Mediation is a dialogue-based approach to existing or potential conflicts. The use of mediation tries to re-establish communication whenever and for whatever reason it is interrupted or frayed.
Before being a technique, mediation is a lifestyle aiming at active participation from everyone.
We talk of Community Mediation because we see it as a process made of different actions (be they of a cultural, social, educational na-ture, etc. whose aim is to work on the territory and with the territory to proceed from mere coexi-stence (living alongside each other) to living together (with each other), thus generating a principle of positive interaction. Such activities aim at creating the conditions for communities to explore new ways to prevent, manage, and transform their conflicts (De Luise, D. e Morelli, M., 2016: 165).
Community Mediation is defined as: “The practice connecting community members, within the community and with the community’s means. In Community Mediation, the civil society – made up of in-dividuals, families, associations, NGOs, and entreprises – gets involved in an attempt to self-manage its own conflicts. Its aim is to acknowledge the skills communities possess, not only to trigger a sense of responsibility, but also to manage existing differences before these may lead to violent conflicts” (Bo-nafé-Schmitt e Dahan, 1999, in Domínguez and Conforti, 2016).
It is a mode of intervention carried out by a neutral third party between social or institutional actors going through a period of crisis. The professional creates bridges or links between the social agents (or actors) in order to prevent and/or solve and/or reformulate possible conflicts. In this way, s/he impro-ves the communication – with the ultimate aim of creating the conditions for living together in inter-cultural contexts (Carlos Giménez, AssMedCom training material, Javier Domínguez, October 2016).
It is a form of intervention carried out by a professional acknowledged as the mediator in the community environment, who works in the public or private sector, and who makes use of the community’s knowledge and resources, on the basis of Community Mediation principles and techniques, in so-cial/community conflicts. The mediator thus becomes the professional “conductor” in the case. (Ass-MedCom training material, Javier Domínguez, October 2016).
Our notion of Community Mediation is not meant to be yet another specific skill or branch branch within mediation. Its aim is not to offer an exclusive and specific training to qualify as a “Community Mediator”. Its aim is, on the one hand, to give legitimacy to the different skills or different “sorts” of mediators (family, intercultural, criminal, natural, etc.) already possess; and, on the other hand, to raise awareness that interdisciplinary integration and harmonization of such skills is vital, and that we should use them in hands-on interventions at proper times.
In this short video, realized by former EVS volunteers involved in the CoMedY project, participants share their ideas on Community Mediation.