This is a wiki page for a mediation process we are developing to help address interpersonal conflicts in and relating to the Noisebridge community. The general aim of the ongoing mediation process appears to be to reach the point at which all concerned members of the community will interact online, such that conflicting parties may avoid meeting in person, face-to-face, at Noisebridge.
Mediators are people committed to help to de-escalate conflict, seek resolution, and provide community support and protection for the rights of all parties. The ideal mediators should strive to make themselves readily accessible to both conflicting parties, and should also enjoy interacting with others without the need to impose their own wills over those of the other members of the community involved in the particular conflict.
The Noisebridge Conflict Resolution wiki page contains general guidance for members of the community who are experiencing problems. These suggestions might help someone who is trying to decide if they should seek mediation or not.
The following people have at some time or another over the last half-dozen years volunteered to help mediate conflicts and provide a sounding board and guidance for people who are experiencing troublesome interpersonal interactions.
Feel free to contact any of the above people if you would like help in mediating any problems. Also, feel free to ask others to mediate for you, as the above volunteers are not an exclusive list.
The following resources might be helpful in approaching mediation situations
(internet conflict mediation resources?)
Noisebridge operates by anarchic chaos, do-ocracy, and, like all organizations, a healthy serving of precedent. There are no rules for how this process should work, but we have some suggestions:
Mediators can actively mediate a discussion between individuals who are having conflict, or talk to one individual as a proxy for the other.
Mindfulness towards Escalation:
If it seems appropriate, after talking with the original parties, the mediator (and indeed everyone involved) should start to tactfully ask around and find out if this is an isolated conflict or a more generalized problem in the community. Most personal problems at Noisebridge can be resolved through a series of one-on-one talks, and almost all of the rest can be solved by a series of mediated discussions. If mediation is unsuccessful, or if what is going on appears to be part of a larger pattern, the mediator may suggest that you bring your problem to a meeting for discussion.
Before a problem with an individual is brought to group level, someone must step forward to act as an advocate for the individual, even if they are widely disliked. It is easy for conflict to make people act in ways that they later regret, and plenty of people are willing to act as an advocate at group level (see above list of mediator volunteers on this wiki page).
Discussing personal conflicts at group level is rarely necessary, but a supportive group environment committed to discussion and de-escalation can help defuse a problematic situation, or assess if more attention to the situation is warranted. If you try to follow these suggestions, that would be totally excellent.
Specific process for mediators
First, talk to the person(s) who asked you to mediate to find out more about the conflict.
Next step is to either discuss the issue with the second party as a proxy, or to enter a mediated discussion between the two individuals in conflict.
Mediated discussion between individuals can be casual or very structured, depending on the tenor of the disagreement. One method that works in extreme cases is to sit down with both parties but ask them to only speak to you, not to each other, during the first part of the mediation. This helps each party to feel like their version of events is being heard. After you feel like you have both sides of the story, the conflicting parties should spend some time mirroring each other's feelings - in a structured way, taking turns restating the other person's concerns or position in their own words. Only after this point should the conflicting parties move towards actual dialogue.
At this point, also, it is important that mediators take some time outside of this process to tactfully ask around and find out if this is an isolated conflict or a more generalized problem in the community.
If this mediation is not successful, not embraced by one of the conflicting parties, or is partially successful but the mediator's research indicates that this may be part of a pattern of behavior, the mediator is encouraged to ensure there is an advocate for everyone involved, and bring the issue up in Noiesbridge's weekly meeting.