The Colorado Institute for Conflict Resolution & Creative Leadership (CICRCL) is a Colorado nonprofit tax-exempt corporation founded in October 1986, and received Federal 501(c)(3) tax-exempt status as an educational foundation in 1991. CICRCL’s tax-exempt status as a foundation permits it to receive private and public donations to support its mission.
CICRCL’s motto, Evolutionary Resources for Shifting Consciousness, describes its social mission, and the underlying principles that are expressed through its various projects, programs, and products.
CICRCL’s Mission, as defined in its official bylaws, includes the following:
To promote, foster, educate and encourage individuals to use peaceful means for resolving conflicts,
To educate the general public, government leaders, business leaders, mediators, arbitrators, peace makers, clergy, counselors, therapist and educators through public lectures, seminars, conferences, workshops and trainings,
To disseminate information through books, videotapes, curriculum materials, and computer technology,
To conduct research and develop effective methods and materials for the peaceful resolution of conflicts and creative living,
To cooperate with other persons, organizations, and corporations to educate the public on the peaceful resolution of conflicts and creative living.
CICRCL was created as the result of our experiences related to the Chernobyl nuclear disaster. During the first half of 1986, Barry was on sabbatical from his position at the University of Colorado-Colorado Springs (UCCS). We arrived in Zurich, Switzerland in January, on the day the Challenger exploded at Cape Canaveral, Florida–an event that set the tone for our six month stay.
We rented a small apartment in a village located on Lake Zurich, purchased a small used car, and settled in to study Process Oriented Psychology (POP) with Dr. Arnold Mindell at his Institute. This was during the time that Janae was pursuing her PhD degree, and we both participated in numerous POP trainings and workshops as part of our professional development.
On April 26th Reactor #4 at the Chernobyl power plant exploded. For three days afterwards, we and all the people in Eastern, Central, and Western Europe were outside enjoying the mild spring weather, unknowingly being exposed to a 1000x increase in nuclear radiation. On the fourth day, Soviet Union officials announced the explosion, and were met with outraged reactions from their nation-state neighbors. Soon after the announcement came three days of torrential rain–it was as though Mother Earth was in deep grief and flooding us with her tears. The unfolding implications of the explosion became a life-changing event. The image to the right shows the path of the fallout from the disaster.
During the days of unending rain, our POP group spent many hours processing this disaster, trying to make meaning of it and harvest something positive from it. It was very very challenging, as we began to feel despair, not only about the catastrophe itself but that it could even happen! We concluded that the biggest problem was an ethical one. The Soviet Union’s delay in informing its neighbors about the explosion and widespread contamination exposed millions of people to levels of radiation that put their lives at risk. This unconscionable act, a dramatic example of a nation-state failing to act in integrity and in ways that put the whole planet in peril, was the catalyst that would lead to our decision to create CICRCL.
Over the next three months, we watched as radiation-contaminated fresh produce, milk products, and meat disappeared from the supermarket shelves. While there was plenty of this food available, it was too toxic to consume. Supermarkets eventually brought in fresh produce grown under glass in Italy and Spain at very high prices. This food shortage and the shock surrounding the catastrophe stunned Europe was palpable. It was a reality-altering personal and collective experience. After we deliberated for a long about how to transform this disaster into something meaningful, we decided in October 1986 to found CICRCL and use it as a vehicle for conducting research in the field of conflict resolution.
We began our research by organizing two international conferences on conflict resolution–a 5-day in 1987 and a 3-day in 1988 . We invited Dr. Mindell as the keynote presenter at both, and had 50+ other presentations from cutting edge thinkers and doers from around the world at the first conference. These two conferences helped us see the big picture in the field of conflict resolution. We were able to identify both what was working in the field, and also where there were holes–what was missing. We used this information as the foundation for creating CICRCL’s Partnership Approach to resolving conflict. Our Developmental Systems Theory, which looks at the developmental sources of conflicts, grew out of systems theory. It uses the same principles and practices for resolving conflict in both micro and macro systems. This image to the right illustrates our systemic model, with the individual in the center and humanity in the outer ring.
The two of us began offering conflict resolution workshops through CICRCL to counseling students from the University. They were so well received by the students that we began teaching an elective course in the Counseling and Human Services Program. Students eventually requested that the course be required as part of the curriculum. We taught the course together many times between 1990 and 2000, and eventually consolidated all of the material into a textbook format. Conflict Resolution: The Partnership Way, now in its third edition, has become a classic in the field of conflict resolution.