Sun09142014

News

Council approves directional signs for Los Altos' Woodland Plaza

Council approves directional signs for Los Altos' Woodland Plaza


Ellie Van Houtte/Town Crier
The Los Altos City Council last week approved the installation of two new directional signs on Foothill Expressway pointing motorists to the Woodland Plaza Shopping District.

The Los Altos City Council voted unanimou...

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Schools

New head of curriculum’s ideologies align with LASD

New head of curriculum’s ideologies align with LASD


Ellie Van Houtte/Town Crier
Edsel Clark, new Los Altos School District assistant superintendent for curriculum and instruction, above, facilitates a junior high mathematics curriculum meeting last week.

Edsel Clark, Ed.D., new assistant superintend...

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Community

Closing reception caps Foothill photo show on rural China

Closing reception caps Foothill photo show on rural China


From IncredibleTravelPhotos.com
Jacque Kae’s “Mischievous” is one of the many photographs on display at Foothill College this month.

Photographs of the land and culture of Huangshan and Zhangjiajie, China, are on exhibit through Sept. 26 at t...

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Sports

Spartans shine in opener

Spartans shine in opener


Ellie Van Houtte/Town Crier
Mountain View High’s Frank Kapp snares a touchdown pass from quarterback Owen Mountford in Friday’s win.

Leading by a point at halftime, the Mountain View High football team outscored visiting Del Mar 20-0 the rest of...

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Comment

A look ahead to the Nov. 4 election: Editorial

Election season is upon us. In Los Altos, we have three major local races ahead – two seats on the Los Altos City Council, and three seats each on the Los Altos School District and Mountain View-Los Altos Union High School District boards of tr...

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Special Sections

Renovation complete,  Villa Siena looks to future

Renovation complete, Villa Siena looks to future


Above and Below Photos Ellie Van Houtte/Town Crier; Left Photo Courtesy of Villa Siena
Villa Siena in Mountain View recently underwent a $35 million face-lift. The five-year project expanded their senior living community’s space and ability to serv...

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Business

Transitioning from postage to pets

Transitioning from postage to pets


Ellie Van Houtte/Town Crier
A new Pet Food Express store is scheduled to open at the Blossom Valley Shopping Center this month.

A site that previously existed to meet postal service needs will soon have an entirely different purpose – serving pe...

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Books

‘The Humans’ transcends alien genre to glean human insights

‘The Humans’ transcends alien genre to glean human insights


A good story about aliens is always great fun to read – after all, it’s only by attempting to understand the human race from another perspective that we can see ourselves more objectively.

But readers who might be tempted to dismiss ye...

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People

JEANNE PACKARD

After suffering a stroke in May, Jeanne Packard died August 10, 2014 at age 83. She was born in 1931 in Berlin, Germany, the only child of Emily Channel and Frank Howe Packard of Chicago, IL. Jeanne is survived by 5 great grandchildren. She was a lon...

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Travel

LA photographer spends a night with cranes – and moose – in Alaska

LA photographer spends a night with cranes – and moose – in Alaska


Sandy Powell/Special to the Town Crier
Los Altos resident and bird photographer Sandy Powell recently visited Homer, Alaska, to photograph Sandhill cranes, below. While there, Powell also encountered moose, left.

Los Altos resident Sandy Powell, a...

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Stepping Out

'Trailer Park' opens in Los Altos

'Trailer Park' opens in Los Altos


Courtesy of Los
The cast of Los Altos Stage Company’s “The Great American Trailer Park Musical” includes, from left, Mylissa Malley as Lin, Vanessa Alvarez as Betty, and Christina Bolognini as Pickles. Altos Stage Company

Los Altos Stage Company...

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Spiritual Life

9/11 survivor Michael Hingson finds purpose

Imagine walking down 78 flights of stairs – 1,463 individual steps. You are in imminent danger as you walk, unsure whether you can make it out of the building before it collapses or explodes. Struggling for each breath, you smell the heavy sten...

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Magazine

Los Altos Hills home showcases resort-inspired living

Los Altos Hills home showcases resort-inspired living


Courtesy of Spectrum Interior Design
In place of a more traditional fireplace, this modern living room features a linear-flame firebox that emits heat while offering a sculpturelike design element.

After traveling the world and visiting a host...

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Local mediators write book on 'Unexpected Gift' of conflict

Conflict is never pretty, but most people could learn a thing or two about resolving it from the new book “Conflict – The Unexpected Gift: Making the Most of Disputes in Life and Work” (iUniverse, 2013).

Written by two experienced local mediators, Jack Hamilton and Elisabeth Seaman, the book compiles useful tips that have proven effective over two decades of trial and error.

“We’re giving them the tools they can use in their own lives,” said Hamilton, who teaches at Stanford University and co-authored the book with fellow mediator and business partner Seaman.

Sharlene Gee and Hillary Freeman also contributed to the book.

As a volunteer mediator with the Palo Alto Mediation Program, Seaman facilitated one of the breakout groups in a December 2012 meeting to gather input on five facilities-sharing scenarios for Bullis Charter School and the Los Altos School District.

Hamilton regularly gives talks for local groups, including a book discussion earlier this year at BridgePoint at Los Altos. He also headed a training session for volunteer mediators with the Los Altos, Mountain View and Palo Alto mediation programs.

Both Hamilton and Seaman have served as volunteer and professional mediators for 20 years.

Conflict is “a result of unfounded assumptions about each other. It’s the assumptions that trigger the emotions,” Hamilton said.

The book introduces a “Ladder of Assumptions”: Step 1, Assumptions of the Facts; Step 2, Interpretations; Step 3, Motives; and Step 4, Generalizations.

“It’s a metaphor for how the human mind works,” Hamilton said.

Built into the book are methods for helping people identify and write their own ladders, he added.

“Some people see things as black or white,” Seaman said. “Things are more generally complicated than that.”

The first step to resolving conflict, Seaman said, is to “become aware of how our thinking processes work.”

Next comes something that people in general don’t do well – listen. The authors underline the importance of becoming an attentive listener. They offer a four-step process to improve communication: encourage dialogue by drawing the speaker out, clarify statements to understand more fully, restate to let the speaker know you’re listening and summarize to review what’s been said.

Good listening, they said, breaks down stereotypes and preconceived notions about the opposing party.

“When people come to mediation, they’re breathing fire,” Hamilton said. “(Mediation) enables disputants to get a sense over time of who that other person is.”

For instance, Hamilton said that because his educational background and experience was greater than Seaman’s, he figured her ideas would not be as good and thus more easily discounted.

“As long as I held her in that box, I would never have heard her good ideas,” he said.

Seaman pointed to a case between two brothers who had a conflict over property, and, more importantly, did not get along with one another. Repairing the brothers’ broken relationship took precedence before any agreement over property could be reached.

“What kind of relationship are you going to have when this (agreement) is over?” she asked the brothers.

Another four-word mantra the mediators espouse: Stop, Listen, Accept, Collaborate.

Hamilton said the book is “pretty much for anyone 15 or older. It’s full of case studies.”

Other helpful advice includes learning how to apologize effectively, finding humility and becoming more self-aware.

And the “Unexpected Gift” referenced in the title? That, according to the authors, is emerging from conflict a better person.

“There’s a tinge of idealism here,” Hamilton said, a bit tongue in cheek, of his reasons for compiling the book. “We’re trying to build world peace one person at a time.”

Hamilton is scheduled to teach a conflict resolution class Jan. 10 to March 7 at Avenidas in Palo Alto. For more information, call 289-5400.

“Conflict – The Unexpected Gift” is available for checkout at the Los Altos main library, 13 S. San Antonio Road. Los Altos Voices for Peace purchased and donated the book to the library.

To order the book and for more information, visit iuniverse.com.

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