Op Ed: Neighborhood Sources for Coping with Disputes


Photo by Charl Folscher on Unsplash

After the weekend of Dr. Martin Luther King Jr., I can’t think of a better time to assess my role in peaceful conflict resolution, or to find a better way to share the legacy of Dr. King to evaluate nonviolence than to discuss mediation. Mediation is an intervention instrument for dispute resolution that is used to resolve conflicts. During the intervention, a neutral party helps facilitate a conversation between two or more parties to the dispute in order to find a solution.

All parties need to decide whether they are willing to participate in the mediation as this is a voluntary process. The Institute for Mediation and Conflict Resolution (IMCR) is a mediation center for Bronx County. Such centers have served the New York community for over fifty years. IMCR was the first switching center in New York City and the second switching center in New York State. It is also the home of Dr. Steven Slate, New York State’s only certified Spanish-speaking basic mediation trainer, serving as the centre’s executive director.

IMCR has a diverse pool of mediators who serve the various communities in Bronx County. The center offers free mediation services and restorative justice practices such as conflict coaching, to name just one. We teach a wide range of topics such as special education, workplace concerns, family (parent / child) situations, custody and visiting needs, small claims litigation, housing complaints (such as landlords, neighbors, roommates), child benefit changes, etc.

Our center also has a program (Community Resolve) that works with the Parole Authority to work with teenagers aged 16 and 17. This program works with teenagers to help them resolve any harm they may have caused. The center also offers paid training on anger management, diversity, conflict resolution, etc. We also offer training and a training program for those interested in becoming mediators.

Lynn Williams
Photo courtesy Lynn Williams

We are sensitive to the needs of our community colleagues. For this reason, we offer mediation services during the day and in the evening after work. Due to our concern for and compliance with public safety, we currently only offer virtual and telephone operator services. This gives everyone access to justice (for legal proceedings) and mediation services for other types of disputes.

Mediation allows people to address problems without involving law enforcement or the judicial system. It also enables the parties to play an active role in deciding the outcome of the dispute. Through mediation, community members can also address quality of life issues.

After all, mediation can make things visible that are not seen at first sight. The possibility of peace and resolution can inspire hope. The process can help the parties see where the other side of the conflict is coming from. It can move you to a clearer understanding of the matter and make feelings tangible.

The feeling of being heard and understood is valuable. When the neutral party sums up what a person is saying, content and emotions, that is invaluable. It can help bring the impossible into the possible. Dialogue can facilitate movement in a conflict. Sometimes it takes a neutral party to have a productive conversation and make the impossible possible. Conflicts can be resolved.

If you are interested in brokerage services or would like to book a paid training course or moderation, please call us at (718) 585-1190.

Lynn Williams is a mediator at the Institute for Mediation and Conflict Resolution near the Hub in the Bronx. She works with families in the community and in court. Williams offers religious communities paid dispute resolution and training on how to develop the youth and women’s ministries. During her break from the classroom, she supervises law students and trainees in mediation through the court.

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