BY SUSAN MCANINCH
Susan Mcaninch is a retired social worker and psychotherapist.
Originally published in the Door County Peninsula Pulse
Q: I recently presented an idea for a project at a meeting of a service club I belong to. While I was talking, I noticed that most of the group members were nodding and liking the idea. One member obviously did not approve and gave me a steely stare. After I finished, he proceeded to deliver a withering critique of my ideas and approach each point of which, I felt was incorrect [sic]. As he talked, I felt the blood rise in my face and my heart race. All eyes were on me. I FROZE and left the meeting. I wish I had listened more carefully to the criticism; maybe he had a point. I really shut down because of his tone.
The Town of Sturgeon Bay became the first Door County governmental body to adopt a resolution endorsing the Nine Tools of Civility presented by the Door County Civility Project at its regular January 6, 2014 Board meeting. The goal of instituting the resolution is to show support for and to model civil discourse and discussion in the town.
Town board supervisors recognize that an atmosphere of civility and respect can have a positive effect on their proceedings, on the quality of debate, and on the practice of democracy itself.
Board Chairperson Dan Cihlar said, “It’s just good common sense!” Use of the Nine Tools can promote conversations that lead to positive resolutions of the issues facing local towns and other organizations.
The Door County Civility Project did not begin because of issues with civility locally. The discussions of civility started with concerns for improved civility needed at the state and national levels. However, the founding civility project members realized the only way to create a more civil society as a whole is for individuals to examine and improve their own words and actions.
The focus of the civility project remains true to that - it is not about what somebody else can or should do, but what each of us can do to enhance civility in our homes, churches, businesses, organizations, and communities. Civility projects such as the one in Door County are growing in number across Wisconsin and the nation.
Are you interested in having a representative of the Door County Civility Project present to an organization you belong to? Might your group adopt the Door County Civility Resolution?
Contact the Door County Civility Project at firstname.lastname@example.org or visit our website at doorcountycivilityproject.org.
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Click to download the Speak Your Peace business cards and keep civility close at hand!