Mark Umbreit in Kansas City for CCR and Avila RJ Conference

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Mark Umbreit at AvilaRestorative Justice: Conflict Resolution and Peace Building for the Greater Kansas City Area was the title of the one-day conference on March 26, 2015. The conference was sponsored by the Center for Conflict Resolution, Avila University Center for Global Studies and Social Justice, Sisters of St. Joseph of Carondelet and the Missouri Bar Association.

More than 120 people attended the event that welcomed Dr. Mark Umbreit, Professor and founding Director of the Center for Restorative Justice & Peacemaking at the University of Minnesota. Dr. Umbreit is an internationally recognized practitioner and scholar with more than 40 years of experience as a mediator, peacemaker, trainer, teacher and researcher. He is the author of nine books and more than 200 other publications in the field of restorative justice (RJ), mediation, spirituality, forgiveness and peacemaking.

Following Dr. Umbreit’s presentation, panel members Debbie Bayless, Kathleen Bird, John Hamilton and myself spoke briefly, and then answered questions about existing programs in four areas; Neighborhood Accountability Boards, RJ in the Court System, Community Policing and RJ in schools. The afternoon brought break-out sessions in those four areas followed by the whole group coming back together to share insights and next steps. Joanne Katz, a Criminal Justice Professor at Western Missouri State University, expertly facilitated the question and answer time and the final discussion, asking the question “Where do we go from here?” Some participants were new to the concepts of RJ, others have been involved in RJ for years. It was a wonderful opportunity to learn , enhance existing knowledge and network. Welcome to the Peace Party!

CCF and CCR in 2015 !

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Christine Kahm hands me the big check!

Christine Kahm hands me the big check!

The Center for Conflict Resolution is thrilled to be working with the Community Capital Fund (CCF) again this year to engage residents in conflict resolution workshops. The project, “Safe and Connected Communities” brings groups of people from neighborhoods, churches, schools and other organizations together for 6 interactive workshops. The group shares a meal, then explores concepts of Restorative Justice; all parties affected by conflict and harm are included in plans to make things as right as possible moving forward. Other topics include Restorative Discipline, the ‘Think, Listen, Collaborate” process and more. A circle format invites learning and deep connection between participants, forming a core group of individuals who support each other during and after the experience. Participants create a project to take back to their communities, exposing more people to the possibilities that occur when conflict resolution skills are used in situations where differences arise.  CCF’s support includes a ‘crowdfunding’ aspect that allows everyone to take part in realizing the goals for the project. Click here Safe and Connected Communities.tilt.com to learn more about the project and help us fund the project! CCF matches your donation for twice the impact!

Welcome to the Peace Party!

Grandmothers Against Gun Violence Join the Peace Party!

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Judy Sherry and Susan Blaney

Judy Sherry and Susan Blaney

Judy Sherry and Susan Blaney were strangers until they were drawn together by their shared concern about gun violence. The co-founders of the Kansas-Missouri chapter of’Grandmothers Against Gun Violence’ (GAG) state that they are not against guns per se, but want to raise awareness about gun violence.

In October, 2014, Ms. Blaney contacted me to ask if I would consider speaking at their monthly meeting. Their membership was interested in hearing ways to talk respectfully with people they do not agree with. My answer was “absolutely”.  At the Center for Conflict Resoluition we know that the skills for ‘listening to hear and talking to be heard’ are the same no matter what the topic or situation.

On November 10th, I presented to more than 70 members of the local chapter of GAG, affiliated with the Heartland Coalition Against Gun Violence. The questions that followed confirmed that they understand the value of and the necessity to open conversations between people who disagree, in public, on social media and at the kitchen table. Position vs. Interest, ‘I’ language instead of ‘You’ language and Open Ended Questions help to encourage incrimental shifts in perspectives.

The other invited speaker for the evening was newly re-elected Kansas Legislator Melissa Rooker.   Ms. Rooker talked about ways to have an impact with leaders and answered questions about current concerns in the state government.  I attended a seminar at the Kansas State Capital Building in Jefferson City last summer, made posible by the Health Care Foundation of Greater Kansas City , and presented the 3-3-1 tool for talking to legislators; 3 points, 3 minutes, 1 page. Ms. Rooker confirmed the helpfulness of that approach.

That evening I saw evidence of an emerging attitude from ‘win-lose’ to ‘win-win’ and ‘learn-learn’. Many people are beginning to pursue collaboration on important issues in their community. Welcome to the Peace Party!

 

To reach Judy and Susan email to moksgag@gmail.com

To learn more about the Center for Conflict Resolution CCR go to our website

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