January 29, 2012

Community Mediation Diversity Survey

NAFCM is pleased to release its Survey on Diversity + Inclusion within Community Mediation. This Survey, designed for program administrators, seeks to inform a more nuanced understanding of how we envision, engage, and execute the complex issues of culture, diversity, and inclusion.

A first of its kind for community mediation, the D+I Survey includes a series of both quantitative and qualitative measures; seeking as detailed responses as parties have time to share. It also seeks to collect data along a number of common metrics of diversity within each of the program staff, Board member, volunteer mediator, and client contexts. This latter series will connect seamlessly with comparative data from the latest U.S. Census, allowing for a real-time assessment of how diversity within mediation programs mirrors that of their local communities'.

In appreciation for completing the Survey, NAFCM will provide responding member programs with a personalized report on how their responses compare both to other community mediation programs, as well as to recent U.S. Census data from their own specific communities. These personalized reports will help programs better understand and promote their progress toward embracing diversity and inclusion.

Of course, it warrants note that while NAFCM anticipates the information gathered through this Survey, it readily and humbly acknowledges the impossibility of roundly quantifying culture or even counting all that which truly counts. Still, the broad information gathered through this Survey can help further inform and motivate deeper examinations of self and service within our wonderfully complex communities. After completing the survey, we welcome feedback on how this resource may be improved and/or supplemented for future uses. 

After you complete the D+I Survey, I encourage you to learn about and contribute to NAFCM's ongoing Discussion Series on Diversity + Inclusion.

In community,
Executive Director, NAFCM

January 27, 2012

D+I Week 2: Identifying Opportunities for Growth

We're wrapping up the second week of NAFCM's monthlong Diversity & Inclusion Discussion Series. This week's focus encourages us to thoughtfully and constructively examine where the field has yet to achieve its aims of fully embracing diversity in all its measures. Throughout the week, we've entreated the community dispute resolution field to examine diversity from the client, volunteer, and staff/Board member contexts.

I invite you to read this week's entire list of daily discussion prompts (included below the break). Then, share your own thoughts on these topics in the comments below.

In community,
Executive Director, NAFCM

January 24, 2012

Press Release and Open Letter for NY CDRCs


Continuing our support for New York Community Dispute Resolution Centers' ongoing Mediation Postcard Campaign, NAFCM is distributing a press release and open letter to NY's judiciary (complete letter below).

We encourage our colleagues throughout the field to show your support by lending your name to the campaign today!

In community,
Executive Director, NAFCM

January 20, 2012

D+I Week 1: Celebrating Our Progress

The first week of NAFCM's monthlong Diversity and Inclusion Discussion Series is now coming to a close, but we're not yet ready to stop the conversation! Centered around this week's theme of "Celebrating Our Progress," listserve participants have been entreated by a number of daily topics and related prompts. For those not on the list, however, I'd like to open a concurrent communication channel through this post and its comments section. 

Take a look at this week's daily topics and related prompts (below the break) and then share your comments on those that spark an interest.

In community,
Executive Director, NAFCM

Conflict Resolution Education Activity Calendar

Our colleagues over at the Association for Conflict Resolution's Education Section (and friends) have pulled together another exceptional calendar for school and youth program administrators. The Conflict Resolution Education (CRE) Activity Calendar, now in its 3rd edition, is a month-by-month trove of resources and activity ideas bringing CRE to life in engaging and instructional ways for youth of all ages.

From the Calendar:
Any change we wish to see in our world will have to be lived-out in our classrooms, schools and families. This calendar is offered in appreciation and recognition of the important work done every day by educators and youth leaders who plant seeds of knowledge and skills essential to a civil society and a peaceful, just world. Designed as a supplement to any curriculum or professional development program, the calendar is chockfull of ideas, activities, web resources, featured dates, inspirational quotes, poetry and powerful images -- all chosen to make the integration of conflict resolution education easy; all chosen to make conflict resolution everyone’s healthy habit. [more]
To adorn your own walls and enhance your classrooms' conflict competence, order a physical copy of the calendar today. You can really share the love by placing a bulk order (30+) for an entire school or district!

Many thanks to the ACR Education Section and Conflict Resolution Day Committee, CREducation.org, and the JAMS Foundation for making this wonderful resource so accessible to teachers, youth program administrators, and the youngsters they serve.

In community,
Executive Director, NAFCM

January 17, 2012

Diversity + Inclusion within Community Mediation

Congratulations to the many centers which coordinated successful Martin Luther King, Jr. celebration and service events this weekend! Your commitment to furthering the Dream of "justice [as] a reality for all" is a wonderful tribute to Dr. King and his celebrated movement from which we continue to so thankfully benefit and gratefully advance.

In the spirit of Dr. King's call toward an ever-forward march, NAFCM would like to initiate an honest, reflective field-wide conversation about diversity and inclusion within community mediation. This post serves as the welcoming to that conversation. I encourage you to read about our upcoming discussion and contribute your own suggestions on how we may further extend and enrich our ensuing dialogue in the comments below.

Diversity + Inclusion Working Group Chairs:
Building upon our capacity for honest, reflective, and compassionate dialogue, NAFCM is initiating a structured conversation using the NAFCM listserve to promote our progress and identify opportunities for continued growth along community mediation's path toward greater diversity and inclusiveness. (NAFCM's blog, The Community Mediator, will also feature weekly recaps of the list's substantive discussions. Blog participants are encouraged to share their contributions in the comments of related posts.
This conversation, hosted and facilitated by NAFCM's Diversity + Inclusion (D+I) Working Group, will follow a weekly schedule of probative, provocative, and (hopefully) profound discussion topics designed to further appreciate and inspire our commitment to diversity. All members of our community are encouraged to read, share, and engage contributions via NAFCM's listserve and social media outlets.


Since our field's founding, our core values have led us to embrace diversity and inclusiveness. These values inform how we administer our centers, as well as through whom we provide and toward whom we target our helpful services. Nearly 20 years ago, NAFCM memorialized these values as part of its Characteristics of Community Mediation Centers. Indeed the first five of the nine enumerated characteristics focus specifically on encouraging diversity and inclusiveness within center operations and service provision. This focus has encouraged your field, your association, your organizations, and your colleagues to be vigilant against that which excludes and champion that which unites. Locally, we've established principled organizations standing as exemplars of inclusiveness within our respective communities. Together, we've created an entire field endowed with the moral authority and earned expertise to challenge and engage divisive, disclusive disputes which threaten to separate or entrench beyond content's call.
Today, many centers undertake consistent, creative, impressive strides toward ensuring their services are responsive to and representative of their communities. We engage in volunteer outreach seeking to attract, train, and utilize skilled mediators who look and live just as the clients they serve. We employ staff with rich backgrounds and unfolded minds. We are governed by Boards and advisors who push us to be more for those with less. We open our services to any who may benefit, irrespective of all but their content and our capacity. And we promote the promise of and supply a vehicle for social justice when its others forms are too narrow or remote. We have achieved much as a field for greater diversity and inclusiveness, but we have farther yet to go.

Timeline & Themes

This dialogue series will encourage us to celebrate our progress and discover opportunities for continued growth. To structure this ambitious conversation, daily discussion prompts from our facilitators will encourage us to engage around a particular topic. Please share your thoughts, resources, and recommendations as they pertain to the daily or continued topics of interest to you. (At any time, participants are also welcome to directly share with our dialogue facilitators any feedback on how we may further enrich or extend this discussion series.) Upon completion of the formal series in mid-February, we will have grown stronger as a community through compassionately challenging one another, generously sharing our wisdom and resources, and informing our ever-forward march toward greater diversity and inclusiveness.
We welcome and thank you for participating in this dialogue series to celebrate and recommit community mediation to its values of diversity and inclusiveness. We look forward to your contributions and the uniting dialogue which lay ahead!

UPDATE: Program administrators, please complete NAFCM's newly released Survey on D+I within Community Mediation!

In community,
Executive Director, NAFCM

January 13, 2012

Community Mediation: Now Serving the UNdead, Too

In retrospect, it was only a matter of time. And now that time has come: Zombies have entered the world of community mediation!

The connection may appear rather tenuous (for now), but countless zombie flicks have all warned us there's much more to come. We need to steel ourselves for what lay ahead, prepare our intake, train our volunteers, and most importantly, not appear too lively...or tasty.

First cited this Friday the 13th in the latest issue of GEO Politics, Robert A. Saunders definitively -- though far too nonchalantly -- links the zombie and community mediation worlds in his article Undead Spaces: Fear, Globalisation, and the Popular Geopolitics of Zombiism. (A mere footnote referencing a 1978 article on "Crowding and Neighborhood Mediation of Urban Density" is wildly irresponsible reporting of such a monumentally terrifying development, Mr. Saunders!)

With these two worlds now inextricably merged, we can only imagine what's next. Neighbor disputes over razor wire placements and blinding security flood lights; consumer-merchant conflicts over survival supply and weaponry price gouging; biting bickerers; and an onslaught of indecipherable communication conflicts. 

Thankfully, community mediation is a creative lot, rising valiantly to other -- though less bloodthirsty -- social epidemics. We can stock our front offices with the zombie survival guide, cross-train our volunteer mediators in how to speak zombie, and reconfigure our mediation rooms to include floor-bolted chairs with security straps. (Please leave additional life-saving mediator recommendations in the comments below.)

Together, we can confront this challenge with our cool heads and warm BRRRAAAAAAINS

In jest,
Executive Director, NAFCM

Community Mediation, Singaporean Style

Expatriates, police, tabloids, sushi served on naked women at 3am dinner parties?! Singaporean community mediation sure does know how to make a splash!

Fresh on the heals of a national controversy which lit up cyberspace and Singaporean’s ire, the nation’s Community Mediation Centre is once again in the news, this time for good…for now.

Last year, a largely misinformed maelstrom battered the staid Centre as caustic online opinions rained down following a report that a local volunteer mediator had “got“ a party to accept a roundly maligned anti-curry concession as part of a larger resolution to a neighbor dispute. Appreciating both the nuances of language and mediators’ strict observance of session confidentiality, the volunteer in fact did no such thing – as CMC tried to assert too late – but the mediator and the organizations’ reputation took a battering nonetheless.

Ring in the New Year, and CMC already has another doozy on its hands. In all-too-familiar noisy neighbor turned “trespassing lunatic” fashion, the current incident is likely little more than your runaway run-of-the-mill interpersonal dispute. Still, that hasn’t stopped local media from fanning the flames and dishing all the juicy details.

Thankfully, the Community Mediation Centre once again stands ready to assist these neighbors in turning down the emotional noise long enough to deal with the real underlying issues. And, if CMC mirrors the success of U.S. community dispute resolution programs, it’s very likely these neighbors will find their way toward a more peaceful tomorrow. If not – or at least in the interim – we can be sure to read all about it online, including every seedy sushi detail!
In community,

Executive Director, NAFCM

January 12, 2012

Online Campaign Supports NY Programs

New York Community Dispute Resolution Centers are seeking your support for the restoration of funding to the state's mediation programs. The Mediation Postcard Campaign is a creative, targeted undertaking which will send up to 5,000 actual postcards to the offices of Justice Jonathan Lippman, Chief Judge of the State of New York, for each digital supporter submitting the campaign's online form. 

The postcard -- itself a strong advocacy piece -- outlines how community dispute resolution centers impact the local judiciary, including substantial per-case cost savings. It clearly articulates why the restoration of deep financial cuts to these programs is a judicious, necessary step to ensuring continued access to justice for New Yorkers in each of the state's 62 counties. 

We encourage you to read this compelling press release from the campaign's coordinating CDRC and post your own support on the campaign's website today.

In community,
Executive Director, NAFCM

January 9, 2012

Raymond Shonholtz: Community Mediation Visionary

It is with great sadness that I share in the loss of our friend and colleague Raymond Shonholtz. Ray was a visionary within community mediation from it's earliest days, and a tireless advocate of our capacity to mindfully engage one another with compassion and understanding.

In 1976, Ray founded and served as President of San Francisco's Community Boards, one of the first neighborhood and school mediation program in the United States. In 1989, he founded Partners for Democratic Change, an international organization committed to building sustainable capacity to advance civil society and a culture of change and conflict management worldwide. He continued to inspire these and other fields through championing innovative applications of peace, contributing peering scholarly articles, and selflessly sharing his time and wisdom with colleagues.

Ray gladly shared his countless moving experiences and his great personal warmth and brilliance with so many. This past November, he delivered the keynote address at the Oregon Mediation Association's 25th Annual Conference. It was during this event where he and I connected over a shared passion for community mediation. We remained in touch -- sharing ideas and planning opportunities to further promote the exceptional work and potential of our kindred field. Below is the complete copy of Ray's OMA keynote address -- a moving call to engage and encourage dialogue amidst contexts which engender less. I hope you find it as inspiring as those in attendance. 

In remembrance,
Executive Director, NAFCM

January 5, 2012

Call for Nominations: NAFCM Board of Directors

The NAFCM Board of Directors is pleased to announce its 2012 Call for Nominations!

NAFCM is seeking candidates from all walks and geographies with a passion for helping those in conflict. Elected nominees will join a stellar class of returning Board members, and help influence the exciting future of community mediation around the globe! 

As part of our 2012 Call for Nominations, NAFCM is seeking candidates who further enhance the Board of Directors' core talents and representations. Specifically, NAFCM is seeking candidates with backgrounds in fundraising/grant writing, marketing and public relations, financial management, collaborative technologies, and association management. The organization is also keen to expand its representativeness by encouraging candidates from Florida, Michigan, Nebraska, North Carolina, and the broader Pacific Northwest. As the organization continues to build upon its growing international presence, NAFCM is also pleased to invite nominations from colleagues outside the U.S. Of course, we warmly welcome all candidates regardless professional background or geography, and look forward to working closely with each nominee.

If elected, candidates serve a three-year term (flexible alternatives possible) and are asked to actively contribute to the advancement and promotion of community mediation in all its colorful applications. Read the full list of qualifications and expectations, review the 2012 timeline, contact us with any questions, and submit your nomination form today! Nominations close Tuesday, January 31st.

Please feel free to widely share this annual Call for Nominations with friends and colleagues!

In community,
Executive Director, NAFCM