Different way to solve problems

  • Bethany Freudenthal/The Garden Island

    Kauai Mayor Bernard Carvalho Jr. recently gave Kauai Economic Opportunity’s court mediators a proclamation in celebration of six members, Felicia Cowden, Anne Walton, Margaret Guiler, Conrad Welti, Antoine Woody and Jonathan Echelberger, who completed their training program recently.

LIHUE — There’s a story that Annaleah Atkinson, co-director of the Kauai Economic Opportunity Inc.’s mediation program, likes to tell.

If two girls come home from school and there’s one orange in the fruit basket, both girls want it. One girl grabs it and the other girl goes, “but I saw it first,” and so the mother comes and does the fair thing, which would be an arbitrator or a judge.

She cuts it in half, gives one girl half and the other girl the other half, but neither one is happy, because one just wanted all the rind to put in a cake and the other one wanted an orange to juice.

If the two girls had talked about their problem, they could have come to a solution that would have made them both happy.

“That’s our goal in mediation, by getting conversation and so relationships tend to stay, or improve,” Atkinson said.

A class of six mediators were recently recognized for completing their coursework in a program run through the state of Hawaii Judiciary. It brings a neutral person, or two people, to work out the problem by asking questions of both parties.

Antoine Woody is one of the new mediators.

“I joined mediation because I was attracted to the opportunity to serve the community and I realized that the biggest conflict between people is not communicating the same way,” he said.

As a neutral party in a conflict, Woody said he is able to see how they communicate and help them translate their communication toward one another to create a middle point.

For about two years, Conrad Welti’s wife has been a mediator and she would bring home interesting stories.

As a mediator, he said you’re involved with a process to help parties involved in a conflict.

“A lot of times good things come out of it,” he said. “I just thought I want to be a part of that. It’s too good to pass up.”

“Sometimes people need help translating what they’re feeling into their needs but we have to work from the level of needs so we find out what the needs are from both sides,” Atkinson said.


Bethany Freudenthal, crime, courts and county reporter, 652-7891, bfreudenthal@thegardenisland.com


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