Thursday, 19 July 2007

Oh to be in Kalamazoo!

Oh to be in Kalamazoo. Why? Well to have an address like that would be enough. Just saying the word is beautiful. It bounces off the tongue. Even typing it has its own unique rhythm. Try it for yourself.


But look at what insight into Kalamazoo life my Google alerts gave me this morning.

Not only have they got Richard's Magic Accordian Show scheduled for 7pm TONIGHT but they have a mediation drop in service at the Kalamazoo library. Now that is the first time I have seen one of those.

Count me as interested. Does anyone have experience of mediation drop in surgeries? I know that in my legal profession, especially in family law, that the free first half hour is prevalent, although it is not something I offer. If you put on a half hour free session then your client is going to be time wary. If they are watching the watch then they aren't able to relax into their story and I am only going to get the most cursory explanation of where their relationship has got to. At the very time that I need to understand them and develop trust and rapport, I restrict the likelihood of doing so because of time pressure.

I offer a fixed fee at a nominal charge but the meeting can take as long as it takes - normally around 90 minutes. You can see the client talk themselves through their initial anxiety, and time concerns, and there comes a stage where they visibly relax. There is a realisation that they can take their time and hopefully ensure that they are fully heard.

That in turn helps me to advise in a way that I hope might be more in keeping with their values and in response to what they have told me their position is.

How, I wonder, can the Kalamazoo mediation surgery settle the participants and get to an adequate level of communication working in the time available? If it works then it could be expanded upon. Imagine, you could have conflict kiosks everywhere. If people cannot agree on something they just pop into their neighbourhood Conflict Corner, settle into their booths, mediate, settle and move on with their day.

On closer examination I learn that Kalamazoo has its own website.

Here it proudly proclaims its status as a "Cool city" - which seems to be trying a bit too hard. Of much more interest though is the story of the Kalamazoo Promise which is a much more interesting matter altogether and something I'm going to have to look into. Real altruism. Real vision. A much more interesting story indeed.

Good morning Kalamazoo! We love you!

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