Spring 2016 Newsletter: Dialog in the Garden

Spring is here – and what better way to celebrate the season than gardening? The Center for Dialog & Resolution has been enriching the community by planting a few seeds of conflict resolution! Partnering with Harvest Pierce County, a program of Pierce Conservation District, the Center offered a special leadership training to members of local community gardens. During the training, participants had the opportunity to learn new ways to recognize differences among individuals, handle interpersonal tension, listen attentively, and have tough conversations that can reach resolution.

Community gardens have an important role in our county neighborhoods. Harvest Pierce County is working towards “reconnecting communities to each other and their food systems through gardening, gleaning, and educating Pierce County about their food and food systems.” Cultivating a healthy community isn’t an easy task and can sometimes cause tensions to arise, so they called in the conflict resolvers! On January 30th, Center mediators and trainers Patricia Frazer and Maralise Hood Quan invited community garden members, site coordinators, and more to discover their individual communication styles and practice effective communication. Skills participants mastered included listening to opposing viewpoints, summarizing issues surrounding the gardens, and reflecting.

Participants in the training felt the day helped them gain new perspectives, improve leadership roles, and acquire skills useful in the garden – and out of it! One gardener commented, “A great class! One of the most meaningful I’ve taken yet!” while another recognized that important equipment came in more than just gardening tool form and these were “tools you can use”, even outside of the garden! The Community Garden Leadership Training was a great day – and just like the seeds in the garden, the sunshine came out to help effective leadership and communication skills grow! What tools are you using to help you grow this spring?