It’s Time for Flamingos!
Janet M. Powers
May is always an important month for Mediation Services of Adams County. That’s when we launch our flamingo flocks and begin our four-month fund-raising campaign. Now that it’s June, flocks of pink flamingos have already begun turning up in local yards with tags asking for a small donation in return for having the flock removed and sent on to someone else. If you should suddenly find five pink flamingos in your yard, one of them will bear a tag explaining the purpose of their visit.
The message is simple: “YOU HAVE BEEN ‘FLOCKED’ BY MEDIATION SERVICES OF ADAMS COUNTY! For a suggested donation of $15 or more, you may negotiate to have these birds removed from your yard and/or sent to someone else’s yard. Call (flock tender’s number is listed) to make arrangements for payment and removal. We appreciate your contribution to fund creative conflict resolution in Adams County.”
“What is creative conflict resolution?” you ask. It’s also known as alternative dispute resolution or ADR: finding ways to resolve conflicts without fighting, turning to the courts or alienating friends and family. MSAC provides facilitated mediation, using highly trained mediators, to help disputants brainstorm for win-win solutions. It can be used for virtually any type of conflict – family, workplace, contract labor, annoying neighbors, amicable divorce, child care or asset division. Mediation is an inexpensive way to resolve thorny issues and still retain control over the outcome. For people who can’t afford a lawyer, it’s an ideal way to get help.
“So if you charge for mediations, why do you need to raise funds?” you ask. Mediation through MSAC is inexpensive so that those with lower incomes can afford it. Based on a sliding scale, the cost for individuals may range from $0 to $25 per session for each party. Mediations involving agencies, local government or businesses range from $25-$35. Because the expenses of our non-profit organization can’t be met solely by mediation and training fees, we are obligated to raise funds to cover such expenses as telephone bills, anti-bullying materials, web maintenance, and the work of our Outreach Coordinator. If you were flocked previously, you’ll receive a letter offering the opportunity to purchase “flock insurance” to avoid a repeat flamingo visit. Our mail campaign avoids the hands-on surprise of unanticipated lawn ornaments.
One amusing aspect of being flocked is the opportunity to send the pink ones on to someone else. We always suggest that you pick a friend with a sense of humor, as our birds have in the past had some close encounters with garbage trucks and the police. So if the pink creatures should appear in your yard, we hope you will call us rather than taking more drastic measures. MSAC board members will be happy to remove the birds and deliver them elsewhere. We will certainly understand if you do not care to donate, but we do hope that you will enjoy your brief experience with the MSAC flock.
Janet M. Powers is MSAC Presiding Officer and Professor Emerita at Gettysburg College.