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.
- Charles Chang, Executive Director, Asian Pacific American Dispute Resolution Center (Los Angeles, CA)
- Clay Fong, Program Manager, City of Boulder Community Mediation Service (CO)
- Malcolm D. White, Senior Mediation Specialist, Neighborhood Justice Center (Las Vegas, NV) & Chair, NAFCM Board of Directors
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!
Executive Director, NAFCM