As a mediator committed to bringing people together and finding common ground, I can become discouraged by our increasingly polarized society, where fear and anxiety seem to be prime motivators. But over the past 25 years working on conflicts that seemed intractable, I have met some remarkable people who have taught me important lessons about resolving conflict and have given me reason for hope.
I have chosen ten of my most confounding and compelling cases to feature in “Common Ground on Hostile Turf: Stories from an Environmental Mediator,” (Island Press 2013). They include disputes over radioactive waste storage and clean-up, traditional rights to water and grazing lands, groundwater contamination, federal Indian policy, and more. The characters in these stories from the trenches of mediation include ranchers, environmental activists, civil servants, corporate spokespersons, tribal leaders, and traditional community members. (more…)
Like so many young people in the 1960s, my then-husband and I wanted to do good. And having an adventure was a good idea, too. We set off for Chinle, Arizona, heart of Navajo Country in the wake of two assassinations – Martin Luther King, Jr. and Bobby Kennedy. They were turbulent, frightening times, but also there was hope and optimism that things were going to get better.
My husband, newly graduated from law school, opened the first legal services office in Chinle. He was busy from the first day. But for me, it was less clear. What was I to do with my college degree in Modern English and French History and Literature?
My cross-cultural memoir reflects on those years spent in a very foreign land, and how we adjusted and came to feel at home. In the process I learned to accept myself as an outsider and I found ways to be useful – teaching Headstart, serving as Justice of the Peace, and selling car insurance, to name a few. (more…)
I am a big fan of radio…yes, even talk radio. I listen to all persuasions. Maybe it’s the mediator in me or maybe I’m just endlessly curious about people, but I love to hear the voices out there – voices that make up our broader community.
Everyone has a story, and the more we hear each other’s stories, the more we can really understand who our neighbors are. I have “appeared” on Back Roads Radio, a forum for exchanging life vignettes and observations. The stories are available on CDs from me, and I hope soon to have a link or two so that you can listen to samples.