March 14, 2017
SCMA President Jason Harper recently wrote to you introducing the SCMA Education Foundation as the charitable and educational arm of the SCMA and its work supporting Peer Mediation Programs in our schools.
We’re delighted to let you know that SCMA has just issued its Third Annual Challenge Grant to the Foundation to support these programs and the extraordinary students who serve as mediators.
And you can help us meet that challenge. Just click here and contribute!
These students are absolutely compelling. They are well-trained in the principles and practices of mediation, they serve their schools as volunteers, they learn the essential life skills of effective communications and conflict resolution at an early age, and they model what they learn, changing the environment around them. They enjoy helping others. As one student said,
“I get to increase the mental wellness and health of everyone around me and/or save people a trip to expulsion because that’s not good.”
Peer mediators also think of mediation as a way of interacting, not just as a process for resolving a disagreement.
I’m writing to ask you to help us meet the 2017 Challenge and support peer mediation programs in our schools.
With your help we can give the experience of peaceful conflict resolution to students. Our goal is to raise $5,000 by April 30. If just 100 people contribute $50 each, we can reach the goal easily. And if you’d like to contribute another amount, large or small, just write it in. Every contribution makes a difference.
Click here to be one of the first to contribute. All contributions are important and support these programs.
You can make a difference in our schools. Please contribute generously.
Thank you. The students and the Foundation really appreciate it.
Maria Simpson, Ph.D.
SCMA-EF Board Chair
I would like to share with you some information about the SCMA Education Foundation and their amazing efforts.
The Foundation is the 501(c)(3) charitable and educational arm of the SCMA, and this year we are celebrating its Tenth Anniversary and the extraordinary work it has done!
In the last ten years, its achievements have included providing materials for mediator training to universities and community mediation centers as well as supporting middle- and high-school peer mediation programs.
2016 was a stellar year for the Foundation. It:
- raised about $20,000, including a generous grant from the Judicate West Foundation;
- distributed funds to schools and other organizations that support peer mediation programs;
- coordinated with SCMA and INVLA on panels and a celebratory dinner focusing on peer mediation;
- and worked with LA Council on Human Relations to develop lesson plans on mediation and respectful communications for middle- and senior-high school students.
- was recognized by the LA City Council with a Proclamation in support of National Conflict Resolution Day in October.
- presented its Annual Directors’ Award in November at the SCMA Fall Conference to John Haas, Ph.D. for his work on international peacebuilding with college students.
This year, the 10th Anniversary, The Foundation has already embarked on an ambitious program of enhancing its operating systems, bringing on new board members, raising even more funds and supporting even more schools than last year, as well as establishing closer collaborations with other organizations in the area.
As SCMA President, former board member of the Foundation, and now Ex Officio Member of the Foundation Board, I have personally watched the Foundation grow and develop its programs and expertise, and I cannot urge you strongly enough to “Celebrate The First Ten Years” by contributing generously to support peer mediation programs and mediator training.
Go to the Foundation’s website www.scmaedfoundation.org and click on the links on the home page to the two wonderful videos that show just how much peer mediation programs mean to students and their schools and communities, and then click on the Blue Donate button to support these programs.
This year, more than ever, given the contentious communications environment and the increase in bullying in the schools, it is vitally important that we bring the skills and approaches of mediation, of respect for each individual, and of peaceful conflict resolution to our youth so they have these skills for their personal and professional success. It is only then that we create the more peaceful society we all want and need.
For those of you who may not be familiar with the Foundation, go to the website and see all the information there that makes it a central resource for mediation programs, and discover the gem that SCMA established ten years ago.
Be sure to contribute! Any and all amounts are welcomed and will support these vital programs. You can contribute in other ways as well. The Foundation welcomes people who would like to explore joining the board and helping to foster its programs.
Let’s make 2017 a real celebration with your contributions and a record number of Friends of the Foundation!
Jason A. Harper, President
Southern California Mediation Association
The most complex organ of the human body is the brain. It oversees every bodily function and lets individuals interact with one another. Research into the brain provides an in-depth look at human nature and an understanding of human behavior.
Neuroscience is the study of the nervous system. It explains why behavior changes under stress. These changes relate directly to fluctuating serotonin levels in the brain. In other words, stressors lead to the instability of serotonin levels. This impedes a rational decision on a resolution in a taxing situation.
What happens in a dispute?
Disputing parties often believe they have the bulletproof facts, the proper reasoning, and the soundest position in the disagreement. This frame of mind can intensify the conflict. Quite typically, one of the parties presents a constructed resolution and outlines what they deem a logical point of view. When this resolution is rejected, the presenting party is bewildered by their adversary’s conceived irrational reaction.
Unreasonable expectations and disappointment can form by assuming that one’s well-crafted argument and dispute resolution would never be rejected by the receiving party. When a proposal is rejected, the parties stop listening to any other views outside their own. When this occurs, getting the two sides to agree on a resolution is a daunting and difficult task.
The role of the mediator
A mediator evaluates the interaction and body language of the parties by contemplating the mediation style that will be most effective in resolving the dispute. Neuroscience provides sound research into the different methods to achieve this. Facilitating becomes a vital technique through the course of the dispute resolution process by allowing the mediator to be aware of the needs and interests of the parties.
The negotiating process commences by identifying what drives the parties’ thought process, understanding their relationships, and determining the compelling factors behind the dispute. The matter’s importance to each party is also considered. The mediator identifies the parties emotional and logical processes, allowing the parties to listen, acknowledge, and respect each other’s interpretation of the dispute.
These findings have enormous implications in a dispute resolution. Parties creating a resolution based on reasoning alone are destined to fail. The negotiation process involves understanding the tangible and emotional factors making up the dispute. Relying on a logic based argument creates unreasonable expectations, speculations, and opinions.
A mediator must create a vision for the parties to understand each other’s points of view. This allows the barriers separating the parties to break down, making for a sound decision. By creating a safe environment, the parties come to make the decision on their own accord. At this point, additional reasoning tactics and further persuasion are not necessary. People do not base their decisions on logic, people formulate decisions based on their well-being.
I am extremely excited for what 2017 has to offer for the members of the Southern California Mediation Association. There are several events and programs that will serve the mediation community in a variety of areas. The first opportunity is on February 11 at USC where we will provide a program on the latest updates regarding mediator confidentiality from the California Law Review Commission. In addition to that, please be on the lookout for events on cultural intelligence, mediator ethics, diversity in alternative dispute resolution, employment mediation, collaborative family mediation, and much more! In addition to all that, we will continue the tradition of honoring our past presidents at the breakfast held in April.
Before I go any further, I would like to acknowledge the amazing Board Of Directors that is helping to serve the membership of this great organization. President-Elect Jack Goetz has already become an invaluable resource to me personally and to the rest of the Board Of Directors. I am excited to see what is in store for the association during his term as President. He is serving as an advisor for the annual Conference committee and I have very high hopes for that impressive team. Leslie Kushner has agreed to serve as Secretary and I am very appreciative of her contributions while she is continuing to lead the Outreach committee with Bill Molfetta. Noah Stein has volunteered to serve as Treasurer in place of Stephane Maloney who served the association extremely well for so many years and we thank her for her service. Lee Blackman will continue leading the Communications committee and I appreciate the efforts he puts in to making the SCMA website the best it can be. John Irwin and Jim Cameron are leading our Membership committee and I am excited to see what they bring to our current and future members. A special thank you goes to David Levaton for continuing to lead the Mentorship program, which is one of the most important member benefits we have here at SCMA. Finally, Mark Lewis will continue to serve as Coordinator of Professional Development Groups, or PDG’s as we call them. His level of enthusiasm remains unmatched as he helps our members create new PDG’s in their geographic areas of residence or practice.
The people that were mentioned as leaders of the different aspects of the association are great, but what makes these committees work best is when we have members that are working with them. I encourage you all to consider joining a committee. In doing so, you are helping to further the association and the mediation community.
Finally, it is important to continue the tradition of accessibility that our past President, Floyd Siegal, began. With that in mind, I invite you reach out to me at any time – email@example.com/562-225-9958 – to let me know how we are doing, what we’re doing right, and what we could be doing better.
If I don’t see you at a PDG meeting, I look forward to seeing you at the next SCMA program.
Jason A. Harper, President
Southern California Mediation Association
Those attending the 28th Annual Conference of SCMA had the privilege of hearing the keynote address of Senator George Mitchell, former Majority Leader of the United States Senate. In his remarks, Senator Mitchell noted how divisive the two presidential campaigns had been, and emphasized the need to change the political climate.
“Thank God for Donald Trump” was a sentiment that derived from a most unlikely source.
I was teaching a conflict resolution workshop to a group of Rotaracts (high school aged pre-Rotarians) at the Rotary International Peace Conference, and — since Rotarians are world renowned do-gooders who put “service before self” — I felt like I had a hall pass to take these young peace advocates deeper than your average high school class. We were moving through a section on emotional intelligence, empathic listening, and exploring what you can learn about someone’s needs if you aren’t preoccupied with being hurt by their language. After an impassioned discussion about cyber bullying and disparaging remarks made about Islam, a young Muslim girl in the front row looked up at me and asked in an inquisitive, challenging tone, “So what you are saying is…thank God for Donald Trump?”
I stood awkwardly in front of the room filled with high schoolers –a firing squad of eyeballs waiting to see if I actually believed what I preached. I took a deep breath, swallowed hard and said, “Yes.” The class giggled acceptingly in response and leaned in closer.
It is, after all, a logical fallacy to think that if Donald Trump were to disappear, so too would racism, bigotry, misogyny and distrust of a centralized government. That all of a sudden, “Poof!”, people would cease to feel marginalized, disenfranchised and dehumanized. After all, the man isn’t saying anything not already growled over dinner tables or joked about in bars. He is simply saying it openly and bombastically over the airwaves, and it echoes unavoidably through every form of media — social or otherwise.
Trump’s fiery rhetoric and his movement expose a deep wound in our country that has existed nearly since its inception. The Civil War was the first manifestation of this divide. Fittingly, that war didn’t end with an actual peace treaty at the Appomattox — merely a forced promise to surrender. For many, the resistance never ended. And, despite the best of intentions, Reconstruction was not reconciliation. The process did little to unite our country in more than words and titles. This chasm is further evidenced in Hollywood film productions; what is the easiest way to make a person sound stupid and low class? Give him a Southern accent.
It is impossible to know if Donald Trump actually believes what is coming out of his own mouth. What he has mastered, however, is the ability to give a voice to his following and to those who have never before felt heard. It has never been okay to speak these concerns out loud; rather, political correctness has banished these sentiments to silence in the public arena. Donald Trump says to hell with those shackles and speaks whatever comes to mind or is channeled from his audience. AND IT FEELS GOOD TO BE HEARD. If you need proof, you need only look at footage of his rallies. Thousands upon thousands of frenzied supporters are ready to go to war for a man because he gives voice to their anger and frustration.
But is anyone outside of the melee truly listening? The befuddled Republican establishment scrabbles to redirect that anger toward Obama, Hillary and the Liberals. The shocked Democrats do their best to marginalize and dismiss the movement with all-encompassing words like “hate speech”, “bigotry”, “racism”, and placing them in a “basket of deplorables.” The shunned and lambasted media fight back by fact-checking and making futile attempts to chip away at his integrity and business dealings — as if his personal character make his words less true to his followers. Again I ask, is anyone truly listening?
One thing I know as a mediator is that no one who feels listened to needs to raise their voice. And no one bothers to raise their voice if they are not passionate about their words. It is clear from the television set that Trump’s followers exemplify BOTH these truths. What we also know about the human brain is that when we feel threatened, our cognitive thought process shuts down and impairs our ability to fully listen. Donald Trump’s words are undeniably offensive to many people. In his proven calculation, unscripted, raw, offensive language is guaranteed to be heard and repeated. The greater the perceived impact, the greater the cheers at the rallies and retweets on his Twitter account. Ironically, the opposite is occurring with respect to others’ ability to truly hear him or his followers. This latter fact may not be Trump’s concern, but it definitely should be ours.
One thing we would hear in the anger (if we could listen) would be fear. REAL FEAR. Fear that we are living in a changing world where our neighbors, employers and leaders no longer look or speak like we do. There is, after all, a black president of the United States and a woman running to succeed him; both would have been inconceivable a generation ago. There are people permanently losing their jobs to foreigners who speak, eat, and act differently than we do, and technology is replacing us through automation. These fears are not unfounded or immaterial — they are real, they are concrete, and they are happening now.
If we had the ability to acknowledge this fear, what we might be able to see beneath that fear is care — care for our families, our way of life, our values, our religious beliefs, our identity. It is true, we will not be able to raise our children in the same world, in the same way or in the same environment in which our parents raised us. That fact is terrifying to some people. Moreover, if all I know is how to build cars, how will I feed my family and maintain my sense of purpose when I can be replaced by someone able to work for less or a robot that is twice as efficient? Where can I find hope if I can’t even provide for my family?
How would you respond if instead of hate, anger or even fear, you heard care in their words?
Yes, it can be said that Trump’s words are bigoted, hateful and racist. But why those labels are not helpful — and even naively dangerous — is because they let us off the hook from asking the more important question: what lies behind them? If we label someone a bigot, it gives us a pass from having to ask the deeper, more dangerous questions of how they got there and what is fueling their passion. More importantly and more conveniently, it enables us to excuse ourselves from trying to relate to them. Ironically, we become guilty of the same accusation of exclusion when we make Trump supporters “The Others.” To look at someone who is angry and slinging hurtful, shallow language, and then to take a look at ourselves and recognize our own fears is a risky and challenging proposal. But it is perhaps the only productive solution to start healing the divide that this election season has brought to light in our country and around the word.
We cannot solve a problem if we are unwilling or unable to talk about in a public forum. Pretending that there isn’t a problem isn’t a solution. So yes, thank God for Donald Trump. Thank him for having the unique ability, bravado and fortitude to be the mouth piece for millions of Americans who are living in fear of losing their identity and way of life. I am not advocating that you must like him or his politics, but can we set aside our hurt and outrage long enough to listen with compassion, empathy and an open heart?
I admit empathy does not feel like a trustworthy weapon against hateful slurs, ignorant sounding rants and death threats. Indeed, the path to healing our nation will not be linear, nor will it come quickly. Peace, however, starts in our own hearts and overflows incrementally into our local community before it can happen nationally. If enough of us have the courage to ask authentic questions in the face of anger along with the compassion to truly hear the answer, we might just have a chance.
Friends and Colleagues:
This is my final message as president of SCMA and I would be remiss if I didn’t begin by thanking all of you for your support, encouragement and friendship this past year.
Serving as president of SCMA presents a unique set of challenges because the membership is spread across such a large geographical swath and comes from such diverse backgrounds. When my term as president began, I had one overarching objective — to bring SCMA closer together as a community.
With the help of a truly committed Board of Directors, I think we were largely successful in achieving that goal through a variety of initiatives: we began scheduling some programs on Saturday mornings and/or at locations that were more centrally located and readily accessible; we encouraged and modeled greater use of the listserv; and, most importantly, we expanded the number and reach of SCMA’s Professional Development Groups (PDG).
Credit for the latter belongs to the efforts and enthusiasm of Mark Lewis, chair of the PDG Committee, who, in addition to leading the Westside group, assembled an outstanding cadre of PDG leaders: Jim Cameron in Encino, Susie North and John Irwin in Pasadena, Angela Reddock-Wright in the South Bay, Sayre Macneil and Cindy Brokaw in Santa Barbara, and Richard Lutringer in Palm Springs. And now, thanks to SCMA Board members Dale Ordas and Ana Sambold — both of whom hail from the San Diego area — SCMA is poised to further expand its PDG presence to the south in the coming months!
If that was all we had accomplished this past year, I would have considered the term a success. By every other metric, however, this Board has found ways to exceed all of our expectations.
Financially, we project that SCMA will end the year with more cash on hand than ever before, thanks to the efforts of those who helped secure sponsors for this year’s Annual Conference. Compared to previous years, we more than tripled the amount raised in sponsorships this year, far surpassing even our most optimistic predictions.
Speaking of finances, SCMA owes a debt of gratitude to Stephanie Maloney, who is stepping down from the Board after having served as the organization’s treasurer for the past six years. Stephanie, thank you for your years of service to SCMA. You will be missed!
SCMA’s Membership Committee was also enormously successful this past year, thanks to cochairs Wendy Forrester and Jack Goetz. As a result of their vision, creativity and determination, SCMA has added nearly 100 new members since the start of the year!
Kudos, as well, to Victoria Gray and Lee Blackman, who, as co-chairs of SCMA’s Communications Committee this past year, made significant improvements to SCMA’s website, recommended ways to increase SCMA’s social media presence, and kept the membership informed about issues — such as mediation confidentiality — critical to the profession.
Wendy and Victoria are also stepping down from the Board after many years of service to SCMA and, like Stephanie, will also be hugely missed.
SCMA’s Mentorship Program continues to garner glowing reviews from members who have completed the program, thanks to the invaluable contributions of chairperson David Levaton and all those who have graciously offered shadowing opportunities to the mentees.
SCMA’s Outreach Committee deserves accolades for a number of laudable accomplishments this past year. The Public Outreach subcommittee, led by Leslie Kushner with incredible support from Susie North, Gayle Glazer, Marvin Whistler, Maria Simpson, Marie Stein, Richard Hamlin and Alik Segal, produced one PSA video that has already been widely shared on social media, and has another one currently in production. It also designed and disseminated an informational brochure explaining the benefits of mediation. Finally, it has just embarked on an exciting project to create an SCMA Speaker’s Bureau. In addition, the Attorney Outreach subcommittee, chaired by Bill Molfetta, presented a well-attended program to the Desert Bar Association in September.
SCMA’s Programming Committee, chaired by Incoming President Jason Harper, offered an array of outstanding programs this past year including, for the first time, repeat performances of three highly-touted workshops from last year’s Conference: “Lying for the Sake of the Deal,” “Equal Rights for the LGBT Community,” and “Critical Race Theory.” In March, SCMA drew a huge turnout for a Town Hall on two hot-button topics: mediator certification and mediation confidentiality. In April, SCMA hosted its Second Annual Past President’s Breakfast at the Del Rey Yacht Club. In May, SCMA held its annual Employment Mediation Institute at Pepperdine’s West Los Angeles campus. In August, SCMA filled the Faculty Lounge at USC Law School for our Summer Soiree, where we honored Forest Whitaker with the 2015 Cloke-Millen Peacemaker of the Year Award. And just three weeks ago, SCMA hosted its 4th Annual Celebration of Peer Mediation, with more than 100 in attendance!
Speaking of peer mediation, earlier this year the SCMA Education Foundation — which is the charitable and educational arm of SCMA — received a $10,000 grant from the Judicate West Foundation to support the development of peer mediation programs. Congratulations to SCMAEF President Maria Simpson and the entire SCMA-EF Board for all of your successes this year!
My term as president culminates with SCMA’s 28th Annual Fall Conference. Conference chairs Jason Harper and Terri Lubaroff, with the help of committee members Terri Breer, Wendy Forrester and Maurice Attie, have devoted countless hours, putting together what promises to be one of SCMA’s most memorable conferences ever. Beginning with presentation of the 2016 Cloke-Millen Peacemaker of the Year Award to Senator George J. Mitchell and ending with a powerful closing plenary session featuring Franky Carrillo and Dr. Betty Gilmore, with a variety of thought-provoking workshops in between, this year’s Conference will leave you more inspired than ever with an even greater commitment to mediation and peacemaking.
None of what we achieved this past year would have been possible without the dedication of SCMA’s Executive Director Anne Sawyer, who each and every day is called upon to wear a variety of hats. Thank you, Anne, for confronting each day’s new challenge with patience, grace and a ready smile.
Last, but not least, my sincere thanks to the triumvirate of immediate Past Presidents — Robyn Weinstein, Joe Markowitz and Wendy Kramer — who refused to take “no” for an answer back in the summer of 2014. Without your persistence — and gentle persuasion — I would have walked away from a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity: the chance to serve SCMA as its president these past twelve months. I am truly grateful for your friendship and your sage advice.
And now the time has come to pass the baton to Jason. Having worked side-by-side with him this past year, I know that SCMA could not be in better hands. With Jason at the helm, Jack by his side, and the support of the outstanding Board of Directors elected to serve with them, I can’t wait to see what lies ahead for SCMA. With deep appreciation . . .
Floyd J. Siegal, President
Southern California Mediation Association
Advanced Mediation Training
November 5 and 12 @ 8:30 am – 5:00 pm
- Karen Civitate
- Westside Extension Center – West Los Angeles Community College: 9000 Overland Ave, Culver City, CA 90230
Phone: (310) 287-4200
- Become a stronger mediator through lecture, role plays, and individualized coaching.
- Expand your abilities and practice areas by learning how to handle more complex multiple-issue and multiple-party conflicts and intensely emotional situations.
- Discuss how to deal with representatives like attorneys, union officials, and managers; find out about the dynamics of power plus techniques for managing them.
- Complete the Conflict Dynamics Profile assessment so you are aware of your strengths and weaknesses and can create an action plan to become an even more effective mediator and learn from each mediation session.
- You’ll also cover drafting settlements agreements, EEO and how to maintain an effortless flow throughout the mediation session.
- Pre-requisite: a 24-hour course in basic mediation. *$30 material fee, due at registration, for Conflict Dynamics Profile assessment.
- To be held on 2 Saturdays (11-5-16 and 11-12-16).
We saved the best for last!
SCMA has presented some truly exceptional programs this year, but none more inspiring than the final two programs of 2016.
On Thursday, October 13th, SCMA will host the Fourth Annual Celebration of Peer Mediation, from 6:00 – 8:00 p.m., in the Founder’s Room at USC’s Galen Center, 3400 S. Figueroa Street. This is not just a program “about” peer mediation; it is a program actually presented BY peer mediators — middle school and high-school students trained in the art of mediation. The stories they tell will bring a smile to your face and quite possibly a tear to your eye.
If you want to experience the full promise of mediation, please join us for this special evening. There is no cost to attend, dinner is provided and parking is free! Register Here!
Three weeks later, on Saturday, November 5th, SCMA will host it’s 28th Annual Conference at Pepperdine University School of Law. With an opening plenary session that features the presentation of the 2016 Cloke-Millen Peacemaker of the Year Award to Senator George Mitchell, a closing plenary session that features Franky Carrillo (wrongfully convicted of murder at the age of 16 and imprisoned for 20 years before being exonerated) and Dr. Betty Gilmore (co-author of “The Darkest Hour: Shedding Light on the Impact of Isolation and Death Row in Texas Prisons” and recipient of this year’s L. Randolph Lowry Award), and a smorgasbord of outstanding workshops in between, this year’s Conference promises to be one of SCMA’s most memorable!
Early-bird rates ABSOLUTELY, POSITIVELY end this Saturday, October 7th. If you haven’t registered yet, you only have a few more days to do so and save!! Register Here!
And with the money you save, you may want to consider joining us for the Kick-Off Reception and Dinner on Friday, November 4th, at the Huntley Santa Monica Beach Hotel. The dinner will include installation of next year’s President, President-Elect and newly elected Board members; presentation of the SCMA President’s Awards; presentation of the Lowry Award to Dr. Gilmore; and presentation of the SCMA-EF Annual Director’s Award to John Hass. Space is limited and early-bird rates for the Reception and Dinner end on October 15th. Register Here!
I look forward to seeing you at one, two or all three of these very special events!
Floyd J. Siegal, President
Southern California Mediation Association
There was a packed house at the SCMA Summer Soiree.
This was a special opportunity for networking at a beautiful USC Gould School of Law venue with h d’oeuvre on the outside patio as the sun set. The highlight of the evening was the presentation of the Cloke/Millen Peacemaker of the Year Award presented by Ken Cloke to recipient Forest Whitaker.
In his presentation remarks Mr. Cloke commented that in addition to his exceptional career as an actor, Mr. Whitaker’s commitment as an activist is impressive. Not only did he create the Whitaker Peace and Development Initiative (WPDI)with projects in the US, Mexico, Uganda, and South Sudan, he is a UNESCO Special Envoy for Peace.
He next commented on the similarity of work of WPDI and Mediators Beyond Borders (MBBI). Both organizations are currently in Uganda and South Sudan, where the WPDI launched a sport center and a computer center in a strategy to promote peace-building at the local level and MBBI is brining Trauma Informed Peace Building Skills to the grass roots.
Cloke added “Having worked myself in Africa and other places around the world, these tiny little things we can do make an enormous difference.” “It’s a great honor to be identified with this award, and an even greater honor to have it bestowed upon someone whose work is so profound.”
He closed with this observation about the impact of individual efforts in peace building: “You can count the number of seeds in an orange, but you can’t count the number of oranges in a seed.
Mr. Whitaker shared that he grew up in South Central Los Angeles and saw many of the kids he knew “…drawn into lives of gangs and drugs and violence, and (he) saw how it robbed them of their futures.” He further observed that “to truly transform a conflict, change must come from within…you have to engage that person as an active partner in his or her own development.”
In creating WPDI he “wanted to build a network of youth peacemakers and mediators
who could act as positive transformers of their communities and countries…” Using the metaphor of working on his grandfather’s farm he reflected on how important it was to protect the seeds you plant to ensure their growth and development and by analogy if “we fail to engage our fellow citizens as partners and peacemakers and not nuture the seeds, then around them weeds will grow and take root…weeds of violence,
extremism, racism and intolerance can sprout through cracks in an sidewalk..penetrate the walls of any seed and corrupt its very identity.
He quoted Desmond Tutu who said: “Do your little bits of good where you are. It’s those bits of good put together that overwhelm the world.” Then Mr. Whitaker closed by acknowledging the importance the work done by mediators stating that “…mediation can be fundamentally an act of goodness.
Through mediation, we can help individuals come together to find moments of human understanding.”