some brooklyn teens’ perceptions of the NYPD.

wordleFolks, we recently had the opportunity to work with Brooklyn Borough President Eric Adams on an initiative to elicit students’ perceptions about the police. Our teammates Marquita and Carrie facilitated in-person and cyber discussions in which 30-some diverse students from four Brooklyn high schools expressed their thoughts, concerns, and hopes about civilian-police relationships.

Above is a word cloud that provides a snapshot of the youth’s input, when asked what word they’d use to describe police. Props to Borough President Adams for putting this event together.

For more info about the event, have a look here:

Very best to all,


happy 2015, people!

just a few scenes from our holiday celebration.nypi holiday party 2014A bunch of New York Peace Instituters wishing you a swell 2015.

three bald stevesWho needs three wise men when you have have THREE BALD STEVES (who are also quite wise.)

naughty niceWho are we to judge?

who wore it best?Who wore it best? THEY BOTH DID!

nothings says wintr holidays like a margheritaMargherita is the new eggnog.

Wishing everyone a joyous, peaceful and safe 2015.


we got your PeaceTalks right here.

Godzilla-vs-Megalon-handshakeFolks, we’re plenty busy helping more than 10,000 people build peace each year, providing crucial skills to organizations such as the NYPD, NASA, and the UN, and generally keeping it real.

As if that weren’t enough, we’re committed to being a place where we can exchange ideas and learn new approaches to peacebuilding. This is what our PeaceTalks are all about.  Just about every month, we have exciting (and free!) 2-hour gatherings, usually in our fabulous Brooklyn Mediation Center, on all kinds of topics.  We’ve done film screenings, book signings, mediator storytelling nights, presentations by prestigious diplomats, spiels on how to market your mediation practice, improv comedy for mediators, and more.

Our PeaceTalks (again — free!) are also opportunities to schmooze and re-connect with peacebuilders of all stripes.

Our next one, which is this Thursday, December 11, 6-8:00pm, is all about the connection between dance, movement, and mediation, by our friend Jill Sarah Moscowitz.  I’m hoping to learn how to incorporate my own personal forbidden dance of love (i.e. the chicken dance) into my practice. RSVP & learn more here for Thursday’s, and follow us on Twitter, LinkedIn, Facebook and our website for upcoming PeaceTalks.



closingHere’s my infographic on how to close a mediation session. Take our awesome bootcamp-meets-bandcamp mediation training and you’ll be able to decode my doodles.

But I’ll happily explain the turkey, and you can use your imaginations on the underwear, astro-goat, blimp and Wonderbread.

When we close a mediation session, regardless of the outcome, it’s important that we give thanks to our clients — for their willingness to speak their minds, have the conversations they need to have, and perhaps engage in courageous acts of reconciliation, forgiveness, and healing.

So, to the thousands of folks out there who take the leap of faith to bring your conflicts to mediation — buckled Pilgrim hats off to you. And big thanks to our mediators, staff, board, supporters, partners, and families, for doing your part to build peace in NYC and beyond.

Happy Thanksgiving all, and enjoy your can-shaped cranberry sauce, be-marshmallowed sweet potatoes, or whatever other delicacies tantalize your palates chez vous.



get to know a new york peace instituter: jeff!

jeffFolks, here’s the next installment in our Get-to-Know-a-New-York-Peace-Instituter series:  Meet Jeff Sybertz, Case Manager Extraordinaire. From time to time I have the pleasure of seeing Jeff in action with our clients, and I’ve learned a lot from him. He truly embodies our values of empathy, creativity, and optimism. Let’s see what he has to say for himself.

So, what do you do around here?

I am a Case Manager working in both Brooklyn and Manhattan. I am responsible for a variety of community mediations. The topics of these mediations include: noise disputes, landlord tenant disputes, parenting issues, issues between youths, and many, many, many more. I am responsible for the life cycle of the case, from determining its appropriateness for mediation, presenting the process to all involved parties, scheduling qualified mediators, debriefing said mediators, to following up with the clients after the mediation.

What was your first paying job?

Snowboard instructor at Okemo Mountain Resort in Ludlow, Vermont. Probably one of the coolest first jobs ever, in my humble opinion.

What animal would you be and why?

I think if I had the choice and if I were to be described as any animal, I would like to think a Beagle. They are loyal, smart, never give up on something once they find the scent, and they never shut the hell up.

What inspires you about your work?

Luckily, I have never been involved in the legal system (knock on wood). However, after dealing with people who have been involved in that system day in and day out, I’ve realized how it can consume nearly every aspect of someone’s life. I’m often speaking with these people on one of the worst days of their lives. What inspires me about this work is that we are the ones who these people will call when their situation seems so grim. They are looking to us for help. It is our responsibility to do whatever we can as mediators to work with these people to resolve their disputes. Also, the fact that people are willing to open up and share the most personal details of their lives to us (who are complete strangers to them) inspires me to be accountable to them and prove to them that putting their trust in me was worth it.

Who would play you in a movie of your life and why?

Survivalist Bear Grylls because he always seems to be able to get out of a sticky situation. We sometimes have to deal with a lot of sticky situations around here and I feel like he would be a natural. Also, I imagine that the movie version of working in a mediation center would be great if it were filmed on the side of a cliff or in white water rapids.

Tell us about a time you felt you really helped make a difference for our clients or mission.

Without breaking confidentiality, we recently had a mediation between two sisters who were trying to work out a number of different family issues surrounding their ailing grandfather and his assets. Both of the sisters were having a really difficult time communicating while they were trying to grieve the loss of their grandfather and tackle the complicated task of dividing up the assets. They were very thankful for the mediation process and the space that we provided because it enabled them to slow things down and figure out how to move forward collaboratively.

If you could have any 3 people, living or dead, for dinner, who would it be? OK, now you can only have 2 — who would you kick out?

New England Patriots Head Coach Bill Belichick, Former US president Bill Clinton, Survivalist Bear Grylls would be a great meal. Sorry, President Clinton, no dessert for you.

 What else should we know about you?

I am a Massachusetts transplant who is extremely proud of his New England roots. When I am not working on making the world a more peaceful place, I am generally outside in the woods of New Jersey or the mountains of Utah.