Category Archives: Books

New book: “Jacked Up and Unjust: Pacific Islander Teens Confront Violent Legacies” by Katherine Irwin and Karen Umemoto

From University of California Press: “In the context of two hundred years of American colonial control in the Pacific, Katherine Irwin and Karen Umemoto shed light on the experiences of today’s inner city and rural girls and boys in Hawai‘i who face racism, sexism, poverty, and political neglect. Basing their book on nine years of ethnographic research, the authors highlight how legacies of injustice endure, prompting teens to fight for dignity and the chance to thrive in America, a nation that the youth describe as inherently ‘jacked up’—rigged—and ‘unjust.’ While the story begins with the youth battling multiple contingencies, it ends on a hopeful note with many of the teens overcoming numerous hardships, often with the guidance of steadfast, caring adults.”

Katherine Irwin is Professor of Sociology at the University of Hawai‘i, Manoa. She is the coauthor with Meda Chesney-Lind of Beyond Bad Girls: Gender, Violence, and Hype.

Karen Umemoto is Professor of Urban and Regional Planning at the University of Hawai‘i, Manoa. She is the author of The Truce: Lessons from an L.A. Gang War.

Thomas DiGrazia’s New Book – Light On Peacemaking: Appropriate Dispute Resolution and Mediating Family Conflict


ACR Hawaii member Thomas DiGrazia’s new book Light On Peacemaking: Appropriate Dispute Resolution and Mediating Family Conflict has just been published, and is now available on and directly from the publisher Business Expert Press


Many books have been written about the practice of peacemaking, and few, if any, deal with the non-violent, spiritual side of this ancient science, discipline, practice and art form. This book will speak to that lack and explore the spiritual, non-violent element in peacemaking as it applies to mediating family law disputes. Universities will find the book helpful as a textbook in their peacemaking and mediation degree and certificate programs, most particularly, in those courses that stress a pragmatic, spiritual, eclectic and educated approach to non-adversarial, peaceful conflict resolution.

The book is intended for the professional peacemaker, mediator, lawyer, law student, conciliator, and dispute neutral. Everyday people who wish to improve their own communication skills and strengthen their primary relationships will profit greatly from this book. These individuals, particularly those in the family law field, will find much benefit from the peacemaking processes, and family counseling psychology. Mental health family practitioners, who are often called upon to act as default, if not formal mediators and neutrals, will find useful the mediation and peacemaking experiences, techniques and literature related here. Light On Peacemaking also offers the Yoga practitioner a very practical avenue, through example in the legal field, for engaging in seva or service to humanity.

The Faith of Leadership: Insights from Hawai’i’s Leaders – New Book by Robbie Alm


As a well-respected executive at some of Hawai‘i’s top companies, Robbie Alm has had plenty of opportunity to observe and document the best practices of great leaders. From the story of the “Live Aloha” program—which he helped launch—to instructive anecdotes of humility and integrity in business, he now shares in The Faith of Leadership: Insights from Hawai‘i’s Leaders eight keys to great leadership:

  • Listening
  • Humility
  • Working with resistance to change
  • Remembering whose change we are talking about
  • Walking the talk and integrity
  • Making certain we always hear independent voices
  • Understanding how others see the world
  • The faith that underlies leadership

Robbie Alm is currently president of the Collaborative Leaders Network, an initiative devoted to encouraging productive community dialog and decision-making.

The Conflict Pivot – Book Review by Lorraine Segal

Lorraine Segal recently published Lorraine Segal’s review of “The Conflict Pivot”, a new book written by Dr. Tammy Lenski. Segal describes it as “one of the best and most accessible books I’ve read in my years as a conflict resolution professional”.

To learn more click here

Lorraine Segal, M.A., has her own Sonoma County conflict & forgiveness coaching, mediation, and training business, Conflict Remedy, based in Santa Rosa, California. She also teaches in Sonoma State University’s Conflict Resolution certificate program and leads communication skills workshops and webinars on forgiveness, co-parenting skills, and communication. She specializes in transforming communication for divorced parents.

19 Books Recommended by ACR Hawaii and Matsunaga Institute for Peace in Honor of Conflict Resolution Day

books (150 x 132)For the past three years the Association for Conflict Resolution Hawaii Chapter and the Matsunaga Institute for Peace and Conflict Resolution have partnered to display books in honor of Conflict Resolution Day.

Conflict Resolution Day is acknowledged annually on the third Thursday of October to promote awareness of mediation, arbitration, conciliation and other creative, peaceful means of resolving conflict. The displays are set up around that day and stay on display for at least two weeks.

The books will be displayed with proclamations from the Honolulu City Council, Mayor Kirk Caldwell, and Hawaii Governor Neil Abercrombie.

The range includes books on alternative dispute resolution, fieldbooks, practitioner training guides, and theoretical books that build on decades of scholarship in conflict resolution, leadership, collaborative dialogue and governance, and peace and nonviolence. The range of application is from a local level to a national and global scale.

  1. Title: Getting to Yes: Negotiating Agreement Without Giving In
    by Roger Fisher, William Ury and Bruce Patton
  2. Title: The Third Side: Why We Fight and How We Can Stop
    by William Ury
  3. Title: Resolving Conflicts at Work: Ten Strategies for Everyone on the Job
    by Kenneth Cloke and Joan Goldsmith
  4. Title: The Mediation Process: Practical Strategies for Resolving Conflict
    by Christopher W. Moore
  5. Title: The Facilitator’s Fieldbook
    by Tom Justice and David W. Jamieson Ph.D.
  6. Title: The Dynamics of Conflict Resolution: A Practitioner’s Guide
    by Bernard Mayer
  7. Title: Ho’oponopono: Contemporary Uses of a Hawaiian Problem-Solving Process
    by E. Victoria Shook
  8. Title: Culture, Conflict, and Mediation in the Asian Pacific
    by Bruce E. Barnes
  9. Title: Working Through Environmental Conflict: The Collaborative Learning Approach
    by Steven E. Daniels and Gregg B. Walker
  10. Title: Mediating Dangerously: The Frontiers of Conflict Resolution
    by Kenneth Cloke
  11. Title: Challenging Conflict: Mediation Through Understanding
    by Gary Friedman and Jack Himmelstein
  12. Title: The Moral Imagination: The Art and Soul of Building Peace
    by John Paul Lederach
  13. Title: The Mediator’s Handbook
    by Jennifer E. Beer and Caroline C. Packard
  14. Title: Reaching for Higher Ground in Conflict Resolution : Tools for Powerful Groups and Communities
    by E. Franklin Dukes, Marina Piscolish and John Stephens
  15. Title: Eye of the Storm Leadership: The Art and Politics of Managing Human Conflicts
    by Peter Adler
  16. Title: Waging Nonviolent Struggle: 20th Century Practice And 21st Century Potential
    by Gene Sharp and Joshua Paulson
  17. Title: Bargaining for Advantage: Negotiation Strategies for Reasonable People
    by G. Richard Shell
  18. Title: Creating True Peace: Ending Violence in Yourself, Your Family, Your Community, and the World
    by Thich Nhat Hanh
  19. Title: Nonviolence in Theory and Practice
    by Robert L. Holmes and Barry L. Gan

The Almond Tree by Michelle Cohen Corasanti

almond treeDarkness and desperation seems to pervade much of the world today, especially in the Middle Eastern region. People struggle to establish some stability for themselves. Alongside bombings, poverty, and injustice, life must continue – filled with mundane errands, personal journeys of fulfillment, and love.

Religious wars and unjust policies crash against talks at a local café and shopping trips. The Almond Tree by Michelle Cohen Corasanti brings this juxtaposition to the forefront by following the life of one Palestinian boy, Ichmad Hamid, with a natural talent for math.

Ichmad grows up in a rural town in Israel. His family is dispossessed of their house and they are forced to live, at first, in a much smaller assigned house and then, after another eviction, in a tent as the permit process is delayed. Ichmad’s father is wrongly imprisoned for 14 years under the accusation of terrorist collaboration. Ichmad tries to support his family by getting a job in hard labour with his younger brother. He wins the opportunity to attend university focusing on higher level mathematics and computer chips. He suffers recriminations from his family, though he sends them part of his stipend, and discrimination from his peers. He moves to America as a prominent math scholar while remaining connected with his family and life in Israel. The story starts in 1955 and continues to 2009, tracking the development of violence, intervention, and resistance in the Israel-Palestine conflict through Ichmad’s eyes.

The tone of the book is established from the very first page. Ichmad is looking for his precocious 2-year-old little sister, Amal (meaning hope), missing from her crib. He finds her running towards an open field to play. As he runs to get her, his mother grabs him and screams for her daughter to stop. But, Amal is distracted by a butterfly and continues playing. What was a normal scene of a mischievous child becomes a horror scene when a land mine explodes, ripping the girl to pieces. The field was an abandoned minefield, a “closed area.” Ichmad’s father was able to carefully collect her body parts, but it was too late in the day to apply for a permit. They couldn’t bury her. Scenes like this occur throughout the book; Corasanti reminds the reader over and over again that life in Israel is a jarring combination of everyday trials in an atmosphere of violence. Ichmad needs to finish his homework but is threatened in the library by an armed prejudicial Israeli classmate. He shyly flirts with an attractive girl at school while living on nothing because most of his money goes to his family (a classmate even quips that Ichmad “looks like a Palestine refugee”). He tries to restart his life after the emotional devastation of his wife’s death and attempts to save his brother’s life when bombs fall harder in the city where his brother lived.

For those with basic knowledge of the political history of the Israel-Palestine conflict, The Almond Tree can serve as a good emotional supplement and summary of diverse points of view. Corasanti captures the feeling of the conflict, not of the soldiers or politicians but of the people who live in the country. They are presented with all of their flaws. Their decisions are not always rational, but they have a reason behind them, be it tradition, prejudice, anger, desperation, love, loyalty, or duty. People do not always make the best decisions; and they must live with the consequences of their decisions, for good or ill.

This book, while trying to maintain the verisimilitude of moral ambiguity, upholds a nonviolent paradigm such that decisions that promote peace are rewarded. One of Ichmad’s professor’s is a Holocaust survivor, and his hurt translates into hatred for Palestinians and a sense of entitlement to the land of Israel. At first, he actively tries to get

Ichmad kicked out of the university. When his ploys are reported, Ichmad is allowed to decide if the professor will be fired. Yet, because he’s interested in his line of research, Ichmad chooses to work as his research assistant instead, hoping to change his professor’s prejudices at the same time. Eventually, it works and they slowly become friends as well as lifelong academic partners. Presumptions and historical anger fuel modern hatred and active discrimination that can be addressed with, the book suggests, patience and an open mind. The author doesn’t allow for easy lines to be drawn or roles to be filled.

Even the protagonist doesn’t escape the difficult mix of harsh realities and good intentions. Ichmad is a good son, loyal to and supportive of his family. But when his parents insist he remarry with the 16-year-old daughter of the village doctor to improve the family’s status, he is faced with a moral and ethical dilemma. He decides to marry a girl he has never met before and struggles with his disdain for her subservient demeanor, his grief for his first dead wife, and his pity and consideration for her equally discomfiting situation. As they learn more about each other, he eventually falls in love her and she with him. They are both happy with the life they share in the end. Was it the “right” choice? Corasanti doesn’t seem to completely  condemn the arrangement, but she does imply that his first marriage, of love not arrangement, was better.

The author also makes her points clear through the treatment of her characters. Ichmad represents all that a Palestinian man is and could be: poor, rural, houseless, social climber, prominent scholar, emigrant, activist, and ordinary man. Though the opinions proffered and the emotions explored are real to life, the plot of the story is somewhat fantastic. It seems that every possible tragedy and opportunity befalls Ichmad. And he is guided to make “correct” decisions by the steady influence of his separated father, a symbol of peace who held no malice towards his captors even during the destitute and harsh conditions of prison. He constantly advised and practiced forgiveness and inner strength.

This message of peace runs strongly throughout the book. Even Ichmad’s brother, a leader of a terrorist faction, reverses his opinion about suicide bombing and martyrdom when his son sacrifices his life in the name of their cause (though Corasanti does not address a self- sustaining alternative to the poverty and damages resulting from Israeli attacks in Palestine. She seems to suggest that the answer is escape from the area and escape is furnished by rich relations who can afford to move their family out of the country). The Almond Tree is a relatively quick read though the subject matter does not make it an easy read. Corasanti’s writing style is almost conversational and informal. She doesn’t spend a lot of space on philosophical musing or ethical deliberation. Instead she focuses on an action-driven plot. The acts, and sometimes explicit pronouncements by certain characters, direct the ethics dialogue between author and reader. And with its consistent message of nonviolence and surprisingly uplifting conclusion, The Almond Tree is a comfortable treatment of a controversial topic.