I’m going to regret the title of this, my year-end thoughts, aren’t I?
My hope though, for what it’s worth, is that how things turn out next year will end up proving just how much of an understatement the title was.
So why all this wacky optimism?First up, I’m just back from a national consultation event in Edinburgh for the pilot we’ve been working on with CALM Scotland and Relationships Scotland, two organisations thought of in past years, perhaps, as being in direct competition. What we have produced together this year is pretty phenomenal, and is now being showcased to the nation’s numerous relevant stakeholders. I’m delighted to note so far that, subject to some tweaking and twirling, the response to what’s being planned has been overwhelmingly positive. My feeling is that if funding is secured, Scotland’s mediators could take what we’ve learned from around the world and begin leading the way in re-imagining how state and community can support families more effectively in a time of crisis, a time of need, without fueling the fires encircling their conflict by laying out for them a path right to the door of court.
Second, mediationinyourpocket.com. My own little venture into cyberspace will take flight pretty soon. The underlying premise is for those in conflict to bypass the civil justice system entirely. That system will still be there for some time, don’t you worry about that, and I’ll be working solidly to improve access to genuine justice within that system for those who’ve been signposted into it. What I aim to provide though, is a simple choice to those in conflict who don’t wish to be signposted towards lawyers and courts and the potential perpetuation of their dispute. On the site, which I hope in time will become an app, anyone in conflict will be able to attempt resolution of their conflict online, either on their own or with some assistance from a mediator who can be more readily accessible than ever before. The technology enabling this development is here, and it’s time to put it to effective use for those most in need. With some exceptions, parties tend to know their own interests, their own aspirations, and I’ve wondered often if the ability to genuinely self-determine their conflict has been hampered a little in mediation where the parties have spent already some time with lawyers, even if court hasn’t played a part yet or the lawyers have been sufficiently trained in exploring alternatives. Like I say, my aim will not be to cease appropriate signposting towards legal protection measures, to services designed to assist families and vulnerable persons, rather it will be to provide another option to parties looking to sort things out on their own terms, swiftly, at a reasonable and more controllable cost, allowing them to move on with their lives having been helped with as minimum an intervention as necessary. So yeah, I’m getting a gang of mediators together for this purpose (if ‘gang’ is the best way to describe such a collaboration!), and if you’re interested let me know. We’ll be meeting behind the bike shed in the playground after class, pass it on!…
Third, having come on board this year as a trustee in Scottish Mediation, I’ve been truly impressed with the intensive work going on to progress mediation in all areas of conflict in Scotland, beginning at governmental level and filtering out from there. I’m sensing that we’re beginning to push these days against more of an open door in awareness and use of mediation within government, and I consider it imperative that this ongoing conversation we’ve been having at higher levels, including at ministerial level, continues, and that it continues down the road towards our schools, our youth services, where peer mediation and conflict resolution skills must be adopted formally in our Curriculum for Excellence and beyond, providing our young people with the tools they’ll need to acknowledge and handle the conflict they’ll undoubtedly experience as their lives develop. Scotland really does have a chance to lead the world here, and Scottish Mediation will continue to have the bit between its teeth in ensuring that development in this area gathers true momentum.
On a personal level I’ll be working on a number of exciting projects in mediation next year. This will include progressing our course on how to mediate online and a mediators’ website development service, revamping CALM Scotland’s training and ongoing reflective practice support for new and existing mediators, continuing to work on my own mediation services, finishing off my second book My Journey In Mediation (which will include some advice on how to build a successful mediation practice and harness future developments in the field), completing my third book on how to talk to your ex after separation, making some serious noise for Voices In The Middle which is starting to kick things off in Scotland for children in separating families, interviewing the great and the good in mediation for #videoCALM and #audioCALM, and whatever else grabs my attention. It might seem like a fair whack to get involved in, but when you’re passionate about something, it never feels like hard work.
That said, I may take a small break occasionally!…
So as a certain Irish comedian in the eighties once said, “there’s more”. Of that I’m sure, and I take a wheen of confidence here by the fact that I’m not a lone voice in the wilderness. The government is looking now at the civil justice system in a serious way, our state bodies are beginning to take note, and there’s a burgeoning movement of individuals and organisations at ground level each playing their part in refusing to accept the status quo.
Scotland has led the way in many fields. It’s largely as a result of the ingenuity that’s surrounded our little country in the developing centuries of global civilisation, that common folks like me can take vicarious credit for oor wee nation having given the world, amongst other things, the steam engine, the pedal bicycle, the telephone, the television, the refrigerator, the flush toilet, the modern lawnmower, the electric clock, penicillin, electromagnetics, radar, insulin, logarithms & the decimal point, the Higgs boson, hypnotism, criminal fingerprinting, ultrasound and MRI scanners, general anesthetic, cloned mammals, curling, cycling, golf, boasting about stuff, and the most significant technical & scientific innovations in shipbuilding, heavy industry, agriculture, medicine and alternative energy that’s shaped the world we now live in and tend to accept without question.
Maybe now’s the time Scotland starts to fire up once more the ingenuity engine in the world of conflict resolution.
So many thanks for reading this, thanks so much to all those I’ve encountered this year and hope to see again, enjoy the break, and I look forward to connecting with you in what’s going to be a spectacular 2017!