Did you set goals for your intervention? At what point in the process?


Ernest Jones


 [Full Interview] [Topic Top]

Question:
Again going back to the Louisville case, did you already have a goal in mind when you went to the judge or decided to take this case? Did you already have a goal in mind about what you wanted to happen or is that something that developed over the eight months?

Answer:
Well, I mean the goal was to provide mediation to resolve that lawsuit.

Question:
Did you have any minimum expectations? Specific expectations?

Answer:
Yeah to bring mediation to completion. I know it sounds simple but that's it. I guess the easiest way to say it is the goal would be to bring the parties to agreement on all issues and produce a mediation document signed by all the parties that the judge will find acceptable, you know or something to that effect. Basically that's it. I consider it successful if we provide the forum for mediation. We try the mediation and if it works we're successful and if it doesn't work we're successful. We're not always happy about that success but we're successful because we did what we said we were going to do. We provided the forum and we took them through the process. If for some reason they were unable to get together and resolve their issues that's not the fault of the mediator. It's not my job as a mediator to resolve the issues for them. That's their job. My job as a mediator is to run the process, to facilitate the process. That's it. I don't have to resolve the issues for them. As long as I do the thing and I do it well, then I've been successful. I do training for kids in schools on peer mediation and I tell them a lot of times you're not going to be successful in bringing the parties to an agreement but you're going to be successful in terms of having provided the forum for them to do that. If they can't reach an agreement, that's not your fault. Don't feel bad about it as long as you did the best job you can do and provided them with the process. And so I couch things in terms of if I do my job then I'm successful and I've accomplished my goal. If they can't do their job I do not take responsibility for that.

Question:
And the safeguards are built into the process to help them resolve the conflict? The process in and of itself is going to enable or assist those parties to resolve the conflict, right? By you saying that's okay, at this particular time you are going to state your issues, now that's allowing them to hear the other side and actually listen to what's being said. Then the next step of the process is to highlight one of those issues and go through it step by step. So, I'm saying the process in and of itself, if it works properly, the goal is that they'll be able to resolve their conflict based upon the methodology of the process. Is that right?

Answer:
You could say that if you wanted to. I still view it the way I stated it and that is simply that; it's not my job to resolve the issues.

Question:
What's the goal of the process then?

Answer:
The goal is to provide the process. The process doesn't have to have a goal.

Question:
What's the purpose of the process then?

Answer:
To provide the forum for mediation. To provide an opportunity for the two parties, assuming there are two of them, to come together in that particular arena and to work out an agreement on their issues. And if the mediator provides the opportunity for them to do that then the mediator is successful. If the parties are sincere about resolving the issues through mediation then they will. If they aren't or if one of the parties isn't sincere about that, and is just going through the motions of doing mediation so they can say they tried mediation, then they're not going to resolve the issues. That has nothing, absolutely nothing, to do with the mediator or the mediation process. That is due to the fact that they don't want to resolve it in that venue. I mean ideally the intent is to have them resolve it, but the reality of it is that if I provide them with an adequate process, and the forum to do it, and they don't do it then it's their faults not mine and I've been successful.




Werner Petterson


 [Full Interview] [Topic Top]

Question:
In your mind are these solutions or suggestions different from goals?

Answer:
Well, early on we tried to set goals. To me it was always like finding a common interest so I guess the common interest then becomes your goal. Finding the solutions to those common goals, that's where you're going to deal with a lot of work. Usually a goal is a common interest or can be understood or agreed to. It's the process of how you get to the common interest which really becomes a problem. In this case it was trying to find a plan that would demonstrate that the schools within the city had been integrated. The solution came from an organization within the community. They came up with a plan for how you could determine whether or not there had been a change in the population and the teaching staff of the school district. So the difference was that it shifted away from the school district and it gave the school district more flexibility instead of having to implement specific plans or specific programs. It gave them flexibility on a school-by-school basis. Students ended up selecting some of the schools, and these became special kinds of schools, like magnet schools. Initially they were fighting sides, we're going to chop the school district up this was and that way. We're going to send these kids from this place over to that place. At that point magnet schools had a good track record. By using this system of determining numbers it was given some flexibility but at the same time the school district would be held to some marker on how they were going to bring change and for some reason that solution was what changed the discussion.




Will Reed


 [Full Interview] [Topic Top]

Answer:
We don't say, "Figure out what your goals are." Flip that over and say, "Identify what the issues are." And that's the next phase. There was a guy who wanted to know how I got involved in the Justice Department. And I told him, "I'm not the issue." You have to identify the issues. In the meantime, you're developing relationships.




Silke Hansen


 [Full Interview] [Topic Top]

Now, I'm one of those people who starts off every case initially by saying to myself, "Okay, how can I bring this to mediation?" It helps me from day one, minute one to have an agenda in my mind. As I'm working toward that, it may become clear fairly quickly that the case is not going to go to mediation, and that's fine. But if I start out thinking that it might go to mediation, I have a perspective to work from when I approach the parties. If that doesn't work, then I ask myself, "Is there some training we can do? What other kinds of assistance can we provide? Are there some documents I can give them, or maybe I can just facilitate some meetings?" or whatever. But usually, unless I am asked specifically to come in for some other purpose, I'll assume we're trying to initiate mediation. Remember the case I was talking about earlier, about tax day? In that case I was asked to come to facilitate the meeting. I ended up facilitating another one similar to that about a month later in the same community. And there were some great things that came out of that, so it was a very rewarding and beneficial event. But that would be an example of where I didn't attempt to go toward mediation, even though there were some pretty good outcomes that arose from that particular situation.





Stephen Thom


 [Full Interview] [Topic Top]

You could set your goals pretty early in this case?

Answer:
Yes, we were pretty confident.

Question:
What were those goals?

Answer:
Those goals were to sit down with the institution and figure out under what conditions and circumstances the institution and the Ohlone tribe could agree to return and rebury the Native American remains.






Angel Alderete


 [Full Interview] [Topic Top]

Question:
So your main goal was to try to assist the police in dispersing the crowd out of the area. Did you have any other goals in mind?

Answer:
The major goal was -- and it's the goal that Washington had dictated -- to keep violence from occurring. Our goal, as two guys out there, was to keep each police unit and each group from going at each other, which in the global picture was to keep violence from occurring. We refused to use those kinds of words because we knew that they were designed mostly for the media, and we didn't want to do that. That's really it, a very simple kind of approach to a problem that anybody with common sense and a little experience would have been able to handle. It didn't take a PhD, it didn't take a rocket scientist, it didn't even take a guy with a B.A. necessarily. It just took a guy with common sense to go out there.




Edward Howden


 [Full Interview] [Topic Top]

Question:
So how did you set your goals, then, once you got on-site and you'd spoken to those parties?

Answer:
Well, I would say the goal simply arose from the nature of the problems that got defined by the respective parties. The basic mission of CRS was to help folks who were in tense, potentially (or actually) confrontational or violent situations with each other, to help them identify their main areas of grievance and difficulty and see whether something could be done to reach a common ground and ease the tensions. The problems automatically dictate the goals. Of course, CRS is concerned with not just trying to paper over the situation, but hopefully enabling the people to address real problems that underlie their difficulties, so that justice can be served on all sides by whatever resolution is reached.




Ernest Jones


 [Full Interview] [Topic Top]

Question:
At that point did you have a goal in mind of what you wanted to happen out of this?

Answer:
Yeah. The goal was to be prepared to respond to conflict between Olympic people and the community that it impacted, and secondarily the people who were coming to the Olympics from all over the world. We wanted to be prepared to respond to any conflicts that took place amongst the people that were coming to attend the Olympics, not just the ones that live here. But it was basically to be able to just provide conciliation services. We also wanted to have input into the planning process, and particularly in the contingency planning process where you do get this kind of stuff.

Question:
Now did you solicit the help of the key parties in developing your goals, or was that something CRS did?

Answer:
No.

Question:
Okay.

Answer:
So it got to a point where we were done with the assessment and I kind of determined a plan of action. Here's what CRS plugs into this whole thing, here's what CRS ought to be prepared to do, and here's what it's going to take to do that. We were going to utilize all the regional staff and I think at that time there were six of us. The Olympics go on 14-18 hours a day every day for 14 days, and do so at multiple sites (e.g., in Atlanta there were events taking place all the way in Savannah, Georgia, which is a five hour drive up in the mountains) and there were also various venues that were anywhere from 10 to 50 miles out of Atlanta. So it wasn't like you were just going into one area and dealing with the situation. We had a multitude of venues, and sites. Atlanta was the key one, but the other ones had the potential for conflict between people, so we had to be open to that. So we needed a lot people to come in. As I recall I think the total was sixteen people in all. The basic design was that all the people would come in for the fourteen days straight, but then there would be breaks provided, based on how things were working. When things were slow we had the luxury of taking a break or something. I had two person teams. We had sixteen people so I think it broke down to two eight-person teams and actually I was monitoring the whole thing. And it was set up so that we had all the venue sites covered when we needed to have them covered. It was set up so that we would have all the time periods of each date covered; it was just a matter of logistically assigning people to the right place at the right time. And then we also had it built in that people were available to move should something come up in some place external to the place they were positioned at any point in time. People were mobile.

Question:
Were you looking for certain things?

Answer:
Well what we were trying to do is monitor the whole process. The people that I brought in were all experienced staff. But I just lost my train of thought.

Question:
You were telling me what things you were looking for.

Answer:
We knew for example, that the venues in downtown Atlanta were pushing right up against, and actually into some of the lower income areas in Atlanta where there's a high density of people living. And because of the Olympics, the flow of traffic was changed so you couldn't drive down the same street that you always drove down and some streets were closed at certain times, and others were blocked off completely. There was just a lot of disruption of the normal flow of movement within the city. And so you've got these, things going on, but you have all these factors that come together. And you've got law enforcement everywhere and you've got it from all kinds of places. I mean not only are they physically all over the place, but they are from at all parts of the country and all different levels of government. The one thing that they've got in common is that they are all law enforcement people concerned with security. You know they don't want anybody to get hurt. And of course you know we've got that bomb thing here and that's why they are out there. But in the process of doing their job they were injuring other people's ability to do things. So we knew there were going to be flash points where people were going to get hot and there was going to be confrontation. Once people get into a confrontation the next thing you know you've got a crowd and the potential is there for violence. We couldn't stop that, but in the preplanning and the contingency plan we talked about a bunch of these things, made suggestions and recommendations. But when we were actually on-site the idea was to be there and to be ready to move because you can't be everywhere at once and you can't identify all of them so you just have to be prepared to go. I mean you might actually see something and respond to it right away but what we did was we would get notified that there was a potential problem so someone would go over there and start to deal with it. And I'll talk to you about how that activity went. So you know people were out there and basically doing what CRS does.

Question:
Were you talking to people this whole time, or were you just sort of walking around patrolling?

Answer:
We were in constant contact with the law. For example you would be walking in this one area, say around the Omni where there were a lot of events going on, and there were people all over the place on the streets and everything else. We would just touch base with the law enforcement people on the scene. Ideally we would try to touch base with whoever was the commander for that particular sector, but we would also talk to the officers that were just standing on the street corner. "Hey what's going on? How are things going?" And that sort of thing. We would talk to people just on more of a friendly basis then anything else because as soon as you start questioning somebody who wasn't officially there they're going to wonder why you're asking this and that can create a problem. So there's only in terms of "Hi, how are you?" type stuff. The rest of it was in keeping in touch with local law enforcement people that were on site. There was a main command post and we had somebody in there 24 hours a day. And everything that happened flowed through the command post and every action that was taken flowed out of the command post. So we sat there with everybody else and we knew almost instantaneously what was going on. I equipped everybody with cell phones. We didn't try to use walkie-talkies or anything because there were a zillion of them around. So, we were in instant communication amongst ourselves. There was one large board that was a running incident schedule that logged the time, the location, and what happened. It was constantly changing, growing, but it told everybody in there what was going on and if there was something that was a potential problem, it told whoever was in charge of the command post. The commander would make a verbal announcement to everybody in there about what was going on and give all the latest information and that kind of thing. So we were constantly in touch with our command post and we knew what was going on all over the place because everything flowed into there. So we would use that as a guide of where we would go and what we would do. And we would also feed information into that process if we saw something happening or if we thought something needed to be addressed. We would call our person at the command post who would talk to the person he needed to talk to and there would be an instantaneous response. That was a real neat set up because it worked really well and if you consider the number of people involved it was amazing that it did. But it worked really well in terms of information moving around. So that's kind of how we came up with where we went. And there were a few, but not many, but a few announced events. Nothing pops to mind immediately, but there were times where an organization or a group said they were going to protest at such and such a site because so and so is there. Most of those protests were political in nature and they were foreign, outside of the United States, where people would protest because a particular country was there. But we were always there to deal with the potential that comes from any planned demonstration. No matter how well it's planned the potential of conflict exists so we would cover all of those. We would always have someone present. Since there are so many people involved in those things, we tried to the best of our ability to get to know some of the protestors and other groups that we knew were going to be out there. We would identify their leadership and talk to them in terms of working as a liaison and that kind of stuff.




Ernest Jones


 [Full Interview] [Topic Top]

Question:
Let's talk about trust, the significance of trust, not only in this case of Louisville, and the police officers, but in general as a mediator, how important is it for you to gain the trust of the parties?

Answer:
Well, I think it's extremely important. Let's say I'm doing mediation and during the process, my sense is that I didn't gain the trust of one of the parties, or both of the parties, and the mediation is not successful, and maybe we go back to court or whatever else they were doing. In that particular situation, I would then not view that I had made my goal. I would not have accomplished the goal because that element, not having gained that trust which is part of the mediation process, is unsuccessful. So the mediation wasn't successful and I accept the blame for that. I also recognize that there are going to be individuals that are not going to trust me no matter what I do, simply because I'm a Fed or simply because I am white.




Ozell Sutton


 [Full Interview] [Topic Top]

Answer:
Number one is that with street mediation, you're fighting and giving forth to prevent violence, reduce tension to the point where you can do the other. Hopefully, either you can come up with terms that are acceptable to both sides that will ultimately resolve the problem, or you can get them to become sane enough to stop the violence. So that's what you're trying to do. Ultimately, you want to get them to the point where they can sit down.




Ozell Sutton


 [Full Interview] [Topic Top]

I also knew how to take advantage of a crisis to move things along.

Question:
How do you? Tell us the steps to take advantage of a crisis.

Answer:
Well, I do it all the time. Not only are you interested in resolving that particular crisis, you are interested in setting forth mechanisms to keep that crisis from re- occurring. And the next thing you are interested in establishing among people who before then had no power, you are interested in establishing in them a sense of power is the wrong word, but a sense of ways that they can protect themselves. In other words, you are empowering them. That's what I'm trying to say. And every time you ought to leave them empowered.

Question:
Yes, so you are strengthening their capacity.

Answer:
Oh yes. To deal with that problem, should it occur next week, or next year, or next ten years, that they aren't totally dependent on you, because you may not be in place. That they too can deal with it.




Dick Salem


 [Full Interview] [Topic Top]

Let me now get us to the table. It took a lot of prodding to get the inmate groups to complete their agendas. The BBDCO didn’t really buy in, and they loved the time out of their cells. They were negotiating, and a coffee cart or donuts would come to the room where they were putting their agenda together and they’d be sitting with their feet up doing no work. It took forever, but with the help of the outside groups, we finally got some agendas together.



Dick Salem


 [Full Interview] [Topic Top]

Question:
Who decides what they need, do you or do they?

Answer:
We always start with what the group says it needs. It would be nice to sit here and say they tell us and we respond, but the reality is when you do enough of these for enough years you can sort of pretty well see what’s needed and what’s happening and you can lead the community group into knowing what it needs very often. One simple thing is helping a group understand it needs a good agenda if is going into negotiations, with or without a mediator. That grievances should be presented in a way that they can be responded to. If the agenda is fire the school superintendent, or fire the police chief, you know that's not likely to be achievable. You encourage them to shape an agenda that puts that at the bottom and started with some of the substantive changes they want to see. So you put the achievable at the other at the top of the agenda and push "fire the police chief” to the bottom. When they make enough progress at the top and middle of the agenda, they realize that you don’t have to fire the police chief, if he’ll abide by what you’ve agreed to up above on the agenda. So that’s empowering, helping the group understand the negotiation process. And you’re leading the group that way, certainly. You’re saying, "I know what’s best for this group in this negotiation.” I’ve never seen a group when we suggest resources that are available that wouldn’t be eager to accept them, if they were serious about resolving problems. Sometimes it was a consultant we identified who could help them, someone who had resolved a similar problem in another community, or an expert in policing or schools. We could pay plane fare and honorarium. "We’ll pay this guy’s plane fare to come over to talk to you and sit down with you.” In one case, I brought three Hispanic parents from Chicago into Washington DC to meet with the Civil Rights Division (CRD) during Chicago’s school desegregation suit. There they had a chance to meet with the attorneys who were working with the city and putting a plan together. So they felt they had their voices heard in Washington. That is providing technical assistance -- knowing that’s what the group wanted in that case. It was hard to tell whether anyone was listening, but the community members felt they had their voices heard. Now that’s another way of building credibility for ourselves. Before that, trust levels were really low. There was at a big public meeting and CRD had asked me to go; the US attorney had asked me to go. Nobody else in the Justice Department wanted to go near it. So what I brought to that public meeting was the idea that we would pay the fares for three people in your group to go to Washington to talk to the Civil Rights Division and be sure their voices were heard. There was so much skepticism that somebody raised their hand from the audience and asked, "Are you going to pay our plane fare back too?”




Nancy Ferrell


 [Full Interview] [Topic Top]

The other thing, in terms of the regent response, is we always went toward systemic change. Once we responded to any kind of immediate danger, we started looking for systemic response and not just fixing the incident, but looking at the systems that were there and how we needed to deal with those.



Nancy Ferrell


 [Full Interview] [Topic Top]

Question:
What does that imply about your thought process before you go into a case? Do you have any kind of a plan laid out, or do you go in with pretty much a blank slate and just wait to see where they are before you start coming up with plans?

Answer:
I learned after ten years that I did have some ideas, but I tried to protect against going in with those expectations. Or going in with a plan. I really believe in the power of the parties to resolve their own problems. My greatest gift to them is the process to help them do that. That's what they're missing. Like I said, in ninety percent of the cases, people want to do the right thing, and given the right environment, they'll rise to that. That's the gift I bring. If I go in with a solution, I may miss the real issue. Like the university case. I would have missed all of the other things that really were more important to them than the fraternity party was. That fraternity party was a slap in the face, but had they been treated fairly on that campus and felt like they were a part of that campus, that wouldn't have occurred or they would've gone to someone and said, "What is going on here?" So to go in there because of my preconceived notions, limits their environment, and the ability to really get at the core of their issues. Sometimes it's hard. Because you've seen this situation before, you think you know what you need to do. The power of that is that you do have some things to say, there is hope. I've seen people work through these things, and I've seen good things come from this. Here are some things that have helped in other situations. So it gets them thinking, but I very much try not to go in there with a preconceived plan. It's like the city that I went to and we ended up with five groups that night. I'd never done that before, but it seemed like the right thing to do at that point, because it's what they needed. I guess that was one of the most important factors for me, trying to respond to what they needed. It was critical to try and keep an open mind about the situation. I was always surprised. Hardly ever did I go into a situation where what you expected to be the most important issue actually was.




Nancy Ferrell


 [Full Interview] [Topic Top]

Question:
Tell me what you think about the debate between transformative mediation, as they describe it, and the problem solving approaches.

Answer:
What I was trained in and learned from CRS was very transformational, in terms of relationships. That was the highest goal and that's why if you get institutional change that's great. If you can transform relationships that's incredible. But there's a very directive process for implementing the mediation process, the conciliation process, or the technical assistance. There are steps in the process to go through. Now, when I'd gone through orientation with them on the transformational I still don't buy into the whole idea of hands off as far as process is concerned. It's like finding the common interest or the personal interest that can get people to move on. If they could do that for themselves, they wouldn't need you. They wouldn't even be there, they'd be working it out. So, if you don't have a process in mind or a plan I'm not sure you're doing anything but refereeing and you're not supposed to do much of that. Now I think it's effective in highly relational situations where it's a family, an employee/supervisor, where that relationship is there. The transformative model is really a nurturing kind of guiding, keeping them focused on aspects of the issue. So in that context the purely transformational model may be most effective. Anytime you move to more complexity I'm not sure it would be effective in the pure sense. I think I have said to more parties than I could ever name, "I'm in charge of the process. If you're uncomfortable with that I need to know." What I have to offer you is the process, and it works. If we'll honor the process something good can come out of it for you. It's my job to make sure we honor the process.

Question:
Do you give them opportunities to tinker with it?

Answer:
Oh, I think from what I've said the dance is part of the tinkering. I'll go in different directions and I think one of the real challenges is to always be open to that. But if you know the process you can deviate from it. That's one of the things that I thought about with Folger, Bush and Folger is to be able to do that really well, with great integrity, you would have to be an incredible craftsman with the process. To be able to use it effectively you would have to have complete confidence in your abilities to use it. You can break rules if you understand what the rules are and why you're breaking them. It supercedes the benefit of the rule. But if you don't know that then you're just open to chaos. Now I'm not comfortable with that. I think in the role of the mediator there are some specific skills of process that give people a sense of hope. But it's not going to be a free for all. They've done that, they know how to do that. But there's going to be some structure and some process of dealing with issues that can bring healing and transformation.






Bob Ensley


 [Full Interview] [Topic Top]

You cannot go any further than they're going to permit you, because many times you'll get way out there in advance of what they think or where they think they need to go, and they're going to leave you and you're out there all alone. So you just go along. And when you feel as though it's time to stop and re-strategize, you do that. Many times, you strategically stop, so you can re-strategize and set some additional goals or priorities. Or, if this is not working, you move to another objective.



Efrain Martinez


 [Full Interview] [Topic Top]

But in this particular case, I would also talk to the politicians and the educators, and they tell me how things were. The Vietnamese and the white fishermen also talked to me. The first priority was security of the town, especially the security of the Vietnamese population. We planned that closely with law enforcement officials. Second priority was to help the town. At that time, it was being paralyzed, a lot of businesses were being closed. I asked the mayor to convene a meeting of all the town leaders. Then we began the process. Generally, I ask them what they think needs to be done about the problem. So, quickly we turn from a complaint phase into a resolution phase. Also, do they personally want to be a part of the solution process? Some say, "Yes, let me know what you need from me. I'll be there." Some will say, "I'll tell you everything you ever need to know, but don't invite me to be anywhere. Politically it's not safe for me to be there." They tell us who we need to talk to in the leadership, and tell us about the behind the scenes people.



Silke Hansen


 [Full Interview] [Topic Top]

How did you come up with your game plan, so to speak? Is it something that's standard with each case that comes to your attention?

Answer:
Typically, when I approach a new mediation case, before I even bring the parties together, I try to find out what the specific needs and interests of each party are, what is it that they hope to get out of this, and why. This way, I have some sense of where the common denominators are and where we're going to have some problems before we actually bring them together. So I do a lot of ground work with the parties before I ever get them to the table. I'm not necessarily referring to this particular case, but I don't like bringing parties to the table without knowing what's going to happen. I hate surprises. So if I don't think that there's at least some area where they're going to be able to reach some agreement, or some understanding, I typically keep them apart. If anything, I do shuttle diplomacy because I don't want this first experience of actually eyeballing each other to be one of further conflict and disappointment and failure.







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