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News

LA Council race adds 3 new faces to city politics

LA Council race adds 3 new faces to city politics


The Town Crier chronicled the first election of Los Altos City Council incumbent Jarrett Fishpaw in 2010 and documented the Los Altos candidacy of Jean Mordo, who volunteered as a longtime public servant in Los Altos Hills before moving to the flat...

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Schools

St. Simon launches web-based learning management system

St. Simon launches web-based learning management system


Courtesy of St. Simon Parish School
St. Simon fifth-grader Matthew Cummins uses a laptop in class last week. The school’s cloud-based Schoology system boosts organization and collaboration.

Families at St. Simon Parish School in Los Altos laun...

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Community

Los Altos to celebrate 100 years of library use with 'Centennial Faire'

Los Altos to celebrate 100 years of library use with 'Centennial Faire'


Town Crier File Photo
The Los Altos main library is among the more popular branches in the county library district system, set to celebrate 100 years.

In 1914, Babe Ruth made his debut with the Boston Red Sox, wages hit $5 per day, the first ste...

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Sports

Eagles eye another stellar season

Eagles eye another stellar season


Ellie Van Houtte/Town Crier
Los Altos High outside hitter Carmen Annevelink, right, goes for the kill Thursday against Palo Alto, as teammates Sarah Tritschler, left, and Lulu Kishton prepare to play defense. The Eagles won the match in straight ga...

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Comment

Torok, Walter, Dave for MVLA board: Editorial

There’s really nothing major you can criticize about the Mountain View Los Altos Union High School District. It offers a diverse array of effective programs for all types of students. Its instructors, with few exceptions, are outstanding.

Howe...

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Special Sections

'Funabout' Fiat

'Funabout' Fiat


Photos courtesy of Fiat
The 2014 Fiat 500e uses 29 kilowatt-hours per 100 miles, which the engineers claim is the equivalent of 116 mpg of gas use. It has a sticker price of $33,095.

If you believe in climate change, would love to see alternat...

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Business

App developer eyes First Friday as testing ground

App developer eyes First Friday as testing ground


Ted Fagenson

An East Bay app developer is testing his newest creation in downtown Los Altos.

Ted Fagenson, co-founder of Skrownge (pronounced “scrounge”), told the Town Crier that he’s beta testing his mobile gaming app this week ...

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Books

From story to bookstore: Local journey highlights Halloween

From story to bookstore: Local journey highlights Halloween


Courtesy of Dee Ellmann
Jenny Hurwick self-published her picture book last month after decades of storytelling.

During her years working as a teacher and a Los Altos mom, Jenny Hurwick loved to tell stories. One tale she crafted for her son just se...

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People

VINCENT (TIM) MURPHY JR.

VINCENT (TIM) MURPHY JR.

July 27, 1953 – August 12, 2014

Native Los Altan died Medford, OR. Graduated Bellarmine Prep. Married Josephine Domino, 1950. Licensed Auto Mechanic, Private Pilot, skilled Computer Scientist. Tim “could fix anything”. Afflicted with cancer 2001. ...

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Travel

Taking a Turkey trek: Winging it during the World Cup

Taking a Turkey trek: Winging it during the World Cup


Rich Robertson/Special to the Town Crier
The sun sets over the Aegean Sea in Bodrum, Turkey, left.

Tours that whisk you from Istanbul to Bodrum in 11 days are as plentiful as souvenir hawkers in Turkey, but traveling from the Blue Mosque to Topkapi ...

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Stepping Out

'Gypsy' on its way out

'Gypsy' on its way out


Chris Berger/Special to the Town Crier
Alison Koch of Los Altos plays Dainty June in “Gypsy.”

This is the final weekend to catch the Sunnyvale Community Players production of “Gypsy” at the Sunnyvale Theatre. The musical is slated to close Sund...

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Spiritual Life

Ugandan pastor visits U.S. to raise support for children's ministry

Ugandan pastor visits U.S. to raise support for children's ministry


Ellie Van Houtte/Town Crier
Herman Lukwago educates children in Uganda.

Imagine life if your father had 25 children and you were raised in poverty in rural Uganda.

Now imagine that you and your siblings were orphaned at an early age and you ass...

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Magazine

Local events add color to autumn calendar

Local events add color to autumn calendar


Van Houtte/town crier Visitors make their way through the Children’s Alley.

As Los Altos’ signature Chinese Pistache trees exchange their summer green for vibrant hues of yellow, orange and red in the fall, an abundance of local events also ad...

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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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