Conflict resolution events come to Summit County
LOCAL CONFLICT RESOLUTION EVENTS
Saturday, Oct. 3, 1-4 p.m., Summit County South Branch Library, Breckenridge
Free ice-cream social with a presentation at 2 p.m. featuring Rep. Millie Hamner and County Commissioner Karn Stiegelmeier. All month long, the library will display “Talking It Out” panels depicting recent conflicts in Colorado resolved through dialogue. Topics include conflicts between neighbors, ethnic groups and those involved in a fatal car accident.
Wednesday, Oct. 14, 5 p.m., The Next Page Bookstore, Frisco; and 6 p.m., Tuesday, Oct. 20, Summit County South Branch Library, Breckenridge
“Four Generations in the Workplace: Conflict Guaranteed!” In these interactive talks, Keystone Policy Center facilitator Jonathan Geurts will highlight unique challenges and opportunities inherent to a multi-generational workforce. He will draw from the book “Sticking Points,” which proposes a five-step process for overcoming common generational hurdles. A limited number of books will be available for donation.
Sunday, Oct. 25, 2-4 p.m., Summit County Community and Senior Center, Frisco
“Moving the Race Conversation Forward,” a conversation designed to promote a deeper understanding of race and its impact on everyone’s daily lives. Facilitators Harold Fields and Holly Fulton will lead the discussion. For more information, contact Carol Gerard at email@example.com.
Wednesday, Oct. 28, 2-6 p.m., Summit County Justice Center, Breckenridge
The Summit Combined Courts will host a Rural Resource Day for couples and families in the court process. Professional services will be offered at no cost, including a parenting class from 11 a.m. to 2 p.m. Spanish interpretation available.
It could mean avoiding lawsuits or handcuffs. It could mean creating a more loving family, productive workplace or stronger community.
A coalition of Summit County leaders wants residents to learn more about how to use nonviolent conflict-resolution strategies and access local mediation resources, and they’ve organized a series of events in October to highlight the potential for peace.
The events are part of Conflict Resolution Month, a statewide initiative that builds awareness of practices such as arbitration, mediation, restorative justice and nonviolent communication to help Coloradans deal constructively with conflict.
TALK CONFLICT OVER ICE CREAM
The series starts Saturday, Oct. 3, with an ice-cream social from 1 p.m. to 5 p.m. at the Summit County South Branch Library in Breckenridge, where a photo and story exhibit about conflict management and dispute resolution will be displayed through October.
The exhibit illustrates how people and communities in Colorado chose collaborative conflict-resolution methods and includes the stories of immigrants of different religions, neighbors, friends and classmates. All of the conflicts were mediated by locals, like school principals or law enforcement officials.
“They’re so powerful,” said Myra Isenhart, a part-time Summit resident, author, consultant and former adjunct professor at the University of Denver’s Conflict Resolution Institute.
She organized the series with local trained mediator Emily Tracy, and the pair also established the Conflict Resolution Coalition of Summit County in September 2014 to expand awareness of area programs and services.
The coalition now includes more than 40 members, including the Keystone Policy Center, Summit School District, Summit County Library, law-enforcement agencies, attorneys, juvenile diversion professionals, the faith community and social-services administrators.
A presentation Saturday at 2 p.m. at the library will feature County Commissioner Karn Stiegelmeier and state Rep. Millie Hamner.
“While conflict among individuals and in our communities is inevitable, we would all like to see less violence and more opportunities to resolve our differences more effectively,” Hamner said.
Stiegelmeier described a tense situation a few years ago over motorized use of trails on Tenderfoot Mountain near Dillon. The county stepped in and paid for an independent mediator to involve all stakeholders.
“That was a really difficult conversation that the Keystone Policy Center facilitated reaching a compromise,” she said, and the U.S. Forest Service accepted the compromise in its decision-making, which was unusual.
Tenderfoot was an example of how local communities can resolve issues faster and better than federal agencies or legislators, she said.
“The best way to resolve conflict really is at a local level,” she said. “You have the neighbor-to-neighbor, person-to-person, group-to-group kind of conflict that we can, as a community, really address better.”
EMBRACING DISCOMFORT TO CREATE PEACE
Later events in the month will address multi-generational issues, on Oct. 14 and 20, and race-based conflict on Oct. 25.
“Everyone gets uncomfortable with any discussion about conflict resolution. There’s a lot of denial,” Stiegelmeier said. “That will be one of the more difficult conversations.”
At the Summit County Justice Center on Oct. 28, couples and families going through court proceedings will be able to access professional mediation services for free.
Sheriff John Minor said he contracts with a mediator once or twice a year when he notices deputies responding repeatedly to conflict between the same people.
One recent dispute between neighbors over trash escalated almost to the point of an assault before the parties agreed to mediation.
“The whole purpose, really, at the end of the day is to create peace in the neighborhood and, frankly, reduce crime and calls for service,” he said.
The sheriff’s office employs three deputies per shift to respond to calls and traffic violations, so he hopes contracting with a mediator can mean better use of his deputies’ time.
Plus, residents would rather have officers suggest mediation than have a judge decide what they will do, he said.
“One of the key things with mediation,” Tracy said, “is there’s always an attempt to meet some of the needs of both parties or all parties rather than just declare one person is the winner and the other is the loser.”
Some mediation services can be free or low-cost, she said, but people don’t use them because they don’t think of alternative ways to handle their problems.
“There’s conflict everywhere,” she said. “We’re so used to conflict in our lives that we don’t always think about how there may be a way to resolve it that’s easier than fighting over something. I think we just forget that there are alternatives out there.”
For more information on Conflict Resolution Month, visit http://www.conflictresolutionmonth.org.
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