Flamingos Take Wing with Workshop in Offing

by Janet M. Powers

It’s September, and that means that Adams County residents can breathe a sigh of relief until next May. Those pesky flamingos are going south for the winter and will make their final appearance at the Adams County Heritage Festival on Sunday, September 18 at the Gettysburg Recreation Park. Look for them at the Mediation Services booth from noon until 5 PM and wish them a warm winter respite!

We would like to express our appreciation to all who responded gracefully when flocked. It’s sometimes a shock to wake up and see a group of pink plastic birds grouped in your yard, and even more of a surprise to read on the tag that for a small contribution, the birds will be removed and sent on to another landing site. We are grateful to those who not only contributed but suggested new flocking locations. We apologize to those who found the birds intrusive and chose not to help us.

Because we are a small organization, comprised entirely of volunteers, we have neither the staff nor the wherewithal to mount an extensive fund-raising campaign. Yet raising funds is essential to our mission if we are to prove our ability to make mediation services and training available affordable to individuals and organizations in our community. In addition, many funders insist that their grants be matched by money raised by the non-profit itself. With these parameters in mind, we settled on flamingos.

As the flamingos fly away for 2011, MSAC has a new joint project in the offing.

As a result of our last Conflict Resolution training, MSAC acquired a new training partner, the Penn State Extension office and their Community Development program. Together, we will offer a special workshop geared for non-profit organizations, community agencies, and local governments trying to manage conflict and controversy.

The morning session of this day-long workshop, Facilitating Difficult Issues, is scheduled for Friday, October 14 from 8:30 PM to noon. The afternoon session, which includes lunch, concludes at 4 PM and will offer hands-on practice in collaboration skills, idea generation, and decision-making options. The cost is $40 for the morning only and $55 for the full-day option with lunch. Participants will learn how to plan for challenging discussion s and situations, and how to manage difficult individuals and groups.

When difficult decisions have to be made, we sometimes feel at a loss about how to proceed. How do we talk about sensitive issues? How do we prepare for something we know will create controversy? How can we best bring everyone on board, and how do we involve a large group of people in decision-making?

Learning how to encourage collaboration, stimulate a group to generate ideas, and arrive at effective decisions are all skills needed for any organization, church, or government group to function smoothly on an ongoing basis. If you are interested in participating in this upcoming workshop, call Judy Chambers, Penn State Extension Office, at 334-6271, ext. 313.

Janet M. Powers is Presiding Officer of Mediation Services of Adams County and Professor Emerita at Gettysburg College