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Community Mediation within the United States
The breadth and diversity of the community mediation field is extensive. Programs diverge on nearly every measure of structural and programmatic design, including their financial resources; staffing arrangements and size; integration of volunteers; service capacity, diversity, and focus; collaborative partnerships; outcome objectives; and much more. The field contains a diverse collection of organizations, professionals, and skilled volunteers. It encompasses entities with 40-plus-year tenures and recent start-up programs. It benefits equally from the wisdom of decades-long Executive Directors and the vitality of new hires. It contains an enormous league of volunteer mediators who partner their own wonderful diversity with state-of-the-field mediation training to serve those in conflict. It represents not only the variability found within the broader dispute resolution landscape, but also the many communal heterogeneities the field tirelessly serves.
While embracing and encouraging this diversity, the community mediation field contours itself and stands united through a number of shared tenets. These characteristics of community mediation programs, originally outlined by NAFCM over a decade ago, represent the core ideals motivating the field’s continued existence and community service. These shared tenets identify community mediation programs as characterized by and/or committed to:
Within its current form, the community mediation field is a veritable one-stop-shop for all things conflict-related. It has evolved, extended, and engrained itself within hundreds of communities as the resolution choice of increasingly earlier resort. And while the availability of any particular service and capacity of each specific program varies significantly, collectively, the community mediation field contains the expertise and enterprise to engage both the everyday and the extraordinary with similarly constructive effects.