Speak Your Peace

Speak Your Peace

SYP LogoOur community is facing many challenges.  We continue to feel the fallout of the Great Recession, job losses and funding changes driven by State government.  Those same challenges also lead to opportunities.  This generation of citizens in our community will have the opportunity to change the face of our community.  How we go about affecting that change and how successful we are in reshaping our community will be determined first and foremost by the words we use.  We’re not Republicans or Democrats, liberals or conservatives.  At the core, we are members of the same community, and by and large we want the same things, namely a great place to live, work, play and retire.  In order for us to turn the challenges we face as a community into opportunities, we need to talk with each other, not at each other.  Why we couldn’t even have a discussion about refilling McDill Pond without name calling and finger pointing.    Shame on us!  What kind of message are we sending to our youth?

So why is your Foundation taking on Speak Your Peace: The Civility Project?  We are more alike than we are different.  Speak Your Peace: The Civility Project is not a campaign to end disagreements.  By elevating our level of communication and avoiding personal attacks and general stubbornness, we can avoid unhealthy debate and help maintain our sense of community by increasing civic participation.  It’s not what we say, but how we say it.  By harnessing our passion about issues toward useful ends, we will be able to communicate in a more civil, productive way.  We can disagree without being disagreeable.

We urge you to join us in practicing 9 simple tools for civility.

  • Pay Attention: Be aware and attend to the world and the people around you.
  • Listen: Focus on others in order to better understand their points of view.
  • Be Inclusive: Welcome all groups of citizens working for the greater good of the community.
  • Don’t Gossip: And don’t accept when others choose to do so.
  • Show Respect: Honor other people and their opinions, especially in the midst of a disagreement.
  • Be Agreeable: Look for opportunities to agree; don’t contradict just to do so.
  • Apologize: Be sincere and repair damaged relationships.
  • Give Constructive Criticism: When disagreeing, stick to the issues and don’t make a personal attack.
  • Take Responsibility: Don’t shift responsibility and blame onto others; share disagreements publicly.

The Board of the Community Foundation passed the civility resolution and has agreed to use the tools in carrying out its mission.  The Board asks that everyone in our community use the nine tools as well.  That includes not only elected officials, political groups and businesses, but also regular people, like neighborhood organizations, church groups and even individuals. Encourage others to engage in constructive dialogue, and above all, remain constructive when others are not.

There is an African proverb that says “If you want to go fast, go alone.  If you want to go far, go together.”  If we embark on this effort together we will be able to affect positive change in our community today, and for the youth who will inherit it.

If you would like to learn more about Speak Your Peace: The Civility Project, have a presentation made to your group, or would like posters and/or civility cards please contact the Foundation at 715-342-4454, or visit our website for more information.

We want to thank the Duluth Superior Area Community Foundation for their generosity in donating the Speak Your Peace title and graphic designs, and their assistance.

The Civility Project

The Civility Project is a community resource for building civic engagement, and was started by the Duluth Superior Area Community Foundation in 2003.   Speak Your Peace provides civil and respectful tools for people presenting their views and discussing community issues in a civil manner. Based on nine tools that are taken from P.M. Forni’s book Choosing Civility, Speak Your Peace provides simple lessons from which everyone benefits.

Leah Lueck
Community Foundation of Central WI
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