How can the First Step Act get taken to the state level?
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When: April 7 th 2019- April 13 th , 2019
Where: We will leave from beautiful Ft. Lauderdale
Florida, travel to Georgetown, Grand Cayman, then Puerto
Costa Maya, Mexico, followed by Cozumel, Mexico before
returning to Ft. Lauderdale, Florida.
Why?: Because the Brāv International Networking and
Continuing Education Cruise is your opportunity to meet
your continuing education requirements and have the
opportunity to network with Conflict Management
Professionals from across the country.
Costs and Requirements
The costs of the trip are listed per person based on dual
All room categories are on a first come first
*Must have valid, current passport*
Drinking Packages are available on the ship.
The prices include the cruise, port fees, and taxes. They
also include the training package listed within the
description. Meals in the main dining room and at the
buffets are covered, as well as some meals at select
included restaurants on board. This price does not include
premium drinks, airfare, transfers or shore excursions. The
price also does not include travel insurance which is Highly
1 Passengers traveling alone and/or who would like three people in a room should contact the travel agent,
Weekend Wanderers, directly at 1 (814) 674-8918 to make arrangements.
2 Companion tickets can be purchased for persons who are traveling with a person taking the training but
do not wish to take the training themselves. They are priced at (SB) $950; (OVB) $850; (OV) $800; and (I)
$750. Priority for rooms is given to rooms where both parties are taking the training.
3 For Travel Insrance please contact Weekend Wanderers at 1 (814) 674-8918 or at
All Travelers (2)
Introduction to Conflict Management (S)- This course is a primer to those who
are new to the field of Conflict Management or those who are veteran conflict
managers who wish to see what is new.
Brāv International Events (C)- This course is a description of courses which are
offered by Brāv internationally, including our trips to Australia and Isreal/Europe.
Bronze Level Travelers (5)
Online Conflict Management (C)- This course explains the growing field of
online conflict managements and how you can use OCM to grow your business.
Using the Brāv Platform (A)- This course is a training on how to use the Brāv
platform in your business and how it can make your OCM practice more efficient.
Becoming a Brāv One (A)- This course explains how you can join the Brāv OCM
family, even if you are not intending to be a mediator.
Silver Level Travelers (9)
Cultural Awareness in Mediation (S)- This course goes through the process of
being culturally sensitive in culturally diverse mediation situations.
International Mediation Process (C)- This course explains the intricacies of
international mediation for those who are entering into the field.
Ethics in Mediation (S)- This course highlights the importance of ethics in the
field of conflict management, looking at the situations and solutions that arise
from conflict in the world.
International Domestic Violence (A)- This course discusses how to deal with
domestic violence in situations where people are being abused by loved ones.
Brāv Level Travelers (13)
The Mexico Trade Agreement (C)- This course looks at the new US/Mexico
Trade Agreement and possible conflicts arising from it.
Human Rights In the Modern Era (S)- This course looks at how human rights can
be protected by OCM
Addressing The Divisive Mind (S)- Mr. Zamor’s masterclass in how the mind works in
Current Event Class (C)- A class on an event between now and the cruise 4
Each Category includes the classes above. 5
4 Classes are subject to change and replacement by a class of equal or lesser value.
5 (S) Stanley Zamor, (A) Dr. Alli, (C) Dr. Christopher W. Smithmyer
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Rooms come with two beds*
Actual room may differ from picture*
Negotiation is the process where interested parties resolve their conflict, agree upon courses of action, bargain for individual or collective benefit, and / or attempt to create outcomes which serves their mutual interests.
In negotiation the disputants resolve their differences outside the court by entering into negotiation. There are no rigid rules, technicalities and complicated procedures.
“If you don’t know the true cost of conflict, then it is hard to determine what exactly is the cause of conflict.” – Ambassador Richard Prince
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ODR is certainly growing. There has been a review of the court system recently in the UK and Lord Justice Briggs has recommended reforms, which may promote the use of ODR. The proposals involve taking the court system online and so reducing the need for live hearings. It is proposed that there will be 3 stages. The first – a largely automated service for identifying issues; the second conciliation
and case management by case officers; the third – resolution by judges. Once the issues have been identified there will be a negotiation stage where attempts will be made to settle the dispute. Finally the matter, if unresolved, will proceed to be heard before a Judge but this will be done largely on the papers and it is unlikely there will be any need for the parties to physically attend Court. It may not even be necessary for the parties to be present at the same time. It is my understanding that at present the proposed new system will be limited to monetary claims up to £25,000. However, this limit may be moved upwards in time. Whilst the new system will not ban the involvement of lawyers part of the driving force behind the reforms is to avoid the necessity for lawyers thus providing access to justice for those who cannot afford to pay for legal representation. Accordingly, it is proposed that the new system will be straightforward so lay clients can navigate it without the assistance of lawyers and that there will be court staff available to explain the operation of the system. It may be that the early stages of the new system will allow for the use of ODR neutrals to try to settle the dispute.
We have recently seen the implementation of directives from the EU which will also no doubt provide new opportunities for ODR neutrals. The recent directives oblige businesses to provide consumers with the details of a mediation provider when a complaint is made. In addition, those businesses which trade online are obliged to put on their website the details of an ODR provider. It is my understanding that the UK government has approved certain specified mediation providers for this purpose. It remains to be seen whether many consumers will want to use this service but it is certainly hoped they will, although there is no obligation on businesses to agree to refer the matter to mediation as the obligation is only to provide the details of a suitable mediation provider (but not actually to use it).
These issues were discussed at a recent conference I attended on behalf of Brav in Liverpool, UK last month entitled “Online Dispute Resolution-Justice Re-imagined”. Indeed, Lord Briggs addressed the conference being the keynote speaker. The EU Directive was mentioned although it was noted that use of the ODR remains limited, as it seems many businesses have failed to comply with the EU Directive. However, it is anticipated that the use of ODR by consumers will increase over time as more businesses become aware of the requirements of the EU Directive.
The conference drew speakers from all over the world covering a wide range of subjects. It is apparent that ODR is being implemented worldwide. Indeed, we even heard about how the Chinese are implementing ODR into their legal system. I can’t wait for the next conference…
Brāv Online Mediator
There are a number reasons why people turn to mediation to resolve disputes.
Mediation is a way of reaching resolution of a problem with the minimum of confrontation and hostility and without the ill feeling and hurt that can often follow a court case which, by its very nature, will result in a winner and a loser.
Mediation helps parties to come to an agreement in a neutral setting.
Civil and commercial mediation generally begins with all parties in the same room and, because communication is direct rather than through solicitors’ letters, this encourages understanding and cooperation. Smaller sessions may also be appropriate. Family mediation begins with individual sessions but soon moves on to joint meetings where issues can be explored and solutions identified.
Mediation discourages confrontation and promotes cooperation by focusing on the shared nature of the problem, rather than the entrenched positions into which parties may have settled. This can be absolutely vital if there will be an enduring relationship between the parties after the dispute at hand has been resolved – for example, in family and neighbourhood disputes or those between employee and employer or student and school.
Below are six reasons to choose mediation to resolve your dispute on separation.
Mediation costs a fraction of the amount of a court case. In civil mediation the costs are agreed in advance by all parties and are based on the estimated length of the mediation session and whether facilities are to be provided. These costs are split between the participants, generally half each. Family mediation is a little less predictable, but generally speaking all the issues have been resolved within 5 or 6 sessions, often fewer.
Everyone who is familiar with the courts or reads the newspapers regularly will know that legal cases take an incredible amount of time to come to trial. Mediation is arranged at the mutual convenience of participants and is invariably much quicker.
The wait for a court date is a long one. The courts are extremely busy and it can be months between hearings. Your lives are left on hold pending a further court date. In addition, in a children case, if you need a CAFCASS report http://www.cafcass.gov.uk/ they can take 16+ weeks. Reports from other experts can take as long, if not longer.
4.Court proceedings are stressful. The nature of the process is adversarial. Correspondence is frequent, there is much documentation. Few relish the prospect of being cross-examined by experienced counsel.
Perhaps the final benefit of mediation is its cost in comparison to litigation. Legal action is very expensive and the higher in the legal process the case proceeds, the bigger the bill.
5.Control over the situation
You decide the issues you want to talk about and the priority. You are able to make offers and suggest proposals for agreement which are without prejudice – if the mediation fails, the Judge won’t know the concessions you were prepared to make to reach an agreement in mediation. You can take a break if the mediation gets too much and step out of the meeting. You decide how many meetings you need to have, and when. Ultimately, an agreement reached is one decided by you, with the concessions you are prepared to make.
With Court, the Judge, who doesn’t know you, your children, your ex – decides the future for your family.
6, Less confrontational
The mediation process tends to be less confrontational and less antagonistic than the alternatives. That is the best to resort to solve dipute matters with dignity.
Contact Brav,for further details. We’re here to help you out.
By Dr. Christopher W. Smithmyer
Baitballs are an interesting phenomenon in the animal kingdom. In some areas around the world, when baitfish are distressed they form into what has become known as a “baitball”, which is a grouping of thousands of baitfish swimming in a ball to confuse predators. For a long time, baitballs were seen as an evolutionary collaboration between fish to scare off predators and it was credited as a survival mechanism. However, more and more they are being looked at as a community of individuals. The concept is similar to concept of herds of animals and flocks of birds, when a stressor is introduced to the group the animals increase their chances of survival by banding together into a group. Some argue that this is more because it increases the odds of survival (going from 1:1 ration to a 1:10 or 1:10,000) by increasing the amount of other targets for the stressor. Thus this odd defense to stressors exists throughout the animal kingdom.
Whether you agree with the theory or not, the concept that a person surrounds themselves with allies during a conflict situation has both anecdotal and academic support throughout all of history. When people are challenged by another person or an organization, they tend to look for support. Now there are a plethora of ways in which a person can do this; but in this article we will look at three specific methods:
Each of these patterns has its own distinctive nature and can be mapped within a Cartesian methodology of conflict resolution. Once the pattern is understood, the neutral or arbiter can then proceed in helping the parties understand their ex parte relationship with themselves, and the need for this to be accounted for in the resolution of the conflict. Only when the external stressors (the dispute) and the internal stressors (individual network) have been dealt with can a conflict truly be resolved or managed effectively.
The healthiest flock that a person can develop is a network of their own. The most traditional network would be the nuclear familial unit, followed by the extended familial unit, the tribal/clan unit, the community unit and so forth. These can be traced across successful situations, and many times the fall of civilization can be tracked back to a failing in one of these units. By no means are these the only healthy units, people can form healthy social units around faith, hobbies, work, sports, entertainment or a plethora of other nuclei. The general requirement for these networks to be healthy is that the sense of community is around something positive: mutual protection, enjoyment of a productive activity, learning, ect.
When a stressor is introduced into an individuals life, people who have this type of network tend to turn to their network as a means of support. This means that the stress of the stressor is distributed among more people, similar to the danger to the flock being spread out over more birds. To this end, the person who is the focus of the stressor can then use the resources of the network to deal with the conflict. This can have several manifestations, but most common are the network helps the person deal with the problem, the network turns its attention to chasing off the stressor or even if the network does not chase off the stressor the size of the network may cause the stressor to re-think the situation. Any of these can be an effective way for the individual to gain power or leverage in the conflict with the stressor. To illustrate the network effect we look at three examples of the effect being used at the individual, local and international levels. These examples are:
Each of these problems can demonstrate how individuals, or groups of individuals can use their network to extend the conflict map well beyond the initial disturbance to something much larger as a way to deal with their relation to the stressor.
High school cliques may be one of the simplest networks to see in effect. The complexities generally associated to the high school clique phenomenon are generally generational issues, rather than true complexity. Students associate with students that they related to, which increases their chance of social “survival” in the archaic institution of high school. Students who associate with sports band together because the team mentality allows them to avoid being singled out. Academically inclined students band together so that they are not singled out or targeted. The same can be said for drama students, emo students or any of the other groups that students place themselves into in the modern school system. The common theme is clear, that there is safety in numbers, because even if your group does not increase your strength it can still protect you by giving you the ability to be a face in the crowd when a stressor is around. Further, the group also allows you to deal with stressors by giving you a network to fall back on when times get tough.
Book clubs (garden clubs, jogging clubs ect) serve the same function in adult life. The “rat race” of being an adult in the modern world creates a situation that increases stress on the individual while stigmatizing people who seek help to deal with their stress. Many a psychiatrist has made a healthy living being rental “friend” that a person can talk to when they become stressed. Clubs serve the same function in a more natural means. People can reach out to their friends to discuss a problem, or even to not discuss the problem and just talk. The club becomes a support group that simply focuses on something other than the problems of its members. This allows people to deal with stressors in a healthy way without going through the artificial process of therapy.
Finally, we can see the phenomenon of networking at the highest level when we look at the Israel/Palestine Conflict. Realistically, no one cares. It is a small spec of land in the middle east that has been mined of its resources, holds little strategic value on its own and has been at war for most of human history. However, the people there are another story. More than two thirds of the worlds population care who controls this region because of history of the area. I will make the statement that the reason that Israel/Palestine conflict has not been solved is because all of the negotiations have been between the wrong actors. The Jews and the Palestinians are pawns, expendable bodies that the rest of the world can use fight a proxy war over sites dedicated to peace, all the while keeping their hands clean of the innocent blood that is shed daily. Both the Jews and the Muslims have created networks around the globe, each vying for their version of history to be recognized. These “baitballs” have become larger and larger until they became something more than a group of individuals, they became something with a collective consciousness.
The truth is the Jews and the Palestinians want peace. They are tired of their schools, hospitals and places of worship being bombed. They are tired of the radicals on each side being the ones who are given the money. They want their families to go to work and school with the assumption that they will come home healthy at the end of the day. Billions upon billions of dollars have been spent on the peace process in Israel; however, it has not because the Israelis and the Palestinians do not want peace, but because the networks they created do not want peace. Billions of dollars in industry, national pride, military contracts and faith based donations go into the preservation/destruction of Israel. Corporate and theological empires are built on the concept that Israel needs to last forever or be destroyed. Until these networks are mapped out and their interests can be preserved in another way, there will always be a suicide bomber or a rogue solider that will stop the peace process with an atrocity.
The second type of conflict network is the “enemy of my enemy” network or EME. An EME network is based around the idea that if someone is against someone who we are also against, then we can work together to overcome our common enemy. If we look at any of the popular media in the last 10 years we can see this in effect: the good guys and the bad guys team up in the Fast and The Furious franchise, the plot of every marvel team movie is people who do not like each other working together, or even the comedy Tropic Thunder where four idiots overcome their dislike of each other to deal with a problem. These films highlight the human concept that if someone is against us, that those who are against them are on the same team. We can see the failures in these situations at the local, national and global level.
At the local level, the level where most mediators work, we can see this when local groups get together because they dislike another group. While there are many areas where this is true, the easiest area to see this is in sports. When your team is out of the playoffs you can either be healthy and root for another team, or you can follow the unhealthy route and root against at team you dislike. The old adage around where I grew up is “you can not like the Steelers or not like the Browns, but everyone hates the New England Patriots.” The concept that someone else is enriched because of someone’s failure is a cancer in a society. Yes, you can achieve something by succeeding where another has failed, but it is the success, not the failure, which advances you. However, we see in many areas that watching the other side fail looks easier, thus people relate teaming up to see someone fail as a success, when really it is nothing more than collaborative group failure.
One area where it is quite easy to see the EME network is in America’s current political system. For a case and point I will look to a friend of mine who was the leader of a state party caucus. She took over control of the county party two years ago in a contested election. The person whom she beat was not a bad person, he was just a member of the old guard and not keeping up with the changing times. The party saw monumental progress under her leadership, but some were still incensed by her winning the party chair. Rather than challenge her in an election for the chair, her opponents teamed up with others to have her committeeperson seat taken away from her in a low turnout off cycle election. The lack of a committeeperson seat prohibited her from running for chair again, thus she was removed from office. While her detractors may have had a “win”, what they really ended up with was one of the most vibrant local leaders in the community being removed from office. Truly, the only winners in this situation were the leaders of the other political party.
At an international level, we can see the effect of EME in the relationship between the United States and the USSR. During World War II, Adolph Hitler had an agreement with Stalin that he would not invade Russia. There was also a tacit agreement that he would leave American Ships alone. When Japan bombed Pearl Harbor, Hitler declared war on the United States to go to the aid of his overly ambitious allies. This created an enmity between the United States and the German Reich. Hitler also broke his agreement with Russia, which resulted in the USSR having animosity against Hitler. The EME relationship between the USA and the USSR was born out of mutual hatred for Hitler. This is perhaps one of the best examples of networks where both sides hate each other, they just hate someone else a little more. This EME relationship ended up leading to 40 years of war (cold and proxy) between the United States and the USSR, along with national debts which exceed the amount of money that currently exists in the world. It was a necessary collaboration, but an unhealthy relationship.
The final type of relationship that we are going to discuss herein is the social media network. This is a new type of network (less than 100 years old) that is having major effects on the world stage, specifically elections. While it is too early to determine whether it is healthy or unhealthy, we can see elements of both in its nature. On the side of it being healthy, it allows people to connect with their family and friends at an unprecedented level and also allows people to link up with different groups to which they are affiliated. While this can be effective as a way of networking, the algorithms used by social media sites to “suggest” people for you to connect with can create an echo chamber of viewpoints. This can reinforce information, whether it be true or false. In the era of “Fake News” (sites like yournewswire.com and jewsnews.com) the echoing of dubious stories can be damaging. Time will tell if the networking overcomes the problems of the echo-chamber, but this type of relationship is rising to a level of popularity it took the other relationships thousands of years to reach.
Knowing some of the basic types of relationships, we can now see how the bait ball analogy can be relevant in conflict resolution. Regardless of the type of relationship that a person is in, their relationships create a conflict support network around them. Much like the fish in the baitball, individuals embroiled in the conflict have a position in the conflict relative to the stressor. The relationship defines where the person is on the conflict map, whether their network protects them (like the fish in the middle of the ball) or if it uses them to advance its own interest (using the conflicted person as a shield, like a fish on the outside of the ball) or even if the nature of the network is constantly undulating through social media, the relationships can define the conflict map which the mediator must navigate.
These relationships challenge the outdated first wave theories that the conflict is between the two parties and only the two parties. The dynamic nature of conflict is highly vested in the nature of the human animal. Whether a conflict be between companies, people or even internal, understanding the conflict dynamics, and by association the conflict map, allows the neutral to be more effective in dealing with the problem. Only when we understand this can we break away from the dyadic concepts promoted in the litigation system we still use as a primary system and the AI conflict systems some companies are passing off as conflict management technologies. Unless the conflict is holistically approached, we are but as children solving disputes by throwing rocks.
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