Sustaining Community Through Collaboration: The Value of Conflict Management Training for Community Leaders

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Many Americans seem fearful that all is not well in their world despite material abundance and a prolonged period of uninterrupted economic expansion. A great deal of discussion occurs in coffee shops, classrooms, office corridors, and on factory floors about signs of civic deterioration and loss of confidence in public institutions. We see this discussion echoed in the popular media and in research efforts by academics alike. Concerns are articulated about a decline in civility1, a disconnect between citizens and their government2, social values which erode social and ecological sustainability3, the shrinking of wilderness areas, and the scarcity of serene public places4. Farmlands and families are giving way to spreading subdivisions.5 Young people are facing threats in their lives that might have been stuff of stock fiction only a decade or so ago. Co-workers, families, and friends too often lament drive-by shootings, drug abuse, road rage, domestic violence, human predators, ethnic and racial bigotry, political corruption, poor educational performance, and the often intense pressures associated with balancing family and workplace demands in the contemporary high-stress work environment. A wave of publications and workshops reflect a profuse hunger for greater simplicity, social stability, and a sense of connectedness.

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