Tuesday, July 2, 2019

Thanks for Listening Ep3 – Rebuilding after crisis: Community conversations in Falcon Heights, Minnesota

On July 6, 2016, Philando Castile was shot and killed by a police officer during a traffic stop in Falcon Heights, Minnesota. In the weeks and months that followed, systemic issues that had been present below the surface in Falcon Heights and surrounding cities erupted into the open. The atmosphere was one of rage, pain, resentment, and distrust. In some ways, this was an unlikely setting for constructive dialogue that had any chance of rebuilding the community.

And yet, that is the story that we hear in Episode 3 of Thanks for Listening. We meet John Thompson, Philando’s close friend, who talks about his own activism after the shooting, and what happened when he became involved in a series of facilitated conversations that brought together citizens, activists, city leaders, and police officers. We also hear from Sharon Press, who pulls back the curtain on these conversations and explains how she, and several colleagues, went about the hard work of organizing them in order to create opportunities for healing. Almost three years to the day after Philando was shot, John and Sharon reflect on their personal journeys, their unexpected friendship with one another, and how their communities have changed.



Thanks for Listening is a podcast tracking efforts to bridge the political divide in the U.S. through dialogue and collaborative processes and spotlighting the important and often courageous work of individuals and organizations who are helping citizens engage with one another on challenging topics. Episodes will dive deep into such issues as: managing difficult family dynamics and relationships affected by partisan differences; bridging the divides in Congress, the media, and in our social media spaces; training youth to move through conflict and toward civic responsibility; embracing dialogue in the face of extremism; engaging with others on highly emotional issues; and on working to restore divided communities. We hope that through the everyday examples of ordinary and extraordinary people all over the country, listeners will find optimism that we can—and are—moving beyond partisan divides, as well as inspiration to become part of the solution. This podcast is made possible with a grant from the American Arbitration Association International Centre for Dispute Resolution Foundation.



Sara del Nido Budish





Sara del Nido Budish        Neil McGaraghan                 Kate Ellis
Host                                     Host                                        Producer



Fight for Justice LLC  was founded by John Thompson with the vision of educating and inspiring people to end racial injustice.

Community Conversation – A Case Study

Evaluation of the Falcon Heights Community Conversations Process



A picture of John ThompsonJohn Thompson is a community activist and inspirational speaker living and working in the Twin Cities in Minnesota. John has spoken at numerous public and civic events since the death of Philando Castile—from protests and demonstrations to City Council meetings to the Minnesota State Legislature.  John advocated for the removal of police officers from the Police-Civilian Internal Affairs Review Commission in St. Paul, an initiative that was approved by the City Council in December 2016. John has worked tirelessly with numerous activist and social justice groups to build trust and better communications between the police and communities towards safer and more fair communities.


Picture of Sharon Press

Sharon Press is Director of the Dispute Resolution Institute and Professor of Law at the Mitchell Hamline School of Law in St. Paul, MN. Additionally, Sharon directs the Jerusalem Study Abroad Program: Conflict Resolution from Religious Traditions, coaches the Mediation Representation Teams, and serves as the academic advisor to the students who are completing a Certificate in Conflict Resolution Theory and Practice. Press currently serves as Co-President of Community Mediation Minnesota, is a board member for Community Mediation and Restorative Services, and the Institute for the Study of Conflict Transformation.  She also mediates regularly in Conciliation and Housing Courts.

Press is the recipient of numerous professional awards, including the Mary Parker Follett Award for Excellence and Innovation in Dispute Resolution presented by the Association for Conflict Resolution, and the CPR Institute for Dispute Resolution’s Special Award for Distinguished Contributions to the Field and Future of Dispute Resolution. Prior to joining Mitchell Hamline Law, Press served as director of the Florida Dispute Resolution Center where she was responsible for the ADR programs for the Florida state court system. She received her B.A. from The George Washington University School of Public and International Affairs and her J.D. from The George Washington University National Law Center.

Press worked with Mariah Levison and the Minnesota Office of Collaboration and Dispute Resolution and Professor Kathy Quick from University of Minnesota Humphrey School of Public Affairs to organize the community conversations in Falcon Heights discussed in this episode. As with this podcast, those conversations were made possible with a grant from the American Arbitration Association International Centre for Dispute Resolution Foundation.

Transcript (to come)