Category Archives: News about ADR

Jim Melamed receives John Haynes Distinguished Mediator Award from ACR

Congratulations to Jim Melamed, influential mediation pioneer and co-founder of Mediate.com, who received the 2007 John Haynes Distinguished Mediator Award from the Association for Conflict Resolution at ACR’s recent 2007 Conference in Phoenix, Arizona.

Jim, I can’t think of anyone more deserving of such an honor. Thanks for your contributions to our field — and your support of the ADR blogging community.

New dispute resolution firm OptionBridge LLC launches; based in New England, aims for the globe

OptionBridge, new dispute resolution firm, launchesI’m pleased to share with you news about a new dispute resolution business I’ve launched with four colleagues. Here’s the official announcement that went out today:

Building on more than 75 combined years of experience in the field, five dispute resolution professionals – Moshe Cohen, Melinda Gehris, Ericka Gray, Bill Logue, and Diane Levin – have formally joined forces as OptionBridge LLC.

OptionBridge is a one-stop, full-service conflict management firm helping companies, organizations, and individuals prevent, manage, and recover from conflict. The conflict management experts at OptionBridge provide a broad range of services, including conflict audit and assessment, neutral investigation, dispute resolution system design, mediation, arbitration, training, consulting, coaching and more, in order to minimize the likelihood of destructive conflict, intervene swiftly and effectively when it does occur, and help restore relationships and build healthier organizations in its aftermath. OptionBridge also provides training, coaching, and consulting services to ADR professionals to help them build their businesses and take their skills to the next level.

From its headquarters in Concord, Hew Hampshire, and satellite offices in Connecticut and Massachusetts OptionBridge delivers services throughout the region, as well as nationally, internationally, and on the web. In addition to working together, the members of OptionBridge continue to maintain their own independent practices.

Please visit OptionBridge on the web at www.optionbridge.com or call us at 800-987-9078.

Mediate.com, world's top mediation site, celebrates 200th newsletter

Mediate.com the number one mediation web site and news resourceToday Mediate.com, the world’s premier mediation site, posts its 200th newsletter.

Not only is Mediate.com a web site that I visit frequently to research information on topics in ADR, but it’s also the one that I recommend first to my mediation students and to anyone interested in understanding more about mediation, conflict resolution, and negotiation.

As a blogger I am also deeply grateful that Mediate.com reached out to embrace bloggers at the beginning of this year through the launch of its “Mediate.com Featured Blogs” section. Mediate.com is not only a dependably top-quality resource, it is also a good cyber-neighbor.

Congratulations, Mediate.com. Here’s to 200 more.

Inter-religious conflict finds forum for no-holds-barred dialogue in Bangalore

Meta-CultureEvery once in awhile, if we are fortunate, we meet an individual that intuition tells us is destined for great things.

My friend Ashok Panikkar is one of those individuals. Ashok, who left Boston and returned to his native Bangalore two years ago, founded Meta-Culture, Bangalore’s first center for dialogue and conflict transformation. When I interviewed Ashok in July 2005, he described his goals for Meta-Culture:

Meta-Culture is in the process of creating India’s first integrated conflict management group. The vision is to help people develop skills of discourse that are non-adversarial and built around the principles of dialogue rather than debate (even though there are situations where, for instance, Socratic debate can play a very useful part in helping to clarify ideas and challenge the mind). In doing so we can change the climate and culture of discourse so that individuals, organizations and societies can respond to differences with understanding and skill instead of doing so from anger, ignorance, fear, animosity or misplaced righteousness.Our mission is to engage in or promote activities that can help advance this vision. To this end we are engaged in consulting, research and education in the areas of ADR, especially mediation; facilitation; coaching; design of conflict and dispute management systems; and consensus building. Right now our focus is to establish Meta-Culture as a sustainable consulting practice. Very soon we will be setting up a separate division that will service the NGO and governmental sectors.

Unsurprisingly, Meta-Culture today is thriving, keeping Ashok and his staff busy. One of its projects, Meta-Culture Dialogics, a non-profit trust, recently attracted the attention of India media.

The purpose of this project has been to promote dialogue among Hindu, Muslim, Christian and Buddhist groups to discuss matters of importance over the course of 10 sessions. These sessions were not designed to get people “holding hands and singing Kumbaya” in the hopes of simply sweeping differences under the rug, as Ashok told me in a recent phone call.

According to Ashok, who was interviewed by The Hindu, “We are not into preaching peace, tolerance and harmony. Instead, we provide a platform for communities to talk about what is bothering them the most about the other community” and to ask each other the hard questions to give issues the healthy airing that honest dialogue can produce.

You can read more about this “Inter-faith dialogue for conflict resolution” as reported in an online edition of The Hindu.

Since when is mediation "pork"?

Mediation program is political porkIllinois governor Rod Blagojevich has cut almost $500 million of “‘pork’ and non-essential spending” from the state’s Fiscal Year 2008 budget.

Unfortunately these cuts included funding for a gang mediation program aimed at reducing conflicts and violence in the city’s neighborhoods.

Some day, some day, political leaders will view conflict resolution as an essential service. Hey, a mediator can dream…

(Photo by Clarissa Rossarola.)

Bulgarian mediators and mediation program administrators on 12-day study tour of Boston

Mediation is a universal language for mediators and mediation program administrators from Bulgaria on study tour in BostonMy alma mater, Suffolk University Law School in Boston, is hosting a group of visiting mediators and mediation program administrators from Bulgaria who are here on a twelve-day study tour under the sponsorship of the United States Agency for International Development (USAID).

This tour furthers the efforts of USAID’s Commercial Law Reform Program (CLRP) to promote access to and use of mediation to alleviate the strain on Bulgarian’s underfunded and overburdened judiciary (a problem which will have the ring of familiarity to American jurists). CLRP has worked closely with Bulgaria to help it develop its capacity to provide court-connected mediation services. A legal framework supporting mediation is in place, which includes a Mediation Act enacted in December 2004, comprehensive procedural and ethical rules of conduct for mediators, and mediation training standards.

In addition, last year the 110-year-old Bulgarian Chamber of Commerce and Industry (BCCI) with the support of USAID opened a Commercial Mediation Center in Sofia, Bulgaria’s capital, with the goal of promoting the use of mediation as a time- and cost-saving measure.

This study tour was developed by and is under the supervision of Gabrielle Gropman, a mediator with over two decades of experience, who served as the administrator of the Harvard Mediation Program at Harvard Law School for 20 years and who possesses substantial experience as a trainer in both the U.S. and Europe.

Chief trainer is my friend and colleague Ericka Gray, who, among her many achievements, served as the founding Executive Director of the Middlesex Multi-Door Courthouse in Cambridge, Massachusetts, and later as the Executive Director of the Academy of Family Mediators, one of the organizations which later became the Association for Conflict Resolution, before founding her dispute resolution firm DisputEd in 1998.

Participation in this study tour is designed to provide participants with advanced commercial mediation skills and techniques, strategies for the successful administration and financial operation of commercial mediation programs, techniques for training commercial mediators, and the opportunity to establish ties with mediators and mediation service providers here in the U.S.

For two days this week I was privileged to join the study tour as Ericka’s co-trainer teaching these distinguished visitors from Bulgaria advanced commercial mediation skills. Vastly knowledgeable about mediation, deeply committed to its precepts, and rooted squarely in its theory and practice, they had much to teach us as well.

The impression that has remained with me today as I reflect on my time with these extraordinary individuals is the degree to which mediation has become a universal language, an idiom that all of us who are mediators speak and share.

For more information on mediation in Bulgaria, visit the web site for the Mediation Center at the Bulgarian Chamber of Commerce and Industry.

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A MEDIATOR'S GUIDE TO SCOTLAND: A conversation with Ewan Malcolm, Director of the Scottish Mediation Network

An interview with Ewan Malcolm of the Scottish Mediation NetworkOne of the greatest rewards of blogging has been the opportunity to meet alternative dispute resolution practitioners from all over the world. And it’s affirming to learn that no matter what latitude we inhabit, we all seem to share a common tongue–the lingua franca of conflict resolvers everywhere. And the differences of course only keep things interesting.

There is much we can all learn from each other with the internet as facilitator for our conversations together. I am therefore honored and pleased to be able to bring to you today a conversation with a respected leader in the mediation fieldEwan Malcolm, Director of the pioneering Scottish Mediation Network based in Edinburgh, Scotland.

Ewan guides us through Scotland’s mediation landscape, offering those of us who live elsewhere in the world a unique and in-depth look into the heart and soul of mediation practice there.

Please click here to read my conversation with Ewan. (And with deepest gratitude to Ewan for his generosity and kindness in taking time to share his perspectives and experience with my readers.)

WHEN MEDIATION SERVES THE PUBLIC INTEREST

There are those who say that conflict sells newspapers.

So it’s good news for mediators when the Fourth Estate promotes more collaborative means of resolving disputes.

An editorial in today’s Asheville Citizen Times put in a plug for mediation when it urged the Asheville City Council and the Buncombe County Board of Commissioners to work together to resolve an ongoing battle over water management issues. As the editor explained,

“Going to court would mean tens of thousands of taxpayer dollars spent to resolve the dispute. It would mean a judge, rather than the elected officials whose job it is, deciding how the water distribution system will work. The matter could take months or years to resolve as appeals wind their way through the courts. In the meantime, a water system desperately in need of repairs would continue to deteriorate…Going to court would also undoubtedly strain amicable feelings among local leaders—further damaging regional cooperation for decades.

In other words, resolving the matter in court is clearly not an acceptable alternative. Mediation, however, is. Time is running out. What’s needed is an impartial, well-trained mediator who can help all sides find common ground and reach an outcome that best serves all constituencies.

Given an effective process, people of goodwill can resolve seemingly irreconcilable differences.”

This is one journalist who understands that while conflict may sell newspapers, it does nothing to solve problems. Mediation, on the other hand, certainly can.

MEDIATION RESTORES HARMONY TO ST. LOUIS SYMPHONY

Symphony achieves harmony with help of federal mediator Earlier this month this blog reported that the St. Louis Symphony Orchestra, on strike for eight weeks over a salary dispute, had agreed to mediation between musicians and management.

Thanks to the help of a federal mediator, the symphony, one of the oldest in the U.S., has ended its strike and will resume its concert schedule.

MEDIATION IS NOT "MEDITATION" WITH A TYPO

The latest edition of the yellow pages just landed on my front steps. I was looking through the “Mediation” section and came across a listing for a meditation studio. That happens all the time—people seem to have a tough time telling the difference between “mediation” and “meditation”. Mediation is always getting confused with something else. It’s enough to give even a well-adjusted mediator an identity crisis.

And if the news from Wisconsin is any indication, there are people in very high places who are more confused than anybody. The story goes like this…

The Wisconsin State Employees Union has been working without a contract since July 2003. Negotiations at this point are at a standstill. As a way to administer CPR to revive negotiations, the Union has invited Governor Jim Doyle and his administration to participate in mediation.

In a truly bizarre twist, Doyle rejected these overtures. Using reasoning straight out of Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland, a spokesperson for the administration explained, “We are deeply disappointed that Council 24 has decided to walk away from the negotiating table. We do not believe that now is the time to throw in the towel on negotiations…”

Someone apparently forgot to tell the governor that mediation is widely defined as “assisted negotiation”. If the administration ever does agree to mediate, let’s just hope they don’t show up with yoga mats and crystals.