Resolving conflict – beyond lawyers

When I was asked several years ago by friends in our northern Michigan community to join them in opposing some actions being taken by our local Lake Association, I happily agreed. The Lake Association’s mission was to protect the ecology of the lakes and the river which flowed from them, but they had strayed from historical practices, and we worried that their new measures would be environmentally destructive, putting the system at risk.

It was not obvious at the time, however, that our opposition would result in a lengthy and costly legal proceeding as well as strained relationships with the neighbors. The questions that ultimately needed to be resolved were how to determine a proper balance between the needs of the people and the needs of the environment, and how to put in place a means to govern that balance going forward.

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