Former CRS Mediator, Houston Office
How do you know who to talk to?
How do we know who to talk to? We have an idea since every town has a mayor. We don't know any names, so we just call the operator and say, "Hey, give me City Hall and the chief of police." Hispanic minorities in Texas are associated mostly with the Catholic church. But you cannot ask the operator to give you the number for the Catholic church. You have to ask for a specific name. But there's always a First Baptist Church. You can call that preacher and ask him for the name of the Catholic church in that town and where the minorities go to church? I would also ask about African American churches and their pastors, and how I could reach them. Before we show up, we know a lot about the town because the people tell us. Once I arrive, I look around to see who's got the biggest business, who's got the biggest house, are they racially mixed. Usually, I ask for the top three business people and I ask those people who the top politician is. I also ask the mayor who are the top business people, the top educators, the top community organizations, the top law enforcement.
Are you doing this after you get there?
Usually, we try to do as much as we can on the phone, but if it's an emergency we have to be there quickly. Once I get there, I ask them several things from their point of view. What do they think is going on? Also, these people will tell me a lot of things about each other. Sometimes people have things they don't want you to know. So we just ask a lot of questions. Who's the leadership, who's the top educator, who's the top businessman, who speaks out front, who's in the back? Who calls the shots? They tell us. Then we make sure we talk to those five key individuals. Then we can pretty much be effective. The whole point of being effective is to create some kind of change or to help them progress, to solve their own problems.