First published in 2016, the Divided Community project is proud to announce the release of the second edition of its core documents, Key Considerations for Leaders Facing Community Unrest and Planning in Advance of Community Unrest. Both documents were updated with The Ohio State University’s Kirwan Institute for the Study of Race and Ethnicity.
The second edition of Planning in Advance
. . . distills lessons from recent experience with community unrest that can be useful to those who want to have a plan in place before turbulence occurs. Each community can adapt these general lessons as its leaders prepare a plan tailored to their community and the reasons for division within that community. The planning suggestions offered in this document can be used to assess and improve the resilience of a community, to identify issues and create ways to address them before they cause an eruption, and to be prepared to deal constructively with unrest if it occurs.
The recommended strategies do not stifle the public expression of concerns and emotions in large group settings. Indeed, the strategies recognize the key role protest and unrest play in a democracy. Rather, the message offered in this document
reflects the conclusions of experienced mediators, public officials, and advocacy group leaders that communities with division need not become polarized communities with groups that have stopped listening to opposing viewpoints, have demonized those who subscribe to them, and are prone to destructive and violent community unrest. Instead, communities can develop effective ways to solve problems even in the midst of differences and avid advocacy for change. They can also gain by being ready in the event that community unrest occurs, either as the result of local concerns or outside groups
seeking to use a local event to express concerns about a national issue.
The second edition of Key Considerations
. . . addresses key considerations for leaders faced with these difficult situations. The first section provides suggestions leaders can employ to help their communities handle the immediate aftermath of a divisive incident. These considerations include: bringing in skilled mediators to help mediate the conflict and assist in developing strategies at every step; working with law enforcement, key stakeholders, and the media; defining and framing the issues; and building trust. The second section deals with longer-term strategies for addressing the causes of conflict. The goal of the strategies is to facilitate the constructive expression of concern and to guide this advocacy to enduring resolutions rather than to violence and deeper bitterness. Each of the suggestions includes some possible strategies for implementation and an illustration of the strategy in practice. The Appendix lists resources for securing additional information.