10
Aug
07

Adventures in Community Mediation Ep. 1

I went, at long last, to observe my first Community mediation.  Bright and early on a saturday morning I showed up onsite, a moment behind comediator ‘C’, only to find the venue locked.  We made some hasty calls, running down the contact list, called the site contact number (and heard it ringing inside the building)  called the program office (it’s saturday morning), and the program director. All to no avail.  While the mediators were supposed focusing and dividing up responsibilities, we were instead gawping about. 

Then people started showing up, first one party and her attorney, then the other observer, then the second co mediator “M”, and (about ten minutes before our mediation should have begun) the other party.  The arrivals herladed another bout of phone calls, interviews with the security guard, a set of calls on his part, searches for picnic tables, and eventually, with resignation, the departure of the parties half an hour after our mediation should have begun. 

Now I understand that one must roll with it as things go awry.  Often particpants may cancel, or bail, or get cold feet.  This was particularly disappointing because the participants were there.  The mediators were there.  Everything was in place but the place.  For want of a nail and all that. 

 Lessons learned: 

1. Let me reiterate the importance of having a system in place, and contingencies. 

2. People value this service enough to give up their saturday mornings.

3. From now on I’m bringing my own damn table.  Just in case.

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