ABA Selects DCP for “Lawyer as Problem Solver” Award

The following text is pulled form the ABA’s press release announcing the winner of its annual institutional Lawyer as Problem Solver Award.

The ABA’s Section of Dispute Resolution has named the Divided Community Project (DCP) at the Ohio State University Moritz College of Law the recipient of the 2018 institutional Lawyer as Problem Solver Award, which will be presented at the Section’s Spring Conference in Washington, DC.

The Divided Community Project, which grew out of an April 2015 meeting of leaders and mediators from throughout the United States with experience dealing with civil unrest in communities, is helping communities transform divisive issues into broad-based, forward-thinking community action. The project utilizes a proactive approach to addressing community division: communities are first asked to focus on the roots of deep community divisions, and then project members take a multi-disciplinary approach to generating ideas to help those communities create plans before divisive incidents erupt.

The 2015 meeting and the Divided Community Project were a response to tensions and conflicts from Sanford to Ferguson, intended to strengthen and expand communities’ local capacity and resiliency to meet such challenges. Two reports, “Key Considerations for Community Leaders Facing Civil Unrest” (2016) and “Planning in Advance of Civil Unrest” (2016) have provided support to leaders at a time when such assistance continues to be urgently needed.

The Divided Community Project’s signature work is its collaboration with four community partners engaged in this proactive work, groups working in Columbus, Ohio; San Mateo, California; Rochester, New York; and Orlando, Florida. In Columbus, the majority and minority bar associations worked with the US attorney’s office to lead the initiation of the Columbus Community Trust. The group’s all-volunteer steering committee has tested a pilot project concept with more than 50 stakeholders, including leaders and representatives from mayor’s office, law enforcement, religious groups, civil rights organizations, and civic organizations.

Aiming to examine the impact of social media on dispute resolution intervention and prevention dynamics, the DCP recently brought prominent advocates and interveners in divided community situations together with knowledgeable social media developers and users. The DCP then developed its third report focused on the intersection of community division and social media, titled “Divided Communities and Social Media: Strategies for Community Leaders.” The DCP has created a toolkit for communities that includes the three reports; the Midland Simulation, a multiparty effort to gauge preparedness for community crisis; and the Community Preparation Assessment Test, through which users can access their own community division. All are free of charge to communities whose leaders would like to use them. Grande Lum serves as DCP director. The DCP steering committee is comprised of Nancy Rogers, Joseph (Josh) Stulberg, Sarah Cole, Bill Froehlich, Susan Carpenter, Chris Carlson, Craig McEwen, Andrew Thomas, Sarah Rubin, and Michael Lewis.

The JAMS Foundation provided seed funding for the project, and the Ohio State University Moritz College of Law provided additional in-kind funding that enabled the creation and continuation of the Divided Community Project. Additional funding has been provided by the Kettering Foundation, the AAA-ICDR Foundation, the Jacques M. Littlefield Foundation, Nextdoor, the OSU Emeritus Academy, and the OSU Democracy Studies Program. For more on the Divided Community Project, please go to: go.osu.edu/dividedcommunityproject.

For more information about the Spring Conference and the awards events, go to americanbar.org/spring2018.

Negotiation Meets Design: Knowlton School simulation engages communities around Confederate memorials

Communities around the United States have struggled to engage in productive conversations about Confederate memorials in public spaces. In response to recent contestations and confrontations, students in City and Regional Planning and Landscape Architecture at OSU’s Knowlton School, led by Profs. Cheramie and Van Maasakkers, have developed an exhibit and negotiation simulation focused on these memorials.

Working with distinguished visiting landscape architect and UC Berkeley professor Walter Hood, students designed and installed an exhibit in Knowlton Hall’s Banvard Gallery. A central goal of this project was to challenge visitors to examine the ubiquity of Confederate symbols in the United States. Entering the gallery space, visitors were confronted with images of prominent Confederate memorials displaying their conditions both before and after recent contestations. These images were juxtaposed with case studies of Walter Hood-designed monuments honoring the Civil Rights movement and other historical struggles. As pictured above, on the surrounding gallery walls students displayed symbols representing the 1,504 known public symbols of the Confederacy in terms of the role they occupy in public space. Visitors were encouraged to go beyond passively viewing the exhibit. Accordingly, a negotiation table was placed near the center of the gallery.

A view of the exhibit at Knowlton Hall’s Banvard Gallery.

Within this space, several groups were invited to play a negotiation simulation, written by faculty and students, to prompt conversations about how to apply conflict resolution techniques to disputes about Confederate memorials and the public spaces where they are situated. Students in the Knowlton school, community members from the Hilltop neighborhood in Columbus (which contains a Confederate memorial), and urban planning professionals were all invited to visit the exhibit and play the simulation at three separate events.

Participants engage in the simulation at Knowlton Hall’s Banvard Gallery.


The simulation focuses on imaginary “Camp Seward Confederate Cemetery,” a cemetery for Confederate soldiers in Ohio which was created as the result of a Civil War Prisoner of War camp. At this cemetery, unknown individuals recently destroyed a statue of an anonymous Confederate soldier. In response to this act, the City mayor convenes a group of key stakeholders to discuss the future of the statue and an annual memorial ceremony that includes Confederate iconography.  While the basic facts of the simulation bear some resemblance to the Camp Chase Confederate Cemetery in the Hilltop neighborhood in Columbus, it is a fictional scenario with invented stakeholders and dynamics.

The Divided Community Project has partnered with Profs. Cheramie and Van Maasakkers to make the simulation publicly available online using a creative commons license (CC BY-NC-SA 4.0).  Click here to review the general facts for this simulation.  For more information about the simulation please contact Prof.  Van Maasakkers.

GW Blog Features Rogers & Lum on American Spirit 2.0

The George Washington University’s Media and Peacebuilding Project blog features  Still Relishing Being Angry? Or Ready to Start Talking about an American Spirit 2.0?.  Drafted by Divided Community Project Leaders Nancy Rogers and Grande Lum, the blog post reflects on the “challenge of starting a conversation on American spirit.”  Grounded in their conflict resolution experience Rogers and Lum offer their thoughts on

  • How a national spirit helps polarized people solve their problems.
  • Potential ways to screen ideas for the American spirit for those with the power to ameliorate the current polarization.
  • How one convenes and holds the conversations necessary.

The blog post is available at this link.

Rogers Develops an Idea for Identifying an American Spirit

In an AP/NORC 2017 poll, 71 percent said that we are losing an American spirit.  Divided Community Project Steering Committee Member and OSU Moritz College of Law emeritus faculty member Nancy Rogers’ forthcoming publication asks suggests if we could articulate our current aspirations, a current American spirit that would be broadly embraced across divisions, it might promote a more constructive problem-solving attitude and ameliorate the effects of the nation’s bitter divisions.  Nancy’s proposal for identifying an American spirit is posted with the Social Science Research Network and is forthcoming in the Journal of Dispute Resolution.  An abstract of her article follows:

Could Americans identify a current American spirit that would ameliorate the effects of the nation’s bitter divisions? A number of commentators answer “yes.” This article reviews dispute resolution theory and uses historical and comparative illustrations to provide a checklist for those optimists willing to give it a try. First, the article discusses the potential benefits of a deeply and broadly embraced American spirit. An American spirit could spark more frequent: collaborative approaches, consideration of other viewpoints, prioritization in advocacy, and resistance to divisive rhetoric. Second, the article draws on the work of other scholars to suggest considerations for identifying an American spirit that might achieve those benefits. An American spirit will be more likely to ameliorate polarization if it: points toward bridging current divisions, is especially – better yet, uniquely – American, seems natural and authentic, attracts support across the major divisions in this nation, and encourages optimism and a sense of belonging as an American. Third, the article outlines a process for coming up with potential elements of an American spirit and for trying them out on expanding circles of Americans. Fourth, it points out that identifying a current American spirit would not preclude parallel efforts to achieve change through advocacy for political candidates and changes in the law. While the success of an American spirit project remains uncertain, little would be lost in trying, and an American spirit project might help Americans work together to solve the nation’s problems.

To review the complete article, click here.

San Mateo Pilot Project to Host “Action Summit 2018”

On January 12 and 13 the Peninsula Conflict Resolution Center convenes Action Summit 2018, a cross-sector conference designed to “inspire innovation, design the communities in which they would like to live and take action to bring about that change.”

The first day of the Action Summit

“bring[s] together community partners to engage with others through civil discourse to INSPIRE deeper understanding across barriers, to DESIGN innovative strategies that promote empathy and respect in our families, schools and communities and to commit to action to create CHANGE.”

Day two focuses on “youth talking with youth, inspiring one another, designing innovative solutions and committing to change to improve their communities.”

Featured speakers include

  • Wade Davis, a former NFL player and thought leader, writer, public speaker, and educator on gender, race, and orientation equality.
  • Long-time bay area radio personality Chuy Gomez.
  • KALW news director Ben Trefny.

More information about the Action Summit is pulled from PCRC’s website:

WHY: Silicon Valley is one of the most, diverse, exciting, and lively regions on earth, with seemingly abundant opportunities for achieving a high quality of life. Despite these unique characteristics, there are stark social and economic divides among us that sometimes lead to interpersonal misunderstandings and feelings of disconnectedness and disenfranchisement.

Recent events across our nation involving racial tensions between communities of color and law enforcement, greater political divides and acts of violence have lowered the level of civility and discourse, thereby amplifying ideological and political differences, raising tensions within our communities.

WHAT: PCRC has over 30 years of providing conflict resolution, mediation, violence prevention and community building services. Our mission is to partner with individuals, groups and institutions to empower people, build relationships and reduce violence through collaborative and innovative processes. We build networks of leaders in areas such as youth, faith, business, education, law enforcement, and community, so that stakeholders can address the issues that lead to divisions and polarization. Through positive activities that open lines of communication, strengthen race, community and law enforcement relations, we can help rebuild trust where it has been broken. Our goal is to bring together community partners to engage with others through civil discourse to INSPIRE deeper understanding across barriers, to DESIGN innovative strategies that promote empathy and respect in our families, schools and communities and to commit to action to create CHANGE.

Peninsula Conflict Resolution Center is one of the Divided Community Project’s Pilot sites.  Currently DCP works in San Mateo, Columbus, Orlando and Rochester.

Lum Takes DCP Tools to Hong Kong

On November 17 to 19, 2017, Divided Community Project Director Grande Lum travels to Hong Kong to serve as faculty for “Leadership for Inclusive Futures in Hong Kong.”  Part of the Salzburg Global Seminar, Director Lum will meet with Hong Kong’s rising young professionals to consider the following:

  • What are the most pressing issues currently affecting Hong Kong’s society? What are the underlying factors?
  • What does a “Hong Kong that Works for All” look like?
  • How to achieve an inclusive future for communities in Hong Kong?
  • What are the major obstacles for building bridges across generations, sectors, and beliefs?
  • How can governments, businesses, and civil society organizations work together to better respond to concerns and tensions arising among the population?

Look here for more information about the Salzburg Global Seminar and “Leadership for Inclusive Futures in Hong Kong.”

DCP Leaders Across the Country in October

In October Divided Community Project leaders and steering committee members scheduled numerous appearances across the country to present DCP materials and engage in conversations about divisive community issues.

On October 5 & 6, Director Grande Lum, Associate Director Bill Froehlich, and Steering Committee Members Josh Stulberg, Chris Carlson, Craig McEwen and Andrew Thomas traveled to St. Paul, Minnesota to participate in the Dispute Resolution Institute’s Symposium, An Intentional Conversation about Community Engagement: Weaving Threads to Strengthen the Fabric of Our Communities.  DCP steering committee members are pictured above with Dispute Resolution Institute Director Sharon Press.

On October 13, Director Lum returned to Minneapolis, Minnesota for the College of Commercial Arbitrators panel on police issues where he co-presented with Federal Judge for the Northern District of Ohio Dan Polster, and third-party neutrals Michael Young, Bill Seward, and Stephen Befort.

In Dallas, Texas on October 13, Associate Director Froehlich and Arlington Texas Police Lieutenant Christopher Cook facilitated DCP’s Midland Simulation for a group of dispute resolution professionals at the Association for Conflict Resolution’s Annual Conference.

On October 17 Steering Committee Member Nancy Rogers delivered a lunchtime presentation titled Polarized Communities: A Role for Negotiators? at the Cleveland Metropolitan Bar Association.

On October 21 Director Lum heads to the International Association of Chiefs of Police conference in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania where he serves on the Human and Civil Rights Committee.

On October 23 Associate Director Froehlich attends the International City / County management Association’s annual conference in San Antonio, Texas where he presents on a panel titled Keep the Peace: How to Prepare for and Manage Protest.

On October 27 Director Lum travels to the University of Missouri School of Law to participate in a symposium titled The First Amendment on Campus: Identifying Principles and Best Practices for Managing and Resolving Disputes.

Rochester Pilot Site Featured in Local News

The Democrat and Chronicle features the Rochester Center for Dispute Settlement’s (CDS) work with the Rochester Community Response Team (CRT).  An outgrowth of Unite Rochester Program, CRT seeks to plan in advance of civil unrest and defuse volatile situations before they erupt.  CRT recently joined the Divided Community Project as one of the Project’s pilot sites.

The article features Project director Grande Lum, CDS Director Frank Liberti and CRT leader Cynthia Herriott.

Click here to review the Democrat and Chronicle article.

The Divided Community Project works with pilot sites across the country, including project in San Mateo, California, Orlando, Florida, Columbus, Ohio and Rochester, New York.  

Photo Credit: Scott OvesRochesterSept. 18, 2011 (CC BY 2.0), cropped.

Social Media–Increasingly Useful in Responding to Natural Disasters

Robert Southers*

As discussed in the Divided Community Project’s report, Divided Communities and Social Media, social media and internet can be a powerful tool to help community leaders better serve their communities. Following Hurricanes Harvey and Irma, the same tools discussed in Social Media have been invaluable in aiding those affected by the storms. Communities have used trusted online information sources to relay information to residents; emergency officials have monitored social media to learn about residents in need.  Although these tools have been used in natural disasters elsewhere in the world, Hurricanes Harvey and Irma have provided some of the first insights into how American communities and leaders will utilize social media and the internet to provide relief as quickly and efficiently as possible.[1]

Almost immediately following Hurricane Harvey, the Twitter hashtags #SOSHouston and #SOSHarvey began to trend with victims calling for help.[2] With city, state, and federal resources stretched beyond capacity, Twitter evolved into a platform for rescue efforts, specifically assisting emergency workers find those in need. Twitter users shared the location and number of people at each location in need of aid; this allowed for rescuers already in the area to quickly respond and bring those in need to safety.[3]

Bobby Lopez was one of those individuals who turned to social media for help.[4] Bobby’s parents and nephew were trapped by the rising floodwaters and unable to escape; their home would soon be engulfed by water if help did not arrive quickly.[5] Bobby tried to call 911, but dispatchers were already overwhelmed with other calls.[6] Unable to reach his loved ones by truck, Bobby turned to twitter: “’My mom is stuck in Songwood!’ he tweeted, tagging, among others, an unofficial Houston Fire Department rescue account and the Houston Police Department. ‘Mom elderly and disabled and have my nephew.’”[7] Bobby’s pleas for help were seen by a neighbor with a boat and all three were taken from the home to safety.[8]

While individuals affected by Hurricane Irma used social media for rescue attempts in similar ways as those affected by Hurricane Harvey,[9] leaders in Florida utilized social media in unique ways to ensure the best response to the storm as possible.[10] Florida’s tourism office used targeted Facebook messaging to reach out to over 280,000 people believed to be visiting the state prior to Irma’s landfall advising them on precautions to take leading up to and during the storm.[11] Florida’s governor, Rick Scott also worked closely with Google to ensure that Google Maps provided up to date information on road closures throughout the state.[12]The National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration used Twitter to provide people in the affected area with real-time weather forecasts as the hurricane changed course.[13] The Massachusetts Institute of Technology’s Urban Risk Lab used a chat bot on Facebook, Twitter, and Telegram to allow for crowd sourced information on flooding, allowing the organization to create a real-time map of flooding throughout the state.[14] While Snapchat’s map feature provided a similar service,[15] MIT’s flooding map provided greater in-depth information on flooding by having the chat bot ask for specific information from those affected by flooding rather than only showing pictures and videos taken by those in the area.

Although social media was a valuable tool during Hurricane Sandy in 2012, the way it is used has evolved dramatically in the past five years.[16] In 2012, social media provided the world with pictures and videos of the damage that traditional news sources could not reach.[17] While social media users still provided information and images from areas that journalists may otherwise be unable to reach, such as videos of construction cranes being blown over in high winds in Miami,[18] efforts to coordinate to rescue and recovery efforts through social media were not present after previous storms.[19]

Despite the benefits of using social media during national disasters, it is not a perfect solution, nor has it been utilized without problems. For example, community leaders in Texas discouraged victims of the storm from using social media to ask for help.[20] Although 911 was overwhelmed with calls leaving many unable to reach emergency services, only private rescuers turned to social media to find those victims who could not use traditional methods to seek help.[21]

Social media is a powerful tool that community leaders can use to better serve their communities, whether in times of disaster or times of peace. It can allow for the rapid dissemination of information as well as a wealth of information that may otherwise not be available. However, it is not a perfect solution. Community leaders should continue to consider the advantages and disadvantages of social media as they serve their communities through all situations.  For more ideas about how to take advantage of social media’s opportunities in your community, take a look at the Project’s report, Social Media.

*Southers is currently the Fellow at the Franklin County Municipal Court Self Help Resource Center. He is a graduate of The Ohio State University Moritz College of Law and a former DCP research assistant.  This article does not reflect the position of The Ohio State University nor the Franklin County Municipal Court.

Photo Credit: J. Daniel EscarenoHarvey Day 5-12, Creative Commons License CC-BY-ND 2.0

[1] http://money.cnn.com/2017/08/28/media/harvey-rescues-social-media-facebook-twitter/index.html
[2] https://www.nbcnews.com/storyline/hurricane-harvey/soshouston-how-apps-social-media-assist-harvey-rescue-efforts-n797841
[3] http://mashable.com/2017/08/29/social-media-harvey-rescues-force-for-good/#hnAfTDQpPOqj
[4] https://www.dallasnews.com/news/weather/2017/08/27/911-failed-desperate-harvey-victims-took-social-media-help
[5] Id.
[6] Id.
[7] Id.
[8] Id.
[9] http://abcnews.go.com/Technology/wireStory/social-media-word-irma-emergency-49785921
[10] https://www.wsj.com/articles/for-hurricane-irma-information-officials-post-on-social-media-1505149661
[11] Id.
[12] Id.
[13] Id.
[14] https://riskmap.us; see also http://news.mit.edu/2017/map-real-time-crowd-sourced-flood-reporting-hurricane-irma-0908; https://www.theverge.com/2017/9/9/16280250/mit-urban-risk-lab-riskmap-hurricane-irma-real-time-crowdsource-flood-reporting.
[15] http://elitedaily.com/social-news/snapchat-tracking-flooding-houston-hurricane-harvey/2056941/
[16] http://mashable.com/2017/08/29/social-media-harvey-rescues-force-for-good/#hnAfTDQpPOqj
[17] Id.
[18] https://twitter.com/wxkev/status/906887989497868288; https://twitter.com/treyKAHrahTAY/status/907022817748819968/video/1
[19] http://mashable.com/2017/08/29/social-media-harvey-rescues-force-for-good/#hnAfTDQpPOqj
[20] http://www.huffingtonpost.com/entry/harvey-social-media_us_59a47f42e4b050afa90c1049
[21] Id.


Using Social Media to Increase Input from Residents

Our recent report Divided Communities and Social Media: Strategies for Community Leaders highlights how the phenomenal growth in social media is altering the way that community members perceive and interact with each other. In the face of pervasive use of social media, community leaders have to up their game to address community division.

The report focused on five social media strategies for community leaders to utilize to help communities turn division into positive change:

  1. Use social media, websites, and apps to create widely-used and trusted online information sources for residents that will help maintain and enhance residents’ confidence and become an antidote to inaccurate news and unsubstantiated rumors
  2. Use social media, websites, and apps to increase input from residents in ongoing decisions respond to residents’ concerns.
  3. Use social media, websites, and apps to promote offline, face-to-face events and to support online dialogue among residents in order to build community resiliency.
  4. Work to reduce and combat online hate speech/discriminatory conduct through social media so as to reduce the effects.
  5. Mine social media and other online data as part of an overall ongoing initiative to better understand community concerns.

Of the 5 strategies, #2 using social media, websites and apps to increase input from resident, is  a useful strategy to begin with in order to get immediate results.

Following a tumultuous weekend of protests in San Jose, the Independent Police Auditor (IPA) brought together a diverse group of 200 residents, civic leaders, and police officers to map out solutions in a Community Trust in Policing Forum. Participants included local residents, families who had lost loved ones to police shootings, community-based organizations, local law enforcement leaders, and city officials.

Utilizing both trained facilitators from the Peninsula Conflict Resolution Center (which is leading the Divided Community Project Pilot Program in San Mateo, California) and My90 – a civic technology that sources local data to improve communication, trust, and safety – immigrant community residents spoke on their experiences with law enforcement, family members of many victims of police shootings spoke about their frustrations and their need for improved processes, and residents who have had positive interactions with command staff spoke on their desire for improved relationships with officers who patrol their neighborhoods. The use of technology was critical, allowing attendees to send and receive over 1,500 text messages throughout the course of the event to share feedback, questions, and solutions.

The Forum tackled difficult issues on a tumultuous weekend of protests. Improving community trust in local police has always touched upon race, citizenship, mental health, and more. Now, as the tensions between local and national politics increased, so has the significance of these issues.

The Independent Police Auditor hosted the Community Trust in Policing Forum in partnership with Mayor Sam Liccardo, Councilmember Magdalena Carrasco, and the Silicon Valley Community Foundation, with the support of the San Francisco 49ers. A wide range of stakeholders were invited, all of whom are needed to help San Jose become a national leader in community-police relations. Participants included local residents, families who had lost loved ones to police shootings, community-based organizations, local law enforcement leaders, and city officials. Speakers included Chief of Police Eddie Garcia, community leaders, and national experts on subjects of race, sociology, and policy.

Peninsula Conflict Resolution Center provided 12 facilitators for the second half of the summit where the entire participating group was divided into smaller sections for dialogue. In many of these groups, immigrant community residents spoke on their experiences with law enforcement, family members of many victims of police shootings expressed their frustration and their need for improved processes, and residents who have had some positive interactions with command staff spoke on their desire for improved relationships with officers who patrol the neighborhoods.

The approximately 200 participants shared their suggestions for improved relationships, increased presence and oversight of the IPA, and their hopes for working together towards a safer community.

Participant feedback was a critical part of the event, and is being used to help build the foundation of a community-driven strategy to measurably improve local community-police relations in terms of engagement, trust, and safety. My90 is civic technology company that sources local data to improve communication, trust and safety. Attendees sent and received 1,513 anonymous My90 text messages throughout the course of the event to share feedback, questions, and solutions. My90 offered participants a chance to answer targeted questions and discuss general viewpoints about the San Jose Police Department, the IPA, and the City of San Jose. Participants shared feedback about proposed policy changes, speakers’ remarks, participatory breakout sessions, and their own personal interactions with local police officers.

The combined efforts of technology-driven iterative feedback from 200 participants and inclusive facilitated in-person dialogue supported by skilled facilitators from the Peninsula Conflict Resolution Center led to suggestions for improved relationships, increased presence and oversight of the independent auditor’s office, and hopes for working together towards a safer community.