In the fall of 2006, I attended a series of classes at the The Mediation Center in Asheville, North Carolina. As part of the statewide Mediation Network of North Carolina, The Center offers low or no cost mediation services and training. The twenty hour class spanned two weekends and included micro-lectures, facilitated conversations and lots of role playing. I took graphic notes during the talky parts. I took the class to complement my facilitation and training skills. To me, all of this work shares common principles and uses similar tools.
As I look over the notes now, I am struck by how much they help to bring me back to the learning I was doing then. I also notice how effective the model is. This was a class on community mediation, primarily for Center volunteers. The process taught was very clear and well-organized. The solid foundation of such a clear process helps new mediators feel more comfortable with the open-ended aspects of this kind of work. You’ll notice in the notes that they spent a decent amount of time talking about conflict, not just the one you are hoping to solve, but those that might arise. The best facilitators I know all have a certain grace about them, a quality that only grows stronger when tension builds and tempers flare. That grace can’t be taught, but it can be tapped. The class offered myriad ways for us to look at conflict, our own triggers and ways to bring things down. I think everyone involved felt like they came away with more tools and more confidence to successfully navigate the process of mediation.
Graphic note-taking helps me learn and I wish I did it in college. It engages me in the presentation to a level not usually reached by simple outlining or following along in a hand-out. The attached notes were for myself, on regular sheets of copy paper, with a Sharpie and some colored pencils. I do this work with groups as well, as a note-taker or facilitator, and it’s amazing the way that it brings everyone together. We are truly on the same page. To me, a huge sheet of paper on the wall is a community. Everyone is welcome. Everyone is heard. Though I have not explored the ideas as much as I would like, I believe that this kind of note-taking can be a very powerful tool in the mediation process.
These are my notes and interpretations of the Mediation Center’s model. They represent an overview of one model of mediation and should not be treated as complete or any kind of substitute for training and appropriate practice. Any inaccuracies or inconsistencies are mine alone and should not reflect on the Mediation Center or its parent network.