In our increasingly polarized society, there are constant calls for compromise, for coming together. For many, these are empty talking points—for Lucy Moore, they are a life’s work. As an environmental mediator, she has spent the past quarter century resolving conflicts that appeared utterly intractable. Here, she shares the most compelling stories of her career, offering insight and inspiration to anyone caught in a seemingly hopeless dispute.
Moore has worked on wide-ranging issues—from radioactive waste storage to loss of traditional grazing lands. More importantly, she has worked with diverse groups and individuals: ranchers, environmental activists, government agencies, corporations, tribal groups, and many more. After decades spent at the negotiating table, she has learned that a case does not turn on facts, legal merit, or moral superiority. It turns on people.
Through ten memorable stories, she shows how issues of culture, personality, history, and power affect negotiations. And she illustrates that equitable solutions depend on a healthy group dynamic. Both the mediator and opposing parties must be honest, vulnerable, open, and respectful. Easier said than done, but Moore proves that subtle shifts can break the logjam and reconcile even the most fiercely warring factions.
This book should be especially appealing to anyone concerned with environmental conflicts; and also to students in environmental studies, political science, and conflict resolution, and to academics and professionals in mediation and conflict resolution fields.
Moore (Into the Canyon: Seven Years in Navajo Country) has spent most of her life trying to get parties who disagree with each other to sit down, talk, and resolve their disputes in a mutually satisfactory way. In this sometimes inspiring, often repetitive book, Moore regales us with tales of her experiences mediating conflicts involving water rights, toxic waste disposal, ranching, reservoir management, and sheepherding. For example, Moore learns early on that the more she allows people to share their stories, the more they recognize why others bring certain issues to the table. As she mediates a conversation between sheepherders and environmentalists in New Mexico in 1990, she counsels the groups to "listen with respect, speak one at a time, avoid personal attacks, and to commit to work in good faith." She shares a few significant principles of conflict resolution that emerge from these meetings: if various parties are not open to change or compromise, it's not likely to happen, no matter how many meetings you have; taking field trips can help individuals bond and understand the issues; each party needs to respect divergent opinions. In this hybrid instruction manual and memoir, Moore offers the perhaps too-simple lesson that we can be better negotiators if we are honest, vulnerable, open, and respectful.