Project Publishes American Spirit Storytelling Guide

For the complete document “Hosting American Spirit Storytelling Conversations,”  click here.  Here is a short summary pulled from the report: 

This storytelling initiative builds on the work of a diverse group of Americans who were convened by the Ohio State University Moritz College of Law’s Divided Community Project late in 2018 and came to a consensus on some over-arching aspirations that Americans share and value deeply — an American Spirit. They agreed that Americans seek to be innovative and a positive, “can do” people and to unite in our determination to be inclusive and to appreciate individuality. We have not achieved our goals yet, but that is no reason to abandon them.

After all, the preamble to our Constitution acknowledges that we are not perfect and should try to improve constantly in its statement that we are in the process of becoming “a more perfect union.” Polling indicates that people agree with these goals. Sharing compelling stories that illustrate those who embody these goals in their daily lives will bring these goals alive not only for those who attend but also for others who hear the stories. For an explanation of the historical groundings of this spirit and more detail on pertinent polling results, see the American Spirit website.

This guide is full of ideas for prompting creative storytelling by a gathering of neighbors and friends, but it is a guide only. A special part about this storytelling is that you have the flexibility to complete what works best for your group!

For more on the American Spirit, take a look at the American and Community Spirit website, https://moritzlaw.osu.edu/american-spirit.

Project Hosts Inaugural Academy in Chicago

In Chicago, on March 3, 4, and 5, 2019, the Divided Community Project (DCP) at the Ohio State University Moritz College of Law, in partnership with the American Bar Association’s Section of Dispute Resolution, convened its inaugural national Academy entitled: We, the People: Strengthening Democratic Engagement to Address Civil Unrest for Community Leaders.

The program’s goals were three-fold:

  1. Strengthen each participant’s skill set in conflict resolution-related planning, capacity building, and dispute resolution.
  2. Support and strengthen the development of a local ‘core’ leadership convener group to serve as a reliable resource for independent information and cross-sector collaborative planning and engagement to its public sector leadership.
  3. Provide planning opportunities for each leadership team to develop action plans to address their respective community’s challenges.

Following a national application and selection process, thirty-two persons comprising leadership teams from four communities – Charlottesville, Virginia; Kenyon College (Gambier, Ohio); Memphis, Tennessee; Portland, Oregon engaged in workshop activities, participated in cross-cutting dialogues, and heard a panel presentation from public leaders with experience in addressing challenges ranging from the Pulse Club shooting in Orlando to responding to the sustained, underlying social factors that shaped citizen demonstrations of Trayvon Martin’s shooting in Sanford, Florida.

Using the Divided Community Project’s tools as a resource—including strategies used in other DCP communities—participants advanced their efforts to design collaborative strategies to prepare for, address, or respond to resident or official actions that polarize community members.

Funding for this project is provided by the American Arbitration Association/International Center for Dispute Resolution Foundation (AAA/ICDR).

Project Publishes Community Spirit Toolkit

For the complete Community Spirit toolkit, click here.  The report’s executive summary follows:

When community members realize that the vast majority of them share a basic aspiration -a sense that can be termed the “Community Spirit” – they will treat each other with more respect and consideration and feel that they belong to something bigger than themselves. This rationale, though in the context of the nation rather than the community, has recently spurred historians and commentators across the nation to call for an articulation of the current American Spirit to counter this period of deep division and alienation in our country. At a local level, communities can benefit as well from identifying a statement of what they value that helps unite their residents across their differences. They may become more engaged in improving the community and more willing to solve problems despite their differences. In this guide, the Divided Community Project suggests  process to help communities articulate their spirit.

The guide applies what was learned from other communities and from an American Spirit initiative to suggest a collaborative process that any community can use to identify and express its own spirit. Each community will select among these processes, and some communities may even find the identity so self-evident that they skip many of these steps. Erring on the side of overinclusion, this guide elaborates on the following steps that any community can follow:

Conduct research aimed at securing answers to four key questions:

  1. What are the current challenges facing your community?
  2. What diverse communities of thought and experience exist within your community?
  3. What is special about your community in terms of history, geography, traditions, and more?
  4. What are some ideas for a statement of community spirit from elsewhere or from those already being floated in your community?

Identify meeting participants who – when joined together – represent the diversity of views within the community, offer needed expertise and buy-in, and are good listeners, creative, and thoughtful.

Prepare meeting participants by providing them with materials that explain the concept a community spirit – why it
matters and what about it gives it strength — and also that community’s special character and current challenges.

Devise a meeting agenda for a collaborative drafting of the community spirit. First, try the agenda out by facilitating
short small group pilot meetings with participants who have been given the preparation materials. Then analyze the
results, identifying challenges that persist despite preparation. Work with experienced facilitators to revise preparation
materials and adjust the ultimate meeting plans to overcome the challenges.

Develop a communication strategy to try out the ideas for a community spirit that emerge from the larger meeting
with a larger audience (Do the ideas for a community spirit resonate broadly and deeply?) and let others know about it.

The guide ends with a list of books on meeting facilitation. Click on www.AmericanSpirit.osu.edu to find: an example of a summary meeting agenda, a “behind the scenes” worksheet for facilitators that illustrates how detailed preparation can help, and a guide for co-facilitators. You can secure additional support from the Divided Community Project in the preparation, facilitation, and drafting of your community spirit and let the Project know about successes that can be shared with other communities by emailing Bill Froehlich, Deputy Director, Divided Community Project, at froehlich.28@osu.edu with a copy to americanspirit@osu.edu.

DCP launches Bridge Initiative @ Moritz

For all the details about the Bridge Initiative, click here.

Offering Communities Rapid Consultation on Processes for Addressing Community Conflict

Across the country, local government, law enforcement, and community leaders are grappling with increasing tensions associated with hate incidents and crimes, officer involved shootings, and other incidents that have a lasting impact on individuals as well as entire communities.  These local government and community leaders understand better than anyone the needs of their communities and share a sense of urgency to respond productively to civil unrest. And it is precisely in these times of crisis when the expertise of a mediator with experience developing processes that not only keep initial protests safe, but also offer a path towards engaging the entire community in realizing more systemic reform, is most valuable.

The Divided Community Project’s (DCP) Bridge Initiative @ Moritz, a project based at The Ohio State University Moritz College of Law, seeks to fill this need as identified by local government, law enforcement, and community leaders.  Upon request and at no cost, mediators and other experts with extensive experience in helping local leaders respond effectively to civil unrest and tension in communities across the country can help mediate conflicts between community and law enforcement, train local community members on effective strategies to keep protests safe, and offer technical assistance to executives and community members seeking to build sustainable infrastructure for inclusive engagement.  In addition to their expertise associated with addressing community conflict, as people from outside the community, it may be easier for mediators to introduce and facilitate processes to meet the needs as identified by all the different parties in a community.

While mediators may introduce and help facilitate processes, the power driving the processes always comes from local leaders in the community, and they produce real results.  Whether hosting tens of thousands in demonstrations without arrests or violence, or channeling demonstrators’ energies into planning improvements and tangible changes, working with mediators, local governments and leaders shape these processes as their own in order to help realize the full potential of their communities.

Read More HERE

Columbus Mayor Ginther Discusses DCP’s Midland Simulation

The Mayor of Columbus, Andrew Ginther, recently endorsed the Midland Simulation in a new video released after he and his staff participated in the two-hour simulation. The City of Columbus is one of several communities and organizations that have used the simulation as a tool to consider how to identify and address community division before a social crisis. In the video, Mayor Ginther states that the simulation provided a “realistic gauge” of mounting tensions that cities can face during times of division.

Following the two hour simulation, organizations engage in a discussion to unpack and apply the lessons learned to their own communities. Mayor Ginther discusses how the DCP used anonymous polling software to “candidly assess community division and tension in the Columbus community,” and explains how the simulation can assist cities proactively planning ahead of times of conflict. In Columbus, DCP used responses to elicit ideas in order to enhance city community engagement efforts, leverage work of community partners and to begin planning in advance of civil unrest and social crisis. Ultimately, the simulation encouraged participants to think creatively outside their usual silos and has helped the City of Columbus plan for the future.

If your community is interested in running the Midland Simulation or if you are interested in connecting with the project, please contact Deputy Director Bill Froehlich at froehlich.28@osu.edu.  Click here to review Mayor Ginther’s video.

ABA to Recognize DCP Executive Committee Member Josh Stulberg

Professor Joseph B. “Josh” Stulberg, the Michael E. Moritz Chair in Alternative Dispute Resolution (ADR) at The Ohio State University Mortiz College of Law, is the 2019 recipient of the ABA Section of Dispute Resolution’s Award for Outstanding Scholarly Work. This award honors individuals whose body of scholarship over his or her career has contributed significantly to the field of dispute resolution.

One of the nation’s pre-eminent mediator trainers, Professor Stulberg is the only individual to participate in conducting mediator training for the U.S. Attorney General’s original Neighborhood Justice Center programs in Atlanta, Kansas City, and Los Angeles. He has trained nearly 10,000 people across the nation and the world to serve in court, agency-based, or community-based dispute resolution programs. Professor Stulberg h as published more than 60 articles in professional journals on theoretical, policy, and practice issues in dispute resolution. In addition, he co-founded and serves on the steering committee for the Moritz College of Law Divided Community Project.

The Program on Dispute Resolution at Moritz, with this recognition for Professor Stulberg, becomes the recipient of all three major awards offered by the ABA’s Section of Dispute Resolution. In 2002, Nancy Hardin Rogers, Emeritus Michael E. Moritz Chair in Alternative Dispute Resolution and Director of the Program on Law and Leadership, received the D’Alemberte-Raven Award, the section’s highest honor recognizing outstanding service in dispute resolution. In 2018, the Divided Community Project received the John W. Cooley Lawyer as Problem Solver Award, which recognizes an individual member of the legal profession and/or institution who has exhibited extraordinary skill in either promoting the concept of the lawyer as problem-solver or resolving individual, institutional, community, state, national, or international problems.

“I’m honored and humbled to receive such a special award,” said Stulberg “I’m also very proud to be part of the college’s Program on Dispute Resolution and the important work we’re doing to create constructive conversations that can yield tangible results and, hopefully, have a meaningful impact on communities.”

The Scholarly Work Award will be presented to Professor Stulberg on April 13th, 2019 during the Legal Educators Colloquium Luncheon at the Hyatt Regency in Minneapolis, Minnesota, as part of the ABA Section of Dispute Resolution Annual Spring Conference.

Becky Monroe Named DCP’s Director

On January 2, 2019, Becky Monroe became the second Director of the Divided Community Project.  Ms. Monroe succeeds the Project’s inaugural director, Grande Lum.  Like Mr. Lum, Ms. Monroe comes to the Project with a depth of experience supporting communities in conflict, having served as Counsel and as Interim Director of the Department of Justice’s (DOJ) Community Relations Service, with the DOJ’s Civil Rights Division, as a Senior Policy Advisor to the White House Domestic Policy Council, and – most recently – as the Director of the Stop Hate Project at the Lawyers’ Committee for Civil Rights Under Law.

Ms. Monroe has extensive experience working with advocates, community leaders, and law enforcement.  With the Stop Hate Project Ms. Monroe led innovative legal and advocacy partnerships to support communities in the face of hate, connected thousands of communities across the country, and developed and implemented a collaborative training initiative for law enforcement leaders.  While at the Community Relations Service, she led an agency with ten regional offices and four field offices in implementation of expanded statutory mandate empowering an unprecedented number of communities to prevent and more effectively respond to violent hate crimes. She worked with law enforcement and local government officials, community leaders, and federal agencies to support those leaders in addressing tension associated with allegations of discrimination on the basis of race, color, and national origin, and helping communities develop the capacity to more effectively prevent and respond to violent hate crimes committed on the basis of actual or perceived race, color, national origin, gender, gender identity, sexual orientation, religion, or disability.

A graduate of Yale Law School, Ms. Monroe also was a federal appellate law clerk and practiced with a law firm before entering government service.  Concurrent to her work with DCP, Ms. Monroe will serve The Ohio State University’s Moritz College of Law as a Distinguished Practitioner in Residence and Adjunct Professor where she will teach two classes related to the work of the Project.

For more information about the Project’s diverse steering committee, look here.

Formally established in March 2016 at The Ohio State University Moritz College of Law thanks to significant support from the JAMS Foundation, the Divided Community Project supports communities seeking to transform division into forward-looking action.  The Project partners with the Kettering Foundation, and additional support from the Jacques M. Littlefield Foundation, and the AAA-ICDR Foundation.

DCP Facilitates Simulation in Houston

On October 5, 2018, DCP sent Deputy Director Bill Froehlich, Dispute Resolution Advisor Jennifer Mensah, and City of Columbus Director of Community Affairs, Elon Simms to Missouri City, Texas to facilitate the Midland Simulation as part of “Leadership NOW”.  DCP facilitators worked with twenty-five city leaders from Missouri City, Sugarland, Bellaire, and Austin, Texas, as well a local county emergency management director director and University of Houston students and faculty.  Many of the participants are pictured on the right delivering a press conference to conclude the three hour simulation.

The Midland Simulation exposes civic leaders to social crisis and civil unrest and asks participants to lead their communities through a series of community challenges.  When used in conjunction with the Divided Community Project’s Community Assessment and Preparedness Test (CPAT is funded by the AAA-ICDR Foundation), the simulation is an engaging catalyst for conversations about community division, and planning in advance of civil unrest.

Immediately after the three-hour simulation DCP staff used the CPAT as a tool to discuss ideas for planning in advance of civil unrest.  Here are a few highlights from the debriefing conversation:

  • Think outside of your silos and your current role
  • Continuously stress communication, training and collaboration within city management as well as the community
  • Resources exist to support communities in crisis – find them!
  • Engage the community – even during crisis
  • Be prepared for social crisis (if your community would like ideas for planning in advance, take a look here)

Sincere thanks to Leadership NOW organizers and Missouri City Manager Anthony Snipes for inviting DCP to run the Midland Simulation.  If your community is interested in the Community Assessment and Preparedness Test (at no cost) or running the Midland Simulation, contact DCP Deputy Director Bill Froehlich at 614.688.4192 or froehlich.28@osu.edu.

Case Study #5: Unity in the Community

The Divided Community Project’s fifth case study examines Unity in the Community, volunteer-based San Leandro (California) organization and its ambitious efforts to unify a community marred in racial tension. Unity in the Community’s work began in March 2016 and was the result of a meeting between volunteer leaders from the civic community. The group convened in response to a series of racially charged hate incidents. The group defined its mission to “erase racism in San Leandro” and articulated a vision for “a community free of racism where we celebrate our differences.”

Drafted by William Froehlich, Deputy Director of the DividedCommunity Project, this case study discusses how the group evolved as it developed events to support its mission. The case study highlights many of Unity in the Community’s specific strategies for shifting from an organization which reacted to racially changed events, to one which takes intentional proactive steps to end racism in the community.

Click Here to see the Project’s fifth case study!

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