Gini Nelson\’s Engaging Conflicts

January 31, 2007

Ken Feinberg Interviewed in Engaging Conflicts Today —

Filed under: Ethics — Gini @ 12:49 pm

I’ve just published Vol. 2, #1 of Engaging Conflicts Today, featuring a “Spirit In Life and Practice: Kenneth R. Feinberg” interview. Ken was Special Master of the federal September 11 Victim Compensation Fund, an unprecedented effort to compensate the victims of 9/11. If you are not yet subscribed to Engaging Conflicts Today, please do so now (see the subscription link in the sidebar to the right), and I’ll also send you today’s issue.

Remember: Engaging Conflicts is now at


January 30, 2007

Engaging Conflicts Featured At As One of the Leading Blogs In Mediation and Dispute Resolution —

Filed under: Uncategorized — Gini @ 5:49 am

medfeaturedblogs.gif, one of the leading websites for “Everything Conflict Resolution,” has just added a “Featured Blogs” page. Engaging Conflicts, Diane Levin’s Online Guide to Mediation, and Geoff Sharp’s mediator blah…blah… and Mediation vBlog Project sites are its Charter Members. Check it out, here:’s Featured Blogs.

Jim Melamed is one of the pioneers in using the internet to facilitate “everything conflict resolution,” among other things having co-founded with John Helie in 1996. I posted his 2002 article, Twenty Concepts and Recommendations For Utilizing the Internet, here, here, here, and here; and about my interview with him in Engaging Conflicts Today newsletter, here.

Thank you, Jim and, for this service and honor!

Note: cross-posted at, this blog’s new home.

January 22, 2007

Collaborative and Cooperative Law — Promise and Perils —

Filed under: Theory To Practice — Gini @ 10:32 am

John Lande is Director of the LL.M. Program in Dispute Resolution and Associate Professor at the University of Missouri-Columbia School of Law. He teaches courses on Mediation and Non-Binding Methods of Dispute Resolution. His Scholarship focuses on institutionalization of mediation in the legal system and how lawyering and mediation practices affect each other. Among other issues, he writes extensively on Cooperative Law, an innovation developing in response to Collaborative Law, itself an important innovation in conflict engagement. Engaging Conflicts has a new category in 2007, Cooperative Law — Beyond Collaboration, to which this post belongs. John will also be a Guest Blogger and will be interviewed in Engaging Conflicts Today later in the winter about his work.

This is an abstract from his 2005 article: The Promise and Perils of Collaborative Law:

Getting people to use an interest-based approach in negotiation has been a difficult problem. Experts have provided helpful suggestions for ‘changing the game,’ though these ideas are usually limited to case-by-case efforts within a culture of adversarial negotiation. Collaborative law (CL) is an important innovation that establishes a general norm of interest-based negotiation and intentionally develops a new legal culture. CL reverses the traditional presumption that negotiators will use adversarial negotiation. CL parties and lawyers sign a participation agreement establishing the rules for the process. Under these agreements, lawyers and parties (negotiators) focus exclusively on negotiation, disclosing all relevant information and using an interest-based approach. Negotiators work primarily in four-way meetings in which everyone is expected to participate actively. A ‘disqualification agreement’ clause in the participation agreement provides that CL lawyers represent parties only in negotiation and are disqualified from representing them in litigation. (Although CL lawyers cannot litigate a CL case, CL parties can withdraw and hire other lawyers to litigate.) Professor Julie Macfarlane’s landmark study found that CL negotiators generally did not engage in adversarial negotiation and when they did so, they usually had more information and a more constructive spirit than in traditional negotiation. She found that CL parties generally benefited from improved communication and were satisfied with the process and their lawyers.

This article identifies four potential perils of CL. First, CL clients may have unrealistic expectations about the lawyers’ role, the time and expense involved, and implications of the disqualification agreement. Second, the CL process may result in excessive pressure to settle. Third, CL practitioners may violate rules of professional conduct. Fourth, CL practitioners may develop a quasi-religious orthodoxy that inhibits innovation and discourages clients from exercising legitimate process choices.

Here’s the article from his website.

Remember! Find and bookmark the new site:!

January 19, 2007

Science and Spirit In 2007 –

Filed under: Ethics,Spirit,Theory To Practice — Gini @ 5:29 am

Santa Fe, New Mexico is a wonderful place to live for many reasons, including the eclectic mix of what used to be called New Age mysticism (I’m not sure what the current best term might be – the closest I come is quantum mysticism, now) and cutting edge science exemplified by the Los Alamos National Laboratory (LANL), just 45 miles away. When I first moved here, I had to learn some physical and biological science (previously, I had done a masters in sociology, and a law degree) because I was an environmental attorney at the New Mexico Environment Department. I was the primary permitting and enforcement attorney for hazardous and radioactive waste issues, which, in New Mexico, included addressing the Waste Isolation Pilot Plant (WIPP) and uranium mill tailings, as well as LANL. I respect science – almost as much as I love the law – and my renamed blog topic category Theory to Practice is meant to facilitate both science education and practical applications of science.

Towards science education, I came across this 2003 Statement on New Mexico Science Education by the Los Alamos National Laboratory Fellows which, while not intended as such, gives some background to what science education is.

As to quantum mysticism, I am agnostic about it just as I am to any other religion or religious path. As I said in one of this blog’s introductory posts, Why Speak Of Spirit and Conflict In the Same Breath?:

What’s so engaging about conflict and spirit? First, most people get solace and direction in stressful times through their religious or spiritual beliefs; information that supports or enriches those beliefs (including practice tools) will strengthen that resource when facing conflict. Second, some people are stressed because of questions about religion and/or spirituality that they think arise out of science. But most of us don’t know much about science … what is it? More to the point, how does science help explain our impulses towards religion and spirituality, and how we chose to practice them (including explaining why those impulses can turn to violence and conflict in some circumstances)? Can the areas of science that relate to religion and spirituality help prevent, reduce, contain or resolve conflict?

Some people may experience conflict when confronting an insistence that there is only one way, or even just a best way, to experience and practice religion and/or spirituality — and what they know gives insufficient solace, or is different. Others may watch with confusion how some forms of religion are changing, as we see especially in the United States in the perhaps parallel growths of more fundamentalist mega churches, and post-modern quantum mysticism. Can science help here?

For the rest of that post, just click on the link. I’ve renamed this category Ethics and Spirit.

Remember to move your bookmark to, and while you are there, please subscribe using the RSS button!

January 18, 2007

Public Insight Journalism — Web-enabled Great Citizen Journalism —

I’ll be interviewing Michael Skoler later this winter for more about his work with Minnesota Public Radio’s innovative “Public Insight Journalism” — an innovative citizen journalism program. Michael is Executive Director of the Minnesota Public Radio’s and American Public Media’s new Center for Innovation in Journalism. Here’s a start about this program:

What is Public Insight Journalism?
Public Insight Journalism is a new way for Minnesota Public Radio journalists to find the best sources and the best information. The centerpiece of Public Insight Journalism is the Public Insight Network – a group of thousands of Minnesotans who have agreed to help us cover the news.

Every week, we ask people in that network to share their observations, knowledge and expertise with us. We take that information, distill it, and pass it on to our reporters and editors. They may follow up with a request for more information, or perhaps an interview.

We believe that this new approach to journalism will make Minnesota Public Radio an even more trusted and credible source of news and information.

For more information, go here: Minnesota Public Radio’s FAQ about Public Insight Journalism, and here.

Remember to move your bookmark and go to Engaging Conflict’s new home!  Go to

January 16, 2007

Top Science Stories Of 2006 —

Filed under: Theory To Practice — Gini @ 5:47 am

Discover magazine recently posted its list of the top 100 science stories of 2006, a special report on the most interesting, amazing, and important science news of the year. Articles of particular interest to conflict specialists include these articles about human nature: #72, the source of empathy found in mirror neurons; #58, what differentiates us from chimps, specifically, after comparing human and chimpanzee genomes, the discovery of 49 places where an accelerated rate of mutation stood out in the human genome, places called HARs, for “human accelerated regions;” and others among the top 6 mind and brain stories.

Remember to move your bookmarks to the new site:!

January 13, 2007

The Evolution Of Cooperation —

Filed under: Theory To Practice — Gini @ 9:42 am

The New York Times today has an op-ed contribution by Michael Tomasello, the co-director of the Max Planck Institute for Evolutionary Anthropology, suggesting that the evolution of our highly visible human eyes — referring to the large whites of our eyes that are several times larger than those of other primates — “made it easier to coordinate close-range collaborative activities in which discerning where the other was looking and perhaps what she was planning, benefited both participants.” And why “collaborative”?

[E]volution cannot select the color of my eyes based on advantages to you. Evolutionary theory tells us that, in general, the only individuals who are around today are those whose ancestors did things that were beneficial to their own survival and reproduction. If I have eyes whose direction is especially easy to follow, it must be of some advantage to me.

If I am, in effect, advertising the direction of my eyes, I must be in a social environment full of others who are not often inclined to take advantage of this to my detriment — by, say, beating me to the food [that I have detected] or escaping aggression [from the approaching dominant male in a fighting mood] before me. Indeed, I must be in a cooperative social environment in which others following the directions of my eyes somehow benefits me.

Please note Engaging Conflict’s new address:

January 10, 2007

Super Coffee? —

Filed under: Health, Conflict and Stress — Gini @ 5:54 pm

Thanks to James Tyre for sharing this news release on Solosez, a listserve I subscribe to and love:
Press Release Source: Meth Coffee

Meth Coffee Launches with Super Caffeinated Brew
Wednesday January 10, 9:23 am ET

SAN FRANCISCO, Jan. 10 /PRNewswire/ — Meth Coffee, a rebel coffee company in San Francisco, opened for business today with the launch of its hard- hitting coffee roast for energy addicts and caffeine freaks. Meth’s super- caffeinated beans are amplified by the addition of yerba mate, a powerful natural stimulant and antioxidant used by shamans of the Amazon for boosting stamina and mental clarity.

Boasting an intense buzz and cocoa-tobacco finish, Meth Coffee is fresh-roasted within 48 hours of shipment to jumpstart workaholics, thrill seekers, artists, and subversives seeking an exciting new fuel for their endeavors.


Now, I’m tagging this in the “Health, Conflict and Stress” category — caffeine affects us differently, and I’ll leave it up to you to decide where it fits in that category for you. Me, well, I adopted coffee as my drug of choice when I started law school, and, but for two or three very short flirtations with tea, I have never looked back.

Indeed, we are still digging out of a huge snowfall — something like 2 – 2 1/2 feet in Santa Fe over 3 days, right before New Year’s. When I heard it was coming, I took stock and ran to the store — coffee! I had everything else that was necessary — including my second most important indulgence, red wine — but, really, fresh ground coffee is #1.

Please note the new address:

January 9, 2007

Engaging Conflicts In 2007 —

Please note the new address:

In 2007, Engaging Conflicts will continue to center on issues identified by Bernie Mayer’s Beyond Neutrality: Confronting the Crisis in Conflict Resolution, Chris Honeyman’s Theory to Practice work (focusing on his new book, The Negotiator’s Fieldbook: the Desk Reference for the Experienced Negotiator, co-edited with Andrea Kupfer Schneider), and the October 2006 Keystone Consolidating Our Collective Wisdom conference; as well as my Wikis and Podcasts and Blogs, Oh My! program – use of the new social media on the internet for professional, personal and business development. I’ll provide Tips, Treats, and Tools, and talk about Health, Conflict and Stress, on occasion, too.

Some Guest Bloggers In 2007

Planned guest bloggers for 2007 include Kristine Paranica, J.D., Administrative Director and Fellow of the Institute for the Study of Conflict Transformation (ISCT) on transformative mediation and practice; and John Lande, J.D., Director of the Master of Laws Program In Dispute Resolution at the University of Missouri-Columbia School of Law, on cooperative law, as distinguished from collaborative law.

In Engaging Conflicts Today, the newsletter (subscribe by clicking in the sidebar!), I’ve planned interviews with Bernie Mayer, John Paul Lederach, Robert Benjamin, Chris Honeyman, Janis Magnuson (of Janis Publications), Diane Levin (of the Online Guide To Mediation blog), Jack Cooley, John Stephens, Ann Gosline, and Howard Gadlin, among others. And, as I said, The Negotiator’s Fieldbook, Chris Honeyman’s and Andrea Kupfer Schneider’s new book, will also be highlighted in 2007 (in both the newsletter and in the blog), with reviews, summaries and interviews.

At the new site, you’ll see the administrative categories tabbed across the topbar (Welcome, Contact, Why Engaging Conflicts?, Guest Bloggers, RSS FAQ). The first box at the top of the right sidebar lets you search the blog using keywords. You can then bookmark the blog at Technorati (use the green icon); subscribe to the blog for free at FeedBurner (use the orange icon); and then subscribe to Engaging Conflicts Today by clicking on the blue hyperlinked “Free Engaging Conflicts Newsletter!” I have fewer categories. Also, each post now allows linking with 13 different social content and social bookmarking websites, e.g.,, digg and smarking. (If you don’t know what any of these terms and options are, spend some time in the Wikis and Podcasts and Blogs, Oh My! category!) Finally, I’ve disabled commenting, to help save the site from robotic spamming – write me privately, and I’ll respond, though.

REMEMBER: Please move your bookmark, and — try something new! — subscribe to Engaging Conflicts! If you’d like to learn more about RSS or web feeds from a podcast or blog consumer’s point of view, visit our RSS FAQ.

January 8, 2007

RSS Feeds Allow Subscriptions To Blogs and Podcasts —

Filed under: Wikis and Podcasts and Blogs, Oh My! — Gini @ 5:58 am

Once I stop cross-posting, you’ll need to go to the new Engaging Conflict’s website for current posts. When you go there, you will see this orange icon in the right sidebar:

Click the icon on the left to SUBSCRIBE FREE via standard RSS or your favorite web aggregator.

If you don’t currently have an RSS reader, we suggest the free reader available at Blogines.

For more information on RSS, please read our RSS/Web Feed tutorial. Or call 253-851-5542 for help. Remember it’s free and you don’t have to supply us with any personal information.

REMEMBER: Please move your bookmark, and — try something new! — subscribe to Engaging Conflicts! If you’d like to learn more about RSS or web feeds from a podcast or blog consumer’s point of view, visit our RSS FAQ.

January 7, 2007

TWiT Technology News Review of 2006 Includes Skype As Application Of the Year —

Filed under: Wikis and Podcasts and Blogs, Oh My! — Gini @ 5:16 am

Please note: this blog has moved to — please reset your bookmarks. I’ll cross-post for a while, yet.

I referred to TWiT recently (here: TWIT [The WEEK In TECH] netcast network site) which Time Magazine named as one of the top 10 podcasts of 2006. The program this week looked back at the news that made 2006 and ahead into 2007, here. Among other news, TWiT identified Skype as application of the year (see here for my earlier post with Skype’s announcement of unlimited calling to landlines and cellphones in the US and Canada for $30/year, but only $15 if you sign up by January 31, 2007).

January 2, 2007

Podcasting in 2007 —

Filed under: Wikis and Podcasts and Blogs, Oh My! — Gini @ 4:22 am

Please note: this blog has moved to — please reset your bookmarks, accordingly. I’ll cross-post for a while, yet.

I’ll be podcasting in 2007. Readers here have been watching me get my feet wet (here’s my vBlog post from PodCamp West– San Francisco, made for Geoff Sharp’s mediation vBlog project ; a post about the podcasters’ internet marketing issues panel I was on at the conference, and a post with more about PodCamp’s agenda, including the legal issues in podcasting panel I was on). Podcasting is an exciting development in use of the internet, and fast-growing, and, really, attorneys and mediators need to understand what it is.

Here’s some background, and observations on trends, from a leader in this new social media, Scott Bourne, variously of several tightly focused blogs and podcasts, including the blog, and the blog and podcast associated with the TWIT [The WEEK In TECH] netcast network site. TWIT itself was named by Time Magazine as one of the top 10 podcasts of 2006.

Background (from Scott’s blog):

Here is what podcasting is and why it matters.

A podcast is a web feed of audio or video files that you can download and listen or view at your convenience on a personal media player (such as an iPod), computer, DVD player, or CD player.

Listeners don’t have to remember to visit the sites they are interested in to get the latest posting. Instead, they can subscribe (usually at no charge) to the ones they want. Their podcatcher software will periodically download the latest postings or episodes.

In the podcast universe, distribution distinguishes this medium: You don’t have to rely on your audience to check back for new content that you post. Once they have added your “show” to their playlist, they’ll automatically receive it each time you post a new episode. In other words, it’s much like choosing which programs you want to record on your TIVo.

And personal media players fit the lifestyle of people on the go by being small and portable. It’s a way for corporate marketers to extend their content distribution beyond their audience’s desktop computer. Listeners can access your content on their commute, in the gym, or while sitting in the airport.

More background: Podcasting FAQs by

2006’s Important Podcasting Trends by

I’m learning the technology now, with an iMac with its preinstalled Garageband podcasting software, a professional quality microphone, and access to online training videos at, including Scott’s own Podcasting with GarageBand 3.

Scott, thank you for making podcasting so much more accessible to us all.

January 1, 2007

Health Fitness and Barriers —

Filed under: Health, Conflict and Stress,Tips, Treats, and Tools — Gini @ 9:09 am

Please note: this blog has moved to — please reset your bookmarks, accordingly. I’ll cross-post for a while, yet.

It’s New Year’s Day — Happy New Year to us all! Most of us will at least consider resolutions to do or be better in 2007, and, for many of us, getting fitter will be one of them. Will we follow them?

Jane E. Brody, New York Times Personal Health columnist urges us, “To Avoid ‘Boomeritis,’ Exercise, Exercise, Exercise” in her December 19th column (note: a TimesSelect membership may be necessary for access) — as she says, citing Dr. Nicholas A. DiNubile, an orthopedic surgeon at the Hostipial of the University of Pennsylvania, “evolution ha[s] not kept up withthe doubling of the human life span in the last 100 years. To counter the inevitable declines with age, we have to provide our bodies with an extended warranty,” i.e., fitness.

Yet, while most of us know the benefits of exercise, few of us exercise enough, or exercise consistently enough. Why? There’s a good article available for free download posted at Change, by Michale Gonzales, Ph.D., a licensed clinical psychologist. As he says in his introduction:

With all the data there is about why people should exercise, why do they still have a tendency not to? As there are many types of exercise an individual can choose, not exercising is also a choice. No one can write a book or a scientific paper that will fully explain why some people do not exercise or why they exercise erratically. For this answer one really need[s] to look within. This paper is written to help people do just that — look within.

The quick answer to the question of why an individual does not exercise has to do with time, motiviation and worthiness. These factors will be addressed in this paper: finding time, getting motivated, and believing that he or she is worth the time and effort necessary to get healthier and more fit.

Here’s the link to the paper.

I won’t see you at the gym … my first fitness resolution is to walk more, first. But walk more, I will!

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