Community Mediation

in Alternate Dispute Resolution World

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“Proceed as if it is impossible to fail”

I first read this phrase when I was reading Baruch Bush and Joe Folger’s The Promise of Mediation (1994). It stuck to my mind and has been my mantra ever since. It captures an attitude that to me is essential for mediators engaged in community conflicts. It portrays an ever-undaunted spirit, one that looks at the future with optimism and hope. While there may be overwhelming odds against the resolution of issues and problems, we tend to look at possibilities, at a better state of affairs, at a vision of peaceful community. We cling to a hope that such state is possible, and let that hope, that faith, propel us forward as we continue the quest for a sustainably peaceful society.

This issue of The Mediator reflects that faith. It looks at our strategic direction in the aftermath of a strategic planning exercise that looked at strengths, weaknesses, opportunities and threats to an organization such as ours. We have affirmed that ours is a cause in search of mediation; that is: we look at opportunities to use empowering dispute management processes to attain our vision of sustainable and empowered communities where justice and peace prevail.

We also showcase a number of conflicts and efforts that illustrate the different circumstances we find ourselves mediating in: from conflicts within public school system, to conflicts within an indigenous peoples community, and to conflicts over the exercise of political rights.

We also take a look at challenges as well as opportunities in disputes over alienable and disposable lands, as we embark on a new quest at helping the Department of Environment and Natural Resources enhance its capacities in resolving land title conflicts as they occur in the field. This is very strategic window of opportunity, and we are excited with the chance to be partnering with the DENR again. We foresee a future vastly different from the present where disputes over overlapping claims on lands, boundary conflicts, ownership, and possession result in violence and loss of lives. We feel an optimism that we will be able to create a dent in the way people think and respond to conflicts, and in the way of resolving such conflicts. We see endless possibilities in enhancing capacities of people, and in joint efforts of government and civil society in building consensus over land claims.

Also, this issue looks at how our training methodologies reflect the integration of our theory and practice on EDRMP. With the recently-concluded Trainers Training on EDRMP, MedNet is at the stage where it embarks on a serious soul-searching on our role beyond conflict resolution, and towards healing the wounds created by conflicts. Hopefully, this issue will impel us to further discuss in where our roles as community mediators begin and end.

It never ends, does it?

A MESSAGE FROM THE EDITOR-IN-CHIEF

by: Rachel Aquino-Elogada