The notion of "conflict resolution" is one of those things that is tempting to assume we all understand as well as or as much as we need to. We all have conflict in our lives, and we all make decisions every day about how we're going to deal with it: avoid it, engage it head on, active passive-aggressively about it, pretend to smooth it over but not really deal with it, commit an act of violence, and so on. But most of the time, no matter what course of action we choose, dealing with conflict is hard. It's stressful. It can be draining and debilitating, at a personal level but also for an organization or business or family as a whole. And even though we may have learned a lot about how to deal with it by now, that doesn't mean we don't need help sometimes. Thank goodness for the existence of the Conflict Resolution Center, located right here in Richmond. They're a non-profit providing affordable, accessible mediation services to our community, and they educate us about non-violent resolution of conflicts of all types.
I mentioned before that I was doing training with them to be a volunteer mediator, and now I'm actively doing mediation sessions with parties in conflict. It's been hard but quite fulfilling. But it wasn't until the CRC's annual meeting this past Tuesday evening (where I ended up providing geek services, in addition to representing Summersault for the unveiling of the logo we designed for them) that I was struck by how many incredible and useful things that they're involved in around the region: programs at local educational centers for kids, conflict resolution and education in the prison system, diversity workshops for communities of faith, mediation of legal cases referred by the court system, and so much more. For a small, under-paid staff cooped up in a small closet of an office with funding sources that are constantly in question, they touch the lives of so many people on a regular basis. And I don't mean touch like "they make someone smile" - they're improving and facilitating change in the fundamental ways that people see the world around them, deal with conflict, interact with family members, co-workers and friends. They're helping people lead happier lives, every day. This is amazing stuff.
So, in keeping with my recent theme of unabashed plugs: if you have a conflict in your life that you want some help with, call the CRC. If you have a stressful situation with a co-worker in your office environment, call the CRC. If you're considering or are already a part of some sort of legal action and want to find a better, perhaps more "humane" way to resolve that issue, call the CRC. If you know friends or colleagues or family members that could benefit from a neutral third party to listen and help move things forward, send them to the CRC. If you support the CRC's mission and want to donate some funds, they'll thank you warmly! And if you want to learn about how to be a part of the amazing things that CRC is doing (including being trained as a mediator), call the CRC OR come to their strategic planning session on February 18th.