It is the time of year for staff reviews. One of the questions we were asked was about skills that we would like to develop. I found myself immediately thinking that I wanted to be better skilled at social justice based conflict resolution. I wrote it down as something to talk to my boss about. Then looking at the phrase on the paper I realized that theoretically I knew what the phrase meant, but that tangibly I didn't know what training in this would entail so of course, I googled it. The first article that came up on my search was Introduction: Conflict Resolution and Social Justice by Richard E. Rubenstein and Frank O. Blechman. It was informative, it broke down several models of conflict resolution and discussed how fuzzy the definition of social justice was. The two forms of conflict resolution I found most useful were Analytical Conflict Resolution and the Reconciliation Process. The former searches for the root of often violent conflicts and will attempt to change the institutional or structural reasons for the conflict. It also has an emphasis on the involved parties identifying what that root is and being the ones engaged to change it. The latter form of resolution was about transforming individual and intergroup relationships by helping conflicting groups experience psychological and spiritual change, in the name of reaching a society characterized by social diversity, non-violent politics, empathetic relationships, and greater social equality.

I find both of these means of resolution applicable to the work I do as a community artist and they are probably built into many community artists' modes of working, even if they are not articulated as such. Conflict is necessary for justice. And in order to really change a social system that sets its citizens at odds because of unfair living conditions or lack of needs - the conflicts that arise from these circumstances must be addressed in a way that illuminates the root of the problems and motivates the parties involved to be active participants in change. We grow through conflict, reflection, action, and transformation. If the result of conflict can address the heart of the problem and provide a path to change not only the parties involved, but the society they inhabit will be transformed.

I will write more on social justice based conflict resolution as I learn. If you have any resources on the subject please pass them along!