March 29, 2012

Rebel with a Cause

What motivates an individual to step boldly into rooms full of angst, pain, and vitriol, with eyes and mind wide-open? What drives a person to move toward conflict with nothing more than pen in hand? In short, what motivates a community mediator?

With 20,000 exceptionally trained volunteer mediators helping nearly a million individuals each year, motivations likely abound. Personal challenge, professional development, restorative aims, adrenaline highs, and more gird the urge to sit twixt seething tension and icy stares. Variously motivated, community mediators draw upon their personal incitement to intervene and, thus, become their communities’ go-to problem solvers -- capable of engaging the most difficult, entrenched, and strained situations with exceptional competence, steely aplomb, and impressive results.

Take a peek at my own journey in joining the community mediation movement in the Association for Conflict Resolution's latest edition of ACResolutions (PDF). "Rebel with a Cause: The Making of a Community Mediator" is a short account of what moved me from the classroom to my community's fence-strewn front lines. It's also a good read for first-profession mediators who are not drawing upon and then diverting however subtlety or substantially from a decades-long career of legal, therapeutic, social, or any other work.

Have a read and then share your own motivations for volunteering as a community mediator in the comments below!

In community,
Executive Director, NAFCM

March 21, 2012

The Perfect Start to a Mediator's Day

Stand aside Starbucks, Seattle's Best, Scooters, and in-a-pinch Kwik Trip java pharma. My morning cafeti√®re √† piston will now be brewing a whole bean espresso roast appealing to my more contemplative side.

In addition to clarifying questions, anger-calming tips, and impasse-averting techniques, the modern mediator can now also add has a preparatory cup 'o joe to her toolkit. A local dispute resolution program is now offering Mediator Blend Coffee as the perfect start to an unswayable day. Offering delicate notes of milk chocolate, caramel, hazenut, and citrus fruit pervade, this is a decidedly creativity-inspiring rather than palate-neutral blend.

Just think of the possible uses:

  • Need to drive home a point to new mediator trainees? Implement a Pavlovian mix of lesson-feedback-java reward to ensure the concepts stick.
  • Particularly cantankerous clients arriving within the hour? Take a double shot and get amped to soothe!
  • At a loss for what to do in the heat of a spiraling mediation? Serve up a round of Mediator Blend to the parties and watch the room relax and resolve itself away!

How else could you use the new Mediator Blend in your program or practice? Share your scenarios in the comments below!

In community,
Executive Director, NAFCM

PS. Also pairs nicely with a morning read of The State of Community Mediation!

2012 Board Election Results

Congratulations NAFCM's newest Board Members-Elect!

We are thrilled to announce the results of this year's Board of Directors nomination and election processes.  Following an impressive number and quality of nominations earlier this year, the NAFCM Board settled on a slate of nine candidates. We encouraged members to learn more about each candidate and cast their vote for those they felt would help advance our field. After a remarkable member turnout during the voting process, we are pleased to welcome six of the candidates as our newest Board Members-Elect!

The newest members of NAFCM's Board of Directors, whose terms will officially begin on May 4th, are as follows:

      Member-ElectVern Best
      Location: Washington, D.C.

      Member-ElectBrad Heckman
      Program:  New York Peace Institute
      Location: New York, NY

      Member-ElectLaura Jeffords
      ProgramThe Mediation Center
      Location: Asheville, NC

      Member-ElectD.G. Mawn
      ProgramCommunity Systems Online
      Location: Louisville, KY

      Member-ElectSteffanie Medina
      ProgramCreative Mediation
      Location: San Luis Obispo, CA

      Member-ElectKelly Riley
      Program: Nebraska Mediation Association
      Location: Eagle, NE

We also had two current Board members re-elected to serve a second three-year term, including:

      Member-ElectPeter Taillie
      Program: Mid Shore Community Mediation
      Location: Easton, MD

      Member-Elect: Malcolm D. White
      Program: Neighborhood Justice Center
      Location: Las Vegas, NV

Over the next six weeks leading up to the Board's annual Face-to-Face meeting, we will be featuring extended profiles of our newest Board Members-Elect as part of our "Meet the Board" blog series. We invite you to click in and learn more about their impressive backgrounds and exciting goals for their Board tenure. 

As we begin to orient these exceptional individuals onto NAFCM's Board, we also want to take time to thank our members. Your votes have provided these individuals an incredible opportunity to serve you. Thank you for taking the time to thoughtfully review their backgrounds, statements, and goals, and then cast your vote in this year's elections. We look forward to harnessing all our newest energies and resources to continue to serve and support all the good you do.

This truly is an exciting time for all our new Board Members-Elect, for NAFCM, and for our field!  Congratulations!

In community,
Executive Director, NAFCM

March 17, 2012

Happy St. Patrick's Day

In the 5th century, a teenage boy of Romano-British origin was kidnapped and brought to Ireland as a slave. He escaped roughly six years later but returned to Ireland as an ordained Bishop. St. Patrick is credited for spreading Christianity to his pagan captors. The clover, or shamrock, was a sacred plant that symbolized the rebirth of spring. St. Patrick famously used the clover to explain the trinity (Father, Son, and Holy Spirit). He died on March 17, 461 and his life story grew to mythological proportions and is ingrained in Irish culture. He is the patron saint of Ireland and is celebrated in both the secular and non-secular worlds....

Sophia Gilmer

March 12, 2012

The State of Community Mediation 2011

NAFCM is pleased to release The State of Community Mediation 2011. This report is one of the most extensive reviews of the U.S. community mediation field ever undertaken! It includes reports from over a hundred local programs, contains key statistics never before reported, and shares insights on many aspects of this important and growing practice area.

Here are just a few of the must-read highlights contained within the 40-page report:

  • 400 Programs
  • 1,300 Full-Time Equivalent Staff Members
  • 20,000 Volunteer Mediators
  • 400,000 Case Referrals per year
  • 900,000 Service Recipients per year
  • 3 Full-Time Equivalent Staff Members per Program (average)
  • 50 Volunteer Mediators per Program (average)
  • $150,000 - $200,000 Annual Budget (average)
  • 30+ Distinct Service Types
  • 9 Services per Program (average)
  • 100+ Distinct Case Types
  • 36 Case Types per Program (average)
  • 4 to 70+ Case Types per Program (range)
  • 5 Revenue Categories per Program (mode)
  • Roughly 50% of Funding Originates from Government Sources
  • 20,000 Volunteer Mediators Fieldwide
  • 35 Hours Volunteered per year (average)
  • $20,000,000 Donated in Professional Mediation Services Fieldwide
  • 16 : 1 Ratio of Volunteers to Full-Time Equivalent Staff Members
  • 4 : 1 Ratio of Staff to Volunteer Hours
  • 350 Full-Time Equivalent Volunteers Fieldwide
  • 0.9 Full-Time Equivalent Volunteers per Program (average)

Read and engage the complete report, which is now posted -- for FREE! -- in its entirety on NAFCM's website.

Many thanks go out to the JAMS Foundation for their support of this report, as well as to my lovely and luminous co-author Wendy E. H. Corbett.

In community,
Executive Director, NAFCM

March 6, 2012

2012 Board Elections

NAFCM has now released its Ballot for the 2012 Board Election! There is an impressive, diverse group of nine candidates on this year's Ballot. We encourage you to review the candidates (below the break) and cast your vote today! 

Helping to choose our Board of Directors is an important way you can shape the direction of not only NAFCM, but the broader community mediation movement.

NOTE: Voting in the annual election is open to current NAFCM members only. If you are not a current member, please join or renew your membership today. Once renewed, a link to the official ballot will be emailed to you. Be sure to act fast! Voting closes Friday, March 16th.

In community,
Executive Director, NAFCM