The school system was in crisis. Its leaders were divided.
Desperate, key players huddled yesterday in a Southside
Jacksonville office, groping for common ground.
This time, effort mattered more than results.
The school system was imaginary, and negotiators were
But the people learning those roles may play important parts in
a growing campaign to defuse community disputes in Jacksonville
through deliberate, patient dialogue.
"This community has collectively done a stunning job," said Bob
Evans, a South Africa-based mediation consultant whose
Plowshares Institute has held half a dozen conflict resolution
seminars in Jacksonville since 1994.
More than 200 community leaders, from church deacons to judges,
have completed the two-day workshops organized by the
Jacksonville Community Council Inc.
Graduates have been involved in mediation efforts for a series
of local disputes, from Duval County's school desegregation
debate to conflicts involving siting of new housing.
The basic goal, seeking agreement between parties at opposite
sides of a dispute, has hit a nerve in some people.
"I come strictly from politics. …