Resident Stories

Mediation Brings Peace

An excerpt from Building Stronger Communities Through Mediation by Ian Heisey

(Published in Shelterforce, August 2004)

 

Barbara* thought she would never get peace and quiet. Her job as a baker requires that she wake up at 4 a.m. She had, on numerous occasions, called the police about the young men next door who revved their motorcycle right outside her bedroom window and yelled and played the drums late at night. The last time she asked them to lower the noise, they laughed at her. “They felt like they could do what they want and get away with it,” she said. “It’s an issue of respect and courtesy.”

After several rounds of phoning in complaints, Barbara was approached about the possibility of having a meeting with her neighbors and a mediator. She and her husband had some misgivings but were willing to try it, and to her surprise, so were her neighbors Jason and Carl.*

With the help of an impartial third party, Barbara and her neighbors were able to vent their frustrations. Jason and Carl began to see Barbara and her husband in a new light – not just as the cranky neighbors who called the police and yelled at them. The men agreed not to have friends gather in the front yard at night, and everyone agreed to talk to each other about issues in the future, without involving the police or midnight showdowns.

*Names have been changed