Green Dot: conflict resolution as an essential skill

Aug 24, 2020

Credit Green Dot Homer

If ever there was a time for more training in conflict resolution, it’s now. With tensions running high over the coronavirus pandemic and the politicization of such simple things as wearing a face mask to stem the spread of the highly-infectious disease, the potential for conflict is higher than ever.
    So is the need for conflict resolution.
    “It was a long day, OK? And sometimes, even though I’m the Green Dot coordinator, all you have left in you is to just fall on the ground. And that’s what I did,” said Jessi Felice, a Homer High School teacher and the local Green Dot coordinator, describing how she defused an argument between two others. “I walked over and I fell on the ground. And then they both stopped and asked me if I was OK, and went their separate ways. And that’s what I did. That's how I handled that situation.”
    Felice says Green Dot, which started on college campuses to combat sexual assaults, has been in Homer about 10 years. She says Green Dot is all about speaking up and taking action to defuse conflict.
    “Green Dot came to Homer just about probably 10 years ago now. It was created by Dorothy Edwards and it was really started to kind of combat the sexual assault cases that were occurring on college campuses. So it really looks at that stance of being an active bystander to get away from that cultural norm that, ‘Oh, it's not, not my business, not my problem. I shouldn't get involved,’ the whole bystander effect,” Felice says. “Really taking a different stance and a different look at that and saying, ‘No, this is my community. This is my school. If I see something and it's awkward, there is always something I can do, no matter what.”
    The falling down story exemplifies two of the three “Ds” that Green Dot prototes: Direct engagement and Distraction. The other is “Delegate.”
    “The first D is being direct, directly involving yourself in the situation. You know, if I see a couple arguing, just checking in, ‘Hey, is everything okay?’ Or if I know them giving one of them a call later,” she said. “Direct just means direct. Interaction with one of the people involved. So it can be done in the moment or it can be done afterwards.”
    And, as her falling-down story illustrates, Felice says distraction works very well.
    “I think we all do this in so many venues of our life.Just that quick left turn, changing the subject, spilling your water, spilling your popcorn yelling,  ‘There's a fire.’ she said. ‘Kids always come up with food, like ‘Mrs. Felice has pizza.’ You know, kids will come running. Like, ‘I heard you had pizza.’ You know, they will continue to fall for that. Cause someday they know I may have pizza waiting for them.”
    An important thing to remember about Green Dot, though, is it is for acute problems and issues.
    “The ‘Green Dots’ are just small moments. They're not meant to fix relationships or anything like that. It's just small moments in time to stop that act of violence from occurring,” she said. “Again, it's just that active bystander stepping in when you know something in your gut, just isn't right.”
    Felice says Green Dot training for the community may commence again in the not-too-distant future, with online seminars. Check out the Green Dot Facebook page to stay informed.