In light of my previous post, I want to highlight an organization that is doing the kind of bridge-building work I was talking about – and much more. This is an organization called Search for Common Ground. Their mission “is to transform the way the world deals with conflict: away from adversarial approaches, toward cooperative solutions.” Their goals and approaches go beyond traditional conflict resolution such as mediation:
At Search for Common Ground, we are not trying to end conflict, to prevent it, to mediate, manage or even resolve it. We are not a conventional conflict resolution organization that tries to resolve conflict in discrete pieces. We do include those things in our work as appropriate – there are times when mediation or negotiation is needed and useful – but these are usually applied to very specific problems. Our goal is much broader: to transform the way communities and societies view and deal with their differences.
They have a large number of programs around the world in conflict-torn areas. One bridge-building project that is particularly inspiring to me is focused on children: a bilingual and multi-cultural pre-school in Macedonia:
The primary goal of Mozaik is to socialize children into a multicultural environment at the earliest possible age, to teach tolerance and respect for the diversity of cultures, and to help different ethnic communities collaborate and communicate with each other. The project has helped build confidence and trust in everyday relationships and has been recognized by Macedonia’s educational authorities as a pedagogical model for all pre-school teachers.
Their other programs use a wide variety of techniques to foster independent media, dialogues, information access, regional cooperation, and other peace-building activities. Search for Common Ground is doing important and inspiring work.