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The Higher Ground Initiative represents a truly holistic approach to addressing family and community conflict. At the heart of its mission is the conviction that, far from being a negative experience, conflict is a positive and necessary element for the betterment of relationships in families, communities, and cultural and ethnic groups. Conflict drives creative innovation and makes possible what may have seemed beyond reach: collaborative solutions to community challenges.

The very nature of the work of addressing and managing community conflict is the work of the community, and calls for the full participation of all members of the community. While our initial efforts have been initiated and refined in Carbondale and the Roaring Fork Valley of Colorado, continuing research and practice are driven by the need to create models for conflict resolution that can be adapted for any community.


Why mediation?

There will always be situations that require competent legal assistance, but many disputes can be resolved more quickly and inexpensively by non-adversarial processes like mediation, group facilitation, family conferencing, and many others. The Higher Ground Initiative is dedicated to making such “alternative” dispute resolution (ADR) available to everyone in the community, from families in crisis to feuding neighbors, tenants and landlords, municipal organizations, and much more.

What’s the secret?

There isn’t any! Mediation and related processes may feel like “the best kept secret in town”, but already people and groups in all walks of life all around the world have discovered the benefits of ADR, some of which include:

* Faster resolution of disputes and disagreements

* Less expensive than legal processes

* More durable agreements made by the parties involved, NOT imposed by a judge.

What other developments does the new
Higher Ground Initiative 
 plan to introduce?

In addition to making mediation and other ADR practices more widely available, The Higher Ground Initiative will introduce a revolutionary approach to growing the field of mediation in ways that only a non-profit, commuity supported effort can. These include (just to name a few):

* More programs to raise public awareness of the benefits of ADR/mediation, including marketing and promotion of the field, workshops and community presentations, and events celebrating the power of individuals to resolve their own disputes with minimal outside help;

* Introduction of basic ADR skills at all levels of public and private education;

* Networking of ADR practitioners to create a collaborative field, benefiting the consumer with referrals to the best practitioner for your needs, and creating opportunities for professional development for all ADR professionals;

* And with perhaps the most innovative development, The Higher Ground Initiative will conduct community-specific research on the dynamics of community conflict, continuously reflecting on the quality of practice to better serve the community.


My name is David Troxel. I’ve been developing mediation programs and practicing mediation in Carbondale and on the Colorado Front Range since 2011, when I received my Master of Arts in Conflict Resolution from the Conflict Resolution Institute at the University of Denver. Prior to that, I took my B.A. in Sociology at the University of Colorado, with emphasis on the Sociology of Religion and Community Sustainability. I also graduated Summa cum laude and with Honors of Distinction  for my social/cultural research design.

In addition to my mediation practice, I’ve been involved for the past decade in developing non-profit court mediation programs, facilitating public forums, supporting community organizing initiatives, and assisting in juvenile Restorative Justice processes. Since 2015, I have also provided services to the Colorado District Courts as a Child and Family Investigator, working with families in crisis to help guide and support at-risk youth and recommend allocation of parental responsibilities to the court.

Greetings to all, and the blessings of Fall wherever you may be:

As cliche as it sounds, I did get the name for The Higher Ground Initiative from listening to Stevie Wonder singing the song while driving into Boulder one night, maybe five years ago. The lyrics just seemed to say it all. But then, I wanted to arrange the song for hand percussion and tribal vocals, so I could bring it to my special drumming friends in our Djembe Orchestra in Longmont. My friend, music partner, and all-around remarkable music man Gregg Hanson had been teaching the djembe to beginning through fairly accomplished drummers, and I was blessed with a couple of years of working with the DjO, sort of our “master class”.

The DjO was a group of about 13-15 really good players that had come up through Gregg’s classes. We knew much of the African styles, but we blended them with pop styles and arrangements of Beatles, Grateful Dead, and other very cool stuff. But the people in the group were why it was such a special thing. College students and teachers, several ethnicities, professionals, retirees….everyone came together around the drum circle and had these amazing musical conversations with each other.

This is why the name of The Higher Ground Initiative is so completely appropriate. It’s about so much more than helping people in the community resolve conflict; it’s about understanding the language and nature of conflict, knowing how to see it coming, and rationally deciding how to respond to it. It’s about what I think of as “preventative peacemaking”, bringing together a community around a common language. DjO did that for all of us, bringing us together in the drum circle to learn it as a way of communicating with each other, regardless of our different experiences of life up to then. And we were a community.

There are so many ways to build and sustain a community. Drumming and dancing, facilitating public conversations, building things together, whatever, and doing it all with people who you might not typically find yourself side by side with, doing and experiencing together in community.

This is the kind of community that Higher Ground is working to help to support and sustain, organizing and providing conflict services, and we want to do it with you, side by side in the circle of community. We’re well on our way, but need some more help. Our GoFundMe campaign can be found at:

Go check out the cool video of DjO street-jamming, with yours truly shouting out the vocal. If you click on the DONATE button and do what you can, $5 or $500 or anything in that range, the circle will grow. I hope to see you there soon!
Blessings to all, and Happy Fall!

You know, I’m not just grateful but constantly amazed by the generosity of the fine folks that I’m connected to on Facebook and elsewhere. But what really blows my mind is the number of you that have donated to the Higher Ground Initiative while quietly admitting that you don’t completely understand the goal. I guess this is what is known as faith, and it fills me with awe. It also compels me to use this space more effectively to better articulate the principles and beliefs that have come together in my thinking to form the Higher Ground perspective.

I’m a conflict resolution professional. What does that mean? Basically, I’ve been trained to look beyond the day-to-day frustrations and stresses that bring us into conflict, whether in personal relationships, community connections, or global interactions. And in all cases, I’ve learned that one very important concept lies at the heart of the matter: conflict can be a destructive force, BUT IT DOESN’T NEED TO BE! Deep inside every conflict you can identify lies the seeds of growth, understanding, and renewal of social well-being. The Higher Ground Initiative is being developed to help people find those seeds, plant them together, and nurture them into a new, peace-filled world of mutual respect and creative, dynamic energy.

The basic formula was given to us several centuries ago by a German philosopher named Hegel, whose Dialectic sums it up as: Thesis + Antithesis = Synthesis. Simply put, it means that if I have an idea, and you have an opposing idea, and we bring them together instead of fighting over whose idea is the “correct” one, we will without fail come up with a more creative idea than either one of us could have done on our own. Sometimes we just need a little help to get there, and that’s where Higher Ground comes in. By making your donation to this initiative, YOU are at the very center of this transformative process.

Let me know what you think or how you feel about this, and let’s have a conversation. This campaign is about so much more than raising funds; it’s about raising awareness and coming together for the cause of peace. I hope to hear from you, and to meet you there on the Higher Ground for a deeper experience of what is possible.

Higher Ground Community Mediation

David Troxel, M.A. – Principal Mediator

P.O. Box 694, Carbondale, CO 81623

phone: (970) 987-2745