One of the first steps in mediating a dispute is agreeing on the problem, says lawyer Ed Greenebaum, professor emeritus of law at Indiana University (IU). Only then can an attempt be made to find a solution.
The Martha’s Vineyard Mediation Program (MVMP) will draw on Mr. Greenebaum’s expertise and insights on dispute resolution as part of a four-day course in mediation the group will host in March.
MVMP is a 29-year-old program of volunteers who assist in resolving community disputes that include contractor-homeowner disagreement and divorces. Becca Rogers, MVMP program coordinator, said that the majority of the group’s work occurs in the context of Edgartown District Court small claims hearings.
Following a four-year lapse in funding due to State budgetary cuts, the group recently received a $28,400 grant, one of only 15 recipients state-wide. The grant enabled MVMP to hire Ms. Rogers as a part-time coordinator. She is working to increase the group’s visibility and services. “The grant will enable us to be more aggressive with our programs and outreach,” she said.
The training course in basic mediation skills is open to anyone who would like to become a better problem solver, Ms. Rogers said. Businessmen, teachers, community leaders, medical professionals as well as people interested in giving back to the community have benefited from the course in the past.
Mr. Greenebaum, a resident of Menemsha, will partner with Liza Williamson, Clerk Magistrate for the Edgartown District Court, and Margot Parrot, retired elder law attorney and current adjunct professor of law at Western New England School of Law.
Mr. Greenebaum said that just because a disputed issue is recognized by the two parties and an agreement is reached it doesn’t mean the problem is always solved. “The offending party still may not have the means to pay, but hopefully they learned how they got there and can avoid similar situations in the future,” he said.
Mr. Greenebaum has taught courses in civil procedure, professional responsibility, alternative dispute resolution, and mediation, as well as clinical courses exploring the social psychology of professional work while at IU.
The training course, which meets the State’s minimum required 32 hours for court mediation, will take place on March 2, 3, 9 and 10 from 8:30 am to 5 pm. The course fee is $400 and covers all course materials, lunch and snacks for the four days. Scholarships are available. The enrollment deadline was February 15, but late applicants will be considered. Interested parties should email the office at firstname.lastname@example.org or call 508-693-2999.