Conflict Resolution

Verner Smitheram from the Centre for Conflict Resolution Studies at the University of PEI was kind enough to conduct a couple of sessions with the directors of the L.M. Montgomery Land Trust over the past month.

We’re a well-tempered lot at the Land Trust, so we didn’t need the sort of full-court press conflict resolution that Verner and his team can provide. But we needed to do some long term planning, and we had a vague sense that our skills at holding meetings weren’t all they could be.

Now I’m the first personal to be a cynic about “methods” of anything — I usually prefer improvisation and anarchy if it’s an option — but I must say that Verner’s method, called “the interest-based approach to conflict resolution” has much to recommend it.

Our meetings were short, and we got a sort of “introduction lite” to the method, but we got a good taste for how it works nonetheless, and we had a much better couple of meetings than we would have otherwise.

If you’re in a situation where you’re on one side of a conflict that needs resolving, or if you just need a better way to work together as a group, and you think a disciplined approach led by a disinterested third party might help, I can think of no better group to call than Verner’s. Their website has complete details about their services and courses.

Me and my American Cousins

Here’s what my Outlook Today page tells me is coming up on my calendar for Monday:

I would make some sarcastic remark, or draw out a broad pun, but that would simply be too obvious; I’ll leave each reader to do this on their own.

Marg Meikle in Pyjamas

You may remember Mark Meikle from her stint on Vicki Gabreau’s afternoon CBC radio show as “The Answer Lady.” She played a similar role, specific to the Internet, on Arthur Black’s Saturday morning show too, and it’s in this capacity that I came to know her.

While the exact circumstances are murky in my mind, I seem to recall that one Saturday morning she read a question from a listener in the Northwest Territories who couldn’t find a way of connecting to the Internet (this was the early 1990s, and Internet access was hard to come by everywhere). For some reason, I had information that I thought might help, so I emailed it off to Marg. To my surprise she wrote back, and I wrote back offering Internet help if she ever needed it. I received perhaps a dozen enquiries from Marg, or directly from her listeners over the next six months. It was lots of fun.

When it came time for us to move to Prince Edward Island, I sent Marg off a note telling her about the move, and she wrote me back telling me to be sure to look up her friend and CBC colleague Ann Thurlow. And so, of course, we moved to PEI and promptly forgot all about this.

Fast-forward six months and I’m sitting in my office at the PEI Crafts Council and there’s a woman from the CBC interviewing my colleague Charlotte about something to do with the crafts industry. When she signs off the piece, she says “Ann Thurlow, CBC News, Charlottetown.” So I turn around and say “Hey, you’re Ann Thurlow.”

And we’ve been friends ever since.

As it turns out we shared more in common than just Marg Meikle — we both went to Trent University (Ann more successfully than I), and as a result know a lot of people and places in common.

And so this is how I come to know of a website where one can see Marg Meikle in her pyjamas. I recommend you visit; it’s a great, simple site with a good purpose.

While you’re at it, if you happen to live in Vancouver and have a dog, I can also recommend Marg’s book Dog City: Vancouver : The Definitive Guide for Dog Owners in Vancouver and the Lower Mainland. We gave it to my brother John, his fiancee Jodi, and their dog Ginger and I believe it’s stood them in good stead.