The Nerdery - Overnight Website Challenge

Twin Cities 2014, April 12-13

Dispute Resolution Center

The Dispute Resolution Center (DRC), the oldest community mediation program in Minnesota, is the only program offering residents of St. Paul and the East Metro Area free and low-cost volunteer-based mediation and facilitation services in community and court settings. Our goal is to provide accessible, effective, and affordable dispute resolution services to assist community members in the resolution of conflict – respectfully and peacefully.

Community-based conflict resolution uses trained volunteers from the community to help people work together to define issues, improve understanding, preserve relationships, resolve underlying conflicts, prevent future problems and reach agreements. Mediation participants, with the help of our volunteer mediators, decide for themselves the best way to resolve issues. Our volunteers facilitate the communication processes that allow friends, neighbors, coworkers, landlords and tenants, businesses and consumers, and families to build better relationships. The result is a more peaceful and stable community.

We also offer a range of restorative justice methods – including victim-offender mediation, large and small group facilitation, circle processes, and family-group conferencing. DRC serves residents and businesses that traditionally do not seek services from other types of service providers.

What new functionality we are looking for

We need our website to provide the public with information about our services and ways to access those services. Ideally, the website itself would provide a point of contact for interested community members, whether they need more information, want to refer a conflict to us, or want to volunteer. We need our website to clearly convey DRC's mission and the ways in which we carry out our mission; we need a database of informational and educational materials that is accessible to the public. We need our website to tell the DRC’s story through pictures and testimonials so that the connection between what we do at the DRC and the lives of community members is emphasized. We would like to allow those interested to sign up for events and trainings on our website, and to accept credit cards for training payment and donations. We need a way for volunteers to login and check the schedule for court and community mediation sessions. We would like to host a forum for those interested in dispute resolution, we would like to blog about the ever-evolving field of dispute resolution, and we would like a database of our referral resources. We need a website that is eye-catching and attention-grabbing. And, of course, we would like to be able to update some of the information on our website from time to time.

How the new functionality will help

Partnering up with a team of nerds to develop a new website would enable us to promote constructive conflict resolution by making our information and services available to a broad audience. We’ve gotten some feedback on our old website and, well – it ain’t pretty. Here are some actual quotes from our website users:

“I’m confused about the purpose of the DRC.”

“The site is difficult to get through.”

“The site is not very interesting. It’s actually pretty boring.”

Our current website might be turning people away from our organization because it is outdated, difficult to navigate and makes a poor first impression on those who are not yet familiar with our organization. Many people have told us after visiting our website that their impression was that DRC is closed – but we are very open!

How our organization will use the technology

Who will use the technology

50 Messages from Supporters

2014-03-17 16:05:20 UTC

DRC has helped me become a better problem-solver and creative thinker. In return, I have been able to help the community by volunteering for DRC.

2014-03-17 17:07:42 UTC

The services offered by DRC are unique to its organization! Where else can St. Paul residents seek mediation services or mediation volunteer opportunities?

2014-03-08 15:20:14 UTC
Kimberly Nightingale

DRC is living Ghandi's call to “be the change you want to see in the world.” The organization, primarily volunteer driven, works 365 days a year to give the community opportunities to manage issues peaceably and give people strong tools to use in their own lives to resolve conflict. An active website will help DRC reach people that want its services.

2014-03-07 23:14:51 UTC

DRC does provide much needed services for the community and if you check out their website you can see that it definitely needs an upgrade. An upgrade would enable DRC to serve additional community members in a more efficient manner.

2014-03-07 23:29:11 UTC

DRC serves the East Metro with their mediation services, Restorative Justice circles and much more. They are an important service for the public housing locations in the metro area where low income minorities are struggling to resolve differences and live peacefully.

They are the first line of defence for people searching for low-cost help as they face disputes, unablae to afford legal servces, and not knowing where to turn.

Their website has to be user friendly yet sophisticated enough to clearly explain our services and the various methods too use in reaching them.

2014-03-07 23:36:10 UTC

The DRC is a great resource that connects those who have obtained skills and qualifications and are willing to help with those who need the assistance and may be otherwise unable to obtain those services. The DRC's website is a major component necessary to accomplish this goal on a large scale and could be improved to better do so.

2014-03-07 23:53:31 UTC
Dr. Artika R. Tyner

DRC promotes community engagement by aiding community members in managing and overcoming conflicts. Its' one of a kind community centric model focuses on empowering people and building strong communities. A new website will aid them in extending their reach and providing valuable educational resources to the community.

2014-03-08 13:26:18 UTC
Debra Heisick, Esq.

As a former board member, I can say that this terrific organization's website has been a weak spot for the organization. DRC needs a modern website that serves it's needs including intake forms, scheduling , signing up for training, etc. that can be easily updated. In the past, the failure to update information was a source of frustration. There are so many ways in which a user friendly website would benefit this wonderful group of community volunteers.

2014-03-08 17:18:46 UTC
J.D. Stuart

I've been a DRC volunteer for over ten years. It has totally enriched my life and I've seen firsthand the positive outcomes from mediation. In that time, I don't ever recall seeing any earlier iteration of their website. What a boon this would be to the valuable message and work they do!

2014-03-08 21:23:20 UTC
Judith Spanberger

I volunteered with the Dispute Resolution Center for 10 years before having to move away for work. I would still be involved with the DRC were I still living in the Twin Cities. Dispute Resolution really works and in our angry frantic world we desperately need more organizations willing to teach us all how to peacefully manage our conflicts.

The resourcefulness of the director and board members to continue to provide assistance in creating peaceful resolutions to a variety of conflicts on a shoestring budget never ceased to amaze me.

Please help them revamp their website. Our communities and our world need organizations like the Dispute Resolution Center now more than ever.

Thank you!!!

2014-03-09 02:01:58 UTC
Katie W.

I’m a huge supporter of mediation as a way for two or more parties to quickly get to the center of an issue. Rather than entering the legal system--or taking matters into their own hands--anyone can have an inherently more rewarding experience if they elect to resolve their issues with the help of the DRC’s experienced volunteers and staff. The Dispute Resolution Center is a deserving nonprofit that will be able to help many more people if it had an awesome website. Mediation has been around a long time, yet it’s the wave of the future: It saves clients and taxpayers money, and its goal is to maintain the dignity of all involved--novel ideas in the world we currently inhabit. We need the DRC’s website to be revamped because everyone deserves to know about this approach to resolving disputes.

2014-03-09 16:45:36 UTC
Lynne Markus

Updating the Dispute Resolution Center website and expanding the public’s access to DRC ‘s educational materials will greatly benefit persons in conflict and the people around them. As a prior DRC board member and volunteer, I recommend the Nerdery’s technological aid to DRC. It will increase public use of peaceful dispute resolution techniques assembled during DRC’s successful 32 years of community service. It will also facilitate DRC volunteer coordination. Staff and volunteers help people in conflict to talk together, decide their own solutions, and implement them in a safe and respectful manner. They share problem-solving guidance with persons experiencing public safety issues or personal disagreements. DRC mediation training also creates qualified community mediators and restorative justice practioners. People served by DRC avoid the expensive and time-consuming litigation. Families, workplaces, schools and neighborhoods benefit from nonviolent dispute resolution. The Nerdery’s makeover of DRC’s website can truly help advance peace and happiness in our communities.

2014-03-09 20:49:56 UTC
A St. Paul Citizen

DRC offers tremendous services that save people time, additional angst, and tons of money by empowering them to find peaceful solutions they craft, buy into and are therefore willing to fulfill, rather than ending up with attorneys in years of lawsuits! It is the oldest community mediation program in Minnesota as well as being one of the best. Its staff and volunteers engage community members in restorative justice and mediation practices, and in creating new and meaningful ways of resolving community conflicts. It increases community conflict management skills by providing training. A more effective website would help it reach more people who need its services.

2014-03-10 13:15:21 UTC
Sharon Press

DRC not only provides great resources to the community -- the staff and volunteers are wonderful community members. An updated website would do a lot to improve the DRC's reach and to better inform the public of the many services available. The DRC is a real gem. How wonderful it would be for Nerdery to provide its give back to an organization which has given so much so many!

2014-03-10 14:57:52 UTC
Mike Klein - Professor of Justice and Peace Studies at the University of St. Thomas

The Dispute Resolution Center is a remarkable resources for dispute resolution at the community level, and education about conflict resolution for Minnesota citizens. They add tremendous value to our local community with minimal resources at their disposal. Please contribute to their work by revamping their website so that dispute resolution services will be even more accessible.

2014-03-10 17:09:52 UTC
Diane Vanusek, CPA

Dispute Resolution Center serves the community by providing mediation services, education for mediators, education for the general public on conflict resolution, etc, with limited resources. They are deserving of help with redesigning their web site to make it more accessible and relevant to the DRC mission.

2014-03-10 17:32:12 UTC

DRC is a fantastic organization and in would benefit greatly from an updated website. They services are only useful if the public can learn about what they do!

Please help them out!

2014-03-10 18:18:14 UTC
Linda Mealey-Lohmann, Chair of MN State Bar Association's Alternative Dispute Resolution Section

The Dispute Resolution Center has the honor of being the oldest community mediation organization in MN and, as such, deserves the special attention of the Nerdery. As a volunteer at DRC for more than 10 years, I have seen firsthand the important role the DRC plays in this community and in Minnesota. DRC serves low income community members by providing volunteer mediators to parties in conciliation court and housing court and in neighbor-to-neighbor disputes. DRC plays a critical training role for future volunteer community mediators and law student mediators. DRC has not only enriched the lives of those community members in conflict, DRC has also enriched the lives of those of us who are volunteers for DRC. An updated website would allow more people to access DRC's services and to learn about mediation and other ways they can resolve conflict. Having an updated website, with intake forms, scheduling information, information on how to prepare for mediation, etc. would also help free staff time so they can focus on their very important work of dispute resolution. DRC is richly deserving of the Nerdery's help.

2014-03-10 18:35:48 UTC
Leslie Sinner McEvoy

I have been a volunteer in community dispute resolution for almost 10 years. Dispute Resolution Center has been quietly and consistently helping our community to resolve conflict for many years. The staff at DRC are wonderful and have been great to work with in my experience. An up to date website is an invaluable doorway to the provision of dispute resolution services to the community, but for many non-profits, the cost is prohibitive. I applaud the Nerdery for their efforts to help non-profits survive and thrive with wonderful websites, and I highly recommend DRC for receipt of these great services - so they can continue to provide great service by reaching people via a vibrant on-line presence.

2014-03-10 19:27:41 UTC
Patty Stotzheim

The DRC has been providing an invaluable service to the community for many years, but despite such success, they are still required year in and year out to work tirelessly for the funding necessary to keep the organization sustained.
A new website would be a boost to this organization. The DRC does a tremendous job helping people communicate with each other, but they really need the support to help them communicate with the broader public. This is a worthy endeavor and they have my full support.

2014-03-10 21:26:15 UTC
Community Volunteer

Everyone benefits from finding ways to solve problems respectfully and peacefully. The DRC services needs a new website that reaches people of all ages, stages, and walks of life. Being able to see how the DRC can help is the first step. Individuals, groups and the community are well served by the DRC.

I hope the Nerdery chooses to redo the DRC website.

2014-03-10 22:03:10 UTC
Karen Hollaus

As a volunteer mediator and Board member for many years I have seen how our services have benefited many resident of the East Metro; and further how difficult it is to get our message out. People experience conflict daily and don't know where to get help. This is especially true for low-income and the immigrant population. This same situation exists for victims of crime. DRC needs a website that is user friendly and clearly explains what mediation is and what it can do and finally explains how to conact us. If there is an organization that contribues to the dgrowth of a more peaceful metro area it is DRC.

2014-03-10 22:21:30 UTC
A community lawyer.

Mediation is an excellent to solving disputes within the community. By offering the services to the community, the DRC has the potential of sparing many the typical issues associated with a court room. Better yet, mediation allows the parties to problem solve together and air their grievances in an open and communicative environment. Often leading to agreements that collectively benefit the disputing parties, that would not necessarily be reached in the court room under the law.

2014-03-10 22:29:41 UTC
Joanne Ewen, Volunteer Mediator

DRC provides one of the most valuable resources to the health and well-being of the community: helping people communicate with each other. Not everyone knows about this resource. A robust website would bring DRC to more people and expand the good that they do.

2014-03-11 00:55:05 UTC
Stephanie Barnett

Dispute Resolution Center is a community gem. As a former employee (Restorative Justice Planner) and current volunteer, I have had the privilege of seeing how DRC directly benefits the lives of participants in need of mediation services and restorative practices. The dedicated staff and volunteers are ready to serve. Please assist the community in accessing these valuable services by building an awesome website for DRC. Thank you for your consideration.

2014-03-11 03:52:44 UTC
Citizen of St Paul

DRC has been surviving on the sheer will power of its director, board and volunteers. They invest heavily in the community but get very little financial support. They all deserve the boost that would come from The Nerdery investing in them. They provide volunteer help to the community - now they need the volunteer help your process can provide.

2014-03-11 14:50:33 UTC
St. Paul Resident

Mediation should not be a luxury for only those who can pay $250/hr (or more) fees. DRC makes mediation accessible to ANYONE with a conflict. They are a great referral resource and supporter of other non-profits.

2014-03-11 15:45:46 UTC
Louis Robards, community mediator, member of MSBA ADR Section Council

Dispute Resolution Center provides excellent mediation and conflict resolution services and training in the East Metro area. Their services are especially valuable to the low income and immigrant population. Updating their website would enhance their visisbility and exposure and benefit the entire community

2014-03-11 16:58:53 UTC

DRC continues to contribute to the community at large by providing incredible services for peacebuilding, resolving conflict respectfully, and enabling lower income folks a place to reshape their lives by engaging in mediation.
DRC rocks!

2014-03-11 19:40:27 UTC
Mike Gregory

I Have been volunteering with the DRC since 2004. Most of this work is in Ramsey Count court but I have also mediated at community sites, between neighbors, between town home associates and owners and between other groups through the DRC. The DRC presence in Ramsey County court is critical. I typically volunteer twice a month. Mostly I volunteer in Housing Court, but occasionally I volunteer in Conciliation Court.

I would like to provide a Housing Court commentary as an example. A single mom with two kids has a medical emergency. She can't get to work. She looses two minimum wage jobs. She is behind in rent now two months and she is going to be evicted today. We sit down to mediate. The landlord does not know any of this until we begin the mediation. We set up plan for her to pay her current rent and her back rent over several months. She stays in her residence. Her kids stay in the same school. She does not become homeless. The landlord gets paid and has a good tenant. The landlord agrees that if she meets the mediate agreement conditions, he will petition the court to have the unlawful detainer removed from her record.

Without mediation this would not have happened. This is extremely rewarding to me. Everybody wins.

My term for it..... priceless.

2014-03-12 16:37:19 UTC
Sharon Goens-Bradley

I have long been impressed with the quality of work the DRC has accomplished on a shoestring budget.

They are a vital community resource and are very strategically located in a part of the city where they can provide assistance to those who have limited resources and most need it. Among other things, the DRC has been instrumental in helping residents of Mt. Airy housing complex resolve critical issues (issues that could result in a loss of housing), in addition to working with youth on their empowerment and development. Unfortunately, little of this work gets reflected on their (very basic) website. They would benefit **tremendously** from an upgrade.

2014-03-13 19:58:50 UTC

They do a lot of good work on a small budget, an institution in St. Paul. It would be a great lift for the organization for the nerds to help freshen their image ... love the idea of volunteers helping volunteers! They deserve for their image to reflect the wonderful services that they provide.

2014-03-13 20:48:31 UTC
Midway Resident

Please choose DRC for the website challenge. They provide an excellent alternative to court - which is not always the best fit for certain people or certain conflicts!

2014-03-14 21:54:14 UTC
Angie Frie

I am an attorney and former DRC intern/volunteer through the Minnesota Justice Foundation. In fact, my name is still listed on the website as an intern under my maiden name, Angie Hanske. I have not interned at DRC since 2006 (which tells you how much updating is needed on the website) because I moved out of the metro area. I am still connected to DRC in other ways, even though I live outside of the metro area.

The Dispute Resolution Center provides necessary services to the community by helping individuals and entities address conflicts in a way that promotes a sense of respect not often seen in other forms of dispute resolution. DRC and its volunteers have provided conflict resolution through mediation and other methods to landlords and tenants, to co-tenants in the same housing complexes, to neighbors, to family members in disputes with one another over how to care for aging family members, to community groups and organizations going through difficult times or transitions, and to disputes between employees, to name a few very broad categories. DRC volunteers and staff developed and taught conflict resolution and peer to peer mediation programs in area schools. DRC has trained hundreds of community members in conflict resolution skills that they can take back to their homes, jobs and communities. DRC has impacted the lives of not only the community members it serves, but many of its past and current volunteers like me.

Please help DRC update its website to one that will further the mission of this organization. DRC needs a website that is modern and functional to provide information and communication options for community members and organizations, volunteers and program staff. DRC provides a tremendous amount of services on a very limited budget and with very limited staff. Help from the Nerds would be invaluable and so would an efficent, functional website.

2014-03-14 22:06:11 UTC

As a former DRC staff member, it would be invaluable to have a website where volunteers could log-in to view court schedules, sign up for mediation dates at Court and compelte other similar functions. Right now, all of this coordination work is done by one or two DRC staff persons, depending on how many are employed/volunteering with the organization at any given time. Staff/Volunteers at DRC often wear many hats- doing intake, coordinating volunteers, coordinating training opportunities, interacting with potential community members seeking services, provide public education and information about our services. It would be equally as valuable to have a place for the public to access information about DRC, to request services, to track contact on a case, etc. To have capabilities for these types of tasks built into a sleek, modern website would be incredible for this organization. It would really help the very limited staff hours be used more effectively and efficiently. This in turn would allow staff to focus more time and energy on better services to our community members and volunteers. The more functional processes can be housed and run online, the more time staff and volunteers at DRC have to do the mission centered work of peaceful, respectful conflict resolution. Please help DRC update its website!

2014-03-16 16:41:32 UTC

DRC has offered to address issues to both Head Start parents and staff who attend and work at the site.

2014-03-16 19:55:14 UTC
Melvin Giles

I strongly support the work DRC. They offer a needed and valuable service to the community. An updated DRC website would enhance their capacity to promote their services, which would help more families, in particularly, our youth and elders. Thank you.
May Peace Prevail On Earth (MPPOE)!
Peaceful Thoughts,

2014-03-16 23:09:00 UTC
Barbara, DRC donor

I have supported the good work of DRC financially for the past decade. It would be wonderful for the agency to have a website that would help them better communicate both internally and externally.

2014-03-17 01:43:43 UTC
Carl H.

Please help the Dispute Resolution Center update the website so people in need can find an affordable option to resolve critical problems in their lives. Make “DRC” as common a name as “Starbucks”.

2014-03-17 16:20:54 UTC

This organization provides such a needed service for the well being of communities in the Twin Cities...they are dedicated and devoted to the dignity and worth of all!

2014-03-19 17:25:11 UTC
Frogtown Resident

Instead of sitting at home and stewing over the next-door-neighbor's adorable but obnoxious barking dog, or the upstairs-neighbor's eclectic but loud-as-heck music choices, St. Paul residents can call on DRC and their crew of trained mediators to help talk it out. Give these folks a shot at a new website - they need it!

2014-03-18 20:03:19 UTC
Arline Datu

There is such a great need for the services that DRC provides to the community to assure that we all treat one another with dignity and respect no matter what we are engaged in. They deserve the heightened visibility that a professional website would provide to help broadcast the work they are doing so many more people can be made aware of how they can be helped.

2014-03-18 20:31:29 UTC
Frank Schweigert, Associate Professor, College of Management, Metropolitan State University

The DRC does real and lasting good in the East Metro through its mediation and restorative justice work. As a volunteer for over 10 years, I have seen over and over how the DRC creates a setting where people in conflict can achieve good outcomes in very difficult situations. Its work is positively oriented, personally sensitive, and rigorously fair. Every session conducted by the DRC is not only practically beneficial but an occasion of learning and inspiration. An interactive and well-resourced website would truly take this work to the next level in reaching so many more people who need to know about this and would benefit by participating!

2014-03-18 23:12:10 UTC
Gregg Martinson

DRC was instrumental in helping Roseville Area High School go from a system of in-school suspension and punishment focused discipline to a system where restorative justice is at the center of our classrooms, our discipline and our efforts to return students back to class more able to work within the system. Jeannie Zimmer has been a phenomenal teacher and role-model for me. She helped to train our student mediators and has kept me focused on making sure there is a system at RAHS that will survive for the long-term. What she does on a limited budget with volunteers alone is amazing and it is a shame that it goes little recognized. But the challenges with PR and Restorative Justice are hard to overcome--most of the work is done in confidence and the results are avoiding difficulty. Its hard to quantify but anyone that has seen the results--worked through a mediation, observed their training should be able to tell you that the DRC does outstanding work for next to nothing. What they need to work on is precisely what this contest is about--how to tell the world about this amazing service. I think time invested in their services is well spent indeed.

2014-03-19 00:33:32 UTC
Provider of Affordable Housing

DRC has trained many human services professionals who work in affordable housing. Through their training, these professionals have been able to help many residents resolve their disputes so they and their families can succeed in their housing with dignity and having taken ownership over their circumstances and over the solutions to their neighbor to neighbor conflicts. Without DRC's training, many families would have probably left their housing or they certainly would have had to continue to live with unresolved community conflicts. Instead the skills DRC teaches has preserved people's housing,improved the health of communities and reduced housing turn over costs.

2014-03-19 12:47:18 UTC

My family used DRC several years ago to help estranged family members reconcile. I'm pleased to report that we have been able to celebrate holidays and milestones together. Thank you, DRC!

2014-03-19 15:26:01 UTC
Pete Steinke

I've seen first-hand the power of mediation - and have supported DRC's good work for many years. It's sad that most cities and counties in the East Metro no longer provide financial support for a service that would save them thousands of dollars in things like the inappropriate use of police 911 calls.

2014-03-19 18:29:34 UTC
J. Kuchta-Miller

The Dispute Resolution Center is the oldest community mediation in Minnesota, serving the east metro area of the Twin Cities. DRC is an invaluable resource, offering those in our community an opportunity to address their differences in healthy, constructive ways. I have been involved with DRC for more than 14 years, both as a staff member and a volunteer. DRC is a small nonprofit program whose work is carried out largely by a committed, caring and talented corp of volunteers. Today, with more and more people using the internet and social media as a first means in which to explore services and community resources,it's critical that DRC's website be overhauled and updated. An updated website would serve as a resource to community residents 24/7 and further extend the reach of DRC's services.

2014-03-24 17:37:08 UTC
DRC Staff Member

Hey Nerds, pick us! Why? Because we're nerds too - we're nerdy for community mediation and restorative justice! This could be a nerd match made in heaven... you bring your technological skills and we'll bring our problem-solving skills and walla! a beautiful website is born!

DRC provides community mediation and restorative justice services for the residents of St. Paul and the East Metro Area. That means that we help people get through conflicts that seem otherwise insurmountable, or too expensive to address, with the help of a group of trained and experienced volunteer mediators from the community. A word about our volunteers: they are amazing people from all walks of life. As the testimonials above accurately portray, our volunteers have made a difference in many lives. The experience of using DRC's services is enriching for our clients and our volunteers.

Why does DRC deserve a helping hand from the Nerds? Because it is our policy that no one is ever turned away for inability to pay for our services. Yes - we provide free services when needed, and we provide a vital service to this community. I'm not saying that the city would descend into anarchy and chaos if we don't get this website... but it might.

DRC has provided services to our community since 1982. Hey Nerds, don't you think its time we partnered up?

2014-03-24 23:38:08 UTC
Jeanne Zimmer

DRC's board of directors has formed a communications committee, which is working to develop a social media plan - the cornerstone of which would be a new website. The plan would help DRC connect with multiple audiences: referral sources such as block clubs and police; prospective clients and volunteers; and the greater community, including schools, workplaces, and religious institutions.
A student group at the UofM conducted a usability assessment of our current website and has made recommendations, and staff, volunteers, and board members are ready to assist with content development and maintenance over time.
On behalf of everyone at DRC, thank you for considering us for the Overnight Challenge!

Our Mission

The Dispute Resolution Center promotes the constructive resolution of conflict through open communication and shared decision-making.