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Let's Talk About It

Tucson AmeriCorps VISTA Alison Smetana, serving with The Center for Community Dialogue, explains her community outreach efforts with The Center.  

The Center for Community Dialogue helps southern Arizonians talk about challenging issues in a skilled, civil and respectful way in a variety of settings. We offer mediation, circles, community forums and conflict resolution trainings. One of our main philosophies we stress in all of our services is that conflict is normal and impossible to avoid.  The Center strives to teach the community how to approach conflict with an open heart and mind because if it is avoided, only more conflict will arise.

One of my main projects this year is spreading awareness about our low-cost mediation services. I have tackled this initiative in three major ways: tabling events, literature distribution, and the Apartment Complex Presentation Initiative

Since August 2015, we’ve had 11 tabling events and four more coming up in February 2016. The events have taken place at farmers markets, church bazaars, and high school resource fairs. By putting ourselves out in the community on a regular basis at a variety of events and functions, the Center is able to reach individuals from many different social backgrounds and income levels. 

 I also created a Community Outreach Toolkit.  This toolkit contains our flyers, rack cards and bookmarks (see below).  I created a spreadsheet of over 200 places, which includes religious organizations, educational institutions, coffee shops, and community centers in Tucson that may have a bulletin board or area to place our literature. As part of our End of the Year Community Outreach Effort, four loyal volunteers and I have distributed over 40 of these community outreach toolkits. This means over 2000 of our promotional materials have been distributed in all parts of the Tucson community since November 2015.

 Finally, I’ve been part of The Center’s Apartment Complex Presentation Initiative.  I’ve met with over 20 managers at apartment complexes in Tucson with hopes of scheduling a presentation about the Center’s services to residents. At these meetings, I explain that harmony between residents is the key to a thriving community and that when conflict does arise, which it will, The Center is there to offer their free mediation services.

As part of this initiative, I collaborated with Becky Peters, the AmeriCorps VISTA for Compass Affordable Housing. Two volunteers (see below) from the Center did a presentation to 10 residents at Compass Affordable Housing about The Center. Residents were very engaged and were excited to learn about ways to mitigate conflict. 

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By reaching out to the community through a variety of different mediums including tabling, literature distribution, and presentations, The Center is able to reach individuals from many different social backgrounds and income levels. Conflict happens on every socioeconomic level and as a result of these outreach efforts, services provided by The Center can be utilized throughout the entire Tucson community.

Published on January 21, 2016 by Spencer Brown.

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