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Put your heads together

UBC water expert first speaker in local series



University of British Columbia law professor Richard Paisley has worked in Africa, South America and Asia resolving international water disputes. But he’s never led a Dialogue Café, which is what he will do tonight at Whistler’s Gone Bakery.

Paisley has taught environmental law at UBC for 20 years and spends the rest of his time around the globe trying to bring together groups with disparate views. Tonight he will lead a free discussion on the importance of consensus, the first in a series of philosopher cafés organized by community leader William Roberts.

Paisley said there are lots of local issues that can utilize the same concepts he will introduce in the evening get together.

“We have conflict on a more localized level between people who want to build more golf courses at Whistler and people who would like to see the area preserved,” he said, “as well as conflict between people who would like to see more ski development and people who would like to preserve the wilderness.”

A continuation of a series of 48 discussions Roberts organized two years ago, these Dialogue Cafés are more of a conversation or dialogue than a speech or talk, Roberts said. The only rule for those attending is “don’t judge or criticize the views of others,” Roberts said. “So in that way we try to find a common ground and understanding.”

Paisley, who has two law degrees and a master’s in science, said he will bring that message home by sharing stories about his work, such as what he does in the Nile region trying to find consensus amongst the 10 countries that share the water source.

“It’s a matter of trying to work out the mutual gains approach in problems, in the benefits of sharing,” he said.

Richard Paisley will lead the first of five Dialogue Cafés scheduled for March starting tonight, March 15, 7:30 p.m. at Gone Bakery, admission by donation.