New Years Resolve from The Ashland Sneak Preview
The 501c3 Files
By Sophia and Adam Bogle
Happy 2018 everyone! What a perfect time to be talking about resolutions. Have you chosen one yet? Here is the one I am considering: “I will transform the way I communicate in order to manage and resolve conflict and to help myself and others heal from harm.” A little wordy maybe, but a pretty good goal, eh? But I can’t take credit for it. This is a paraphrase of the mission statement for Resolve Center for Dispute Resolution and Restorative Justice, known simply as Resolve.
Recently I met with Deltra Ferguson, the Executive Director for Resolve, to find out more about how they are making a difference in Southern Oregon. I was impressed to learn that Resolve has been doing mediation work here for over 27 years now. They were formerly known as Mediation Works.
One of the most exciting programs Deltra told me about is their Restorative Justice (RJ) Services for schools. About three years ago, the Resolve education team came up with the idea to introduce RJ into the schools as a way to bring it to more of the community on a day to day basis.
In the last three years Resolve went from only being in only one school to being in twelve! And there are more schools interested. When a school commits to restorative justice it means they are regularly practicing the skills of dialogue and connecting. These skills help to strengthen their school community so that when a harmful incident occurs, the community is ready and has a way to contend with it.
This isn’t just about crimes or bad behavior either. Sadly, earlier this year one of these schools faced a major tragedy when a student lost her life. There were a lot of emotions about this, and significantly, it was a group of students who called for a restorative circle to talk about it. They had the tools in place from Resolve’s program to help each other connect, to be heard and to heal.
Another part of the RJ school program is that, if a person has caused harm, they are still recognized as part of the community and they are supported to take responsibility for their actions. It is about shifting the culture from punitive to restorative to help keep kids in school. Those that have been impacted by the harm are also involved in a respectful process where their needs get met so that they can function in the community as well.
Without resources like this, kids can sometimes get lost in their emotions and disconnected from the world, and this can lead to dropping out of school. Resolve hopes that these RJ programs, which include Conflict Education and “Choicepoint” Bullying Intervention, will help schools to lower their dropout rates. Did you know that in 2016, Oregon ranked 48th in the nation for students graduating from high school! It literally doesn’t get much worse than this.
It can’t address every issue that the students have who are dropping out, but the Restorative Services program is a good foundation to build on. The schools who partner with Resolve do help with some of the funding needed but it doesn’t cover cost so Resolve has been fundraising like crazy to keep these programs and to add more of them.
Resolve is an amazing resource for all of us here in Southern Oregon. Here are just a few of the situations where they might be able to help.
- If you have a conflict with your neighbor or a family member
- If you are facing foreclosure
- If you are being bullied at school or are witnessing bullying
- If you would like to bring mediation training to your workplace
Coming Up! Resolve is holding a Basic Mediation Training in February. It will be a five day immersion course. These skills can help you in many situations, even everyday things like negotiating with a neighbor about how high the fence should be, or talking to your coworkers about who drank the last cup of coffee and why no one made any more yet.
Resolve is located in Medford at 1237 N. Riverside Ave. in the Cobblestone Village, Suite 25,
or you can call them at 541-770-2468. For more information, or to donate, go to: resolvecenter.org They have a “Donate Now” button through PayPal so it is super easy for you to help these programs to flourish. It’s sort of like voting if you think about it. You are voting with your $10 (or whatever) to say that you want this sort of thing to continue. Every vote counts!