[Full Interview] [Topic Top]
talked yesterday about the theory we developed, based on talks with a lot of people, about what
we call intractable or resolution-resistant conflicts. We came to the conclusion that conflicts
were more resolution resistant if they involved very high stakes and distributional kinds of
questions. They were also more resistant if they involved fundamental moral differences, or
what we call domination conflicts, pecking order conflicts, or identity conflicts. All of these tend
to be involved in race issues. I threw this out at you yesterday, and you said that the factor we
hadn't been thinking about was the need for relationship. If there was a need for relationship
between people, then they would be willing to negotiate on those things. Are there other factors
we're not thinking about?
Another factor is the partyís or the individual's ability to look
beyond their current power position. If they can't perceive themselves in an honorable way,
beyond this entrenched position, then the issue's not negotiable. That's why I always ask, "What
is in your interest?" If I can't help them identify an interest that serves their needs beyond this
entrenched position, it won't work. I can explain to them, "You have the power to direct
authoritarian decision making on this plan, but what is it getting you? What might happen if
you're willing to move in a different direction? Is it worth that?" If they say it's not worth that,
then I'll tell these people what to do. If they don't do that, they're out of here, they're not going to
negotiate. Again, at that point, I'm not looking for them to understand the other party's interest.
I'm looking for something to catch their interest. So if they're so entrenched that they can't see
hope of personal interest served -- beyond this entrenched position -- they're not going to move
out of it. That's when I would say, "Call me."
You mean if they change their mind?
Yes. I think one of my propensities was to keep moving beyond
their real interest. They would have to be really overt to me and say, "Go away." As long as they
just danced around it and kept the door open, I just kept moving forward. Generally that worked
out, although sometimes they slammed the door. I think that's one of the skills of the mediator,
to understand whether or not it's mediatable. If you canít help that party see beyond the
entrenched position, then it's not going to be mediated. I use it in the 40 hour mediation class.
For example, one of the barriers may be authority. It's a big rock. Here's the mediator, they're
the fulcrum underneath this lever. As the mediator, I'm trying to get this party off of its
entrenched position in order to see the benefits of the mediation. If I can't come up with
something to put on the other side, then it won't level out and it's not going to work.
So the mediator is looking for a leverage point to move people out of their entrenched
position, to get them to consider a negotiation. In family situations, children are often the point.
Sometimes it's money. "How many resources are you going to use supporting that intrenched
position? Are you willing to consider another option?" So you've got to find that leverage point.
If you can't find it, and I don't say many things absolutely, but that's where you would have an
intractable conflict. If they had found that point already, they wouldn't be there. So, all your
incredible skills have to involve helping find that leverage point. It's either going to be a
common interest or a personal interest. A common interest gives you the possibility of a richer
mediation. A personal interest can at least get you to the table and create some sort of
contractual relationship to the conflict. If you can get them toward a common interest, that's
where the payoff is. That's when I try and transform those relationships by the process. But
sometimes the best you can do, because of personal interest, is to get to some contractual
relationship. It's better than nothing.
Abortion is another example I use. With the abortion issue, there is no common leverage
for either side to move off that intrenched position. You're wasting your time. The best you can
do is work with the majority of people who are in the middle and try to bring reason to the
extremes. That's what has happened in these big international affairs, like Kosovo. They don't
have a middle. In Ireland, there's become this middle group who says these intrenched positions
are killing us. That's where you need to start focusing your energy, is in that middle group, in
helping and nurturing and supporting. Then the light's on, and these two intrenched positions are
no longer acceptable and the community often has to move on beyond them. They'll still be
agitating back here, but the group as a whole has been able to create some life to move forward.
[Full Interview] [Topic Top]
power being a factor? Do you have to provide some way where they can maintain power? We
sometimes talk about the difference between 'power with' and 'power over.' Is there any way to
have power with instead of power over?
I would interchange that with what I just said about honor and put power in there. Before,
the power, the only way they perceive themselves as having any influence is by 'power over.'
You've got to create a new picture for them that they can buy into, and that's 'power with,' that
still has honor and influence. If you try to diminish them and their influence, it won't work. So if
you can reorient their paradigm to see that they have more influence inside the group and they
can make a difference here. "You've had an incredible influence on this community. What
you've done has made an incredible difference for these people, for the change in working
relationships. Let's look at it a different way. You can still have influence. You're very
important to this process." Many of them will see that and come along, if you'll help them create
that new picture. That's one of the gifts of the third party. You don't have anything to win or
lose, so they're not looking at you as a vested interest. Nobody else can play that role because
everybody else is suspect. But yes, I think everybody has to have a position of honor and have
some sense of personal empowerment.
[Full Interview] [Topic Top]
Are there some situations that you found to be much more resistant
to resolution than others?
Corporate institutional change. I think this is because the corporation interest is so driven by
a profit. Unless there was somewhere within the corporation, a cultural influence for justice and
rightness, it was difficult to do anything but impose compliance. Those were the places where I
was more likely to feel like they were just doing what they had to in order to get rid of me. "Get
her out of here, tell her anything, just get her out of here." The other issues generally were
working with governments and public institutions. Those groups have a public interest, even if
theyíre not honoring it, they do have one. You can hold them accountable to that. With a
corporation, their public interest is profit. And in terms of civil rights, corporations were not one
of the most difficult, because they were pretty easy to work with. They knew how to placate and
get you out of there. But I'm not sure how significant the long term change was.
[Full Interview] [Topic Top]
Tell me what
you think about the debate between transformative mediation, as they describe it, and the
problem solving approaches.
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.
Do you give them opportunities to tinker with it?
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
[Full Interview] [Topic Top]
The first thing that Iím really interested in talking about is perhaps
what I see as the key theoretical question that got us interested in this project. And that is that
weíve been quite influenced by the theory development that was going on here at George
Mason and the whole human needs approach. Human needs theory suggests that conflicts about
human needs, such as identity, cannot and should not be mediated because theyíre needs-based;
theyíre not interests-based. However, CRS has been mediating racial conflicts (which are one
kind of identity conflict) for years. So I was curious to have you reflect on that, and tell me what
you think is different about what CRS does, and how it reflects on human needs theory.
Okay. Why donít we start, Heidi, if I may, from a theoretical perspective, and then Iíll see
if I can hone it into CRS. Actually, this is in an article I wrote for the book, Conflict Resolution:
Theory and Practice. Iíve got a chapter in there. In that chapter, what I do is to take what was
originally Jim Laue's theory, which is this notion that there is a hierarchy of conflict responses,
and that the hierarchy begins with the notion that people approach a conflict from a positional
standpoint. We all know this from Fisher and Ury. They tell us that their big breakthrough was
teaching people to identify their interests, not just their positions. And thatís where they
stopped. But this is insufficient when it comes down to dealing with social conflicts that involve
very complex social issues and values that lie beneath the interests. Then, arguably, in a much
more theoretical way, you could even say there are basic human needs. And so these are
non-rational. The first two layers are affective and cognitive; the latter two layers are
non-rational layers. People can make rational decisions on both positions and interests; they can't
do that on values and needs. But often these conflicts were approached, at least initially, with an
interest-based approach, which is why intervention often was not successful. Not that the CRS
people were doing it that way necessarily, but the concept of approaching these disputes was
generally based on interests. So even before the intervention took place, at the point of
negotiation, you would have a situation where the parties were focusing, unsuccessfully, on
In one case that I was involved in on an Indian reservation in upstate New York, there
was a problem because the Indians claimed they actually owned the entire nearby town, and
therefore everything in it. This claim was, as you can imagine, contested by the townspeople and
the officials, who were mainly white. There was a series of conflicts that flowed from that initial
causal factor there. They involved disputes over services and police response (i.e. did the police
have the right to respond to a conflict on the reservation?) Then there was further factioning
within the tribe itself.
In the first mediation session that I was involved in, the discourse was such that the white
townspeople were trying to approach the issues -- and I donít remember literally how the issues
were broken down -- but they were trying to approach the issues from a very rational,
interest-based level. I mean, theyíd start out oppositionally, but quickly would try to identify --
at least from their point of view -- what their interests were. The tribespeople in the negotiations
were responding by telling stories. They would tell stories about the seven-nation confederation,
and about the fact that there was a great law that was the basis for the United States Constitution,
which was something that most of the whites did not know. So you had, in fact, a discourse that
was not meeting and not connecting. One group was speaking from an interests-based standpoint;
while another group was speaking from a values-based standpoint.
My colleague and I quickly recognized that if it continued this way, this was going to
break up and it was not going to be successful. So we stopped it and held separate caucuses. I sat
down with the white negotiating team, and I said, "Let me tell you what I hear them saying.
They're saying that youíre getting very impatient with the storytelling, that you think itís a
waste of time, but that they have to tell their stories, because their storytelling is a part of them.
You have lots of other things around which to build your identity. Look at their reservation."
Their reservation was the size of the parking lot area outside. Theirs wasnít a reservation in any
kind of classic sense that we think of reservations. Impoverished, high unemployment -- this was
before the gambling casino came in. "So where do they draw their identity from? From their
history. So if you want this to be a successful negotiation, then you need to actually hear this.Ē So
Now, this was a kind of cultural interpretation role that a third-party plays between a
values-based level of discourse, and an interests-based level of discourse. However, having said
that, the argument that I make is that ultimately, at some point, people have to come to a point of
negotiations at an interests-based level. I mean, you canít have a value-based outcome -- what
would that look like? Any outcome, in any dispute, even if it is values-based or human
needs-based, is manifested in some way through an interests-based outcome. People have to have
a construct for this. So ultimately, at some point, where I differ with the theorists in the field who
say that you cannot use mediation in identity conflicts, is that at some point you necessarily do.
You just may not be able to use it at the very beginning. At the beginning, you start out with a
values-based perspective, because it is non-rational. At some point, in the problem-solving
transition, you get to the point of an interests-based mediation or a classic form of an
interests-based negotiation. Thatís the distinction I would make.
Now, I think at CRS, there wasnít that theoretical knowledge at that particular point in
time. CRS was hobbled, in a sense, by two things: One was, it was part of the Department of
Justice, at a time when the Department of Justice was looked at in a very, very suspect way. So
CRS people tried to do everything possible to divorce themselves from the Department of
Justice, except when they actually had to make an entry. Sometimes, it was valuable to associate
yourself with the Justice Department when you wanted to get your foot in the door. Then the
trick was, once you got your foot in the door, to sort of divest yourself of that association Ė
"Now that weíve done this, hereís who we REALLY are...Ē
[Full Interview] [Topic Top]
Good. Going back to another theoretical mediation model, itís
been asserted that most of what mediators do here in the States is whatís called the North
Oh, God. Drives me crazy.....
What is the North American model? I mean, so what version of the North American
Well, the model that's based on Fisher and Ury, Chris Moore Ė standard interest-based
Oh, I see, thatís the classic North American model. Well, I have a couple of perspectives
about this. First of all, thereís very little research about what model works in what kind of
dispute. Itís mainly anecdotal, heuristic kinds of perspectives. Is it true that the so-called North
American model does not work in some cultural settings? Yes, it is true. But, what I think people
are ignoring in the midst of the popularization of this notion, is the issue of class as an
intervening variable. What they assume, is that any group Ė except for the North American group
Ė for whom the model works, is necessarily some kind of romanticized culture......itís like,
people running around in the forest someplace, anyone who has a traditional culture. It would be
interesting to speculate as to how that got generated and what people think of traditional cultures
and where that comes from, but maybe we wonít go there (laughter).
But the fact of the matter is, class is a much more dominant intervening variable than
traditional culture is. The work we were doing in Rwanda -- and just transpose Rwanda into even
domestic settings and Iíll do that in a moment -- so we were doing a project in Rwanda with
Viskias Asetas and I, and Larissa Fast, the doctoral student who was working with us. We had
this week-long skills activity that we were doing in Kigali, and the question was: "Should we do
some basic mediation training?Ē We said, "Oh, we canít do mediation training, because we all
know whatís said about doing this kind of training with traditional cultural groups. On the other
hand, this could be important, because theyíre going to need to know how to do this in some
form....Ē We agonized over this for days, right up until the night before. We had an alternative
agenda, if we decided not to do it. We said, "No, itís a skill, we think itís worthwhile learning,
and letís do it,Ē so we began the session by saying, "Weíre going to do some mediation skills
training.Ē We gave a description of mediation, and said, "this may not fit exactly with your
culture, but tell us how you resolve disputes in your culture,Ē and got some information about
that. We looked for parallels, there werenít any, and so we said, "Hereís what the mediation
process is like.Ē We did a presentation on the mediation process, and then we did some
simulations and some role-plays. Well, they got it. The reason why they got it is because the
Rwandan leaders were all middle-class people -- college-educated, middle-class people. Could
we have done this back in the bushes? Absolutely not. So one has to look at class as a much more
dominant variable than traditional culture.
I have a good story about that here in the United States. It wasnít one that CRS was
involved in as far as I know, but back in the mid-Ď70s at the height of the school desegregation
policies -- when the federal courts were issuing school desegregation orders, in Atlanta, Georgia.
Atlanta was being looked at and there was an order for the Atlanta schools to desegregate. Now,
the history of relationships between blacks and whites in Atlanta was such that the Atlanta
NAACP was incredibly sophisticated, probably the most sophisticated branch of the NAACP in
the country. At that time, Atlanta had more black middle-class people -- possibly with the
exception of Detroit -- than anywhere else in the country. The Atlanta NAACP decided that
bussing should not be the defining issue in the negotiations. First of all, in most bussing
situations, it was supposed to be two-way bussing, but it was really a one-way kind of bussing.
So it meant that black schools were the ones being primarily closed, so that black kids were
being bussed at all kinds of hours of the morning to white schools, only to be re-tracked once
they got to those schools. What the NAACP recognized, was that in the black communities, not
only was there fairly decent education going on -- they may have been under-resourced, but they
were doing well with what they had -- but there some powerful icons that had been built up in
those communities by those schools. Somebodyís father and grandfather had gone to those
schools, had been valedictorians in those schools, had run track, and so the sense of identity that
was taken for granted in white communities was under threat of being destroyed in these black
communities. So the Atlanta NAACP decided that bussing wasnít the issue -- the more
important thing for them was superintendents, school principles, and resources. "And if you give
us that, weíll educate our own children, thank you very much.Ē The national NAACP got wind
of this, and threatened to take away the charter of the Atlanta NAACP, until they began to think
about it: do you really take away the charter of the Atlanta NAACP? I donít think you really do
that. It was an interesting juxtaposition of conflict resolution values and approaches that we used
-- and the Atlanta NAACP had already gotten to a point where they were looking at this much
more from an interest-based perspective. I mean there were values there, but by now they were
quite prepared to deal with this on an interest-based kind of mediation. So I think we, in the field,
need to look at that a lot more carefully.
This isnít really relevant to this interview, but Iím curious: Did the judge let that happen?
Interesting. So, letís go back to the CRS arena now: Thereís
plenty of times where the white power structure is middle-class, and the minority community
presumably isnít. What do you do then, in terms of process?
Well, it isnít clear to me how that necessarily changes the process.
In terms of what model you use, you said that class really matters....
Yeah, well I think that class matters from the standpoint of conceptualization of process. It
may mean that you have to use some kind of a hybrid in a sense, or -- I talked about this a few
moments ago, but this was a prison mediation I did many years ago in Monroe prison, which
was, and still is, a medium-security prison right outside of Seattle. Conflict over minority inmates
feeling that they werenít getting their fair share of resources in comparison to white inmates
who had done the same crime, and were serving the same kind of sentences. There were a couple
of riots there. So, my recognition was that we were dealing with a very sophisticated warden --
white warden -- and his staff, who had been to the table in various kinds of fora and were used to
the patterns of negotiation. And an inmate community, mainly inmates of color, who had not had
that experience. So what I did was, I said to him, "We canít go into mediation with this kind of
imbalance. Just my few questions and meeting with the inmatesí side tells me that they know
very little about negotiations, and I think if youíre really interested in this being successful,
youíll let me do at least a day of negotiations skills training with them first,Ē which is what I
did. So one way that you can do this is to create a distinction in the process at the beginning, by
being very transparent on what needs to be done, and with the white side say, "Look, if youíre
concerned that Iím going to be involved in some sort of sedition-like sort of behavior, or that
Iím going to be instructing them in terms of what to do, thatíll become clear enough in the
actual process, and you can always end it if you donít care for it.Ē So thatís one way of dealing
with it, to sort of recognize the disparities and address them up-front, which is what I would
prefer to do, rather than to simply go into it, then figure out once youíre into it how youíre
going to redress the balance.
Okay. How much direction do you give to minority
communities, or how much assistance would you give them in terms of identifying their issues,
prioritizing their issues for them?
In caucus, the risk is you get into more of an evaluative procedure with the minority side,
comparatively less so with the white side. The risk is that the evaluation will become known in
the joint sessions and then there you are, blown out of the water. Again, my experience Ė I
donít know what other CRS people have done, but my own experience then, and still is Ė is to
be very transparent about this and say, in effect, to both sides, "Now I sense that thereís a
need....Ē Particularly what happens is that thereís a frustration on the part of the
establishmentís side in the process, and it allows you to say, "What I think is happening here is
that the minority side doesnít really have a good sense as to how to organize the issues. I think I
need to spend some time with them to be able to do that. Would you let me do that?Ē So when
youíre meeting with the minority side in caucuses, itís much more than an evaluative
procedure. I mean, think about this: "What are the consequences of taking this action now?Ē
Now eventually, that gets evened-out, my sense is, by doing it jointly so as you get closer to the
actual agreement. Then youíre sitting there with both sides and youíre doing much more of an
evaluative procedure toward the end than you were in the beginning, because people trust you. I
think that I have much more comfort -- by the way, it doesnít matter if itís mediation; I could
be doing a problem-solving workshop -- as a facilitator starting out in a much more
clearly-defined position of neutrality -- neutral in the sense of being neutral and non-evaluative,
and then becoming increasingly so as trust is built up between the parties and as trust is built up
with me. So by the time we get to the point of people getting ready to sign off on an agreement of
some sort, youíre fully-prepared then to say, "Well first of all, let me tell you my own
experience,Ē and Iíll go into some experience, and Iíll say, "Let me give you a perspective
about this from another point of view.......you can do this, but hereís another possibility......here
are some resources you can look at if you want to go beyond me, in a sense....Ē
But you wouldnít do that up-front in caucus?
I wouldnít in the very beginning, because I think that the danger is, youíre taking over the
negotiation for one side, and then when you come back into the joint session, that side is looking
at you saying, "Well, your turn!Ē (Laughter)
Okay. Do you think that what you do as a civil rights mediator is different qualitatively than
other types of mediation, or would you use the same processes and strategies for other types?
Yes, and I feel the issue is not civil rights. Itís issues of social injustice, social justice
concerns; it could be civil rights, it could be other issues. So, Iíve used similar techniques where
Iíve done an intervention in an organization, and the women in the organization were concerned
about their role. So it was the same kind of dominance/power/suppression of voices, very similar
situations. The women in the organization were concerned that the only difference I found in
some cases, was that if the women in the organization were of sufficiently high rank, the
ambiguity about their positions -- "Should we be more vocal, or just play the game? Weíve
gotten this far, we can just tough it out.....Ē You have to figure out, how do you help them in that
sense? Anyway, thatís another story.
Do you run into that sort of thing in race relations too, though?
Somewhat. Somewhat. If youíve got -- because again, weíre not dealing with monolithic
communities, so youíve got black communities that have all kinds of voices in them. So it could
be an issue of police use of excessive force, but -- who is it, Penelope Cannard, says that
communities have histories of disputes, and you have to look at what has happened in that
community over time. I mean, weíre talking about in most communities, except in hugely large
cities -- and even there, sometimes -- you pretty much have the same actors coming to the table
time and time again over the same issues, and these things have become incredibly personalized.
So, people in a contemporary dispute are looking back to the past and looking forward to the
future, at the same time that theyíre involved in this particular dispute. And so you begin to
recognize that this is a pattern of disputing thatís been happening, and people have stakes. So,
youíve got somebody who is the head of the Urban League, or is head of the NAACP, who has,
whether or not they feel they have been treated fairly, had more "successĒ coming to the table
with the establishment than the in-the-streets leadership figures have had. So, now youíre
looking at a situation where youíre involved in two sets of negotiations. While this negotiation
is going on, youíve got this side-bar thing happening where, in the African American
component or whoever the minority component of the community may be, this kind of factioning
is taking place there, and that has to be attended to, and what youíll find happening is that those
leaders whoíve had some relative success negotiating in the past are afraid to lose what
theyíve had. And when you go into these relatively small communities, I mean these are
communities where people have lived their lives and theyíre going to die there. So itís not like
theyíre going to say, "Well, Iím going to take some risks because next year, Iím going to
move to Chicago.Ē It just doesnít work that way. So your internal advocacy and value
inclination to look snootily at those people that say theyíre selling out -- youíre going to need
to think about how they live their lives in that community, and put yourself momentarily into the
lives of the people living in a community while you luxuriously come in from the outside. So
yes, I think that some of those same issues that women who are in relatively high positions in
organizations but who are still being discriminated against find themselves in, are analogous, to a
certain extent, to middle-class minorities who are in certain situations in communities.
[Full Interview] [Topic Top]
Some of the experiences
that some of us had at CRS were just undeniably transformative, transformative because they
brought you into a context of people that most people in our society never encounter.
So when you say transformative, for you or for the parties?
Well sometimes it was for both, but Iím speaking now primarily about myself. The ability
to be in a community with a colleague -- we speak of trust, but we didnít speak about trust
between interveners themselves. There is no time in situations like that to doubt whether or not
you trust the person you are intervening with, in those situations. It was just tremendous. But
Iíve been blessed. I have been very, very fortunate, in a 40-year career, to have had those kinds
of jobs. I mean, working with street gangs there yielded these kinds of transformative moments,
as well as with the community corporation. So I think CRS more so because I was there the
longest. I was in CRS for 20 years.
Is it something about the nature of that work that makes it more transformative than other
kinds of mediation?
I think so, because itís not gilded Ė if you want to use the model that we were discussing
earlier when we first began this conversation. Itís not your kind of relatively dry,
interests-based issues. Youíre dealing with really deeply-rooted values and human needs, and
itís incredibly humbling. Another thing thatís not a skill, but a virtue I think a civil rights
mediator needs to have, is humility. The fact that people have allowed you into their lives. Iím
always amazed by that. Even in the work that I do now, that isnít it amazing that someone,
some group of people, have let us come into their lives to leave our fingerprints on what theyíre
doing in their lives. As Iíve often-times said, itís sort of like putting your finger into a
swiftly-moving stream, because once you put your finger in that stream it will never flow quite
the same way again. Thatís the kind of feeling that gets you up in the morning, all these years,
to do that kind of work. Itís terrific.
Thatís a good way to close, but it leads me to one more mundane question, but one Iím
curious about, which is, how do you weigh-in on the debate over transformative mediation versus
Oh, well you know the brouhaha that went around about that. You know, first of all let me
say this for Baruch and for Bob, that what I thought they really did was to take a huge risk and
speak to the kind of icons of power in the field, in ways that they needed to be spoken to. To say
that there is more to this business than simply just getting an agreement. Now, the problems I
have with the book: for example, without getting into labeling -- some people have, and Iíve
done this in other forms, have described their approach as being elitist. Well, that might be too
harsh a term. I donít think of Baruch or Bob as being elitist at all. I know the work that Baruch
does in Brooklyn, and heís not an elitist. But I do fault them in a sense that they criticize what
they call the "problem-solving approachĒ. I wish they would stop using that term, but Ė for want
of a better phrase right now, they talk about their concerns with the problem-solving process and
then they raise the Rodney King-Los Angeles riots of Ď91-Ď92 as an example of where the
problem-solving process didnít work. They donít tell us, though, how their approach of
empowerment and recognition would work any better. I fault the book in that sense. In that
same vein, my concern is that they lead one to believe -- and if you speak to them
conversationally they donít say this or necessarily support this -- but the book leads you to
believe that empowerment and recognition are paramount in getting an agreement. Well, try
telling that to underprivileged, disempowered groups of people. Minorities, and women that, you
know, all you need to have happen from this is that your boss, or the powers-that-be say, "I feel
your pain, and boy, Iím glad this process has empowered you to speak to this issue! In the
meanwhile we arenít going to change a damn thing." Big problem for me. Now, unfortunately,
what happens is that people immediately look to the demographics of the writers and say, "Well,
what to do you expect from two white men?Ē I think thatís a little unfair in that sense, because
I donít know them that way personally, but thatís how it sounds. Now, if you talk to them,
they donít really feel that way when you actually talk to them, but it comes out that way in the
book. The only other problem Iíve had, is that I wish they had used other examples where the
parties didnít seem to me to be -- how should I say this -- clinical. I mean, thereís an ethical
question of whether or not the woman who was a tenant in that landlord-tenant situation should
have been in mediation. I thought she was clinical and the same goes for that guy in the housing
thing that they were dealing with Ė the neighbor issue. I donít know about mediating with
people like that. Thatís the interesting point: Should you mediate if you suspect that people
may not have all their faculties? You can pull them off to side-bar preparation and negotiation
skills training all you like, until the cows come home, but if they arenít mentally prepared to go
for this process, then you are inviting some difficulty. Ultimately, as I was saying in the
beginning of this conversation, the moment you begin to move parties out of their relatively
non-rational kind of "beltĒ Ė almost non-verbal, value-based human needs Ė youíre
immediately moving into a more rational process. And I just worry that, in some cases, people
might not have that ability. Should you be mediating with them? I donít know. Or, maybe what
we need to do is think about intervention teams, where you have a process person, whoís got
the process skills Ė as weíre more familiar with mediation and conciliation, broadly constituted
Ė but that personís working with a psychiatrist. Something of that sort. One of the things that
weíre thinking about here Ė and I think others are as well Ė is that the nature of the kinds of
interventions that weíre doing now are so complex, that why not think about teams of
intervention people who have different kinds of training? I mean, itís all intervention, but
weíre looking at people taking different parts of it. So, weíve had the idea of using
anthropologists and ethnographers in conflicts where you have traditional cultures involved,
because they have the skills to understand culture, and how culture plays itself out on the ground.
So we have Kevin Avruch, who teaches in our program, and Kevin does a piece with our
practicum students about, "What do you see when you go in the field? What do you look for?Ē
Because theyíre trained observers. Things like that.
I heard you implying that you do a transformative kind of thing at the beginning Ė where
youíre working with the values, and then you transition into an interest-based process. In the
book, it says you canít have both.
I disagree. I mean, ultimately, you have to deal with the presenting issue. So whatís the
point Ė how are value-based needs expressed, and what are they expressed about? Theyíre
expressed about the fact that you are disenfranchised, you are disempowered......well, how?
Because you canít get into the schools, because you canít get employment, because of the
whole nature of the structural disempowerment of our society Ė but what does that really mean?
It has to be articulated in real terms. Well, the moment you do that, at some point youíre going
to have to say, "Okay, now how are we actually going to do the changes?Ē The moment you do
that, youíre involved in an interest-based mediation. You need to read Ė Mara Schoeny, whoís
a doctoral student here, and I, are writing an article for Negotiation Journal. Bill is going to kill
us if we donít get the editing done, so weíve got to get the editing done; itís supposed to be
coming out in July. I donít even want to look at my e-mails; thereís probably something in
there from him right now! What Mara and I are doing, is that weíre making an argument that
thereís been too much "baby with the bath waterĒ in this field. There is this kind of social
justice, sticking-your-nose-up-in-the-air concern about people who do interests-based forms of
intervention, which is considered a kind of maintenance of the status quo. The people who do
that kind of work say that the "starry-eyed, peacekeeping peopleĒĖ with visions of sticking
dandelions in gun barrels Ė are off in some sort of outer-space unreality. We argue that thereís
been a miscommunication, and that both are needed in some form or fashion. So itíll be
interesting to get your response to that article when it comes out.
[Full Interview] [Topic Top]
How is civil rights mediation different from other kinds of
I think one thing different is that we would meet separately with the parties upon
intervention. To be efficient and effective, it was imperative that you did careful assessment.
Sometimes you would not do that in the mediation, and even in civil rights formal mediation it
might not be necessary. But when you went out in the field to do conciliation or respond to
community conflict, before you reach the formal stage, it was important to do an assessment to
find out what was going on. That means talking to a lot of people, gathering a lot of information,
and then deciding whether we belong here and what can we do here? Should we stay? If so,
what are our goals, how are we going to get it done, what resources will it take? In community
mediation, you have to understand the nature of systems if youíre going to be effective. How
do governments work, coalitions, other organizations, school districts some of those things I
mentioned earlier. You donít want to have a mediation two weeks before an election. You
have to learn the nature of coalitions and how they function, how decisions are made in coalitions
and how decisions are made in establishments and what the differences are. So, I think it takes a
broader range of knowledge and skills in this field.
[Full Interview] [Topic Top]
There are a number of conflict theorists
who suggest that identity conflicts are a) the hardest to resolve, or b) cannot be mediated at all.
They say identity conflicts require a needs-based process, rather than interest-based negotiation
That's clearly accurate because they are difficult, un-mediateable, but you donít mediate the
conflict, you mediate the dispute or related problems. You mediate something thatís going on.
You donít mediate Christianity vs. Islamic Law for example, but the problem of how the
parties can live and work peacefully in the same environment. Youíre trying to change attitudes
along the way, but youíre dealing with behaviors over a specific issue.
So you mediate the specific issue, not the underlying identity.
You do what you can do, but be realistic. Youíre there because of a problem and
everybody has rights to things and people can accept that, and they understand that. You try to
show people what they have in common. Minimize the differences. Get them to hear things they
havenít heard before, and to understand where others are coming from. Hopefully, you get
some attitude adjustment along the way. Whether itís partial or total transformation or none at
all is another matter.
The line that got missed when we turned the tape over that I thought was important is that
you donít resolve the whole identity issue.
I really havenít thought that through fully. Iíve seen attitudinal changes in South Africa
where Iíve worked just as I have seen it in this country during school desegregation disputes.
Does that mean the identity crisis, or the identity problem, is gone? No, just some people have
changed, some views have broadened, there are some new understandings. Hopefully this
happens more and more as you go forward. If youíve seen children from different backgrounds
working together on committees in newly desegregated schools you see them in a setting opens
them up a bit.
It is also the question of the political possibilities. When it's politically feasible, itís
good to have these good interpersonal things happening. If you launch political barriers, it
becomes impossible to break away from the group with which youíre are identified. So whether
itís a political or racial, or whatever it is, youíre ok, but Iím still not going to say whites are
ok, or blacks are this or that, or in this community this can happen because I still have to
represent my organization.
[Full Interview] [Topic Top]
Another similar sort of question relates to
the statement that is being made quite a bit in the field now, that white Americans have whatís
being called the dominant North American model of mediation. Many people think it doesn't
work in other cultures and this has been very much said in relation to Africa, Central and South
America. Some people are extending that to minority cultures within the United States. Do you,
or did you see any need to adopt different approaches for different cultural groups?
I was never involved in a formal of mediation with the American Indian Community, but I
doubt it would be the same as the traditional mediation model that we know. More consultation
would be needed, more time would be needed. I was told by a Korean-American mediator,
whoís active in the Asian Mediation Center in Los Angeles, that he had a problem when the
parties shared their problem with him and then they expected him to be a party to the conflict too.
They refused to accept his contentions that his involvement ended when the agreement was
signed. They wanted the mediator to immerse himself in the problem and stay involved in the
event the agreement broke down. If you donít know that culture from the outset, you are going
to have trouble with another model. And if you try to impose another ground rule, youíre going
to get into trouble.
In El Salvador where Iím working now, weíre building a conflict resolution
component, a local Zone of Peace to address violence in 86 low income communities. There are
people who went in, before I had got there, who wanted a big mediation program as part of this.
That wonít work. During our assessment we found out that what will work, is a system already
in place where a directorate decides community conflicts. They come together, so that if the
issue is over the availability of water in the community, itís the directorate that makes that
decision or resolves it. Does this mean that thereís no mediation? No it doesnít. It means that
you respect that current process, and maybe you give some mediation type training, teach the
skills of mediators to the members of the directorate and the community so they have options and
alternatives to make them better, more effective in the way theyíre doing it. Is there a place for
mediation or mediational behaviors to be used there? I think part of this is how you use the word
"mediation." Formal mediation structured in certain ways, no, itís not appropriate in certain
places. But the techniques of mediation and being mediational in behaviors are.
[Full Interview] [Topic Top]
You mentioned at one point that the majority of cases don't go to mediation. What
determines whether a case is appropriate for mediation or not?
Well, for a start, you need parties that are identifiable enough so you can say
"These are the sides." Sometimes that is not clear. Sometimes there is tension in the community,
but it is hard to define who, exactly, the opposing parties are. Second, you need specific issues
that are clearly-definable. One of the things that's difficult to mediate is, for example, if there is a
court case and a community believes that even bringing the case to court was an injustice, or the
disposition of it is not fair. Usually you can't mediate that. So in that case, I would look for ways
to bring some healing, some communication, some positive interaction among members of the
minority and the majority community. I'd just try to begin to get some common interests, some
common goals to deal with race relations in that community in general, without going through a
formal mediation process.
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
[Full Interview] [Topic Top]
I have a theoretical question for you. At the Conflict Consortium, we have been working on
a theory of intractable conflicts for a long time. We have said that intractable conflicts generally
cannot be mediated (almost by definition) and that identity conflicts, including racial conflicts,
are particularly likely to be intractable. So as I was listening to your discussion about the orange,
I began to wonder, how do you get people to reframe a conflict from being about race to being
about something else?
It's what I started talking about early on. You don't talk about race; instead, you ask, "What
are the hiring policies?" or, "What are the discipline issues?" You ask, "What does the
curriculum look like?" or, "Do you have access to the establishment, to the superintendent?"
Because even though the community sees the superintendent as being racist and as being the
reason why they can't get what they want, the real issues and I'm not going to say race hasn't
influenced what has happened there but the next level or the level at which this needs to be
resolved isn't race; it's policies and procedures, and access, and communities, and processes. It's
about interaction and communication, both of which were sorely lacking in this case. The race
factor just made it more difficult because both sides believed, "Those people are difficult to deal
with because of what they have been taught." Race was the orange, but it wasn't the issue.
The community could get a person of the same race in that position who didn't change the
policies, and that would be more frustrating, because now one can't even blame it on racism
anymore. But if they got somebody else who is white, but who changes the policy and is more
responsive to the community, that will decrease the perception of racism. And that will diminish
the taproot or fuse of inequality and disparity. So even though people see the issue as race, it
really isn't race at all.
Another example of that is the issue of sovereignty, though I haven't yet been able to get the
parties to understand this, and so I haven't been successful in reframing in this area. Sovereignty
is a big issue with Native Americans, particularly when it comes to law enforcement on
reservations. There is less and less willingness by tribal leadership to allow a non-tribal law
enforcement to have any kind of role on the reservation. This also applies in cases of hunting and
fishing rights disputes.
One of the biggest obstacles to developing some effective collaborative approaches to law
enforcement on and near reservations, and to hunting/fishing rights on and near reservations is
that both the American Indians and state officials approach it from a perspective of, "Who has the
sovereignty? Who has the jurisdiction?" What I try to get across is, "Okay, if you have the
jurisdiction, or if you have the sovereignty, what is it you want to do with it? What is it that you
want to accomplish?" If I could get them to talk about what effective law enforcement would
look like, regardless of who has the jurisdiction and the sovereignty, I really think they could
work that out. I totally believe that. But it is such a sensitive issue, it is very difficult to get
beyond that. The focus has been on the sovereignty, because it's a symbolic issue as well as a real
issue. Symbolic issues are very difficult to surmount.
There was one hunting/fishing case that I was called in to, where the state and the tribe had been
in negotiations but reached a deadlock. That's when someone called me. They said, "Well, so-
and-so says Silke Hansen claims she can do this. Let's call her."
"Oh gee, thanks a lot!" I keep telling people, "Why don't you call when you start these
negotiations, not when they fall apart?"
But I went up anyway, and they showed me what they had done, and I said, "I don't even want to
see that." I started putting stuff on the white board. "If you have regulations, what are your
objectives? What is it you are trying to accomplish?" And they were like this [she linked her
fingers together] they absolutely agreed. So once they agreed on that, it was just a matter of
determining what kind of policies each side needed to bring those objectives about. Both sides
gave a little, and at the end of a very long day, the people at the table reached an agreement.
That's the good news. The bad news is that when it went back to the tribe the tribe didn't buy it,
because they said it was encroaching too much on their sovereignty.
Another case in the same state ended the same way. It involved a similar kind of negotiation. The
parties reached an agreement at the end of the day, but in that case it was the state that blocked
the agreement. The negotiators went back to their superiors, who threw out the agreement, again
on issues of sovereignty. So there was no agreement.
But to me, it proves a point. You have to cut through and disregard the identity issues well, you
can't ignore these issues totally because they are there. But the mistake that we usually make in
most discussions is that we make racism or sovereignty the issue, and that is not the issue. The
issue is, "How can we get past that to provide effective law enforcement?" "How can we get past
that to provide good stewardship of our natural resources?" But the history of feeling attacked
and encroached-upon and the perception that "they are just trying to whittle away at what we
have, piece-by-piece," prevents people from focusing on the real issues. On the other hand, there
is the concern that the state "should not give those people special rights and recognition." These
feelings are so strong that it is very difficult to come from a different perspective. But I am
absolutely convinced if they could just throw out that "orange" and deal with the "flavoring" and
the "beverage," there would be much more common ground.
When you succeed in getting them to do that, what is the long-term result in terms of
identity and symbolic issues and race relations? If they can cut through those things to resolve
this incident, does it have a long-term effect on other incidents?
Well, I think it would if it worked at all, but as I said in the two examples that I gave you, it
didn't work. The people at the table were able to reframe the problem, but their superiors were
not willing to do that, and the agreements were thrown out for political reasons. It was seen as
giving too much or losing too much in terms of sovereignty and jurisdiction and control. So
neither agreement held up.
I do believe that had it held up, it could have provided a good model, a good precedent for how
we can get cooperative agreements on issues like this. In fact, there are other states where there is
less mistrust between state and tribe, and where in fact we do have better cooperative
relationships. If you could either just not mention "sovereignty" or acknowledge that each of
them has sovereignty, and that the two separate governments of two sovereign states are reaching
an agreement, I think it would be doable. But there is so much tension and mistrust in this
particular setting that it is difficult to make that happen.
What about other settings though? Such as, for instance, the principal who was accused of
being racist, where you were able to reframe it in terms of discipline policy and hiring and that
type of thing? Would that have affected the long-term relationship on race relations in the
It would, because the potential triggering incidents are less common, so the "bomb" is less
likely to go off. Now there is a precedent of communication. There is a mechanism and an
expectation that people will address and deal with problems before they get to the point of
explosion. So it is the redress side that's handled more effectively. Once there is a precedent for
communication, it makes a big difference.
Probably one of the most positive examples of that is the same tax day facilitation. There were
anywhere from 75 to 100 people in that room and at least as many when I went back for a second
meeting. But out of those meetings came a sort of "community board" which included Hispanic
and Anglo participants, including law enforcement people. They formed this board and I trained
them in three days I gave them three days of basic mediation training. I remember one of the
members of the group said, "Gee, you know, Silke, I think this is the first time somebody has
come and said, 'I'm from the Federal Government and I'm here to help you,' and then actually
done it." I thought that was a huge compliment at the time.
That board still exists today, and is still dealing with problems involving the police and
community relations. But they also began to look at other sources of tension within the
community. This community started out as very mistrustful. There were a lot of accusations
about how Hispanics were being treated by the law enforcement system. But now the leader of
that system is working with that Hispanic community to deal with education issues in the
community purely because people are talking to each other now. And they pay me to do that!
What do you do when you get the parties to the table and they reach an impasse, and just
can't go forward?
I can think of only one case where we actually got to mediation and that happened. It was a
court-requested or court-ordered mediation. And it was after days of work. I did what I usually
do: I usually start with what I would call shuttle diplomacy I hedge my bets. I like to know
what the parties are going to say when they come to the table before they come to the table. So I
do a lot of work with the parties individually before I actually bring them to the table. In this
case, they were in the same building, but in separate rooms. It became very, very clear that we
were not going to get anywhere.
So I ended up just telling the court, "Your honor, I'm sorry, I tried, but it's not going to happen
here," without saying whose fault it was. You know, I had my own perception, and I thought,
quite frankly, that one of the parties was probably foolish, because they could have gotten some
gains and they ultimately lost. I think they could have negotiated some gains out of this. So in
that case, I didn't have a clue of how to get past the impasse. But that's the only one I can think
of where parties agreed to mediate, but where they didn't reach at least some agreement.
There was another one that wasn't court-ordered, but which had been in court, and it included
some hiring and affirmative action-type provisions. The parties reached agreement on most of the
pieces, but not all of them. In this case, I think that part of the reason they couldn't agree on all of
it was that one of the parties was given false expectations by their attorney. The way we left it in
the agreement was that we stated the areas in which they agreed, and the rest went back to the
court and the judge would issue a ruling. In each case, what the judge ruled was what the other
party had offered in the first place. So, unfortunately for the other party the minority party in
this case they really didn't get anything more than they might have gotten if they had continued
to mediate and reach a settlement that way.
One of the things that I always do at the beginning of a mediation session, is get the parties to
agree on what to do if there is partial but not full agreement. If there are ten issues, for
example, and they can only reach agreement on seven, does that mean they go ahead and sign an
agreement on those seven, and leave the other three hanging? Or, if we don't reach agreement on
everything, then do we throw it all out and say that there's no agreement, period? I think you
want to get that understanding before they start. It's much better than getting half-way through the
mediation, only to have one party suddenly say, "I'm sorry, if we don't get such-and-such, then
all bets are off." So getting an assurance from both parties that partial agreements are acceptable
is one of the ways of avoiding a major disaster. Sometimes, just pointing out how much
agreement they've already reached then becomes an incentive for continuing the discussions.
I can think of another case in which there was huge mistrust and even hostility between the
parties. Some of the issues were complicated enough that it would require, or certainly benefit
from, some outside expertise. So in that case, what we did was have each of the parties
recommend a consultant who could provide expertise, and then we picked a third person within
that field of expertise. So we had those three consultants or experts meet, and come up with some
proposed approaches to dealing with the issues in contention. They did that successfully, and
then they were able to sell those ideas to the parties, because they had credibility. So that enabled
us to get them to agree to some approaches, and that would have been very difficult had we
brought in only one consultant. If we'd had only one "expert," both parties would have said, "Is
that consultant on their side, or is she on our side?" So having a panel of three worked very well
in that particular instance. It was expensive for CRS, because CRS doesn't have those kinds of
resources. But we did it in that particular case, and they did ultimately reach an agreement. So
that's another approach to get past an impasse.
And those three consultants met by themselves?
Initially. And then they served as resources to the mediation process, until the overall plan
or outline was agreed to. And then when it came to finalizing you know, crossing the "t"s and
dotting the "i"s that we did ourselves, just myself and the parties.
Oh, I remember another case with an impasse. Here the parties had reached agreement on all the
important stuff. We were working on finalizing the wording, and we got to the point of saying,
"Each community and each ethnic group has a right to be represented and have its culture
represented in the curriculum and other processes at the school." But that didn't work, because
everyone wanted to have his or her own culture mentioned, but no one could decide what each
group would be called. For illustration, let's say the conflict involved and Asian group. So do we
say, "All Asians?" "No, no, it can't be Asians, it has to be Vietnamese specifically." But someone
else said, "No, not Vietnamese, but Southeast Asian." And others just wanted "Asians." So just
the wording almost blew the entire mediation.
We finally got around that impasse with some wording that I came up with: "All children
whether they call themselves Vietnamese or Asian or Southeast Asian or whatever, have the right
to have their culture and history reflected." So that way, it wasn't the parties labeling the
children, it was the parties acknowledging that the children would label themselves in whatever
way they wanted to. We came to this idea at about 9:30 at night, and the attorneys were like,
"What is this?!" But the parties were absolutely adamant. They would not agree on anything else.
So it's amazing what can sometimes sort of throw that monkey-wrench in there.
That's a great story, and it seems to me that it illustrates one of the theoretical ideas we've
been advocating that identity conflicts tend to be intractable. Because what they were arguing
about, essentially, was identities....yet your wording found a way around that.
And, again, the reason that we found a way around it was by facing it, not by just working
around it. You don't minimize and you don't pretend that the identity issue doesn't exist, but you
try to figure out where the identity is important. I think that we got down to realizing that what
was important was that the children needed to not have their identity defined for them. And by
framing it in terms of the children calling themselves whatever they wanted to, we got away from
either party labeling them. So that identity issue was acknowledged. But it was acknowledged in
a way that neither party imposed their ideas of "identity" on the other, and that's where the
That was a very interesting case. When we started on that one, neither party had very high
expectations of reaching an agreement. So it was a very slow, gradual process, which we took
piece by piece. And I think they really surprised themselves when there was any point on which
they actually reached agreement. But any time they did, they thought, "Well if we can get this
piece, maybe we can get this next piece too," and by golly, they did. I'm not going to claim that
this is now a perfectly happy community where they all lived happily ever after, but the process
of going through that mediation was valuable for everyone, even though there was still some
mistrust between the parties afterwards. But in trying to implement the agreement, there was
some effort at a common approach, rather than a win-lose competition. And that was huge in that
situation. I think both parties would have liked to have been the winners, but it probably
wouldn't have gotten them very much.
Have you seen acknowledgment of a group's identity as important in other cases as well, or
the value of a group's identity?
Well, to some extent, the sovereignty issue that I was talking about before the reason that
sovereignty is so important is to maintain identity. I don't think there is any group in the country
today that is more concerned about having their entire identity stolen than American Indians.
They really feel that they are under siege in many cases. Obviously, I can't talk for everyone there
any more than I can speak for any other group. But I think there is a real sense of it being a
struggle to hold on to their identity, and that's why sovereignty becomes so important.
[Full Interview] [Topic Top]
I guess the final question that I
have is whether or not you think
CRS involvement might have undercut a minority group? Did CRS undercut the direction or the
position that a minority group might have had? Do you think it was helpful, in general?
Well, I know there is a debate about the role of mediation-- that it can be a process for
That's what I'm asking.
That's what you're asking. Well, I don't have a lot of second guesses about that myself.
Second-guesses that somehow, in the process, say the minority community was sold out. My
sense of this is that to reach a judgment on that you have to be familiar with what the options of
the situation were. Now maybe years later looking at it, in the moment, talking about people get
hurt, but later on you get questions about that. That can be a nature defense. To me in situations
at the time what options did the minority community have? I think the debate would be over
situations where there was a real imbalance of power. In those situation it's always a struggle
trying to balance. What can you do in a situation that given the circumstances and resources,
you have found the best possibility? In those early situations it was really disheartening. There
were some difficult times because people didn't want to change. Sometimes you didn't save the
world, but some change happened. I remember reading a book a few years ago where that was
talked about. I remember I just became incensed because I think it really did focus on the
mediation that had gone on where people had been sold out. You have to treasure this work by
the community you're working with. I think one of the measures of it is if the minority
community was not supportive of what you were doing, it might last momentarily but it would
collapse on it's own. There's nothing other than closed settlements in a lot of work CRS did, it
was really agreements which technically had no way of being enforced, so the illegitimate
solution would fall on its face.