Renaldo Rivera

10/29/01

Topics Addressed in this interview

Question:
When did you start at CRS?

Answer:
I started at CRS in 1999 in the Mid-Atlantic region. I came up here about 6 or 8 months ago.

Question:
How did you get into this field?

Answer:
I started in the 1960's coming directly out of the civil rights activity at the time in New York. I had a primary responsibility in the mid '60s in the creation of community corporations. Then I moved on to Neighborhood Youth Corps activity and then just setting up community corporations to deal with OEO (federal Office of Economic Opportunity) issues and the CAP (Community Action Program) agency. So I came out of that kind of background along with a civil rights organizing background in the South Bronx and East Harlem. Then I moved into city-wide responsibilities for pocket poverty areas in New York.

Question:
You were a federal employee?

Answer:
No, as a city employee. They were private non-profits, but they worked along with the city. Most of it was federal money passed through to the city. During that time the conflicts were arising between old kinds of leadership and new kinds of leadership in New York City. In that period I also spent some time in the (Mayor) Lindsay administration with the Model Cities program around the decentralization the city's public schools. During that era there were large numbers of conflicts between institutions and community groups looking for their share of political empowerment.

Question:
What were you doing specifically?

Answer:
There were two things. In the Model Cities program we were integrating college youth and interns into the process of doing community assessments. That included trash pickups, abandoned cars, drug hot spots, and then opportunities for economic development where the business community needed to be enhanced. That was primarily in East Harlem. The idea of utilizing neighborhood residents who were returning college students was pretty new. The whole notion of internships was brand new. Then, to utilize students of color in the northeast who were just entering college in larger numbers because of the changes in admissions policies.

Question:
Where are we at now on the calendar?

Answer:
1968 or 1969.

Question:
Were your jobs specifically administrative?

Answer:
Yes, each time.

Question:
So you were maybe functioning as a mediator informally, but that wasn't your job description.

Answer:
Right, but let me give you an example of how mediation was working. It was not formal mediation, but what was happening at that time was the evolution of conflict resolution work. That was part and parcel of what everyone got trained in. So whether I became an administrator early or not, you still had to participate and learn about conflict resolution work and techniques along with all the human relations training that was taking place at that time. Those two subsets of skills were always built into what we learned how to do and what we taught other how to do.

Question:
Teaching conflict resolution was relatively new in the late 60's.

Answer:
Absolutely. It was brand new. I was there right at the beginning.

Question:
Where were you trained?

Answer:
Partly at the Institute for Conflict Resolution in New York, at the American Arbitration Association, and another part came through Manny Diaz who ran a series of sessions for the Urban Coalition of New York which a few years later were picked up by the Urban Fellows Program at Yale University. Let me give you an example of what happened in New York if you had to use the conflict resolution work when I first worked for the city in 1970. The Community Council of Greater New York was a private non-profit that had Catholic Charities, United Jewish Appeal, and a wide range of actors participating in it. We had all the pocket poverty areas so everything that wasn't a community corporation was an area for our activity. Implicit in that work was to get youth services and programming and other forms of youth employment activities into each of the communities. In order to accomplish that we had to deal with conflict resolution and mediation activities with each of the community corporations adjacent and contiguous to these pocket poverty areas in New York, just to be able to do the outreach, to get the youth involved and to get the counselors on board. This is during the time of the war on poverty, so these activities were built in. The next level, and I'll just give you another example on civil rights, was that at that time New York City' did not include people who were disabled or wards of the city or state, in the city's youth employment activity or any of their youth programs. So we raised that issue, the legal question with the city Board of Estimate. I remember I probably didn't even know what I was asking. I knew what I was asking, but I didn't know the impact at that time. I asked them on what legal bases can these populations be excluded? Well that closed the meeting right away and within two weeks we were able to work with people at Welfare Island (now Roosevelt Island) with mental and physical disabilities and begin to include them in the mainstream. These included youths who were already abandoned in one form or another and then had a disability and were often times young people of color. This was a major breakthrough in terms of the kinds of work that was going on at that time. So in terms of conflict resolution work what it did was work with the system to understand what it is that it's doing in the posing of a question, the framing of a question, such that it might be exclusive of a population, or have a population in a power imbalance; the framing of an issue with institutions in such that it indicates that power imbalance, or a potential exclusion, was oftentimes enough to just open that system or that institution for greater inclusiveness.

Question:
So you were steeped in that systemic approach in this work?

Answer:
Right from the beginning. Then additional tutelage came from Whitney Young (former head of the Urban League). I was an early Whitney Young fellow with the Urban League, and that was very helpful. Robert Hill, who is now the president, was, in fact assigned as, what I didn't know, was a mentor at that time. I mean I had no way to know that. I just thought he was someone I was directed to work with on a regular basis. So I really had a lot of advantages that I didn't realize of at the time. Another important place on the conflict resolution training was Evaline Antonetti and the United Bronx Parents. They were critical in shaping the parental response of New York to parental inclusion and decision-making in New York City public schools and their decentralization. They had, in addition to their organizing approaches, conflict resolution training built in to deal with the development of the decentralization of the city schools. Then we built it into the youth enrichment programs and the educational enrichment -- it was called cultural enrichment and education. We built it into the training for Neighborhood Youth Corp people from the late '60's through the early '70's. We built in conflict resolution training as part of their exposure and then it was the first introduction of cultural enrichment, which is multi-cultural enrichment today into the New York City public schools, by training the teachers. The way this worked was that we were not only hitting people who were in school, but we were reaching kids who were at risk and already out of school. So these kinds of trainings and techniques were used with what are now call "gangs." They were the early youth gangs. So my primary focus of work from the late '60's to the early '70's was around the youth empowerment and in addition dealing with youth gang activity so they could have constructive outlets for the concerns they had because the nature of the issues raised by young people was very different then from what older people were seeing.

Question:
That's a rich background coming up to the CRS era.

Answer:
That was just the beginning. I went to graduate school at Harvard and realized that everything was changing all the time. Every time you set up a set of programs, then something else -- you set them up and got them going and then it changed. So I discovered this thing called "policy" and that was guiding program development. So I went to graduate school at Harvard in an interdisciplinary program in social policy. Part of the training took place with Paul Ylsivar who was dean of the school of education, but it was between the schools of education, business, urban planning and law. I think those were the primary participants.In that work, it was researchers and practitioners. I came in under the practitioner background. We were once again asking what are the impediments to effective social policy implementation. Once again you are back to framing questions so you have a vertical integration between those who deliver the service, those who receive it and those who set up the policy and try to get the research orientation of the paradigms to reflect that. We were talking about changing institutions and their ways of doing business, so we were offering the same skills again in conflict resolution. It was a very busy time in the early '70's and a very different political era then. That really pretty much talks about the training and the background in terms of where it came from for me.

Question:
After Harvard?

Answer:
While I was still [at Harvard] we got involved in the desegregation efforts. That was Boston school desegregation. I was identified as one of the university coordinators. Chuck Wooley was the master and he was at the Center for Urban Studies at the Graduate School of Education. Paul Ylsivar, may he rest in peace, was the dean of the graduate school of education at that time. He had come over from the Ford Foundation's war on poverty initiative in the 60's. So we had a wide range of things we could do with broad support from Dean Ylsivar, both with seminars and the kinds of in-place work we did. So when desegregation took place in Boston -- it was happening around the country -- I was identified to be one of the university coordinators at Antioch to work along with Roxbury and South Boston in terms of parental involvement. With the nature of what was happening with desegregation, you had both sets of communities not wishing to move their students anywhere and each set of communities believing that their students were in danger when they went to the other community. The nature of the parental involvement that I had was to work along with CRS, but was to do the things necessary to reduce the community tension and prepare the parents for what were the most effective ways to be working with their children around the situation of bussing and desegregation. I was then identified as the parental component to start working in Detroit, with New Detroit and others because Detroit was involved in a metropolitan desegregation effort. Detroit had a large disempowered parental population. Through New Detroit, I had a responsibility for working through those parental issues and conflict with the school department as well as the schools that their children were attending. We were able to orchestrate and work along and provided guidance for the parental organizations.

Question:
You were still working under the auspices of Harvard at that time?

Answer:
Some was Harvard and some got paid through different grant money that flowed through to support the desegregation efforts.

Question:
And were you working in tandem with CRS?

Answer:
Not in Detroit, but in Boston it was in tandem because the rumor control centers wound up being mutually sponsored. In Boston, it was with CRS rumor control centers that tried to hold back the violence in a number of settings, the early warning systems were developed by CRS at that time. We were contributing to that because it was a very collaborative effort just trying to keep some level of community stability during very difficult times in that city.

Question:
Moving right along, you are now in the mid '70's.

Answer:
In the mid '70's, the greater Boston area was the only place in the country to receive a metropolitan planning project grant from the federal government. I think it was the Office of Desegregation of the Department of Health, Education and Welfare. They had money for metropolitan programs and it was the only metropolitan planning project that took place in the country. It dealt with 78 towns and school districts in greater Boston. The issue there was suburban backlash to school desegregation. I became the acting director for the design of learning environments -- there were several hundred thousand dollars, which in the mid 1970's was quite a bit of money -- to work along with identifying promising programs that would reduce community conflict and facilitate this urban-suburban exchange program. During the time that I was there, we actually created these things for young people as well as middle school and high school students that would permit greater exchanges. This was designed to reduce minority-group student isolation and reduce the community tension associated with supporting integration in public schools. We wound up working along with a metropolitan voluntary bussing program that took kids from the center city to different communities.From there, I was at Harvard finishing my dissertation work and it was the early evolution of the -- actually 1972 was the passage of the Ethnic Heritage Studies Act -- the movement into thinking about multi-cultural, inter-cultural, cross-cultural education and all of the conflict involved in implementing it. We were starting to think again of developing conflict resolution work and that's where my career really began to solidify. It was in dealing with intergroup conflict and what it is to be able to understand other peoples' points of view and how to build that into both educational systems and other activity. We were able to provide revenue from the state to support this kind of development. We would have cultural experts and people from the community involved in planning cultural programs that would be available in the museums as well as in the schools themselves. I worked in the Framingham public schools as a coordinator for pluralistic education and again encountered serious conflicts between the existing educational systems, school committees and communities which were rapidly changing. That was in the beginning of demographic changes before large scale immigration. The conflicts that were being created between community groups and existing Caucasian groups in suburban areas were pretty large; working through the curriculum issues and the staff development questions as well as the political questions of school committees so that students would be able to get more comfortable with each other. Bilingual education had passed in Massachusetts as well as nationally, so it was creating quite a bit of conflict and once again these kinds of techniques had to be utilized just to be able to effectively develop programs for student learning and to reduce community tension. From there I was selected, I was with the National Latino Media Coalition for a number of years as the chairman of it's board. Once again the policy orientation took us to the nature of how stereotypes are developed and maintained, so the media portrayals were a natural outgrowth of the work at that time. If somebody was stopped, the question was, "Why did the description of the suspect have to say 'Hispanic' if it really didn't fit?" If a crime was committed, it was not done for everybody, but it was for African Americans or for Latinos at that time. We went after portrayal questions and we also went into the issues of training, so that people got in the pipeline so we could deal with people on camera as well as off camera. Then new technologies were emerging because cable was just growing as an industry and we also new that satellite technology was on the horizon. So we went to work with policy and programming issues around the networks. And then with non-commercial, public broadcasting systems that developed as an alternative to regular broadcasting.

Question:
And then from there?

Answer:
There still was conflict resolution work. We had to put together the sets of consortia necessary between African Americans, Latinos, Native Americans, Asians, and Pacific Islanders because the media interests and media portrayals were affecting everybody. But at that time there were just the early groups, so we used the platform of the National Latino Media Coalition to develop consortia of all the groups of color to take a look at broadcasting issues together. Once again to deal with a rising sense of political awareness and the unfair treatment that was experienced. Also, the simple access to public information for public safety purposes that wasn't available in languages other then English. That was both in print and electronic media. We began the process of effecting the Corporation for Public Broadcasting and National Public Radio for inclusiveness on camera, behind the microphone, on the microphone and the types of stories and programming efforts they would make. During this time -- I'm moving from the '70's into the early ' 80's -- I was teaching at the Institute for Open Education at the Antioch Graduate Center in Massachusetts. We were interested in developing people with a social change orientation, continuing their credentialing and moving them into both schools and human service institutions as well as other public sector jobs with master's degrees. So we were working with mid-careers professionals. At Antioch, I began teaching multi culturialism in classrooms, schools and communities, and building in conflict resolution techniques as necessary. I already learned these techniques through desegregation and I'd also learned an application with the National Latino Media Coalition as to the ways in which people have to think about the ways they work with their individual schools, school systems, human service delivery systems or in whatever level of public service they were involved.In the early '80's, that school became Cambridge College. I began teaching peace making and conflict resolution and did mediation training. I built in the cross cultural issues. That continued into the early '90's. We must have developed 800 or 900 programs through national institutes where we would bring people together in the summer and train them in mediation techniques. It was from South Carolina right up through the entire Northeast, and then as far west as Chicago. These people would spend the summer with us and then they would have every other week support groups back in their home cities where we would send a faculty member to them. We put them through eight weeks of intensive work in the summer time around this specialization area and then they would have to demonstrate skills of competencies and develop a plan or a program to use back in their home communities. They would be tied to us for technical assistance work throughout the year by phone consultation and occasional site visits. What we were doing was promulgating and pushing out the idea of basic community mediation techniques in places where -- particularly the bible belt of South Carolina -- there were a lot of things that weren't about to taught or worked, and then all the other cities. By the early '90's Tufts asked me to come -- I was identified as having 25 years of leadership in public service in conflict resolution and mediation and peacemaking. I spent a year at Tufts in faculty status at the Lincoln-Filene Center in the Center for Environmental Studies that included human ecology. The purpose of the year was to permit me to work through additional models and best practices in doing this work, out of which I then created the La Pas Institute, which is dedicated to crisis management and conflict resolution work in multi-cultural contexts. In 1993 I brought it to Washington. During this time I was asked to participate in Join Together, a project of the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation that was fighting the harms of substance abuse created in the cities. They had 10 "fighting back" cities throughout the country and they had the additional work to fight the harms of substance abuse which were primarily impacted in communities of color although most of the people buying the drugs were not from communities of color. They asked me to become a resource advisor for coalition building throughout the country. I worked in Atlanta, San Diego and 10 or 12 cities up and down the West coast and in Puerto Rico to create community dialogues, community sponsorships, and community exchange programs where we could work through the questions of economic disparity and different interests between neighborhood groups, political groups and bar associations so they could focus together on their common mission. We built in what the interests were. We got people to see the common interests that they had so they could then see which ways they might begin to shape common solutions to a local problem rather than go the other way which was to look at the interests that they currently held from the institutional or community settings they were in which didn't get them very far in terms of effectively impacting the problems of their communities. I did that for a couple years with the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation as one of the major projects with La Pas Institute.

Question:
Was that your last job before CRS?

Answer:
Yes. I joined CRS in 1999 as a conciliator in the Mid Atlantic Region. I wanted to see what the conciliation work was like at CRS. I was there until April 2001 when I was appointed Regional Director in New York. I had been in Washington when CRS lost a tremendous amount of its funding. That was something I was aware of because it was in the local papers and I had known of the history of CRS through various associations through the years. I came to CRS to move the work forward. Being at the institutional level of the Department of Justice provides you with degrees of access that you don't have coming from any other setting.

Question:
Can you think of a CRS case you worked on that typifies your use of some of the techniques that you've used over the years?

Answer:
Why don't I just start with the most current thing, the World Trade Center attacks. As immediately as it occurred I happened to be at a New Jersey summit on racial profiling with the Attorney General and the head of the state police. It was the first one on racial profiling in the country since New Jersey was the epicenter of racial profiling activity and also the corrective responses to it. When the first plane hit the first tower, within one minute of the first hit, because of where I was and whom I was with, Attorney General Farmer and Colonel Dunbar, we knew the attack had happened. I immediately called all my staff to make sure they were on stand by. By the time I reached them they were on their way to a job in Long Island, NY, so they stood by instead of trying to get into the city, which was already difficult. Then the second plane hit the second tower. So our first approach was to immediately work with state officials. We worked with the head of the state police in both states. As soon as we had direct information, that's within the first days, and we were working out of command posts because Lower Manhattan was completely sealed off, was to work with high level state officials, and the police departments and state troopers to issue messages of moderation, restraint, tolerance, and vigorous law enforcement of any hate crime activity. As quickly as it was linked to Middle Eastern terrorists, we wanted to avoid creating a tremendous backlash against other people who were Middle Eastern or appeared to be Middle Eastern, which included South-Asian and Sikh populations. We also encouraged that messaging to go into part of what Governor Pataki and Mayor Giulianni were saying in New York, that is, while the primary emphasis was on the rescue and the recovery, we encouraged messages around maintaining this moderation restraint, tolerance, and vigorous law enforcement of hate crimes.

Question:
Did you run into any resistance to your approach?

Answer:
Not at all. There was no resistance to the request by the state and local officials. They saw the clear need. The question was how much air time they could give that particular message in the context of the immediate recovery effort. What happened is that they provided the messaging and it would be left on the floor of the editing room. It didn't get out as frequently as we would have liked. There was close coordination between what CRS was doing here at Ground Zero and our Washington headquarters, as well as what was going on around the country. The same messaging we had started to encourage was encouraged to the department in our weekly reports. The Attorney General also, partially through some CRS input I am sure, began to issue the same messaging around tolerance, moderation, restraint and vigorous law enforcement of hate crime activity, any hate crimes in the backlash. Also, the President's office began to use their mechanisms to do the same when they began to announce that the war on terrorism was not a war on Islam.I think taking the approach of working with high level officials at the state level, then replicating it at the national level, was very important in maintaining a degree of restraint in the local community settings in New York, New Jersey, Puerto Rico, and the Virgin Islands. In Puerto Rico, we were able right away to work with government officials, with the Arab-Muslim communities and also to get a moratorium from the U.S. attorney and the FBI and local protestors, on additional protests on the island of Vieques, because this was a natural time that the navy was clearly going to resume training in the aspects of the war effort. We needed to work with local and government officials and community groups there so that the Viequez situation wouldn't create another source of tension on the island. That was part and parcel of maintaining community stability. We also knew that in St. Croix a large number of the Arab-Muslim population was involved in merchant activity, food distribution, food services, so we needed to alert them as to the possibility of any difficulties taking place there. They then were on alert, both the federal and local officials and law enforcement. On the New York side, the city police department was very cooperative. It had already moved to secure Arab-Muslim neighborhoods along Atlantic Ave. in Brooklyn. We were in support of that so it was a common thought and step. Also, the Islamic Cultural Center and the Islamic schools in Bay Ridge, which are the primary concentrations of the Arab-Muslim populations in New York City. So we had good cooperation from local law enforcement to provide special protective services. Because we were in the primary investigation area in New York and New Jersey we set up a program with the League of Municipalities and the Association of Chiefs of Police in New Jersey. The state Attorney General led the program and then a couple of mayors, a couple of law enforcement people and CRS. We cosponsored a series of three seminars immediately in central, northern, and southern New Jersey that focused on building bridges, best practices for police-community relations. We were able to reach out directly to mayors and chiefs of police. We had more then 200 people participating. We were able to start with the local-national focus and end with the local-national focus in each program. Again we wanted to get out the message of asking for help locally in messaging on moderation, tolerance, restraint, and vigorous law enforcement of hate crime activity. We needed their help to coincide with the messages of the Attorney General and the head of the FBI and the President, so that in turn we would be able to work more directly with the rescue and recovery efforts here. We took that kind of approach right from the beginning while we contacted our federal partners -- US Attorney's office, FBI, etc -- to prepare them for eventual meetings with community groups that would be affected. In addition to our direct solicitation of similar messaging at the local level by chiefs of police and municipal officials, we encouraged each of the state level organizations with which we were coordinating -- with the state Attorneys General offices and their public safety officers and their civil rights divisions -- so we were providing guidance and technical assistance to them. We already had those relationships or we forged them and reinforced them, so that the messages they were putting out to the Arab-Muslim and South-Asian communities would include this kind of messaging. So, the local community groups, mosques and cultural centers knew that their relationship with CRS was in tandem and in coordination with the state outreach programs. What it wound up doing was reassuring the community very quickly and also providing a good marriage and linkage with high level state officials about federal-state coordination around this which was reassuring to the communities. It also multiplied CRS resources. They were calling the meetings. We were aware of them and then our message along with theirs was being placed everywhere so we could continue with our limited resources to focus on other areas. That was a general approach.What's happened in New York and New Jersey, since we are the primary investigation area, is that there has been a degree of tension because there is a larger sweep. Even though it is focused to identify terrorists in the anti-terrorist effort, the sweep is by the FBI and coordinates with the local law enforcement and the experience of the communities here is under greater stress.

Question:
Are you talking about the city or the state?

Answer:
Well, it's mostly the city and New Jersey because the primary investigation was focused right here and in Patterson and Jersey City, NJ, where some of the terrorist activity from 1993 was known to have taken place and to be harbored. So there was a larger premium by the investigative efforts on the Arab-Muslim, and South-Asian communities here than elsewhere in the country initially. It continues to today. The impact on the affected communities is larger here. Our effort is to work with and talk directly to the Arab-Muslim community as well as the South-Asian and the Sikh communities, to assure them that the focus of the investigation -- the new Anti-terrorism Act -- is designed to go after the terrorist effort and not the community at large. There is some concern around balancing civil liberties and the primary investigation, but the focus is really on anti-terrorism. Also, to work with the question of immigration status issues which are raised as the investigation proceeds. As people are detained and interviewed, their immigration status may come into question. We are working with the INS and local leadership around those kinds of questions so that the communities are assured that it is not the INS involved in a wide sweep again and that raids aren't taking place in communities.We've had good success in developing relationships with institutional partners so that we can do two things, reduce the level of community tension, preventing its escalation, and maintain community stability. The other part is that we have the issues of the primary investigation, which creates different impacts here since it is larger and more intensified; adverse impacts on the communities. We have to work with that.

Question:
Have you been getting complaints about civil rights violations?

Answer:
Yes.

Question:
Do they come directly to CRS?

Answer:
Some of them do. Most of the groups are now more aware of what we do and we can follow it through with them. That's the kinds of relationships we are solidifying now because our other partners are unable to do so, our federal partners. Because we are not in the investigation and they are, we've dedicated ourselves, after our first sets of messages, to building those trust relationships with communities. So, we are getting the complaints here.

Question:
What is the response of the enforcement and investigatory communities to CRS' intervention?

Answer:
They have come to see us as another federal partner that can build a bridge with them if they are unable to do it at that time. It's important to be able to do that especially now, since here, in this part of the country, they have less time available to the community. They really have not logistically been able to get to talk with the communities themselves. Our outreach and solidifying relationships help shapes the kinds of questions with which they are going to be faced. We are setting up the second sets of meetings within the next several weeks, with our federal partners so they will have better understanding of the types of scenarios and cases that the community has been presenting to us so that their time is reduced in terms of how they focus on the community concerns. We are channeling information more directly around the community concerns and it's more preparatory for them. It also functions in a second way for us, systematically. We have to keep community tension levels down. It's particularly important here because community tension and escalation winds up adversely effecting the recovery effort in New York City and New Jersey. Community stability is critical to the recovery effort. If you have community instability, the recovery effort is completely retarded. If law enforcement has to deal with community instability or community tension issues, then it's diverted away from its investigatory activity. Our role has become not more expanded, but the mission is more critical. We had really solid relationships with the community groups. We are now able to move toward working with the umbrella groups in the community, again return to those, and now have merged those two, between the community advocacy groups and the umbrella groups in the communities that include Asian and Pacific Islanders in coalitions with the Muslims and South Asians. We are able to move both those two sets of sectors along with the INS and the New York Immigration Service and immigration coalition groups into better communication with the federal partners. This is the next step. All around reducing community tension, depressurizing the situation, responding to community interests and concerns, and providing avenues for dialogue between community interests and federal law enforcement.

Question:
When you get calls that people who have been detained in communities, how do you respond?

Answer:
We have an ability to answer the direct question. What happens is we've been getting calls that are screened through the organizations. Then the organization leadership talks to us around what they're seeing. We've had a few individuals that have come directly to us, but our phone lines were down until just last week. We were operating by cell phone technology. The best way to gather this and where the trust was, was by community-based organizations and then those advocacy groups. Our meetings with them now have yielded to sets of calls. We get a compilation of the concerns that they are receiving. We don't get as many direct calls. We do get some. Our handling is that we are not in a position to provide any additional information. We are not an investigatory arm. What we are able to do is to highlight and make available, and we're starting to talk with NYPD as well as the FBI. While there have been high level statements from each organization and the chiefs of police and the commission of police around not stereotyping and not racial profiling, etc., there are still some officers with more heavy-handed techniques in terms of attitude, behaviors, and conduct towards this population. What we are moving towards right now, we just had the meeting Saturday and we are moving towards it right this week, is focusing on those precincts with high concentrations and populations from which the community organizations have received the largest number of complaints on incidents. What we would like to do is work with those local police departments and the NYPD and, this is for New York, its department of community affairs to address some of the questions very directly at role call training, reminding people about the need for attention for basic courtesy and respect, in the course of doing their investigations and interviews. It's a relief for the community so that it sees that it's concerns are being attended to and then to work it through with the appropriate authorities. We'll do the same with FBI officials in the coming week.

Question:
Is there a role for a mediator?

Answer:
Well, there really is, but it's not formal mediation. What we are able to address and take a look at is the underlying questions and the nature of the incidents the communities are experiencing. They can't find a direct response from law enforcement or public officials. What we are able to do is tell the community organizations what the policies are supposed to be the kinds of information received from Washington in terms of where the Attorney General and the FBI are heading. That is public information, but it has not been widely distributed. We are able to provide that, understand the underlying questions, shape them in a way that they can be received better when we are setting up meetings with local law enforcement, the FBI and U.S. Attorneys, so that they in turn are able to understand where it is they might have to make some adjustments, if they are going to consider them at all. It would probably be stages of shuttle diplomacy at this time. It is like meeting with two sets of parties. It's almost like second table negotiation. You are dealing with representatives of groups who are in turn are people bringing their complaints to them. You're hearing complaints brought to community groups, the National Merchants Association, the Arab American Institute. That then lets you shape what their concerns and interests are for when you set up the meeting with the federal and city counterparts. You then can shape what the agenda will look like so you can get better responses from federal and state law enforcement to community concerns. The two-stage process that we are in right now -- remember this is after our initial activity five weeks ago -- allows us to cull information and interests and reassure the community. This functions to reduce community tension. It also helps us develop more effective relations. The second stage, when you bring in the federal partners and local law enforcement, is a second level of reassurance for the community and some more direct dialogue.

Question:
This differs from the typical CRS model where CRS would receive an incident report that would lead it to respond to a community and around that incident build a community response, mediation, dialogue, whatever was needed.

Answer:
In World Trade Center it has required us to think about it in a more systemic way. But what we've been able to do because of this approach is take the most highlighted ones. So, for example, because of the primary investigation in Paterson and Jersey City we were able to send a conciliator there to do typical CRS work, bring the community together, get the faith community involved along with some clerics, work with the chief of police, the mayor and the city council, draw in the alliance, talk through the sets of questions, develop a strategy for working on reducing community tensions and run a series of community meetings. Also, encourage the use of some hand-picked officers who would be more inclined to do community policing type work, provide some brief and quick training for them on how to handle community disputes and responses surrounding the WTC effort or the primary investigation, and then leave that in place. We were able to do that in Paterson and also in Jersey City.

Question:
Did you do any of that yourself?

Answer:
No, I had two senior conciliators work with my guidance. We talked through exactly how to do this and which way to take it.

Question:
So this was really a strategy for preventing daily trouble that already exists.

Answer:
Right. Most of it was on the prevention end because we knew that right from the beginning, probably because of all the work that I told you about in years past, I knew that with this kind of national disaster, and then when it was identifies as Arab Muslim, that we'd have to take a much more systemic approach to the prevention so that both the investigation and the recovery could take place. We needed both to calm the community and get all the appropriate officials involved in doing that and reassuring the community in order to reduce the number of incidents that we would have to respond to. That was the purpose. Then, within that reduced number of incidents that were actually criminal, or those that arose from the investigation, we could deploy conciliators. In the absence of that we would not have been able to do it. We also have our FEMA (Federal Emergency Management Agency) responsibilities for recovery.

Question:
What do you do there?

Answer:
What we've done there is again balance the playing field. Ground Zero is about seven blocks from our office and most of the attention around Ground Zero went to the communities of Battery Park City and Tribeca, which are on the west side of Manhattan. Equally distant from Ground Zero was China Town and the Lower East Side. A large degree of media and political attention tended to be focused on the more affluent communities immediately surrounding Ground Zero. Immediately adjacent to it were lower income populations, mostly jurisdictional populations for CRS: differences in race, color and national origin. So CRS -- our usual relationship is to work with FEMA because we had a responsibility to helping create the community relations function in FEMA and participate in training of that function may years back -- traditionally works along with FEMA to be more of its advanced arm in particular issues that they should be taking a look at, particular problems that they are going to face in outreach, giving them a better assessment of the communities that they are going to outreach to and what they are going to encounter. We immediately found language and cultural issues for their telephone lines and registration at their 800 lines. We had to help FEMA address those because the only languages you were getting were English and Spanish. Also, they needed to have their fliers and other materials translated into Chinese. We assisted them to determine what other languages they would need for their flyers so people could get in touch and register. We also helped them identify translators because they didn't have the staff available when they set up their disaster resistance recovery center. We did the outreach through our existing network of organizations and community groups to help them identity translators to both work with the community relations outreach team and in human services at the disaster recovery resistance center. Then we moved them to consider subcontracting this effort with some local umbrella groups so they had the temporary staff needed to work with the populations they were going to be facing. These two communities represented special challenges to FEMA, given its usual composition and because of linguistic and economic issues. In addition to assisting FEMA in these ways, we helped them to think through how their staff deployment. FEMA's initial concern was pretty much at the rescue effort, as it should have been, but we noticed that a large number of the people who were impacted by this disaster were wage earners who were in occupations that were ancillary to or support of what happened in the financial district. So while the primary attention was placed on getting Wall Street up and running, there were a large number of displaced wage earners living in the outer boroughs who used to work in and around the Trade Center. We needed to help them connect with our federal partners to work that through. We began to reach out to the borough presidents and the community boards in the areas immediately adjacent to Ground Zero, both in Brooklyn and Manhattan and then reaching out as far as the borough presidents in the Bronx and Queens and their community boards, so that we could get a better handle on how much displacement of workers had taken place and what level of disaster relief was necessary in those areas. After our initial outreach, FEMA came along with us, to present its programs to them so that the borough president's office would have a better sense of what was available. We had been working pretty much with the city administration and the state office of emergency management, but we needed to move it into the boroughs because we saw clearly that there would be widespread and potentially disparate impact, in terms of access to service or service delivery. This was because of the attention being placed on large businesses, primarily financial. The need for attention to be paid to wage earners who were affected -- non professionals who provided a tremendous amount of work between clean-up, food services, deliveries, etc. of all kinds to that financial district -- was critical for us. We saw it as important and so did the borough presidents' offices. In fact, they and their community outreach people were so concerned that they asked for additional sessions with us because they are looking at expanding the number of FEMA disaster recovery resistance centers. There is only one place in lower Manhattan with long lines.

Question:
Like the ones we saw outside the federal building?

Answer:
Yes. There are along the lines on the other street around the corner. Some of the boroughs and the community boards are looking at how do we get these into each of the boroughs for a short period of time. Then if they aren't necessary we can get rid of them. We can get to the people more directly affected much more easily. They've asked to meet with us and so have some of the clergy groups that we had met with earlier, to see about working together with FEMA to get the services more decentralized.

Question:
Has CRS done this kind of work with FEMA before or is this something new?

Answer:
We've worked with some of the natural disasters before, but working through this kind of national disaster and in this particular way, I don't think so. FEMA has a community relations unit that does outreach work to let people know how to get in touch, but it doesn't do the conciliation or conflict resolution work that is occurring as special challenges are met. That's where CRS has been very helpful to FEMA, working along with them. It has always been CRS jurisdiction to work in partnership with FEMA. And then we go beyond FEMA's work because we have community tension that is showing up. To us, as we looked at how we did here with our limited resources -- and we brought in some teams from outside out region -- since day three of FEMA's operation we were located at their site. We've been able to work through all the issues I identified earlier and continue to help them work them through. Then we were able to quickly identify other problems, like the lack of phone service in China Town at a time when you had call in to get to be a part of FEMA to get your number identification. Well, if there were no phones in China Town you couldn't even get on the phone. And once you got in there was the language problem, which I mentioned earlier. So, we've been assisting FEMA to work through all those kinds of things and to anticipate them in the future. Also, the way in which the police barricades were located for the purpose of the rescue and the recovery were adversely impacting China Town. The merchants were experiencing a 70% business loss -- 95% of the businesses -- so everybody who was marginal was gone as were a lot of others who were on the edge. So we were able to work along with NYPD in Manhattan South and also their emergency command center to allow some access for vehicles for food distribution businesses and others during certain hours of the day. That's something CRS can do, but FEMA cannot. It's just not part of their mission. We were able to work with merchants and business men and leadership locally to at least alleviate some of their early concerns. We are continuing to work it through because some of the business leadership from China Town has asked for an additional town meeting with the SBA (Small Business Administration) and FEMA where they would bring in their merchants,' lawyers' and insurance associations to talk directly with FEMA representatives even though FEMA has had a site set up in China Town since the second or third week. This is a larger scale interest for them to speak more directly with a broad array of leadership than the ones around FEMA services. CRS has been asked to facilitate that. So that's an additional role that is beyond what FEMA would usually do, but it's clearly jurisdictional for us and allows us to build our jurisdictional work around these sets of community concerns back to FEMA for service delivery. For the foreseeable future our work is around the road to recovery and the encouraging community stability.I think the last area about the WTC and where we are right now is the attention that CRS has had to pay to the impact on displaced workers. There are a large number of them who are in the immigrant community or have immigration status questions. We work with everyone regardless of their status, but immigration status is not a trigger for CRS. Our jurisdiction is race, color and national origin. What has happened in the WTC disaster is that individuals, between language difficulty and immigration questions, even if they are legally here, have not always been able to get what they need from FEMA. So, from very early on we worked with the New York Community Trust and the United Way of New York which had already set up the September 11 Fund. They had determined they were going to use Safe Horizons, a community agency we had met with, to provide relief services regardless of immigration status. That was an important entree for people across the board, particularly in the lower income areas in New York, and those who might have immigration status questions, to actually be able to get some relief. Also, the Department of Justice victims' assistance money flows through the State Crimes Victims Assistance Board. We were able to work with them and the New York State Crimes Victims Assistance Board and Safe Horizons so that people in this immigrant community would feel more comfortable coming forward to look for services or assistance for the recovery. That continues to be something we pay attention to. The boroughs, surprisingly enough, are particularly interested in that question as well. It is something that wouldn't hit at the city-wide level or state officials, although the Attorney General for New York State has already said once you are here you are eligible for service, that immigration status questions are something for INS to deal with, not for local determination. Working within that framework and within CRS's framework, what we noticed is that there was a large degree of tension in the advocacy community around relief and recovery services for these communities. We've been working with the advocacy community and the immigration groups around those questions with Safe Horizons and the State Crime Victims Assistance Board. Those activities have also been supported by the Catholic the Lutheran churches. The services have been located at Pier 94. There has been some interest -- because of security concerns about getting into Pier 94 -- of also getting that service decentralized. So between the requests we've been receiving from the community boards and the borough presidents' offices and the concerns from the advocacy community and the immigration community -- both people with legal status and those without legal status -- and our work with the State Crimes Victims Assistance Board and Safe Horizons, CRS is in the position to try to facilitate the communication so that service delivery can get to the points of impact where they are most needed. I think nobody else has been in a position to do that and deal with all the cross level of concerns that are raised with a multitude of issues ranging from language to immigration status. We've been able to get agreements from INS because it is not undertaking raids or indicating any additional concerns around status questions for those who have an inquiry because they were effected by the disaster. They're able to process those inquiries without triggering the enforcement arm at the IRS district office. We have been able to develop those relationships pretty well here. I don't know how the rest of the country is doing, but we were able to get that determination. Then also, to get the INS Commissioner to make statements of clarifications so that the INS in general, from the policy level in its law enforcement would be more responsive in a compassionate way to the recovery and relief efforts, rather then to penalize people whose status may have been affected by the loss of a loved one.So, CRS has been able to coordinate and facilitate an enormous amount of communication related to the recovery effort, particularly for specialized populations like this. I don't think that any other agency would have been able to do that. We were fortunate to both be able to have the insight to see it as something that needed to be done, and then have the staff capability to be able to effectuate it.There is one other component to this. We worked through channels to make INS as well as the State Department and the Attorney General's office aware that there were some people whose status may have been undocumented whose loved ones perished in the disaster. The numbers range into the 400-plus that are known so far to various community-based organizations. Their loved ones and their countries of origin are unable to claim whatever remains may be here or even the symbolic urns that Mayor Guilianni is making available with some of the debris from the World Trade Center site. They haven't been able to get to the consulates to get the visas to come to this country to be able to deal with recovering the remains, or whatever symbolic remains there are of their loved one. We were able to raise that through channels and highlight that as a focus question to provide the advisories to the Attorney General, the INS and the state. Then we were in attendance when the Mexican and Central American consulates were making outreach presentations, through community organizations, on how to access the visas for this purpose. They are not able to do very much at this time; the borders are closed because of the war effort. It's difficult, but we've at least provided the advisories and we also clarified the ability to apply for advanced parole provisions with INS for people to come into the country. We at least clarified that for local groups. Other than the advisories and providing that information and being in attendance with sets of national departments and international consulates, we've at least crystallized the problem that people are facing. That is as far as our jurisdiction will take us.

Question:
Since September 11, have you, not withstanding the good relations and the receptivity to CRS, had any conflicts with other agencies, organizations or key individuals where you had to begin applying some of your conflict management techniques?

Answer:
That's a good question because my description makes it sounds like everything was just easy to do.Well, what happens is that a large number of agencies, both state and federal, law enforcement and other, have missions that are more delineated then ours. So, it's my job to do immigration, either in enforcement or some services, it's my job to do law enforcement, it's my job to do the investigation of the terrorist attack, it's my job to do hate or biased crimes, it's my job to provide services to citizens on FEMA, The broad overview of how this tragedy is impacting a larger community, and then jurisdictional populations, doesn't fit neatly into anybody's daily work. But it is how CRS looks at its work for reducing community tension, preventing the escalation of tensions and, in this case, promoting community stability. We had to take this work forward in the field. We were often in advance of our federal and local partners to such a point that we established relationships with affected parties sooner and in more effective ways. Then we wound up being able to assess the community tension levels in a much more fundamental and profound way than any narrower view is able to take in. Because of the narrower focus -- that's what their missions and charges are, it's not through any fault of their own; but our mission and mandate being broader and focused around community tension questions -- we were able to provide a fundamental assessment of what is taking place both for racial and community tensions as well as community stability issues and provide that information in a cogent way to each of the affected departments.

Question:
Did you run into overt resistance, that you had strategies to overcome?

Answer:
It's, "Why is this important?" kind of resistance rather then overt resistance. When I see what you would call overt resistance, or when we would anticipate that it could occur, what we do is frame our response or approach in such a way that it's not going to trigger that overt resistance. That is what we've been able to do in New York. I'm sure probably that conciliators around the country do this as well. When you know you are going to run into it, why approach it directly? Why not provide a value-added approach and frame the introduction or the relationship to that agency or institution in such a way that what you're doing winds up consistent with their interests.

Question:
Can you give us an example of how you do that?

Answer:
INS, for example. On it's own it was doing it's work, but it might not have necessarily seen the value of partnering with us when it was being approached by leadership in the Arab-Muslim community or the South-Asian community. INS national leadership was focused in New York on community tensions surrounding visa issues, e.g., exceeding visa time, or other inquiries related to legal alien status or those who did not have legal status. They wouldn't necessarily have seen the value of partnering with us in meetings with those communities to address the sets of concerns that those communities were going to raise with INS. In our outreach to INS we introduced that there were some individuals who might be victims of hate crimes and have concerns around civil rights and civil liberties in addition to immigration questions. When we framed it with INS we talked to the larger sets of concerns that the community would have and then instead of it simply being a meeting around an individual's concern with INS we were able to raise them as larger questions and respond to them as federal partners. This permitted INS to show that it really did have more leniency in its policy and program work and also provided the community leadership groups with the reassurances they needed that their other concerns around civil rights as well as hate crimes were going to be addressed by INS and the Department of Justice. We were able to speak to their concerns around any abuses and by doing this it goes a tremendous distance in helping communities that are currently under siege from a wide range of sources -- from backlash to primary investigation, to being caught up in American stereotyping, to be wondering what was going to happen to them if they come forward to any part of officialdom -- to feel far more reassured about their concerns, and then for us and our federal partners to respond to their specific concerns.

Question:
How did you build credibility and trust within those communities so they would in fact feel reassured that there was a CRS presence and it wasn't just viewed as the Department of Justice enforcement presence?

Answer:
There are several things. One, I mentioned very early that each of the state officials -- the Attorney General offices and all of their first assistants who were going out and doing the community meetings that started on day two -- were mentioning CRS. Even though we were not always in attendance, our small, highly specialized agency was consistently mentioned by high-level state officials in law enforcement. So that word filtered out. Two, in primary target areas where enforcement efforts or backlashes were taking place, like Patterson and Jersey City and then along Atlantic Avenue here in Brooklyn, CRS' presence was known and visibly felt. They saw us directly do our usual conflict resolution of large-scale community tension reduction with other public officials and law enforcement. Three, these organization in the local Arab-Muslim community and South Asian and Sikh communities had been aware of our attendance at meetings sponsored by their umbrella organizations or the Asian Federation or the New York Immigration Coalition, or the Asian American Legal Defense and Education Fund in both their town meetings and youth meetings. So without taking over their agendas they had seen our presence there very strategically. In a series of activities from day two right through the present, what occurred is that they consistently heard about CRS and when there was a big problem they had seen us at work. So now what we're coming back to is the nature of the shifting landscape -- and we're not at the worst of it yet, it continues with the antiterrorism bill. There is more receptivity to CRS's direct outreach as a federal agency to each specific community. The timing of this was key. Because of the previous activities they weren't pushed aside by a heavy federal presence. We also permitted a natural community organization process to take place with people that individuals and community members already trusted, their own leadership. We assisted them building coalitions with their advocacy and umbrella groups and we just coordinated and we continue to coordinate with the umbrella groups. Now it's to the point where they need more responses from officials, which is the particular job that CRS is more able to do and more uniquely skilled to do and in the position to do. They're much more ready to receive us. This has been complimented by the work that was done in Washington headquarters in reaching out to national Arab-Muslim, South-Asian and Sikh organizations. They did the outreach, they provided us with the contact information with their local people, and then we, at Ground Zero, followed up with their national field office staff and field office directors by encouraging those field office people at the national level to come to this area and we assured them of our willingness to meet with the community at its request. So we utilized national field directors to come and utilize their local networks and advertise and introduce that CRS would be interested in listening to their concerns and trying to help to shape an effective agenda to respond to those concerns.

Question:
Have you been getting any complaints from community organizations that they aren't getting the response that was promised or needed from other agencies?

Answer:
We get some of that. That's different than the individual incidents. We get fewer individual incidents because those are being screened in a different place. They are screened to us through their organizations. The answer to your question is yes we are. The reason we brought forward immigration and relief questions was that we had noticed it in our field work. But we were also in touch with community-based organizations and, for example, the New York Immigration Coalition. They were running up against the question of the closed boarders. How do you get the visas? What do you do for getting people from countries of origin? How do you get relief to people here? Since we had already done the leg work on the CRS side in those same question areas, when we received those complaints, calls, and concerns from the New York Immigration Coalition we were able to respond. What is the INS policy? Are there discrepancies between what the commissioner said on October 5th vs. October 10th? How can we work these question through? Secondly, the Arab Muslim Family Services and Support Center had been working these questions through right from the beginning. Biased anti-crime activity, racial harassment incidents, special protective services from the community. We knew they were working through the Asian American Legions Defense Fund as well as their own organizations and umbrella groups. We were able to follow that activity and have the preparatory work done with understanding how NYPD was responding and what the FBI was doing. By the time they raised their concerns with us as we were doing our next set of outreach through the national organizations to them, it was a very natural relationship that had been built between our Washington headquarters and their Washington headquarters and my solicitation of their field personnel and knowing what was happening local on the ground here already. So by the time the meetings happened we already had been hearing their concerns and they were willing to talk and meet with us to develop the next set of responses.

Question:
Did you ever had to serve as an intermediary in the sense of going to another agency and saying we received this compliant?

Answer:
We're doing that right now with INS and the FBI and we have our sets of activities like that with NYPD in terms of some of the rough treatment that some individual officers may provide. And then we help shape the meeting between those entities and the community groups.

Question:
With mediation?

Answer:
Exactly, exactly. We knew because New York was a little different. I've worked around the country and New York is a little different. If you don't have something to bring to the table for community groups and umbrella groups, you're really not needed. They don't care if you're part of the Department of Justice or not. So what! Now we proved that the "so what" is that we can create some access roots that they may not be able to create as readily, we can shape their concerns in such a way so that other people can hear them -- law enforcement and public officials -- and we can be in attendance at the meetings with local state and federal jurisdiction. We can help facilitate those meetings and then at those meetings be in attendance to facilitate the dialogue. There is a tremendous value to CRS because New York is highly politicized already with tremendous amount of capability in its local organizations.

Question:
So this is giving you access?

Answer:
Yes. It makes use of what, giving that we're smaller in numbers around the country and we are always having to make choices as to what we respond to, I think what CRS has is 35, 36 years of experience so in addition to our mediation work, I think the technical assistance and guidance that we can offer, both local organizations as well as the officials, on how to respond to a situation, to guide appropriate response efforts so that they actually deal with the genesis of the issues and concerns as they are experienced in the community, and the benefits that certain response patterns can have for law enforcement and public officials taking another view of it that CRS can help to shape. It's that kind of technical assistance and guidance that's most affected by our experience with these situations over the decades. We've put that to work in this region since I've been here and in this conflict in particular. I think it's a useful way to think about conflict resolution work for CRS in the future. It maximizes what we know.

Question:
Have you run into situations where there is resistance to this kind of mediation?

Answer:
What you get in terms of overt resistance is because there are parts of federal agencies, because of their particular mission focus, or some local officials in law enforcement or elected officials, that may not have the same values attached to issues of equity and equitable treatment across the board. It may not have been in their experience patterns with the tremendous demographic changes that have taken place in the last ten years. They may be overwhelmed by it or it might not yet have shaped their views, or their way of looking at the situation and their communities in a way that is inclusive of the populations that are currently there. And then you have the traditional existing civil rights populations that have always had access problems and power imbalances with the existing institutions. So at CRS what we try to do is when we see that that's the issue, either that people's eyes haven't been opened to take a broad enough view, there's an imbalance in the power relationships, or there are simple problems of access to institutions, is that we try to address those as such. We will provide the access to local officials so that the conversations can take place, promote the dialogues between the affected populations and their public officials so that issues of concern to the affected populations can become known to public officials and constructive responses can be shaped. Often times we'll meet with public officials and law enforcement who may be in this more reluctant zone because literally their communities feel overwhelmed by the change and differences that diversity brings. We'll spend large amounts of time assisting them to see that indeed the populations have changed and how developing outreach processes, community assessments and community relationships is critical to other forms of law enforcement and that's it's also in their interests as well as in the interest of community stability. We have to consistently work around that, work around those questions of people who may not see it as clearly as we do.

Question:
To clarify, you said that they feel overwhelmed, do you mean the agencies feel overwhelmed with the changing communities.

Answer:
Yes, on some occasions that is very much the case and then you'll have an old guard in some of these agencies that's just not equipped either linguistically or by inclination.

Question:
Were you saying you meet with them separately, at times, to discuss the problems?

Answer:
Absolutely. We have to. If you do it only in a public setting first -- after you meet with the groups that are affected or effectively disenfranchised which you need to do to find out their concerns -- if you put them together directly with public officials immediately in some arena, all you've done is set up the dynamics of confrontation. So what will happen is that meeting wouldn't be depressurizing. It would be escalating and the officials who have been perceived as non-responsive, since they don't know how to relate to these communities, will, in fact, often times become more defensive. So it defeats the purpose to have a meeting such as that, unless you meet first with the law enforcement officials, and their command staffs, and the public officials involved to express the kinds of community concerns which they are aware of, but which they don't know how to go about addressing.

Question:
Are they receptive to those meetings?

Answer:
It takes a lot of listening on our part. It is similar to listening to the community groups and their concerns. It's the same mediation techniques you have to apply when you have these difficulties with some officials. You have to listen to their concerns a lot and you have to let them talk about the problems that they are facing and you have to let them talk about everything they've tried which may not have been very effective, possibly because it wasn't able to be received by the affected communities. You have to do an enormous amount of listening so that they feel heard and you can develop a relationship with them so that you can guide them into how they might want to think through the facilitation skills that they have in their meetings with affected community groups. We may be able to develop those skills in those individuals and maybe sometimes provide some walk-through training for them so they can handle and become more receptive to the kinds of intensity that affected communities may bring to these kinds of meetings. So they don't act defensively, so they can receive the information and understand that pressure groups are not just pressuring them but are pressuring them because they are the only people who could make a change. You have to predispose public officials and law enforcement in some cases to be able to open their viewpoints to realize that it's in everybody's interest to work through these changes together.

Question:
Do you ever have a problem getting access to these agencies?

Answer:
Let me put it this way. Since we are voluntary -- I had it in the mid-Atlantic with a major situation in a smaller city, but a very significant one around the schools. Basically the school committee had pushed out the first Latino superintendent in the school system and actually in that state. That superintendent in a four-year period had managed to raise reading levels almost a full grade in lower elementary grades. He may not have had the best community skills, but he was clearly putting in the right amount of time educationally to change the educational degree that you are seeing in test scores. Apparently there were some differences of view between the school committee and the way the superintendent was working, so they pushed him out. First they took away his staff. Then they moved his office to the basement of the local high school and then they worked with him for an early buy out of his contract. It created enormous amounts of community tension. The community was saying we had a good guy and now an old guard from the city is saying we just don't want this guy because whatever reasons that they had, he wasn't going along with the program as it ever existed before. He was actually making the changes he was hired to do. Well that school committee chairman didn't want to meet with CRS and there had been demonstrations in front of the community, in front of the school board meetings at the town hall, at the city hall. CRS got involved with the local police department so that the demonstrations, although they were not permitted, would be peaceful, some self-marshalling, as well as the awareness of the police on how to handle this; although they had a good response we wanted to make sure it didn't escalate any further. What these community groups wanted -- the coalition of community groups and hundreds of people -- was some talk at the school committee level and for the school committee to re-address/re-examine this question of early buy out and some answers around the policies of the procedures that were utilized to buy this guy out, or to pressure him out as they saw it. The school committee president refused to meet with CRS. He sent the secretary of the board to talk with me and said they were happy for the federal attention, but they declined. That created a situation with CRS. We have no coercive authority, but you still have a community tension situation. I chose to work with the chief of police, who was a long-time town resident, and then one of the school committee persons who was able to work with the city council which was the appropriating authority for the school committee budget. We were able to get some introductions to one of the school committee members who was at an executive capacity. He was a former chief of police for that city. So at least we could talk through what the concerns were and that person could hear them. We were able to talk to the people at the United Way, who had some influence in terms of the local political structure, just telling them about the concerns that were being raised by the community, which they knew, and also that we were not able to address the situation locally. By going through the other sets of public officials and the philanthropic community, we changed the disposition of the school board to be more inclined to at least consider some opportunity for CRS to play a role. Without any additional intervention, somehow or another independent of this, the president of the school board, in his private practice, came under scrutiny for some other actions that he may have been committing in his private practice. So, he resigned from the school board. Through the informal conversations that took place, not directly from CRS but the people we reached out to through the chief of police and others who were influential in the town, including the NAACP and Latino Associations, the school committee's review prioritized having somebody of Latino background, and also with the capacity to run effectively, to have policy input to the school committee. Among the five finalist candidates they had for the replacement school committee position were three Latinos. They wound up selecting a Latino person who had community ties but was also in a local University with which they had prior experience. All things being equal in their search for someone to deal with the community tension as well as provide effective governance to that school district, they found someone who was appropriately skilled and also had the appropriate language and cultural background to assist them with the transition, given what had taken place with the previous superintendent. So you can run into direct confrontation like that or have difficulties with people declining CRS services and utilize other relationships to keep talking the situation through so that other influential people can perhaps, without hearing it directly from CRS, have conversations with their counterparts and thus affect the situation for the benefit of the community without ever having done a formal mediation. You can get involved in the politics of the town by simply informing and providing the education.

Question:
You intervene, but you intervene with some stealth.

Answer:
Right, so that we don't raise the hackles of the local official whose already demonstrated recalcitrance.

Question:
How did you identify the other groups that didn't contact that committee?

Answer:
We had a long-term relationship with one of the inspectors in that police department. He was aware of what was happening, because it was in the local papers on a daily basis. We said, "Look what are we going to do? How can you help us because you've got your men tied up with all the demonstrations that are taking place and they're not going to go away. It's one town, and this is an opportunity for us to see what we can do together. You can have better relations because you'll need to have better relations in this community." I just asked.

Question:
So other people helped you identify the leaders?

Answer:
All you do is ask the question from a responsive source, which is what CRS used to do in the old days in the South. They'd go into a community cold and have to find who the people of influence were. So you start asking the people closest by. You ask the clergy who has influence. You ask the NAACP, to see if you were able to identify some of those people of influence even if they weren't highly visible in the public providence. Then we went and talked with them and expressed the concern and told them what was going on. They were also able to influence the publisher of the paper because the United Way has this little corporate committee round circle. They were able to talk to the publisher of the paper and that also influenced the nature of the direction that they took with the case. So in identifying the people, you need to talk to a large number of people and what begins to happen is that a smaller subset -- that's the other part of the underlying question -- you need to talk with a wide range of people in the community. You ask, "Who is it that can get things done. Who do you go to get things done in this community? Who else do you go to when those people don't work?" What happens is that you talk to community members, church members, members of municipal departments. And you talk with the private giving community. What begins to emerge is a small cluster of individuals and those are the ones you want to talk with or have other people talk to. That technique and that strategy goes way back to the beginning of CRS. They may not always be lawyers and doctors. They may be in some places where people have coffee, in the homes. Those people of influence exist in each place. A lot of them are unheralded and unsung, but they're there in each community and getting your way to them is through the process I just described.

Question:
I wonder if we could go back to that particular case and talk a little bit about how you got into it and then what your subsequent actions were.

Answer:
What happened was that it was real straight forward. I saw it in a news cast that they were planning a demonstration for that night and I just showed up. So, we deployed on site.

Question:
What sort of community was it?

Answer:
It was a Puerto Rican and Latino community with changed demographics. It's an exurb, already its own city. We deployed on site and all we did at the outset was work with the local police just so that they were aware, if they hadn't been, and also so that they would have a more tempered response and they'd have the appropriate officers detailed to this assignment. After the demonstration I made contact with one of the people who worked in the human relations commission. They hadn't had a lot of contact with CRS in that community before. So what I asked for was a chance to get to know some of the community leadership and the others who were concerned about this issue -- the superintendent's issue -- because it wasn't going away. What she did, bless her heart, is she arranged a little meeting at her home with the head of the NAACP, a couple of current school committee people who were opposed to this action, some former school committee representatives and the Hispanic community leadership so we could talk about what CRS did and what role we might be able to play. That was a lunch meeting at her home. It enabled us to go through CRS' mission, activities, capabilities, and things of that nature. That made it easier for us to work with them when they were setting up their next set of demonstrations. I tried to get them to get the appropriate permits and if that didn't work to let the police know that this non-sanctioned activity was going to take place. It also helped us to deal with the other resources that they began to bring into the community from outside, like the Puerto Rican Legal Defense and Education Fund, and try to keep everybody on message without taking away from their advocacy effort. But at least so that it wouldn't be exceedingly confrontational at public sessions, or if it was confrontational in public sessions, which it did become, that people would understand the posturing of a public session and still be able to have a private session subsequent to it when they could dialogue around the resolution of the concerns. What happened, through some basic lunch meetings at people's homes with people asking for some help, and then arranging their organization with clergy leadership as well as community organizations that came forward. We built that set of relationships first because the official side is much easier, in general, for us to access. At least they'll give us the courtesy of a response after the second phone call, if not the first, and at least some conversation even if they're not going to entertain our services. The real credibility needs to be established in the community setting and that takes time. You need to reach out and then you need to be there with them. The real influence of CRS is to level the playing field. I think the leveraging of power imbalances as part of the conflict resolution and mediation work is the key and it's key to all mediation in general when you have power imbalances.

Question:
At what point did you decide that this was a case to stay with as you conducted your assessment?

Answer:
The point at which I decided to stay with it came when they permitted me to go to the organizing meeting for the next demonstration. We were going to just do self marshalling techniques and introduce those kinds of skills for them to have. Some of the individuals started talking about violence against people and property. It was clear right then that it was something we had to pay attention to at CRS. If some people are going to advocate property damage and personal violence, then your end is the growing mistrust for public officials and law enforcement in that community and you're moving towards the two-step trigger process for civil disorder or civil unrest. At least you have a contingent that's willing to move in that direction so now you have to try to diffuse that, or at least see if there's enough to do the two-step process.

Question:
Define the 2-step process.

Answer:
It has to do with when communities have lost faith in public officials, and law enforcement. They've recent experiences, recent incidents that have emerged with problems of trust with both public officials and law enforcement. You now have set the stage for a trigger incident to inspire civil disorder or unrest. Those are the pre-existing sets of factors that CRS watches out for. When you have both sets of them you now become more finely attuned to the possibility of a trigger incident occurring in that community. Since that's true in large numbers of communities with concentrations of people of color, the question becomes when they've had recent incidents that are highlighting this distrust. That's what occurred in this community because of the pushing out of the superintendent. So that immediately made the prioritization and the possibility for its alert status much higher.

Question:
Was that an agency policy to look for that climate, that environment?

Answer:
It had been in my prior experience, but it is in the agency work. I think there is a two-step process in the CRS manual for conciliators set up many years ago, which has recently been updated, but it's in there as well. I had the good fortune of when I came on board of having a chance to look through the old stuff. These are good materials, so it had been there.

Question:
At that first meeting where you presented the CRS text, how did you get information about the community?

Answer:
People will tell you, once they've let you in and you talk about what you do. If you're willing to talk less and listen more, people who agree will begin to tell you what the history of that community is. There is very little probing that one actually has to do. People will tell you if you don't present yourself as being able to solve their problem, but instead as being able to facilitate and work along with them and for them to be able to work through their problems, and you're a resource for that to happen as opposed to the expert that's going to tell them how to do it. You're just getting them to make the better decisions and strategies and you're available to them, as well as to local officials. Then, people start telling you about their community. And that's pivotal because the understanding of previous events, racial incidents, or ethnic conflicts in that city and how they were responded to them, gives you a much better contextualization for the current conflict and maybe some of the reasons there is resistance to any progressive solutions.

Question:
Who knew that you were coming into town on that first visit to meet with the community group?

Answer:
The only one I called, the first one I called was the chief of police and the inspector that we'd had previous relations with to let him know we'd be on-site. Other than that, no one knew because it was that fast.

Question:
Is that your practice to let the establishment community know you'd be on-site and is it your practice to meet with the aggrieved community group first?

Answer:
Yes, that's my practice. I think it's CRS practice. If possible, if we have enough time, we try to have local contacts in the community that's aggrieved, that's making its issues known. A lot of times, in a lot of situations we may not have those people before we start. But we already know the conflict is taking place. We might not know the chief of police or the inspectors or the mayors in those communities, but we know there is a mayor, a chief of police, so it's a natural place for us to contact. It's always important to us to let local officials know that we're going to their communities and they can be aware of our presence early. So, we do let them know. That's pretty much standard procedure for us, and then to meet with the community groups as well as soon as possible.

Question:
How do you determine whether you have met with all of the parties affected by the issue?

Answer:
One of the things we're looking for is those people who can galvanize a community. From the CRS perspective in addition to those who are in traditional leadership roles in the community, we also know that public officials and law enforcement tends to have its greatest difficulties with those who they don' yet know. Those people are often ones who are the most capable of mobilizing their community and they're also the most outspoken. But by the very nature of their advocacy and their confrontational tactic, the law enforcement and the public officials have the greatest amount of difficulty having conversations with them. We need to get to know who those people are and that's who we go after, in addition to the traditional leadership of a town whom you might expect in community leadership to be there. We want to make sure that we can build some bridges to those more outspoken persons simply for the sake of being able to utilize those relationships to prevent further escalation of community tension so that we don't wind up in a trigger incident. We also encourage public officials and law enforcement to make those contacts with the most difficult persons in their communities. They need to be in communication with them. Whether it's in a formal arena or not, they need to take the time and find a way to do that because that's really where much of the grassroots action is. It takes a little bit more effort on our part, but it's really where we try to get to in addition to everybody else for the purposes of the peacemaking aspects of the Community Relations Service.

Question:
Talk about your work with the aggrieved community, preparing it to meet with the establishment community or vice versa. Do you help them build a capacity to negotiate and represent themselves at the meeting?

Answer:
Yes, there's an element of capacity building. What you try to get them to do is, what's their beef? They know what it is. We're not telling them. They know what it is. What their issue is, what their concerns are, what their beef is. The question for them to figure out who is going to represent those interests concerns and issues in their conversations with officials. Sometimes large community meetings are helpful, but they have to be organized in such a way, and the community needs to speak for itself; but its leadership or its representatives have to create the stage for that meeting to take place. For that to happen, their representatives need to be able to say what it is that they're concerned about in such a way that at the pre-meeting with officials that it can be heard, and then a stage or setting can be created for those issues to be either raised by the wider community or addressed with the larger community. So what you're really doing is listening enough so that they get through their anger, because the first part of the activity is enormous. I mean when CRS goes in people are very angry. A tremendous amount of the time, I think the overwhelming majority of the time, people in the aggrieved community are very angry. It takes a bit of courage, quite a bit. I guess it's sophistication and working in these settings, patience, and not thinking you have an answer for people. What we do -- what I do -- is go in there prepared to deal with a high level of anger and frustration and to listen with patience for a long period of time, as long as it takes without making suggestions. In that process they might ask for suggestions as how they might proceed and then I'll ask, "What's the array of options available to you?" Once again rather than telling them how to proceed -- because then you become just a simple advocate for their advocacy -- is helping them to explore what options they may have available to them. Then, which ones they'd like our help with. From that kind of meeting, we're also having a parallel set of meetings with officials so we can get their point of view on what they see as the difficulties or the problems and often times officials see it as issues of personality, or historical questions with inability to build bridges. Then there's another section of officials that sees it as part of the on-going effort to build appropriate relationships and bridges. In either case, we try to get them into the framework of building relationships and appropriate bridges of trust and communications. We know that we're only there during the crisis period. One of the main things that we try to do in addition to leaving a structure or a vehicle in place, what we're always trying to do is enhance local communication and the local relationships. We talk about that with each set of parties, with all the parties, because we know we'll only be there for a short period of time. It would be presumptuous of us to think that we're going to solve it for them, and it would be ineffective of us if all we wanted to do was help them to reach agreements when in fact if you help them with their local relationships and local communication, you've left in place the infrastructure for them to resolve future problems before they escalate; or if you have to come in, at least your relationships and your communications is at a better level and better point than the first time you came in.

Question:
Talk about the vehicle or structure that you say you try to leave behind.

Answer:
For example, people need to have ways to assess, communicate with, get input from communities and collaborate with communities. This can mean they might need police advisory committees or structures, some relationships to local Church groups, youth groups, etc., that can provide assistance and a ready source if a crisis comes up. It creates a ready source of individuals that they can go to penetrate a community, to help reduce the tension right away. For example, a structure is a police advisory committee. Sometimes they might have a human relations commission or council in the town or the county, so that might be something that's useful for screening complaints so that there's some redress capability through local ordinances in the future. This then gives people some positive channels through which to put their anger prior to things getting completely out of hand. You might suggest community relations councils if they don't exist already. Sometimes you may provide additional training for human relations councils or offer to sit in on several police advisory committee meetings if they already exist so that you can take a look at how things are currently operating and make suggestions to both sides on how they might want to improve it around the current set of controversies they're having. Sometimes mayors or municipal officials may not have broader arrays of outreach relationships to affect their communities. Particularly with demographics of change. So, you may talk with them about how they would go about creating such a vehicle or a structure because sometimes they don't know how, they haven't thought it through. And what the appropriate groups are, because youth are most frequently left out, for hate crimes, for violence reduction, for prejudice reduction, and meanwhile it's the most effective group. Both between long term activity and loosely organized, spontaneous activity, it tends to be in young people, high school and early 20's, and they're doing those actions on people in high school and their early 20's. That's the grouping that often times is disconnected from any of the commissions in town, or the advisory councils or advisory committees or human relations committees. So, those are two types. Another one is promoting community forums and dialogues. That's another kind of vehicle and structure that we talk about. Sometimes they pick the form of town meetings, but sometimes there are just forums and dialogues and we try to assist people, if it's useful for them, to create this kind of forum or vehicle where they can get some public airing of these things and come out with some recommendations for future actions. If asked, we'll sit and facilitate those with them, because sometimes that's helpful to them.

Question:
Do you ever find that either party asks you to do things that you're not able to do?

Answer:
Sure. People would like us to get the other side to do what the first side wants to do anyway. If you're in the aggrieved community, they want their agenda to be pushed to the exclusion of whatever the constraints might be in officials, and officials would like, sometimes, for us to be their representatives to get the community to follow a particular channel. Our role is to work impartially with all of the affected parties and come up with some resolutions or solutions that they can agree to, to work together. One of the difficult parts for us is simply maintaining that impartially while you are also trying to level the playing field, but maintaining that impartially. It is very easy to be perceived as being part of one side or the other.

Question:
Have you ever been in a situation where you found it difficult or where one of the parties had values that you didn't like?

Answer:
Well, everybody is a human being, so when you work at CRS you have to work with the Arian Nation and the Sons of the Confederacy. We have to work with the National Alliance when they are having their rallies and protests. Then there are going to be counter rallies and counter protests to them, or vice versa. There will be times when you may not agree with the construct that people have or the particular values that they bring to a situation. Sometimes it is not just the hate groups or what are known as hate groups or hate mongers. You may have people on the progressive left who have their own set ways of doing things and even though you are providing more information as CRS than they are getting from any other agency, sometimes because of their particular approach, not because of the agency's reticence as a matter of policy, and they're still pushing you into corners because they still don't believe what you're giving them is what's going to be helpful to their protest action or why they're not getting their permit or how to get their permit or what the police can not yet issue because the activity is being monitored or supervised by the Secret Service. They may be complaining about metro district police in Washington, DC or the Park Service police, but the calls are being made by the Secret Service. the ACLU and the Lawyers Guild and others are in complete belief that you are just part of the federal establishment. There is a wide range of people that have reason not to believe you. But at any given circumstance if you lose your professional objectivity and if you lose site of what your primary mission is, if you lose site of it, then you'll lose your effectiveness.

Question:
So is that what you focus on?

Answer:
You focus is on what the sets of concerns are, not what you think is right. You might have your own values. Everybody has their own values. You may think you know what's the right thing to do, but that's not your place, telling them what the right thing to do is. You also may think you know what's going on from what people have told you. But you only know what people have told you. In mediation and community conciliation, something to keep in mind is that as a mediator and conciliator there is every incentive for each set of parties to tell you only what they want you to hear.

Question:
So how do you tease out the truth and how do you respond when you feel you know, based on your knowledge and experience, what their best action might be but they don't see that or haven't thought of that? How do you work through?

Answer:
My personal belief since I come out of a civil rights and a community organizing background is that I've always worked with an empowerment model. So right from the beginning I had a capacity building model and that's both in institutions and organizations and in community groups. I've always work with that model. I'm very reluctant and also it's crystallized me and is ingrained in my training that what you want to do is try to get the best possible solution as you see it, but from amongst the array of suggestions of what the parties have available to them. Let me say that another way. I might think from previous experience that they should do X. They might only be at a certain point in their development in a community where they can only do Y. Where Y is a step towards X. So if what they are ready to do is Y, then encourage Y.

Question:
Suppose you don't see Y as being a step toward X, but perhaps that might be more effective action that in fact they could undertake, or does that happen?

Answer:
Sure it happens. When they're going to take a step on Y and all your experience tells you that it's not going to take them where they want to go, you try to apprise them of that. Both sides.

Question:
How do you do that?

Answer:
You ask them to think, "If you do that, what's the likely response? Let's say you are successful at it, then where will you be and how will they have responded to it. You can do that both with officials, who sometimes want to clamp people down and get them back in line, and other times they want to give away the whole candy store in an agreement or in a mediation. Whereas you know they aren't going to be able to live with that agreement later because they won't be able to fulfill it. And so you say, "If you do all that and can't deliver, where will you be with your community group then?" It's called reality testing. What you do is you walk them through, "If you do this, then what?" And so you agree with them and say "That's an approach you can take and what's the likely outcome and how does it move you toward the objective?" There are two other responses. First you try to help them take a look at what outcomes are they looking for as part of the natural part of what their interests might be. What kinds of outcomes are they looking for? That helps you on each side of parties in a conflict situation. "What kinds of outcomes are you looking for from us? What would be the best case scenario for you?" If you can move people into that kind of discussion early on in the process, which is after the anger and after their frustration which doesn't completely dissipate but at least gets to the point where you can deal with construction or constructive activity. If you can move them towards looking at outcomes they're looking for, what would the best scenarios look like, what needs are they trying to address, what interests do they have, often times you wind up with an array of possible actions that they can take. If you can get them there first, they are less likely to take Y strategy without comparing it to X and Z and A and D. You are less likely to wind up with Y and they pursue it anyway. You aren't always able to get them to do that in the time you spend with both sides.

Question:
Do you ever train a group to prepare for negotiations? How far do you go and do you tell the other party that you are doing this?

Answer:
You have to. You tell both parties that you are going to meet with each party. What I do is I tell them who I'm meeting with. If I didn't they're going to find out anyway, or lets say they didn't find out, if they should find out it compromises all of my effectiveness because they don't trust me anymore.

Question:
If you were to sit down with a city official and he asked, "Who was at that community meeting you attended," what do you say?

Answer:
That doesn't happen. That's not what I'm interested in doing. Then I am being used by the city official. What you tell the city official is, "I'm going to be meeting with members of the community groups, who would you recommend?" And they would suggest certain groups. That doesn't mean those are the only people I meet with. When I meet with the community groups and I've already met with the city official, I say, "Look I've already met with the mayor," or "I've met with this city council person and he suggested this group of people and then we have this large group that you suggest, so now I want to talk with you about your concerns. As I told the mayor (or city official), this is confidential and I can only share what you permit me to share with the other side." So I've already asked the officials, "Is it okay that I tell them that you suggested that I meet with such-a-such group?" If he says, "No," then I don't tell the other groups. If he says, "Yes," then I tell them. And I do the same thing with the community groups. So, now, I'll be asked, "Who was at the meeting?" I would say, "Well, what kind of meeting would you like? Would you like to have a session?" I would just take him off the point rather then answer his question. I just ignore it. I'm not about ready to say who was who unless "who was who" wants them to be known as "who was who" with officials. Sometimes their previous antagonism has so skewered their viewpoints of the current issue, they would immediately stop all processes and say that's so-and-so doing such-and-such all over again. That only has the same dynamic of so-and-so and such-and-such saying well that's just the mayor doing what they do all the time. So, it's not useful.

Question:
How do you prepare them for the negotiation?

Answer:
First thing is we've got to get ground rules straight. And the ground rules will be around who will do the talking, who will be their representatives that will be speaking, will those people be present for all the sessions, and then what some of the kinds of the concerns that they have are that they would like to address in some kind of prioritized order. While it doesn't move to single text, you're trying to negotiate and trying to get them as close to single text beforehand. Which means that at least each set of parties in the conflict will have it's set of concerns. Surprisingly enough a lot of them wind up overlapping much of the time. Surprisingly enough to the parties in the conflict anyway. So, then you need to introduce the ways in which the mediation sessions will take place and the fact when CRS does formal mediation, it's our process. It's not somebody else's process. The extent that you want CRS to participate means that it will be CRS's process and not anyone else's. If they aren't comfortable with that then we are happy to identify someone else, but when we move to formal mediation it's done in a very standard and particular way by CRS. The other one is that there will be no media contacts during the mediation, and it's agreed, except with us, at CRS. Now that doesn't always happen that way, but that's what we insist upon if there is going to be media contact that it's going to be with us so that we can talk about where things are at without putting things that are in the mediation process out in the public. Those are the basics, the ground rules; who the representatives are, consistency over time, identifying the substantive issues, what the CRS and mediator's role is going to be, and then how does that rule interact with the media. That all goes into the preparatory sessions. The other part that goes into meeting with the aggrieved parties and community groups tends to be while you're listening to these long meetings and their concerns about others, whether or not if you say it that way is that the most effective way to bring your point out.

Question:
So, you do early negotiation training with them?

Answer:
Yes, that's what you're doing. You wind up with the same thing with officials only the language is different and sometimes the anger levels are expressed differently. But then they've got the power. They can choose to do things or not do things based on their own prerogative. What we try to do is get them to exercise their prerogatives in a less flimsical fashion or a less personalized fashion and try to move them in negotiation training to looking at the larger community interest rather than look at the narrow interest that they might be placed in because of the nature of the current controversy. So you have to do that with both sides prior to the table. Then at the table you have to go back through the same sets of things again, so that there are agreements with everybody about what the ground rules are and how the representation will take place and what the preliminary concerns might be and what the general shaping would be and what CRS role is going to be. Then people will still try to sabotage the CRS role and you will have to assert it. If you are dealing with black community groups you'll have some black executive caucus member show up who is used to being highly respected and responded to and you'll have to say well, that would be a decision you would make if you were running the mediation session, but in this mediation session we are going to do it a little differently. You might have to do the same thing with the mayor who would say, "Well this is the way..." and I say, "Well Mr. Mayor with all do respect at this time that may be an approach you would take in another circumstance, not the approach you want to take here and if that's the approach you want to take then perhaps you don't need us to be here anymore." That usually will get a mayor or a mayor's representative to realize that they couldn't do it without you and so rather than back out of CRS they'll temper themselves. So you have to manage the mediation process pretty effectively and consistently.

Question:
Do you find that you often have to call caucuses?

Answer:
Yes, you do. In fact when things are getting to testy or when people are starting to clamor you, let so much of it go on. There is a whole bunch of set timing. First you let each party know that they can call for a caucus at any time. That's important. That is part of the ground rules. Once the sessions are going, sometimes you are moving towards an agreement on one set of frameworks or parameters and somebody wants to bring in another whole set of issues that weren't really on the table yet and so you shift over and you talk about those for a little bit of time and then as soon as you're getting toward a reasonable sets of understandings around that new set of questions they'll bring in a third set. Then you have to caucus. Those are sets of individuals on either side who are simply wanting to maintain the antagonisms and not reach closure or move towards agreement on any one set of issues by bringing up a secondary and third share of each set of questions. Or attempting to broaden the scope of the current mediation. Those are clear times to call caucuses. Another one is the anger levels. You have to let them vent from each side to some extent and you prepare each side in the pre-negotiation sessions for some venting to be taking place, to be prepared for it, rather than just reacting to it, which helps them. You can see people restrain themselves better then they might normally have done. Sometimes the anger levels get to such that you then have to simply ask for a caucus while you depressurize the situation. Then the third time for caucuses is when people start using personal attacks, which you've already put in the ground rules, but it starts to happen. Well, that's time to call a caucus because often times the person involved in personal attacks is operating out of this dream of what his side of the party wanted and they just lost it for a second on either side or are losing it. Or choosing to lose control. And you'll find that when you put them back in their second table sessions or their separate party stuff in a caucus you'll point it out and then their own other members will say, "Hey that's not very useful." They'll find a way to do that, both on the community side and public officials. I think there is usually a fourth area; its anger, its personal attack, it's getting off the point or trying to expand the agenda, and I think the forth or the fifth area is there will be people who'll essentially, no matter how many meetings you've had with them before, will try to undermine the process itself. So when you caucus, you ask them if that's what they're doing or you introduce that you called the caucus because there are some concerns that you have. You permit the caucus group to say, if you've called it, to say is that what it wants to do and you can permit it to keep it involved or not. Very rarely do they say "You can leave CRS," but sometimes they'll ask for it. You already know that they couldn't do it before, so they'll just come back again later and maybe these individuals will be a little more responsive the next time around. So that's pretty much it on the caucuses.

Question:
That list you were running down, is that a CRS list?

Answer:
I think it's from my own work. There are some things that just happen all the time or things to watch out for. You could still miss them as an experienced mediator, but it's harder and harder to miss the signs as time goes on. You still make mistakes, but you make fewer and fewer of them. You also become more aware of your own personal predilections and the certain ways you can be had on a basis of an agreement with values or a disagreement with values. So you don't become inured to them, but you become more aware of your own tendencies and your own tendency to be provoked and you also have learned through hard experience how taking sides or appearing to take sides has backfired. And you learn that as you get down the road in negotiation that you really ought to have them formally agree and have a session where they formally sign off together because a lot can happen from the time of an agreement to the formal sign off and the agreement can unravel completely. Something that if you aren't experienced and you haven't seen it happen and say, "Oh everybody agreed," and go to each party later to have them sign it and publicize it, and it doesn't work. I think this comes from experience.

Question:
On the issue of confidentiality, do you find situations where it's challenged or you feel the need to violate it?

Answer:
I never feel the need to violate it. At CRS by statute we are not permitted to.

Question:
Have you ever had a situation where you felt the need to violate it?

Answer:
No, because I've been in situations where if I were to violate it, it would help things move along at least in terms of what I perceived to be what's best for the situation or what I have perceived to be what's right or wrong. Remember, I said earlier, what I perceive to be right or wrong is only based on what people have told me in my own experience. If you know the process and you've been through it enough times you know better, or you should know better. The example I give is two parties in a divorce; the only people who know what happened in that relationship are those two people. What they are telling you is the point of view that they want you to hear. I don't think it's significantly different often times, although you can have insight to human nature and the kinds of problems you're going to have in a relationship, you may not know what went on in that relationship and that's similar to what's happening in a community setting. You may have large degrees of experience and have good ideas of what's taking place and you've seen similar dynamics but you don't know all the particulars.

Question:
You've had some experience in the media before coming to CRS. How do you deal with the media as a CRS mediator?

Answer:
The media is often times not helpful to CRS's work, particularly mediation because they are trying to follow a local story and their local story is based on the local controversy. What will happen when you are in a mediation is that some of the parties will try to go to the media. Even though you had a ground rule around it, somehow it will leak out. Usually you can pinpoint or by and large have a good idea who it was based on what was said. Whenever that occurs the media account tends to disturb one or the other parties anyway it's done and it interferes with the mediation process. So it is preferred by me and by CRS that if there has to be a media contact during the mediation for it to happen from CRS so you can give us a more impartial accounting of what's taking place and it's not going to interfere. It's your process and you sure as heck don't want what you say out of the media's mouth to interfere with the work that you are trying to do with the parties. The media tend to be difficult. They very rarely shed more light. Wherever possible we would like it to be with CRS and then as limited as possible. To describe the process, the CRS role in relation to it and then CRS mission.

Question:
How do you respond to media when they come to you during an early phase of a case?

Answer:
I'll mention what we do, the prevention response to community tension that has a basis in race, color, or national origin and that we are currently assessing the situation to see if there are services that we can make available. I would describe the mission and the mandate in the assessment phase. Usually that will be enough. Of course I'll get probed for more, but that is all I'm willing to say in the assessment phase. I used to have a Regional Director that I could kick that question to, but now it's me. They would catch me when I was a conciliator too, but now the conciliators all put them to me. I don't blame them. We try to respond. Sometimes we are caught onsite and they'll pretty much respond the same way in terms of trying to provide clarifying comments or contextualizing comments for the difficulty that's taking place. That's the approach that we are trying to take with the media.

Question:
How do you deal with impasses in a mediation?

Answer:
The primary activity of a mediator, in my view, is supposed to be to try to get the parties to get to an agreement that they can then live with. The difficulty for mediators tends to be that first you get too invested in getting the parties to an agreement. When you get invested in them getting to an agreement, which is natural, you get too close to it, too invested in it. But it's not your agreement, it's their agreement. Mary Rowe, the Ombudsperson at MIT, was very helpful to me when I asked her, "What do you do?" She said, "Well I take long walks with my dog." That was exactly what I needed because the frustration of trying to get parties to agreement was very helpful for me to understand how do you maintain your neutrality, how do you maintain your impartiality. Well I take long walks. Even in this WTC stuff I take long walks. I get out to nature. I may only get out for an hour or two and I may be working a 14 hour day, but that puts me back in the right context. What human being ever created a tree? They might have built a big building, but how about a tree? Keeping myself from getting too invested in an agreement. One of my early teachers, Adam Curle actually had a heart attack at Harvard, under an African conflict, trying to stop the war. He was from Cambridge and he was also at Harvard. Afterwards, when I went to see him and he was recovered he told me, Renaldo, I couldn't stop the war and it almost killed me. You have to remember that you won't be able stop the war. So with one set of experiences in the mid 70's and then the other 15 years later, both of which were about the same age at the same time, only I had gotten older. It helps me to realize and stay in the reality that I can't get people to agree. I can do everything I can, but they have to agree. That's one. So as much as I would like to see things happen, if they can't get there, they can't get there.

Question:
So you can live with impasse if necessary.

Answer:
If necessary. The other part that goes into this is, I'm working hard because I know an agreement is important and would be helpful for a situation, but I'm willing to look at other things along the way that might yield an agreement in the future or that doesn't have to use formal mediation techniques to get them to agree without having a signed agreement. So conciliation techniques, with structures, processes and vehicles that they can then implement so that they may not have a formal agreement but it already has them in a different relationship to each other.

Question:
It sounds like you're getting some type of an agreement.

Answer:
Yes, we're getting an agreement, but it may not be a formally mediated agreement with signatories. Now on the formal agreement side it helps me to say well I may not get it at this time, but maybe we can get it at another time. So impasse means that because I've got a little more distance from it, as close as I get and as time consuming and energy drawing as it is, the primary role of a mediator is to get movement in the parties. So, if you get to impasse what you want is movement. Before you get to impasse you need movement anyway. One of the guys that I work with at the University of Massachusetts would talk about the dance of mediation, and parts of it are just that. It's the movement, it's constantly creating movement. So when you get to impasse you look at what can you agree to. Or what goes into, I mean, "We are stuck here, maybe we should take a break, time for a caucus," and then you go back to the parties and find out. "Okay, we're stuck at this point. How did we get here? Are there any ways we could have avoided getting to this point? Is there any reason to have any future conversation if we are going to be stuck here? Is there anything other then this impasse that we could talk about? If you got impasse, if you can't get through this then there is nothing else to talk about, then what is it about this that makes it impossible for you to deal with from your point of view?" I try to get the parties to look at what creates the impasse from their points of view. Sometimes what turns out to be the reasoning why behind both sets of parties are at impasse may be much smaller then the impasse that showed up. So the reasons, as perceived by each party, that yielded them viewing it as an impasse and then projecting it as such to the other side may be able to be dealt with in second table negotiations or in caucus and then be brought back to the larger meeting so that they can reexamine the impasse, and in fact it can go away. Sometimes we'll take the impasse when it's just there and say can we put it aside. Are there other things we can talk about? Should we take a break from this and come back to it another time? Either way what I'm trying to do is create the movement to get around the impasse or through the impasse or to put it aside, often times by taking a look at the reasons behind it, the thinking behind it, or is it really as significant as it appears to be, to get them to examine that.The other area is (long pause).

Question:
What you've said although you didn't put in your summary, is that you can get an agreement on some other related matter such as setting up structures and other activities.

Answer:
Exactly. That's the one.

Question:
Have you ever found yourself intervening within a conflict or party? Where one of the parties is split.

Answer:
Yes, I have but it doesn't work out that well. If within a party they are split and they are fighting with each other and you intervene, that's fine. What you're better off doing is getting a third one from that group to help the two that are in conflict process their issues. You are much better off. I've tried it directly, but the focus can come on me so directly, so easily or I can appear to be taking one side or the other because I'm trying to help them to keep their issues on the same table that the one who feels devalued winds up more problematic or not contributing at the full table, at the first table negotiations later. I've found it easier when I have these parties around or when there are problems or when they've called a caucus and they have their differences of views, to try to raise the group process. "I understand what's going on, this is what seems to be happening to me. What do other people think?" That lets the rest of those parties, at least, have input into it and then they'll break off and deal with it most of the time. At least the major part. Then by the time I get to speak to them, an antagonist or protagonist like this, I'll say, "I know that its hard for you and this is difficult, I say can you live with what the other members are saying to you, or is it too difficult to continue and if it is why don't we talk about that some more." It keeps me out of the primary role. In other words the interventions happen without me being in the primary role. It winds up much more effective. I think it takes a little bit more skill around the group process stuff and permitting others to take emerging leadership roles, but it winds up more effective from my experience.

Question:
You said first table is when everyone is at the table. What about "second table."

Answer:
With each of the parties and whatever constituent groups they represent.

Question:
Is that different than a caucus?

Answer:
It's really similar to a caucus. It's that sometimes the people in a caucus also have to go back and talk to their community memberships, so that's why sometimes it's described as second table. Because the caucus doesn't comprise the entire community constituency, it just has representatives.

Question:
Will you expand on how you view yourself in terms of neutrality, impartiality and objectivity when there are issues of justice involved?

Answer:
I don't think I'm ever really objective. I come out of a community background. There is just no question about it. Just by approaches, empowerment, by nature, by training and by values I can't claim to be objective.

Question:
How do you address that and make it right with the establishment party?

Answer:
The answer is that I don't confront establishment people with their inability. I don't confront them. I talk with them. So, if they don't feel confronted and they feel that someone is speaking with them and that somebody understands their point of view, then they are much more ready to dialogue with you. As they talk with you they come to trust you. When they are talking with you and coming to trust you, you can now teach them some things, or elicit or inspire in them, not always, another way of looking at the situation. And the other way of looking at the situation might be the empowerment mode. Which is really very useful because it helps those people in power and those people out of power if they start looking at capacity building, empowerment structures, leveling the playing field, getting access to everybody, treating everybody all right, that's very helpful in how they administer. Either in a police force or in working with community groups, or as public officials. It's just not a model that everybody is familiar with. If you talk about it directly as empowerment it would be confrontational because basically you're telling them that they are disempowering people. That's not helpful to them to hear that. Also, by talking to them about what kinds of difficulties they've had, what kinds of success they've had before, some of the stuff that I've had in dealing with people like them in similar situations helps them to feel that somebody understands their viewpoint and the reality that they're setting in. Once that happens, then in dialogue and exchange you really can teach. Teaching doesn't mean, "A, B, C, D, lecturing," but it's introducing new perspectives and other ways of taking a look at stuff. It can be planting a few ideas as to possibilities so that they feel that it's their own idea. Which is fine with me. My work in this field is not ego driven. I just want to get the work done. Accolades can go to whoever wants them and needs them.

Question:
Do you present yourself to the establishment as a neutral?

Answer:
As impartial. Neutrality is really hard. It's like objectivity. I don't think it's possible. The drive is to be impartial. So that's why I'll talk to each side in these ways and it also helps to keep from being too strong an advocate because if you're perceived as an advocate you can't help the other party. And you're not an advocate anymore when you're with CRS. Although what we implicitly do is balance the playing field with those disaffected groups and the mainstream society. But you need to approach your work in an impartial way.Let me introduce something to you that came from an earlier story. When I was advocating for the National Latino Media Coalition and we were meeting with Senator Hollings, I presented what we were talking about in terms of media portrayals, access to employment, ownership opportunities across the board for print and electronic media, tax credit structures to encourage diversity of ownership and our interest in getting public messaging out. When I was finished, he said to me, "You know, you're not a special interest group. You're talking about John Q Public," and I said, "Yes, we are part of the public and that's the point of view that we're representing." I was 27 or 28 when I started there. I think that's the same approach that I brought to the work at CRS, which is assisting public officials and law enforcement to recognize that it isn't just a screaming group of minority people over here, but that this is a part of the public and it's in the public interest to see them that way and have their viewpoints and concerns incorporated in public policy that way. The notion of special interest populations is part and parcel of why you have protected classes. If you're going to begin to undo the nature of those community dynamics, people need to perceive special communities as part of the general community so that it gets addressed in the same way that general community issues are addressed. I think that translation question is what I'm best able to do with public officials and law enforcement, in ways that they can receive it. Which then prepares them to hear it in less fine language from the community and come up with constructive solutions. So I can do my work impartially, but it really does represent a leveling of the playing field. So it's an advocacy for inclusive community interest without advocating for a particular community at any particular episode.

Question:
When you have concluded a mediation, what are the indicators you look for to determine if you've been successful?

Answer:
You know what I look for, for me agreements aside because not everything is organized or oriented towards that. I'm looking at the communication and the relationships. A long time ago when I started this part of my training was with Governor Louis from Pueblo Zuni, who was working on Black Mountain with the Hopi and the Navajo when I was back there in the early 70's, and he took me along with his sons. What I learned there was something that I've taken with me forever, which is my expectation in any community conflict where we intervene either between parties or working with individual parties like we're doing now in WTC, is the expectation that I have and where I put my premium is that the next time we meet we'll understand each other better and we'll each be in a different place. So I have very modest expectations around any particular controversy. What it helps me with is not to get too wedded to anything, although I'm completely committed. It lets me take my walks and have a viewpoint that can help other people. It helps me from having a heart attack or getting too burned out. The idea that we each understand each other better as an outcome and that we each will be in a different place as an outcome as primary objectives is extremely important. It goes to an operational definition of improved relationships and improved communication. So, that's what I'm working for and that's what I see as a success measure. If two people who previously couldn't talk with each other are now able to sit together, even if they don't agree, that's a big difference from where they were before. If two people who don't agree with each other can come to understand why the other person has the point of view that they have, that's a success measure. If people who previously were not in any relationship to each other can now have formal and informal ways of interacting with each other on a regular basis that's an outcome measure. Because I know fundamentally that the whole framework for mediation is because basic respect has broken down, communication has stopped, confidence is no longer there, there can be no unity and there can be no community.

Question:
You're talking about improved relations.

Answer:
Yes. If you build back the community, it starts with respect, communication and trust that then people can see the different points of view and work together towards a community. I really focus on that as outcome measures. Each step of the way I'm trying to model that kind of behavior and how I talk to people, even people whose values I disagree with fundamentally. I have to model the behaviors that I'm hoping they will be able to get to my example. They can be their own example of it later. They don't have to be like me, but at least I model one way of doing it. So there is an internal consistency to my approach with individuals and with groups that then in turn influences the ways in which they might deal with each other. So, that's what I look for. If that's happening I know we are knitting something and that stuff stays knit amongst them. A lot of times really aggrieved parties will watch me handle a particularly obnoxious person in a particular way and then think, "I never thought of doing it that way." You know, cut them some slack. Sometimes the most nasty community individuals, because they do exist, mau mauing people like crazy, how you handle them can be very helpful to people in officialdom because they get frightened or intimidated by people like that. That's really where I look and it's always a core part of my work. I think it's happened with you. I've been doing the talking here, but it's what I try to do. So, I can understand what your needs are, where we're going, where it could be differently framed than elsewhere, where you would like to go and how my conversation contributes to the research efforts that you are making. So when we meet next time maybe we'll understand each other a little better and we'll be in a different place. That's really what I try to do. It's the relationship. Once you put that back in place with respect and dignity, once you can get those things in place then you've helped the local situation as much as you can really expect.

Question:
Related to that, do you have other techniques that you use to build trust between you and the parties or between the parties themselves?

Answer:
Yes. There is something that I believe in fundamentally. Everything else has been systems theory, if you've noticed my approach is not just systemic it's systematic in that I work from a systems theory viewpoint. I have a very fundamental belief that in the intense presence of good, evil can not prevail. Now that means intense presence of good. That's just not being good, sort of good, and okay. I have a belief in that, a fundamental belief, and I know it to be true. So if I can be that being, even if it only winds up witness to a conflict or a confrontation, then that means that things probably won't get worse. So it's really the capacity for caring and the capacity for the compassion around the human suffering that's taking place and an understanding of those who may be creating the suffering that their own dehumanization is happening in that process. My ability to try to help them stem themselves from their own fate, from their own action by introducing a degree of kindness and listening to my respect and dignified treatment, that can make a difference. Now if you get "pure evil," and they want to do it the way they want to do it, well that's what they do and that's because they like it and that's what they're about. Well, in that case at least we'll be able to circumscribe how much damage they can do or delimit or in some way fence it off and help others not to become like them. That's where, if you fight a strategy which is pernicious with a pernicious strategy of your own, all you do is become more pernicious for whatever reason than you think you're doing it. Your behaviors and your methods of operation will be counted toward your long-term interest. So trying to find people with more principled ways of action and to embody those in my behavior and in my treatment without a lot of pontification, just in my day-to-day interaction and in the course of working through a crisis from the time I receive it and listen to a person who indicates it, to the time I assess it on sight and work through it is a constant interaction to try to remember that fundamental human relationship and that fundamental humanity so that people can work through it. I think that goes to belief, it's technique, it's beyond technique. It's belief and it's a manner of being in a code of conduct.

Question:
You didn't use the word empathy?

Answer:
Well, I used compassion, but it is empathy. You know sympathy will get you killed in this business. I mean you'll die from burnout and so will extraordinary degrees of compassion, as much as you feel it. But your ability to empathize will let you work with all the parties longer and to communicate with them better. Without waxing too much about this, it is just the belief. It comes from the indigenous belief, which was part of my training with Gov. Louis. People learn how to love by being loved. Well people learn how to empathize by experiencing it. There isn't a whole lot of it going around, especially in conflict situations. Being able to at least be able to put yourself in the other person's point of view and for them to feel you there is helpful to you and helpful to them. On the technique side it's very disarming.

Question:
When you hire, what skills and attributes do you consider are most important in this work?

Answer:
Well I think the last one where we came to in our closure is. I think the most important one in terms of mediation work is that ability to empathize while still staying clear in what your role is. I also think for us and for CRS in the future, you need an ability to understand in basic ways populations of new Americans. I think there are going to be more and more flash points and flare ups. We've had the major tragedy now, but it affects immigrant populations disproportionately. Now with the changes in legal structures that we're having in America, it is going to continue to affect them disproportionately. So we are going to have conflicts between new arrivals and people and older civil rights populations as well as older Americans of all stripes and colors and new Americans. Being able to understand the dynamics of population change and being able to work with newer immigrant populations as well as old line civil rights populations and the existing dominant society population is critical. All three.

Question:
So this job has become much harder.

Answer:
I think we are going to be part of the bridge builders for those communications between newer groups and older groups in America, and that's where most of the action is going to be. So I'll be looking for that. I think I'll be looking for some ability to work conceptually as well as practically because CRS, even if we grow bit by bit, won't be the size we were in 1995 for ten years, even if we grew bit by bit, just to get back to where we were in 1995. We are only 51 or 52.

Question:
How many?

Answer:
Fifty four full time equivalents. We only have 52 people. People remember 100 and 150 CRS people. That's not coming again. If it comes again, I'd be happy to see it but it's not likely. So I need a degree of experience to have some insight to think through conceptually how to get the greatest impact and not just respond to the conflict and crisis response, but how do you build in systemic approaches so that communities are able to have the capacity to continue to apply the things that they need to do in the local areas. And how do we position ourselves, and I'm looking for people who would think about or are inclined to learn how to position themselves as CRS people so they are accessing key community opinion makers and leadership. So that we can guide the conflict processes better in both preventing them and then respond to them. It's a different way to do the work in addition to the skill of having to be on sight and present. So that we do more speaking, not just training, more speaking and shaping opinion. Chiefs of police associations, league municipalities, conferences with mayors, interest group populations, so we talk about CRS and we talk about the things that we see. I think that's what I'm looking for. I don't know how many I'll find, but that's what I'm looking for.


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