NAFCM Blog by Justin Corbett
NAFCM is pleased to announce the most exciting resource it’s ever produced, one which will change the way our community collaborates and shares information. Introducing: the NAFCM Clearinghouse!
The NAFCM Clearinghouse is the field’s one-stop-shop for community mediation resources. From archived content to ongoing projects, this resource compendium is a home for the field’s digital and intellectual assets. Through the collaborative engagement of NAFCM program members, the Clearinghouse serves as an aggregated, searchable hard drive containing all the best of what was once scattered across centers and software. It’s a place to source and share materials that chronicle our accomplishments and propel our progress in ways which are faster and more connected than ever before.
The purpose of the NAFCM Clearinghouse is to provide immediate access to resource examples and templates that inform and inspire your own work. It allows you to draw from and build upon materials shared by centers and leaders across the field. It also allows you to contribute your own resources for colleagues to reference now and in the future.
Beyond its administrative pragmatism, the Clearinghouse also serves as a nod to our collective past and guide for our shared future. The Clearinghouse journals our progress through archived training manuals, it chronicles the shifts in messaging through years of marketing materials, and houses the historic research which girds the foundation of our current endeavors. Through these valuable references, the collection also helps us chart our course forward more efficiently. Delving into the Clearinghouse, we can collectively recognize and adopt our respective smart practices. We can streamline or crowd-source tedious administrative practices such as revising forms. We can efficiently inspire creative tasks such as penning compelling narratives. We can also identify gaps in our collective resources and undertake coordinated efforts to shore up category deficits or modernize materials with fresh perspectives and the latest developments — all of which benefit not just a single center, but the whole of our community!
As a dynamic resource, the NAFCM Clearinghouse is continually expanding in size, content, and scope. To help conceptualize its vast content, we have included below several key facts for your review. The NAFCM Clearinghouse contains:
6,000 materials and is regularly accepting new content, all of which is keyword searchable;
Content from an estimated 300 current and former community mediation programs;
Materials sourced from 18 countries and originally written in 27 languages;
Nearly 250 videos representing over 65 hours of content;
Nearly 30 audio recordings representing nearly 25 hours of content;
Content ranging from the mid-1970s to 2013;
1,500 archived newsletters and 250 archived annual reports;
650 research articles and 100 volumes of field-specific open-access journals;
Longitudinal financial reports from nearly 150 community mediation programs;
Point-in-time PDF archives of nearly half of all community mediation program currently in existence; and
40 gigabytes of content formatted in 20 different filetypes.
Contents & Sourcing
The Clearinghouse is a diverse and dynamic exchange. It houses materials of the broadest and laser foci; those products which engage the entire network, and those of idiosyncratic interest or even irreplicable nuance. Combined, this diverse collection represents the breadth of perspective and practice that color our field and transform us from siloed centers to a connected community supporting one another through regular contributions of fresh and archival content. While Clearinghouse content will be variably applicable, interesting, and repurposable to any particular visitor, every visitor will find something — likely many things — that responds to their inquiries or resonates with their interests.
In its initial iteration, the Clearinghouse includes customizable template forms, sample material for nearly every imaginable administrative and programmatic purpose, newsletters articles, data-laden annual reports, commissioned research, multimedia training content, historic and recent NAFCM publications, and much, much more.
Locating and compiling this extensive resource trove was a substantial year-long undertaking. It was coordinated by NAFCM staff and supported by early contributors from throughout the field. Materials were sourced directly from center leadership, culled from archived listserve discussions, mined from publicly-accessible websites, scanned from NAFCM’s previous physical Clearinghouse, and newly created for the current collection. The content represents the specific resources and collected wisdom from hundreds of centers and field leaders across geography and throughout our shared history.
Crowdsourcing & Curation
The NAFCM Clearinghouse is designed to expand. Moving forward, those who can access its contents may also — and, indeed, are encouraged to — contribute their own content, as well. The Clearinghouse is extensibly designed to welcome community-sourced contributions that continually supplement current content and gradually extend its entire scope. Crowd-sourced material can be quickly contributed using the embedded upload tool, via email, or even by mailing physical copies to be scanned and uploaded by NAFCM staff. Materials thus shared become accessible to the entire community; inspiring others by your creative marketing materials, informing them of important policy nuances, staving the needlessly novel development of replicable documents, and much more.
As the Clearinghouse administrator, NAFCM will continually curate the community’s growing collection. This role, however, will be minimal by design. NAFCM’s primary objectives in resource curation are to ensure maximal accessibility, discoverability, and order within the Clearinghouse. We will achieve this by confirming basic content appropriateness and enforcing helpful resource naming protocols and categorizations. Beyond these minimal administrative efforts, the Clearinghouse will be encouraged to organically grow at its chosen pace and to its community-ordained size and scope.
Housed within and benefiting from the robust functionality of the Google Drive platform, NAFCM program members can not only passively review Clearinghouse content, they can also engage the platform to actively collaborate with colleagues in real-time. New documents can be created within the various Google Docs formats that allow colleagues to contribute content at the same time or in an ongoing fashion. When housed within the Clearinghouse folder structure, these new documents can be viewed, commented upon, or edited by the entire community, or any subset the originator desires. (For example, add your organization’s guiding statements within the collaborative Community Mediation Mission Statements document, which currently accepts live contributions from all those with Clearinghouse credentials.) This feature can be used for statewide center networks, field-wide project groups, and many other collaborative purposes. If you have questions or need assistance initiating a collaborative document to be housed within the Clearinghouse, please feel free to contact us directly.
Housing the entirety of the community mediation field behind a single portal is a decidedly ambitious undertaking. Coherently organizing the continually expanding collection is decidedly ambitious, again! This organization requires accessibility, comprehension, extensibility, flexibility, and intuitiveness. The resource categorization must resonate with hundreds of collaborators, each of whom maintain corresponding, yet wildly divergent file structures for their own local resources. Ultimately, while there is likely no single categorization scheme which is objectively superior to its many alternatives, the thousands of resources populating the Clearinghouse require one to be imposed. We hope our choice achieves the rigorous demands we placed upon ourselves and meets the high expectations of NAFCM’s program members.
The framework chosen for the NAFCM Clearinghouse mirrors those found in several inclusive NAFCM publications and earlier — though notably smaller — resource collections. It categorizes content with an eye toward its primary audience: center administrators, though should remain intuitive enough for researchers and other audiences, as well. The top-level folder structure includes the following categories, each of which are detailed more extensively on their respective Collection overviews: (1) Structure & Governance; (2) Center Administration; (3) Service Administration; (4) Volunteer Administration; (5) Community Engagement; (6) Fund Development; (7) Training; (8) Evaluation & Assessment; (9) Research; and (10) Special Collections.
Benefitting again from the flexibility of the Google Drive platform, individual files and even entire sub-folders contained within the top-level Collection structure can be cross-referenced where logically appropriate. For example, a sample volunteer evaluation tool could logically reside within either the “Volunteer Administration” or “Evaluation & Assessment” Collections. As one might reasonably search for such a tool in either of those categories, it should ideally reside in both. Thankfully, the Google Drive platform allows this cross-posting of unique files and folders without needless resource duplication or cluttering of the overall collection. Where such cross-posting is appropriate the scheme has been coordinated thusly. When future cross-referencing becomes necessary to ensure maximal resource visibility of future contributions, NAFCM will adjust the structure.
Another helpful aspect of the platform involves the option to customize the categorization to each specific collaborator’s preference without alteration to the structure viewed by fellow Clearinghouse visitors. This can be done through co-locating files and folders in both the shared “NAFCM Clearinghouse” folder, as well as a separate user-owned folder system within their personal Google Drive accounts. Familiarity with this and other helpful platform functions will increase as you explore and engage the Clearinghouse, and can be further facilitated by viewing the countless Google Drive tutorial videos available online.
Program Member Access
NAFCM is pleased to provide access to select components of this important Clearinghouse to current program members of the Association. As one of its most valued member benefits, NAFCM’s work initially compiling and continually coordinating the Clearinghouse is one of the ways we proudly give back to those who invest in our field through a NAFCM program membership. Specific access rights, including the number of login credentials associated with a particular program level membership can be found on our Member Benefits page.
Clearinghouse credentials are intended for the sole, exclusive use by the specific individuals for whom they are created. Login credentials are associated with a single individual should not be shared with anyone! This is critically important because your NAFCM-assigned @CommunityMediator.org account is a fully operational Google Account that provides you access to much more than NAFCM’s Clearinghouse. This account also provides access to private email, discussion groups, online profiles, public reviews, and other web-based services/activities which influence an individual’s and organization’s online reputation.
Each NAFCM program member will receive the specific number of login credentials associated with their membership category. Each credential is intended for the exclusive use by single person. If additional login credentials are required for staff members at a community mediation center, please contact NAFCM for membership upgrade options. For personal security purposes, sharing login credentials may result in the revocation of an individual’s NAFCM-assigned account, including the removal of Clearinghouse permissions.
This digital Clearinghouse is one of the most expansive and ambitious projects in the history of the National Association for Community Mediation. It is built upon the previous efforts, continued contributions, generous support, and diligent work of those within, connected to, and supportive of the Association and its vision. Notable acknowledgements and gratitude are extended to the JAMS Foundation for its visionary and continued support of NAFCM and the broader community mediation field; to Justin R. Corbett and Wendy E. H. Corbett, who oversaw the design, curation, and implementation of the NAFCM Clearinghouse; to the members of the NAFCM Board of Directors for their leadership; to those forward-thinking colleagues who served as early content contributors; and to the programs and leaders throughout the field who continue to extend the scope and impact of the NAFCM Clearinghouse.
JAMS Foundation The JAMS Foundation’s mission is to encourage the use of alternative dispute resolution (ADR), support education at all levels about collaborative processes for resolving differences, promote innovation in conflict resolution, and advance the settlement of conflict worldwide. A storied and generous supporter of community mediation, the JAMS Foundation is an aligned partner with NAFCM, regularly endowing NAFCM with resources to enhance the awareness, accessibility, and utilization of the community mediation field and its broad portfolio of conflict-assistive services.
Justin R. Corbett & Wendy E. H. Corbett Justin and Wendy served as the developers of the NAFCM Clearinghouse, tasked with transforming a grand idea into a revolutionary resource for the whole of community mediation. Together, they designed the conceptual framework which girds the Clearinghouse’s logic and nests its extensive content in an accessible set of resource Collections. They undertook an extensive effort to capture and categorize vast and wildly diverse information relevant to the community mediation practice area from hundreds of sources. They reviewed and categorized each of the initial 6,000 files populating the NAFCM Clearinghouse. Justin and Wendy continue to serve as curators for the Clearinghouse’s crowd-sourced content, as well as guides helping to connect NAFCM program members to this ever-growing resource.
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