Sep 9, 2021

A Family Plan

Dion came to mediation at CCR with his father, Michael, after he was arrested for aggravated assault. He threatened a classmate with violence after being called names on social media. The mother of his classmate called the police and made a complaint about the threats. Dion was arrested and taken to the police station. The case was referred for mediation with CCR. The classmate declined to participate in the mediation and so a family mediation was held for Dion and his father. Dion wanted to put the whole incident behind him and Michael wanted to open up lines of communication with his son. 

Through a guided conversation, the mediator was able to find common ground between Dion and Michael, as well as help them recognize ways to improve their relationship. 

Dion shared that he spends most of his free time rapping. He discussed the fact that his Dad worked long hours and, as a result, he spent more time with his aunt who cared for him. The mediator asked Dion’s second favorite thing to do and he said he was really good at basketball. When asked how he got so good he replied that his Dad taught him. 

After explaining that Dion’s Mom died during COVID, Michael said he felt basketball was the most important thing for Dion to concentrate on. Michael felt Dion’s trouble at school was caused by the loss of his mom. The mediator asked Dion if he agreed but he did not. The conversation gave Michael an opportunity to hear new information about his son’s experience losing his mother and its impact on his life. 

With the mediator’s support Michael and Dion were able to come up with a plan for moving forward from the incident in a safe, neutral space, and to develop solutions that worked for them. Michael agreed to contact the local church to inquire into a grievance support group and family counseling. Dion agreed to participate. This discussion allowed Dion to express how his father taught him how to play basketball but that now he works very long hours. The mediator inquired into the work schedule and discovered that Sundays and Saturday afternoons are free, if needed. Father and son agreed to every other Sunday which included either lunch and chat or basketball andlunch. They both agreed to use the time together on Sundays to communicate better and prevent incidents from happening again in the future. Michael expressed his appreciation and both seemed happy to have a plan to move forward together.

Jul 1, 2021

Noisy Neighbors

Jessica moved into her apartment last December with her husband and two kids. One of the reasons she chose the apartment was because she found Javier, from the property management team, to be very friendly. Jessica’s neighbor called the police about the noise from her apartment on three occasions in the first few months.

After the third noise complaint, Jessica was served with a ten-day notice saying that she was in violation of the health and safety standards of her lease and would have to find a new place to live. Lucy was the member of the property management team to serve Jessica. Jessica told Lucy that she was six months pregnant and that she was not in a position to move. The two women were not able to resolve things and eventually Lucy’s company filed an eviction case against Jessica. When the case was in court the judge referred them to mediation.

From the start of the mediation, it was clear that Jessica and Lucy were very angry with one another. While Jessica had experienced a good relationship with Javier, she and Lucy had only had difficult conversations related to the noise complaints and the pending eviction. Jessica felt that Lucy had not listened to her concerns that the complaining neighbors were just trying to get her evicted. Jessica was upset that Lucy had appeared in court, since Javier had seemed much more concerned about her well-being.

During the mediation, the mediator asked them about their previous communications and learned that Jessica and Lucy had never had a positive interaction. The mediator asked them both to discuss ways their communications might have been more productive. Jessica said that she wanted Lucy to be more empathetic when providing the notice and felt that Lucy had not heard her side of the story. Lucy said she did not know what else to say, since she was simply enforcing a standard policy about noise complaints.

This led to a discussion about the responsibilities of the property manager – to enforce rules and to care for the tenants. The mediator asked Lucy why she became a property manager and she said she had done so to get a job to provide for her family. Jessica shared that she had also just made a big career shift for the same reason. This common ground softened both parties a bit and they were able to keep speaking. Eventually, both Jessica and Lucy apologized to the other for their behavior in their previous interactions. Jessica wanted to be a good tenant and neighbor and Lucy wanted to create an environment where tenants would feel cared for.

The mediator inquired about a plan moving forward and Lucy and Jessica agreed it would be best for Jessica to move somewhere where she felt more welcomed by her neighbors. Lucy apologized about her experience in the community and said she hoped Jessica would find somewhere more welcoming. Jessica agreed that she would try to keep the noise down until she moved, but Lucy and Jessica both agreed that they would have a better relationship from this point on. The parties left the mediation prepared to clearly communicate moving forward.

May 12, 2021

Listening and Learning

Sarah is 16 and the last year has been hard on her and her friends – they are bored all the time and the limitations of Covid-19 have started to feel really exhausting. One night in late winter, Sarah was hanging out with her friends when some acquaintances arrived at her house and invited her and her friend to get into a car. Sarah didn’t recognize the car, but she still got in. While they were driving, her acquaintances confessed that they had stolen the car and were out for a joy ride. The police pulled them over and Sarah was arrested along with the others for stealing the car. A few months later, Sarah and the owner of the car were referred for mediation. Due to Covid-19 precautions, the mediation was held remotely over Zoom.

Adam owned the car that had been stolen. He arrived to the mediation tired and upset, but wanting to share his experience of that evening with Sarah and understand Sarah’s experience.

Adam had been taking his mother-in- law out for dinner in the city. He parked the car on the street outside her home and went inside to help her to the car. When they came back the car was gone. Adam was furious. He depended on the car to get to work. Not to mention, his evening was completely ruined. The event was terribly stressful and he ended up having to contact the police and friends for help. When the car was ultimately returned to Adam, it was in disarray.

When the mediator brought Adam and Sarah together to start the session, she asked them both to tell brief stories about the night when Adam’s car was stolen. Although she was participating, Sarah was hiding her face and speaking almost inaudibly. She was visibly shy and extremely quiet. Sarah’s dad was with her at the start of the mediation, but also had other responsibilities and did not participate in the conversation. The mediator encouraged Sarah to continue to share her experience. Adam set the tone by expressing a desire to talk and understand the impact this event had on both of them. In response, Sarah spoke more clearly and expressed a desire to make amends. The mediator opened up a conversation so they could share with one another how the event had impacted their lives.

Adam was able to tell Sarah about his job, how he needed his car to get to work, and how sad he was to see it returned in bad shape. He was also able to tell Sarah about his family: how he had to frantically try to get into his house with no keys because his infant daughter needed a medication stored in the bathroom there. As Adam was talking, the mediator noted Sarah’s engagement in what Adam was saying. Sarah was nodding, and interjecting with apologies and remorse.

Sarah was able to then share her experience. Sarah felt pressure that night to join in what her friends were doing and not to be the one stopping the fun. She shared her surprise at learning the car had been stolen, the trapped feeling she felt in the backseat after learning this information, and the fear she felt when arrested by the police.

Sarah expressed that she did not have a strong parental presence in her life. Adam was sympathetic to Sarah’s story and gave her some sincere and thoughtful sharing of advice about how to deal with difficult situations like the one she was in. Adam expressed that he did not want this one mistake to affect Sarah’s dreams and goals. Sarah was able to hear what he was saying and she went on to ask Adam’s advice on school and friends.

At the end of the mediation, both Adam and Sarah were given the opportunity to share some last thoughts and words for the other person. Sarah, now fully on camera and speaking more confidently, apologized again. She acknowledged the specific ways in which her actions had harmed Adam and his family. Adam responded to her and clearly said, “I accept your apology. It takes bravery to apologize. Please, don’t let this stop you from your studies and pursuing your dreams. I wish for the best for you.”

The mediation gave them both an opportunity to share their stories and, most importantly, to show up and listen to the other person.

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