CBI Reports Winter 2019


2019 was a busy and productive year for CBI. We had the opportunity to work with stakeholders throughout the U.S. and world on topics ranging from climate change to affordable housing. Please see highlights from 2019 in our year-end infographic.

Thank you to all with whom we have engaged this year. It has been an honor to work on so many interesting projects and with so many talented individuals.


  • Breaking Through to the Table: New Thoughts on a Perennial Problem

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    CBI is employing four critical elements of its breakthrough collaboration framework – trust building, creativity, negotiation, and joint action – to support stakeholders who are facing what seem like intractable disagreements on a public issue. These ingredients are powerful catalysts for collaboration, but they beg the question: how do we get stakeholders to the table in the first place? Using a challenging case in a New Jersey community as an example, CBI Managing Directors David Fairman and Stacie Smith discuss enabling conditions and catalysts needed to bring parties together to consider the possibility of collaboration.

  • Taking Our Headphones Off

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    In the midst of social and political upheaval in Chile, CBI’s Chile Director and Senior Mediator Betsy Fierman discusses the importance of actively listening to one another as a starting point for dialogue on some of the key reforms being called for by citizens. Riots erupted in Chile in mid-October in response to a metro fare increase and have led to more than a million people protesting and calling for a new constitution and improved pension, health, and education systems. Read Betsy’s account of her experiences on the ground in the midst of the unrest and insights on how Chile’s citizens might begin to engage in dialogue, across ideological differences, to help the country move forward.

  • Could SONGS Offer a Sightline to Solving Our Nuclear Waste Dilemma?

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    In its recently published book, Resolving Energy and Land Conflicts, CBI tackled one of the toughest and perhaps most intractable land use and energy dilemmas: where should we put the nuclear waste that is building up through decades of generation from our fleet of nuclear power plants? There is no licensed permanent repository for nuclear waste in the U.S., but a settlement agreement in California to relocate fuel from the decommissioned San Onofre Nuclear Generating Station (SONGS) may offer important lessons on how to find temporary or permanent locations to store nuclear waste. In this blog post, CBI Senior Mediator Catherine Morris draws on CBI's land use and energy siting expertise to propose a roadmap for successful collaboration to address this challenge.

  • We Are All in it Together: Collaborative Governance Advancing Water Management

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    Challenges around water management in the American West are deepening, as weather becomes more variable and, at times, severe. CBI has been working on water issues with communities in the West for a decade and has found “collaborative governance” to be a very helpful approach to bringing people together to address management of critical water resources. Collaborative water governance assumes that managing water is most effective when everyone is in support of the decision-making process and has a voice in critical issues that affect their lives and livelihoods. In this blog post, CBI West Director Gina Bartlett and CBI Senior Mediator Tania Carlone discuss the benefits and challenges of collaborative water governance in the American West.

  • Reflections on a Collaborative Documentary Experiment

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    In early 2019, in collaboration with the Colombian Center for Responsible Business, CBI envisioned and co-produced a documentary film as a medium to give voice to the experience and concerns of community stakeholders living in the coal-mining region of Cesar, Colombia. In this blog post, CBI Senior Mediator Merrick Hoben reflects on his filmmaking experience.