"Thank you for the opportunity
to be a part of this life changing class."
-Conflict Resolution Class Participant, Washington Correctional Center
Organizational values matter. From the outside, the values of an organization may seem like just an aspirational list of words on a webpage, cliché even. But when values are practiced with intention across the organization, powerful things can happen.
One of the DRC’s core values is personal empowerment. Conflict is hard, and we believe that everyone has the strength and courage to work through conflict with integrity and respect. Sometimes we just need to be asked the right questions to discover what's at the root of the problem, or perhaps we just need a space where we feel safe enough to communicate our needs and values to the other person. We practice this value every day at the mediation table when we help guide clients toward deeper understanding. We also encourage personal empowerment by inviting our volunteers to engage deeply in our work in ways they find personally meaningful. Not only are DRC volunteers carrying out almost 100% of our direct services as mediators and phone conciliators, we encourage volunteers to help us make our services accessible to all members of the community.
While attending the Evergreen Program, Social Psychology of the Prison Industrial Complex, DRC volunteer mediator and trainer, Vicki Martin, had an idea. How could she use her DRC training to bring conflict resolution skills to residents at the Washington Correctional Center (WCC) in Shelton? She brought her idea to Linda Gaffney, a DRC volunteer and retired employee at the Department of Corrections, and to DRC staff to see how she could make this happen. In May, a 5-week class began with a group of about 12 men at WCC.
Vicki, joined by DRC volunteers Lynne Stockwell and Mike Rowswell, introduced students to a variety of conflict resolution theories, tools, and skills. They talked about the anger arousal cycle, conflict styles, and identifying the difference between issues and interests, among other topics and skill-building activities. At the end of the program, the DRC received a thank you letter from the program participants inviting us back to hold a reoccurring class:
"...we could help facilitate, tutor or promote your curriculum. There are about 600 permanent men here that cycle out every couple of years - some directly to the community, others to transition to short term prisons. We would like to continue to host your trainings... to provide opportunities for men that want to be role models, leaders, and earn respect from the communities we serve."
We all have the capacity to learn skills to manage conflict more effectively in our day to day lives. It's not rocket science; what we teach is actually really basic. The reason it’s so transformative is because many of us didn't grow up with these skills. Others didn't have adults in our lives who modeled respectful, nonviolent conflict resolution when we were children. As adults these skills often come to us as an eureka moment: "A ha! That's how I can get relief and restore this relationship. Of course!" It's still not easy, and each of us has different barriers that make conflict more or less difficult to manage. But it's doable. Each and every one of us can be leaders paving the way to a more peaceful life.
2604 12th Court SW, Suite B
Olympia WA 98502
PO Box 6184
Olympia WA 98507
ERP Program: Monday–Thursday 9am–5pm
Federal Tax ID: 94-3130662
Contact US (360) 956-1155
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