Stories Mediators Tell

Guest writer Glen Parker is presenting at the 2013 ACR Annual Conference

Story telling is the glue that holds a community together. It is also how we express ourselves. How we learn. From Homer to Scheherazade to Shakespeare to Twain, storytellers relay the heights of human endeavor, the foundations of a common culture, and the depth of our emotion. They help us find the humor and lightness in the darkest of circumstances. And at its core, a good story reflects our humanity.

Everyone is a story teller. To tell a story is to share a part of ourselves – our joys, our values, our struggles. Mediation, by its nature, is a profession of story-listeners. We hold space for others to speak their truth, helping this part of others come into being. Though rarely do we have the opportunity to switch roles. The private and confidential nature of mediation can inhibit the transmission of tales and stories that would otherwise be easily shared in more public and less regulated professions.

Stories Mediators Tell is a collection of mediators’ first-hand accounts of their experiences in mediation. Some of the stories illustrate the best (and worst) practices of mediation, others highlight outcomes that are uniquely achievable in a mediation context, and others share the transformational power that mediation can have on a conflict and the people involved. Some stories are full of humor, others will make you cry. They all shed light on the role of mediator and how special and helpful that role can be during difficult and challenging conflicts.

Lela Love and Glen Parker have been hosting storytelling events highlighting mediators since the book’s publication in 2012. At these events mediators and other conflict resolution practitioners are invited to share their stories with the group. The events are inspired by The Moth, a non-profit organization that hosts story-telling events around the country. At Moth events, a theme (e.g. Love, Bosses, Pets…) is announced before-hand and event-goers are invited to come prepared to tell a story. Hugely popular, the events are often wall-to-wall with people eager to listen. The audience attentively holds the space for ten people among them who volunteered to tell a story. This very simple format is all that is required to ensure a captivating evening.

For the Stories Mediators Tell events, the theme is always mediation and conflict resolution. Each story-teller has 5 minutes to tell a true story about an experience managing conflict. After which, listeners share reactions about what came up for them as they heard the story.  

In the end, these events showcase the human experience that can be created and cradled by the mediation process – for all participants, including the mediator. We invite you to be a part of this experience as Lela Love, Rochelle Arms, Josh Stulberg and

 Glen Parker host Stories Mediators Tell: And Lessons to be Learned from the Telling at the 13th Annual ACR Conference in Minneapolis at 4pm on Thursday, October 10th.

Glen Parker is the Civil Court Coordinator for Manhattan at New York Peace Institute, where he oversees NYPI's delivery of services in the Civil and Small Claims courts of Lower Manhattan and Harlem. Glen is also the Lemon Law Arbitration Coordinator for New York County. He’s been involved in numerous ADR initiatives, including the Dialogue Project and the Mediation Group at Occupy Wall Street. Glen teaches and trains in conflict resolution and has served as a coach to mediation students at various schools in NYC.


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