By Kyrstie Lane, Managing Editor, Reflections
Communities play a key role in resolving conflicts. In this field, we can accomplish very little alone, and we are always at our most effective when we unite with those who care about the same issues and devote themselves to the same work. Our ties with fellow conflict resolvers, with those who dedicate themselves to work on the same challenges that we do, are often central to our success. Technology and growing global connections have made our communities much larger and have given us the opportunity to work with those on the other side of the globe; yet there is something irreplaceable about our own physical community, close to home. Each of the articles in this quarter’s Reflections come from scholars, practitioners, and others working in the local community of the Center, and their ideas, experiences, and personal reflections give us a great deal of hope about the impact of our community.
Sonja Koehler, a social change consultant who has worked on diverse projects across the world, asks why humans are drawn to collaborate and what we can gain from people coming together, from all walks of life, to tackle a problem. Through her personal experiences and lessons learned from working in collaborations, she shares how collaborations can be made most effective. Ed Laurance, a professor at the Monterey Institute and an expert in the subject of small arms and light weapons, tells us about the development of his field: how disillusioning the work of the last decades has been, and yet the progress that has been made to pave the way for further advances in this area. Julie Reynolds, a research fellow at CCS and journalist with the Monterey Herald, provides an interesting take on the struggles of prison inmates to explore their identities: what are the deeper implications of profiling prisoners as members of dangerous prison gangs based on what they read and study?
In our quarterly column “Pedagogy of Conflict”, Dr. Pushpa Iyer addresses the frustration often faced by conflict resolvers, especially students, when they discover that they cannot overhaul the system. Change, she says, is small: we cannot aim to change the entire structure, rather, we must focus on changing it piece by piece, over time.
This quarter’s cover photo and story comes from local artist Jim Needham, whose simple yet compelling rock formations have a powerful meaning for peace. Finally, our Picks of the Quarter touch upon the continuing violence and humanitarian crisis in Mali, burgeoning tensions over water along the Mekong River in Southeast Asia, and the New York City police’s new tactic of using social media to prevent gang violence.