How did you determine when to end your involvement in a conflict?


Werner Petterson


 [Full Interview] [Topic Top]

Question:
How did you decide when to end a particular intervention in a conflict?

Answer:
Well I guess when I was clear that the parties were really not willing to find a solution. I wouldn't know what all their reasons for that might be, but as with some time in a situation it becomes clear that the distrust is so hard, or politics in the situation whatever, that it's something where the parties are not willing to find a solution. I think when I came to that conclusion I'd leave. I just set a time when it could be a strategy to get things moving, but as far as just leaving a situation, it's really that I'd come to the conclusion that either one or both of the parties just were not willing to find a solution.

Question:
Okay. What about though in this case, how did you know that it was time for you to depart?

Answer:
I knew it was time to depart when the judge gave the blessing. That's one of the blessings of court cases is that the consent agreement was written and approved by the judge and so I knew it was all over with at that point. In many cases it's when the parties have come to some mutual solution. In court cases, you've got a piece of paper. Sometimes in CRS even without the court you would have something written. Sometimes it was just you and an understanding between parties and there wasn't even anything written.




Nancy Ferrell


 [Full Interview] [Topic Top]

- We talked about this yesterday, I think, in the context of the university case more broadly. How do you decide when to end your involvement in a conflict? A - If it's a mediated agreement, when we sign. But, there's generally a paragraph that said that if either party believes that the contract's not being honored, they have the right to call us for consultation and we'll come back. Sometimes even where there were task forces established, we would write in a voluntary reporting quarterly about some process. What issues you're dealing with and what responses. Q - According to you? A - Yes. Just as a courtesy. They would usually do that for a couple of quarters and then they would quit. But it was kind of a way of kind of keeping them focused and getting some feedback from them. But that was clearly the end. The other way would be when either party made it clear they didn't want us involved, and that's another signal. If a party said they didn't want me involved, I would say, "Well the other party still wants some assistance, so I'm going to be giving them some referral information." Again, try not to ever create some kind of sense that I'm going behind somebody's back. I understand that you don't want to participate, that you're right, these folks still want some help, so I'm gonna give them some referral and guidance, and then I'm out of here. Q - Will you give them more than referral and guidance? Will you actually give them some fairly substantial consulting if they want? Or will you just pass them off to somebody else? A - Mostly referral, because we really don't have a role to become an advocate. And again, in that context, if I become an advocate for that group in that community, the next time the city manager's get together, they're going to say, "Yeah, right. You don't have to participate,” but if you don't, then they become an advocate for the other group. So again, you don't have a game to play. Q - Did you ever stay involved in any of the structures that were created after the settlement? A - No. And I don't know how that could ever be appropriate. Again, because it's their deal. They may call for consultation, they may call for some coaching, and I would do that, but it would be technical assistance, it wouldn't be anything beyond coaching. Q - Did you ever initiate any follow up? A - If I had time. But generally, you were on to something else. I think it's one of the things that could have been real helpful to the agency, and even to the mediators, to do some follow-up and feel good about the long-term impact. But generally it happened as you got involved in the community or the area again, and you were aware of people and you talk to people. Again, once you've spent a couple years in a state, you know most of the players and the civil rights issues. And you'll see them in other contacts and talk about it informally. But there was never a formal process for follow-up. If you've got one person working a state and a half, you don't even touch what needs to be done, much less getting around to following up on what you've done already.



Martin Walsh


 [Full Interview] [Topic Top]

Could you talk a little bit about how you terminated this case?

Answer:
At the last session we went over the written agreements, we had a signing of the agreement by the administration staff and the students. So there was a written public agreement. It's a public document. In the last session we had the final agreement and then we had a press conference in which we spoke, and then the administration and the students. It got a real big play in the campus newspaper.






Angel Alderete


 [Full Interview] [Topic Top]

Question:
How do you decide when to end an intervention in a community?

Answer:
Sometimes it's hard. Sometimes they become a part of you, and you have a heck of a time breaking away. Even if you say, "This is it," you'll still find yourself calling to see how things are going. And when you travel somewhere, you always try to do a site stop to see how things are going. Even today, I still call the folks at the Department of Corrections. But I don't call them to find out how they're doing, I just call them to talk with some of the guys I know.




Bob Ensley


 [Full Interview] [Topic Top]

Question:
How did you determine when to end your involvement? Let's talk about JoAnn Little.

Answer:
Well, as soon as the trial was over, we went back into Washington where the incident took place and worked with the community on a number of occasions. In fact I'm still working there today, dealing with some of the problems related to schools. We had a number of meetings with the superintendent, the board of education, and even helped them undertake a massive voter registration program, getting blacks elected and helping them with some economic development plans and different things like that. Then they put together one of the largest NAACP chapters in the state. They even had billboards erected: "Join the NAACP." And I saw that they were beginning to move on their own and had built enough confidence that they could do it themselves. I told a story many times about how people have enough talent in any given community to deal with their own problem, but it's just recognizing it and being aware of what they have and using what they have.




Bob Ensley


 [Full Interview] [Topic Top]

Question:
You mentioned time. How do you balance the amount of time that it takes to do a thorough assessment with the fact that there's a crisis happening? How do you balance these two things?

Answer:
I don't know, I just take as much time as necessary. Sometimes Ozell would say to me, "Do you know how much more time you're going to spend there? How much more time, how much more help are you going to need?" I'd say, "I don't know, but I am not quite comfortable leaving this yet. I'll need a few more days." Then when the people in the community begin to realize that they have a stake in this issue, they become more involved. Then I pretty much know that I can leave and tell them I'll be back at a certain time. But you've got to realize that this is their problem and the only lasting resolution will be one that the people who live in the community agree to. We can say this is what the Department of Justice has decided to do, but it's only going to hold for so long as we're there. But if they come to an agreement on their own and begin to realize this is their problem, then you can feel a little more comfortable with leaving and saying, "I'll be back." You do go back and follow up and see if they've made any progress; you look at your checklist. Then sometimes you'll say to them, "You know, your effort and everything you're doing is fine, but wouldn't it be a good idea if you would call the state Human Relations Commission to come in to give you some assistance in this?" Or, "Wouldn't so-and-so in the governor's office come in to help you? Think about it."




Edward Howden


 [Full Interview] [Topic Top]

Question:
How did you know that you were done? When did you call your job "complete"?

Answer:
I think the answer to that is fairly simple in that you have either exhausted every effort over time and you got an agreement, or you haven't. Or one party or the other has exited and it's fallen apart. That didn't happen in any of these court referred cases. In one of those cases, the city police department and the city administration were extremely reluctant to enter into a mediation process. It took quite a bit of persuasion and probably implicit pressure from the District judge who strongly recommended it. Almost kicking and squealing, the city entered in. Then there was a long slow process-- it dragged out longer than it needed to because we couldn't get them to meet as fully and frequently as we would've liked. I think we met only two or three hours once a week. Nevertheless, we eventually got a good agreement.




Ozell Sutton


 [Full Interview] [Topic Top]

Question:
Thinking first about Memphis specifically, and talking more generally, how did you determine when to end your involvement in that particular conflict?

Answer:
Several things do that. Depends on what else is on the plate, how critical other things are in relationship to that. Whether you have the resources or have done all that you can do in relationship to it. But most of the times it's priorities. When this particular case reaches the stage where it is no longer the major priority. There's one that is more volatile and more demanding that you must turn your meager resources to, then you politely and respectfully begin to ease out of the first case. Sometimes you've done all that you can do, sometimes you have not, but there's still other things you need to do. One of the things we like to do, and I think I've mentioned this elsewhere, is to establish mechanisms to address future kinds of situations. I establish relationships that address that. Sometimes that requires time and sometimes we don't have the time to do all of that. We have to move onto something else.




Will Reed


 [Full Interview] [Topic Top]

Question:
How did you decide when to end your involvement in a conflict?

Answer:
That's a good question. I'll give you two answers to that. I was over in Oklahoma one time working with the American Indians over there. I worked with Indians a lot. A matter of fact, I worked with Indians more than anybody else in CRS. Anyway, I was over in Oklahoma one time and the sheriff's department was beating up on every Indian they could find. But this was during some kind of Indian festival in a little town right outside of Oklahoma City. I went over there by myself and got a car and drove down to this little town. I made contacts with the person who was heading up this Indian festival deal. She began to tell me about the problems they were having. So I looked at the situation and said, "My role here would be to see if I can keep the police from beating up on the Indian people. I would go meet then with the sheriff and everybody else. And the sheriff was a black man. And he was half Indian and half black. But he was strictly for law and order. And there were a few times when Indians did get clubbed up pretty bad. A couple of them were in the hospital. I went to the hospital to visit them. So I was working all around there. I ended up staying there for about six days and after this festival was over and nobody else got beaten up, I headed out. I was getting ready to go. And all the Native American leadership were sitting in this tee-pee. And I went up to this lady, and I said, "Well it looks like my job's over." And nobody said anything. So I said it again, "I'm going." I tapped her on the shoulder. "I'm leaving." I looked around. Not being that familiar that much with the culture during those years, I continued to say I'm leaving and nobody responded. I thought this must be a cultural thing and I'm missing it. And so I said it again. This woman looked up and me and said, "God dammit! We heard you the first time. Why is it that other groups of people come around us and figure they got to tell us something fifty times before we understand you?" So my eyes got as big as saucers, I thought they were getting ready to attack me. It scared the hell out of me. She said, "We heard you, dammit. Get the hell out of here." There was nothing about thanks or anything. I was expecting a little of that, too. Just "Get the hell out of here. We heard you the first time, dammit." So I got in my car and drove back to Oklahoma City and got a hotel room and stayed until eleven o'clock the next morning and went back to Denver. So that's one answer to the question. The other one is, you can be out on the plain, out in the street here in Urban America, or rural America, or Native America, or wherever. You run out of people to interview and you run out of people to talk to and then people give you a look like, "You're still around?" Then you get in your car. I was down in Taos, New Mexico and I got this look. All of the Mexicans were hanging around and they're getting ready to have a big party. Burritos everywhere and all the music and the whole bit. And I hoped that I'd get an invitation because I was hungry as heck. I was hoping I'd get an invitation to this event that they were giving, celebrating the sanitation workers' victory over the city council. At that time, I let them yell and scream and do everything and finally they got what they wanted to a degree, but it was something that they were satisfied with. Because what they wanted were medical benefits. That was the main thing they were looking at. All of that other stuff was superficial. And I was proud of myself. I pulled that off in the second day. And the city manager got up there and said, "We're now going to give you boys health benefits." Because the Hispanic community down there, they were boys and girls, just like in the black community. So the sheriff got up with the city manager and made the pronouncements that the Hispanics were now going to have hospital care. They could send their families to the emergency room and everything else. And they needed to get that in writing. So we worked with this lady who was real good with the pen. As a matter of fact, she taught English at the local junior college. And we got all of that together, ran it past the city manager, everybody went over it and we checked the punctuation and the right expressions as to what should go in this document. So we got that finished and it was sanctioned by the city fathers. So when it was official they decided to have a fiesta. And I said, "I'm so hungry. That nasty restaurant where I've been eating around the corner, I don't want to go over there. I'm going to go down here where this fiesta is going to be. And I could see these big tacos and fajitas and all that kind of good stuff. And I thought I was going to get invited in to get some. Heck, they looked at me like I had two damn heads. And they said, "Bye. We'll see you." I thought they were going to say, "Come on. Have some. Join in." But they never did.

So, I learned right then and there on that score it is over when it's over and get the heck out of there and keep going. That was during the early days. Some groups, when they had no more use for you, in most cases, that was in the minority community. In the majority community, they would be overly ingratiating. Sometimes they wanted you to stay and it was almost like you got to be their brother. And I wasn't interested. Then that's when I would initiate going. But just the opposite in the minority communities. Minorities, they said "bye." And I think that was because they didn't want to show how grateful they were about some things. They tried to get hard core after that. And it was the funniest thing. But the people who had all the power, they wanted to make sure they were so nice. And I was always skeptical of that. I wanted to go.



Wallace Warfield


 [Full Interview] [Topic Top]

Question:
How do you decide when to end your involvement with a case?

Answer:
Well, sometimes CRS doesn’t have control over that. I mean, sometimes, there’s a demand for CRS, particularly if you’re understaffed in a region or a certain situation, they might have to sort of end it prematurely. But again, ending a case depends upon the vision and the perspective of the CRS person involved. If you’ve got the kind of conciliator or the kind of intervener who looks at intervention in a kind of fairly narrow, reactive, fire-fighting contingency-based fashion, he or she will see one form of ending. And so, as far as they’re concerned, when they’ve done that it’s ended, whether it’s actually ended or not. Someone else who sees it in a more longitudinal, more causal kind of way, will look for other kinds of ways of ending it. Of course, the problem with the latter is, what then is conclusion? One of the problems we’re having now in the field of conflict resolution is defining what closure looks like. And, what responsibility do you have for impact measurements that ricochet outward beyond the agreement, and I think we’re all still sort of grappling with that. As we change the nature of the intervention, it also raises some troubling questions about closure.




Dick Salem


 [Full Interview] [Topic Top]

Question:
How did you determine when you should end your involvement in a conflict?

Answer:
We tried to set goals going in as to what we would do. If it was formal mediation it was sort of easy. You knew when it was over. You knew when you had achieved or wasn't likely to when you wore out your welcome, or ability to positively impact the situation. We went in and said this is what we're going to try to achieve. We wrote a brief activity report each day and that helped guide us.




Nancy Ferrell


 [Full Interview] [Topic Top]

Question:
I've just got a couple of other questions, still about the University case. How did you decide when you were done?

Answer:
We had the document. Once we began writing it up, we spent time clarifying the issues that we were going to deal with, and then took them one by one to develop a response or a remedy. Part of the technique there was that each time at the end of a meeting, I had drafted what we had done as far as issues and remedy. I brought that back to the table at the next meeting with the draft working paper and that's where we started each time. The problem with not having something like that is that you keep backing up. If you don't keep a consistent group, you have to start all over again. So the consistency was critical, and we did have consistency. Each group had an alternate that was available, who came to all the meetings. That was part of the reason for having more than one representative. So that we had the consistency and could keep moving forward. Once we had all of these issues addressed and some remedy proposed, we checked a couple of things, institutionally or legally. We would have to check to see if they were viable. If they were legitimate, within the context of either policy or law or whatever. Once we had all those things cleared up, and everybody agreed, we had a document. We got everybody to sign off one, and then I was finished. They were just beginning, but my role was finished. I went back a couple of times just as a kind of a courtesy, but also it's fun to go back and work with the group on a issue or something, or an educational thing. I went back one time and did one of the trainings that they had proposed in the document for the students or for the faculty. I think I did a faculty training on multi-culturalism or something like that. So it is that kind of interaction. I was in town for other things with other issues in Stillwater but from then on, it was really theirs.




Nancy Ferrell


 [Full Interview] [Topic Top]

Question:
How did the government decide when to end involvement?

Answer:
Just the lack of need. The emergency was over, CRS went back to doing what it routinely did. The intensity wasn't there. I think the biggest impact is that the people who were doing it for malicious reasons, realized the community at large wasn't going to tolerate it. That national and local resources were saying publicly, "This is not acceptable. They got bigger and better churches after you burnt them down, so what have you accomplished?" There were more people eventually apprehended, percentage-wise, in these church fires then there ever had been in arson kind of things, because there's mass resource going on. Some of the fires were accidents. Some of them were heating systems that went bad. Some of them were lightning, while some of them were intentionally set. So every fire that occurred wasn't a hate crime, but every fire that occurred was responded to as if it were. The intensity of that response made perpetrators think, "We're not going to get anything good out of this. There isn't going to be an outcry for us that this needed to be done anyway. It isn't like it was in the 60's." Certainly it brought all of these emotions back, but the communities produced a very different response, saying, "This is not acceptable."




Silke Hansen


 [Full Interview] [Topic Top]

What brought this whole situation to an end? How did you extricate yourself from that?

Answer:
Well actually, what really happened was that I was transferred to Washington to help coordinate our desegregation efforts nationally.




Silke Hansen


 [Full Interview] [Topic Top]

How did you know when it was the right time to leave that situation?

Answer:
When Washington said my assignment was up. It was close to the end of the fiscal year, for an agency with the budget of CRS, it was a major investment even though FEMA supported a lot of the actual cost for that. But again for an agency the size of CRS, it was very costly. We were a little bit larger then. We had a little bit over a hundred people. Leo Cardenas was the regional director here. In essence, he lost his senior person for five months. So that's a long time.






Angel Alderete


 [Full Interview] [Topic Top]

Question:
Let me rephrase the question a little bit to say, how did you decide when to end your involvement? There must be a point where you stop going in.

Answer:
If I don't like the people I'm working with, then I'm out of there as soon as it's over. And it's hard to pinpoint. It's like saying, "Boy, some of those people in that minority community, I wouldn't invite them to my house." Same with the city folks. Actually, I probably feel that way more often with the city folks. But, I don't know how many cases I've been involved in like that.




Leo Cardenas


 [Full Interview] [Topic Top]

Question:
How did you know when to exit and when it was time to end your involvement in the conflict?

Answer:
When the people tell us that they're satisfied and generally it is a face-to-face meeting. From a traditional mediation, it is a negotiation session. But for us we call a community meeting -- that could be a board meeting, it could be a meeting at the superintendent's office or the community center. It is at that point where the relationships are established, and even though I doubt if you'll ever see it on our reports there is an acknowledgment of this respect that I'm talking about, that we just know that at that point, the dispute has been settled to the degree that it can. But it's up to them to carry it further.




Manuel Salinas


 [Full Interview] [Topic Top]

Question:
How did you determine when to end your involvement in the shooting case?

Answer:
I think primarily after the assessment was made and it was accepted by the group, and the chief of police said he would implement the assessment and city council and city manager, and then right after that I began to withdraw. But only withdraw to the point of that incident. So then I became more of a resource person rather than a mediator.













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