Unfortunately, I was not able to attend the ODR Forum in the Hague this year, but I am on the agenda on Tuesday, May 24, via video. My very brief remarks introduce a project that is underway with students in the graduate dispute resolution program at Southern Methodist University to annotate the ABA/AAA/ACR Model Rules for Mediators. Click on the link above for the 4 minute intro to the project.
The Spring 2016 edition of the ABA Litigation Journal (Vol. 42, No. 3) contains an article by Jeff Aresty, Robin West, and me – pp. 41-45. The article is entitled, “Building the Justice Layer of the Internet,” and is a critique of the legal profession and a call to be involved now in the development of an Internet justice layer that delivers “justice” in a way that the traditional justice system does not. Our argument for immediate attention to the justice layer of the Internet can be distilled to a reasonably simple point: For poor people “. . . access to justice remains illusory . . . “, but “. . . this wouldn’t be the case if access did not depend on systems created in a barely post-Medieval world.”
Later this year, Taylor & Frances/Routledge publishers will release The Handbook of Mediation: Theory, Research and Practice, in which Alan Tidwell and I have a chapter related to the impact of information and communication technology on mediation and other forms of conflict engagement.
The upcoming edition of the ABA Litigation Journal, due out late this month, will include and article entitled, “The Justice System and the New Social Operating System,” co-authored by Jeff Aresty, Robin West, and me.
Julia and I spent part of the afternoon experiencing a most unusual and unsettling art installation at the National Building Museum in Washington. The installation is entitled Gardens Speak and is the work of Tania El Khoury. The installation in Washington was produced by Laila Abdul-Hadi Jadallah. From Washington, Gardens Speak goes on to Cairo, Beirut, and Amsterdam, and, I hope, many other locations. An extensive article on the artist and the work can be found in The Guardian.
The installation program guide describes the piece this way:
“Gardens Speak is an interactive sound installation based on the oral histories of ten ordinary people who were buried in gardens across Syria. Each narrative has been carefully constructed with the friends and family members of the deceased to retell their stories as they themselves may have recounted it. They are compiled with audio and video traces of their final moments.”
I will honor the artist’s desire for the work to be experienced without prior description, but I will say that the essence of the experience puts one on and in the ground with the dead to hear their stories, relating their (permanent) and our (temporary) relationship with the earth of the garden in which they lie.
A young woman spoke to me from the grave. She spoke of her family garden where she drank tea in the afternoon. She spoke of wanting to protest the Assad regime. She spoke of her mother, father, brother, and husband forcing her to stay away from the protests to protect her and the fetus she was carrying. At prayer, in the safety of her home, a shell burst through the roof of her parents home, killing her and her unborn child.
Coming out of the experience, we sat and talked about everything but the installation with a group who had gone through with us (a maximum of ten can go through at one time). Later, at dinner in one of our favorite restaurants, having had a little space to think, Julia and I talked of the experience. I had to excuse myself to find a private place to wipe the tears from my eyes. Even those who truly care about the horrors that make up the everyday lives of millions who are caught in war and tyranny can become numb and insensitive to suffering. Sometimes, it takes an experience like Gardens Speak to pull one back from the intellectual appreciation of peacebuilding to the visceral feelings that a lack of peace may generate.
The last step of the installation was an invitation for each visitor to write something to bury in the soil, possibly to be sent to the family of the victim who spoke directly. I wrote the first rough draft of a short poem.
On Thursday, April 7, from 11:00 a.m. until 121:15 p.m., I will be part of a panel: “No Longer an Experiment: The Evolution of Federal ADR.” My fellow panelists will be:
I will discuss the integration of ADR into all of the National Mediation Board’s work, and “cutting edge” uses of ADR and technology.
The full schedule can be found on the Conference Web Site.
Building Better Teams: 70 Tools and Techniques for Strengthening Performance Within and Across Teams, a book edited by Robert and Charlotte Barner, is now available in Chinese. Bob is a colleague from SMU, and I have a short entry on working with technology in the book. In Chinese, the title is: 构建高效团队的70种工具和方法
Personally and through the InternetBar.Org (IBO), I have been supporting projects under the banner of Tech For Justice that focus on access to justice for under-served or excluded populations. The first of the hack-a-thons was held in Austin, Texas, and focused on reporting in the area of child custody and parenting orders for low income families. More recently, a hack-a-thon was held in Albuquerque, New Mexico, that focused on issues related to domestic violence. The platform developed there, Buoy, is available to any legal aid organization in the U.S., and can be offered to any individual who wants to download the app to a mobile phone. Here are links to a brochure about Buoy: Outside Inside
As we move forward, there will be a hack-a-thon in Little Rock, Arkansas, early in 2016, and a demonstration hack-a-thon at the ABA Tech Conference in Chicago.
On Thursday, Nov. 12, I will conduct a Webinar for participants in Lagos, Nigeria, on the topic of ODR and the law. The event will be co-sponsored by The Center for Innovative Justice and Technology, the Nigeria Bar Association, the ODR Africa Network, E-consumersolve.com, and Holistic Solutions, Inc.