Annette and Don Ivans at Palestine with Thomas E., Thomas O., and Anna Bibbs
Mix energy, interest, enthusiasm and momentum together and you will have a sense for the conflict resolution sessions at the Palestine Neighborhood Development Corporation in April and May. The sessions, made possible through a grant from the JAMS Foundation, covered topics such as conflict coaching, communication skills practice and trauma healing.
Thomas Bibbs, president of the Neighborhood Association, his wife Anna and son Thomas E., hosted the events, greeting participants as they arrived and creating a welcoming space for interactive learning to take place. The final session found the group of 41 community members walking through a conflict coaching process based upon a real life scenario involving siblings and secret information. Through the coaching process we asked questions such as: How do you feel? How do you want to feel? How might the other person feel? What is the best outcome? What type of engagement might facilitate that outcome? These questions helped us find empathy for all of the conflict partners and to see the benefit of staying separate from the problem yet connected to the people in multi-party situations.
As Community Mediation Center (CMC) facilitators, we learned far more from the group than we taught and found ourselves looking forward to the sessions with anticipation and excitement. It is our hope that an already competent and engaged community gleaned helpful theories and concepts for navigating the daily conflicts we, as human beings, face. One participant wrote, “I’m learning the importance of staying calm and staying open minded in conflict”. That’s a skill we can all aspire to! Welcome to the Peace Party!
You can join. Help us continue to bring conflict resolution training to areas of extremely high conflict, empowering communities to solve conflict before it escalates to violence. Find the button to the right and ‘DONATE NOW’
Ms. Saffold facilitates a parent circle
Last Thursday, 4 teachers, several community volunteers, staff members and security personnel from Central Academy of Excellence, completed a 12 hour Conflict Resolution and Restorative Discipline Workshop. Each Thursday afternoon for 5 weeks, the group met for 3 hours to discuss personal conflict styles, conflict resolution skills, the ‘think, listen, collaborate’ process, circle facilitation and other concepts.
Central’s principal, Linda Collins, invited the Community Mediation Center (CMC) to her school with the goal of helping staff and volunteers build their capacity to empower students to solve issues in peaceful ways. The workshop, funded by the Kansas City, Missouri Community Capital Fund, culminated in each participant writing and presenting a Restorative Discipline Project to a larger group of parents and students.
One of the projects described a ‘safe’ room for students to go to during the day when they knew they were at risk for fighting. Originating with a request from members of student counsel, the ‘safe’ room will be staffed by trained adult mentors who will coach self-referred students through their situation. Another project plans to create a parent support ‘circle dialogue’ in which parents can express frustrations as well as the joys of raising teenagers, in a confidential and safe setting.
In school suspension coordinator and middle school team leader, Lynne Shipley, organized participants for the workshop and will continue her plan to work with students she sees in her classroom in restorative ways, helping them seek healthy habits for conflict resolution that will prepare them for a more peaceful future. Additional training is planned for other members of the school community in August. Central Academy of Excellence is finding ways to restore students to their supportive community before during and after wrongdoing instead of separating them from it – Welcome to the Peace Party!
Margot and Annette in the studio
Last Monday morning, a small group of us braved the’ late in the year’ snow storm to make our way to the KKFI 90.1 radio station on Main Street in Kansas City, Missouri. I met Jeff Humfeld, producer for the ‘Jaws of Justice’ radio show, at a community event in March. He mentioned the program and asked if I would do an interview about the Community Mediation Center. Several weeks later I was contacted by Margot Patterson for a pre-interview conversation. At that time we decided to do the interview live on the air as opposed to a pre-recording. I felt a little nervous as I arrived at the station, but was put at ease by efficient and friendly people and a comfortable atmosphere. Keith Brown announced the interview and we were off! Early on, Mike Murphy, chief operator, slid a piece of paper toward me that suggested I “get closer to the mic”. With Margot’s graceful efforts the interview went well. The ‘Jaws of Justice’ program highlights efforts that “seek out alternatives to the present practice that puts the law before justice, alternatives that are restorative to those that have been wronged and just to those that have offended.” (from the website). ‘Jaws of Justice’ is a forum, run by dedicated volunteers, that invites community members to engage in conversation about concepts of justice that effect us all. Welcome to the Peace Party!
You can listen to the 20 minute interview here click to listen