Archive for ‘Jolts for Mediators’

September 4, 2018

Join CoRe and Mediate BC at the Vancouver Fringe Festival!

For several years, I’ve encouraged conflict resolution professionals to seek opportunities to view live theatre, and to engage in reflection on the conflict resolution elements these shows offer. In particular, Fringe Festivals offer an incredible opportunity to see new theatre and hear new voices inexpensively. This year, I’ve taken on a new role with the Vancouver Fringe Festival – president of the Board of Directors – and so am enthusiastically encouraging friends and colleagues to join me at the Festival!

The Vancouver Fringe runs September 6 – 16 at venues on Granville Island and in East Vancouver. With 99 shows to choose from, there really is something for everyone: but it can be tough to choose! For that reason, I’m encouraging as many conflict resolution professionals as possible to join me for one specific show that I expect to be of broad interest:

Rocko and Nakota: Tales from the Land

Saturday, September 8th, 3:00 pm. at the Waterfront Theatre, Granville Island

ConRes folx who come out that day are invited to join me for drinks and debrief at the Vancouver Fish Company following the show.

Why Rocko and Nakota?

One of the great strengths of live theatre is its ability to offer a glimpse into others’ perspectives – something that, of course, can increase empathy, and may well increase understanding. Similarly, live theatre offers us the opportunity to experience storytelling traditions outside the oddly linear and adversarial storytelling tradition that often develops in a mediation or litigation practice.

Josh-Languedoc-presents-Rocko-and-Nakota-at-the-Victoria-Fringe Written and performed by Josh Languedoc, Rocko and Nakota has been described as bringing Anishinaabe stories to life “with respect and passion”. Languedoc describes his show as “ideal for anyone who has battled with their own health or cultural identity, or anyone interested in indigenous issues”*. During its run at the Winnipeg Fringe in June, Francis Concan of the Winnipeg Free Press wrote: For those who are intimidated by theatre that doesn’t centre on whiteness, here is a moving show that invites you to learn more about Indigenous culture and storytelling

What else should I see?

When you buy one ticket ($15) to a Fringe show, you’ll also buy a membership (a one time fee of $7). So you may just want to make use of that membership to see more than one show! Here’s a few others you might want to think about seeing:

I’m booked to see at least 35 plays over the course of the Fringe, so I’ll be able to speak to lots of shows if you’re curious and looking for advice. And one of the joys of Fringe theatre everywhere is the chance to get incredibly helpful reviews from fellow Festival goers in each and every line-up. Many of the folx around you will be seeing even more shows than me, and will be more than happy to share ideas about what you might like: fringe festivals are definitely places that invites their audiences to share and engage!

See you at the Fringe!

April 10, 2018

Soul Jumpers Playtesters Wanted!

29872864_10155517493612151_7208946950759324405_oIt’s taken us some time to move from Game Jam excitement to development with this one, but … Soul Jumpers is finally at a stage to be playtested! We plan to piggyback on the CoRe Speed Geeking event on June 4th, 2018 to find some folks to join us.

Join Dan Williams, Darsey Meredith, and Sharon Sutherland to play a mocked-up prototype and provide us with input on game play.

  • WHEN: June 4th at 6:00pm
  • WHERE: KPMG, 11th floor, 777 Dunsmuir Street, Vancouver, BC

We will also bring additional collaborative board games and light refreshments for those who would like to stay and play a few “rounds”.

Check out the original concept!

While the game has undergone some tweaking since then – including a naming decision – the core concept remains the same: everyone must work together to search the macabre house that is slowly (or not so slowly) consuming bodies. If we can’t reach the portal with all the elements required to carry out the ritual to re-possess our bodies, we are doomed to haunt the halls forever!

 

*The original Soul Jumpers creative team (2014) is Dan Williams, Darsey Meredith, Sharon Sutherland, Ben Ziegler, Bob Wilson, and Mike Lakusta. We acknowledge considerable contributions from Rowan Meredith during the 2017 Game Jam.

This event is free to all. Access to KPMG is restricted so registration is essential. Please email coreclinic1@gmail.com.

March 14, 2018

Scavenger Hunts for Professional Development

“Brain research tells us that when the fun stops, learning often stops too.” – Dr. Judy Willis, M.D., M.Ed.

DopamineScience tells us that making learning fun improves retention of information, maintains curiosity and engagement, and encourages learners to try out new ideas. As Dr. Judy Willis notes, “when classroom activities are pleasurable, the brain releases dopamine, a neurotransmitter that stimulates the memory centers and promotes the release of acetylcholinem, which increases focused attention.”

© Can Stock Photo : jacklooser

© Can Stock Photo / jacklooser

And yet, how often do we face an uphill struggle to introduce fun learning activities in “serious”, “professional” environments like conferences, professional schools, workplace training, and continuing professional development activities? Somehow there’s a stigma attached to anything that’s fun – after all, why would we have all suffered through endless hours of excruciatingly boring lectures if that wasn’t somehow the best way to take in information?

Happily, more and more fun has been making its way into professional development: Applied Improvisation, LEGO® SERIOUS PLAY® Facilitation, Gamification, and an increasingly varied list of corporate “team building” activities are becoming common in larger workplaces. And yet, there’s considerable scope for continuing development!

yes and

Attendees at a CoRe Speaker event spell out “Yes, and”.

 The Scavenger Hunt

Most recently, I’ve been especially interested in the possibilities for Scavenger Hunts and the ways in which they promote the skills and attitudes necessary for excellent conflict resolution practice. My interest grew out of a family-driven Scavenger Hunt experience that just happened to include several mediators – GISHWHES 2015 (the “Greatest International Scavenger Hunt the World Has Ever Seen”).

GISHWHES calls for teams of 15, so in pulling together a team to allow my daughters and me to play, I reached out to colleagues and friends and just happened to get “Yes, ands…” from 5 mediators. That first year was a huge learning curve for our team, but what the ConRes folks amongst us quickly recognized  was that large-scale, team Scavenger Hunts caused us to practice skills we use all the time in mediations, but in different and challenging ways that stretched us to learn. (And what the competitive Scavenger Hunters amongst us noticed was that we have improved our results every year as we add more conflict resolution professionals to the team. Hmmmm… Probably not the whole reason for improvement…)

Item 66

Our team forms a “Bridge of Spies”.

LICRSH – Legendary International Conflict Resolution Scavenger Hunt

After three years of GISHWHES training, the conflict resolution folks on our team decided to host a scavenger hunt for conflict resolution professionals as part of Mediate BC’s Conflict Resolution Week 2017. Thus was LICRSH – the Legendary International Conflict Resolution Scavenger Hunt born!

And yes, we learned even more about the potential for Scavenger Hunts in the world of conflict resolution! They are an amazing way to bring together colleagues from across distances to have fun collaborating, problem solving and exploring new ideas together! And so, we are planning a second LICRSH at the Northwest Dispute Resolution Conference in Seattle next week.

#2 ConRes superhero

Wendy Lakusta of Team Resolutionaries takes her Conflict Resolution Superhero to the Surrey Provincial Courthouse.

 

What conflict resolution-related skills, knowledge, and attitudes do we develop through Scavenger Hunts?

Here’s 10 linkages between conflict resolution and scavenger hunts that I am planning to explore with the help of my colleagues (Emily Martin, Amanda Semenoff, Darsey Meredith and Rowan Meredith) over the next week as we plan for (and host) LICRSH Seattle!

  • Collaboration
  • Varieties of the Creative Process
  • Problem-solving
  • Movement/Physicality
  • The Power of Silly
  • Sharing the Silly
  • Risk-taking
  • Making “Asks”
  • Tapping into Memories
  • Kindness

I’ll be offering short posts on each of these topics between now and the end of the conference on March 24th. Watch for cross-posting here and at PignPotato Games.

 

 

 

July 19, 2017

Learning Conflict Resolution through Theatre

This morning (very early!), I joined Amanda Semenoff and C.D. Saint for their podcast, Overthinking Conflict.  The topic we discussed was how watching live theatre can be useful for conflict resolution professionals. Our discussion was wide ranging, and we touched on a number of reasons a conflict resolution practitioner might want to watch live theatre (many of which apply to other forms of art, too).

During the conversation, I was asked about recommendations for shows, and was sorry that I couldn’t refer to the upcoming Vancouver Fringe Festival performances because the Fringe program hasn’t been released yet.  (The launch party is Thursday, July 27th, 2017.)  Fringe Festivals are a particularly rich opportunity for conflict resolution professionals to explore plays. After all, there’s always a hodgepodge of domestic and international performers; plays are short, so risk is low (you aren’t trapped for hours wishing you’d made another choice!); standing in line for one performance gives you the chance to hear all about a dozen more shows; and the variety is incredible!

As I told Amanda and C.D., I’ll put together a list of recommendations for conflict resolution practitioners once the program is available, but, in the meantime, I wanted to ruminate further on the kinds of learning one can take away from live theatre.

Ultimately, I came up with a list of 8 ways in which watching live theatre can serve a learning purpose for a conflict resolution professional:

  • Observing and analyzing a contained conflict text
  • Observing, analyzing, or participating in a dramatized conflict resolution process
  • Learning about other ways of viewing the world
  • Engaging with metaphor
  • Reading meaning through physical theatre
  • Observing others’ skills in scripted or improvisational form
  • Explorations of historical conflict
  • Explorations of neuroscience, mental health topics, and other content that enriches our practice

Just as my conversation with Amanda and C.D. allowed only enough time to discuss a few ways we could talk about theatre as “homework” for conflict resolution practitioners, a single blog post doesn’t really give me scope to reflect on all of these topics either.  As such, I’ll concentrate only on the first topic here, and revisit the question over the next short while to discuss the remainder of the list.

Observing Conflict – Cause and Effect

Theatrical performances, especially those following the pattern of traditional European theatre, almost always focus around a central conflict. While there are variations to the pattern, and artists have consciously sought to create productions that resist that pattern,  theatre generally explores conflict.

In a typical, chronological narrative structure, the audience is able to observe a conflict develop and come to a point of crisis. Unlike real life conflicts where it’s virtually impossible to witness all the contributing factors, the contained nature of a well-structured drama allows the audience to see how conflict builds – often from multiple perspectives. As a student of conflict resolution, this chance to observe whole stories and to understand multiple perspectives creates an opportunity for reflection: Where have I seen those patterns of communication before? What kinds of changes in the characters’ communications could prevent the looming crisis? If a mediator were inserted into the mix, when and how would they seek to shift the dynamic?

Some years ago, I was involved in a project that asked the question: what if Hamlet and Gertrude had been able to mediate their family dispute? Our initial intention was to create a short video we could use to start a conversation with large law classes about the differences amongst dispute resolution processes. Instead, we launched many conversations about conflict prevention across multiple narrative art forms! I can say now with great confidence that there are hundreds of ways in which conflict resolution practitioners could have saved Romeo and Juliet! (I won’t even try to describe how little show would be left if conflict resolution students were set loose on Seinfeld: if you strip away the conflict, it really is about nothing.)

Over the years, conflict resolution students have shown me that some of the deepest, and clearest, conflict analyses comes from grappling with a performed, and contained, conflict. The finite nature of the material coupled with the relative linearity of most performances – or sometimes the intentional non-linearity chosen to highlight aspects of the conflict – offers a much tidier “text” for examination than any real life conflict can. Just as role plays are utilized to learn conflict resolution skills (even when some students must observe due to numbers), observations of performed plays allow for both individual reflection and discussion with co-learners.

One further reason that it is relatively easy to grapple deeply with issues in a play is one’s emotional distance from a performed conflict – all the more so when the conflict is known to be fictional. As mediators (or lawyers, arbitrators, etc.), we often try to find a place of empathy with enough distance to be able to offer alternative perspectives. Theatre allows us to step into that place and to become familiar with its feel. Film and television offer similar experiences, but the degree of control we have – to pause, rewind, re-view – makes the experience less immediate (less like the experience in real life) than live theatre.  With live actors, we experience greater immediacy, and, of course, there is a risk of things going wrong, of something unexpected happening, which connects the experience more viscerally with real life.  In fact, sit in the front row and the experience is entirely different than watching a film!

Here are three plays coming up soon on Vancouver stages that offer great opportunities to observe and examine conflict.  Consider getting out to the theatre this summer! And bring a colleague for post-theatre discussion!

  • Bard on the Beach will be showing The Merchant of Venice this year, and, even better, showing Shylock for a short run at the end of the season. Most people know something about The Merchant of Venice, and it certainly offers lots of familial and commercial dispute, a discussion of the interrelationship between law and mercy, and a great deal to discuss in terms of anti-Semitism and, by extension, other forms of bias. Shylock is a play that is often performed in combination with The Merchant of Venice because it explicitly examines the challenges of performing a text that cannot be separated from the prejudices of its times. It is well worth watching both!
  • In the Next Room (or The Vibrator Play). I haven’t seen this yet, but its nomination for a Tony in 2010 bodes well. I’m anticipating that this one will offer a study in cognitive dissonance as its characters struggle to recognize the possibility of mistaken assumptions underlying culturally accepted “truths”. The fact that it involves a marital relationship increases the likelihood of it offering a window into a familiar interpersonal conflict.

 

 

 

September 4, 2016

Game Jam 2 produces Zombie Fight or Flight

It’s been just over two months since CoRe Jolts’ second Game Jam took place in Tsawwassen, and it’s well past time to report on the exciting developments coming out the event!

Sludge (#WorkingTitle)

Sludge (#WorkingTitle)

We had a fantastic group of mediators, lawyers, and students (including both experienced and inexperienced gamers) assembled for three days of creativity! Like Game Jam 1, the group arrived with many different ideas and objectives: the one common theme was that we all wanted to develop a collaborative game.  Over the course of the weekend, two different games emerged – a very complex game which we called “Sludge (#WorkingTitle)” and a fast-moving card game called “Zombie Fight or Flight”.  Both games had fans within our group, but “Zombie Fight or Flight” fit nicely with plans two of us had to develop training tools and so received a bit more attention over the course of the weekend.  As a result, Zombie Fight or Flight will be the first game created in a CoRe Jolts Game Jam to be developed for sale!

Zombie Fight or Flight cardback: Art by Tuna.

Zombie Fight or Flight cardback: Art by Tuna.

Zombie Fight or Flight

The zombie theme arose because Emily Martin and I were thinking ahead to specific training applications, notably a CLEBC course we are preparing for October 31st – Negotiation Skills for the Zombie Apocalypse. Even as the game developed though, it was apparent that the basic mechanics could be adapted easily to other scenarios: Pirate Fight or Flight, Space Aliens Fight or Flight, or even Forest Animals Fight or Flight.  In fact, we also tested a wide range of variations intended to make the game more or less challenging depending on age, gaming experience, etc. and began preliminary work on an expansion pack to keep the game interesting over multiple plays.  Those of us who stayed overnight also took the opportunity on the Saturday night to create alternative drinking game rules: Drunken Zombie Fight or Flight.

Sunday afternoon was spent in a discussion of how to carry the game forward, and resulted in the formation of “Pig & Potato Games” as the entity that will market the game.  In the last two months, we hired an artist (Rachel Petrovicz) who has just completed designing the cards; identified a printer and will be printing prototype decks in the next few weeks; and sketched out plans for a Kickstarter to launch the game.  All of these tasks have been learning tasks for our team, and have resulted in a continuation of the creative energy of the Game Jam – we are all still stimulating new thoughts and ideas as we advance the plan to fully realize the game!

We are on track to launch our Kickstarter in late October – in time for Halloween – so watch for news about the game and opportunities to play it. We’re planning several game nights for collaborative professionals as we explore the options the game offers for collaborative training, and even for possible use in specific types of mediations.

Interested in joining us next year?

After two incredibly fun and successful Game Jams, we know we want to have another one! The creative energy stimulated within the event, and flowing afterwards, is an amazing boost for any project -whether or not it leads to development of a fully formed game. The fact that Zombie Fight or Flight has emerged from this past game jam, and that we are learning new skills and gaining knowledge about game development, only makes the idea more exciting!  We are trying to find a date for the next Game Jam that will accommodate as many of our returning Game Jammers as possible, while also welcoming new folks to bring new ideas! We anticipate holding Game Jam 3 in Tsawwassen in spring 2017. Let us know if you hope to attend: we’ll send out periodic notices as we plan, and will canvass everyone on the mailing list for availability as we choose dates.  To be added to the mailing list, email a request to zombieforf@gmail.com.

 

 

 

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