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Train Residents in Conflict Resolution

What is it? Many problems result from conflicts within a community.  Conflict resolution processes work to develop peaceful solutions for these occurrences.  Until there has been some kind of resolution of the underlying differences, it is hard to move the community forward.  Because of the nature of these conflicts, an outside mediator or facilitator is often engaged.  With an external, impartial facilitator, competing groups can be led through a process that digs into the causes of division and identifies what can be done to overcome these differences.  Running a conflict resolution process is not easy and requires a lot of planning and training.  By providing residents with the skills and training they need to resolve these conflicts on their own, a bigger problem can often be circumvented.

How has it been used? The Institute for Environmental Negotiation at UVA, in partnership with the Smithsonian-Mason School of Conservation in Front Royal, has created a program to help individuals gather the skills necessary to address environmental conflicts in their communities.  The presence of natural resources often leads to conflict.  Communities can contain a large diversity of stakeholders who each view the problem differently.  Every side feels they are right and know what is best, leading to gridlock and bad feelings all around.  Participants in this Collaborative Skills Course learn how to work with community members to help create the best outcome possible.  In an intense 3-day session, individuals learn the fundamentals of conflict resolution, consensus-building and other best practices for public engagement.  These skills can then be utilized and adapted to meet the specific needs of whatever situation the participant is going into.  Hopefully, these participants can help resolve some of the ongoing, bitter conflicts over resources that are present across the state and beyond.  (Institute for Environmental Negotiation)

Further Reading

-Conflict Resolution Network (http://www.crnhq.org/)

-Association for Conflict Resolution (http://www.acrnet.org/)

-Training for Conflict Resolution – The Community Tool Box (http://ctb.ku.edu/en/tablecontents/sub_section_main_1164.aspx)