By Sarah Schrock
Strokes of genius and creative breakthroughs can come to us at any time, but often they come to us unexpectedly after sleep. Take for instance the double helix, the periodic table, Frankenstein — all came to their creators in their sleep after hours of angst in trying to solve a problem.
A new prospect in Twisp also came to its creator in a similar way, and it’s all about problem solving. Project Connect, a new mediation and facilitation dispute resolution service, is the brainchild of Sherrie Farmer.
Driven by a burning desire for a career change and ambition to find meaningful purpose by helping others, Sherrie woke up one day with the name Project Connect in her head. She wasn’t sure what it was yet, but she knew it was going to be something that would fulfill her ambition and bring harmony and peace to people. It was her destiny, per se, and the name just came to her.
That was about 10 years ago and the road to becoming a mediator was long and winding. As seasonal fish and wildlife technician for the U.S. Forest Service for 16 years, Sherrie enjoyed her outdoor work and co-workers but she held Project Connect in heart, searching to find a way to manifest it.
She explored counseling and enrolled in a graduate program, only to find out it wasn’t the right fit. She explored teaching and guidance counseling, but when she found mediation — it fit like a glove, and she enrolled in Whatcom County’s Dispute Resolution training program. She finished practicums at the Yakima Dispute Resolution Center to become a certified mediator this past year.
Mediation is collaborative process where two parties can come together with a mediator, a neutral facilitator, to work out problems. By avoiding the legal system, mediation can be a win/win situation for everyone by saving costly legal fees and avoiding a winner/loser outcome of the judicial system.
The goal of interest-based mediation, as Farmer practices, is to solve the problem and look at the underlying conflict. For instance, a dispute between a teenager and parent might be about use of the cell phones, but underlying the conflict might be the parent’s concern for financial responsibility, health and safety of the teen and it hasn’t been communicated in a way that isn’t threatening, creating defense and push back by a teen.
No one wants to live in disharmony with neighbors or family, and mediation can help walk people through an otherwise painful, emotional process of problem solving. Sherrie is trained to work with neighbor disputes, workplace conflict, family conflicts, parenting plans, and even small claims. She has a special affinity for working with teens and families as she has additional training in restorative justice, where issues of bullying and power imbalance can be sorted out.
Project Connect is located in Twisp in the Gloversville Addition building on the highway across from the Community Center Commons Park. She can be contacted via phone at (509) 341-4038.
What’s in a name anyway? Like Project Connect was for Farmer, it could be prophetic, transformative. The local folksy jazz ensemble affectionally known as The Family Dog is looking for a new one. At the Community Center’s Winter Dance last Saturday night, the band declared the desire for a name change and put it to their fans for ideas, so get your stroke of genius flowing, take a nap, and see what manifests.
Finally, on a completely unrelated note, if you are one of holdouts who still have Christmas decorations up, rest assured you are not alone. Saturday, I went to pick up my son from a play date to find a fully adorned Christmas tree still up and thriving. Unable to bear the expulsion of the mighty wild fir tree — it truly is a beautiful wild tree — this character is keeping it as long as he can to honor this specimen who gave its life to fill his home with freshness and festive lore. He’s been watering, even fertilizing it for almost two months. What’s the latest you’ve left yours up?