Mediate Community Dispute in Bloomington, Indiana (2019)
CEO Johnson was engaged by the Divided Community Project’s Bridge Initiative of the Moritz Law School at The Ohio State University, for the Bloomington initiative. The Bridge Initiative sends experienced mediators into communities which have been disrupted by racially polarizing issues, to help community leaders and residents resolve conflicts in collaborative and sustainable ways. The crisis in Bloomington was precipitated by a vendor at the city’s Farmer’s Market, who was identified as a member of a White Supremacist group. Bloomington, the home of the flagship campus of Indiana University, has long prided itself as a progressive community in a very conservative state. Mayor John Hamilton was confronted with a number of protest demonstrations, whose objective was to force the eviction of the offending tenant. At the same time, members of the Black, Latino and other marginalized communities claimed that the City was not an inviting place for them to live. The Mayor invited the DCP/Bridge initiative to work with his team to find effective redress for these grievances. CEO Johnson was viewed as an appropriate resource, given his extensive background as a former Mayor and civil rights advocate. He spent eight months as a neutral observer listening to the concerns of residents and key stakeholders from the City and University, Out of these listening sessions, a leadership core soon emerged to create the framework for a stronger collaboration to address community-building initiatives. This work came to a temporary halt at the beginning of Covid-19 in the spring of 2020, and it has since resumed with another DCP/Bridge Initiative staff taking over. SCI Associate assigned to this project was William A. Johnson.