Earlier this month, we announced an upcoming Civility Training Workshop in Atlanta, GA, organized by Institute member and civility activist LaRita Reid. The training was a civility-fostering, community-building success. And Institute co-founders Tomas Spath and Cassandra Dahnke have agreed to share some of their thoughts and reactions to what came out of it.
Considering the event, this is what Tomas had to say:
One of the rules featured in our book, Reclaiming Civility in the Public Square: Ten Rules that Count, is that one is powerful. There are dozens of ways, large and small, that one person make a positive difference in the lives of others. And here is one from a woman named LaRita Reid:
Like many people, Ms. Reid understands that in our society, we aren’t necessarily given to treating each other kindly. She wanted to make a difference. So she went online in search of an organization that would help her understand what each of us can do to make life less harrowing for others.
She found the Institute for Civility in Government website. At the time, we were promoting the Citizens’ Civility Symposium to be held in July in Washington D.C. So she got on the telephone to us, joined the Institute, and signed up to attend.
LaRita returned to Atlanta from the Symposium with a mission to create a civility movement in her hometown. She talked with friends and garnered support, and she was responsible for organizing the civility training event that was held September 21.
The result of her effort is a growing nucleus of people in Atlanta who are committed to civility in the governing process, and civility in their community.
One person is powerful. One person can be the difference in their community just as LaRita is being a difference in hers. And you can be the difference, too. Learn more about Civility Training, and contact us to set one up in your area.
And here is Cassandra’s reaction:
The attendees of our recent Civility Training Workshop in Atlanta came from a broad cross-section of the community, and represented a variety of backgrounds. Some came because they had heard about it through their church. Others were educational professionals who had heard about it from the school at which they teach. There were, among others, a state legislator, a candidate for mayor, and an engaged citizen who had heard about the workshop at a town hall meeting.
The broader the range of experience that people bring to the seminar, the richer the observations are during the participatory exercises that we do together, and the more we learn from one another.
But the critical piece of these workshops is not just what we learn from the activities we do, but the way they foster engagement with, and memberships in, the Institute.
It is important to raise awareness of the value of civility in the governing process. And it is important to teach people the skillset they need to maintain and foster a greater civility in difficult and often conflicting situations. All of this must happen.
But the culture of our country will not shift from one of polarization and animosity to one of mutual respect and collaborative effort just on these initiatives. We must make our voices heard. And our voices carry more weight together than they do alone.
Who do you know who needs to join the Institute?
If you want to learn more about Civility Training Workshops through the Institute for Civility in Government — including how to set one up in your area — click here for more information.
If you want to add your voice to the chorus calling for civil discourse, join the Institute today.
Or, to support the Institute in its mission to facilitate dialogue and teach respect, click here to make a donation.