Wednesday, October 27, 2010

Self-Reflection for Conflict Professionals Intensive (SCPI)

When the most heated moments a conflict professional deals with arise-- when everyone in the room is yelling, crying and engaged in emotional warfare -- what is the conflict professional feeling?

Conventional wisdom is: "It doesn't matter; the mediator is there to do a job; not to get emotionally involved in THEIR (and NOT his or her) dispute."

But, according to the Center for Understanding in Conflict, which is at the cutting edge of developing self-reflection practices for conflict professionals, acknowledging one's own emotional reactions is essential to being a good mediator.

I produced this video, which documents a class the Center has been teaching conflict professionals, which addresses methods for working with their emotional responses to benefit the clients ... and to save their own sanity.

Feedback From SCPI Participants:

"What beautiful and genuine inspiration! "

Suzan Barrie Aiken
Collaborative Attorney and Mediator

"It is really incredible. It is wonderful and beautiful. I feel incredibly fortunate to be with you in SCPI and I realize how much I miss our time together."

Caryn Espo

"Wow - the video is amazing!"

Catherine Conner
Mediator/Collaborative Attorney

"I love how powerful the video is for communicating what SCIPI is about and I'm awed by Cassidy's talent in pulling it all together!!!"

Marissa Wertheimer
Mediator, Trainer

"Inspiring! My thanks to all of you for this unique and meaningful experience."

Judy Barber
Family Mediator
Family Money Consultants, LLC

"Brilliant...Cassidy did a fantastic job of capturing the essence of SCIPI."

Peter Renkow

Monday, September 27, 2010


This is a video I recently produced for Gateway High School, a tuition-free public charter school that last year sent nearly 100 percent of its graduating students on to college.

According to the school, "By combining a rigorous curriculum with the personal support possible in small classes, Gateway enables each student to capitalize on his or her unique talents and capabilities."

Wednesday, June 30, 2010

Marin's Organic Farms Wilt Under Labor Laws

By Cassidy Friedman
For Bay Citizen

As a teenager, Dave Retsky was just about the last kid an organic farmer would want to hire. The son of a Hollywood doctor, Retsky admits he was a tad lazy and knew next to nothing about organic farming before he began his first internship. Now he owns County Line Harvest, one of the top organic farms in Petaluma, in Sonoma County.

“Where else was I going to learn the trade but as an apprentice?” said Retsky.

“You’ve got no skills. You’ve got no work ethic. Now I own a farm, and those experiences I had were invaluable.”

Retsky’s own enterprise has been aided by intern labor, as have about half of Marin’s 56 organic farms. Every year, interns weed, hand-wash and sell their produce at farmers markets. Such unpaid and work-trade programs have fueled the organics movement since the Bay Area’s first certified organic farms sprung up in the 1970s in Bolinas.

But this spring, state labor inspectors stumbled upon the internships and determined that they violate state and federal labor law. Organic farming internships dried up, with disastrous consequences for farmers like Retsky and would-be farmers working for them.

Marin County’s organic farms are grappling with the new order. Internships must meet a six-point test that has been in place since the 1938 federal Fair Labor Standards Act. Farm interns must be supervised by an accredited school and cannot displace a regular employee. The internship must also benefit the student more than the employer.

Until now, state inspectors hadn’t scrutinized farming internships in the North Bay, but they carried out a high-profile action in Pescadero in 2008. An inspector tagged Blue House Organic Farm, which had three interns, with 14 violations of minimum wage and insurance laws. But they did not identify them as part of an internship program.

Then they did a routine inspection of County Line this past February. Although it did not cite the internship program, it rattled farmers. Local farmers say it may be the first time labor inspectors targeted agriculture in the North Bay.

“I think that Marin County for the most part has been the beneficiary of being tucked away in an unobtrusive part of the state,” said Carl Borden, associate counsel for the California Farm Bureau Federation. “I’ve done many, many seminars for conventional growers, and this has never been an issue. The people who work for larger farms, their workers expected to get paid.”

“I was really surprised,” said Eric Rood, of the Department of Labor Standards Enforcement. “None of that was even on our radar until that week.”

Farmers demanded clarification of the law at an April 1 meeting with the state, which Rood attended. Although the labor inspectors had conducted extensive educational outreach throughout the state to warn other industries about illegal internships, the meeting marked the first time both state labor officials and organic farmers openly discussed internships on farms.

“We can’t afford to make a living producing these commodities unless we use this type of labor,” one farmer told Borden. “If I had to pay these people, I’d be out of business,” another said.

Marin’s organic farming economy suddenly seemed less sustainable. Farmers deleted internship postings. Interns were hired on the books or dismissed, and applicants were turned away. At smaller farms, spouses hopped on tractors. Retsky closed his Marin Farmers Market stand, which interns had run.

The boom in illegal internships parallels the exploding organics movement. One web site lists organic farming internships at 1,667 farms and attracts 10,000 visitors yearly. States with large organic farming sectors, including New York and Washington, are rethinking labor laws that many consider outdated. California may be the latest to come to the table.

“There’s probably not a program that can have an apprenticeship relationship replace labor,” said David Lewis, who directs the UC Cooperative Extension in Marin. “But there should be some sort of situation where we can grow the next farmer. That’s what has taken the biggest hit. It’s the opportunity for these folks to really make it work on a small scale (and) to teach the next generation of farmers.”

Tuesday, March 23, 2010

Video: The Battle For An Accurate Census In SF

by Cassidy Friedman
(published on SF Appeal and New America Media)

The census may be, on any given day, the best way to compare huge swaths of society - say, blacks to whites, Oakland's population to San Francisco's or children to seniors.

But just now, as census forms arrive in the mail, there's only one social comparison that matters. And the census is way out of its depth to handle it.

Who will answer the census and who will neglect those 10 questions, essential for deciding how many millions in federal funds come to California over the next decade?

The answers can't be found at the regional census bureau, but insights were available at the Centro del Pueblo in the Mission District on Friday. All 13 nonprofits spearheading outreach to the city's hard to count populations were on hand, each with roots in a separate neighborhood, its team of a different skin color, and speaking a different language. Their goal over the next six weeks: to reach 60,000 households of an estimated 100,000 residents who were not counted in the 2000 census.

Lofty, sure, but what is impressive is how studiously these nonprofits are going about courting their targets. Blacks in Bayview, Latinos in Excelsior and Philippinos in SoMA each have their own reasons for not trusting the federal government. Each requires a tailored stump speech delivered in a certain way from a person they might be inclined to trust before they'll show grandma has been living under the sofa or count their undocumented friend crashing in the basement.

Considering that swaying one resident could mean an additional $3000 for San Francisco, canvassers are unafraid to hit the same house twice, even three times.

While the predominantly black Bayview was the most undercounted section of the city during the last census, Latinos also have their hands full, facing a fully lobby of Hispanic pastors advocating boycotting the census.

This video details the subtle but important ways the battle for an accurate count changes shape from one neighborhood to the next.

Thursday, March 4, 2010

New Tool Could Enable California's Journalists To Report Better Than Ever -- If They Use It

by Cassidy Friedman
SF Appeal
March 3, 2010 8:00 AM

Despite the many innovations of San Francisco 2010, a lot of public data is still hard to access, siloed within individual city departments and time-consuming to unearth. Some feel that as a result of this lack of transparency, politicians too often set policies without worrying the public might contest their assumptions about the community - like if hot spots of poor health have access to hospitals. Meanwhile, traditional and new media reporters are hobbled in their ability to inform citizens as thoroughly as they could, not simply because of the much-ballyhooed cutbacks in mainstream news orgs, but because California's data - that driver of policies and lifeblood of journalism - is hard as hell to get at.

"How we get privately held data and publicly held data is very painstaking," said Denise Gammal, vice president for strategy and organizational learning at Bay Area United Way. "There hasn't been a great source that's readily available and easy to use for a wider audience."

A new statewide community data-mapping Web site called Healthy City California, slated to launch Wednesday, hopes to change all that.

How to use Healthy City California from Cassidy Friedman on Vimeo.

Wednesday, March 3, 2010

Bay Area News Project Editor's Meet And Greet: The New Breadline

Cassidy Friedman
SF Appeal

When Jonathan Weber took the job of editor-in-chief of the Bay Area News Project a few weeks ago, 200 resumes lay waiting for him. I'm sure that some of the more than one hundred job-starved journalists crammed into the "meet Jonathan Weber" event held Wednesday night at the World Affairs Council had resumes on that pile -- I know mine's there -- and there was more naked desperation in that room than at a gathering.

Weber's only getting around to answering his applicants now, sifting through them to find 15 hires, half of whom will be reporting for the news org. Those 7.5 people will be a mix of junior and senior reporters, covering enterprise, big stories, daily news, traditional civic beats, cops and courts, environment and healthcare.

He admits it's impossible to truly cover all those beats with such a small staff and that some reporters will have to wear multiple hats, but that he hopes to triple their numbers over the next four years.

Other staff will be editors who are "outwardly focused," coordinating paid contributors, bloggers, and citizen journalists, while editing 40-50 stories per week. A third group will focus on delivery, "productizing" the news through Web and mobile. Weber is also setting aside a "significant budget" for freelancers. And he'll hire some paid interns.

Management-wise, they've just hired Brian Kelley as the chief technology officer (and announced it via twitter, how 3.0).

During Q & A, older journalists' questions showed anxiety that they wouldn't be hired because they were too old and not tech-savvy enough. Many younger reporters' remarks seemed designed to demonstrate that they're Very Serious About Journalism, betraying a lack of experience.

As for partnerships, you already know that the New York Times is in -- starting in June, BANP will produce two of pages twice/week for the Bay Area edition. And KQED is out, after "discussions (that) did not result in an agreement." AWKward.

While temporarily housed in space provided by a law firm at 555 Mission, BANP is looking for permanent digs somewhere downtown. The $5 million initiative, now under his direction (and allegedly no longer that of its principal funder, Warren Hellman), is slated to launch in late spring of this year. It's also hoping to lock down a permanent name that doesn't ruffle the feathers of the 200 locally-based news organizations with San Francisco in their name.

Slideshow from the event: Steve Rhodes

Friday, January 8, 2010

Local Business Feature: Ocean Beach Barra Brothers Jiu-Jitsu

Ocean Beach Barra Brothers Jiu-Jitsu from Cassidy Friedman on Vimeo

Jiu-jitsu has become a way of life for dozens of residents of the San Francisco Bay Area, thanks to a new dojo opened in 2009 by Jiu-Jitsu master and living legend Carlos Sapao Ban.

Here, students learn to defend themselves, lead a healthy life, build strength and gain confidence.

With his life spent under the tutelage of the Gracie family and after winning multiple world titles, Ban has joined the San Francisco community, where he has begun sharing his brand of Jiu-Jitsu with an eager crowd.

His beach-side dojo, located at 710 La Playa Street in San Francisco's Outter Richmond District, has quickly blossomed into a community institution since it opened in late 2009.

Here, everyone is welcome and the first class is always free.

Learn more at

Tuesday, January 5, 2010

Scarcity of Nonprofits in Neediest Communities Will Hinder 2010 Census

New America Media, News feature/Video, Cassidy Friedman, Posted: Jan 01, 2010

SAN FRANCISCO – California is counting on its nonprofits for outreach in the 2010 Census. But a widespread shortage of community-based organizations in the state’s poorest communities, which have historically been toughest to count, could spark undercounts even in cities that appear best equipped to tackle census outreach, organizers say.

“This is a big, big challenge,” said Ted Wang, a census consultant with Grantmakers Concerned with Immigrants and Refugees, which is coordinating private sector funding for outreach in California. “Neighborhoods that have the least amount of infrastructure often are the ones that are the most difficult to count.”

San Francisco is a case in point. No county in California has spent anywhere near the city’s $570,000 investment on outreach, according to city officials. San Francisco is also home to 2,879 public charity nonprofits – more per capita than any other county in the state, public records show. But an investigation by New America Media found that despite these achievements, in Bay View-Hunters Point and Visitacion Valley, neighborhoods where the response rates to the 2000 Census were lowest and the need for outreach in 2010 is arguably greatest, there are disproportionately few nonprofits and very little capacity to do outreach.

The city’s solution – to fund outside nonprofits that serve a wider area to go door-to-door in the two neighborhoods – won’t achieve the same results as using native nonprofits, said Sharen Hewitt, executive director of the Community Leadership Academy and Emergency Response Project (C.L.A.E.R.), based in Visitacion Valley. Hewitt believes such organizations may “fall short on making people feel comfortable opening their doors.”

If so, this “funding gap” may contribute to a repeat of the 2000 census, when the city was undercounted by 100,000, resulting in a loss of more than $300 million in federal funding, according to a 2007 study.

If the same pattern repeats across the state, California residents could lose billions of federal dollars for vital services over the next decade.


When San Francisco announced earlier this year that it had $300,000 to fund a nonprofit census-outreach collaborative, the city encouraged organizations in Bay View and Visitacion Valley to apply.

“We were looking for people that knew the population and the population trusted,” said Adrienne Pon, executive director of the city’s Office of Civic Engagement and Immigrant Affairs.

City officials hoped to fund a team of nonprofits that were already regularly engaged with the same hard-to-count residents they would be targeting for the census.

In 2000, those demographics included the many public housing residents who complained they never received a census questionnaire or whose addresses were missing from the US Census Bureau master list. Homeless people, non-English speakers, undocumented immigrants and young adults also ranked high on the list.

But those demographics are changing in subtle ways that only a native nonprofit can detect, Hewitt said.

After a competitive process, a selection committee composed of grant makers and foundation representatives hired a collaborative of 13 nonprofits, including New America Media, to conduct census outreach.

None of the 13 nonprofits are headquartered in Bay View-Hunters Point or Visitacion Valley. The organizations do, however, clearly meet other funding criteria, and four of the organizations serve large swaths of the city, which include the southeastern neighborhoods.

The few “obvious good matches” in both Bay View and Visitacion Valley were stretched to capacity and declined to apply, said Pon.

Hewitt argues outreach was inadequate, despite what city officials call a “rigorous” outreach campaign, which included a well-attended workshop and public notices. Although CLAER met the eligibility criteria, the nonprofit was never consulted about the existence of funding, she said.

N’Tanya Lee, director of Coleman Advocates – one of the census grant recipients - admits being based outside the neighborhoods puts the collaborative at a disadvantage.

“Many community members … don’t trust the services (and) because they’re not indigenous community institutions they’re often not culturally relevant,” Lee said.

Statewide Trend

The lack of nonprofits in San Francisco’s southeast corner reflects a statewide trend of nonprofits falling outside highest need areas, according Dr. Carol J. Silverman, a researcher at UC Berkeley and author of a recent study of San Francisco’s nonprofit sector.

Nonprofits tend to clamor around hubs for civic institutions, for example, San Francisco’s downtown, said Silverman.

But Bay View Hunters Point faces its own challenges, Lee said.

Census outreach did not draw “the same kind of zeal or participation at any level” from Bay View’s predominantly African American population as it did from nonprofits based elsewhere in the city, according to Angelo King, chairman of the Bay View-Hunters Point Project Area Committee.

Hunters Point Naval Shipyard, once the area’s principal employer, lured tens of thousands of African Americans to San Francisco in the 1940s and 1950s. Since the shipyard shuttered in the 1970s, San Francisco has experienced “a more significant decline in the African American population than anywhere in the country,” Lee said.

“And with that decline has come a decline in the strength of our community institutions, our political institutions, our agencies, the leadership in the community – so many people have left to the East Bay and other parts of the country that there just isn’t the same capacity in the community to serve its own interests and to serve its own needs,” Lee said.

Million of Dollars are at Stake

California cut nearly all outreach funding for Census 2010 after shelling out nearly $25 million for the 2000 census, although the philanthropic sector responded by filling in some of the gaps in public funding, contributing almost $8 million in California, including more than $700,000 to the Bay Area, Wang estimated. Meanwhile, the US Census Bureau does not compensate nonprofits doing outreach. The decline in outreach resources since the 2000 census means the success of San Francisco’s nonprofit collaborative will be crucial to the city’s poorest neighborhoods.

Said Lee, “Millions of dollars are at stake that could be coming to these communities that they’re not accessing now because of this historic undercount.”

Michelle Yeung, a community advocate for the lead agency in the collaborative, Chinese for Affirmative Action, said the group is creating a plan to compensate for a lack of nonprofits based in the southeast. That strategy entails networking with their members, local service providers, and asking other familiar faces in the communities to assist them in going door to door.