Loving Across the Political Divide

An interview with Sheila Heen, co-author of Difficult Conversations:  How to Discuss What Matters Most  and member of the Harvard Negotiation Project; about how she manages difficult conversations in her own marriage.  Sheila and her husband are on opposite sides of the political spectrum and [Read more…]

Restraints in Mental Hospitals

An interview with Bob Stains of the Public Conversations Project about the use of restraints on patients in mental hospitals.  He discusses facilitating a series of conversations in which both the workers who apply restraints and the people to whom restraints have been applied are able to talk about their experiences [Read more…]

Talking to the Enemy

An interview with Laura Chasin, the founder of the Public Conversations Project, about her work facilitating a dialogue between leaders of the pro-life and pro-choice movements in Boston after the abortion clinic shootings in 1994.  [Read more…]

Fostering Difficult Conversations

An interview with Tim Wilson, a senior advisor to Seeds of Peace; bringing youth from war-torn countries together for dialogue each summer in Maine.  Tim describes the way that trust, respect and communication are practiced at camp to build relationships that can foster peace throughout a lifetime.  He tells the story of how an apology between a Palestinian and an Israeli boy helped build trust that effected relationships throughout the camp.  He described the destructive pattern of kids competing to prove that their side had suffered more as a way to gain advantage. We spoke about his own formative experience losing a family member to the Klu Klux Klan, and how his parents had helped him overcome bitterness and hatred. 

Somali Women’s Roles in Maine

An interview with Fatuma Hussein, the director of the United Somali Women of Maine.  Fatuma describes the pervasive atmosphere of fear in the refugee camps where she lived for two years after leaving the civil war in Somalia.   She spoke about the challenge of meeting the United States resettlement categories of family, when extended families are the norm in Somalia.  She reported that the role of women in Somali culture has been changed dramatically by the war, life in the camps and the challenges of resettling in an entirely new culture.  While, when she was little, the birth of a girl child was not celebrated, now, as Somali women have shown themselves to be the bedrock of their families through extraordinary upheaval, she feels that the status of women is improving.   She said that Somali women on the whole do not see the hijab (head scarf) as a form of oppression (as many western women assume), but as a symbol of connection to a culture that they value highly.  She also made the distinction between Islam which she feels tends to value women’s authority and rights, more than Somali culture itself.  Ultimately she affirmed the courage of the Somali women who have come to this country with absolutely nothing and have found ways to protect and support their families in the face of overwhelming newness.  She invites us to see Somali women through this lens.