By Jim Pearman, ADR Advisor
Editor’s Note: In recognition of October being Conflict Resolution Month and due to the lapse in appropriations, the series of articles supporting the important work alternative dispute resolution advisors will continue into the first weeks of November.
As an Alternative Dispute Resolution Advisor, I have had the pleasure to work with the FEMA – 4086-DR-NJ (Hurricane Sandy) Federal Disaster Recovery Coordination/Community Recovery Assistance team on special assignment for the past 7 months. During that time, I have worked to facilitate effective communication and conflict resolution among individuals, stakeholder groups, and various agencies both inside and outside of the FDRC. By reducing conflict and minimizing the potential for future conflict, the FDRC/CRA team has helped to advance the mission of Long Term Recovery in the New Jersey communities we serve.
One of the more significant ADR contributions in assisting the efforts of the FDRC/CRA team’s mission was the development of a special training curriculum focusing on what “change” means to a community, as well as exploring techniques on how to empathize with community leaders. Mike Redpath, Community Recovery Assistance Specialist, approached me with the concept of developing a training module on change to improve the effectiveness of the FDRC/CRA team when working with communities that have experienced loss, grief, and dramatic change as the result of a disaster. Mike and I worked collaboratively on the development of the concept. The training was presented on July 2 to nearly 40 people with attendees from the FDRC/CRA team, Mitigation, Public Assistance, and the Volunteer Agency Liaisons. Since then, at the request of the New Jersey Chapter of the American Red Cross, I presented the training module to their state leadership in order to help them improve community outreach efforts.
In addition to the training module on change, I have been invited to work on improving a myriad of communication issues. I created a curriculum to assist community leaders develop techniques to use when facilitating group discussions in situations where attendees may need to express strong emotions.
In celebration of Conflict Resolution Month, remember, an open mind and a good heart can get you through almost anything. For more information on conflict resolution visit the FEMA ADR website http://on.fema.net/components/adr/Pages/default.aspx .