The closing of the Conflict Resolution Center

In a final issue of its newsletter, the board of the Conflict Resolution Center here in Richmond reports the sad news that it has decided to close the organization down.

Having served on the CRC board in the past and having volunteered as a trained mediator, I came to greatly appreciate the idea that members of a community can resolve our interpersonal conflicts in ways that promote non-violence, justice, reconciliation and a deepening of connection, without resorting to the sometimes scarring machinations of the legal system. The CRC existed to facilitate those experiences, through its mediation program, educational work with local youth, and its rich history of related efforts in the Richmond area and beyond.

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A trip to Ecuador and the Galapagos Islands

Cute pairIn May, Kelly and I took an amazing two and a half week trip to Ecuador and the Galapagos Islands in South America.  We spent a little time in the capital city of Quito, but otherwise we were off enjoying the jungle lodge in the cloud forest of Mindo, exploring the Galapagos on a small boat that was our home for seven nights, enjoying whitewater rafting, volcano-heated hot baths and great food in the mountain town of Banos, and checking out the sprawling and lively markets of Otavalo.

The photos and videos I've posted on Flickr capture some of the experience, and while the trip held too much adventure to describe here in great detail, I'll hit some of the highlights below.  (You can also go back and read individual posts written during the trip.)

Our trip was a nice combination of planned itinerary (primarily, the week-long stay on the boat M/Y Eric to tour around the Galapagos) and "wander around once we get there" mode.  The Lonely Planet Guide to Ecuador and the Galapagos Islands provide indispensable for the whole experience, from helping with food to lodging to cultural experiences and everything in between.  We were also visiting in advance of the heavier tourist season, so we were able to get into most any experience without advance reservation.

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Unhelpful responses to cyberwarfare

State of the art blender powerA number of mainstream magazines and newspapers have recently published reports on the increasing threat of "cyberwarfare," the significant resources being devoted to fighting that "war" and what we're doing to protect the critical national asset that is our digital infrastructure.

Unfortunately, most of the responses (and the ones favored by the Obama administration) are focused on paying insanely large amounts of money to private contractors to create and deploy complex technological solutions in hopes of addressing the threat.

What advocates of this approach fail to appreciate is that (A) most of the actual threat comes from uneducated human operators of the technology in question, and (B) deploying homogeneous, technologically complex solutions often makes us more vulnerable, not less.

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Progress in overcoming a fear of change

San Cristobal sea lionThank you, Larry Parker.

In an article in today's Palladium-Item about changes to Richmond's zoning code that were passed last night, City Councilman Parker is said to have stated that, "he didn't think the council should support something that might put someone out of business."

Parker's words are a manifestation of some of the more regressive and misdirected thinking that too often dominates in Richmond and Wayne County's governmental leadership, but that is rarely verbalized so succinctly.  The statement was a reference to claims by Porter Advertising and their supplier, Productivity Fabricators, that the new sign ordinances included in the zoning code (which place some restrictions on billboard advertising) would put those companies out of business.

Why is this regressive and misdirected, and why is it good that the zoning changes were approved anyway?

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