation, it may be a brief hassle (less than a minute) or you can let it go longer, but not more than 3 or 4 minutes. Then call "stop" and debrief. Debriefing questions should include: what did people do, how did they feel, what ways did you find to solve or deal with the conflict, what did you notice about your body language, on reflection what do you wish you had done, etc. Replay the exercise, switching roles. So that people do not interact with the same person, move one line up by having the person at the end go to the other end of that line.

Examples of roles:

  • Someone planning to engage in nonviolent action/someone close to them who is opposed to their participation.
  • Blockading a weapons or government facility/angry worker
  • Protester/counter-protester or angry passer-by
  • Protester committed to nonviolence guidelines/protester breaking nonviolence guidelines

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