Elements of Peace

Community

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Community Mediation and Group Facilitation

We work with community groups such as neighborhood associations, HOAs, volunteer organizations, intentional communities and PTAs, and we also serve as mediators when state and local governments interact with community groups or with government contractors.

We are typically engaged in situations such as these—

  • A community or interest group is experiencing conflict over a significant issue and isn’t sure how to make progress.

  • You want to increase the likelihood of a positive outcome, because if an issue is not resolved successfully, there is potential for harm to the community.

  • The participants in a community conversation want some sort of intervention to help resolve sticking points that are holding up progress or that threaten final agreement.

  • Neighbors are raising concerns about noise, cleanliness, parking or other issues, and the community needs a neutral third party to guide the discussions.

  • A stalemate has occurred. You are making a last attempt to reach an agreement before taking legal steps or breaking off dialog.

  • A leadership team has an important decision to make and wants to avoid going down rabbit holes—that is, getting lost in details or a disagreement.

  • A discussion leader wants to participate in a discussion—instead of leading it—and needs to have a third-party facilitator step in.

Community groups are by their very nature inclusive. They are joined together for a common purpose. Nonetheless, they are also made up individuals, and conflicts are inevitable. Power dynamics between participants can disrupt the flow of ideas and impede decision making. Members may align into factions; one person may dominate the discussion; outside actors may try to sway things in undesirable directions. Consider the diversity of interests within a given community—

  • Community members

  • Business owners

  • Government entities

  • Special-interest groups

  • Community factions

Communities deal with issues that are complex and substantial—money, control, reputation or the safety of the community may be at stake. As a neutral third party, we bring an unbiased view and fresh perspective to the discussion. In addition, as trained mediators with substantial experience working with communities, we listen and gather information to help facilitate the decision-making process.

The skills of a facilitator/mediator can help focus on the issues in a structured fashion, defuse tense situations and keep things moving forward. When a mediator is involved, participants feel heard and appreciated, and develop an appreciation for other viewpoints. The process can result in a more favorable outcome and establish a foundation for future discussions.