We are excited to welcome the newest member of the Advoz staff team, Emily Kelly, our administrative and volunteer assistant. Emily brings a host of business and organizing skills, having graduated from Messiah College and studied both Peace & Conflict Studies and Business Administration. Having herself experienced entrepreneurial success in real estate, she will now be applying her considerable organizational skills and energy to Advoz’ mission.
“I am excited for the opportunity to work every day for an organization with a mission that I deeply believe in,” she relates.
Emily moved to the City of Lancaster in 2016 and is grateful to be part of an experienced team building peace in her community. At Advoz, she hopes to increase her own personal communication, incorporate those skills into other areas of her life and train to become a mediator. When she’s not serving Advoz, she enjoys going to the gym, leading a Bible study and having a home that is intentionally open to other young adults.
By Circle Process facilitator Daryl Snider (names and details changed to protect privacy)
This was the first time everyone had come together since the conflict arose. I felt an odd mixture of stress and delight from the eight people as they arrived for the Circle Process. They had been close before it all exploded, and the strong feelings were evident, differently in each person. Some were quiet and stiff, while others were chatty and joking. Our gracious hosts served coffee and tea.
As the Circle started, even the jovial participants tensed up—a natural response in a situation that feels dangerous. As a Keeper of this Circle, however, I knew from listening to each of them that they feared hurting others as much as getting hurt themselves.
“Terry” was almost shaking. Some had warned my co-keeper and me that Terry might derail the whole process. At first, Terry had been reluctant to engage at all, but after we listened to their story and concerns, Terry was willing to give this Circle a try—to everyone’s surprise.
We started with a light warm-up activity, building a sculpture together out of random scraps of wood and construction materials. We took turns around the Circle placing an object in the sculpture or rearranging them until everyone was satisfied. I noticed that even here, different approaches stood out. Some had a clear vision of what they were building. Some were being polite and careful not to disturb what others wanted to do. Some seemed determined to undo what others did. And some took risks, placing objects in precarious positions. We shared laughter and enjoyed this diversion, with a focus on building something fun together. The ice was melting.
Janet Connors working through grief and anger with teens using a circle process.
The Circle shifted to talking about “values,” and together, we listed shared values that help us be at our best, committing ourselves to them: honesty, openness, listening, empathy, respect, grace.
Then we began rounds of the Circle with guiding questions, passing the Talking Piece from one person to another. At first folks were worried about offending others or saying the wrong thing. Eventually, it was Terry—the live wire—who pushed us forward saying, “Let’s just say what needs to be said.” Pretty quickly then, that’s what happened. There were many tears as people shared their pain and their love for each other. No, their friend hadn’t suddenly become an awful person; they were hurting or afraid. Apologies were offered and readily accepted. It was time for our Circle to close, and everyone was talking freely.
This Circle did not resolve everything, but it started something in motion. There was relational mending yet to do and a larger community to involve. But the Circle provided a space safe enough to say “what needed to be said” and hear what needed to be heard. The result was real and sacred connection, renewed trust, and confidence that we can indeed get through such things—and come out stronger and wiser.
Maybe it’s the work we do with youth. Maybe it’s seeing the dramatic about-face change of heart in a conflict or crime. Maybe it’s the “a ha” you’ve had seeing your own relational skills make a difference around you. It’s clear after one year merging two storied organizations, that you and 2,500 others follow Advoz for slightly different reasons. But there is one big thread: change.
In Advoz’s first year, we’re seeing change in exciting ways. A surge of interest in Circle Process and deeper dialogue training, especially with schools, has doubled the number of people served. It also means that Advoz is becoming more community-involved as the graph (below) suggests. Thank you for supporting this change journey.
Advoz is serving the community in a large way with historic numbers in comparison to what we did as the Lancaster Mediation Center and the Center for Community Peacemaking. We served nearly twice the number of folks as in 2016, with a nearly equal number of youth and adults (860 and 833 respectively). The large part of those served came from the Restorative Schools Training in which 650 people took part, 450 being students from the School District of Lancaster. service that has grown quickly is the customized training, where we worked with 145 youth and 292 adults in various community groups. We have blossomed in our first year as Advoz and will continue to extend our roots to build a stronger foundation for reconciliation in Lancaster County and beyond.
Scholar, teacher, poet, playwright, performer, activist, author, workshop facilitator: Dr. Amanda Kemp has carved a creative and courageous path of conversation-making, much of it right here in Lancaster County. Dr. Kemp has been nominated for Advoz’s 2018 Dignity in Dialogue Award for her unshrinking work in cross-community conversations and an empathetic orientation to challenging conversations around racism and race relations that she has exemplified for years in the Lancaster County community and beyond.
Dr. Amanda Kemp’s work and life blends activism and spirituality, theatre arts and history. Most recently, she authored the book, Say the Wrong Thing, a heart-centered, forgiveness-focused approach to engaging in hard conversations, especially those around race and racism.
A survivor of the New York City foster care system, Dr. Kemp has been a lifelong poet-performer and advocate of racial justice and equality since her first anti-apartheid march in 1983. She earned her B.A. from Stanford University where she helped to lead the Stanford out of South Africa divestment movement and the successful struggle to revamp the University’s Eurocentric humanities requirement. Kemp went on to complete doctoral work in Performance Studies at Northwestern University in Evanston, IL, with an active role in the end of South Africa’s Apartheid era.
A master teacher, Dr. Kemp has taught at Cornell University, Dickinson College, Millersville University, and Franklin & Marshall College where she served as the chair of Africana Studies. She has keynoted Martin Luther King programs at colleges, high schools, and in elementary school settings. Kemp is currently a Visiting Scholar in Africana Studies at Franklin & Marshall College and continues to publish on race, performance and freedom.
See more about this amazing leader in “dignity in dialogue” right here in our community at:
Join us to congratulate Dr. Amanda Kemp as she receives Advoz’s Dignity in Dialogue Award and facilitates the keynote conversation with special guest Janet Connors at Around the Table, the Advoz annual dinner, April 19th, at the Eden Resort. Tickets at AroundtheTable.org.
A few seats remain for tomorrow’s Circle Up movie screening at Penn Cinema, 7 pm, Thursday, March 22, 2018.
The film follows Janet Connors and another mother, Clarissa Turner (pictured in the screenshot below, right to left) as they reach out to those who killed their sons with hope for forgiveness…and the community change they create together to break the cycles of violence and revenge. Join us for an evening to learn and gain inspiration for what’s possible beyond the everyday story of “violence and youth.”
If you still want to see the film on Thursday, March 22, just show up at 6:50 pm to the event at Penn Cinema and pay at the door. $12 per seat. We look forward to continuing conversations around this powerful film…and look forward to welcoming Janet Connors to our annual dinner, Around the Table, April 19th at the Eden Resort. See: www.AroundtheTable.org.
Listen as Mark McKenzie, from WSBA and WARM103, brings Molly Sollenberger and Chris Fitz on the air, this past fall, to discuss Advoz’s restorative justice through face-to-face dialogue involving crime victims and offenders. Also chronicled on the video Make Things Right, Molly talks here about how she was involved as a crime victim to make things right with the young offenders involved — and what her dialogue accomplished. Listen now…
From Marina McDonough, Advoz fall intern, sophomore at Harrisburg Area Community College
Interning in the Advoz office this past fall, I’ve seen some of the most routine and most interesting parts of the work. During one of our weekly meetings, we went through a group brainstorm activity that helped me think about my own contributions to Advoz. The activity looked at three levels of any organization or team and how to build a common focus, but it also showed me my own motivation for working for peace in the community.
The first level is the “what’s.” What do we do with our time in the office? What do we do with our limited resources? What services do we offer? For Advoz, this is volunteer trainings, dialogue-focused events, and most of all, mediations. Then Advoz shares as much information about the work as they can, with donors, volunteers and surrounding communities. This was my first stage of learning; I learned what was done at Advoz.
Next came the “how’s,” which are difficult to get in summary forms, like a monthly newsletter. How do we get from point A to point B? How does an idea become a campaign? And how does an eager individual become a mediator? I saw a lot of hard work, including hours’ worth of behind the scenes jobs that were necessary, but thankless and often unnoticed. I saw the process of reading feedback from volunteers, of making something better than it was the last time. I learned about the importance of diversity and cooperation within a team and the value of communication.
Finally, come the “why’s,” which are at the marrow an organization like Advoz. I spent many hours in the office, and learned valuable information about the how’s and the what’s, but what I will remember came from three hours on a Tuesday night when I had the chance to observe a mediation between two people. Experiencing forgiveness and kindness, or frustration and relief is a world of difference from reading a story online or a statistical report on restorative justice. As well as vulnerability and resilience, the relationship formed, if only for three hours, shone brightest. I was able to see a transformation of two opposing individuals, an offender and a victim, two human beings who understood and in the end, wished only goodness for each other. For me, that is the “why.”
At Advoz, I learned about the unquantifiable value of bare, unguarded human connection. To hear it through Herman Melville, “We cannot live for ourselves alone. Our lives are connected by a thousand invisible threads, and along these sympathetic fibers, our actions run as causes and return to us as results.”
A version of this article appeared in the Winter 2017-18 issue of The Dialogue. Credit also goes to Gisele Siebold, Natural Awakenings Lancaster, Tom Ryan and Leroy Hopkins of LancasterHistory.org for compiling the story.
When European settlers arrived in Pennsylvania, indigenous peoples were already using a dialogue format called “talking circles” to make decisions and address conflict and harm in their communities according to a 2014 study, “Introducing Healing Circles…into Primary Care,” in The Permanente Journal.
Unlike many early colonial governors, William Penn sought to learn from these indigenous practices and live peacefully side by side. This founding tradition of inclusive community was a central point of discussion emphasized by Tom Ryan and Leroy Hopkins from LancasterHistory.org (pictured left and right) when Arun Gandhi met with Advoz and community leaders in Lancaster this past May. After discussion by numerous community leader at breakfast, Gandhi went on to affirm the conversation, telling the story of an ancient refugee people whose emissaries promised to the hosting prince, not to overflow his teacup and spill his community’s resources, but to instead, simply add sugar and dissolve into their new community.
In one famous local exchange during the writing of the 1744 treaty held in Lancaster, Chief Canassatego urged the 13 colonies to unite in a participatory form of government like the Iroquois confederation. He dramatically presented Benjamin Franklin a single arrow, then broke it over his knee. Then he gave Franklin 13 arrows but failed to break them. The demonstration made such an impression, that the founding fathers agreed to pursue a federated and democratic governance rather than re-create the monarchy that established the colonies. And the 13 arrows are now enshrined in the talons of the eagle on US currency.
We have learned much since 1744, but are still learning how to live side by side. Our founding documents and laws did not include the voices of women, Native Americans or people of color. But over the last 30 years, the fields of mediation and restorative justice have blossomed alongside methods for inclusive decision-making like the Circle Process (and other methods advocated by the National Coalition for Dialogue and Deliberation), hearkening back to the wisdom of practices used by various Native American tribes.
As a community like Lancaster, with the highest per capita number of international refugees, uses and practices more intentional dialogue processes, we are not only handling conflict better, but naturally, proactively building relationships and community across the many cultural and political divisions that still divide us. That, I believe, is a tradition worth continuing.
With a merger to celebrate, Advoz’s newly formed joint-event team knew it would be a big year. But when the dust settled on the record May 4th event, all were amazed by the turnout of 525 attendees, 128 auction donations and 43 generous sponsors to celebrate the merger of the Center for Community Peacemaking and Conflict Resolution Services.
With more than 150 guests experiencing Advoz for the first time, there was an opportunity for everyone to “add voice” on the theme, Peace: The Next Generation with “table-talk” conversations (below) whose results were texted message to the MCs and highlighted, adding voices to the evening dialogue.
Table Talk with the Coutts family
Sponsors, bidders and donors all contributed to the final tally, raising $72,681, with proceeds benefiting Advoz mediation and restorative justice programs this summer.
43 businesses, organizations and patrons contributed to more than half of the cost of the event. Please take a moment to thank them when you see them in our community!
Thank you PNC Bank, our Dinner Dialogue Sponsor and Community Sponsors Benjamin Roberts and Gibbel Kraybill and Hess
Goods Disposal Service, Re-Uzit Shop of New Holland, Significa Benefit Services and Shumaker Plan-Design-Transform all made major contributions as Community Sponsors.
Thanks to Dale and Sadie High, HON Office Furniture, Landis Communities, Natural Awakenings, Shady Maple Smorgasbord and Sharp Shopper for your generous Restorative Sponsorship.
Advocate Sponsors included Barley Snyder, Bertz, Hess and Co. LLP, John W. Eby, Elizabethtown Center for Global Understanding and Peacemaking, Eastern Mennonite University Lancaster, Ephrata National Bank, EVERENCE Federal Credit Union, The Hess Agency, Lancaster Interchurch Peace Witness, Lancaster Life Employment Skills, Mennonite Central Committee, Moravian Manor, Ross Insurance Agency, Russel, Krafft and Gruber LLP, David and Heather Sperrry, Miles and Dawnell Yoder, and Zaepfel Law PC. THANK YOU!
And a big thanks to Facilitator and Patron Sponsors: Allegra Marketing | Print | Mail, Ana Ayala and Oscar Barbosa, Chris and Tabea Steinbeisser-Fitz, Compass Real Estate LLC, Gift CPA, Edward and Twila Miller, Oregon Dairy, PA Council of Mediators, Mila Pilz and Hazem Salem, Taylor Brand Group, Travel Time, Trout Ebersole and Groft.
The evening would not have been possible without the generous work by these key volunteers and partners donating their time and talents:
Meek Daye, chair
Susan Eberly and Alegre Concierge Services
Steve Kownacki, video
Rod Shumaker, staging
Our intrepid training team has been at the drawing board, crafting a compact and potent Basic Mediation Training in one three-day stretch. The training, which replaces the prior two-part format, still provides professionals and volunteers alike with a high quality foundational experience complete with CLEs for attorneys and CEUs for social workers, professional counselors and marriage/family therapists.
The training takes place Thursday September 28 through Saturday, September 30, 9 am – 5 pm at a the Mennonite Central Committee’s Welcoming Place in Akron, PA.
Early Bird ends Sept. 8. Registration deadline is September 22.