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Community Mediation Centers - Creating Space to Help Meet the Challenge

Tuesday, October 6, 2020   (0 Comments)
Posted by: Lori Dieckman
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Community Mediation Centers - Needed NOW More Than Ever

By D.G. Mawn, NAFCM President

We recognize that many of us find ourselves over booked with obligations and concerns about stability and safety. So before reading further about our suggestion that you and your center become more engaged in assuring a free and fair election, we want to encourage each of you to take care of your needs.
With the leadership of the New York Peace Institute, NAFCM held space for our members to meet and talk about the call to address institutional and systemic racism, the impact of the pandemic, the climate fires, and the approaching election. Many felt that the current times are like “drinking from a fire hydrant”.
The first question during the roundtable, however, focused on how we are taking care of ourselves. Here are some of the responses:
 - Do what you need to do to feel grounded.
 - Exercise and garden; find moments to enjoy each day.

 - Focus on what we can do locally with our family, neighbors, and community.


The second question focused on what can members of the NAFCM family can do within the context of local and national conversations that are taking place around racism, police reform, the census and voting? In addition to celebrating that many Community Mediation Centers (CMCs) are doing pre- and post-election events, we also celebrate that are CMCs:
  • are all engaged in different strategies centered around unpacking biases and making sure CMCs are listening to their communities. 
  • are central in our national culture - we are watchers of what is going on in our communities in a positive way.
  • are playing a critical role in stitching up the seams of homelessness, families, and communities.
  • can plan for long-term dialogue as needed to really engage the community in conversations about race, policing and other issues of marginalization and discrimination.
  • could offer mediations in situations of racial discrimination between neighbors.
  • create opportunity for quarterly dialogues about racial disparity in communities, and events where people can talk about their personal experiences with discrimination so others can become aware of community members’ experiences.
  • have to adjust to all the changes in their business model just to keep up with all the issues that have come up since COVID started.
  • must realize that mediation is not always the right tool to use in every situation (and CMCs do more than mediation).
We are who our communities need!

The 2020 Edelman Trust Barometer reported that nonprofit organizations are seen as more ethical compared to the government, the private sector, and the media. More so, we, as community mediators and community mediation centers are called by our Hallmarks to be pro-active in supporting addressing conflict at the earliest of stages (H.6), to be an alternative to the judicial system (H.7), to initiate effective positive systemic change (H8), to engage in public awareness about the values of community mediation, and (H9) which are integrity, quality, curiosity, vision-focused, and collaboration.
What can be more important than assisting with the integrity of the election (H9), assuring access to voting so everyone’s voice is heard (H8), and creating space to help address any conflict about voting at the earliest stage of that conflict (H6) and as an alternative to engaging in the judicial system (H7)?


With uncertainties around the election process and potential post-election disruption on the horizon, we can serve as credible messengers with trusted relationships and help to mitigate misinformation - especially with historically and civically disenfranchised groups. To support their communities and embrace our Hallmarks, we can take three specific categories of actions: 

  • get out the vote; 
  • support safe and secure elections; and 
  • prepare for potential post-election disruption and develop an action plan. 


To take those first steps, please download the slide deck on Community Mediation Centers and Voting:  cmcs_and_voting__1_.pdf

On Thursday, October 8th, The Carter Center is hosting a free, live webcast, “The 2020 Election: Are You Prepared?” at 7:00 pm ET. Register here

“Not everything that is faced can be changed, but nothing can be changed until it is faced.” James Baldwin


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