Earlier this month, the Connecticut Bar Association’s Alternative Dispute Resolution (ADR) Section enjoyed a presentation by Charlie Pillsbury and Brenda Cavanaugh about their role in the mediation of a dispute over Tweed New Haven Regional Airport. Brenda remains Associate Director at Community Mediation, Inc., of New Haven, CT. Charlie was Executive Director of Community Mediation, Inc. at the time of the mediation and is now Executive Director of Mediators Beyond Borders.
In their mediation, they worked with the mayors of New Haven and East Haven, John DeStefano, Jr., and April Capone Almon, respectively. As a public policy dispute, the contours of the mediation process were different from those more commonly seen in a strictly private dispute.
But one observation made by Brenda and Charlie touched on a common theme: the “aha” moments of mediation. Frequently, the participants in a mediation, who have until now been parties to a dispute and little more than that, will start to see things from a new perspective. When they start to look at the situation from another point of view — sometimes the one completely contrary to their own — they start to understand how the other party is thinking. Not necessarily agreeing — but at least starting to understand. And that can be an “aha” moment.