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, as she reaches out to those who killed her son 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.
Becca spent a lot of her internship on the phone with clients.
As a self-proclaimed Sociology nerd, I have come to understand that I look at the world through a certain lens. I recognize that I am constantly watching people’s behavior, looking for patterns or looking to see how their behavior fits into patterns already being studied in the world of Sociology. Because of this, for the past ten weeks, I have been looking for various patterns in the world of mediation at Advoz, and I have found one that really sticks out for me.
Early in my internship, I remember going to the courthouse with Mila to greet parties for a mediation. Prior to this, she had given me directions to not bring my cell phone, as it was a new rule in the Lancaster County Courthouse that no cell phones are allowed. I listened, but still forgot to leave it in the office. I remember feeling frantic and nervous when we got to the courthouse and I realized it was still in my back pocket. I had totally forgotten it was there because it is habitual to have it with me at all times. This got me thinking about why phones were banned for the general public, and the best I can come up with is that they are a distraction and pull individuals out of the present and into a world on the screen.
As I have gone to the courthouse more and more times, I consistently see someone at the head of the line to go through security with a phone in their hands arguing with the guard about this rule. This made me think further about how engrained it is in society to have a phone with us everywhere, and how disruptive it can be when told we are not permitted to have them.
Finally though, upon observing some mediation sessions, I realized how powerful not being allowed to have cell phones in the courthouse really is, especially for the work that Advoz does. The mission of Advoz is “[t]o transform conflict and build community through face-to-face dialogue programs”, and face- to- face dialogue is only really possible when there are no distractions, like a cell phone present. So, the rule that cell phones are not allowed in the courthouse from my point of view has led to a very positive unintended consequence for mediation. By not having a phone available as a clutch to alleviate stress during mediation, clients are put in a position where they must speak with one another in order to reach an agreement. With this, I have become even more conscious in my everyday life to put my phone away when I am having a conversation with others; I have continued to learn how powerful it is to give someone your full attention and have seen how beneficial it is in terms of communication. It is something that I will continue to practice in both my personal and professional life, and something that I hope to inspire those around me to practice. It is in many ways a trivial change to make, but I believe that it is change that can aid in fulfilling Advoz’s mission to “build community through face-to-face dialogue.”
Alicia works on designing Advoz’s first winter themed thank-you card
Working with Advoz has been incredibly interesting and insightful, not only when it comes to the work that they do, but for myself. I had so many mixed feelings about working here. As a soon to be senior at the Pennsylvania College of Art and Design, I was nervous because I knew I was going to be the only graphic designer in the office. I wasn’t sure if I was ready for that. It seemed like a lot of pressure and definitely intimidating. But I wanted to work here; I liked the work Advoz does. I’m someone who thinks it’s best to work out problems rather than let them stew and end up boiling over, even if I do have difficulty talking about my own feelings. I also found Advoz’s Restorative Schools program to be incredible because I saw firsthand how zero-tolerance discipline policies didn’t work. So, I pushed my worries aside and got to work.
Since Advoz is still pretty new, its brand isn’t fully developed. I was working on a new slate, trying to figure out exactly what the brand would be like, what it would say, and I have to admit that I really enjoyed doing that. When you have a brand that’s already in place and fully developed, there’s not much you can do in the area of design.
For a designer, when a brand is new or just starting out, it can be a lot of fun getting to design everything from scratch. I worked on new brochures, thank you cards, a banner and even a bumper-sticker! It can also be a little stressful. In each design I had to show their message, and when the brand is already in place, half that work is done for you. My coworkers and I would have to think about all the various audiences who would see the work and how they might interpret it. Being the designer in-house allowed me to see exactly what they did and gave me insight on how to create my designs.
I want to thank Chris, Mila, Angela, Becca, and Earldine for being so great to work with. I’m very appreciative to have gotten this experience, and I’m going to miss Advoz as I jump back into my senior year at PCAD!
When I think about my time at Advoz, I do not think about anger at all.
But, earlier this week, I observed some juvenile court hearings. I listened to the offenders in their own words while also hearing the judge’s rulings. I became not only angry with the idea of these offenders being challenged in their lives by the impact of their decisions, but also how beneficial mediation or victim-offender conferencing could have been in such situations.
Throughout the Spring semester, I was the Communications intern at Advoz. I had started in February, just as the merger announcement was about to take place – you could say it was a busy first week!
Looking back, most of my projects involved working within the database, adding pages to the website, and creating social media posts. However, the highlight of the semester was the Around the Table event. There was much for me to do leading up to May 4th, including scheduling some of the Silent Auction items & Sponsor posts you may have seen on Facebook as well as helping to organize the content for the Event Program.
Because my internship dealt with a lot of the “behind-the-scenes” projects in the office, it was wonderful meeting many of you during the event and being able to put faces to names! Listening to Dr. Arun Gandhi speak with such insight was truly inspiring, and it was a great way to end the event. As Dr. Gandhi mentioned, “Anger is like fuel in our car. We need it… but we must learn to use it constructively.”
Overall, interning with the staff of Advoz was one of my personal highlights of the semester: no anger here, by the way, just lots of coffee and laughter! I was extremely grateful for the experience, and I know everything I learned -especially the notion of focused, constructive anger to facilitate restorative justice- will stay with me going forward.
Hayley (right) enjoys the post-event meeting with fellow Advoz intern Zoie just before graduating from Millersville University.
The April 8 article on the visit of Jonathan Haidt (“America’s Uncivil Discourse”) is a reminder of how the need for civil discussions is a central concern of this era, perhaps a lost art. Our political and cultural divisions are starker than ever. “Discourse about discourse” sounds like self-indulgence until we notice that many cultural traditions — and contemporary conflict resolution methods — take this step very seriously.
Ground rules, as they’re called in modern conflict mediation, are fundamental to the success of any dialogue. Where people share linguistic and cultural norms, ground rules often function invisibly. But in situations of escalated tension with diverse assumptions about “normal,” conversation about conversations is necessary. That’s the state of America today. Our diverse schools, businesses and communities are increasingly microcosms of a diverse society, including its conflict.
The insight of ground rules suggests that neither Haidt nor those he criticizes for demanding “safe spaces” are wrong. What may be wrong is prescribing the rules. Each challenging dialogue will have its own needs and goals. More likely than not though, people will want similar guidelines — respectful listening, equal chances to speak, refraining from putdowns, etc.
The point of creating ground rules for each conflict is not to shape unique guidelines. It’s to get buy-in for the eventual dialogue.
Jean-Jacques Rousseau suggested that democracy be periodically remade so that each generation could renew its sense of ownership. Similarly, in heated debate with diverse norms, our communities and institutions can be strengthened by inviting people who want to join the dialogue to jointly build that conversation from the ground up. Then when we begin the deeper conversation, we’ll be speaking in a space safe enough for everyone to be part of the change they seek.
Christopher Fitz Executive Director of Community Engagement Advoz