Resolving local conflicts: Auction benefits Braided River

A global effort to further ideals of peace will also help promote peace on a local level.

Next month, the Braided River Mediation Center will be auctioning off 18 peace poles designed by local artists. The proceeds will benefit the nonprofit organization, which offers conflict-resolution mediation and restorative justice programs in La Plata County.

Started in 1998, the program was first operated under the direction of the State of Colorado Probation Department. It became an independent, nonprofit entity in 2003. The program relies on trained volunteers, who contribute close to

2,000 hours each year.

Braided River Board Member Rose Burek said proceeds from the peace pole auction will go toward Braided River’s services, particularly its “Circles of Support” program. “I think we’re hoping to really push Circles of Support and get more of that going,” she said.

Burek said the program provides a support network in the form of community members to people – often minority youth – who are interested in changing their lives but don’t have a support system in place. “It provides support for kids who often don’t have any,” she said.

The process is designed for those in

crisis who need community resources and healing, as well as someone to advocate on their behalf.

Money also will go toward Braided River’s restorative justice program, a community-based project that brings citizens and neighbors together in a mediation setting to resolve conflicts. Burek said that often people going through the court system will be given the option of doing time or mediating through Braided River.

“Restorative justice actually saves the community money on court costs and recidivism,” she said. “The ripple effect of all of this is really far-reaching.”

– Missy Votel