After their son was killed in a car accident, the parents could have held onto their hate and anger at the boy’s friend who was driving drunk.
Instead they chose conflict resolution through a technique called restorative justice, said photographer Richard Steckel, and now those parents want their son’s friend to join the family business after he finishes his sentence.
“Anyone has the choice of being either malicious or being violent or being stupid,” he said, calling the family courageous.
Together with his wife, Michele, Steckel created the panels now on display at the Colorado Mountain College campus in Breckenridge as part of an exhibit about conflict management and dispute resolution.
The photo and story exhibit sponsored by Zinn Mediation Associaties, a Denver-based business offering mediation services, features Coloradans working together to solve problems.
It illustrates seven stories of people and communities who chose constructive, collaborative conflict resolution methods, including immigrants of different religions, neighbors, friends and classmates. All of the conflicts were mediated by locals, like school principals or law enforcement officials.
“I think it’s the one that touches people the most,” he said of the family who forgave their son’s killer, but “they all touch you in different ways.”
The traveling exhibit, which first opened in October 2012 in the state capitol building, features 17 door-sized panels, each 3-feet wide by 8-feet tall, and a Spanish booklet with complete translations.
Zinn Mediation Associates hopes organizations use the exhibit for scheduled educational programs.
Myra Isenhart, the exhibit’s coordinator, said she hopes the panels move people to handle conflict without using violence or getting involved in expensive, hurtful lawsuits.
People could see each story as a “what if,” Stecker said — What if I knew someone going through this? What if I face something similar in the future? — and remember the practical solutions in the display.
“That, to me, is worth it.”
For more information or to set up a tour, contact the campus at (970) 453-6757.