Do creativity and justice go together? We believe that our Creator is the very author of justice. Bill Johnson writes of the War of Art and says “those committed to skilful wisdom (artistic expression) will dismantle strongholds of abusive power”.
I blog in peace.
Just a little family news this week. Our new facebook page is up and it would be amazing if you would go around there and like it. Even better, share it! The link is https://www.facebook.com/?ref=tn_tnmn#!/AdrNetworkSouthAfrica?fref=ts
Also it would be equally amazing if you would follow me on twitter @sheena_ostjon. Our digital marketing guy, Sean, is currently doing his thing, getting everything linked and has acquired some cool plug-ins which are set to help us expand our social networking presence. He travels all over the world going to digital marketing conferences, so we really like him. Go Sean!
Sean has also just established the ADR Network SA You Tube channel. Now this is really exciting. Enter, the War of Art. We declare war on injustice and adversarial processes that perpetuate injustice. Here is how:
This week we shot our first video around the theme of Access to Justice under the creative direction of the brilliant Andrew McGibbon of DreamCo. In this video we feature the founder of OUTA which is pursuing the e-tolling matter. Our view is this: justice proceeds from the fullness of the narrative, the story. It would be a travesty of justice if the narrative, the story, the voice of society were to be muted or shut down due to lack of funds. Justice must never proceed along the lines of the resourced. The video also features yours truly and a cross section of society. We will release it next Wednesday at 9am. Your job is to share it on all your social pages. Please! This is the biggest privately funded court case in the history of South Africa and will initiate some vital conversations around public consultation and dialogue processes, so please be sure to tune in. We will send you another reminder as well as a link to the video when we release it.
We are releasing similar videos relating to a number of other high profile matters.
In this series we raise the profile of the value we place on the narrative, the story and the fact that mediation is ultimately the best and safest place to for the narrative to proceed most authentically, free of the tactical games playing and artificial rules of evidence in the adversarial system.
Look out for our half-day seminars running all over SA. We have our first one on 13 March in Durban. If you are unable to complete a full program in mediation, attending a half-day seminar will cause the beginnings of a paradigm shift and you can start applying reconciliatory, restorative processes inspired by mediation, in your day to day lives both professionally and personally.
There will soon come a tipping point and alternative dispute resolution will way more heavily in justice than the adversarial system does. It is going to happen and you can be a part of this sooner rather than later.
For information on our half-day, seminars, programs or mediation and arbitration processes please email us on email@example.com
We continue to war, but we war in peace. With joy, love, hope and a sound mind. And creative genius.
Victory is certain. No retreat, no surrender!
As always, peace.
Ps. Please log in and leave your comment below. We would love to hear from you and share your thoughts with others
Just because it is a system, and it has existed and been applied for centuries, does not mean it should not be taken on, and even taken down
I blog in peace. Since my return from our program in Johannesburg last week, I have not touched sides. 1 March we move offices and will be beefing up our administrative infrastructure, so much is going on and we are certainly upping our ante in our contention for peace and justice for all, and for justice to look more reconciliatory and restorative than it does now.
Our view is this: to justify or to make just or to do justice has to do with restoring the template, setting things right, returning people to something of the position they would have occupied had the act of injustice not taken place.
Let’s have a look at a case in point based on an actual case I am dealing with but let’s reconstruct it fictitiously just to check it out:
2010 a contractor is awarded a tender to build 1000 low cost houses. In turn he hires a sub-contractor to build the first phase of 160 units. The sub-contractor secures credit lines with suppliers and hires a team of 100 labourers to start the mandate which includes displacing 150 families (with an average of 3 members per family) to tented camps. The families are told that this temporary arrangement will endure for 8 weeks. According to the development plan, the subcontractor submits his first invoice totalling R 7,9 million. The contractor also submits his invoice to the client. Out of the contractors first invoice, over R 6 million is due, owing and payable to suppliers and labourers. The client fails to pay the contractor. Payment is delayed for over two years on the basis that the client is auditing the process in terms of which the tender was awarded.
In the meantime the subcontractor who has been in business for over twenty years, and has enjoyed much favour on the back of a good reputation, has to retrench over 100 labourers, and has to ward of law suits from suppliers threatening to liquidate him. If one unpacked things further, one would uncover a domino effect of suppliers in turn having to ward off insolvency suits. 100 labourers out of jobs? That effects how many people? Exactly. Not to mention the number of businesses that have faced closure as a result of the financial strain rippling outward.
So what happens? The suppliers sue the subcontractor, the subcontractor sues the contractor, who in turn sues the client. The client is auditing the process and so things can be delayed ad infinitem. This kind of court action could last anywhere from 3 to 10 years.
In the meantime, over 150 families with a hope of actual housing have their hope deferred for over two years and continue to live, scattered over a 20km radius in informal housing, without access to running water or electricity, exposed to disease, the elements and to crime.
So what is the alternative? We initiate a dialogue with the client. We honour their investigations into impropriety and corruption, but we say, let’s apply reason. Let’s look at value created and where it has come from. Let’s pay those who have created value and restore the families to some semblance of dignity. Let’s talk this through. The way things are is not the way things have to be. Let’s do this thing together.
We are imbued with the creative genius of the most High. Let’s look at how we do justice. The competitive way of doing justice does not work. Justice is about restoring everyone to the position they would have held had the injustice not taken place. That is very difficult to do if it is competitive and adversarial. Reconciliatory practices like mediation are the best spaces to maximize truth and accountability. As a society we need to do this. We need to own this.
I totally see something better, and it is going to happen. Keep following for the outcome on this specific case and others.
To be a part of our journey, leave a comment below or send an email to firstname.lastname@example.org
To be part of our programs in mediation, please email email@example.com
Please follow me on twitter @sheena_ostjon
Also please go like our new facebook page. Like it and share it. We will be releasing amazing video clips soon around some of the work we are doing in access to justice and mediation. Prepare to be captivated! The page link is https://www.facebook.com/#!/AdrNetworkSouthAfrica Go like it!
Until next time, peace.
Where there is pain
Let there be grace
Where there is suffering
For those afraid
Let us be brave
Where there is misery
Let us bring them relief
And surely we can change
I blog in peace. And I blog at the ungodly hour of 12:55am on this Thursday morning. I am not a serial insomniac-far from it. But on the odd occasion that I do wake up in the middle of the night, I go hunting for cake and then it occurs to me that I am a wannabe future paralympic swimmer and so I settle for tea, and I write.
My kids tell me I am weird. So I tell them you get weird-weird and you get cool-weird. And that’s me, cool-weird! “Sheena” has 6 letters and “coolll” has six letters. Co-incidence? I think not.
Anyway, I digress. I am in Johannesburg where we have been running our ADR Program in Mediation and Arbitration. We have an amazing group all of whom I feel honoured to have got to know. I did take Monday afternoon and Tuesday off though, but the group were left in the hands of the dynamic Adam Bright who runs the first two days anyway. With the first few role plays happening on Wednesday afternoon, I was so inspired to see the fruits of Adam’s labour outworking as excellent skills in mediation.
This morning we chatted around justice. For many of us the concept of justice encapsulates a reckoning, a righting of past wrongs, a getting of what one deserves.
Brian McClaren defines justice as “the right use of power” and injustice as “the abuse of power” and he goes on to say that justice has to do with the “right use of power in our relationships with others”.
The Old Testament concept of justice is that the primary responsibility of the power-holders is to mediate God’s justice-to make sure the weak are protected from the strong, that no one is the victim of oppression, and that all have access to the goods of the land needed to sustain life.
The way I see it, if you are a living, breathing, human being, you are to be a conduit of justice. That’s it. Full stop. We all have a role to play.
But as mediators, our role is more direct. We are to be bringers of justice.
What do you mean, Sheena? I hear you say. We don’t pass judgment, we don’t mete out punishment.
To which I respond. Exactly! But we create safe places for individuals to engage in conflict. We nurture authenticity by helping to shut down fear and in so doing free up each party’s narrative. It is in the narrative that the truth is to be found. It is the story that gives birth ultimately to the solution. We shut down fear, we free up the story. We help to restore the template by firstly bringing the parties in conflict back to a position of honour. Just because there is honour, does not mean there is no confrontation. On the contrary! Where honour is restored, confrontation can and does take place. But it is safe. Hearts are protected. And that makes all the difference.
We are to be bringers of justice. We are to be bringers of peace.
And surely we can change
Until next time, peace!
Ps. We will soon be running a series of mini-breakfast seminars (that’s a mini seminar with a maxi breakfast!) around various themes in dispute resolution. Our first series will be around Access to Justice and the Role of Mediation. Our guest speaker will be Wayne Duvenage, founder of OUTA which has taken the e-tolling matter to court. Without commenting on the merits of the matter either way, our view is that no narrative should be muted simply due to lack of funds. If you are keen to attend one of these breakfasts either in Durban, Johannesburg or Cape Town, please send me an email at firstname.lastname@example.org. We will also host other speakers around the theme of access to justice and active citizenry, like Huntley Fyvie of SMSNayber.