Erion’s mediation journey began when someone told him that combining his communication style, background, and the way he builds rapport would make him a great mediator.  Like many, Erion had never heard of mediation, did not know what a mediator was or how being one could translate into a career.  A couple of years went by.  Then in 2019 Erion saw a mediation course being offered by a community college as a non-credit course.  Erion took the course.  Six Rivers is grateful that he did and that he volunteers his time to mediate cases with Six Rivers.  We had a conversation with Erion about his journey so that we could share his gifts. 

After taking the mediation training, Erion volunteered at the courthouse for small claims and evictions mediations.  The work Erion was doing and the way he facilitated communications between parties was noticed.  He was hired by Resolution Northwest and started the first Landlord Tenant Mediation program in the state of Oregon.  Erion currently is the Co-Director of Mediation with Resolutions Northwest. 

Although the program that Erion started was called Eviction Prevention he prefers to call it Landlord Tenant Mediation.  Erion explained that sometimes the landlord and tenant just need a neutral third party to help them communicate because they may not need to separate, they “just need to be cordial and live in peace.”  Like other types of mediation, with Landlord Tenant Mediation, Erion notes, “communication is key.” 

Erion’s work involves doing case development, outreach, mediation, and ensuring information is gathered for reporting requirements. When we asked him if there was something he enjoyed the most about his work, he replied that he likes the mix.  He then went on to say that lately he has been enjoying doing outreach by giving presentations to community partners and to landlords.  For Erion, this outreach and presentation work builds his confidence.  Erion notes that when he presents to landlords, they learn that little things can change the dynamic.  They learn how to better approach a situation because Erion helps the landlord understand the thought process from the tenant’s perspective.  Although not all landlords are receptive to mediation, Erion finds those who participate in the program develop a “bag of tools” that saves them money, allows then to be heard, allows them to be seen as a person and allows for a good chance to try to work things out.

We also talked about what can be disheartening as a mediator.  Erion finds it disheartening when an agreement is reached but then for one reason or another, one party decides not to sign the agreement.  There are many reasons this could happen such as having second thoughts, misunderstanding what they agreed to, or taking the agreement to a trusted person or attorney and being told not to sign.  To try to avoid this and make sure the parties agree, Erion types the agreement in their words as they say it, reads it back to them, sends a temporary one for them to review and then the final one to sign.   

In addition to his full-time work with Resolutions Northwest, Erion finds time to mediate matters with Six Rivers as a volunteer.  Erion first learned of Six Rivers when someone told him about a job opening. He reached out to Six Rivers Service Coordinator, Lori Loranger, who filled him in on how Six Rivers operates and the types of mediations that we do. Erion was interested in volunteering with Six Rivers for a number of reasons:  mediations could be done by zoom; the case development and background is completed by Six Rivers; there are many different types of cases including farmer to farmer and farmer to neighbor cases; and, with the co-mediation used by Six Rivers, there are opportunities to learn from working with a variety of other mediators.   

We asked Erion what he would tell someone who was thinking about volunteering as a mediator.  He replied that he would let them know that the opportunity is there, and you can use that to your advantage.  Volunteering allows you to get lots of practice and to see many different skills in a supportive environment with a co-mediator.   Erion always recommends small claims mediation because it involves all different types of cases, personalities, and situations.  Eiron goes on to say that the more you can mediate, the more you can learn and practice your skills like using silence as a tool, knowing when to be more direct, and, knowing when to redirect.

When not working with Resolutions Northwest or volunteering, Erion enjoys watching college and pro football, college and pro basketball and boxing. He also loves to go to comedy shows. As you may have gathered, Erion is busy and has lots of energy.  He enjoys physical activity. You may see him on the slopes as an adaptive skier or riding a ski bike. Erion also enjoys riding a recumbent bike and takes whatever opportunity he gets to visit his family and friends in California.

Erion has physical challenges as a person that lives with the autoimmune disease, scleroderma. Mediation has allowed Erion to not only re-enter the work force but to also help others navigate difficult situations. Erion’s communication skills make him an effective and supportive leader of a support group for those living with scleroderma.

A few final comments from the interviewer are that Erion is easy to talk to, puts you at ease and is genuinely interested in what you have to say.  Erion is someone that can find some common ground with just about anyone. Lastly, if you what to know how to get Erion to mediate a case schedule the mediation at 7am and instead of the traditional mediation snacks, bring a WELL-DONE steak!

To read more news from Six Rivers, please check out our Summer 2023 newsletter.