Family Tree Mediation





Displaying items by tag: college

Tuesday, 14 May 2019 23:25

Family Tree Mediation Has Moved!

When the letter came on the last day of February, I had a foreboding.  I’d noticed a certain energy around the building where Family Tree Mediation has had its office for the past six years, but I couldn’t quite put my finger on it.  To begin with, the owner had put in a putting green in a little courtyard space near the rear of the building.  Why not? I supposed.  The space wasn’t really being used.  Maybe the landlord, whose offices occupied the bottom floor, was an avid golfer?  But then there were the new fences and the trellis constructed across the back wall facing the parking lot.  As I came and went, in the morning and the evening, these details didn’t really register in my thoughts, but subconsciously there was definitely a whisper.

And then the envelope with the 90-days eviction notice inside on the door of every office on the upper floor.  The space was being converted for a single tenant start-up.  It’s a familiar Silicon Valley story.

We, people in general, or, heck, me-- I get rooted in my life and being uprooted, for me, feels dismaying.  In case you haven’t checked lately, the commercial real estate market in Palo Alto and Menlo Park is no picnic.  I’d had it good in my old office.  I now understood just how good.  I looked at a lot of depressing places at four and five times my old rent and a lot of them involved investment beyond just higher rent. Even the wonderful place I found after a month of searching, and a stressful episode or two in contemplation of other contracts, even this new, affordable, exciting prospect required just such an investment, not just financially, but of imagination, time, elbow grease, and judgment, risk assessment. 

When I got the eviction notice, I had a foreboding of all this.  A storm of sorts was about to hit, and I was in for a good month or two, possibly more, of hard work steering my business to a new home, while still seeing a full client load and making sure their needs were well met.

Thursday, 26 September 2013 20:54

College Terrace Green Team 2013 Garden Census Results

Results of the College Terrace Green Team 2013 Garden Census 

Greetings from the College Terrace Green Team! First off, my apologies for posting these results on a hidden page on my business website -- It was the easiest way I could figure out to make the large jpegs providing the results appear at a size large enough to be somewhat readable and still be easily accessible by a link on the Next Door social network.     

As for the results, 65 people responded out of the 555 College Terrace neighbors on Next Door. For most of the 10 questions, there are two charts. The first is a bar chart that shows the percentage of survey takers who grew a given type of plant, saw a given type of animal, undertook a given kind of activity, etc. The second chart simply states that percentage by number and also indicates the exact number of survey takers who grew that type of plant, saw that type of animal, undertook that activity, etc.  These charts are spread out over seven webpages.  You can navigate through them at the bottom of each page.

Individually written responses regarding requests for help are not included below, but they have been tallied and the Green Team will be considering whether we are able to follow up on these requests and how to make that possible.  

The Green Team hopes you have fun looking at some of what's going on in our neighborhood.  Have a great Fall Harvest! -- Hank

Question 1 

 Garden Census Results 2013 question 1a 4 Garden Census question 1b results 5

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Hank Edson Family Tree Mediation 72dpiHank Edson, J.D. 

Proprietor of Family Tree Mediation
Serving Redwood City, Atherton, Menlo Park, Palo Alto, Mountain View,
Los Altos and the wider Peninsula & San Francisco Bay Area. 

Friday, 21 December 2012 19:29

A Winter Solstice Poem for Families

On the Family Tree Mediation facebook page, we have a weekly tradition in tandem with our Pinterest page.  We call it Our Weekly Celebration of the Family Tree.  Each week we choose an inspiring photo of a beautiful tree and reflect on what the photo might say about families.  

Last week’s celebration of the family tree was called “The Tree of Lights” and evoked the following reflection: “Each member in the family glows with a beautiful vibration he or she has been singing since before any of us had an agenda or experience. The holidays are a time, amid the busyness, to get quiet enough to enjoy each other's nature singing, to bathe in the gift of the glow each one gives off, that cannot be improved upon or corrected.”  (See and

The tree is such a powerful force and symbol, with its skyward direction, offer of shelter, witness of time, and embrace of the diversity of its branches.  In my favorite poem, the first in Rainer Maria Rilke's Sonnets to Orpheus, Rilke uses the tree as a symbol of the enlightenment growing within the hearts and minds of the animals of the forest as they listen to the poet Orpheus sing.  Rilke begins: "A tree ascended there!  Oh, pure transendence!/ Orpheus sings! Oh, tall tree in the ear!" [Translation by Stephen Mitchell]  I like to think the affection I developed for these lines long before I became a mediator foretold my own calling to be a listener and a provider of space in which mutual understanding may grow.  At the same time, these lines have also long spoken to me of my own identification with Orpheus, the poet, the singer of meaning who songs brings people together.

Revisiting the tree of lights post on our facebook page, I remembered a poem I wrote almost thirty years ago as an English major in college and I realized how meaningful the ebb and flow of family relationships have always been to me.  As the poem is also about the holidays, I thought I would share it with you on this widely celebrated winter solstice, the night for which the ever green tree has always been a symbol of magical vitality even in the darkest of winter nights. 

As you will see, the constancy of the family tree, amid every kind of change of season, has clearly held a place of central value for me for a long time.

Friday, 27 April 2012 03:20

Returning Graduate

When Recent Graduates Return to Live at Home


Amid hard economic times, the skyrocketing burdens of college loans, and an inaccessible housing market, there is a growing trend increasingly reported in the news of adult children moving back in with their parents following graduation from college. No doubt for many parents and many young adult children, this new living dynamic is stressful and even painful.

We have all grown up with an expectation of increasing prosperity from generation to generation and for many moving out on one’s own is an important symbol signifying that that expectation of prosperity is on its way to being fulfilled. The symbolic disappointment of that expectation inspires all kinds of different emotional responses from both parents and young adult children.

In addition to the emotions that attend a graduate’s moving back in with his or her parents are a host of practical issues relating to any household. How do the housing costs get covered? How does the home get cleaned? What impact do visitors have on the other members of the household? How do people communicate about important household needs? How much privacy do household members get? The list of such questions that may come up is a long one.

Often attending the practical aspects of these questions is a diverse range of value judgments, personal experiences, relationship histories, and awkwardness before uncharted territory that together result in very different perceptions on any given issue.

With all of these factors at play at once, it’s understandable if the peace and contentment of home has been shaken.

There has been a fair amount of coverage in the news of the growing numbers of college graduates who find it necessary to move back in with their parents. Many factors contribute to this new pattern. There is the skyrocketing cost of tuition and the unprecedented debt with which recent graduates are now often burdened. There is the unhealthy economic climate that has gripped our country for several years now. Jobs are hard to get. Salaries are falling. Economic disparities are increasing. Home ownership is more of a challenge than ever, putting increased pressure on the rental market. Questions about the adequacy of college preparation for the changing demands of the American workplace also loom. One may even step back and regard the environmental threats, wars, and cultural trends shaping the society into which enter our newly minted college graduates as factors contributing to their need or decision to move back home.

No doubt for many parents and many young adult children, this new living dynamic is stressful and even painful. There are two thoughts, however, that can be of help to families trying to find a way to adjust to these new circumstances.

Tuesday, 10 April 2012 23:56

Transition to Independence

The Role of Communication/Education Coaching
in Helping Families Make the Most of College

sam-35These days, the cost of higher education is soaring higher and higher indeed. Just to get into a good college, increasingly large numbers of students are relying on SAT and Achievement Test preparatory courses at considerable expense. Many families take the additional step of hiring a consultant to help their child put together the strongest possible college application packet.And before the application stage, substantial investments are also frequently made in athletics coaches, music teachers, educational camps and programs outside of school, and a host of other opportunities aimed at developing the interests and talents of their maturing children. Thus, in addition to the obvious emotional investment families have in seeing their young adults find their way happily into the world, there is also an astounding financial investment as well.

In offering communication facilitation and education coaching services to families with young adults in the midst of their transition to independence, Family Tree Mediation seeks to help young adults and the families who support them to make the most of the opportunity of college and to begin their adult life well equipped to navigate their own pursuit of happiness through whatever challenges may come.

Here’s why communication/education coaching for the whole family during a young adult’s transition to independence is worth your consideration.

Tuesday, 10 April 2012 23:54

Facilitated Family Meetings

Helping You Navigate Difficult, but Important Topics

Facilitated Family Meetings at Family Tree Mediation

A few examples: When might a mediator be able to help your family navigate a difficult, but important topic?  Answering this question is easier with the help of a few examples. Consider the following scenarios: 

  1. The once warm relationships shared between four siblings has grown closed and distant due to a combination of resentment harbored by one against another, immoderate alcohol use by a third, and the different places they live and different wealth each has achieved. However, their parent’s 50th wedding anniversary brings them all together and based on the encouragement of their parents there is the opportunity for the brothers and sisters to talk about what has kept them apart…
  2. A family with two boys, one in high school and one in junior high, is trying to cope with the fact that the older boy is suddenly completely consumed with his new girl friend, his school work is slipping, and attempts by his parents to intervene have been met with anger andOn top of this, the prom is coming up and his parents are shocked that kids are spending over $1000 for one night at a dance.  Meanwhile, their younger son, who looks up to his brother, is just beginning to go to dances.  His parents are concerned that in experimenting with his identity, he will rush into behavior modeled after his brother in a way that will create problems.  The parents are struggling to engage their children effectively in a conversation about their concerns…
  3. A divorced family of two households must make a plan for adjusting to the fact that one parent, after several years, is compelled by economic necessity to take a job in anotherBoth parents agree that the children are old enough to best represent their own needs with regard to certain aspects of the decisions that must be made.  Yet both parents also have needs of their own that they agree do not have to be neglected in the face of the needs of the children.  There is a spirit of cooperation, but two new spouses, a step sister in one household and a half-brother in the other.  Making the necessary adjustments won’t be easy…

The thing that these three scenarios share most in common is that each involves a network of intersecting family relationship and a sense that the wellbeing of one or more loved ones is at risk.  In addition, there is an implicit question whether the family members will be able to communicate effectively about the issues at hand in order to adequately care for each others’ wellbeing and the family bonds they all share.

The question Family Tree Mediation asks you to consider is this:

Can a skilled and neutral, third party mediator help your family take care of each other, navigate difficult transitions, repair old rifts, and/or otherwise help you to improve the quality of your communication and relationship patterns?

For many, mediation is a legal word that brings to mind divorce settlements, testamentary challenges, or business breach of contract suits.  This understanding is rapidly changing, however, as a result of four decades of intense activity and growth in the mediation field.  During this time, mediators and researchers have developed and proven many new communication tools that are not necessarily legal in nature, but are universal to the types of conversations we have every day, all day long. Appreciation has also grown for the wide applicability of mediation and the unique function a neutral, outside party can play in structuring and facilitating a conversation that would otherwise be hard to free from negative emotion.

Here are ten ways that Family Tree Mediation can help your family navigate difficult conversations and decisions by facilitating your family meeting:

  1. By creating and holding a caring, attentive and inquiring communication space where you can all feel equally respected, free and encouraged to speak your truth in a confidential setting;
  2. By facilitating a multi-party communication process aimed at giving each family member deeper satisfaction that he or she really has been heard and understood;
  3. By identifying and distinguishing between the different positions held by respective family members and the core needs those positions are intended to satisfy;
  4. By facilitating exploration of each others’ core needs as a means for creating more opportunity for creative solutions that address the diverse range of interests represented among the whole family;
  5. By identifying and discussing different standards and processes for evaluating the merit of proposed solutions;
  6. By helping the family to apply those standards as a means for voluntarily coming to and refining an agreement on a plan for addressing the issues at hand;
  7. By facilitating the development of a plan for implementing the solutions agreed upon;
  8. By assisting the family in formalizing the agreement if desired;
  9. By fostering an environment in which family members have the opportunity to heal old wounds, apologize for any past wrongs or regrets, and overcome childhood or other patterns that no longer serve a useful purpose;
  10. And by creating an opportunity for training and practice in more constructive communication patterns that will serve the family well when faced with other difficult issues in the future.

If you have questions you would like to ask about Family Tree Mediation’s family meeting facilitation services or if you would like to schedule an appointment, you can call me at (650) 762-TREE [762-8733] or email me using the email form on our Contact Us page.  Also, please call or email if you have any questions you would like to discuss.



Hank Edson Family Tree Mediation 72dpiHank Edson, J.D.          CALL: (650) 762-8733

Proprietor of Family Tree Mediation
Serving Redwood City, Atherton,
Menlo Park, Palo Alto, Mountain View,
Los Altos and the wider Peninsula &
San Francisco Bay Area.