Oshkosh Civility Project - An Introduction
The Oshkosh Civility Project
April 1, 2014 in Community Life, News & Views, Oshkosh
BY KIM BIEDERMANN
When Walter “Scotty” Scott went on vacation to Truckee, California to visit his son, he never expected to come back to Oshkosh with an idea that would influence so many residents. Located in the Sierra Nevada mountains, the small community of Truckee was embracing the idea of civility – the concept of respectful behavior – through The Civility Project’s Speak Your Peace campaign. Though Scotty discovered the idea in a small mountain town 2,000 miles away, the roots for this project were established just one state over from us in Duluth, Minnesota. The book “Choosing Civility” by Dr. P.M. Forni served as a reference authority to make this concept a reality.
In 2001, the Duluth Superior Area Community Foundation (DSACF) noticed its community had issues coming to consensus on numerous topics, and people were oftentimes fighting until a position was won. During this time, the DSACF wanted to find a way to connect the younger generation to the community, and created the Millennium Group comprised of 100 individuals who represented the next generation. While the Millennium Group was vetting out important topics to address in the community, the idea of improving the public dialogue as a means to get more people involved in the political process rose to the top of the list of issues the group discussed. The Millennium Group shared that many were hesitant to get involved because the debate over issues had gotten so contentious and, with this, the idea for The Civility Project was born.
Guiding the idea of The Civility Project is a campaign called Speak Your Peace, which consists of nine core principles. “They [the civility principles] can be understood and modeled, both good and bad examples, by people of all ages including little children,” said Karen Heikel, core team member for The Oshkosh Civility Project. These principles are: Pay attention, listen closely, be inclusive, don’t gossip, show respect, be agreeable, apologize sincerely, give constructive comments, and accept responsibility. Each skill is a critical component in having a conversation, especially when disagreement is bound to happen.
Since 2010, this concept has been alive in Oshkosh, thanks largely to a small group of dedicated individuals, including Scotty. The small group expanded to a core group which now consists of 14 individuals who work on spreading the message of civility throughout the community by having booths at events, distributing literature about civility, giving presentations, and conducting trainings. “I have trained children as young as third grade and up to senior groups,” Karen Heikel said about the various community trainings she has done.
While the situation in Oshkosh is much different than the situation in the Duluth-Superior region, Tom Grogan, core team member for The Oshkosh Civility Project, thinks the reason this campaign has taken hold is because of what our region values. “Civility has been an easy sell in Oshkosh because it reflects the shared values that are already here. When people see the framework of the Speak Your Peace campaign, they instantly recognize it restates commonly understood principles of interaction,” said Tom. He also feels that by focusing on interpersonal communication, people can better resonate with The Civility Project because that’s how people understand conduct.
After three years of being in existence, The Oshkosh Civility Project continues to seek out new opportunities to promote civility and to engage Oshkosh residents. With over 900 community members signing an online pledge to “aspire to practice” the nine core principles, it has certainly had a broad reach throughout the community, but Scotty and others on the core team recognize there is still more to do. “We need to plan an event that will keep the focus on Civility, contact our 900, and ask them to help us open new doors to spread the importance of carrying our message to other areas of our community. We have a great start, but there is more work to be done,” Scotty said when talking about the future of The Oshkosh Civility Project.
If you’re interested in becoming more involved The Oshkosh Civility Project, whether you’ve already signed the pledge or are just hearing about it for the first time, there are two upcoming training sessions on May 1. For more information on the trainings, the website can be found at:
Kim Biedermann works for the Business Success Center at UW Oshkosh and is an occasional writer for The Scene.
Original source: http://new.scenenewspaper.com/2014/04/the-oshkosh-civility-project/
Core Team - Oshkosh Civility Project
Kim Biedermann - Business Success Center - UW Oshkosh
Mindie Boynton - Business Success Center - UW Oshkosh
Theresa Brockman - Evergreen
Margy Davey - League of Women Voters of Winnebago County
Sue Panek - Oshkosh Area United Way
Mandy Potts - Integrated Marketing and Communications - UW Oshkosh
Carl Schroeder - Concerned Citizen
Walter Scott - Independence Financial LLC
Stephanie Steinfort - Christine Ann Domestic Abuse Services, Inc.
Emeritus Members: Recognized for Exemplary and Thoughtful Service
Kemp Jones, Colleen Merrill, Kathy Golem, Karen Fredrick, Liz Hebbe, Stew Rieckman, Karlene Grabner, Casey Larson, Zack Pawlosky, Lexi Ballweg, Joe Wiedenmeier, Karen Heikel, and Tom Grogan
Sign the Oshkosh Civility Pledge - HERE
The Oshkosh Civility Pledge -- Building A Stronger Community
The Promise, the Principles and the Practice of Civility.
The Oshkosh Civility Project cordially invites you to explore our website and sign the Oshkosh Civility Pledge!
The Oshkosh Civility Pledge:
We build a stronger and more diverse community by actively sharing our ideas and opinions with others in thoughtful and considerate ways. By practicing this basic commitment to civility, we learn and grow from one another - even in disagreement.
Today and Every Day I Aspire to Practice the following Skills:
1. Pay Attention - Be Aware of Others & Sensitive to the Immediate Context of Actions
2. Listen Closely - Understand Other Points of View
3. Be Inclusive - Welcome All; Don't Exclude Anyone
4. Don't Gossip - Remind Others of the Importance of this Practice
5. Show Respect - Honor Others (Especially in Disagreement)
6. Be Agreeable - Find Opportunities to Agree
7. Apologize Sincerely - Repair Damaged Relationships
8. Give Constructive Comments, Suggestions & Feedback - No Personal Attacks (Focus on Issues)
9. Accept Responsibility - Don't Shift Blame; Share Disagreements Publicly
"It's not what you say. It's how you say it."