The Gorge Magazine - Winter 2021-22

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WELLNESS

Andrea Pacheco

Resolving Conflict Mediation center helps people settle disputes before they end up in court

MEDIATION FACILITATION CONFLICT COACHING RESTORATIVE PRACTICES USDA AGRICULTURAL MEDIATION TRAININGS

story by RUTH BERKOWITZ | photos by ANDREA PACHECO and courtesy of SIX RIVERS DRC

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hat we all have in common is that we like conflict,” Marti Kantola told the audience filled with mediators celebrating her retirement from Six Rivers Dispute Resolution Center last winter. Kantola founded the nonprofit in 2002 at a time when people confused mediation with meditation, and went to court instead of sitting down at a table to resolve their disputes. The lack of awareness about mediation didn’t stop Kantola. She knew there was a better way, a less expensive and a more personal way. “If only people could talk to each other, make a connection and figure things out, then they would be happier with one another,” Kantola said, referring

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WINTER 2021-22 II THE GORGE MAGAZINE

to her vision for a mediation center. Motivated to orchestrate peaceful solutions and instigate constructive conversations, Kantola started training volunteers and taught them the tools of mediation: active listening, empathy, open-ended growth mindset questions, brainstorming solutions and much more. Her first case involved a farmer who continuously woke up his neighbor with the bright lights from his tractor as he drove the fields in the early morning. The neighbor, an organic herb farmer, was so mad that one morning the two physically confronted each other and the sheriff was called to end their fist fight. Shortly thereafter, Kantola managed to get the two men to convene at her office where she facilitated a civil conversation. Kantola remembers that they were unable to resolve everything, but they did agree on a different route for the early morning tractor run, one where the headlights didn’t glare into the herb farmer’s bedroom.