Latest News

Spreading the word

I finished my leadership development curriculum back in May. I have even proposed it to couple of community organizations. The one response I have gotten so far is that it is too advanced for them at the moment and they will have to get back to me later.

This is not a problem, I just have to be more creative in  how I promulgate the curriculum. So I came up with an idea. Since I already have the curriculum written, why not distribute it myself? The next question then becomes, how do I distribute it?

Over the years I have accumulated a lot of audio recording equipment. Most of the time I do nothing serious with it. I also have several cameras capable of recording video that I do nothing serious with. Recently, I have also found space in my home that I can use to set up the aforementioned audio and video equipment.

It occurs to me, as a moderately technically proficient user of computer technology who happens to have audio and video recording equipment at his  disposal, that I could distribute the curriculum as a podcast and/or video blog. I have decided to create short audio and video posts that I can use to teach the materials I designed. I will break the curriculum into shorts lessons on particular subjects within the curriculum. These lessons will be accessible from the NCR 594 project website.

I have never done anything like this before. I am actually nervous about it because I am not the enthusiastic salesman type; so I feel like I will look and sound a little silly. It still sounds like fun, though. It should be quite an adventure.

Here goes nothing, wish me luck.

The 1st draft of the curriculum is finished

The NCR 594 Project is about teaching leadership skills to community members and activists to make them effective as leaders in the community and representatives of the community. Central to this project has been the development of a curriculum for the leadership training part of the project. I have finally finished with the first draft.

I started working on this project in December of 2015. Originally it was going to be my thesis project to graduate from the NCRP program at CSU Dominguez Hills. Things changed a bit and my thesis project ended up being a research paper on the effects of leadership training on community social capital. That was the theoretical basis of the project I wanted to implement. With the curriculum done I now have the practical basis for implementing the program.

This has been a much more difficult project than I imagined it would be. I thought when I finished my thesis I had everything I needed to quickly write up a plan and get to work. I foolhardily promised some interested parties that I would have a finished curriculum in August of 2016. At that point all I really had was an outline.

I can say that I have been obsessing over the completion of this document for over 10 months. It has never escaped my consciousness for more than a few hours since last May when I graduated. Not that I spent a lot of time writing; I have just been thinking about it and gathering and reading material and deciding what I should put in and what I should leave out.

Then, in the last few weeks I decided it was time to write. And I have been writing. And it turned into something I did not quite expect. I will review it in the morning. By Monday I hope to have a few volunteer peer reviewers. In two weeks time I hope to have it reviewed and to be working on edits. By the end of the month I hope to start promulgating the text and scheduling training sessions.

I feel like a great weight has been lifted off my chest. I feel like this project has entangled me, holding me back from moving on to other things. This is not a bad thing; this project is the basis of several other projects I would like to get working on. I still feel a lot freer now than I did earlier.

I am happy.

On the Future of The NCR 594 Project

I am back. Though it may look, from the perspective of those who might be observing the work on my blogs (the gallant few), I have been hard at work trying to apply Occam’s razor to my own work. After quite a long hiatus wherein I spent hours thinking about what actions I should take, I have come to some decisions.

I have decided that there is a large amount of overlap in what I am hoping to accomplish with my blogs The Digital Guerrilla Project and The NCR 594 Project. Originally I wanted to use the Digital Guerrilla Project to explore the nexus of activism and technology. Over the years since I started that blogs I have come to realize that this is not only well covered territory, but also that the coverage that exists is far superior to anything I could provide on my own. I am not saddened by this at all, but am happy for the resources I have been able to discover.

The NCR 594 Project is designed to train community organizers and activist to effectively build community social capital. My research has indicated to me that community social capital is the antidote to structural violence. As a topic, structural violence, as I studied and learned about it, came to dominate my thinking in relationship to The Digital Guerrilla Project.  At a particular point activism and community organization became, in my mind, strategies to combat structural violence.

Now I am ready to begin anew my research on these subjects: structural violence, social capital, community social capital, leadership, activism, and community organization. Given that one of my projects within The NCR 594 Project has been to develop a curriculum for the development of community leadership (and it is now woefully overdue) it seems natural that the work I have already done on The Digital Guerrilla Project should be subsumed into The NCR 594 Project.

Going forward I will discontinue writing posts to The Digital Guerrilla Project. I will initially start adapting the work from that blog into The NCR 594 Project. This will entail some change, but I think it will make for a clearer mission and more effective work in the future.

TWIR 03/27/2016

This was an eventful week for the NCR 594 Project. Monday was the first official outing for the project when I took part in the CSUDH Community Engagement Symposium You can read about that here).  On Friday I participated in a grant writing workshop sponsored by Assemblymember Tom Gipson (more info here).

I met Assemblymember Gipson’s Field Representative Roxanna Gracia for the first time at the workshop and was finally able to put a face to the name. Roxanna has been very proactive in offering assistance. I would also like to thank Mark Lomeli, the Assmblymember’s District Director, for answering an email I sent and referring me to Roxanna. I am grateful to the Assemblymember’s staff for being so responsive.


The grant writing workshop was hosted by the Providence Community Health Wellness and Activity Center. I had the opportunity to speak with Rafael Garcia, their Community Outreach Supervisor. He explained to me that Providence is sponsoring a leadership development program of their own. Their program will be focused on alleviating the isolation of young mothers from the community at large. Though their program has different objectives I do not believe the two projects are mutually exclusive. I hope to speak further with Rafael and his colleagues to see if it is possible for us to assist each other.

I  ran into my old pal Robert Trani from the United Wilmington Youth Foundation at the workshop. We spent some time talking and he took me around Wilmington to show me some of the things he has been working on. I am hopeful that we can work together on some interesting projects in the future.

It has been a very fruitful week. I met people. I got a better idea of what is happening in the community. Hopefully I have made some new friends. Most importantly, I have not been discouraged from the idea that the project I am working will provide some utility in the community of Wilmington.


Community Engagement Symposium

The NCR 594 Project participated in the 3rd Annual Community Engagement Symposium held at California State University Dominguez Hills on Monday March 21, 2016. It was interesting to see the other projects that people were working on and to be able to speak to them about the wonderful work they are doing. It was more interesting still to have to answer questions about and explain my own project.

There were several awards handed out with interesting stories to go along with the awards. Brenda Riddick won an Outstanding Community Advocate Award for her work as the Director of the Mervyn M. Dymally African American Political & Economic Institute. Dr. Vivian Price won a Community Hero Award for, apparently, just about everything she does. John Jones III, who is a Field Deputy for City of Los Angeles Council member Joe Buscaino and CEO/President of the East Side Bike Riders Club, won an Outstanding Community Partner Award and told a tale about how he and his club members were able to bridge many community divides while riding their bikes. You can see that story here.

There were also a few speeches. Dr. Kirti Celly spoke about the role of reflection in service learning (that is, learning through acts of community service). Dr. Sam Wiley explained his project that collects shoes for the needy as a way to alleviate poverty. The Keynote speech was given by Dr Vivian Price (see above) and Professor Ellie Zenhari whose project was to take students to explore Watts and document what they found via photography. This led to the introduction of Mr. Tim Watkins, president and CEO of the Watts Labor Community Action Committee, and Ms Monika Shankar of Physicians for Social Responsibility. The stories they told about the problems in Watts were absolutely heartbreaking. However, those same stories led me to believe that the NCR 594 Project can be effective in its mission.

It was a very enlightening experience. I want to the Ms. Cheryl McKnight, director of CSUDH’s Center for Service Learning, Internships, and Civic Engagement (SLICE), for putting on this event and allowing the NCR 594 Project to participate. Meeting people and talking about their projects gave me confidence in my own project. Having to explain my own project got me that much closer to being able to make a case as to why it should exist at all. The NCR 594 Project has now announced its presence to the world and is moving forward in earnest. Stay tuned for details.


ACR Notice of Funding Availability

I received this notice from the NCRP program at CSUDH. I have included a link to a flyer which has more detailed information.

ACR is pleased to announce this Notification of Funding Availability (NOFA)   and request for initial proposal ideas for the 2016 funding cycle of the ACR/JAMS partnership in supporting Conflict Resolution Education.  The mission of the ACR/JAMS partnership is summarized below.

Flyer: JAMS and ACR Grant NOFA

Training Opportunity

This is a training opportunity available at CSUDH. Though there are references to the training taking place on April 15, 2016 I can assure you that the date has been changed to May 27, 2016. There is a link for registration at the bottom of the post. Feel free to contact me if you have any questions.


Negotiation, Conflict Resolution and Peacemaking Program


The Association for Conflict Resolution (ACR)

One-day ACR Spring Seminar:

Ethical Communication – A Bridge to Respectful Relationships


April 15, 2016

Trainer: Laura Smythe, M.A., M.A., J.D.*

Come and join ACR and Laura Smythe in a one-day training on Ethical Communication:

A Bridge to Respectful Relationships, hosted by the California State University

Dominguez Hills Negotiation, Conflict Resolution and Peacemaking Program. For this

one-day training, Laura Smyth presents a simple and powerful two-step model to

approach problem-solving, conflict management and conflict resolution when differing

values and cultural mores are present. While these may often be seen and feared as

common “non-negotiable” reasons for conflict and the cause of impasse, this

interactive training will explore the possibility that values can, and do, offer a shared

and principled foundation for communication about difficult (and even emotional)


Drawing on research by Rushworth M. Kidder in his book Moral Courage (2003) and

her own research and experience on conflict, Laura Smythe will present an optimistic

prescription for respectful relationships based on positive, constructive, dignified and

ethical dialogue/communication. It is an opportunity for participants to develop and hone

critical thinking, self-reflection and guided practice skills.

Experiencing a variety of instructional methods, including lecture, storytelling, guided

practice and role-play, participants will be able to:

  •  Identify what constitutes ethical behavior
  •  Learn and understand the concept of “ethical communication”
  •  Learn behaviors and values that are universally appreciated
  •  Understand the link between our values and the source of most conflicts
  •  Discover the opportunity that discussions about values provide for conflict resolution
  •  Apply the concept of ethical communication in their own work and conversations

The seminar will be of interest to, amongst others:

  • Conflict resolution practitioners and scholars
  • Social Workers
  • Federal, State and local service employees
  • Psychologists
  • Teachers and school counselors
  • Law Enforcement Officers
  • Public health officials/practitioners
  • Environmental advocates
  • HR staff
  • Spiritual leaders
  • Attorneys
  • Judges
  • Business leaders, owners, managers
  • Elder care/family practitioners


* Laura C. Smythe, is Owner/Founder of Communication Connections, LLC and is

former Executive Director of a community mediation center. She is an attorney,

mediator, professor and trainer. She has mediated a tremendous variety of disputes and

practiced law for over 17 years. She has taught conflict management and conflict

resolution skills to students of all ages from Kindergarten through Ph.D. candidates for

over 13 years. In addition, Smythe is a trainer and works with various state agencies and

organizations to train employees and employers about: mediation, facilitating difficult

conversations, creating transparent conflict management policies and the how of

constructively addressing workplace bullying. She also serves the Wisconsin Supreme

Court as an appointed volunteer investigator for claims of attorney misconduct. As a

professor, Smythe has taught a wide variety of courses including: Mediation; Ethics and

the Law in Mediation; Business Law; Law, Politics and Society; Leadership and

Organizational Cultures; Workplace Conflict Management; Organizational Cultures and

Change; Critical Thinking and Creative Problem Solving; Social Diversity and many

others. She also serves on the Board of NAFCM (National Association for Community

Mediation) and on the Board of Directors of the Dispute Resolution Section of the

Wisconsin State Bar. She is an international trainer.

A Few Comments from Past Participants:

1) “This was very useful for both my work and at home!”

2) “Everybody should learn this!”

3) “I wish this was a longer workshop.”

4) “I really loved what you did. Thank you!”

5) “Really thoughtfully prepared and thought-provoking workshop.”

6) “I wish we had more time to talk about this.”

7) “I wish I had learned this 20 years ago!”

8) “This was amazing!”

Training Details:

Location: Room EE 1213, CSUDH Campus

Carson, CA (heart of Southern California’s South Bay)

Time: 9 am – 5 pm

Registration: $185.00 for ACR members

$285.00 for ACR non-members

Registration Deadline: May 27, 2016

Spaces are limited – Register early to assure your place

Free Grant Writing Workshop

Assemblymember Mike A. Gipson (District 64) is hosting a grant writing workshop on March 25, 2016 at Providence Health and Wellness Center at 470 Hawaiian Ave, Wilmington, California 90744 from 10:00 A.M. to noon. RSVP is requested, phone number is (310) 324-6408.

FLYER – Grant Writing Workshop

FLYER Spanish – Grant Writing Workshop


Growing Pains

I started promulgating my proposal a couple of weeks ago. I sent an email to numerous individuals with an introduction to the NCR 594 Project and a copy of the proposal. I had one emailed response, and I know another person viewed the email but did not respond. I know this because I used customer relationship management software to track the emails.  I am aware of the difficulties of marketing and am learning the limitations of CRM software.

There was also some good news. I emailed information requests to numerous political offices. Thus far I have gotten one response.  Mark Lomeli and Roxana Gracia from Assemblymember Mike A. Gipson’s (District 64) office responded in a timely manner and have been courteous and helpful  since.

I am not disappointed by the tepid response I have received so far. I know going in that this is going to be a long process. I am still quite early in the design process. I have a lot of work yet to do before I even get formally started. I am, however, very happy about the response I did get. It puts me one step closer to the goal.