Mobile mediation

29 Apr

Last summer, I made several presentations about community mediation to Neighborhood Advisory Boards (NAB) in Reno. My intent was to increase awareness of mediation as a tool for communities to address disputes in a more peaceful, collaborative way.

I was saddened to hear at one of the NAB meetings that a lawsuit had already been filed between neighbors and a school.

Then at a holiday gathering, I learned that one of my colleagues was party to a lawsuit against the owners of an abandoned property further down his street. The neighbors felt that the run down condition of the parcel was negatively affecting their property values.

Why do neighbors have to go through such lengths to resolve neighborhood issues? Lawsuits are expensive, time consuming and filled with stress.

Other than family and perhaps co-workers, who are physically closest to us, but our neighbors?? Even if it’s just driving my their houses as we head home.  Wouldn’t it be irritating to pass by that school or abandoned lot every day and feeling your blood pressure go up? Wouldn’t it get even worse when those letters from lawyers arrive in the mail or you have your day in court opposite your neighbor?

VanSo, where am I going with this? Well, I recently read about a caravan that was driving around communities in Trinidad to promote the use of mediation. Kind of like me … but on wheels.  Which got me to thinking further — what if you could provide mobile mediation? Bringing mediation where the disputes are. Perhaps that would allow disputants to be surrounded by the place where the disagreement is occurring to observe and learn more about the issues, express concerns and to share ideas. I think that a physical presence in the neighborhood would add a lot to the conversation, don’t you? Of course, issues of neutrality would still have to be considered, but that would be doable.

As I have said many times, conflict is inevitable. Mediation can help to provide resilience for communities back to a more peaceful state. Mobile mediation might help to bring it home!


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