My colleagues at the Salt Lake Center for Engaging Community, particularly John Kesler and Jane Holt, have been hosting some significant state-wide work on civility. It is intended to create a more healthy pattern of dialogue at all levels of community and government. It has the backing of several key state and municipal leaders.
A while back I joined one of the evenings of community engagement. A couple of mayors in the Salt Lake Valley spoke to endorse the process. It was a simple format to learn more deeply with one another by sharing story and response to these two questions: 1) Why does civility matter to you? 2) Where have you seen civility at it’s best?
Lovely small groups convened. I love feeling the power of dialogue as the simple exchange helps make more clarity a more broad and rich intelligence. The group I participated in was hosted by another SLCEC colleague, Steve Prather. As I participated, I noticed and harvested the following five principles and practices to improve civility:
- Kindness multiplies (kindness attracts kindness).
- Brilliance is essential (in these times of intractable challenges and irrepressible dreams). Civility supports this.
- Give primary attention and time to what you care about (and do so by frequently asking what is possible).
- Ground yourself (incivility is a pattern and can sweep your feet out if you aren’t grounded). Yes, many of us live between worlds.
- Remain unquestionably committed to purpose. It is the center, the energetic hearth if you will. What my friend, Toke Moeller calls, “the invisible leader.”
I also harvested in this photo some of what I heard from the 6-8 small groups reporting to the whole group.
Rich learning. Much appreciation with and for these local colleagues.