Rotary Club Launches Community Mediation Program

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Rotary Club Of Los Alamos President

September 21 marked the United Nations International Day of Peace, a day where countries around the world seek to end conflict for one day and search for ways to make peace a permanent fixture in their lives and worlds.

Rotary International supports international efforts at waging peace. 

For example, Rotary offers 100 peace fellowships each year at Rotary Peace Centers worldwide. A Los Alamos student, Sara Tuzel, is in the running this year for one of those coveted Peace Fellowships, and the Rotary Club of Los Alamos has supported Ms. Tuzel in her efforts. She will learn of the results in November.

With all this peace work going on through the international organization, local Rotarian Alison Pannell thought it would be a great idea to launch a Peace Committee through the Rotary Club of Los Alamos. She received the overwhelming support of past president Vince Chiravalle and myself as incoming president. Other members have joined the Committee and we have developed some great ideas for local peace initiatives. These include working with the high school through Interact (Rotary for teens) to develop peace plans that involve young people; providing support and encouragement for Moving Arts Espanola, a dynamic independent school program for students in the valley; and launching an initiative to develop local peacemakers through a community mediation program.

The community mediation program is my Presidential Project for this year at Rotary Club of Los Alamos. As an attorney, I have trained and served as a mediator for more than 25 years, helping parties to resolve every kind of conflict that arises in the courts and in business. I have worked with countless mediators in my practice and promote mediation as the best way for parties in conflict to resolve disputes. I have experienced the peaceful and lasting resolution that mediation can create for disputants. 

Let’s define mediation. Mediation is an approach to resolving disputes, where a trained professional assists the disputants in finding their own resolution. Mediators do not make decisions for disputants. Rather, they use their training and skills to help the parties reach their own resolution. Mediators help disputants to save the time, expense and aggravation of an uncertain process of litigation. More importantly, mediators help to build peace!

The goal of the Rotary Club of Los Alamos is to create a launch pad for a community mediation program in Northern New Mexico. We want to make mediators out of anyone who is interested in building peace. You don’t have to be an attorney or other professional. You just have to have an open mind, a desire to help your community, and the time necessary to become trained and to be available for disputants.

Consider this writing to be your call to action! Mediators need to be trained by professionals, and often the training is expensive and time consuming. Rotary Club of Los Alamos is committed to getting mediators trained. If you want to participate in this program, contact me by at by October 11 and let me know. The training will be open to anyone, not just members of the Rotary Club. Our goal is to set up a training that will be available for as many volunteers as possible and will be as cost effective and effective as possible. 

Once we have a list of committed volunteers, we will schedule training with the best and brightest mediator trainers we can find. We will help to finance the training and find a good location for the training. We want mediators for Los Alamos and the Espanola valley, and we will do our best to offer training in the valley as well.

So if you’ve dreamed of world peace but felt helpless to do anything to create peace, this is your chance! Mediators help create a peaceful world, by helping parties resolve their disputes peacefully! Help the Rotary Club of Los Alamos kick off its local peace initiative by being a part of the first class of mediators to go forth and make peace!