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Civility Facilitator
Shirley King | Avenida Primavera

Eric Sandy at an NCRC training session.
Source: National Conflict Resolution Center.
Click on photo to enlarge.

Marrying “civil” with “discourse” is an everyday request for Officer Eric Sandy, Lieutenant with Del Mar’s Community Services. He can be called upon even before the start of his work day. Recently he had to deflate the heightened anger and frustration of a city contractor who couldn’t begin his day’s work because a parked car blocked his street construction machinery. Defusing this high-pitched emotion while simultaneously fact-finding and enlisting the appropriate resources demands Eric’s acute ability to step back and listen intently. He becomes almost meditative while relying first upon his ears then his mouth to formulate the key questions and to assess the mutual interests and benefits for everyone at hand.

While employed with the City of Del Mar for over 40 years, initially as a Beach Enforcement Officer, Eric has accumulated professional education credentials and training that include two Masters Degrees, the first in Social Science and the second in Human Resource Management. During the past 15 years he has gained substantial expertise and experience as a Mediator, Trainer, Hearing Officer and Program Evaluator with the National Conflict Resolution Center (NCRC). As a member of the NCRC Board of Directors in the role of representing their community volunteer mediators, he leads training workshops with such diverse populations as veterans, school leaders, corporate managers and USD law students learning the ropes in Small Claims Court.

Many of us witnessed Eric’s polished training skills during the recent series of NCRC’s ‘civil discourse’ workshops presented through the generous funding of Barbara Freeman and Gloria Sandvik and the endorsement of our City Council. Eric with NCRC’s Director of the Training Institute, Lisa Maxwell, led about 50 Del Mar community members at each workshop through exercises in inclusive communication - identifying the needs and interests of others to reach mutually satisfying interactions and resolutions.

Del Mar’s attendees were hungry to learn the NCRC framework of how to organize their thinking processes when the ego works overtime in the midst of conflict. Many of Del Mar’s community activists and residents bring high energy, self-directed executive skills that frequently bypass the more productive attention to common goals and interests - especially community harmony and respect. Eric and Lisa presented a model that prioritizes listening and telling one’s perspective in a non-confrontational manner. Understanding the many nuances of who we are and the divergent experiences and needs of those with whom we share our community was examined in the training.

To continue building our foundations of civil discourse Eric and NCRC recommend relying more on face-to-face interactions rather than the ‘cloud’ messages - ones that are naturally tone-deaf; correcting the misperception that we are primarily a community of ’long-timers’ but rather a community with a fresh stream of newcomers and visitors and fortifying our Citizen Volunteer Committees with annual training in conflict resolution. There is so much more we can learn from Eric and NCRC to achieve peace and a more perfect harmony in Del Mar.


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