Community Mediation Project Spreads Ripples of Possibility

At a half-day summit, key partners recommit, and participants share a sense of renewal

Photo: Ben Wolfe

A project to bring community mediation to Peterborough is having ripple effects through the city, and the organizations bringing it into being.

Participants in a summit yesterday to evaluate the project’s startup phase and sense its next steps forward said it’s already been a starting point for many people who are hurting, and they are feeling the same sense of renewal themselves.

The project seems to have touched a common thread of new and more emergent and collaborative ways of working.

“The Mediation Project has been a conduit for people to come together,” Jack Gillan, a board member of Peterborough Housing Corporation said. “Seeds of change are blooming within this room.”

“We are digging deep into core values behind our work,” Alice Czitrom, victim services coordinator for the Peterborough Police Service said.

In small group and solo journaling processes about the peak moments of the project so far, one participant after another described being moved and changed. The outcomes so far are small, but the sense of possibility is large.

Marion Little

Marion Little, project co-ordinator, with commitments made by the project’s participants. (Photo: Ben Wolfe)

“To see people feel free enough, safe enough to open up about themselves — seeing that hope is the most amazing thing,” said Maisie Watson, a housing social worker at the Community Counselling and Resource Centre. “To see people finally believe that they can make change. To see the light in their eyes.”

In reaching across organizations, the project seems to have touched a common thread of new and more emergent and collaborative ways of working. “The agenda is changing around community and service delivery,” Jack Gillan said.

Participants and organizational partners in the summit, hosted by Axiom News, recommitted themselves strongly to the project. There was a shared sense of creating a space for the community to discover and exercise its own resilience.

Jack Gillan, Peterborough Housing Corporation

Jack Gillan (left): “The agenda is changing around community and service delivery.” (Photo: Ben Wolfe)

“Just being heard can change a person,” one participant said. A number of participants referred to a sense of being part of a wider effort to make Peterborough a “city that listens.”

Peter Williams, community development coordinator at Peterborough Police Service, summed up the day by describing it as a bridge to the possibilities that lie ahead.

The Community Mediation project has received funding from the Ministry of Community Safety and Correctional Services. The John Howard Society, Peterborough Housing Corporation and Peterborough Police Service are involved as partners.

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