The NEIGHBOR Project is part of a collaboration of community agencies including the Monterey County Superior Court, Count of the City of Monterey, City of Salinas, Monterey County Bar Association, Global Majority and California Rural Legal Assistance. The NEIGHBOR Project is an alternative to the costs of courts, police involvement and stresses of ongoing conflict.
Recently, a criminal case was referred to the NEIGHBOR Project. The NEIGHBOR Project worked in conjunction with several local district attorneys to provide mediation for the disputants involved in the criminal case with the goal to offer conflict management.
The NEIGHBOR Project at the Mandell Gisnet Center for Conflict Management (MGC) provided the opportunity for both parties to be “listened to” and feel comfortable to express their concerns regarding the conflict in a safe and neutral environment with a panel of trained mediators to guide the process.
A disputant involved in the case shared some valuable insight as a result of participating in the NEIGHBOR Project mediation process. “I became empowered as a participant in mediation at MGC, learned to understand and value the thoughts and feelings of my neighbors about a shared conflict. Also, I became aware that we each had a different view of a similar issue. I learned more about myself, how I process information and react to a perceived problem. During the mediation process, I became more open-minded about how others view a situation. The panel of mediators modeled effective communication skills to allow me and my neighbors to work through our differences.”
“In my opinion, MGC’s NEIGHBOR Project offers a great service to the community to resolve problems that do not involve the high cost that could be incurred by hiring an attorney and the possibility of a lengthy court proceeding. I also learned that I am able to change my way of thinking and be open to my neighbors’ view of a situation that directly involves all of us. As a result of the mediation process, I have learned to live in consideration and understanding of the actions, thoughts, and perspective about issues that directly affect us both. I highly recommend MGC’s NEIGHBOR Project to other individuals in our community to empower them to learn to manage conflict.”
A local assistant district attorney reported MGC’s NEIGHBOR Project regarding the criminal case that in “similar situations we will try it (mediation) again.” The case was resolved in a manner that did not incur additional court costs.