No Emergencies this May Day

Inspirational Speaker Dennis Powers opened the meeting with a quote from Douglas Noll, a Fellow of the International Academy of Mediators as well as a Fellow of the American College of Civil Trial Mediators:
remarks about peacemaking:

“Peacemaking is a complicated concept because peace can be defined in so many different ways.  At it’s best…positive peace implies reconciliation and restoration through creative transformations of conflict.  It looks at conflicts as opportunities for people to grow, to accept responsibility for the relationships they are in, and for the potential of apology and forgiveness. Perhaps the greatest difference between peacemaking and other forms of conflict resolution is that opportunities for exploitation are taken away.  Once the ear of vulnerability is neutralized, people can aspire to their higher good and really find excellent solutions to their conflicts.”

The ever ebullient Jim Irwin celebrated May Day, reminding us that originally it was the French m’aider, chosen to alert pilots and ground units of a airplane or vessel in trouble.  He then led us in The Ann Arbor Rotary Song and Put On A Happy Face with spirited accompaniment from Tom Strode.

President Greg added to our edification noting that May 1 is also Law Day, a good day to have a judge as a speaker.  He then extended thanks to all who make the meeting run smoothly.

Last chance for Moms, Motors and a Meal, our 2019 spring Fling, was offered by Nancy Harrison.

Norman Herbert took the podium to talk about the Permanent Endowment of the Ann Arbor Rotary Foundation and to recognize new members of the Sustainers’ Society and Legacy Circle members.  Our Endowment was started in 1985 to provide funds for our approved, official club projects in addition to the monies raised by our Community Service Assessment.  In the last 15 years the Endowment has provided $732,150 in additional funding.  Membership in the Sustainers’ Society is achieved when an individual’s cumulative donation to the Foundation reaches the $1000 level.  This year there are seven new Sustainers: John Balbach, Lou Callaway, Cheryl Elliott, Paul Geiger, Jack Henke, Karen Kerry, Frank Newman and Erik Serr.  The Legacy Circle recognizes gifts of $25,000 or more when club members notify the Endowment Committee of bequests.  Four Members were thanked for these gifts:  Dallas Dort, Bob Mull, Ashish Sarkar and John White.

President Greg announced the 40 Members who became Paul Harris Fellows this year.  This award thanks Rotarians who have donated to Rotary International with recognition every time their donations total $1000.  This year there are ten new Fellows: Dale Ausherman, Karen Gladney, Bob Hyzy, Terry Linden, Shelley MacMillan, Tim Marshall, Hylan Moises, Sujit Pandid, Carol Senneff and Deborah VandenBroek.

Notes from the Program

Don Duquette introduced our Speaker, Judge Timothy Connors.  Judge Connors a state court judge since 1991 and has served as judge pro tem for the Little Traverse Bay Bands of Odawa Indians.  He is also the presiding judge of the Washtenaw County Peacemaking Court and the Civil and Domestic Divisions of the Washtenaw County Trial Court.  Judge Connors’ Peacemaking Court following the Native American tradition of resolving conflict by involving the community in describing and analyzing the conflict, respectfully hearing all parties to the conflict, and arriving at resolution as a community.

Judge Connors began his remarks noting that our Four Way Test tracks nicely with the peacemaking philosophy because it results in a change in an individual’s thinking.  What you think is your idealization; what you say is your articulation of the idealization, and what you do is the manifestation of that thinking.

Is It The Truth? Justice is the community response to an action or need.  Each party’s interpretation/view of what happened and why it happened must be aired. A resolution developed using the Seven Grandfather Teachings -Respect, Love, Bravery, Wisdom, Honesty, Humility and Truth – is more just because all parties are heard and the need of all parties are addressed in the resolution.

Is it Fair to All Concerned?  When people sit around a table and discuss their differences in a managed setting where they won’t feel vulnerable, they feel heard and respected.  A resolution  negotiated by the parties that all agree to abide by can repair, restore and renew relationships.  Peacemaking focuses on relationships and responsibilities, not winners and loosers.

Will It Build Good Will and  Better Friendships?  When people feel respected they exercise respect for others, and this fosters community strength.

Is it Beneficial to All Concerned?  Strengthened communities build resiliency communities and in individuals.  Judge Connors told the story of the two wolves.  A little boy complained to his grandfather about being bullied by the other kids, showing his anger and vowing to beat up his tormentors.  His grandfather told about two wolves, one that was angry and aggressive and always fighting, the other conciliatory, happy and helpful.  The little boy asked, which was more successful.  Grandfather replied, “The one we feed”.  Judge Connors closing wish was that we help feed the second wolf.

Judge Connors provided an article from the Judges’ Journal that included information on the process of peacemaking as well as its uses and successes.  Several points are excerpted below:

“It differs from mediation in that its purpose extends beyond settlement of a case; it differs from restorative justice in that ti goes beyond accountability and repairing harm with additional goals of healing relationships and restoring one’s place in the family or community.”

“… peacemakers engage in substantial pre-session work with the participants to determine how best to structure the session and screen for issues that would preclude safety or meaningful engagement.  The parties and the peacemaker together determine the values or ground rules for the discussion.  Like mediation, final settlement agreements are written by the facilitator, signed by the parties, and enforceable in court as a contract between the parties.”

The entire article can be found in Judges’ Journal Archives.  Insert Timothy Connors in the search box (or simply click here).  The article is very well worth reading.