The purpose of the Speak Your Peace Civility Project (created by the community foundation in Duluth, Minnesota) is to urge citizens in our local community, region and state to communicate in a more respectful and effective way. It is a campaign to improve public discourse by simply reminding ourselves of the very basic principles of respect. This is not a campaign to end disagreements. On the contrary, it is a program to show that we can respectfully disagree and enjoy healthy civic conversations that foster good will and better friendships. We want you to speak up; speak your mind and Speak Your Peace!
By elevating our level of communication and avoiding personal attacks and general stubbornness, we can avoid unhealthy debate. This will lead to better relationships, a more effective democracy, and help maintain our sense of community by increasing civic participation. We hope to reach not only elected officials and political groups but also regular people- like neighborhood organizations, church groups and even the parents on the sidelines of youth athletic contests. We are not just targeting those who are uncivil, but those who allow uncivilized behavior to happen.
In Robert Putnam’s book “Bowling Alone” he stresses the importance of “social capital” or civic participation by citizens within a given community. In order to harness that passion toward useful ends, it is important to communicate in a more civil, productive way. Our key message is to promote nine simple tools for practicing civility, taken from P. M. Forni’s book “Choosing Civility”.
We ask that you take the pledge to follow the nine simple rules, keep them in mind and allow them to guide your conversations and interactions with others.
Be aware and attend to the world and the people around you.
Focus on others in order to better understand their points of view.
Welcome all groups of citizens working for the greater good of the community.
And don’t accept when others choose to do so.
Honor other people and their opinions, especially in the midst of disagreement.
Look for opportunities to agree. When disagreeing, stick to the issues and don’t make a personal attack.
Be sincere and repair damaged relationships.
Give Constructive Criticism.
Don’t contradict just to do so. Help work toward a positive outcome.
Don’t shift responsibility and blame onto others. Share disagreements publicly.